Yesterday, National Public Radio (NPR) aired an interview with a former prisoner in Iran to discuss the recent release of 5 Amerikan citizens from an Iranian prison. The focus was on the horrible effects of solitary confinement and how to adapt to being back in society.
In our 2008 survey of long-term solitary confinement in the United $tates, we found that there were over 90,000 people suffering in those conditions. It is strange for the NPR story to not have mentioned this problem at home as well, or how the oppressed people in this country fair after years in torture cells. The NPR report spoke of “death chambers” in the Iranian prison, yet the United $tates has electric and now injection chairs with viewing areas and what they call “death row” in prisons across this country (though only about a dozen states are actively murdering prisoners in recent years).
The United $tates has long had the highest imprisonment rate across the world. They even boasted a higher imprisonment rate of Black people than the internationally condemned apartheid regime in South Africa.
The one-sided depiction of prisons and solitary confinement in Iran on NPR revealed a strong bias in their reporting. Yet what was most shocking to learn was that these people coming out of Iranian prisons were being offered what sounded like a fully immersive program through the U.$. military for dealing with the mental anguish of being in long-term solitary confinement.
Really? Yet every year we have comrades who are released from the same conditions in this country with nothing but a parole officer watching over them, often sabotaging their efforts to maintain a job and build a new life. Tens of thousands of people every year are released from long-term solitary in the United $tates, either into general population prisons or to the streets, with no concern for their mental well-being from the state. Who the U.$. imperialists offer mental health services to is a political decision, and it is our politics that guide us to offer help to those the imperialists will not.
As of last week, the California Mandela Act (AB 280) passed a supermajority in the state house and senate, heading next to the desk of Governor Newsom. Newsom vetoed the Mandela Act just one year ago. An aspiring presidential candidate, Newsom is likely to reject the calls from the state legislator to stop this torture again. This is over a decade after the historic California hunger strikes that called for an end to long-term solitary confinement, leading to the 2015 Ashker vs. CDCR settlement where those sacrifices led only to individuals being released from the SHU, leaving the institution in place.
For comrades currently suffering in torture cells in U.$. prisons, you can write to us for back issues of Under Lock & Key on solitary and materials from the American Friends Service Committee on dealing with isolation. For comrades who are getting out, who have spent long periods in solitary, our Re-Lease on Life Program attempts to offer mentoring, guidance and political engagement to ease the transition back into society. Meanwhile, we encourage everyone to get involved in the struggle to abolish long-term solitary confinement in this country completely.
Because over 100,000 people face torture in solitary in the United $tates every year with no imperialist Army programs for rehabilitation offered afterwards, we must develop independent institutions of the oppressed to address this material need among the oppressed masses in this country.
In the last month we have seen the state of Georgia bring RICO Act charges against Rudy Giuliani and others who worked with Donald Trump to steal the 2020 U.$. presidential election, as well activists who were doing things as simple as handing out fliers opposing the construction of Cop City in Atlanta.
The Federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was enacted in 1970 as a tool to charge people with crimes when they were having other people do their dirty work for them. Each crime charged under RICO can add years to ones prison sentence. The Georgia RICO Act of 1980 covers more crimes than the federal version. The Georgia Act makes Racketeering a felony in the state.(1) Historically, we have had multiple readers who were victims of RICO Act charges brought during the Giuliani years in New York City, and more recently in the Atlanta area, for their leadership roles in lumpen organizations, the more typical target of RICO.
Rudy Giuliani earned fame as a federal prosecutor for getting Mafia bosses in New York City convicted on RICO Act charges. He then used his reputation to become a “tough-on-crime” mayor of New York City known for “cleaning up” the city. It was during Giuliani’s time as Mayor of NYC that the infamous case was brought against King Blood (aka Luis Felipe) under the RICO Act. King Blood was charged for murders committed while ey was already in prison and received the inhumane and unprecedented sentence of life in solitary confinement. All of King Blood’s First Amendment rights to communication were denied, allowing only communication with eir lawyer and immediate family. This was not typically something a judge could sentence, but was justified via the racketeering statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(d).(2) Decades later, King Blood still sits in a torture cage in ADX Florence, isolated from the world. While the RICO charges against Giuliani may provide some cathartic humor, the 79-year-old will not be facing anything like King Blood is doing.
Weeks following the Georgia RICO Act charges against Trump, Giuliani, et al., another set of RICO Act charges (and domestic terrorism charges) were made against 61 activists involved in opposing the construction of Cop City in Atlanta. This is a continuation of the state’s warfare against Stop Cop City, including the ludicrous money laundering charges brought against bail support fundraisers we reported on in the last issue of ULK.(3) In the recent RICO indictment, the date of the murder of George Floyd (25 May 2020) is stated a the beginning of the investigations around the so-called “racketeering.” In other words, the state was trumping up these charges against activists before there was a Stop Cop City movement. This is not about stopping any criminal conspiracy, it is about repressing any opposition to the use of lethal police force against New Afrika and oppressed people in general. It is a defense of the state’s right to wage violent war against New Afrika.
In a recent article, a comrade laid out the political nature of the law, debunking the myth that laws were developed as a way to impose morality or address inherent problems in society.(4) Rather law stemmed from the need to manage the division of humyns into classes. With Trump/Giuliani, we see the RICO Act law being used by the bourgeoisie to discipline other bourgeoisie who are threatening the image of bourgeois democracy. And in the case of the 61 activists they are using the same law to discipline youth and oppressed nations who are opposing more violent forms of state discipline.
