I was just made aware of the passing of Shaka At-Thinnin via the Black August Organizing Committee, of which the comrade was a lead member of. We are losing a generation of New Afrikans right now. The ones who survived the most brutal oppression of the U.$. injustice system to live long lives.
Of course brutal oppression remains in the U.$. concentration camps to this day. The torture units that were developed in response to the resistance of brothers like Shaka are still in full operation across most of this country.
The comrades who started Black August responded to this repression with collective self-defense, an immense openness and love for the oppressed, and a sharp discipline. Discipline is one of the tenants of Black August. And it is one that i think we can all benefit from. It can be hard to impose strict discipline when it is not out of necessity or dire circumstances as it was for the founders. But studies have shown that the more you practice discipline the easier it becomes, in all aspects of your life. Little routines, little extra efforts, regaining little chunks of time to put it towards what you care about.
Struggling to spend a couple hours writing to prisoners, or handing out fliers, or studying political economy after working all day for exploiter wages is not as glorious as the struggles of some. Yet it is no less important. Shaka emself spent many evenings writing comrades inside after eir release from prison. I’ve had people come to me years later and tell me how a small action, a few words, or a magazine shared really impacted them. You will never know all the impacts you have if you put in work to reach others every day, every week, or even every month.
Shaka did not live to see the liberation of New Afrika, yet eir contribution was still great and continues to inspire us. When i was younger i had read George Jackson’s books, and knew the story of Jonathan Jackson, and studied the Attica rebellion. But it was only after meeting Shaka and Kumasi of the Black August Organizing Committee that I got a real understanding of what Black August was about, and what the New Afrikan resistance in California prisons at the time was like. Their work to preserve that history and share it with the world helps sustain the struggle into the future.
In my years in this movement i’ve had the privilege of meeting many elders of the generation of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Each one of them inspired me, even if our interactions were brief. What they’d been through and how they responded was a testament to the potential of struggle, and the strategic confidence that we hold in the oppressed majority of the world who have nothing to lose but their chains.
The world is in constant flux. People come, people go. Empires die. The climate changes. And through it all we know that the oppressed nations are the rising force in the imperialist world today. And that force will eventually seize power from the current oppressors and change the course of history.
The second annual Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser just wrapped up successfully. Just two issues ago we published a detailed update on our financial contributions with a graph for 2021. For the first two quarters of 2022 we’ve had more contributors and more money donated than any quarter in 2021. This steady increase in donations is great for our work and a great sign of our growing mass base.
We did not see a surge of donations around July 4th, but we have seen sustained contributions at a higher level since we began promoting the fundraiser. Steady is good. The Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser did bring in some generous donations from the outside, from at least one supporter.
For those that don’t know, we ask that all comrades in prison who can send in at least 7 stamps per year to cover your subscription to Under Lock & Key. Our costs may increase this winter though, we will keep you updated.
For outside supporters in particular, we have begun fundraising for legal fees to fight censorship in Texas. Please send a note or email us to let us know you are donating money for this purpose.
While our finances look sustainable, we remain in a deficit with comrade time. We will be continuing to shift tasks in the coming months to adjust for changes in support from outside comrades. Much appreciation to our new comrade who did much of the transcribing work for this issue! A few things that we continue to be behind on include:
intro study group responses are going out months later than they should be
advanced study group through the University of Maoist Thought continue to be unavailable going on a couple years now
while we’ve been stepping up our efforts to combat the rash of recent censorship, we are not appealing all instances or taking them further
the Texas Pack has not been updated since 2020 and there are no plans to update it
the zine Power 2 New Afrika has not yet been printed, but should be soon
ULK continues to come out every 3 months instead of every 2 as it used to, or every month as we would like
The above list is to let our comrades inside know what to expect, and a call for support from people on the outside.
On 19 June 2022, prisoners across Texas abstained from celebrating the federal Juneteenth holiday until real freedom is attained by the oppressed in this country. Instead they organized, studied and made their voices heard for the demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, including:
End Solitary Confinement! End Restrictive Housing Units(RHU)!
End Mass Incarceration!
Stop Mail Censorship!
Transform the prisons to cadre schools! Transform ourselves into NEW PEOPLE!
Updates Since Juneteenth
The response from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) was swift and coordinated. MIM(Prisons) sent hundreds of update letters to comrades in Texas during the month of June, and almost all of them appear to have been censored.
Prisons where our letters were censored for “inciting a disturbance” or “riot” include:
Beto I Unit
Christina Melton Crain Unit
Estelle High Security Unit
Mountain View Unit
We are still receiving and compiling censorship notices from June. Needless to say, there was a coordinated effort to block our letters across the state, and they were really worried about the Juneteenth boycott. Of course, there was nothing about organizing a riot in our letters. But the imperialists will consider a boycott a “disturbance” worthy of violating Constitutional rights. Biden said we must celebrate Juneteenth, so now we face the consequences of his goons in the TDCJ.
The censorship at Allred Unit had been going on for months prior. This is the worst RHU in the state, where a lot of the JFI organizing began. Therefore we began a postcard campaign to protest the political targeting of mail and of certain prisoners at Allred. One comrade there received 22 mail denial notices in one day in May! Another comrade in Allred wrote:
“I been denied 2 newsletters & 1 letter that ya’ll sent my way. [everything we’ve sent this comrade] I highly appreciate ya’ll. I’ve sent them home. This only confirms that Texas don’t want us to know. Your news letters were denied for tha reason of ‘inciting a disturbance’.”
