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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California]
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Warden Turns a Blind Eye to Staff Misconduct

02/18/2010

This is a response from Warden B. M. Cash at California State Prison, Los Angeles County to a participant in the campaign for proper handling of grievances. In this response, Warden Cash avoids addressing our comrade's petition, effectively supporting the illegal activity of his staff.

The Warden received this petition from several prisoners, not just one, and s/he still doesn't see a need to conduct h own investigation. This is just one example of the lack of redress afforded prisoners within the imperialists' bureaucratic runaround. It is proof of our need for a new society; one where writing a letter to an administrator in charge of dozens of employees who are actively perpetuating your oppression leads to at least an investigation!

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 12]
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RIP Amare Selton

Amare Selton Beaten at Auburn Correctional Facility

New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) reports that Mr. Amare Selton (aka Ra'd) #93A3756 died on 9/17/2009. An Eritrean national, Ra'd was an active anti-imperialist who began working with MIM in the mid-1990s.

Comrades of Ra'd have communicated with the DOCS central office in Albany, local Imam's, the statewide Chaplain in New York City and staff at Attica Correctional Facility, including the head counselor. The only information anyone could provide was the date he died. They all claimed to know nothing else and that they could not obtain further information. We print the following testimonies to honor Ra'd - Rest In Power comrade!

A comrade who studied with Ra'd:

Some of our readers will recognize Ra'd as someone who was an active and well-developed participant in our study cell. Contributing to this eulogy reminds me that the first time i remember Ra'd, a Sunni Muslim himself, struggling with MIM(Prisons) was in an extended debate over MIM's eulogy for Saddam Hussein. And as someone who spent over two thirds of his time in various long-term isolation he wrote on mental health units and an article on solitary confinement that was circulated at national conferences addressing the topic.

While the DOCS refuses to release a cause of death, comrades can attest to the fact that he was not suicidal. He found himself placed in mental health units for "anti-social behavior" such as getting into physical altercations with staff.

The enclosed photo is from 2004 following an extended beating of Ra'd by CO's E. Rizzo, M. Woodward, B. Smith and Sgt. T. Mitchell at Auburn Correctional Facility. After facing harassment including having his water shut off and no one responding to his complaints, Ra'd barricaded his door to trigger a cell extraction in hopes of getting the Sergeant's attention. In his affidavit he describes the long series of beatings and abuse he faced as a result. Sgt. T. Mitchell dug his knuckles into his neck saying, "Does it hurt, you nigger, you piece of shit...does it hurt now, stinkin' nigger...you fuckin' nigger..."

A fellow prisoner at Attica wrote after Ra'd's death:

The article in Under Lock & Key on censorship is an accurate description of what is going on at Attica Correctional Facility. They stop our mail from reaching certain destinations.

I recently wrote two complaints on officers in Attica. One was for an officer literally threatening me that if i was in general population i'd be going home in a body bag.

And the second complaint was regarding an officer who was serving my Kosher meal and while i was at my cell door for my hot water, he purposely tipped the cup over scalding my left hand and my private parts. This officer smiled the whole time at me. Attica is the most racist and dangerous prison in New York State. Everyday we are subjected to assaults by staff.

Now there is a new corruption going on in Attica by a lot of correctional staff. When any prisoner is brought to special housing, which used to be known as solitary confinement, all their stamps, cigarettes and even porno books are being stolen and given to snitches and ass kissers. This is done so that the stamps and pornos can be exchanged for cigarettes. Cigarettes cost almost $10.00 in New York State and you have officers robbing us to support their tobacco habits.

When you drop complaints, officers come to your cell threatening you with physical violence if you don't sign off on your complaint.

Society labels us with the tag of criminals, and for many of us we deserve such a tag. But i have come to know that some of the worst criminals in the Department of Correctional Services are working for it.

A close comrade who lived alongside Ra'd in recent years:

O Allah, receive our brother and comrade Ra'd with open arms for he aspired to be a martyr. O martyrs receive your brother (Ra'd) for he is one of our beloved. O prophets smile at him and give him some sweet foods and drink and most of all receive us when our turn comes. Hopefully, as we fight back unshackled, uncuffed.

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[Environmentalism] [ULK Issue 12]
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Climate Reparations? You and what army?

Imperialism crushes the planet

From December 7 through 18, 2009, the UN-sponsored 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. COP15 was a gathering where world powers came together to discuss the impending doom of climate change and what they will, or won't, do about it. This series of semi-annual COP talks began officially in November 1994, and in 1997 the group adopted a document called the Kyoto Protocol, which is a supposedly legally binding agreement that targets an average reduction of 5.2% from 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs) by the year 2012. In 2009, the u.$. offered to lower GGEs by 4% of 1990 levels, while the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wants developed countries to curb emissions by 25-40% of 1990 levels.(1) The u.$. is the only imperialist country in the world that hasn't signed the Kyoto Protocol, while other imperialist countries have officially agreed to the document, but have not obeyed it, such as klanada who raised their GGEs by 26%(2).

According to the Kyoto Protocol, the primary way the polluters of the world are supposed to reduce their GGEs is through emissions trading, what is also called "cap and trade." Based on their current pollution levels, governments grant a certain amount of permission to companies to pollute, the "cap," in the form of emission reduction credits. Companies that want to pollute more than the amount of credits they have can buy them from companies who don't max out their own. Hypothetically, companies who pollute more are paying the price, and companies who pollute less are benefiting. In reality, there are so many loopholes in the "cap and trade" that a 15% reduction of GGEs on paper can actually equate to a 10% increase.(3) Before the Kyoto Protocol, global GGEs went up 1.5% per year. After the Kyoto Protocol, they went up 3% per year.(4) The only reason this backwards strategy is even on the table is because of attempts to submit to those who worship the capitalist market as a god that can solve all problems.

The system of carbon emissions trading is also limited by focusing on one form of pollution only. There is an incorrect assumption here that everyone has equal access to polluting and suffer from pollution equally. As many parties at COP15 pointed out, whole nations face extinction due to climate change they didn't contribute to creating. Twenty percent of the world population have emitted more than 2/3 of emissions, and caused more than 90% of the increase in temperatures.(5) Plus, pollution from factories doesn't just contaminate the air with greenhouse gases, it contaminates drinking water and soil and has more local affects on the atmosphere as well, as evidenced by increased occurrences of asthma. So companies who are higher-polluting and are on the buying end of the emission reduction credits scheme create "hot spots" with lots of pollution of all kinds. These "hot spots" have been largely exported to the Third World where production for the exploiter nations is now centered. Even in the united $tates it is disproportionately ghettos and reservations that are ravaged by environmental pollution.

In 2009 a new document came out of the COP talks, called the Copenhagen Accord. It was crafted by the u.$. in negotiation with other imperialist consumer nations and some major neo-colonial producer nations.(6) The Copenhagen Accord is pathetic in that it's not legally binding and is basically an outline of some generic judgments on climate change (essentially, "it's bad"), and a simple form where countries write in their emission goals for each other to examine. The u.$. is trying to legitimize the existence of the Accord by obtaining as many signatures on it as possible. Hillary Clinton's tactic to accomplish this goal is to withhold aid from countries who do not sign. Yet, the aid proposed, not even guaranteed, is just $100 billion from all developed countries combined. To compare, President Evo Morales of Bolivia released a document requesting developed countries pay a minimum of 1% of their annual GDP into a UN fund for underdeveloped countries.(5) For the u.$. alone, this would be a $144 billion annual contribution according to its 2008 GDP.(7)

Another solution being pushed at COP15, presented by the climate negotiator Miguel Lovera of Paraguay, is for more countries to give money to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). REDD is an international fund to pay poor nations for saving or replanting forests instead of cutting them down for timber or cash crops. Obama called REDD "cost effective" because instead of reducing u.$. emissions, they can buy their way out of public pressure by giving money to REDD. Yet, REDD is just a formula to give money to people who already have money, who can afford to clear cut a forest in the first place. In the words of Camila Moreno of Friends of the Earth in Brazil,

REDD is a mechanism designed to avoid deforestation but we know, and they say, indigenous people do not deforest because their life depends on the forest and they live with the forest. So the whole point is that REDD is designed [for] the guy that has the chainsaw, or the money to buy the chainsaw, or the big bulldozers and can say "Okay, I'm going to do this. How much you pay for me not doing?" (8)

The Copenhagen Accord and REDD are the two major deals that were discussed in the mainstream "left" press regarding COP15. Both serve the economic interests of the oppressor nations, and neither will significantly affect climate change.