When we go up against the courts, the police, or even the politicians, we must be prepared for war. The cops murdering us in could blood is war. The courts and prisons putting us in torture cells for years is war. City governments in Atlanta and San Pablo, California funding cop cities where pigs can play war games is war. These more obvious forms of war, are part of political struggle. There are no rights, only power struggles. To engage in power struggles, requires giving the war two sides.
^*Notes: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_RICO_(Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations)_Act 2. Prison Legal News, 15 March 1999, Judicial Sentence of Life in Solitary Upheld. 3. A comrade, July 2023, “Law and the Courts of Late”, Under Lock & Key No. 82. 4. A comrade of Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support, July 2023 “Atlanta Criminalizes Protest Against Cop City”, Under Lock & Key No. 82.*^
We thank Comrade Slaughter for bringing forth these questions, and as Maoist revolutionaries MIM(Prisons) as a cell has the duty to coordinate this line struggle within the United Struggle Within through unity-criticism-unity. One divides into two: a thing that was in a state of unity will have its contradictions and arrive at a point where the two are split. And through criticism and self-criticism and ridding metaphysics and idealism, the two aspects of the contradiction will find unity where one side will overtake the other.
Before we begin with the following quotes of the responders to Comrade Slaughter, we raise the question Mao Zedong asked when ey and eir comrades were beginning a revolutionary people’s war in semi-colonial and semi-feudal China: who are our friends? who are our enemies?
Comrade Jade responds: In regards to Slaughter’s response I would like to point out a few things you may overlook in regards to sex offenders in general.
First, not everyone convicted of a sex crime is a child molester. Are all white males Aryans? Are all Hispanics Cartel? Are all Black males gang bangers? There will always be diversity in all groups we attempt to label or create. It is a proven fact. We all are individuals who are slightly different even under the exact same conditions.
Next, I believe that you need to truly look at what they did or did not do before ostracizing or mistreating them. Do not just judge them by the label corrupt politics fostered on them.
I agree that those who truly rape/molest and prey on underage children are not likely to be rehabilitated or to further the cause. But, how many of the people convicted of sex crimes are the true predators?
I know from personal experience, as a former psychiatric nurse, that females tend to mature sooner and seek out sex earlier. As puberty shifts from the old 12-15 to 8-11 now due to steroids and worse it makes them even more likely to become sexually active by 14. They will seek out partners where they will, including older more experienced men, who in their opinion can please them or teach them. While I do not advocate for them to be sexually active, especially not with grown men, due to early menstruation and physical development some females 14-17 look like grown adults. Then add to that the over-sexualization of our society, they tend to become aggressive in a sexual nature. As a result, some men may not realize their partner is underage. While this is not an excuse, it does happen.
Then you have men whose adult female partner falsely accuses them in revenge to a variety of things. It is not uncommon in a situation like this for the man to be convicted or pressured into a deal.
This does not mean all sex offenders are able to be rehabilitated, though the ones convicted rarely re-offend according to statistical evidence.
To this end we need a viable alternative to prisons and/or death for all offenders who truly cannot be rehabilitated. None of the current approaches are going to work. It will have to be a new idea.
We also must address the over-sexualization of our society. By making sex less of a pass time, less appealing, less mainstream, we can reduce many sex offenses as well.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Comrade Jade reveals an important aspect of the registered sex offenders status – the moral panic and the scapegoat aspect it represents. How many non-registered sex offenders and non-confirmed sex offenders in prisons (who might perhaps gotten in prison for non-sex related crimes such as murder or drugs) will partake in the ultra-leftist crusade against the confirmed ones? For the readers on the outside, that sentence alone might carry a reactionary and apologist undertones, but that is because petty-bourgeois justice oriented revenge killings is a material reality in prison and much less often outside. The life of a lumpen organization member for example is an oppressive and gritty one, and sexual crimes or sexual relations where consent isn’t prioritized aren’t uncommon; yet most lumpen organization members won’t come to prison on sex related crimes but on drug and homicide related crimes.
Subjectivism, ultra-leftism, and individualist oriented justice is another form of opiate of the masses in prison: take that anger out on the confirmed sex offenders says the pig, but us at MIM(Prisons) know that the pigs are laughing all along as this happens because it’s just that much easier to control a violent lumpen class than a cool and collected one – a class in itself vs a class for itself. Drugs aren’t the only form of individualism that is used to placate the imprisoned lumpen, the imprisoned lumpen’s penchent for ultra-leftist violence will also come in handy as a governing tool.
In a socialist society we will ban things like pornography for profit and misogynistic media and media that is predatory towards children. These things are so common under imperialism and reinforce and encourage sexual abuse.
A Colorado Prisoner Responds: I agree with Wiawimawo. I disagree with Slaughter.
A “sex offense” is whatever a legislature defines as one. It can be anything like actual physical rape to someone who is caught peeing on a dumpster in an alley. In my 14 years in a Corruptarado (as we call this state) prison I have met only a couple of people who were actual “rapists.” The vast majority of sex offenders were people who had younger lovers who chose to be with them. But someone, often a jealous want-to-be lover, found out, ratted the two out, and the older partner was arrested and charged.