“I asked the mail room lady if anything sent from this address will be denied and she said, ‘Yes.’ Just like that, freedom of speech denied.”
This campaign is ongoing, as the censorship continues, and we ask outside supporters to get involved. Mail from prisoners in Allred is often delayed a month or more, so updates on the launch of the JFI have not yet come in from some of the organizers.
Outreach during June included flyering and postcards on the streets, hundreds of update letters sent to TX prisoners and radio interviews in Texas and on Free Aztlán on 96.1 KEXU in Oakland.
One Texas comrade reported:
“The Juneteenth Freedom Initiative flyer was displayed for several weeks here. On Juneteenth, no movement due to low staff and no special holiday meal. The officers dining room had ribs, BBQ chicken and brisquet with all the fixins, and these were supposed to be delivered to each officer on duty. However, most were stolen en route. The warden and kitchen captain were pissed.”
The JFI was initiated by TX T.E.A.M. O.N.E who has continued to lead organizing efforts inside. Others, including Prison Lives Matter, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee Local 613 #1, the Texas Liberation Collective, and United Struggle from Within cells, have joined the call. On the outside, MIM(Prisons), Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support, and the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement have been providing support.
Per the plan below, laid out by TX T.E.A.M. O.N.E. the next phase of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative for prisoners is to file petitions with the Department of Justice. If you need a sample petition, write us to get a copy. This petition is not specific to Texas.
Prisoners in long-term solitary confinement in Texas can also join the Dillard lawsuit against the TDCJ. If you need a copy of the motion to join, write us.
Outside supporters can best assist organizers inside by joining our campaign against censorship. We want to continue to let the TDCJ know that people outside are paying attention and not willing to accept this political repression. We will be following up with a lawsuit on behalf of an affected party in Allred and MIM Distributors. You can help in the following ways:
calling or writing letters to the TDCJ, and to Allred Unit in particular
getting others to sign postcards protesting the censorship
As you may know, Juneteenth has now been made a federal holiday in amerika. On this day many will sing the praises of Our oppressors or otherwise negate the reality of the lumpen (economically alienated class), that according to amerika’s 13th amendment We are STILL SLAVES. While We do not wish to nullify the intensity of the exploitation and oppression that New Afrikan people held in chattel slavery faced, We must pinpoint to the general public, those upcoming generations of youngsters looking to follow Our footsteps, that to be held in captivity by the state or feds is not only to be frowned upon but is part and parcel with the intentions of this amerikan government, and its capitalist-imperialist rulers. We say NO CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH until the relation of people holding others in captivity is fully abolished!!
Comrades have been organizing around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative(JFI) for almost a year now, and we just completed phase 1. Prisoners in Texas and North Carolina took up the campaign. Instead of celebrating Juneteenth, boycotters worked to get out the voice of the incarcerated in TX and NC.
Previous campaign materials include more demands and more details. Add your own demands that speak to your local conditions and make the JFI demands heard by the masses and the oppressors. Don’t just boycott, organize.
The Boycott is just the first phase and launch of this campaign by and for all Texas prisoners.
Juneteenth boycott and voice demands starting 19 June 2022
present petition to the Department of Justice Special Litigation division (write in to get a copy if you still need one) – everyone should mail copies of their own signed petition to the DOJ following Juneteenth 2022
if (2) fails to bring proper response, we will petition the United Nations – date To Be Determined – watch for announcement in Under Lock & Key, we will be requesting testimonials and collecting statistics to back up our arguments on each campaign position and submit them as evidence to bolster the recent guilty verdict of the We Still Charge Genocide, International Tribunal 2021 where mass incarceration and solitary confinement were ruled to be vital tools in the U.S. campaign of genocide for centuries against Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples of this continent.
Thank you for the book MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism – this is exactly the kind of reading material I want and need.
I do want to briefly comment on a recurring phrase I see in some of your theory: “white worker”. Does this mean white collar worker as in labor aristocrat or is this a prejudice that labor aristocrats are white skin color? If you mean privileged as in white collar then why don’t you say collar?
I have not read much of the book yet, just a few pages. However, I can agree that much of the working class in amerika is labor aristocrat, where you lose me is that when I think of labor aristocrat I see a face like Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, who is constantly calling for more police and more oppression.
Here in California we have a lot of Brown faces, perhaps 50% Brown. The point is whenever I talk to a Brown or Black person about socialism the response is mostly the same. Black & Brown people in amerika love their privilege, they enjoy exploiting 3rd world workers, there the labor aristocrat is Brown and Black in the face and white in the collar.
I think MIM Theory agrees with me that First World working class has no use for revolution and is impossible to recruit or even harmful to the movement, as bourgeoisie in any dictatorship of the proletariat is only there to revive capitalism. However, as MIM states the majority of First World working class is labor aristocrat, then I would assume MIM is considering the demographics of the First World as a whole and means “white collar worker” and not merely a racist jab of “white worker.” All of the cops here have Brown faces.
a California prisoner
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Sounds like we have a high level of unity on the class structure in this country, and the world. The truth is the analysis has evolved since the 1980s, when it was more reasonable to talk about a proletariat in the internal semi-colonies (by which we mean New Afrika, Boricua, Aztlan, and the First Nations). So back then writers like MIM and Sakai would talk about a Black or [email protected] proletariat, while seeing the white workers as an enemy class. And yes, by white we mean white people, though we use it to talk about nation, rather than race, which is a myth. Therefore today we’ll often use Amerikan instead. And many “non-white” people have integrated into Amerika today. Euro-Amerikan is a term for the oppressor nation, but white is still a valid term that is understood by the masses today.
