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Under Lock & Key

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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] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 11]
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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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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 10]
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Hip Hop in the Scopes of the State

Show them as scurrilous and depraved... Have members arrested on marijuana charges. Investigate personal conflicts or animosities between them. Send articles to the newspapers showing their depravity. Use narcotics and free sex to entrap... Obtain specimens of their handwriting. Provoke target groups into rivalries that may result in death. - FBI COINTELPRO tactics documented to be used against political musicians(1)

I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. - Mao Zedong. To Be Attacked by the Enemy Is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing (May 26, 1939)

Public Enemy in the scope

One indication of the revolutionary potential of hip hop is the bourgeois state's reaction to it. Just this summer, police arrested Paradise Gray of X-clan, and the Zulu Nation, which played a big role in shaping hip hop in its earlier years. Gray was arrested while he was filming a demonstration against gentrification. (2) Paralleling some of Tupac's efforts discussed below, Gray is currently working with 1Hood to promote peace among the oppressed nation youth in Pittsburgh, PA. There's nothing the government fears more than for the oppressed to stop killing themselves and each other.

While the popular culture likes to see Reality Rap, now known as Gangsta Rap, as the beginning of the ultimate corruption of hip hop, the truth is that pioneers Ice-T, NWA and Tupac were unabashedly opposed to the state and received a lot of heat for it. Their shows were canceled, their records delayed, their songs were censored and they faced constant surveillance and regular harassment.

While the forms of art that originated in hip hop culture have been greatly co-opted through the corporate media to serve the state itself, the potential threat of a culture that keeps strong roots in the oppressed nations remains. John Potash put out a detailed documentation of the history of the state's use of COINTELPRO against musicians, connecting it to operations against revolutionaries who preceded and often inspired them. He describes how the NYPD formed the first rap unit with COINTELPRO training, and then went on to train other metropolitan cops around the country. His book centers around the life and murder of Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur's step-father was former Black Liberation Army and revolutionary physician, turned prisoner of war, Mutulu Shakur. He was one of a number of influential elders in Tupac's life as he grew up that were part of the Black Power movement. In his meetings with Tupac he says that he pushed Tupac to question and define this Thug Life thing, which they eventually did together in a 26 point code that was accepted by Bloods and Crips (and later others) at the 1992 peace summit in Los Angeles. (3) This led to a major counterintelligence operation targeting those involved, including Mutulu who has been caged in a federal control unit ever since.

Sanyika Shakur, a former Crip leader, was one who was inspired to support these efforts. He was also targeted for isolation in the California prison system where he currently sits (such peacemakers are the so-called "worst of the worst" that fill these torture cells). As he pointed out, the government had reason to be concerned about these efforts to unite Black and Latino youth as the street organizations in South Central were recruiting more young people each year than the four armed forces of the united $tates combined. (4)

John Potash's detailed research into 2pac and other musicians and Black leaders, show clear connections between government black operations and the repression of those who mobilized oppressed people. The primary role that Tupac played in the "East vs. West" feud in the hip hop scene was ironic after his work to unite warring sets in Los Angeles. But Potash paints a picture of state-led manipulation that led Tupac to play into their plans.

Potash traces the use of sex and drugs to manipulate both activists and musicians as described in the FBI document quoted above. The sexual assault charges brought against Tupac were one example of this. (5) Death Row Records, who he paints as an FBI front, kept 2pac swimming in alcohol and weed, like the FBI did to his mother when he was a kid using a drug dealer who got close to her. Death Row even turned Dr. Dre, who once rapped "yo I don't smoke weed or sess cause it's known to give a brother brain damage", into a giant weed ad with his debut solo album, "The Chronic." In the decade that followed, regular marijuana use increased significantly among Black and Latino youth, with greater disabling addiction problems, perhaps do to increased potency of the drug. (6) Today, weed and alcohol are constantly praised by rappers.

In his last days, Pac was sober, reading Mao and talking about uniting Blacks across the country. He was soon killed and no one was charged with the murder even though he was being closely watched by multiple state agencies at the time, just as Biggie was at the time of his death.

A big lesson to take from "The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders" is that the government has a strategy for neutralizing potential leaders that they use over and over. To counter this, activists need to be aware of the strategies and develop strategies to counter them. As an individual Tupac was easily manipulated, but even a disciplined party like the Black Panthers was manipulated into a similar East vs. West coast division that could have been avoided. In both cases, the FBI took advantage of internal contradictions among the people involved. So, while studying FBI tactics is a useful way to defend ourselves, more importantly we must put politics in command to make a movement that is difficult to knock off course.

