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Indigenous Nations Rebel in Ecuador

The 2022 Strike

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

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[Control Units] [Revolutionary History] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 78]
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Rest in Power: Principal Thinker, Peace Maker, New Afrikan Revolutionary Paul Redd

Paul Redd memorial
Memorial for Paul Redd in Oakland, California

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.

Redd was a New Afrikan Revolutionary, an author, and a principal thinker behind the development of the 2012 Agreement to End Hostilities(AEH) across California prisons. The AEH preceded an historical campaign against Security Housing Units(SHU) that included the largest prison hunger strikes in history.

Statement from Paul Redd’s family

“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.”

see more here: Friends and Comrades of the Prisoner Human Rights Movement, 27 June 2022, “Songs of tribute to Paul Redd, home with the ancestors”, The San Francisco Bay View, Vol 47, No 7.

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 78]
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Supreme Court Sets Back Health of Gender Aristocracy

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.

In a 1997 Congress Resolution on gender, MIM said:

"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.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), January 2010, Health Care Universe Excludes Most People, Under Lock & Key No. 12.
2. Pew Research, 6 July 2022, Majority of Public Disapproves of Supreme Court’s Decision To Overturn Roe v. Wade

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What is the West?

the western world?
This map from worldatlas.com shows a common perception of the West that links Anglophone (English-speaking) settler states to Western Europe

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.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), April 2022, Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis, Under Lock & Key 77.
2. 5 July 2022, Communist Party of Ukraine banned and all its assets seized by the state, Morning Star.
3. Stephanie Warsmith and Craig Webb, 6 July 2022, Dozens arraigned on charges from Jayland Walker police shooting protests. Yahoo! News.
4. MIM(Prisons), October 2015, What is the Third World?

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Book Review: Arms & Empire

[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.

Notes:
1. Manifesto on the International Situation and Revolution (first few pages)
2. Resolution on World War III (1997 MIM Congress)
3. Social-democratic gravy train opposes European Union (2005 MIM Congress)
4. also see: “Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis” in Under Lock & Key 77 for broad discussion of economic and military warfare against Russia in 2022.

Key summary quotes from book

End of the Introduction:

“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.”

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[Censorship] [Drugs] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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FL, TX Censor Revolutionary 12 Steps Program

As soon as the first printing of our new Revolutionary 12 Step Program pamphlet landed in prisons across the United $tates, it has been targeted for censorship in both Florida and Texas.

The Florida mailroom staff who seized the pamphlet checked two reasons for impounding it:

“(15)(i)is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, rebellion, organized prison protest, disruption of the institution, or the violation of the federal law, state law or Department Rules”

and

“(15)(p)otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the correctional system or the safety of any person.”

Since the pamphlet is actively preventing harm to the safety of any person and actively training people to stop breaking the law or engaging in destructive behavior, we must wonder what are the “rehabilitative objectives” of the Florida Department of Corrections.

MIM(Prisons) appealed this.

Texas on the other hand did not give MIM(Prisons) the opportunity to appeal, as required by Federal law, and only notified us of the censorship after the review committee’s final decision, which, like Florida, cited the “Entire publication contain security concerns.”

The reason they cited:

“Publication contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve a breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes, riots or security threat group activity.”

Literally no reasonable person would think this.

But as we’ve been reporting on, the TDCJ is openly trafficking drugs to sell to the people they imprison. So it is not surprising that they find our efforts to combat addiction to be a disruption to their operations.

It’s also no secret that the oppressor prefers us to be drunk and high, rather than thinking clearly and doing good for ourselves and our people.

Prisoners can help by getting our Censorship Guide and appealing any censorship as the comrade in Texas did. People on the outside can help by volunteering to help us appeal and hold these state agencies accountable. Legal expertise with these issues is also something you can contribute.

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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Download and Print] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Repression of Juneteenth Boycott Organizers has Begun

With just a month remaining before the first series of actions around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, we have received reports of repression of activists by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ).

One of the hearts of this campaign comes out of the brutal Allred Restrictive Housing Unit(RHU) where people have spent decades in isolation. We’ve recently learned that one organizer at Allred hasn’t received half a dozen letters we’ve sent em over the last few months. Eir outgoing mail is also delayed or gone missing. This mail tampering is illegal. We wrote the warden of Allred to stop this censorship.. If he doesn’t stop it, we know this political repression is intentional from the top of the TDCJ to suppress our boycotting of Juneteenth.

We are asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and these activists in Allred to freely communicate. The pdf below can be downloaded, printed on card stock and cut into four postcards. Then you can ask people to sign them, put a postcard stamp ($0.40) on them, and drop them in a mail box. Over the next couple months we want to show TDCJ that people outside are paying attention and supporting the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. This is one way to do that. You can also call Warden Jimmy Smith @ (940) 855-7477 (**069).

protest Allred censorship of activists mail
Click image to download pdf and print postcards.

Stevenson Unit in Texas has also stepped up censorship related to materials about the Juneteenth boycott. The TX Team One Primer was censored for the reason:

“Page(s) 4 contains information advocating prison disruption.”

