This sequel to the 1982 original Tron movie which was a technical trailblazer for its use of CGI but not a big hit, includes dazzling 3D special effects but not much else. The plot focuses on Sam Flynn, the grown son of Kevin Flynn who was the main character in the original Tron. Kevin, a computer visionary, disappears when Sam is 7, because he got stuck inside The Grid of an alternate computer universe that he created. The grown up Sam gets himself transported into this alternate universe and some dazzling race and fight scenes and trite plot lines ensue.
Tron: Legacy had a lot of potential for some interesting political content. There is the new digital race of people who came into being inside the computer universe. These people were all but completely wiped out by the evil dictator program Clu in his quest to eliminate all imperfection. Clu, the not so subtle fascist dictator, is a program that was created by Kevin Flynn, to help him build the perfect world. So we get a good solid anti-fascist message here. But the alternative, from Kevin, is praise for individualism and it's inherent imperfections, now that he's realized his mistake with Clu.
Rather than have the masses (of program beings) rise up against the fascist dictator, we're just told dismissively that they were all killed (but one). There are a few rumblings of the other programs being unhappy with dictator Clu, but they are incapable of organizing themselves into any resistance and the few we see either die or end up being turncoats serving the fascists. The only signs of useful resistance come from heroic individualist actions by programs who break with their fascist leader but with no explanation or organization.
In the end, the big individualists themselves are the only ones who can defeat the fascist dictator and save both the real world and the digitized alternate universe. This leaves us with three super-heroes who only need to kill off the dictator and all is right in the world.
Fundamentally Tron: Legacy promotes individualism and worship of leaders while dismissing the revolutionary potential of the masses. It suggests that the masses can only be liberated/saved by a leader who is much smarter than them. And so, in spite of it's lip service to anti-fascism, MIM(Prisons) doesn't recommend Tron: Legacy.
As our readers already know, MIM(Prisons) runs political study groups with our comrades behind bars. And as some of you know, and have experienced, the state generally finds our non-violent, non-law breaking, communist study in poor taste. In October 2009, a study group assignment for the pamphlet "What is MIM?," which included other participants' responses to the previous assignment, was mailed to a participant held in Arizona. This study group assignment was censored because allegedly it "may be obscene or a threat to security" generally, and "promotes racism and/or religious oppression" specifically. Yes, this is coming from the state that is fighting the federal government in court to be allowed to use the color of one's skin as probable cause for investigating immigration law violations.
Our comrade imprisoned in Arizona appealed this decision, and MIM(Prisons) wrote to the prison administration to request an explanation as to how this study group assignment could "promote racism and/or religious oppression" without even mentioning races, nationalities, or religions:
"It is truly fascinating that your mailroom staff could find the promotion of racism and/or religious oppression in this document. Nowhere in the letter are the following words even mentioned: religious, religion, christian, muslim, baptist, KKK, white, mexican, latino, asian or arab. The word "black" is written once in the context of a reference to the Black Panther Party's education programs. How can you even talk about religion or race enough to speak against it if you don't use any of the above mentioned words?" - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant
No attempt has ever been made by Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) administration to address this point. ADC General Counsel Karyn Klausner offered her opinion: "I have reviewed the materials sent by MIM Distributors and find the decision to exclude the publication due to content 'promoting racism and/or religious oppression,' was appropriate." She gave no explanation of how she came to the conclusion that it was an "appropriate" violation of Constitutionally protected rights. In a later letter Ms. Klausner clarified that with this statement she didn't mean she was "upholding" the censorship in her official capacity as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of ADC, just that she agreed with it on a persynal level.
Instead of explaining how the study group mailing in any way promotes racism and/or religious oppression, ADC administrators then began to rely on their policy of violating MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech and association to censor this study group assignment:
"There is nothing in case law that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level. . . You are not entitled to a forum within the prison system." - ADC Director, Charles Ryan
Director Ryan clearly had not investigated the matter on the prisoner's end either. He claimed that our imprisoned comrade had not appealed the decision to censor, yet s/he had, on multiple levels, and submitted requests for the results of these appeals.