In the introduction to our pamphlet, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates, we wrote:
“If we fast forward from the time period discussed above to the 1980s we see the formation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement as well as a consolidation of theorists coming out of the legacy of the Black Liberation Army and probably the RYM as well. Both groups spoke widely of a Black or New Afrikan proletariat, which dominated the nation. MIM later moved away from this line and began entertaining Huey P. Newton’s prediction of mass lumpenization, at least in regard to the internal semi-colonies. Today we find ourselves in a position were we must draw a line between ourselves and those who speak of an exploited New Afrikan population. If the U.$. economy only existed within U.$. borders then we would have to conclude that the lower incomes received by the internal semi-colonies overall is the source of all capitalist wealth. But in today’s global economy, employed New Afrikans have incomes that are barely different from those of white Amerikans compared to the world’s majority, putting most in the top 10% by income.”
The above quote is referring to the MIM Congress resolution, On the internal class structures of the internal semi-colonies. Even since that was written we’ve seen the proliferation of what you talk about, [email protected] prison guards being the majority in much of Aztlan, and New Afrikan prison guards being the majority in many parts of the Black Belt. This of course varies by local demographics. Regardless, it makes one question whether there are even internal semi-colonies to speak of, or at what point we should stop speaking of them? The massive prison system in this country is one reason we do still speak of them.
So we agree with you that the term “white worker” has kind of lost its meaning today. However, we still see the principal contradiction in this country as nation. Despite the bourgeoisification and integration of sectors of the oppressed nations, and the subsequent division of those nations, we still see nationalism of the internal semi-colonies, if led by a proletarian line, as the most potent force against imperialism from within U.$. borders.
A couple more minor points. We’d probably say Eric Adams, and high ranking politicians like em, are solidly bourgeois. Whereas the labor aristocracy would be those Brown guards overseeing you. In addition, we do not use labor aristocracy and white collar synonymously either, as white collar work has always been petty bourgeois or at best semi-proletariat by Marxist standards. So the real controversial issue is to say there are “blue collar” workers who are not exploited.
Organizations for Whites
Another comrade wrote saying that ey had no organization to join because ey is white. They had mistakenly thought that we think people should only organize with their own nation. We do not take a hard line on this question. And it is obviously related to the above.
MIM(Prisons), USW and AIPS are all multinational. Yet in our understanding of nation as principal, it seems necessary for there to be nation-specific organizations to play that contradiction out between the oppressed and oppressor nations. We certainly have supported single-nation organizing, and in another resolution we put out, we cite that as one of the handful of legitimate reasons to start a new organization instead of joining MIM(Prisons) or USW.
But there may be situations where multinational organizing in this country is actually more effective. At this stage our numbers are so small that it should be strongly considered just out of necessity to begin building our infrastructure. And when single-nation organizations do exist, the united front exists for them to work with others outside their nation.
Printing Anarchist Content
Finally, we had a discussion with a comrade who submitted an article that was favorable or uncritical of anarchist organizing strategy. The comrade wanted to know why we asked em to change eir article, because we claim we will print articles form anarchist allies.
Just because we will print content from anarchists, even content we might have disagreements with, it doesn’t mean we always will. First, our goal is to win people over to the Maoist line. So if you submit something that disagrees with that, our first response will often be to struggle with you over that line with the goal of gaining a higher level of unity.
Now some comrades are avowed anarchists. For them we do not need to keep having the same debate. Nor do we need to have that debate in ULK. When we say we’ll print material from anarchists we’re talking about material that actually pushes the struggle forward. Not material that is debating issues we think were settled 100 years ago. This is similar to a critic complaining about us not printing eir piece in ULK when we responded, because we weren’t showing both sides of the debate over the labor aristocracy. Again, this is a debate that was settled decades ago.
On top of this there are many comrades and organizations we work with that aren’t in the camp of the international communist movement such as the Nation of Gods and Earths for one example. While many aspects of the Supreme Understanding taught by the NGE certainly goes against the Maoist worldview, we are able to find solidarity in practice and in a united front. We don’t necessarily have to battle out whether the Supreme Understanding or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is correct in the newsletter. We encourage line struggle on the ground.
In summary, this is a Maoist newsletter, edited to represent the Maoist line. We get to pick and choose when to print stuff that disagrees with Maoism if we think it is useful to advancing the struggle. Sure we find it important for cadres to be able to commit to line struggle scientifically and principally, and communists in general should have the ability to look at sources that challanges their viewpoint and uphold their line while analyzing what’s wrong/correct during line struggle. There is infinite non-Maoist material out there; and we advise our readers and comrades to go to those materials if they want to see what our critics are saying. We certainly won’t expect our critics to use space in their newsletters publishing entire polemics that we wrote against them, nor would we say that’s unfair to us.