Prisoners are very limited in what they can do when their grievances are ignored. Most actions will lead to repression. A boycott is the most passive action. There are no calls to violence nor do the plans threaten security in any way. Just a peaceful demonstration of solidarity, demanding some basic humyn rights be applied in Texas prisons. Yet this is being outlawed by the state.

Even worse, in eir most recent update, one comrade in Stevenson reported that:

“last night I was placed in handcuffs and marched off to solitary confinement, the place from where I currently write. I woke this morning to find I’m being charged with 2 new rules violations: 1) Attempt/threat to assault a correctional officer and 2) Assault of a correctional officer.”

There was no assault. In fact this comrade is not even supposed to be housed on the second floor because of eir health conditions. Ey believes this is retaliation for the appeals ey filed against the censorship of literature sent by MIM Distributors. Meanwhile, MIM Distributors was not given the opportunity to appeal, and only received the final decision from TDCJ.

As our comrade in Stevenson Unit so eloquently concluded,

“They will never succeed in snuffing out my flame and their attempts to silence the truth only causes it to roar even louder! They cloak themselves in legitimacy and the trappings of power because deep down they know they are weak and the system is crumbling – to be swept aside along with all the silly liberal reformers and we build a better world over their ruins, a new society based on equality and respect and compassion and truth and justice and”love" – a human society fit for fully involved and determined human beings at peace with themselves, each other, and the world around us."

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[Civil Liberties] [Campaigns] [Legal] [Telford Unit] [Allred Unit] [Michael Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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JFI: More Join Lawsuit to End RHU Torture in Texas

Organizing is spreading around the Dillard v. Davis, et al. Civil Action No. 7:19-cv-0081-M-BP lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s use of long-term solitary confinement. Prisoners held in Allred Unit, ground zero for the Restrictive Housing Unit, and Michael Unit have filed motions to join the class action suit.

A comrade in Stevenson Unit wrote to say that there are only 12 restrictive housing cells there and they are only used very short-term. But ey is sharing the motion and other campaign materials with contacts inside and outside to support those in RHU fighting for their humyn rights.

Shutting down long-term solitary confinement is one of the key campaign demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, calling for a boycott of Juneteenth until real freedom is attained in this country. The lawsuit points to the irreparable harm on mental health caused by long-term solitary.

Anyone who is in a Restricted Housing Unit in Texas can use the linked example motion to join this lawsuit. The motion should be sent to all three addresses listed at the end of the attached PDF. Please download and distribute to those you know in Texas torture chambers!

28 May 2022 UPDATE from Tx TEAM ONE member - Telford Unit: I have submitted my interest in becoming a co-plaintiff to all inhumane conditions in all Ad-Seg/RHU buildings, especially on this unit, and the inhumane/treatment and living conditions endured by all alleged STG prisoners. Because for almost forty (40) years, those of Us that are considered STG’s have been in these living conditions.

I have already written to the Eastern and Northern Districts, United States District Courts. And I have also written to the United States Department of Justice.

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[Drugs] [California] [Texas] [ULK Issue 77]
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Suboxone Spreads to More Prison Systems, Little Evidence of Counseling

Following up on some recent warnings and reports from comrades on Subxone(buprenorphine), we conducted an updated survey on drugs in U.$. prisons this past winter.(1) We received survey responses from NC, PA, VA, WV, MI, CA and TX.(2) While we heard from Michigan in ULK 75 all of the other states were represented in our original survey, which was distributed more widely and received more responses.

So has anything changed in the last 5 years? In 2017, Suboxone use was reported to be common in many states in the northeast and midwest United $tates. Specifically comrades in NY, KS, WV, TN, CT, WI, and especially PA reported Suboxone use being popular. We do not have info on whether the Suboxone was obtained from the prison or not in that data set. In 2022, we can add California, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan to the list of states where Suboxone is abused in prisons. Of those four, only Michigan was not represented in our 2017 survey, meaning Suboxone seems to have become popular in the other 3 in the last five years. Texas is the only state we got responses from this year that reported Suboxone still not being available at all.[UPDATE October 2022: We later received report that Georgia did not have Suboxone either.]

Our comrade in Michigan reported this new drug appeared on the scene in 2012, and had become the most common drug abused in the MDOC, with perhaps 5 in 10 prisoners using it. (until recently when K2 took over)

We have updated info from Pennsylvania affirming that it is prescribed there and that people can stay on it for as long as they are held in prison. About 1 in 7 people are using Suboxone at SCI-Dallas.

In North Carolina, Suboxone is very popular, though less popular than K2, which has been increasing in use. Suboxone may be more popular with white prisoners there.

Our Virginia respondent is in a “big mental health/drug rehab” unit, where ey says “we can’t order self-help programs nor books.” Imagine that! Yet you can get a Suboxone subscription with no indication that there are any classes to go along with it. Some are continuing their Suboxone subs from the streets.

Michigan and West Virginia do not prescribe Suboxone according to our survey respondents. Yet it still gets into the prisons there and is quite popular.