Many speakers correctly recognized capitalism as the main cause of climate change, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accurately noted that to have true environmental protection, we need to go from a capitalist economy to a socialist economy. In oppressed nations where pollution is dumped and forests are destroyed, if the polluters are pushed out by national liberation struggles, eventually they will run out of places to pollute. Therefore environmentalists must build and support national liberation struggles in an internationalist effort to reduce greenhouse gases and defend natural resources of the oppressed.

Environmentalism as Mysticism

Many of the speakers and representatives at COP15 were referring to an inherent responsibility of humyns to protect "Mother Earth." As materialists, we know that all ideas and moralities are created by humyns, and MIM(Prisons) does not believe in or support mysticism. On the other hand, we are communists, and believe in ending power of people over people. So then, what is revolutionary environmentalism? To further explain, we will quote from page 32 of MIM Theory 12: Environment Society Revolution:

It is no more wrong for a human to dig up something useful from the earth than it is for a meteorite to strike a planet somewhere in space. The moral question is the question of human relations first. The idea that it is wrong to exploit, oppress and kill a human being is a human idea, and like all human ideas it occurs only on the basis of class and gender relations. From the oppression and exploitation of some humans by other humans, the oppressed and exploited have developed a morality that condemns this, and we develop a practice to end it... [W]e do not at present believe there is a basis for calling the "destruction" of the Earth as a planet itself immoral, apart from its relation to humanity and, possibly, other life.

Tuvalu is a small island nation in the Pacific ocean about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Along with most other islands and many coastal areas, it will be submerged under water by the end of the century if the global temperature exceeds a 1.5 degrees Celcius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, rise above pre-industrial temperatures. "Genocide" is defined by the United Nations as "the acts that lead to the disappearance of a people" and the u.$. plays a direct and leading role in this oppression. It is not so much the island of Tuvalu itself, as the Tuvaluan people whom we need to advocate for on this issue.

Reparations & Refugees

Although the official deal that came out of COP15 is a commitment to more of the same from the imperialist countries, the event was unique in that it was the first time that much of the Third World united demanding reparations, and the imperialists had to directly say "no" to these demands. The G77 is a group of over 130 underdeveloped countries, and was the largest united front to enter the talks. Although the G77 didn't ask for direct payment from imperialist nations, they called for a 60% reduction of current GGEs of the imperialist countries by 2020.(8) With a limit on global carbon emissions, such a reduction grants more "atmospheric space" for exploited countries to utilize to meet their own people's needs.

On the topic of direct transfer of wealth as reparations, the UN estimates that it will take at least $500 or $600 billion per year for underdeveloped countries to sustain their people without the development of outdated and heavy polluting industries. This number is backed by another study that came out of London. Even surpassing Evo Morales' call for 1%, Martin Khor, executive director of South Centre think tank, estimates that it will require at least 2% of the GNP from rich countries, which totals about $800 billion per year.(5) Stemming from our understanding of exploitation and the transfer of wealth from the Third World to the First World, we support the demand for reparations in all forms.

However, the united $tates has explicitly stated that they will not pay their dues. As u.$. climate negotiator Todd Stearn clumsily explained,

We fully recognize that our historic role in putting emissions up in the atmosphere and we also fully recognize our responsibility to be part of an overall global effort to help poorer countries, both with the regard to the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change and the need to help them develop on a sustainable path, which at this point in our collective history means low-carbon path. Reparations to me conveys of culpability, guilt, that kind of thing. And I don't think that's a legitimate way to look at it. (9)

Aside from the problem we have with Stearn's attempt to lump the rest of the world into amerikkka's "collective history" of exploitation and genocide, we ask, what the hell is "responsiblity" and "recognition of a historic role" if it isn't also an admission of guilt? We know we will never get a logical answer to this question, so instead we ask the Third World and revolutionaries everywhere, how will the u.$. pay for its past and continued contribution to climate genocide?

To show exactly how the imperialist settler nations see the rights of First Nations peoples to land and liberty, and by extension of all oppressed nations to the same, we will quote from part of a speech that Naomi Klein gave at COP15. Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. This anecdote tells about when she accompanied First Nations representatives to discuss klanada's debt to them with a credit rating agency called Moody's:

I was with the very powerful First Nations spokesperson for the Haida, named Gujao, and Arthur Manuel, who is a former chief for the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation in British Columbia. And Arthur had decided that one way to get Canada to acknowledge the debts that it owed to First Nations people was to meet with the credit agencies that give Canada its triple-A credit rating, which is the highest possible credit rating, and explain to Moody’s that actually Canada carries a huge unpaid debt in the form of the lands that it stole, without treaties, from First Nations peoples.

...[A]rthur and Gujao presented all the documents, the writs, the legal rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada, that proved their case that this land was stolen and that they were owed billions in unpaid debts. And they said, “Canada is not a great place to do investment, because what if we called in these debts?” And it was very interesting, because the guy from Moody’s nodded, and he said, “You’re right. We’ve been following these court rulings, but we have decided that you are not going to collect on these debts. So it is not affecting our credit rating.”

And that’s a very important thing for us to remember, because debt is political. Right? You can make your argument. And when we make these arguments, frankly, no one even bothers arguing with us, because it’s so obvious. The science is there. The legal treaties are there. But really what they’re saying is, “You and what army? How are you going to get this money out of us? You are not powerful enough to get the money out of us.” (2)

It is historically proven that any serious measures taken to acquire adequate repayment for destruction caused by imperialism, or even efforts to protect what few forests we have left, will be met with guns.(10) They are even willing to kill their own: in 2005 an amerikan-born nun was murdered by land grabbers who were connected with endangered hardwood trade with the u.$, Europe, and Asia.(11) Some groups have already recognized the need for armed resistance to protect their livelihoods, such as indigenous peoples in the Amazon who protect their forests with spears, and those in Kenya who use guns.(12, 13) The Communist Party of China proved through their liberation struggle the tactics necessary to win warfare against an enemy who has more numerous and powerful weapons. To catalyze the process, we encourage them to study the CPC's military guerilla theories and practices.

In addition to demanding reparations, some speakers are calling for an opening of borders, and permission for people who are refugees due to climate change to be allowed to relocate to territories that are less affected. It is yet to be seen if the imperialist countries will fulfill this request, but considering the fat wall that's being built through Aztlán, and how the wars in Darfur are portrayed as religious wars in the u.$. media, when in fact they are due to fighting over water shortages because of climate change, we doubt they will take a progressive stance on the issue.