On 27 June 2022, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) agreed in opening discussion with the Ecuadorian government in solutions for the national strike that has paralyzed parts of the country for two weeks.(1) Before declaring its openness to negotiations with the government however, CONAIE rejected President Guillermo Lasso’s move in calling for price cuts of gasoline for 10 cents in diesel.(2) Currently, the fuel prices of Ecuador has doubled from 2020 with diesel going from $1 to $1.90 and gasoline from $1.72 to $2.55.(3) From CONAIE’s “Agenda of National Struggle,” the first point demanded:
“Reduction and freezing of the prices of fuel: diesel at $1.50 and extra and eco gasoline at $2.10. Abolish Decrees 1158, 1183, 1054, and focus instead on the sectors that need more subsidies: agricultural work, farming, transportation and fishing.”
The demand was obviously not met, and CONAIE still continued to blockade the roads with President Lasso claiming,
“Ecuadorians who seek dialogue will find a government with an outstretched hand, those who seek chaos, violence and terrorism will face the full force of the law.”(4)
Seeking to appease the rebellion in other ways, Lasso has lifted the state of emergency for the nation. CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza who was arrested by the national police on 14 June 2022, was rejected by President Lasso who claimed that the indigenous leader was an “opportunist.”
“We will not return to dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base. To our indigenous brothers – you deserve more than an opportunist for a leader.”
Historical Overview of Rebellions in Ecuador
Two years earlier, Ecuador faced another similar rebellion led by workers and students which sparked on the International Workers’ Day of 1 May 2020. The political-economic crisis heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic revealed quite a few corrupt decisions made by the government.(6) Workers and students demanded better wages, coordinated sit-ins in medical facilities, and demonstrated in the streets with rallies. The main goals were for better wages, and ousting of then-President Lenin Moreno.
A year previous to the 2020 demonstrations, in October of 2019, another rebellion raged in Ecuador as the month started with President Lenin Moreno declaring 6 economic measures, and 13 restructuring proposals which was part of an agreement the government took in a $4.2 billion loan with the IMF.(7) One of the key reform acts targeted by demonstrators was a 20% cut in wages for new contracts in public sector jobs, and a cut of a decades long fuel subsidies which led to an increase of fuel prices.(8) The leading two groups of this rebellion were the aforementioned CONAIE and the United Front of Workers (FUT).
Prior to that, there was also a rebellion in 2015, a rebellion in 2012, and another nationwide crisis in 2010. CONAIE and other indigenous national groups all played a role in these movements with varying degrees of involvement. From 2010 to 2022, there have been 6 major rebellions with the workers, students, and indigenous nations playing a leading role in the movements. Crisis after crisis, what is causing this trend? Every time the workers or the indigenous nations rise up (oftentimes together) they are accused of staging a coup by the government. In 2000, there was a short-lived coup, but the Amerikans interfered to remove indigenous leaders from power. Despite this, they have denied the accusations in recent protests, while also following their word through with action. How come they seem to have no desire to seek state power despite having the independent institutions and subjective forces that are able to paralyze the country each time they rebel?
After many years of regular protests against politicaleconomic crisis in Ecuador, there was a rise of the social-democratic movements in Latin America that became prominent in the mid-2000s. This trend was strongly guided and inspired by the ideology of “Socialism of the 21st Century”, which argued that societal change and shift from capitalism to socialism can be done in gradual and non-violent means.(9) Prominent leaders who have taken up this ideology include Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and finally Rafael Correa of Ecuador.
Rafael Correa, was the 45th president of Ecuador from 15 January 2007 until 24 May 2017. President Correa – leading the left-wing coalition of the PAIS Alliance – began the “Citizen’s Revolution” in hopes to reconstruct the country into a socialist state. The government ended its relationship with the IMF, and took an active part in creating the “Bank of the South” – a pan-South American monetary fund alongside the political-economic bloc of the Union of South American Nations.(10)
The class character of this movement can clearly be seen as that of the national bourgeoisie of South America: the bourgeoisie of South America stunted by imperialism as opposed to requiring imperialism to function as a class. With this national bourgeois led anti-imperialist movement in Ecuador, we see another example of a failure in reformism and social-democracy in history. With the PAIS alliance’s right-wing turn under the next president Lenin Moreno, Correa distanced himself from PAIS due to disagreements. Under Lenin Moreno’s presidency, and through the political-economic crisis brought by social democracy (such as national debt), the strategy of working within the system found itself reversing all its progresses. By the time Correa left office in 2017, there have already been 2 major rebellions. The rebellion in 2012, was part in reaction to the joint Ecuadorian-Chinese company “Ecuaorriente SA” commencing a 25-year contract of extracting natural resources on indigenous nations’ land.(11) So with the failures of social-democracy and reformism came another lesson learned by the Ecuadorian masses. Whether this lesson can be synthesized back to the masses through a revolutionary lens is a question for the revolutionaries of Ecuador.
During the rebellions, one can see in images hammer and sickles, anarchist A’s, and myriads of other ideological imagery painted across makeshift shields, helmets, and banners. With the tactics and strategy of blockades and insurgencies the rebellions which seems to constantly appear in the country seem to be eclectic and non-ideological. When constantly accused by the regime that these groups are forming coup d’états, CONAIE and organizations representing the workers and students constantly deny the accusations of ousting any presidents. They follow through with their actions as well. Short lived insurgencies don’t lead to state power.
Lessons For Us To Learn
Fidel Castro has famously said that the reasoning behind his armed action and revolution against the Batista government was because working within the existing political system has been exhausted of its effectiveness. Yet, when the new generation of Latin American leftists and self-proclaimed “communists” came to prominence, Fidel Castro also famously claimed that the new generation is lucky because they are in a situation where power can be obtained through the ballot not the bullet. Throughout his life, Castro kept representing the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie of Cuba through its alignment with the social-imperialists of the USSR: a similar move that Correa’s government had done with the Chinese social-imperialists and the national bourgeoisie of Ecuador. In the end of his life, Castro closely aligned himself with the pink tide of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc.