Now prosecutors adore sex charges. They require no physical evidence, no witnesses. Only an allegation and a “victim” coached by D.A. investigators to say how they were fooled, manipulated, led astray, by that evil older man (almost always a man). And in states like this one without a time limit for filing, a “victim” can say, “20 years ago he took advantage of me” and the D.A. can file a charge and get a conviction.
Slaughter talks about “children.” A child is whatever the legislator says he is. Anyone under 18 is defined a child. Right now it is 18, which is the “age of consent.” Back in 2009, in Colorado, it was 15. And a female of 12, with parental permission, could marry (official papers) anyone.
In Texas, as in most of the South, the legal age for marriage was 12 when I was there. I don’t know what it is now.
The fact is, the religious right bible-wavers do not like sex, and they do not want these pesky kids having any of it. Thus the law, and the pigs (Amerikkka’s version of the Nazi SA) are used to stop it.
The conclusion of this religious fear will be what was done in the Salem-Keizer school district in Oregon. Reported on broadly, on vice.com, “Teachers Forced to Report All Teens Having Sex in Oregon School District.”
At those schools, since Oregon law only allows sex for those 18 or older, anyone under 18 doing the dirty is a criminal. So any school personnel discovering an under 18 having sex is required to report him or her to the police for prosecution.
Hey, if enough “children under law” would be arrested and thrown into prison then unapproved sex could be stopped. Of course, putting older partners in prison is already being done and that does not stop them from re-offending. So it should work with the children also.
Slaughter (what is in a name) wants those sex offenders (ey calls them pedophiles – a term created by prosecutors to inflame) to be punished, and people protected from them. In Colorado there are about 4000 sex offenders in prison (CDOC). The vast majority have indeterminate sentences, which means most will die in prison. That number is a full 25% of the CDOC population. And as you probably know, the giving of indeterminate sentences is an easy way for prosecutors to get a life sentence for defendants that did not kill anyone. Great for the D.A.’s stats when a performance review comes around.
The issue is of life sentences in Amerikkka. Get the article, “The Only Way We Get Out of There is in a Pine Box” in the April 2022 issue of News Inside published by The Marshall Project. It tells of elderly prisoners, convicted of murder or other violent crimes who will die in prison. At great expense to tax payers for all their medical care.
…Make no mistake about it, if the Christians like Pence, DeSantis, etc. take over, a new inquisition, just like the Spanish one in the 18th Century will be instituted. And right at the top of the list, below LGBTQ people, will be the communists. Off to the concentration camps for all.
MIM(Prisons) Responds: A recent report by the Prison Policy Initiative exposes the arbitrary repression of so-called “civil commitments.” In cases where someone is not given a life sentence, they can be civily committed after fulfilling the sentence given by the courts. Most who go to civil commitment will never see the outside world again. At least 6,000 people, mostly men, across the country are in civil commitment after serving their time for sex offenses. Unlike court, the process to be sentenced to civil commitment is largely arbitrary. The following will make you much more likely to be civilly committed: being gay, being transgender, being Black, being disabled.(3)
Under imperialism, well-meaning laws that sound good on paper such as ones surrounding the age of consent (or the anti-mask laws first intended against the Klan protesting while cowardly hiding eir identities, but now used against progressives and oppressed nation youth protesting against police violence) will be abused for the interests of the imperialist-patriarchy. The truth is, law in itself for any given class society has been simply state enforced rules to govern the overall humyn society in accordance with the respective class dictatorships. This is why legalism (in this case referring to the idea that good laws will create good society and bad laws will create bad society) is in no way shape or form a scientific solution against the tragic cases such as rape, molestation, and grooming of children.
Under the imperialist patriarchy that we live in, children have no rights or agency to consent and the rape culture of our world will always harm the most vulnerable. “Good” laws under an imperialist patriarchy will be designed and used for the purposes of maintaining it (the nuclear family, heteronormitivity, youth oppression, etc.) that has children raped in the first place while a socialist society/proletarian dictatorship will give power to the youth to properly protect themselves and prioritize abolishing oppression above all else and especially against prioritizing profits and maintaining a patriarchal culture.
A California Prisoner Responds: I can see this comrade has done a significant amount of revolutionary education. However to truly be a communist means one has to recognize the humanity of others. It is here this comrade’s own hate is still an obstacle in the way. The ONLY path forward for this comrade is to forgive his abuser. This comrade must also recognize that the Known Sex Offenders (KSO’s) on the yard are NOT his abuser, meaning this comrade does NOT know their circumstance.
This comrade separates sex crimes from all other crimes by stating that “all other crimes are political crimes,” as a result of capitalism I presume. Sex crimes are an “illness.” This comrade (let me say comrades) states he is in for murder and that murder is somehow NOT an anti-human crime but only a “political crime.” Furthermore, Comrade Slaughter states that he is rehabilitated by saying he has “learned to be objective towards KSO’s.” He also states it is only possible for all other criminals to rehabilitate by saying “unification with the KSOs is futile because after the revolution the KSO will still need to be dealt with” meaning presumably rehabilitation for sex addiction is somehow not possible for the KSO.