California the big mover

The biggest shift we learned from our second round of surveys was the new introduction of Suboxone, which Ehecatl already reported in ULK 76 started in 2020. A recent study reported a sharp increase in buprenorphine consumption in prisons from 2020-2021. The number of incarcerated people consuming it rose an estimated 250,000 from January 2015 to May 2021. With only 115,000 prisoners total, CDCR may have been a good chunk of that growth, but clearly was only part of it.

That said, one comrade in California reported that they now “give anyone and everyone Suboxone. I know a bunch of people who never have used drugs and went to see the doctor and got put on Suboxone.” The price of Suboxone on the black market has decrease from $100 to only $2-4 as a result. This comrade continued,

“I’ve been in solitary confinement for over 4 years so I signed up to get put on Suboxone and I got put on it a week after seeing the doctor. I’ve been a drug addict my whole life, but was still surprised how easy it is and was to get put on Subxone.”

We’ve always held that solitary confinement is used as a tool of social control in the U.$. injustice system. We also see Suboxone being used in the same way. Here they are being used in conjunction as a way to help people adjust to the torture of solitary confinement. When used outside solitary, most prisoners reported its use leading to people retreating from socializing and not engaging in any kind of group organizing.

Another CA comrade had put in a request in December 2019 after the CDCR publicized a new drug to help with addiction. By March or April 2020 ey was approved for Suboxone. Doses there range from 8mg to 20mg. As for counseling, this comrade did report that, “while I was receiving it we were seeing a C.O. Healy and ex-drug user facilitator bringing us 5 days of work on Monday and coming back on Monday to pick up the homework.” It is not clear why ey stopped receiving Suboxone.

“Buprenorphine use in jails and prisons increased by 224-fold, from a daily mean of 44 individuals in June 2016 to 9841 individuals in May 2021 (Figure). Most of this increase occurred from 2020 to 2021. Nationwide, across all retail and nonretail settings, buprenorphine use increased by 53.9% from a daily mean of 466,781 individuals in January 2015 to 718,591 individuals in May 2021. By May 2021, correctional settings accounted for approximately 1.5% of all buprenorphine use nationwide. An estimated 3.6% of the 270,000 incarcerated individuals with [Opioid Use Disorder] in the US received buprenorphine.”(3)

These numbers are likely underestimated as they are based on retail sales numbers from one source. But the sharp increase in prescribed Suboxone starting in late 2019 is certainly something of note.

K2 Still King in TX

We received the most responses to our second survey from Texas, and things seem to have not changed much there. Everyone agreed that Suboxone was not available in Texas. K2 appeared there around 2013 or 2014 according to our respondents, and has been on the increase ever since. Many people report tiers filled with the smoke being a common occurrence in the TDCJ. K2 use rates reported in TX this time around estimated 10%, 20%, 30% and in the RHU up to 75% of people.

Our correspondent from Allred’s RHU reports that back in 2013-2016 “drugs were virtually non-existent… 1/2 that time there were no cameras, yet there still was no drugs, no cell phones, no contraband at all really. Since i’ve been back here there has been at least a 70% increase in contraband” (2017 to present). This comrade points to a huge cultural shift among staff leading to the change.

Ey goes on to explain the social effects of this influx of drugs and how it serves as a tool of social control:

“We had a good thing going here after working to bring all New Afrikan lumpen groups and people together, but clashes over drug debts have undermined the unity… We were able to organize 1/3 of the RHU population against their confinement. With the drugs one year later, barely 50 people!”

As far as effective efforts to combat drugs, we once again got a resounding “no” answer to that question form all states. One TX comrade reported, “the Christians and Muslims are the only social groups openly condemning drug use, simultaneously, some of their”coordinators" are getting officially charged with possessing it!"

Another comrade who struggled with prescription psych meds as well as illicit drugs explained, “One of the worst parts of my own ‘addiction’ was the shame and guilt that came from using these ‘illegal drugs.’” This is just one reason why the approach to drug addiction in this country is ineffective. We encourage comrades to try our new Revolutionary 12 Step Program, which will walk you through addressing these feelings of shame.

A couple of respondents reiterated a preference for “natural” drugs rather than ones that are synthesized by multi-national corporations. But we’d point out the reason we can’t trust modern technology is because of capitalism. It is not the fact that humyns made it that makes it unsafe, but rather the profit motives that cause humyns to hide and overlook any safety issues that come up. There are lots of things that grow naturally that can kill you. In a system that operates in the interests of the people, we wouldn’t be making things to add to that list like the capitalists do.

Notes:
1. [see the results of our first survey on drugs in prison in Under Lock & Key 59]
2. The response size for this survey was much smaller and only included the following number of responses by state: NC-1, PA-1, VA-1, WV-1, MI-1, CA-2, TX-5
3. Ashish P. Thakrar, MD1; G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS; Brendan Saloner, PhD; Trends in Buprenorphine Use in US Jails and Prisons From 2016 to 2021. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(12):e2138807. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.38807.

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