The lessons we can learn from the failures of reformism or “Socialism of the 21st century” can be standard lessons we have drawn from the failures of all reformist or electoral methods of achieving proletarian dictatorship/socialism. The state is a tool wielded by a class: the bourgeoisie. Despite this, finance capital finds its ways to implement social-democracy (or fascism) as a means of governing. Using the tools of the enemy won’t get us state power. They will crush us as soon as we cross their lines.
The lessons we can learn from the CONAIE and the various workers and student organizations which rebel constantly in Ecuador are valuable as well. One lesson is in regards to the distinction of having reforms through violence in contrast to a revolution. Through a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist lens, just because one uses violent tactics or bears arms does not necessarily mean they are revolutionary or conducting meaningful armed struggle. One can be just as reformist through violent means as with electoral means. This highlights the key idea that reform vs revolution isn’t a matter of strategies or tactics, it is a question of the correct analysis of how the change from a capitalist society to a socialist society happens. Thousands of masses can rally on the streets throwing firebombs at the police, but if the goal is to change laws and protest austerity measures then it is no different in quality than reform. In similar methods, things that might seem reformist at a shallow glance such as building independent institutions and spreading public opinion against world imperialism (advancing the objective and subjective forces) can be revolutionary if the goals are aligned and preparing for proletarian dictatorship during non-advanced stages.
Long live Ecuador!
Self-determination for all oppressed nations!
Notes (1) AP News, June 25, 2022, “Ecuador president: Indigenous leader is trying to stage coup.” (2) Lina Vanegas, June 27, 2022, “Protesters Meet Ecuador Govt After Rejecting Fuel Price Cut,” International Business Times. (3) Ibid. (4) Ibid. (5) Ibid. (6) Rhonny Rodriguez, October 7th, 2022, “Ecuador, el peor evaluado en la región sobre el manejo de la pandemia” Expreso (7) Kimberly Brown, October 10th, 2019, “Ecuador unrest: What led to the mass protests?” Al Jazeera (8) Ibid. (9) Socialism of the 21st Century – Economy, Society, and Democracy in the era of global Capitalism, Introduction by Heinz Dieterich (10) El Mundo, April 16th, 2007, “Ecuador cancela la deuda con el FMI y amenaza con echar al representante del Banco Mundial” (11) Amy Silverstein, March 9th, 2012, “Ecuador natives begin two-week march to protest Chinese mining company” The World
As comrades in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere took action to protest long-term solitary confinement and mass incarceration this Juneteenth, we lost a leader in the struggle against solitary confinement and oppression in all forms in California. Paul Redd passed away on 19 June 2022. His funeral was July 9th in Oakland, Calfornia.
“Paul Redd left us on Juneteenth. A hero to so many, he was loved by so many communities: from his childhood friends in Oakland, to his family who has always been with him, to decades-long friendships from the inside, to the many friends he made in his two years home after 44 years of wrongful incarceration, including 30 in solitary. He will be remembered for his infinite love, his courage, strength, generosity, hope, his poetry, and passion for justice. We love you Paul!”
Words from Redd’s comrades:
“Paul Redd’s passing is heartfelt for many as he was a staunch advocate of Black Love and Solidarity. His dedication and commitment to freedom of himself and other prisoners made him a target of the State and thereby a political prisoner. I spent prison time with Paul in Tracy and San Quentin, and know of his years of selfless service in the Black Guerrilla Family. As a soldier for the liberation of his people, he will be sorely missed in the field of battle opposing white supremacy and the tyranny of capitalism-imperialism. Paul, I salute you!!!” – Jalil Muntaqim
"He taught honor and respect to so-called thugs and ‘hood niggas’ and showed them how to respect and give concern for each other in such a way, thereby the world would come to respect and honor them. He also taught them to be young Lions and soldiers for all seasons. I was one of those young soldiers that he taught. And I was one of those young warriors that had grown with the example that he gave me. I stand now as an eternal witness to the teachings that this Brotha imparted to me, the political education. He taught me to refuse. He showed and taught me how to stand and not bend, buck or bow before the murderers who held us captive in Amerikkka’s concentration camps.
“…This Brotha, his spirit lives forever. I’m Brotha Balagoon Kambone, a Brotha and a friend.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a setback for the health of mostly the gender aristocracy, but also some who are truly gender oppressed in this country. In that sense, we view this issue similar to how we view the question of universal healthcare in the United $tates.(1) However, MIM’s gender analysis is more relevant in this struggle over abortion.
"The gender aristocracy by definition is not oppressed in the gender strand. Concretely, imperialist country wimmin are not gender oppressed.
For this reason, if we put forward the gender demands of the imperialist country wimmin, like it or not, we are heading in a reactionary direction."
To those who see the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a violent attack on themselves, on wimmin, we offer some food for thought. The abortion issue was made a hot button issue with a lot of money for the purpose of mobilizing voters. As long as we live under a bourgeois democracy, this will continue to happen. For all the rhetoric about “taking money out of politics”, nothing has happened, because we live in a profit-driven system. We must overthrow capitalism and patriarchy to meet the needs of the gender oppressed.