Amerikan Consumerism

While a majority of amerikans accept that global climate change is something that is occurring due to humyn activity, and most think the government should do something, with recession looming the majority said economic growth should be given priority over the environment. The Gallup Poll from March 2009 was the first time that amerikans favored economic growth over the environment in 15 surveys asking this question dating back to 1984. The trend showed a general decline in environmental popularity leading up to the final victory of economics this year.(14)

It is a simple fact that justice and amerikan consumption levels are mutually exclusive. To have justice everyone would have access to such consumption, which would require 6 Earths worth of resources. A decrease in consumption is a major fear of the capitalists right now as they struggle to keep financial markets from crashing, so TV personas have begun crying about the Third World trying to destroy the amerikan standard of living. While the desirability of amerikan lifestyles is a question of subjectivity, the need for its elimination is objective based on the question of climate change alone. For decades, imperialist overproduction has been backed by such overconsumption. In contrast, a socialist economy does not require overconsumption and does not face periodic crisis leading to humyn suffering.

As one example of this overconsumption, The New York Times reports that on average, amerikans consume eight ounces of meat per day, which is twice the global average.(15) At least eighteen percent of GGEs are associated with the livestock cycle, and at COP15 Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, advocated that if we stop eating meat once per week, it will reduce GGEs by 3, 4, or even 5%.(8) This is just one example of how amerikan lifestyles will necessarily change under the Socialist Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Meat will be rationed, and cars will (largely, if not completely) be replaced by public transportation and bicycles. While this may not sound like the ideal lifestyle for some, it is even more true that amerikans stand to lose life, not just luxury, by postponing the replacing of their culture with an ecologically sustainable one. On an individual level, MIM(Prisons) is opposed to lifestyle politics as a replacement for revolutionary work. Not only are the consumer nations unwilling to follow suit on a large scale, but the system of capitalism depends on ever-increasing production that must also be profitable. Organizing large scale
changes in culture and consumption patterns will require a system that puts humyn survival over profits and such changes will not be accepted voluntarily by the First World before it's too late.

notes:
(1) Democracy Now! 8 December 2009 http://democracynow.org
(2) DN! 11 December 2009
(3) "How to Cure the Copenhagen Hangover" by Links http://links.org.au/node/1426
(4) DN! 22 December 2009
(5) DN! 9 December 2009
(6) "5 common mistakes in the coverage of the Copenhagen Accord" http://www.grist.org/article/2009-12-22-5-fallacies-in-the-coverage-of-the-copenhagen-accord/
(7) Wikipedia page for "United States" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States
(8) DN! 18 December 2009
(9) DN! 16 December 2009
(10) "Peruvian police fire on unarmed indigenous tribes' oil and gas protest" http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/05/amazon-tribes-police-protest-deaths
(11) "Farming the Amazon" http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/last-of-amazon.html
(12) "The real Avatar story: indigenous people fight to save their forest homes from corporate exploitation" Amazon Rainforest News http://www.amazonrainforestnews.com/2009/12/real-avatar-story-indigenous-people.html
(13) "Arm Sengwer Indigenous Peoples with guns to guard their lives and property" https://www.fpcn-global.org/node/118
(14) http://www.pollingreport.com/enviro.htm
(15) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html

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[Middle East] [ULK Issue 12]
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U.S. bombing of Yemen brings attack on Amerika

December 17, 2009 - U.$. President Obama orders u.$. military strike in Yemen killing as many as 120 people, most of whom were civilians including at least a couple dozen children.(1)

December 25, 2009 - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is alleged to have attempted to ignite explosives on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit. The explosives failed to ignite.

December 28, 2009 - Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claims responsibility for the attempted attack by Abdulmutallab as a response to u.$. attacks on Yemen earlier that month.(2)

January 7, 2010 - Obama gives a report citing multiple failures in u.$. intelligence related to the attempted bombing. Politicians express outrage that such a thing was allowed to happen.

Regardless of what facts may still come to light in this case, Obama would have to be completely racist to believe that the oppressed nations are incapable of organizing counterattacks to the slaughter he has ordered across the Middle East.

There are billions of humyn beings in this world whose lives are threatened by the united $tates. The idea that amerikan intelligence can track them all and prevent every attempted attack as the u.$. makes thousands of new enemies every day is nothing but wishful thinking.

While Obama has called for better organization and coordination between u.$. intelligence agents, other politicians have promoted the plan to spend over $1 billion on new technology, including body scanners that can see through clothes. Former secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff was making the TV rounds promoting the products that he stands to profit from as a private consultant.(3)

The amerikan politicians have made it clear that they are not outraged that amerikan lives were threatened, but rather that the oppressed would dare threaten white supremacy. There is an easy way to prevent attacks like this recent attempt - keep the u.$. military and its proxies out of Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and everywhere else the imperialists are attempting to murder people to keep wealth accumulating in the metropolis.

Al-Qaeda cells have been consistent in their demands since before 9/11/2001 for the u.$. military to get out of the Middle East. So far, amerikans have proven more interested in increasing sales of defense technology and imposing oppressive regimes on other countries than stopping attacks on u.$. soil. (4)

notes:
(1) http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cruise-missiles-strike-yemen/story?id=9375236
(2) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8433151.stm
(3) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/31/AR2009123102821.html
(4) Amerika has learned nothing from September 11th. Read what MIM wrote on that day in 2001

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[Medical Care] [ULK Issue 12]
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Health Care Universe Excludes Most People

Stop Medical Oppression in Prisons
There has been a lot of talk about "health care reform" in the u.$. this year. Like other government-led reforms, there is no progressive side to this debate. It is between the wealthy libertarian individualists who want to retain the power to pay lots of money for highly specialized care on demand, and wealthy labor aristocracy activists who want to make sure the wealth of health care is shared out among Amerikan citizens. Neither side represents the interests of the world's oppressed. When they talk about "Universal Coverage" they are never talking about more than 15% of the world's population.

As we approach the end, the anti-climatic outcome of all the hyped media and political hoopla supports the theory that it was nothing but a distraction. This is a much safer debate than what would come out of discussions of Obama's expanding war on the Middle East and Central Asia. But we will indulge this topic for an issue of Under Lock & Key because we think our comrades have some interesting things to say about health care that is being left out of the amerikan dialogue, particularly in relation to the disproportionately incarcerated nations.

The connection between wealth and health

Under imperialism, the wealthier a country is the better health care the population can expect to receive, which results in a healthier population (measured by things like life expectancy and lower rates of key mortality indicators for children and for some common diseases). This is not just based on individual wealth, or ability to pay, but on national wealth that is accumulated by those that exploit other nations. Infrastructure such as water sanitation, hospitals and medical schools are all concentrated in the First World. This is a material benefit of imperialism that is not directly about income.

Wealth also brings its own health problems in imperialist countries. Where people are "free" to eat at McDonalds and KFC whenever they want, and where it is actually cheaper to eat this food than to buy fresh vegetables, obesity and related diseases are a growing health problem, a problem poor countries can only dream about. Wealthy countries have the money to solve these and other health problems, but capitalism perpetuates illogical systems like subsidies for the Amerikan corn industry which let Amerikans buy unhealthy foods for less than they cost to produce. For this reason, overall health is something that all people can expect to improve under socialism, including the labor aristocracy and imperialist oppressor classes. Capitalism is inherently inefficient at meeting humyn need, even in the rich countries.

Amerikan individualism bad for Amerikan health

Despite spending the most on health care of all countries in the world (both overall and directly out of pocket), compared with other First World countries, the u.$. has one of the lowest percentages of its population covered by health care and has some of the worst health indicators when compared to those same wealthy countries.(1) The u.$. doesn't even make it in the top 40 countries for life expectancy. In the u.$. the health gap between rich and poor is far wider than most other First World countries.(2,3) And overall Amerikans live shorter lives than people in every western European and Nordic country except Denmark.(4) These numbers are all skewed by oppressed nation populations in prisons, ghettos, barrios and reservations where health care statistics are often comparable to the Third World. An example of this is the 50 year life-expectancy gap between Asian males and Black males in the u.$.(4) Other examples are in the reports from behind bars accompanying this issue of Under Lock & Key (ULK12 - January 2009).