"You claim that MIM Distributors has no rights to appeal the censorship of their mail. While we are not lawyers, and may have put too much weight on the Procunier case, we still uphold that we have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights according to federal law. As employees of the state you may not deny anyone their rights to free speech and association arbitrarily and without due process. In fact, if you read Thornburgh v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401, which you referred [COLLEAGUE] to, you will see that its procedural protection was provided because the publisher was notified of the censorship and given the right to independent review. A number of U.S. Court of Appeals decisions have upheld the right of the publisher in such instances (Montcalm Publ'g Corp. v. Beck, 80 F.3d 105, 106 (4th Cir.), Trudeau v. Wyrick, 713 F.2d 1360, 1366 (8th Cir.1983), Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 243-44 (6th Cir.1986) )." - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant
And ADC's response?
"You assert that 'MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech' is not being respected. The Arizona Department of Corrections is obligated to respect, within the confines of legitimate penological interests, an inmate's constitutional rights. It does not follow that ADC is likewise obliged to do the same for an independent distributor such as MIM." - General Counsel, Karyn Klausner
It is apparent that the ADC believes themselves to be exempt from the legal straitjacket of the United $tates Constitution, which they don't see as having an application in the 10th Circuit. This isn't surprising coming from an institution whose administrators believe that one can promote racial and/or religious repression without ever talking about race or religion!
Amerikans like to pretend they hold no political prisoners, yet political repression is an integral part of the U.$. injustice system at every step. In our struggle for a world without oppression, MIM(Prisons) works to build public opinion for national liberation struggles amongst prisoners through our newsletter Under Lock & Key, our free books for prisoners program, and our study groups. Within prisons, there are two primary ways in which the state enacts political repression: through physical torture techniques such as solitary confinement, forced drugging, beatings, starvation and murder; and through the control of the spread of ideas, which also includes solitary confinement as well as the censorship of mail, and outlawing oppressed nation organizations.
In pre-fascist Amerika, we are still promised certain rights under United $tates laws. While we recognize that U.$. law will never lead us to communism (a world without oppression), we still need to fight for more room to organize and educate for revolution. Fighting against the censorship of revolutionary literature is vital to maintaining the connection between the inside and out, which may make the difference between being turned on to communism or not for many people. For those already turned on, we need to fight against censorship so that we can continue to build our revolutionary understanding.
Like a MIM Distributors Legal Assistant mentioned above, we are not lawyers. We do what we can to protect our Constitutional rights from the outside with the resources we have, and we rely on prisoners to fight to maintain their rights from the inside. If there is a lawyer who wants to get involved with this specific incident in Arizona, or with anti-censorship work in general, get in touch!
Determining who to write to regarding a specific issue is a tactical question. One day it may be most important to write to the Director of Corrections, the other it may be the Office of the Inspector General. We make tactical decisions based on our conditions at the time. In this circumstance, participants in the campaign to end the Z-Unit Zoo were bringing this issue to many government bodies, including the Director of Corrections and the Inspector General.
In this response from the office of the Division of Adult Institutions, A. Redding advises the participant to exhaust the appeals process. Clearly in the petition, it says that many grievances have been filed and none have been answered. This response is a good example of how inhumane conditions and abuse can hide behind the bureaucracy of the state under capitalism.
The above letter is a response from a Corrections Counselor II Specialist (CCII) of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to a prisoner in California who submitted to h the grievance for the proper handling of grievances. Even though a CCII is in a position to influence whether grievances are handled in a legal or illegal manner, at least within h institution, in this letter A. Redding advises the prisoner to file a lawsuit or contact the Inspector General on the matter.
In this response to a grievance petition from California sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ), they minimize the widespread scale of corruption of the grievance system in the California state prison system. Instead they are asking for facts and dates related to single incidents or perpetrators.
In "Bad Apples" in the Pig Pen we explained why a focus on targeting individual pigs is incorrect in most cases in our struggle because the problems we address are societal. Although societal problems manifest in individual pigs, focusing all of our energy trying to get one or two pigs fired from our facility doesn't significantly impact society as a whole.
One may argue that the DOJ just needs a place to begin their investigation. However, the petition makes it clear that this problem is widespread throughout the system. Realistically they could interview prisoners at random for details and receive enough information to begin an investigation. Their narrow and sterile approach to "justice" is just a cover for their interests in maintaining the status quo.