I would like to start with the motion this murderer is not as rehabilitated as ey claim. The statement “after the revolution the KSO will still need to be dealt with” proves Comrade S. is not as rehabilitated as ey thinks. It also proves that Comrade S endorses the puniluation method used by the Nazis to “deal with” 6 million Jews. Comrade S. is obviously proposing the genocide of a whole group of people (KSOs). I think a lot of Jews, Armenians, and Africans would tell Comrade S. that his crime of murder is not political as he claims, but in fact is an anti-people crime. Moreover, most KSOs are more rehabilitated than this murderer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We would say that the comparison of Slaughter’s comments to the holocaust of Jewish, Gay, Romani, and politically subversive revolutionaries under Nazi Germany to be a bit of an exaggeration. Yet it is true that the fascists will mobilize people around persecuting scapegoats, and currently it is this fanatical connection between pedophilia, transgender people and gender non-conforming people in general that is mobilizing the reactionary forces in the streets.
As we assemble this issue of ULK, a news story dropped about Larry Nassar being stabbed in prison. Nassar was convicted of molesting hundreds of young girls over decades while serving as the doctor for the U.$. Olympic team. Whether it’s to make themselves feel better about themselves, as the California prisoner above proposed, or to take out some anger, or to earn some stripes, the collaborative effort to punish people like Nassar undermines the principal contradiction in prisons. These attacks are generally a collaborative effort between prisoners and staff. Staff who may overlap with the fascist movements on the streets threatening drag story times. And while we would not argue there is never a time to ally with staff, it is a rare occasion, when they actually side with prisoners against the system. In contrast, this type of “outlaw justice” is really state-sanctioned. And it does reinforce the idea that there is some common interest between the oppressed and the oppressor in punishing these crimes considered most heinous.
If we aren’t organizing collectively to transform systems and transform ourselves, then we aren’t working towards justice. Triumphant mentions an example on the streets of FPC addressing open air sex markets in the community. Without knowing the details, this seems like an approach that could actually mobilize the people in a way that reduces sexual abuse of children and teenagers. Within prisons we can point to the example of Men Against Sexism, which successfully eradicated rape in Washington State Prison.(1) So if people are serious about taking action against sexual assault, there are actual effective ways to do this.
The ability to truly rehabilitate people will increase as communists increase their power and influence over society. We agree with this comrade that the current system can’t properly address those who aren’t being rehabilitated. And we look to socialist China’s model for how they rehabilitated people who committed crimes against the people.
Comrade Slaughter is right to bring up the question of how and what the morality of a revolutionary should be implemented and look like. To that we answer that proletarian morality must be based on whatever is best for the whole of society to be rid of oppression in contrast to bourgeois morality which is based on individualism, Liberalism, and profit. We tell Comrade Slaughter, and to all comrades in the revolutionary struggle (especially the imprisoned lumpen) to protect themselves as revolutionaries from individuals with bad intentions, but also to push themselves beyond the subjective trauma that ey has faced as oppressed people. Use mindfulness and other resources made available by this imperialist system and use it to better oneself as a revolutionary to heal the persynal scars to better transform the world around us. Don’t let the imperialists weaponize mindfulness or therapy to numb and placate one’s self.
All crimes are political. Post-modernism (the narrative of non-narrative) recognizes phenomena such as this and says that the persynal is the political. Maoism goes beyond this to say that the narrative of the oppressed must replace the narrative of the oppressor with revolutionary violence (rhetoric alone will solve nothing). Persynal scars are political scars, and recognizing the contradiction between the individual and the oppressive system is recognizing that one must recognize eir own lived experiences isn’t all there is to the world and is an unscientific way for the oppressed nations/internal semi-colonies of the United $tates to understand the material reality around them.
After printing our long discussion of sex offenders in ULK 81 we thought we might have spent a bit too much space on the topic. But as all the responses came in, we were reminded why we did a whole issue focused on this topic 5 years ago. It is a topic of great interest to the prison masses. It is important for building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. And we learned some stats on the large percentages of prisoners who are convicted of some kind of “sex offense” across the country (25% in Colorado, 21% in California).
Many of our readers feel they have been wronged or mistreated by other prisoners because they are labelled a sex offender. Others who are not convicted of any sex-related crime spoke up on behalf of those who are. And we know there are many with such charges who are reading ULK, reaching out to MIM(Prisons), who want to be part of the anti-imperialist prison movement. And so the question is, should we be excluding 1/5 to 1/4 of the population in any given prison system from the movement based on this label?
As scientists, we must think in terms of percentages. If 25% of people in a given prison system are sex offenders, that means in a wing of 100 people, 25 of them are convicted of some kind of sex crime. Are 100% of these 25 prisoners enemies of the people who cannot be redeemed? Even those who wrote to say that some cannot be reformed, did not include all “sex offenders” in that category. Yet, often, the way it plays out is 100% of those with known sex crime convictions are treated as outcasts. This is dividing the prison population. This is just one of many things dividing prisoners in the United $tates today. But it is one that affects a lot of people.
The possibility that we’ve been working to create since before the founding of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) in 2012, is a united prison movement that acts in the interests of all oppressed people. People in U.$. prisons are being tortured, starved, denied medical care, denied educations, imposed with mental suffering and being repressed for political activity. A strong, united prison movement is the only way we can overcome these conditions.
The divisions preventing this level of unity is the old way, the way of imperialism. We are fighting for a new way, a revolutionary socialist way. This new way requires changes in how we live and interact. On the level of the individual this means applying the Maoist method of criticism/self-criticism. This is something we all must participate in to be part of the movement to overcome imperialism. It’s not just sex offenders, or drug addicts, or murderers who need to self-criticize and reform ourselves, it’s all of us. All of us have ways of thinking and behaving that are based in the values of imperialism.