Countries that provide health care have higher taxes than the u.$., but they also have no persynal medical bills, and generally have overall better health than the u.$. That Amerikans believe that the proposed "universal" medical coverage in this country would be a bad thing for Amerikan citizens is a wonder of political pundits and advertising. Individualism in Amerika is a disease that leads people to value extending the life of an 80-year-old man with terminal cancer for an extra month over preventing the deaths of 100 people from diabetes and cardiac conditions.

The way countries generally fund health care for all their citizens is through taxes. The same way most countries, including the united $tates, provide education, fire, road, sanitation, and other basic infrastructure services. This is most certainly not socialism. It is just capitalism taking care of its own citizens to the extent necessary to perpetuate capitalism. In First World countries this is a pretty high standard of living; in Third World countries this is often barely enough to sustain a workforce.

In the health care debate within Amerika there has been some confusing rhetoric about what will cost the government and the people of this country more money. In terms of keeping its well-off citizens happy for a price the imperialists can afford, ignoring Amerikan single-minded individualism and forcing through some sort of "universal" health care plan is probably in the best interests of this country. However, universal coverage for Amerikan citizens is basically off the table as an option, thanks in no small part to very heavy lobbying and financial contributions from the Amerikan health care industry. By the end of September almost $300 million was spent by health care industry lobbyists.(5)

The failures of the health care system in imperialist Amerika serve as a good example of why capitalist individualism is an impediment to the health and welfare of even its own citizens. But we communists are not interested in reforming health care in imperialist countries to better serve imperialist citizens, because there is no significant net improvement in humyn health to be had in that struggle.

Saving millions of lives through changes in health care is easy; it is only those who benefit from those deaths that stand in the way. Just like every other debate over taxes, Amerikans are fighting over how to spend the superprofits stolen from the death and suffering of the Third World. Real health care improvements cannot occur in the exploited nations until they have liberated themselves from the imperialist economy that enforces this relationship.

The myth of universal health care

For the oppressed people of the world there is no such thing as universal health care. The life expectancy of the oppressed is alarmingly lower than wealthy First World citizens. In early 2009, the World Bank estimated that 11 million children die each year from lack of health care, sanitation, food and clean water.(6) These are the most basic of health care needs.

Relatively cheap solutions to common problems could prevent far more deaths and suffering than any of the proposals for reshuffling superprofits in the united $tates. By dealing with these simple but massive problems first we would vastly increase our healthy population, which could better address the more complicated health care problems others face. But such an approach would require a system that serves humyn need. Not even a system that serves the need of every persyn in the elite 15% (i.e. all Amerikans) can unleash such powerful forces.

The premature deaths and chronic illnesses of Third World people are a direct result of imperialist occupation and exploitation, serving as a tool of population control, both in numbers and in ability to take effective anti-imperialist action. Amerika sends billions of dollars in "aid" to foreign countries, and just a small fraction of this could provide clean water and sanitation and prevent rampant and debilitating diseases that exist only in Third World countries. The 1.5 million children who die each year from diarrhea could be saved with clean water and sanitation and cheap medical supplies, and 2 million who die from pneumonia need only existing vaccines and inexpensive antibiotics.(7) The Amerikan government rushes to send military aid and troops to ensure access to oil and stable pro-imperialist regimes, but can't be interested in spending a small fraction of that money to save the lives of these children.

Imperialist exploitation of the labor of people in the Third World is made possible by direct military intervention and funding for military regimes that are puppets to imperialism. And this has dire consequences for the health of the exploited around the world. For instance, Amerika's 20-year battle for control of Iraq has included sanctions and then military action that destroyed the infrastructure and health care in that country. From just the sanctions alone deaths among Iraqi infants and children under 5 doubled in 1991.(8)

Amerikan imperialist companies that provide health insurance for their Amerikan citizen workers don't even consider offering any kind of health care for their Third World workers, and those are the people most in need of health care. Workers in Haiti can expect to live only 62 years and in India only 64, and they have a high chance of dying of easily preventable diseases, but the Amerikan corporations many of them work for offer no help.(9) And while the Amerikan corporations, government and people are benefiting from the imperialist profits (often in the form of inexpensive goods & services) made off of the Mexican workers, they're not even discussing extending "Universal Coverage" health care to them.

Health Care for the people

The best example of health care truly serving the interests of the people existed in China between 1949 and 1976 when the communist government dramatically improved the health of the people. They did this by focusing on preventive care, sanitation, and education, combined with a massive campaign to get health care out to people in the countryside previously unable to access doctors.

Four basic guidelines for the organization of health care were developed at The People's Republic of China's first National Health Congress in August 1950:

  1. Medicine should serve the workers, peasants and soldiers
  2. Preventive medicine should take precedence over therapeutic medicine
  3. Chinese traditional medicine should be integrated with Western scientific medicine
  4. Health work should be combined with mass movements

Before 1949, life expectancy in China was just 35 years and the illiteracy rate was 80%. In 1979 life expectancy rose to 68 years and illiteracy had declined to less than 7%. As a part of the dramatic improvements in health, the Chinese infant mortality rate was reduced to a lower level than in New York City. Looked at another way, China achieved a drop in death rate per 1000 from 28 in 1949 to 6.3 in 1978.(10)

Essentially China achieved health for its population comparable with much wealthier countries by the end of the 1970s by focusing on serving the people rather than serving the profits of the wealthy. Building such a system of health care came only after the forceful removal of imperialist powers from China and the destruction of the former institutions of rule.


Notes:
(1) From the World Health Organization's World Health Statistics 2009 report: Globally in 2006, expenditure on health was about 8.7% of gross domestic product, with the highest level in the Americas at 12.8% and the lowest in the South-East Asia Region at 3.4%. This translates to about US$ 716 per capita on the average but there is tremendous variation ranging from a very low US$ 31 per capita in the South-East Asia Region to a high of US$ 2636 per capita in the Americas.
(2) Harvard Magazine, July/August 2008
(3) 2009 World Health Survey from the World Health Organization
(4) The Independent, July 17, 2008 report on American Human Development Index study
(5) CNNMoney.com, September 13, 2009, Health Care Lobbying: The Political Power Machine
(6) World Bank Press Release, Feb 12, 2009
(7) UNICEF, World Children's Report, November 19, 2009
(8) British Medical Journal, 1992 Feb 22;304(6825):455-6
(9) World Health Statistics 2009, from World Health Organization. Compare to the u$ at 78 years and France at 81.
(10) The Health of China, Ruth and Victor Sidel, 1982

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[Theory] [ULK Issue 12]
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Revisiting RCP Revisionism

Revolution #183 : Special Issue on Prisons and Prisoners in the U.S.
November 15, 2009
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA


Calling me an African-American
like everything is fair again, shit
Devil, you got to get the shit right, I'm Black
Blacker than a trillion midnights
—Ice Cube from the song When Will They Shoot?

Many years ago MIM had disregarded the so-called "Revolutionary Communist Party, USA" (rcp=u$a) after it repeatedly served as a mouthpiece for the CIA in relation to People's War in Peru, the invasion of Iraq, and supporting regime change in Iran.(1) Our predecessors had spent decades drawing sharp lines between the Maoist line and rcp=u$a's revisionism. In recent years, Monkey Smashes Heaven has continuously exposed the rcp=u$a's phony Maoism. To date we have not spent too much time on the subject except in some discussions of Iran and a high level document entitled "Maoism Around Us" that was not printed in Under Lock & Key. We believed there was no reason to prioritize doing much more when so much was already out there on the subject that we could point to.

However, the fact remains that most of our readers do not have access to the internet, and therefore will only be aware of this longstanding battle against revisionism if they have been reading MIM Notes or MIM Theory for some time. This month the rcp=u$a published an issue of their newspaper dedicated to the topic of u.$. prisons. This caught our eye, and reiterated the need for MIM(Prisons) to continue to draw the line between Maoism and revisionism.