To those who oppose abortion, we repeat that we can eliminate abortion by sterilizing men after storing semen samples from them. If you aren’t willing to talk about such alternatives, that would save the lives of wimmin, then you are not pro-life you are pro-patriarchy.
The MIM Platform calls for mandatory sex education by age 11. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, there will be free universal health care including unlimited access to PPE such as contraception. This, combined with the overall sense of purpose and community that will come with building a new society, we believe will significantly decrease the number of abortions, which have already been declining in this country.
More than laws and policies however, what will be a decisive point in the struggle against patriarchy under proletarian dictatorship is the mass raising of class struggle and mass campaigns against patriarchy in the superstructure (from material institutions to backward ideological culture). The key support of these policies of universal healthcare under socialism is having the masses learn in practice the new society they wish to implement free from male chauvinism amongst other things. This is one thing the Maoist practice in China had that marked a qualitative leap from the Soviet Union through implementing a cultural revolution.
Of course, some abortions are in response to medical conditions that we have no control over. Following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Pew Research found that 57% of adults disapproved of the decision and 41% approved.(2) The survey also showed that only 8% believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. As the opposition to abortion came after big-money marketing over many decades, we can expect these numbers to shift quickly in favor of access to abortion with a shift in social relations under the dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words, mass collection of semen samples and sterilization of men probably won’t be necessary to resolve contradictions in a socialist world as it is today.
In recent years many have explored the myth of “the West” and “Western Civilization”, connecting them to racist views of humyn society. Often this was in response to right-wing white nationalists rebranding their common cause from the “white race” to “Western civilization.”
Yet, the term “the West” is used every day in a variety of news sources, some claiming to be proletarian news services. It is used by MIM in a number of older documents, and you even see it crept in to the last issue of Under Lock & Key in our discussion of Ukraine.(1)
The West and Militarism
The Russian invasion of Ukraine seems to have brought the term even more to the forefront, which could explain why it ended up in our article on the subject, despite our understanding the problems with the term. “Western unity” today is synonymous with fighting Russia. Ukranian President Volodymor Zelensky has helped make this true in the Amerikan press.
There are reasons to refer to “the West” instead of the more accurate term “NATO.” NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military pact between countries to defend each other with very clear membership. NATO exists clearly in space and time. It was formed in 1949, as the U.$. and Britain focused their aggression towards the Soviet Union following the defeat of fascism. NATO will not exist forever, with many calling for it to be dissolved now.
The meme of “The West” on the other hand is ahistorical, and even vague in terms of who is included. President Zelensky is making a hard push to put Ukraine in “the West”, when it was very clearly part of the USSR that NATO formed to oppose.
Zelensky has repeatedly called on “the West” to impose sanctions against Russia, to send military aid to Ukraine, and to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. All of these feed the militarist war machine that imperialism depends on to stay afloat, especially in times of economic crisis. Yet the imperialists are not even willing to do all the things Zelensky calls for because they know the risk of inter-imperialist war it will bring.
We’ve already seen the differing interests in this conflict playing out. The strongest example might be Germany, the dominant imperialist power in continental Europe, and their economic connection to Russia, which has made them much more hesitant to join actions that the United $tates is quick to take against Russia. Meanwhile Germany has moved to significantly increase its military for the first time since WWII, loosening its dependence on the United $tates for military action. In most of our lifetimes, the so-called “Western” countries have been united politically and economically. But this has not and will not always be the case.
The West and the Ancient World
We won’t repeat others summaries of the history of the concept of “the West” here. But it does appear with the wars between Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages, later being used to distinguish between areas dominated by the Western reformist church and the Eastern orthodox church.
Just as New Afrikans today may take up the study of ancient Egypt to learn about their “roots”, euro-Amerikans may study ancient Greece with the same goal. In reality, ancient Egypt and Greece (in certain periods) were actually connected and learned from each other. They were more similar to each other (and more geographically close to each other) than the actual ancestors of most New Afrikans or euro-Amerikans. Both are caught up in a mythology that links them to an ancient society based on racialized concepts of continents.
The idea of Europe as its own continent is also a myth that stems from this history and the fact that our knowledge in the United $tates is dominated historically by Europeans. And today, U.$.-cultural dominance helps shape the memes that take on global significance.
Europe is a region in actual space, however, unlike “the West”, which often lumps Western Europe with occupied regions of North America and Oceania today. In a sense, “the West” is almost describing something real. Throw in Japan, and you’ve got the advanced imperialist countries of the world.
The West and Freedom
A more modern concept of “the West” starts from the fight against fascism and morphs into the fight against communism. “The West” claims to offer freedom and democracy instead.
On 5 July 2022, a Ukrainian court banned the Communist Party of Ukraine and ordered all its assets seized by the state. This is a party that got 13 percent of the votes in the 2012 general election. This follows the ban of a number of other “socialist” or “left” parties in the country for being “pro-Russian.”(2)
On the Fourth of July, the city of Akron, Ohio issued a 9PM to 6AM curfew preventing people from leaving their homes except for work or emergencies. This was on a night when masses of people stayed out all night partying and lighting fireworks in most cities across the country. The curfew was issued because cops shot unarmed 25-year-old Jayland Walker the night before with 60 bullets. The young Black man died Fourth of July morning.
Through May and June MIM(Prisons) sent hundreds of letters, petitions and legal documents to prisoners across Texas leading up to a planned boycott of the Juneteenth holiday on June 19. The weeks leading up to the Fourth of July our mailbox was full of letters from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and from prisoners in Texas, notifying us that our mail had been censored because it promoted a disturbance or a riot.