We are calling on comrades to lead criticism/self-criticism sessions with the goal of building unity to build for the UFPP’s annual Day of Peace & Solidarity, this September 9th. For years we’ve been promoting the Day of Peace and sharing report backs on events organized by prisoners across the country. What we want to focus on this September 9th is the importance of criticism/self-criticism in the building of unity. We challenge USW leaders to take on the following plan of action:
Every day, ask yourself what is an interaction you could have handled differently to better promote unity among prisoners? This could be a daily meditation question you take on for Black August.
Every week, meet with like-minded people and discuss ways you are working to change yourselves to be better leaders at building unity. Give each other feedback on your shortcomings and progress.
On September 9th, organize others to take the day off from work and school, to fast, and to focus on this question of building unity for common interests on a facility-wide level.
Use the article Criticism & Self-Criticism as a guide and in your discussions in the coming weeks. In addition, last year we released our Revolutionary 12 Step Program. This pamphlet is a guide to self-assessment and self-criticism. It is a framework for transforming yourself along the guidelines of proletarian morality. Get a copy via our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program to help you with the above tasks.
Then send us a report on your successes and failures this September 9th so we can all learn, grow and share in the next issue of Under Lock & Key. Issue 83 will be focused on the theme of “Prisons are War.” We will be printing stories that highlight the political war being waged against oppressed people and politically active people by the U.$. criminal injustice system.
1. PTT, November 2012, Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, Under Lock & Key 29.
The quote below is from a new reader of Under Lock & Key in a discussion with MIM(Prisons). We will note that this comrade advocated for closing down “pig stations (pig pens)” to build community centers and sees Black people as one with North Korea as both face the imperialists as their enemy. With that we seem to have strong unity on the principal contradiction in this country and internationally.
And we are printing this comrade’s words not to pick on em, but on the contrary because we see em as a comrade and ally in the struggle that we want to build unity with. And we are printing them in ULK because these ideas are not unique to this one persyn, we hear similar things all the time, and too often the correct line is just assumed, but the incorrect lines are never addressed.
"Now as to your question of how I see LGBTQ people. No, I don’t see them as a problem for the oppressed. I see them with love and respect. However, I must be definitive of myself, I choose a female as my mate. That is the natural order of existence, respectfully, the opposite does not hold the continuation of life. The demands of nature are written in the libido, the libido is the driving force of procreation.
“One’s body does not belong to the individual, it is on loan from the ancestors. I will not deny the call of the ancestors. Yet, who am I to judge. I’m just expressing myself as every person should have the right to express themselves fully without contempt. I do believe that the LGBTQ movement is a faction that has a driving force behind it that is bigger than the movement itself. I believe that the imperialists are the driving force behind that movement, just as much as they are the driving force behind militarism, desensitizing, hypersexualism, hate, division. They have controlled the narrative of these characters, they have broadcast, advertised, marketed these characters and now they are doing the same with the LGBTQ community.”
Already on this topic of LGBTQ we see this comrade respects all people and is not approaching this with hatred or desire to oppress others. Again, more basis for unity.
In our response we want to address: 1. the natural order; and, 2. imperialism using LGBTQ movement to forward its own ends.
The Natural Order
We’ve all heard countless times that anything other than straight procreative sex is unnatural because it does not reproduce the species. We’ll put aside for now the fact that most of the sex these people have is not procreative either (presumably these people never even masturbate). There is a certain logic to this thinking from the framework of the individualist culture of the nuclear family.
One thing that is characteristic of humyns is the long period it takes for a newborn humyn to become self-sufficient. The patriarchal family structure in this country was established around the system of slavery, where New Afrikan slaves provided much of the childcare and food for the table for the white settler family. In other nations the grandparents and extended family help fill similar needs.
There are indigenous cultures where it has been documented that people we would call LGBTQ today existed. This counters the argument that such people are a modern invention. And these people had particular roles in the community that were important to sustaining that community even if they did not participate in sexual reproduction. It is our atomized society today that makes it seem natural, or necessary, for everyone to be a sexual reproducing member of society.
The comrade here states that eir body is a gift from the ancestors, but we would add that the African ancestors of New Afrikans (like many pre-colonial cultures) did not adhere to our modern capitalist patriarchy. European colonizers in Africa were troubled when people they perceived as male did not perform the role of a man, and in turn punished such people to impose their gender roles in the name of Christianity. Female to female marriage has been documented in over 40 pre-colonial African societies.(1)
In closely related species, social structures are built around one male who does most of the sexual reproduction for the whole group. Other species mate for life. And many species have sexual activity between animals of the same sex, etc. Certainly, the sex between males and females are crucial for the continuation of species like ours before the development of medical methods of fertilization. But it is not true that non-procreative sexual behavior doesn’t occur in other species, in previous humyn societies, or that it is somehow detrimental to our species.
Another example that adds to this point is that oftentimes the political-economic decadence of oppressor nations (predominantly petty-bourgeois societies such as Japan, $outh Korea, and even modern day Settler-Amerika) sees declining birthrates. The petty-bourgeoisie often point to non-heterosexual romance or miscegenation as the cause of low birth-rate for oppressor nations, but the materialist truth points to decadence and capitalist alienation which is the true detriment to the reproduction of humynity.