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Oakland to mourn Oscar Grant and express outrage at the light sentence given to his murderer, Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle shot Grant in the back while he lay face down on the ground. For this execution-style murder, he got 2 years in prison with credit for time served on an involuntary manslaughter charge. The judge gave the jury incorrect instructions for how to apply the gun enhancement, and decided to just drop it, thus lowering Mehserle's maximum possible sentence to 4 instead of 14 years, rather than retry the case. According to those inside the courthouse at the time of sentencing, the judge openly blamed Grant and his friends for the murder.
We didn't expect justice from the system, but the whole struggle did bring advances in revolutionary organizing in the region. The November 5 demonstration looked like others from the movement for justice for Oscar Grant, but missing were the non-profits trying to run the show and divide the protesters. It was refreshing to hear consistent messages that encouraged people to get organized, stressed the need for nation-based organizing (while uniting Black and Brown), refused to work with the government and denounced the outside agitator line.
The city-sanctioned demo ended with a live performance of "Operation Verdict (Fuck Dat)" by local artists Unity, Sinista Z, & Ras Ceylon. Here's the last verse:
Revolutionaries speak with clarity and overstand an injury to one affects us all like Oscar Grant. Cuz I am we and we are he So you will see us in the streets Yellin "Fuck da Police!" No justice, no peace these non-profits is weak tryin' to water down the movement and cut off free speech gettin paid by the beast to calm the rage of our seeds that are sick of the oppression that they daily gotta see and live with. You idiot ain't no outside agitators 'cept these murderous pigs with the gun, badge and a taser so see ya later if you tryin to claim that leadership you ain't nothing but a snitch and a politician's bitch Fuck dat! Police out here knockin brothers down Fuck dat! Trying to move the cats to somewhere out of town Fuck dat! You know the state wanna water this shit down Fuck dat!
Flattbush's newest album Otomatik Attak (Koolarrow Records) is a prime example of form meeting content to create a superior piece of cultural art. A metal/grind band out of Los Angeles founded by two members originally from the Philippines, Flattbush keeps a "fuck the system" tradition alive with themes of atheism, revolt, and anti-capitalism. These comrades scream for liberation in English, Tagalog, and Kapampangan, accompanied by guest vocals in Spanish. They go the distance lyrically by focusing on U.$. fascism and imperialism in the Philippines, calling on the people to stand up against the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dictatorship in people's war.
From "Dear Uncle Sam,"
the sadistic american imperialists they are always at war and they always dictate so they can maintain their self interests but uncle sam we are not afraid of your high tech warfare and atomic bombs uncle sam fuck you uncle sam it is necessary to take action it is necessary to oust the u.s. gloria fascist regime if not now then when?
And from "Otomatik Attak,"
automatic attack on the people the strike of the fascist to wipe out the solution to their attack is to counter attack people's war
Flattbush hopes to expand their cultural work to the Philippines in the near future, live! To show solidarity with the peasant masses, the lead vocalist often performs in a conical straw hat and plain jacket, similar to a Mao suit. Supporting his powerful and compelling vocals, the bassist, guitarist, and drummer are all phenomenal players. On stage they are humble, not pausing for applause between songs. This album would satisfy anyone into metal for the music, or anyone who is fighting intensely for revolution. Get more info about Flattbush from [url=http://www.flattbush.com.
1 November 2010, The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and in addition to the tens of thousands of fans in the stadium, an estimated 12 million people watched the game on TV (not counting the millions watching in sports bars, restaurants and other public venues). As in other winning cities in years past, the city of the winning team erupted into “joyful mayhem,” as the San Francisco Chronicle calls it, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in drunken celebration that included property destruction, traffic disruption, and violence.
In classic bourgeois press form, pretending neutrality, the SF Chronicle’s headline article today was titled “SF Giants Series Celebration is Joyful Mayhem” and stated: “On Market Street, the celebration quickly turned wild and unruly, with an estimated 7,000 revelers in the streets, some jumping on cars, rocking Muni buses, tossing beer bottles, lighting fireworks and blocking traffic at Seventh Street.” A much smaller article, hidden on the Chronicle website, also mentioned “In the Mission, there have been reports of fires, broken windows and an alleged stabbing.” Compare this with the same newspaper’s January 8, 2009 report on the Oscar Grant protests. The article was titled “Protests Over BART Shooting Turn Violent” and gave a negative review of the protest which “mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets.”