Many comrades write in praising the virtues of Maoism and we take this as a sign that we are doing something right in connecting the struggles of the oppressed in this country to an ever developing proletarian ideology. But we must be real, only a handful of our readers are seriously grappling with the questions facing Maoism today. And those that cannot distinguish Maoism from the right opportunism of groups like the rcp=u$a have not yet grasped it.(2) So let us begin.

"African Americans"

Did they say "African Americans"? Following the Black Power movement of the 60's there have been debates among revolutionaries between the terms Black Nation and New Afrikan Nation. But the rcp=u$a is still writing about "African Americans."

What's wrong with this terminology? Well, nothing really if you believe that Black people are amerikans as rcp=u$a does. Some have suggested the term African Amerikan for our enemies of African descent; another term for Uncle Toms. You see, to Maoists, amerikans are oppressors. To be amerikan is to be the enemy of the proletariat and the struggle of all oppressed people. Rcp=u$a in contrast calls for the leadership of the multinational labor aristocracy to lead the revolution in the u.$.

We must acknowledge that the rcp=u$a came out in support of (actually it was more like giving permission to) an independent Black state in their Draft Program. They did so, while maintaining that the "other" oppressed nations in the u.$. must be part of their "multinational proletariat."(3) In other words, they were offering a special neo-colonial deal to the Black nation.

One letter writer in this issue addresses the rcp=u$a's predecessor, the Revolutionary Union, in their handling of the question of the Black Nation:


From the beginning, the RU’s scientific attitude impressed me. The RU’s analysis of the Black national question stood out from that of other organizations. My friend and I had read Lenin’s and Stalin’s writings on the national question, and like many people in the movement at the time, we were pretty sure that Black people in the U.S. were a nation. However, we didn’t have a very deep understanding. The lines of groups like the Black Workers Congress and the Communist League either proceeded from the point of view of the Black nation itself rather than from the international proletariat, or were bizarre attempts to shoehorn the Black national question into Stalin’s definition of a nation with little or no “concrete analysis of concrete conditions.” The RU came at this question scientifically. Guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, it analyzed the history of Black people in the U.S. from slavery, through Reconstruction, and on through the great migration to the cities in the 20th century, and developed not only a scientific explanation of this question, but a program for the revolutionary movement and for the future socialist society."

We quote at length here so as to capture the full content of the writer's point. She writes in typical rcp=u$a style, hyping up the "analysis" and "science" without actually giving you an analysis. She implies criticisms of Stalin, but offers no explanation of the alternative.

On this topic, in their title article rcp=u$a writes:

"The concept of the targeting of Black people and Native Americans as a 'pariah class,' dating back to the early days of the U.S., and the overall way in which white supremacy has served to blunt class-consciousness in the U.S. since then, has been drawn on and further developed by Bob Avakian in the important work, Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy."

They pick up the tactics of the white communist movement dating back to at least the 1930's of talking hard about the special oppression of Black people, while pulling them away from developing an independent movement for self-determination. Maoists have long upheld the thesis developed in the book Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat that there is no progressive class-consciousness among amerikans.

Letters from Prisoners

The rcp=u$a prints a number of letters from prisoners and former prisoners in this issue. They have a disclaimer saying that the views in the letters are not those of Revolution, yet fail to criticize anything in them. This is a textbook example of rcp=u$a liberalism in practice right in their so-called Maoist newspaper that is supposedly providing the great leadership of Bob Avakian that we all need in order to get free. They regularly use the "masses" to say stuff that they don't want to take responsibility for.

One example of this is the prisoner who mentions, "The so called 'Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo' that called for the theft of half of Mexican land." As referenced above, the rcp=u$a has refused to acknowledge the right of Mexicans and their descendants to independence in Aztlán. But they like to print stuff like this to give the impression that they do in order to lure revolutionary nationalists into their ranks.

Rcp=u$a gives lip-service to the principal contradiction under imperialism being between nations, but their revisionism is exposed in their applications. Another example is plain as day in a discussion of Islam:

"When I first tried to understand what Bob Avakian was talking about with the two outmoded ideologies and systems, Islamic Fundamentalism and Imperialism, I said "Damn!" this is something. And Islamic Fundamentalism, I really didn't understand what that was until I started reading Revolution. The oppression of women, backward ideas, fighting to go back not forward, reading what was in the paper really helped me. This is not a national liberation struggle or something good. It's not part of any solution for humanity. And, imperialism is not only no better, it's even worse. We need to put communism and real revolution on the map. This is something way different from Imperialism and Islamic Fundamentalism. Where are you going to find out about this, not in the Daily News or the New York Times, or these other movement newspapers. People, and not just people locked up, need Revolution and Avakian's leadership. I felt I can explain it to people. It's clearer now."

Uh, what? Actually, The New York Times is all over this shit painting Islam as a threat to feminism everywhere. Where are you going to find out about this? How about from Condoleeza Rices' speeches when she was head of the State Department? They were given at the same time that the rcp=u$a was pushing the same line of woman's liberation through regime change in Iran by organizing marches and rallies across the u.$.

Or you could go to frontpagemag.com and read fascist David Horowitz who fought it out with Bob Avakian over who was going to control the discussion of "Islamo-Fascism." Horowitz has an out for using this term, he doesn't claim Maoism so he can define fascism however he likes. As Maoists, MIM agreed with Dimitrov that fascism is "the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and the most imperialist elements of finance capital." There are no imperialist Muslim countries, thus, no fascist Muslim countries.

As mentioned above, not all of our readers get Maoism right, but we don't print their letters uncorrected. One letter printed in Revolution #183 claims that after reading the newspaper for awhile, "I began to see that this capitalist-imperialist system is fundamentally based on the exploitation and oppression of the vast majority of humanity at the hands of the few within the ruling class who own and control the means of production." Not surprisingly, readers of Revolution come away with the white nationalist dogma that in the u.$. we are all united against the handful of rich who run the world, and rcp=u$a concurs.

The same writer stressed that the fight for abortion rights are vital. An accompanying article in this issue on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment reads: "This devastating development has shocked and angered many who put their hopes in the Obama presidency to bring change from years of war, repression and Christian fundamentalist onslaught and who now feel thrown under the bus instead." Thrown under the bus by whom, RCP? If anyone was deceived, it was by the so-called Maoist party that campaigned to get Obama elected to combat the rise of the bogeyman of "Christian Fascism!"

The gender aristocracy rallying to protect their rights to sexual pleasure and promiscuity is not exactly a battle for the international proletariat. But right opportunism says to let the gender aristocracy set our gender line so that we can be more popular. This approach to gender was so disgustingly obvious in rcp=u$a's approach to homosexuality. As long as gay rights was a minority issue they promoted homophobic literature targeting queers for their sexuality while promoting sexual liberalism for heterosexuals. It wasn't until after the issue began to strike a popular chord, and discrimination against gays became unacceptable that rcp=u$a followed suit. Nice "vanguard."

Back in the day, MIM promoted the sterilization of all men in order to eliminate abortion while avoiding the obvious campaign of the anti-abortion movement to control the sexuality of wimmin. While rcp=u$a debated with the Christian right about how they like their wimmin (liberated vs. barefoot and pregnant), MIM took a shot at male supremacy. More importantly today, the pro-choice movement has dovetailed nicely with the pro-war movement targeting countries that oppose abortion and sexual liberalism. But rcp=u$a has harped against Iran for years, promoting the overthrow of the anti-amerikan government there, so this is not a contradiction for them.