Despite our current individualistic society, we remain social creatures. Our behaviors are largely influenced by our society. Sexual behavior has evolved and changed as society has changed. While various parallels of LGBTQ people existed prior to patriarchy, there is also no doubt that the patriarchy impacts peoples’ sexuality. For example, under patriarchy wimmin can become afraid to date men and men can become afraid to express affection towards men. It is also true that national oppression and imprisonment impact peoples’ sexuality.
What we do know is: 1) that gender, and even the sex binary as we recognized in our 2018 congress resolution, are not biological facts, but rather social constructs. 2) to the extent that biology does determine things we call gender and sexuality, that there is always variation in nature.
To be a scientific thinker one must be able to think in terms of probabilities and percentages. Male and female, black and white, good and evil are ways we categorize things. The idealist believes these are pre-existing truths, while the scientist recognizes them as humyn-made categories. For the scientific thinker, what is unnatural is for everything and everyone to fit into two neat little categories.
A more objective view of the world will also recognize that it is myopic to see humyn society as separate from the “natural.” To put it another way, there will never be a humyn society where humyn beings behave by some pre-ordained natural way determined by our biology, where no social factors determine our behavior. On the contrary, it is our aim to revolutionize our society to revolutionize how we interact with each other into ways that have never been done before. There is no “natural” way we are trying to return to as the conservatives imagine. We want to create new and better futures, based on humyn relations without oppression and exploitation. That is the radical, and the only, answer to the “ills” of our society today.
LGBTQ and Imperialism
The comrade quoted above said ey loves and respects LGBTQ people but has issues with their movement being used towards imperialist ends. If the latter is true, then this could be the correct position for revolutionaries to take. So is the LGBTQ movement a weapon of the imperialists?
We have certainly noticed the LGBTQ cause being weaponized against the oppressed nations both inside and outside United $tates borders. One big example of this was during the Bush administration’s imperialist crusade against the Middle East and Central Asia where semi-feudal patriarchal practices of the masses in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq were put in the spotlight as justification for genocidal war. This was a big rallying cry for the “feminist” argument that U.$. invasion of Afghanistan meant freedom and liberation of Afghan womyn and LGBTQ. When the Taliban kicked out the U.$. imperialists in 2021, the fact that public education for Afghan womyn were taken away by the Taliban was put in the spotlight again alongside news of anti-LGBTQ lynchings, etc. So in cases such as these, we can see how even progressive causes such as the freedom for wimmin to have education and for LGBTQ people to express their love can be weaponized by the imperialists whose bombs will murder Afghan womyn and LGBTQ people and take away their freedom to be alive.
On a side note, looking at things in a historical materialist perspective, the brief experience of bourgeois democracy for middle class womyn to gain education and for LGBTQ people to exist without the immediate threat of death has been tasted by the broad Afghan masses (or at least the Afghan petty-bourgeoisie who could have afforded to experience it under the reactionary comprador U.$.-backed warlord regime). This gives the historical duty of the petty-bourgeoisie in Afghanistan to partake in a new democratic revolution alongside the proletariat, the peasantry, and the national bourgeoisie to overthrow the semi-feudal and semi-colonial state and implement those said freedoms under a proletarian dictatorship
But for us inside U.$. borders, what is the significance of this? Anti-imperialists should confront rallies to “defend Afghan wimmin” through U.$. bombs with anti-war, anti-militarist messages. But this has nothing to do with the realities of homosexual romance or people adopting gendered appearances that the patriarchy did not assign to them. More homosexual romance does not inherently bring more bombs dropped on the Third World. As pointed out, these bombs are killing LGTBQ people indiscriminately as well.
For all it’s self-proclaimed enlightened ways, U.$. imperialism continues to uphold the myth of race in everything it does. Enter the Supreme Court with their historic decision to end affirmative action in higher education. While the “race-conscious” policy did benefit (some in the) oppressed nations, the framework of race, created by the oppressor, continues to setback the progress of the oppressed.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority position, “Many universities have for too long… concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin… Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”
We are not in the game of integrating oppressed people into the oppressor nation, but affirmative action based on “race” did prove an effective way to do that. Ending it will mean less oppressed nation people in higher education as recent history in California has shown.(1)
However, the racial statistics used to tout the success of affirmative action can be misleading. Because “race” and not income, or zip code, or cultural background are used in many of these statistics, what looks like perfect representation by skin color may be doing nothing to benefit the New Afrikan masses. Extrapolating from some broad statistics, one author estimates that maybe 7 or 8 of 154 “Black” freshman (5%) at Harvard in 2020 were from families defined in the U.$. as impoverished. Whereas, in the general population, 30% of New Afrikan youth are from impoverished households. This article also cites anecdotes saying the vast majority of black faces at Harvard are from bourgeois African families or had one Euro-Amerikan parent. Again, indicating affirmative action was not really benefiting the New Afrikan nation at Harvard anyway.(2)
The passage of the U.$. Civil Rights Act in 1964, which preceded the “affirmative action” practices we know today, was a comprehensive act to outlaw discrimination in what had been a segregated country. This was not just a result of the organizing of the oppressed within U.$. borders, but the pressure from the Soviet Union (though at that time they’d taken up the capitalist road) and China and the broader national liberation movement taking place across Africa, Asia and Latin America. And while progressive changes took place in the United $tates in the 1960s it did not quell the upsurge of national liberation struggles within U.$. borders because it never addressed the national question like the Soviet Union and China did. Rather it continued to institutionalize the concept of race through the new civil rights laws being passed.