We see that the same street violence is condoned when it’s in the name of professional sports. Police wandering the streets after the World Series were friendly, often clapping and cheering, and shutting down streets to help out traffic while enabling the celebration. During the Oscar Grant protest the cops showed up in riot gear and attacked the crowd.
While we’re no fans of imperialist elections, the World Series victory happened the night before election day and begs the comparison: people are more passionate about baseball than they are about the political future of their country/state/city. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with the decadence of Amerikan imperialism. Amerikans don’t need to worry about politics – the government is working in their interests to secure resources at the expense of Third World peoples to maintain wealth at home.
Sports passion includes a remarkable number of fans cheering “we did it!” and “we won!” as if they had anything to do with the team that won the game. In reality the SF Giants, like all professional sports teams, are made up of players from across the country, who are paid a ridiculous amount of money to wear a jersey for this team. Their allegiance to the city lasts only as long as the paycheck continues. In fact people point to statistics about the Giants' last World Series victory 56 years ago when they were based in New York as if that team had something more in common with the SF Giants than the font they use for their logo.
MIM(Prisons) would like to take all the sports passion in Amerika and turn it against imperialist violence or world hunger. We’d even call it progress if people get off the couch and play sports rather than get drunk watching millionaires play. Perhaps the improved circulation would help people think a bit more rationally about politics and the relative importance of professional sports.
By aligning Amerikans' immediate interests with their long-term interests, the militarization of the U.$./Mexico border has become a machine that will not likely slow down on its own. This machine is propelled by the imperialist politicians, imperialist businessmen (often the same people), and the Amerikan labor aristocracy. This collusion of interests at a time when Amerikan hegemony is fragile spells danger for the oppressed nations, in particular for Aztlán.
National Public Radio (NPR) released a report this week exposing financial and political connections between the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and those behind Arizona's oppressive SB1070 law.(1) The law, which is still under judicial review after being put on hold, legalizes racial profiling and empowers state police to enforce federal immigration laws in the process. The scandal, now being denied by the bill's sponsor Senator Russell Pearce and others, is that they passed the law to increase their income and the profits of their corporate backers.
Without SB1070, CCA was getting an estimated $117 million a year from the federal government for imprisoning migrants. Meanwhile, Wackenhut/G4S, the next largest private prison company, has a $76 million a year contract to bus migrants around the border for the U.$. government. Of course, both of these sums are chump change compared to the $3.6 billion budget for Border Patrol in 2010.(2) All of this is federal money going to the oppressor nation to do its thing - oppress.
The essence of what is going on is Amerikans getting paid a lot of money to make sure Amerikans get paid a lot of money. That's why the border exists and why it must be militarized. If it is not, the masses whose labor value has been stolen and exported to the United $tates would come here to benefit from the fruits of their labor. Without closed borders, we can't keep the wealth inside.
The NPR report exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization of state legislators and powerful corporations that get together to draft and propose laws (see figure above). The companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend such meetings with those who make the law. And according to NPR, the number of legislators who sponsored SB1070 was almost unprecedented and 30 out of the 36 received contributions from prison companies or prison lobbyists in the 6 months following SB1070's passage. Meanwhile, two of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's top advisers are former prison lobbyists.(1) All of this makes CCA's and Sen. Pearce's denials of corporate influence look silly.
None of this is new to CCA, which was founded in Nashville, Tennessee by former chairman of the state Republican Party, Tom Beasley and his former roomy from the U.$. Military Academy at West Point, Doc Crants. Initial investors included the governor's wife, Honey Alexander, and the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Ned McWherter.(3) Ever since then, their business model has relied on close political ties just as most military, defense and security business does. Apparently, CCA agrees with MIM(Prisons)'s assessment that migrants are and will continue to be the fastest growing prison population in the United $tates. But while we are fighting this trend, CCA is doing all they can to foster it.
When imperialism reaches the point where the arms of oppression are major sources of profiteering, and the people are dependent on these operations for their paychecks and standards of living (i.e. where oppression and the oppressors' financial interests become one in the same), we will see the national contradictions within imperialism heighten rapidly. This leads to increased repression both in laws and in actions but also the opportunity for raising consciousness and resistance among the oppressed nations. Even those Latinos who supported imperialist politics had to think twice about the Arizona law as it could impact their persynal safety if they visit that state. The imperialists expose their blatantly chauvinistic goals with these reactionary laws and the alliances that create the laws and it is our responsibility to point out the contradictions and organize against imperialist national oppression.