One more interesting note on the gender question: The rcp=u$a article reads: "If the Senate passes a health care bill that effectively prohibits abortion, women will be cast back to the days when only the very rich could determine the course of the rest of their lives." In other words, wimmin would be coerced into having sex that leads to pregnancy. MIM has long said that all sex is rape, and this is probably the closest the sexual liberals at rcp=u$a have come to recognizing this. The problem is that they deny the existence of the gender aristocracy and the reproductive health benefits that it receives by virtue of living in the First World. Even in cases of unplanned sex, birth control is accessible after the fact without abortion. So the rcp=u$a rhetoric is just another example of their exaggerated demagoguery.

A final letter writer catches them up with a direct quote from "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," another self-congratulatory rallying cry from the rcp=u$a. "For a revolution, there must be a revolutionary people among all sections of society but with its deepest base among those who catch hell every day under this system." No, the revolutionary people are found among the exploited and oppressed and we don't need the exploiters and oppressors to join us before we can be successful.

Whether Barack Obama or Bob Avakian, persynality cults have no progressive role to play in the First World today. The oppressed need to move beyond trying to pick the right candidate to vote for.

Amerikans Need to be Imprisoned

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound difference between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois.
- from "Lenin on the Struggle Against Revisionism", p.31


... right up to the very wholesale deportation or internment of the most dangerous and stubborn exploiters - putting them under strict surveillance in order to combat inevitable attempts to resist and to restore capitalist slavery - only such measures can ensure the real subordination of the whole class of exploiters.
-from "Lenin on the Struggle Against Revisionism", p.41

Regarding our lines on prisons in general, the rcp=u$a supports a line that political prisoners make up a small portion of the population and focus on the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier as examples. MIM's line has been that all prisoners are political. In other words, the system is set up to control certain populations, while the real criminals that are murdering people en masse make fat paychecks and live free. This issue of Revolution on prisons by a self-proclaimed communist group leaves out what their approach to prisons would be (they mention the need for an "earth-shaking revolution"). They sidestep the two line struggle within the Maoist movement between mass re-education camps in the First World and a dispersal method of sending the former exploiters to the global countryside as they did on a smaller scale within China. This discussion would be too scary for their populist amerikan readership.

As revolution will come to the heart of imperialism last, MIM has long discussed the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations over the oppressor nations as we work to break down the backwards ways of our imperialist past. The rcp=u$a, like all white nationalist so-called communists, sees no reason for such a dictatorship.

In the system that communists are fighting for, much of the First World will face potential prison time in order to right the centuries of injustices that this system is built on. Prisons will serve to develop productive members of a society that serves people's need, rather than as a warehouse of torture and wasted lives.

Covering for the bourgeoisie

Practice has shown that the active people in the working-class movement who adhere to the opportunist trend are better defenders of the bourgeoisie, than the bourgeoisie itself. Without their leadership of the workers, the bourgeoisie could not have remained in power.
- from "Lenin on the Struggle Against Revisionism", p.74

While we have no exploited working-class movement in the imperialist countries to speak of, this quote from Lenin still rings true in terms of the usefulness of what he calls "bourgeois socialism" in neutralizing those who want an end to oppression. During the Bush Jr. regime the rcp=u$a were constantly crying that "christian fascism" was taking over the country. They led the "World Can't Wait to Throw Out the Bush Regime" campaign, which was the radical wing of a many year long campaign to get Obama into office. Rcp=u$a of course would never openly support Obama as that would totally discredit them as communists. But they do openly support the 90% of the u.$. population that they claim have an interest in socialism.

As the radical branch of the Democrats, rcp=u$a works to unite these same people for their own interests. When they see their interests in a neo-colonial u.$. president who will expand the occupation and slaughter in Central Asia for amerikan economic interests, the rcp=u$a balks and pretends that the people are confused. This is all part of their game to maintain their radical facade to continue to be an effective recruiter of youth for the Democratic Party.

In 1902, VI Lenin published "What is to be Done?", which set the theoretical stage for the split of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were the communists led by Lenin who eventually led the successful revolution of 1917. In "What is to be Done?", Lenin opens up by criticizing one of the Menshevik tendencies for right opportunism and economism.(4) He describes how he had to expand the essay to deal with all aspects of a group that wasn't even speaking the same language and often playing both sides of an issue. This is a great description of the rcp=u$a's approach to theory. Of course, rcp=u$a economism takes on a whole new meaning among the exploiter nation in this country, where economic demands actually mean increased exploitation of the proletariat.

History of Struggle vs. Revisionism

While Maoists effectively split from Avakian's revisionism in the 1980's, our conditions leave us at a disadvantage compared to Lenin in that many still see the rcp=u$a as representing Maoism because their populist politics gives them a greater public face in many areas (inside u.$. prisons is one exception to this).

Despite volumes of criticisms of the rcp=u$a's revisionism from the left, they have publicly responded to the Maoist Internationalist Movement only once. It was in 1994 to respond to a paper presented by MIM at a conference, "it argued that white workers as an economic-social grouping in the United States are not exploited, are part of the process of exploitation of the workers of the Third World and have no revolutionary interests. This is a wrong and counterrevolutionary idea." Clear as day, right? Too bad, the rcp=u$a back tracks on this line and implies certain things about the white nation more in line with MIM when it is dealing with the oppressed. The RCP's fear of Maoism comes through in their discussion of supermax prisons where they cite vague statistics, but fail to reference the most thoroughly documented list of control units on the internet because it is produced by comrades affiliated with MIM(Prisons).

Combating revisionism is usually a frustrating task that eats up time that could be spent building the movement. While we hope to not have to spend much time on this particular group in the near future, we know that the struggle against revisionism is continuous. And ultimately it is one part of building a strong movement.


notes:
(1) See the archive of the Crypto-Trotskyists page from etext
(2) While Lenin warned that there is no shortcut to identifying revisionism, MonkeySmashesHeaven has a pretty good cheat sheet for our times. see: Clues to help you find out if someone is a revisionist
(3) 2001 MIM Congress. Resolution on the "Draft Programme of the 'Revolutionary Communist Party, USA' May 2001"
(4) For a full discussion of "right" and "left" errors see MIM Theory 5: A Diet for a Small Red Planet.

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[Theory]
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What is sectarianism?

https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/faq/sectarian.html

Sectarianism is a term developed from the ideology of guiding ones practice by what would best promote ones sect, or organization. In other words, putting the organization itself over what the organization is supposed to be about.

In practice this looks like multiple groups all saying they are working for the same thing, but not willing to work with each other on this goal because they don't want to share the spotlight, or they have persynal differences with another group or some other petty issue that has nothing to do with said goal.

One of the purposes of having cardinal principles is to know what things one will split over and not be acting in a sectarian way. These principles, if violated, would deem a party to no longer be working for the same thing as you.

With the dissolution of the MIM into a cell structure in 2005, the potential for sectarianism within the First World Maoist movement increased. There may be a tendency to compete for the new position of vanguard with the demise of the Maoist Internationalist Party (Amerika) around which MIM was centered up until 2007. This doesn't necessarily stem from an inherent competitiveness among comrades, but rather their understanding of what the vanguard is and its importance for those who follow Leninism.

MIM(Prisons) has always promoted the cell structure as advantageous in terms of security as well promoting the theoretical and practical development of a small movement. With a movement made up of independent cells with different functions, we see it as appropriate to deem the movement the vanguard, even as we remain slow to support each other and work together as a coherent movement. We also continue to struggle against incorrect lines we see within the movement, as well as combat revisionism elsewhere. While revisionism can certainly creep up within MIM, the line between the revisionists and those who effectively combat revisionism is what defines who is a part of MIM.