By never addressing the national question, things like affirmative action, or Under Lock & Key can be attacked by the imperialist state as “racist.” To the imperialists the oppressed nations don’t exist, so when we talk about New Afrikans or Chican@s or Euro-Amerikans, they censor our literature for “racism.”
We must identify the principal contradiction to keep our eyes on the prize and not get distracted into dead-end politics. The principal contradiction we see under imperialism is nation, as well within the United $tates we say it is nation. This does not mean everyone from an oppressed nation is an ally. We must think in terms of percentages, not in black and white.
In discussing racism in political repression, Triumphant talks about the neo-colonial era. And we echo this sentiment that “skinfolk ain’t necessarily kinfolk.” That Black bourgeoisie are often playing significant enemy roles, in defense of U.$. imperialism.
However, just because neo-colonialism exists, it does not mean that nation is erased and class is all that matters. Neo-colonialism is still national oppression, it’s just a smarter form.
In reality, not seeing race at all is impossible for us in this racist society. Even when speaking of nations, we use phenotypes to classify people; we are still stuck in this model handed down by the European settlers who created “whiteness.” We must develop a political analysis to guide us that is beyond the myth of race and bloodlines, that instead operates in the material reality of nation, which J.V. Stalin defined as " a historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make up manifested in a community of culture."
Comrade USW36 wrote on this topic:
i too, no longer use “Black” and “White” to define people. i’m a “New Afrikan”, Black is “created” by European settlers to enforce their new “white” identity rule. i hope all Rev Nats study Fanon (and Yaki’s “Meditations”), New Afrika, Native Amerika, and New Aztlan can be freed. We can be united and create a true North Amerikan Revolutionary Nationalist United Front to decolonize and delink from this imperialist juggernaut. Black and White identities won’t help us free any of the NA nations (i’d like also to salute New Asian Pacific Islanders).
If Amerika is the “prison house of nations”, if our aim is to weaken it from the inside, if revolutionary nationalism is viable then this isn’t just a path for New Afrikans it’s for us all, even European-settlers if they commit class-suicide. New Afrika isn’t just descendants of Afrika. It’s a scattered and potentially solidified nation with all sorts of “ethnicities”, and too, anyone can be a New Afrikan; shaming people ’cause they’re not “Black” enough or not at all is bourgeois bullshit. Someone like the Euro-Amerikan teacher Rachel Dolezal shouldn’t have been discarded like trash if she lied about her ethnicity; that could be corrected by self-criticism but if she consciously was willing to fight for the liberation of “New Afrika” then she’s a “New Afrikan” it’s that fucken simple. But we all need to wrestle with these contradictions here in the heart of empire.
A better example than Rachel Dolezal is Yuri Kochiyama, who was actually a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), joining at its founding in 1968 along with a 17 year-old Mutulu Shakur. Kochiyama was a close comrade of el Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X when they met). As a child of Japanese descent she spent years in a U.$. concentration camp during WWII. The RNA continues to serve as a model for how to address oppression from within the empire. Armed with Maoism, revolutionary nationalism within the belly of the beast can lead us to a world with out racism.
We’ve been a bit strained on support lately. One thing we forgot to do in ULK 81 is promote our annual fund drive for the Fourth of You-Lie (July 4th). The good news is you can donate any time of year! The bad news is, so far we’ve only received a quarter of the amount in donations, and a quarter of the amount in payments for literature from our readers inside U.$. prisons that we received in 2022. But we’re already half way through the year! We have been rebuilding and expanding our reach over the last few years, so there’s a lot of catching up to do to sustain our growth.
Prisoners, the amount we ask you to send is about $4 or 7 stamps to cover a year subscription to Under Lock & Key. We know not everyone has that in prison, so anyone who can send more, all funds go directly to sending materials to prisoners.
Mutulu Shakur passed away on 6 July 2023, about 8 months after being released from prison. From a young age Shakur got involved in the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and soon after became a citizen of newly founded Republic of New Afrika in 1968. Ey was a leader in the movement in eir late teens.
Shakur was a Prisoner of War for 36 years before eir release this winter. Shakur was imprisoned for the Brinks robbery case where a guard and two cops were killed. This incident is analyzed in detail in the book, False Nationalism, False Internationalism by Tani and Sera.
While in prison, Shakur spent most of eir years in torture cells. Ey was sent to the original control unit in Marion, IL for eir organizing of young New Afrikans, and was later sent to the infamous ADX prison. During this time ey also worked with step-son Tupac Shakur to develop the THUG LIFE code.(1)
Mutulu Shakur is also well-known for eir participation in the Lincoln Detox Center in New York, where ey spearheaded the practice of using acupuncture, as opposed to methodone, which the revolutionaries of Lincoln Detox saw as just hooking the people on another form of dope.(2) This history has been an inspiration to our own work, and the development of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program, which we aspire to develop into a Serve the People Program at the level that Lincoln Detox did in the early 1970s.
While Shakur continued to have an impact, as an educator, and especially through eir collaboration with Tupac, the decades spent in solitary confinement were a great loss to New Afrika and all oppressed people. There is no question that Shakur had decided to wage war against U.$. imperialism, renouncing eir citizenship at 17 years old. And the imperialists waged war against em through the prison system and the extreme isolation of the control units. This is why shutting down control units and supporting prisoners organizing against imperialism remains an integral part of the anti-imperialist struggle to this day.
This Black August, we will remember Mutulu Shakur, along with many others who gave their lives to the New Afrikan Liberation Struggle.