[This is a belated resolution from the MIM(Prisons) 2010 Congress.]
Overall, MIM(Prisons) stands by the Resolutions on Cell Structure passed at the last MIM congress in 2005. After 5 years of putting that resolution into practice there is experience to sum up and questions that still need to be answered.
The theoretical basis for the cell structure is that the strength of a centralized party comes into play when vying for state power, whether by elections or otherwise. That is not in the cards for Maoists in the imperialist countries at this time. Maoism is a minority movement in the First World and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. This makes it even more important that we utilize our strengths and shore up our weaknesses.
One of the main lessons to take from the cell structure resolutions is that "[w]e oppose having geographic cells come into contact with each other face-to-face. Infiltration and spying are rampant when it comes to MIM. The whole strength of having a locality-based cell is that it is possible to do all the things traditional to a movement. The security advantages of culling people we know into a cell are lost the moment we slack off on security and start accepting strangers or meeting with strangers face-to-face." We find it frustrating that critics of what happened at etext.org as MIM faced repression are willing to ignore the lessons of those setbacks.
At the last MIM congress in 2005, they spoke of a "MIM Center" that put out the newspaper, among other tasks. Soon after, there was no MIM Notes newspaper, followed by the degeneration of the original MC cell and finally the shutting down of their last institution, the website at etext.org.
One of the challenges of small cells is developing and maintaining line. Much work has been done, and if every new group or every revolutionary had to start from scratch, we would never advance. That is why when etext.org was repressed, MIM(Prisons) posted an archive of the MIM site on our website. While we still do not have a regular newspaper for the movement as a whole, the website is a crucial reference for us all.
Fraternal organizations do not agree on everything; they agree on cardinal principles that are determined by the conditions of the time. The etext.org site is not something Maoists must agree with 100%, but there is no doubt that it is still the most comprehensive starting point for any Maoist organization in the First World.
Democratic centralism is important for security and for political line development. Yet until we are organizing on a countrywide basis, there is no need for democratic centralism at that level, not to mention internationally.
In guerilla warfare, the cell structure has been applied in a way that was hierarchical so that action cells were separate from each other, but each cell could be traced to the top of the organization. This relies on a centralized organization or center. While MIM mentions such a center being based around MIM Notes and etext.org in their 2005 resolutions, we do not see the need for this center given the current circumstances. As we have recognized before, certain ideological centers are bound to exist based on the law of uneven development. Yet such centers are not structural, but fluid, based on the type and amount of work done.
All that said, there is an inherent contradiction in the cell strategy. Since organizing strategy and security tactics are not dividing line questions, once the cell strategy is adopted and full decentralization has occurred, it is possible for cells to change their line on this question. Even the majority could do so and a new centralized party could push remaining cells to the periphery. Since we work to build a movement and not our individual organizations, and our work is already on the periphery, we should not be concerned about the impacts of such a move on our organization. It is, however, worrisome to the extent that we see our comrades opened up to attacks through faulty security.
Part of accepting cell strategy is distinguishing between cadre work and mass work. The self-described anarchist movement is able to mobilize large numbers in mass work while abhorring centralized organization. We should learn from their example, while not succumbing to liberalism in our security practices or abandoning scientific leadership.
Getting the correct balance of cadre work and mass work will be more challenging with a cell structure. There is no way to impose a balance on the movement as a whole without a center, but we can pay attention to what is going on around us and get in where we fit in. Leading cells should not be shy to point out where the movement needs more investment of resources.
One amendment we would make to the "Resolutions on Cell Structure" is to cut the suggestion that a one-persyn cell "in many ways... has the least worries security-wise!" Certainly, one-persyn cells should maintain high standards for admitting others. However, the value of criticism/self-criticism on the level of day-to-day work is something that is stressed within Maoism, and we've benefited from in our own practice in MIM(Prisons). We still need democratic centralism with the cell structure to provide crucial discipline and accountability. The criticisms we can give and get from other cells will be limited in nature if our security is correct. And we have seen how one-persyn cells can degrade or disappear quickly.