Prisoners in Texas are being tortured in long-term isolation, forced to work without pay, and facing all sorts of abusive conditions including lack of food, dangerous temperatures and lack of yard time. Jayland Walker was shot 60 times over a tail light. Yet boycotts and demonstrations have been deemed illegal in Texas and Akron, Ohio in response. In Akron 50 people were arrested after protestors were sprayed with tear gas because police said they “cannot condone property destruction.”(3) This is the behavior of the oppressor, of the imperialists.
The West and Language
The more modern framework of the North versus the South developed as an improvement on the West/East concept. The “North/South” framework is more geographically coherent (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand) and is defined economically. It also avoids the racist exclusion of Japan and the “three tigers.” Though it could play into some theories of geographic determinism, which can mirror racist conceptions of history.
Regardless, North/South terminology was developed to be “valueless” and as such becomes a euphemism for what is really going on: some countries are exploiting other countries. And we have perfectly good terminology for “the West” or “the North” in this context: imperialist countries. As anti-imperialists, we must expose imperialism and its crimes at every turn and not hide it behind euphemisms that reference geography or pseudo-scientific concepts of race over materialist understandings of political-economy.
On the other hand of the dialectic of imperialism we have the oppressed nations, or the exploited countries, or the semi-colonies or neo-colonies, depending on the context. Arguably these terms are also better than the First/Third World language we have often used historically.(4)
As a general principle, our writing guide reminds us not to use euphemisms and not to use passive language. Like “the West” these styles creep into our writing because they are common in the bourgeois press. We should consciously combat this by being clear about the relationships of oppression and exploitation and who is doing what to whom.
Whether it relates to religion, philosophy or democracy, all historical concepts of “the West” are related to justifying invasions or imperialism in different forms.
[Arms & Empire(1980) by Richard Krooth is a MIM must read. MIM(Prisons) just developed a study guide to go along with this book. The below is the intro to the study guide with some key quotes from the book.]
Introduction to the study pack
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (originally named the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement) was founded at a time when inter-imperialist conflict between the camp led by the United $tates and that led by the social-imperialist USSR posed a threat to the world. In one of the founding documents, written in 1983, comrades saw the combination of liberation struggles in the Third World and this inter-imperialist conflict as a hotbed for communist revolutions.(1)
MIM founders saw the success of communist revolution as an absolute necessity to prevent a new inter-imperialist war, that would likely lead to nuclear war. As such, they recognized that a revolutionary situation could arise within the United $tates in a matter of years, despite having a budding skepticism of the interests of most in our country in communist revolution.
For most of MIM’s existence now we have not been in the situation described above. By 1991 the “Cold War” was over with the dissolution of the Soviet imperialist bloc. For a solid 3 decades we lived under a “unipolar world”, where U.$. dominated organizations and alliances ruled the world (NATO, World Bank, IMF, etc).
For many years now (in 2022) China has been the rising imperialist power, mostly independent of the U.$.-dominated institutions, though deeply integrated with the U.$. economically. As the contradictions heighten in the U.$.-China economic system, they also heighten in the capitalist system overall. The post-USSR era brought a sacking of the wealth of the former Soviet states by cleptocratic capitalists. This aligned with the capitalist development of China, and the return of exploitative relations dominating over 1 billion people who became the primary producers for consumers in the United $tates and around the world. These processes of wealth extraction were the life-blood for global capitalism for those 3 decades of inter-imperialist peace. But, capitalism must keep expanding, and there is not much more room to expand. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a series of collapses in the international system of distribution that prioritized profitability over resiliency.
Earlier this year, Russia invaded Ukraine, in what many fear is the first hot war of what will be an escalating inter-imperialist war. Though to date, it has not yet exceeded in scale the U.$./USSR conflicts of the Cold War. It has brought with it massive trade barriers. The Amerikans have rallied the world to isolate Russia with great success, yet differences in interests have also arisen. This will force many realignments in the coming months and years. The battle for markets, using tariffs and embargoes and currency manipulations, will only escalate. This makes Arms & Empire such a relevant read today.
In 1997, MIM passed a resolution stating:
“For MIM’s purposes, World War III began immediately after World War II ended in 1945. World War III continues today. It is a war between the imperialists and the oppressed nations. By defining World War III as post-World War II, MIM does not mean to say that imperialists did not wage war on the oppressed nations prior to 1945, only that the post-1945 period has specific characteristics (such as: 1. the leading roles of the U.S. and, for a time, the USSR and 2. the predominance of neocolonialism) which separate this period from the pre-1945 periods.”(2)
We can say that world war is inherent to imperialism. As Lenin defined it, imperialism is when the world has been completely divided up by competing monopolist powers, making the export of finance capital the dominant aspect of the economy, and finance capitalists become the shapers of the world. This competition translates to economic and military warfare, both of which result in large numbers of unnecessary humyn deaths. Imperialism kills millions. When warfare between the imperialists can be minimized for a period, the warfare is aimed primarily at the oppressed nations who are resisting the imperialists trying to control and exploit them.