Notes: 1. MIM(Prisons), March 2009, Peace in the Streets, Under Lock & Key No. 7. 2. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.
Recently a comrade wrote us upset that someone else “got credit” for an article ey identified as eir own. This confusion came from our assigning this comrade a USW# alias, as we do for authors who are members of USW and have not chosen their own alias. This comrade signed the article with a known alias within eir lumpen organization/association. Such aliases are well-known by the pigs and are the equivalent of printing government names. If you wish to go by a specific, anonymous, USW alias, let us know. If you disagree with MIM(Prisons)’s 6 points or do not wish to be a part of USW, please let us know that as well. Otherwise, regular authors will be assigned a random USW byline.
Printing bylines is a form of accountability, to track where ideas are coming from in an anonymous fashion. There is no “credit” to be had. All work submitted to and printed by MIM(Prisons) belongs to the movement. We do require people to cite us if they are going to reprint articles from our website/newsletter/publications. Again this is about political accountability. There are no individuals that can gain fame or fortune by claiming to own the content of our proletarian media outlets. Anyone who does is not a member of MIM(Prisons) or the organizations it leads.
Another reader recently rejoined our mailing list with an article submission, and responded by writing,
“As for MIM(Prisons) policy of not publishing authors names or known aliases, that should be a decision made by the individual. I’m sure this policy has been implemented to protect us, nonetheless I can relate to the honorable George Jackson,”I“m in a unique political position. I have a very nearly closed fortune, and since I have always been inclined to get disturbed over organized injustice or terrorist practice against the innocents – wherever – I can now say just about what I want, without the fear of self-exposure.” So with that being said I ask that any of the writing I submit be published under [my alias]. Why is this of importance to me? When the less politicized prisoner see another prisoner he knows having his writings published, it engenders a belief that they can do it as well."
As far as reaching and inspiring those around you, if you are reporting on actual organizing in your location, then the masses around you will recognize that. Our comrade in Maryland who has been reporting on the mass campaign around conditions at ECI is no doubt known to the masses there who are reading ULK and encouraged by eir reporting even though we print eir articles without even an alias.(2)
We have seen the self-appointed leaders of the so-called “panther” movement within U.$. prisons build cults of persynality around themselves seemingly as a rule. One such persyn we reported on proved to be an informant according to the SF Bayview.(3) This is not surprising to us as persynality cults are bourgeois tactics, and that persyn’s opportunist political line and self-promotion identified em as a confused mis-leader at best to MIM(Prisons) long ago. Another leader of that “party” was expelled, leading to the formation of a new party after allegedly utilizing movement events and funds for eir persynal benefit. Perhaps we are seeing a pattern?
We have a comrade who is locked back up, in no small part because of an organizing approach that was very public and social media-based. This comrade has also benefited from public support in the past. As ey sits in a jail cell with future unknown, we must double down on our assertion that public personas and revolution don’t mix.
Yes, our policy is about protecting imprisoned comrades’ identities. It’s also about not letting the pigs put poison information out through our media. It’s also about not letting people use proletarian media for self-promotion. It’s also about setting a good example of effective organizing practices and good security. It’s about building a resilient movement. It’s about trying to win for the proletariat as a whole.
For those who need to build up their persynal support base, there are other news outlets aimed at prisoners that do not have proletarian politics and will happily print your names. Bourgeois media loves stories that highlight an individual’s story, “their truth”, some photos, descriptions of persynal characteristics – that’s why we tell our comrades on the streets not to talk to bourgeois media. Under Lock & Key is a place to put proletarian politics in command and we welcome your submissions that share that mission.
Notes: 1. A Virginia prisoner explains the importance of outside supporters in the campaign for eir clemency in the June 2023 article “Proven Strategies for Waging an Effective Campaign for Clemency in Virginia”. 2. A Maryland Prisoner, April 2023, Support Incarcerated Citizens of ECI Mobilizing to Improve Conditions, Under Lock & Key 81. 3. MIM(Prisons), December 2021, Keeping Opportunism and Self-Interest at Arms Length, Lessons from a Recent Betrayal, Under Lock & Key 76.
Back in November 2022, MIM Distributors sent a copy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) PD-22 codes to a prisoner at Smith Unit. The PD-22 codes are the “General Rules of Conduct and Disciplinary Action Guidelines for Employees.” The prisoner was notified that this was “70 pages misuse of state property.” That’s funny because MIM Distributors paid for the printing and mailing of this material the TDCJ claims to be their property.
Since the 5th revision of the BP-03.91 was released on 25 June 2021, we have featured in ULK a series of articles on the newly revised policy including promoting phone zaps, protests, and lawsuits. The focus for many was the limitation on non-nude photos, and this was the subject of multiple lawsuits. MIM(Prisons) and TX TEAM ONE recognized the broader implications of these changes and supported this campaign. But now that most seem to be getting their sexy photos okay are people going to stand up for the right to access public documents?
While many prisoners write to us asking for legal help, we aren’t lawyers and we don’t offer legal help. We need your legal help. We need comrades in the TDCJ to get to the bottom of these issues, file lawsuits and lead campaigns. This is a very winnable battle that serves the interests of all prisoners in Texas. What we do do is support prisoners organizing against imperialism. If TX prisoners are ready to fight this we’re ready to push this campaign forward to stop the censorship of public documents and advance the campaign to get grievances addressed in Texas.