Discerning Enemies In Struggle

While it has always been a major challenge of our movement, combating revisionism is even more challenging when revolutionaries are actively engaging the enemy in struggle. We've seen this with the different approaches to events in Nepal by comrades upholding the Maoist line. We've also seen it recently surrounding the apparent security struggles of original MIM cadre.

Before Geronimo Pratt was put away for 25 to life on a FBI frame up, the pigs regularly accused him of ego-tripping when he talked of the surveillance and harassment he faced. Of course, it was all true. Actually there was much more to it than Pratt even knew at the time.

When the FBI deals with those who are known to be armed and promote armed self-defense, if not offense, it is easy to frame such people for jail time and assassinations. It was easy for the FBI to find an excuse to shoot Luqman Ameen Abdullah after they had surrounded him, pointed their big guns and then sicked an attack dog on him. These tactics are harder to pull off on those who have consistently opposed armed struggle and breaking the law by communists, and live to that standard. These tactics are also used in desperation because they are very damaging to the state that carries out assassinations and kidnappings in plain site of the public.

There are many tactics that are often much more damaging to the targets of COINTELPRO than assassinations. They include destroying one's livelihood, buying one off, seducing one sexually, harassment in many forms and more subtle physical attacks. All of these tactics have been well-documented along with assassinations and frame-ups. Yet, comrades seem to ignore these forms of repression because the facts are not clear or because the difficulties of dealing with them make them uncomfortable. The facts are never clear until it's too late, that's the whole point of counter intelligence.

We know that some comrades are upset that Henry Park talked about them publicly. We cannot explain or defend that. He recently decided to talk about MIM(Prisons). We don't like it either. In fact, we could leave the internet altogether and continue on just as effectively with most of our work. Then those who believe "i can be googled therefore i exist" will pay us no mind.

However, the real wrecking ability is in the unknown number of MC's who left MIM and left the cardinal principles to go on and do who knows what. According to Park, some of them are doing some very bad things. So it is curious that others are spending so much time worrying about the damage being done by someone upholding MIM's original 3 cardinal principles and at least 9 out of 10 of the criteria spelled out by Monkey Smashes Heaven (MSH). The 10th criteria is the only debatable one because it is not a question of line. It is clear that MSH and others believe that Henry Park has violated point 10. [For the record MIM(Prisons) has not proposed a list of cardinal principles that differ from MIM's longstanding 3 cardinals, but we see a lot of value in MSH's list and certainly agree with them on those points.]

Perhaps MIM(Prisons) is the dense party here who doesn't get what is going on. We are not interested in getting into a debate about what is being done at Henry Park's blog. But if there is a principled position out there that would benefit our movement we would like to hear it.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 11]
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Thangs-taken

You got a green card?

Back in September, American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier, who's been in prison since 1977, wrote an article responding to his denial for parole entitled, "I am Barak Obama's Political Prisoner now." In it he wrote, "If only the federal government would have respected its own laws, not to mention the treaties that are, under the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land, I would never have been convicted nor forced to spend more than half my life in captivity."(1)

In October, in Denver, the birthplace of Kkkolombus Day, activists lead an annual protest of the patriotic parade, which "commemorate(s) the beginnings of America itself." Of this year, they report: "We chanted "Down With Kolumbus Day, Settlers (and Occupiers) Go Away!" To liven up the anti-colonial festivities we brought a piñata of Uncle Sam. Protesters had whacks at it with a shoe, in honor of Al-Zaidi in Iraq."(2)

As we work to get this issue of Under Lock & Key off to you all in November, amerikans are warming up their kitchens for a cozy Thanksgiving ("Thangs taken" is more accurate) dinner on land stolen from the First Nations, made up of food picked and packaged by exploited Latino migrants, served on dinner plates made by exploited Asians, paid for by stolen wealth from natural resources in the Middle East, while millions of children in Africa starve.


notes:
(1) http://www.counterpunch.org/peltier09112009.html
(2) RAIM Global Digest Issue 6. November 15th, 2009.

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[Civil Liberties] [International Connections] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 11]
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Third World Muslim Prisoners of Amerika

Shortly after MIM(Prisons) posted an article talking about the use of excess prisons to lock up migrants, CNN reported that the u.$. government is looking to take over another empty state prison, this time for Muslims from the Third World.(1) The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) already secretly opened two control units for Muslim Arabs in recent years at USP Terra Haute and USP Marion (which became the original control unit in 1983, but was later downgraded to medium security). These units hold 94% and 75% Muslims, respectively, are even more isolating than many prisons holding English-speakers and u.$. citizens.(2)

Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois is an unused, high tech, maximum security prison with a capacity of 1600 that still sits virtually empty. The government promises that if Third World Muslims are to be sent there, that it will be made even more secure than the official federal control unit, ADX in Florence, Colorado. According to the CNN article, Thomson is the top contender to take most of those now held in Guantanamo Bay after its planned closure, scheduled for January 2010.

There are only 215 prisoners at Guantanamo, and the BOP already holds 340 people that they say are "linked to international terrorism."(1) While the imprisonment of Latino migrants dwarfs these numbers, one must also consider that there are many u.$. prisons in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and other secret military locations that hold primarily Muslims from the Middle East.

Governor Quinn is excited at the prospect of bringing these prisoners to Illinois because of the money it will bring to the region. This is consistent with his policies of using prisons to combat recession (3), and he may be on to something. With more and more amerikans being employed to physically oppress other people, importing people who are a threat to the imperialist order to hold in amerikan-run prisons would not be an unlikely form for amerika to take as it turns more fascist in the face of imperialist crisis. As one resident pointed out to Reuters, the local population in rural Illinois would back the mission of the prison (4), unlike people in the Middle East where the u$ currently holds most of its Middle Eastern prisoners. A turn toward fascism would be necessary to prevent non-citizens from gaining access to the bourgeois democratic rights promised to those on u.$. soil. (Those currently held in Guantanamo have never been convicted of a crime.) When convenient for them, the imperialists believe humyn rights begin and end at man-made borders.

Of course bourgeois rights are denied to citizens of the united snakes as well, as the FBI demonstrated by assassinating New Afrikan Imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah in Detroit. Abdullah was a member of Jamil al-Amin's (formerly Black Panther H. Rap Brown) Muslim network called "Ummah." New Afrikan Muslims are the second largest group in the Marion Communications Management Unit.(2)

notes:
(1) Yellin, Jessica. Illinois prison top contender to house Gitmo detainees, official says. cnn.com. November 14, 2009.
(2) http://www.abolishcontrolunits.org/research/US
Exposing "Little Guantanamo": Inside the CMU by Daniel McGowen reports that 75% in Marion CMU are Muslim, though only 10 of 26 are from the Middle East. In Terra Haute, reportedly 2 of 213 prisoners are not Arab Muslims.
(3) MIM(Prisons) on U.S. Prison Economy. Under Lock & Key Issue 8, May 2009.
(4)http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN16528063

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National Oppression as Migrant Detention

Government Assistance for Migrants

As the fastest growing prison population, migrants in detention have helped continue the decades long trend of rising imprisonment rates in the united snakes in recent years, while saving the private prison industry in the process.(1) Despite continued rhetoric about drugs coming into the u.$. through Mexico, the government drastically shifted resources away from drug enforcement to immigration enforcement following 9/11, and the prison population shows it.(2)

As of July 2009, there are 31,000 non-citizens imprisoned at the federal level on any given day in the u.$. This number is up from about 20,000 in 2006 and 6,259 in 1992.(3) There are more than 320,000 migrants detained each year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and as many as a quarter of them are juveniles. These numbers include only those imprisoned under federal custody, although they may be located all around the country and in state prisons and local jails. These numbers do not include people who may be imprisoned on criminal charges, but are not turned in to federal custody on immigration violations (such as in "sanctuary cities").