On the eve of World War I, the revisionist Kautsky proposed a theory of ultra-imperialism to supercede imperialism, where the imperialists can ban together to manage the world internationally. Today, there are many bad Marxists who unknowingly promote this metaphysical view of world imperialism where the imperialist forces of NATO and the U.$. are an invincible unbreakable force, and that the best thing the communists can hope for is a counter-balance to U.$. hegemony while tailing other independent imperialists such as Russia or China. While also unknowingly parroting neo-Kautskyism, these revisionist Marxists also unite with the bourgeois Liberals on the world view of a post-Soviet world. The bourgeois liberals had their own theories of “the end of history” after the collapse of the Soviet Union that envisioned the current order to have proven itself as the stable state in which we would remain. In this book, Richard Krooth concisely points out why these fantasies can never come true. The internal contradictions of capitalism and imperialism, brilliantly exposed by Marx and Lenin, translate to antagonistic contradictions among the imperialists that cannot be resolved by synthesis but only by one aspect of that contradiction overtaking the other via warfare. This remains true despite brief periods of relative peace between the imperialists that must also coincide with periods of prosperity and great opportunity for the imperialists. And has MIM has pointed out, even in times of prosperity, the different interests of the labor aristocracy can damper the plans of imperialist unity.(3)
Today, the labor aristocracy is talking about their inability to consume products not made by them in their movement to increased wages, decreased worktimes, etc. However, they seem to be able to consume products not made by them pretty well. Cars, phones, food, etc. are mostly produced by the Third World proletariat, and the main gripe comes with things they don’t own rather than things they don’t produce: rent for example.
As we enter a period of heightened inter-imperialist conflict, we echo the sentiments of MIM’s founders. We are not for war, but we recognize that war by the proletariat to overthrow imperialism is necessary to stop war. As military and economic warfare expands among imperialists and between imperialists and the oppressed nations, opportunities for successful revolutions to put the proletariat in state power increases. This is the solution to war. We aim to destroy imperialism, because imperialism is destroying the planet.
“For we will see that empire was systemic and competitive; that competition and nationalism then powered the changeover from one system of empire to another; that, consequently, the mercantile colonial system was replaced by a system of free trade with the coming of industrialism; that free trade was thereafter replaced by a return to colonial empires with the rise of monopolization in the leading nations; that war between the Powers resolved little in the fight for world domination; and that a new growth of monopolies led to strengthened colonial spheres of influence and renewed warfare.”
Explanation of the Great Depression (top of p.119):
“The U.S. had long since closed down free trade into America, stopping Germany and other European countries from exporting to American shores to pay their debts. This secured the U.S. dollar for a while, making it the hardest currency in the world, pushing up its value vis-a-vis other currencies, but also making it inaccessible to nations that otherwise would have purchased from America. When other nations could not obtain dollars by exports to the U.S., obviously they could import nothing at all. And so U.S. exports tended to fall and had to be replaced with bilateral trade agreements. Up went U.S. unemployment when markets fell away and bilateral trade could not replace them. Then down came the dollar, the U.S. devaluing in 1933 in an attempt to stimulate the exports again. But, alas, it was too late. The depression was on, production was down, America was spreading crisis to Europe!”
Lead up to WWII (p.129-30):
“Within European nations especially, the road to war was laid out in stages – the first for counterrevolution, the second for capitalist resurgence, and the third for crises and the rise of antagonistic governments seeking to take what all others held in trade, investments, colonies and profits. In the first period (1917-23) we can discern how civilian bands of reactionaries had used force and violence against the agrarian or socialist”revolutions“… The reactionaries demanded”law and order," eventually leading to “counter-revolutions.” Yet the incipient fascist movements did not themselves assume government power, for the marketplace was being re-established and did not require a fascistic state.
"The second period (1924-29) had no use for a fascist government either. The powers of capitalist production were expanding, the market fetters were destroyed, and al the important nations save Great Britain were on the economic upgrade. While the United States enjoyed legendary prosperity and the Continent was doing almost as well, Hitler’s putsch was a footnote in political economy. France evacuated the Ruhr, the Reichsmark was restored by U.S. loans, the Dawes Plan took politics out of reparations, Locarno was in the offing for peace, and Germany was initiating seven fat years. The gold standard ruled from Moscow to Lisbon by the close of 1926; buyers could now pay for their imports, restoring the capitalist marketplace to its full capacity.
"Then came the Great Crash of 1929, the market economy turning down, general economic crisis forcing nations to be sellers but not buyers in the world. The continuing deadlock of market dealings demanded changes in the political way in which economic solutions were planned. The Italian trusts chose fascism as a way out of their economic malaise. The German cartels demanded continental markets and colonies, not by marketplace dealings - for they were shut out of the markets and colonies of the other Powers - but by military conquest. Hitler, their puppet, demanded no more than they asked, Germany taking the lead in totalitarianizng Europe. And with Japan in the Asian wing, the Axis Pact aligned fascist power over five continents.
“Thereby the material conditions of society – monopoly ownership, overproduction, market struggle, political bankruptcy, and military occupation – had ended the marketplace system. The monopolists and cartelists needed fascism to build themselves strong for a military confrontation which, they believed, would award them with more raw materials, more markets, more profits and more power. The liberal business interests, then opting for increasing national competitiveness, also blocked any move towards allowing the social means of production to provide for popular need, instead of their private profit. The fascists, combining jingoism and planned speed-ups for the working population, now displayed a tawdry alternative to the free marketplace. And the monopolists then brought them into power in hopes that their accumulation of private gain would continue undiminished. World War II inexorably followed, not only because leaders willed it, but also because the solutions to economic and political crises required it.”