The American Civil Liberties Union says that the conditions in which these civil detainees are held are often as bad as or worse than those faced by people imprisoned with criminal convictions. These detention centers are described as "woefully unregulated." The "requirements" that they do have about how to treat people have no legal obligation, reducing them essentially to suggestions.(3) This leads to prisoners without u.$. citizenship being denied access to telephones, legal aide or law libraries, recreation, visitation, mail, medical care, toiletries, and the list goes on. People are kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night and transferred without notification to their families. On top of that they often have no means of communication, leading people to become completely detached from their support systems and legal counsel. For u.$. prisoners, these conditions are nothing surprising or new. The difference for migrants is that the line between detention and punishment is blurred. Years ago, migrants were detained for 4 or 5 days, and then deported. Now people are being detained for up to 2 years (and possibly more), without ever being charged with a crime, let alone convicted, even by an illegitimate jury in an illegitimate u.$. court.

The Economic Motivations

One reason migrant imprisonment is increasing is because after the prison boom of the 1990s, some prisons are sitting partially empty. The owners and financers of these prisons are begging for more people to lock up, and their solution is migrants. This is part of the parasitic imperialist economy, where filling prisons is seen as an economic stimulus even though it is a completely non-productive suck of resources.

Private prisons house 17% of people in ICE custody. The Correctional Corporation of America, a private prison management company who controls half of the detention facilities run by private companies, spent $3 million lobbying politicians in 2004. They want stricter immigration laws so they can have access to more prisoners, which will bring them more money. In turn, ICE is able to pay 26% less per day to house prisoners in a private versus state-run facility.(4) This is possible because of the lack of public as well as governmental oversight at private facilities, where they reduce costs by getting rid of everything that would help prisoners, including necessary-to-life medical care. One reason state governments shied away from private prisons for their own citizens was the scandals that they quickly became associated with. In the year 1998-99, Wackenhut's private prisons in New Mexico had a death rate 55 times that of the national average for prisons.(5) The migrant population's lack of voice allows these corporations to get away with their cost-cutting abusive conditions when contracted by ICE. This is another good example of how capitalism values profit over humyn life.

Yet, as we described in Amerikkkans: Oppressing for a Living, an increase in imprisonment doesn't serve the interests of just the private prison industry; CO and pig unions also reap major benefits. Since 9/11/2001 the u.$. has increased its border patrol from 8,000 agents to 20,000, 20% of whom are military veterans. Salaries start at $36,000 to $46,000 per year plus full benefits. The whole Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes ICE, brags about its budget exceeding $40 billion and providing high paying jobs for 166,234 amerikans.(6) Not only does DHS keep wealth within u.$. borders, it helps distribute it as well.

And similar to the military-industrial complex and prison-industrial complex we discussed in The privatization of war: Imperialism gasps its last breaths, Homeland Security contracts are based on who you know, not what you're selling, as former staff members sell their wares to their old employers.(7) Meanwhile, many of the smaller start-up companies that are cashing in are headed by overly-enthusiastic and openly racist Minuteman types.(8)

Of course, there are real economic benefits to amerikans as a whole by managing the populations trying to come into the u.$. If amerikans really made more money because they are just smarter and harder working, then they wouldn't be afraid to open the borders and allow competition for jobs. Instead, the demand for repression is forcing more and more farmers to employ prison labor for harvests when they used to use migrants. Free amerikan citizens just won't work for proletarian wages, not to mention it being illegal, so the argument that they want their jobs back is pretty weak. Though perhaps this is the perfect solution to keeping food cheap, while keeping foreigners out and the oppressed in prison. Migrant detainees do work in private prisons doing the day-to-day maintenance, and because they are not u.$. citizens DHS enforces a maximum wage of $1 per day.(9) While adequate food and housing are theoretically provided, this amounts to working and living conditions generally below those in their home region. Opposite the reactionary turn to border control, we challenge those who want jobs for everyone to work toward a new economic system instead.

Close the Hatches: Whitey Unites

ICE is not the only law enforcement actor in this scam profiting off humyn life. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act 287(g), local authorities can become authorized to officially enforce federal immigration law, while others are comfortable unofficially using the old vigilante trick of targeting specific people. This culture of oppression in the white nation runs so deep that an increasing number of u.$. citizens are joining in the traditional amerikan hobby of border patrol, volunteering with groups such as the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. In response to much public outrage, President Obama has addressed the actions of the famous migrant humiliator Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio by limiting him to only determining someone's immigration status when they've been jailed. This weak response of the Obama administration shows their support of such migrant oppression.

The white euro-amerikan nation has been systematically oppressing other peoples for centuries. One way is through exploitation and neocolonialism in Third World countries, where people are trapped as cheap labor by borders and immigration laws. Corporations pay little to no wages there and sell products for super-profits in this country. The dire economic situations cause people to leave their homes and often risk their lives to provide for themselves and their families. From 1995 to 2005 about 2,600 people died trying to come into the united $tates through Mexico.(10) Similarly, people regularly die crossing the ocean in makeshift boats from Haiti where the u.$.-imposed government refuses to meet the needs of the people. It's oppressive in one country so people decide to leave and come here thinking they will find better opportunities. Of course, what really happens is the oppression and exploitation of Third World people continues within the united $tates when people don't have a green card. Things are worse for the oppressed during the recent economic crisis. Many from Latin America are finding that opportunities are now superior back home, even though amerikans continue to live over-consumptive lifestyles in the united $tates.

Migrants Seize Detention Center

Signs of Progress

In the face of all this, there are people working toward solutions. In Pecos, Texas in December 2008 and January 2009, there was a series of migrant prisoner uprisings. They were finally set off by the death of a man with epilepsy, who died completely unnecessarily due to a blatant disregard for his life by refusing to give him medical care.(11) People of many different nationalities came together in rebellion, demanding better conditions. This is not the first or last murder of its kind, as unexplained deaths are common in u.$. prisons, including migrant detention centers.

Some u.$. cities are moving in the progressive direction of being "sanctuaries." Sanctuary cities allow people who may not be u.$. citizens to make money here to send home to circulate in their own countries. This is a roundabout way of moving toward a world without borders. However, with accusations that some mayors are "soft on crime," the sanctuary status may be threatened. Additionally, there's nothing stopping federal agents from going into these cities and enforcing federal immigration law, as they often do.

While we favor these progressive steps toward protections for migrants in the u.$., we acknowledge that they aren't enough to lead to the end of national oppression. They are fragile reforms at best, that can be as easily revoked (or simply ignored). Another solution some have is integration of migrants into the u.$. exploiter nation through exploiter-size wages. This is an effort to reduce their potential as revolutionaries to that of consumers and labor-aristocratic parasites. What we truly need to end national oppression of migrants in the u.$. is to expose the "amerikkkan dream," and revolutionize the workers to support revolutionary movements in the Third World.

notes:
(1) Greene, Judith. Banking on the Prison Boom. August 2006.
(2) Fernandes, Deepa. Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration. Seven Stories Press, New York. 2007, p.119.
(3) "Detention Management," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Nov 20, 2008, http://www.ice.gov/pi/news/factsheets/detention_mgmt.htm
(4) Berestein, Leslie. Tougher immigration laws turn the ailing private prison sector into a revenue maker. San Diego Tribune, 5/4/2008.
(5) Fernandes. p. 195.
(6) http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/rewrite/budget/fy2009/homeland.html
(7) Fernandes, p.178.
(8) Ibid., p.185. Border Technologies, Inc. founder believes that "Mexican culture is based on deceit" and "Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival."
(9) Ibid., p.197.
(10) Ibid., p.50.
(11) Wilder, Forrest. How a private prison pushed immigrant inmates to the brink. The Texas Observer, October 2, 2009. http://www.texasobserver.org/features/the-pecos-insurrection

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