notes: (1) Potash, John. The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders. Progressive Left Press, Baltimore. 1997. p.56. (available from AK Press)
(2) http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/first-wise-intelligent-now-hip-hop-pioneer-paradise-of-x-clan-get-arrested-on-trumped-up-charges/
(3) Potash. p. 63.
(4) Shakur, Sanyika. Monster. Grove Press, New York. 1993.
(5) see Communist Opinion on the Kobe Bryant Case for more on the ridiculousness of such lynching campaigns
(6) Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 291 No. 17, May 5, 2004.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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Pulse of the People Sounds Like Revolution

dead prez
Hosted by DJ Green Lantern
Turn Off The Radio Vol. 3: Pulse of the People
June 2009


Almost everyone who wrote in complaining about the state of hip hop cited dead prez as the exception. Taking off where 2pac left off with Thug Life, dead prez has popularized a more consistent and developed code under their slogan of Revolutionary But Gangsta. The RBG mentality comes out on this tape in their refrain, "All the G's I know is part of the revolution." While not quite gaining the popularity of 2pac, the generation of rappers just coming up is full of youth who developed their consciousness listening to dead prez albums. We think that's a good thing for the future of hip hop culture.

MIM has thoroughly reviewed dpz's earlier work, and this mixtape follows in that tradition; strong revolutionary music. The sound of Pulse is a little different than the past, with more of a rock & roll element in a lot of the samples used. This brings us to one of the other elements of hip hop: DJing. The fact that DJ Green Lantern hosted this mixtape added to the anticipation for many.

The MC talks, so it is easy to analyze the content of what they say. Graffiti, while not as popular as rapping, is similarly easy to assess for content. But dancing and making beats are more abstract arts. Some argue that music with no lyrics, dancing and even many visual arts have no political content.

As MIM wrote in MIM Theory 13:

Mao explained that all classes in all class societies have both artistic and political criteria by which they judge art - and all classes put the political criteria first. This the bourgeoisie will never admit, but it is constantly shutting out, censoring and destroying proletarian art no matter how high the artistic merit or quality.(1)

Green Lantern is interesting as a DJ who put out this latest dpz mixtape as well as Immortal Technique's highly recommended record The Third World. Before that he put out the Bin Laden single with Tech and earlier this year released a track on the Oscar Grant shooting and riots. All of these works combined demonstrate that yes, a DJ's work is political. As an artistically superior DJ and producer, who worked with such popular MC's as Eminem, Jay-Z and Nas, Green Lantern adds the artistic quality to the political line, to create a superior revolutionary culture. Without DJ's like Green Lantern the "conscious" music never gains mass appeal.

The DJ has quietly become more and more prominent both alongside and independent from MC's. Green Lantern is a good example of this with his work on video games, which now have their own soundtracks, and his own radio show. While this reviewer isn't familiar with all of these works to speak on Green Lantern's career as a whole, he clearly doesn't work exclusively on revolutionary projects. While Nas's Nigger Tape was a confusing mix of reverence for both the Black Panthers and Barack Obama, Green also worked on a mixtape that was expressly dedicated to getting Obama elected.

On that note, we can say that dead prez is the vanguard here, pushing Green Lantern to do more revolutionary projects. To their credit, dpz has always got the principal contradiction correct, and never wavered. This tape is no exception with lyrics like:

"That's why ain't nothin' patriotic in me
For their system my heart is empty"

and

"I don't represent the red white and blue
I cut the head off the devil and I throw it at you."

The latter line is from Afrika Hot!, which is both the dance hit on this release and also one of the more revolutionary tracks lyrically. The overall message of Pan-Afrikanism and Third World unity in this song is right on. But when groups like the African People's Socialist Party, who Stic Man and M-1 used to work with, go so far as to build an African Socialist International, with leadership based in the united $tates, we think that contradicts the lessons we have learned from previous attempts at communist internationals. Despite their relative oppression, New Afrikans are a separate nation, with a much more privileged class position than the many nations of Africa and should not be guiding struggle on the continent.

For the most part we were ambivalent towards dead prez's dealing with gender and sex in the past, but gave them a much higher rating than the average hip hop artist. In the final track on Pulse, My Dirty Valentine, they get into their fantasies and desires that eroticize power and rape. While MIM(Prisons) opposes sexual liberalism, we also do not try to police people's bedrooms in our efforts to overthrow the patriarchy. But by rapping about these things, dead prez is telling their listeners what is sexy, and art does influence real life.

Overall, dead prez not only provides the critique, but they also provide a method for finding solutions, the dialectical materialist approach to the world. As they mature politically, these themes seem to have become more prominent in their music. The back to back songs Refuse To Lose and Life Goes On are good examples of their inspirational and educational approach, rather than just beating their listeners in the head with rhetoric.

"Many days didn't know what to do/ but we survive/ Every struggle is a test/ a lesson/ You just gotta figure out how to overcome and catch the blessing/ They want us to turn to dope and lose all hope/ spirit broke and confused/ But I refuse to lose/ Through fear/ through pain/ through loss/ I can't stop/ won't stop/ 'til we make it to the tip top/ This is hip hop"

"If you ain't happy make a change then/ If what you're doing ain't working/ it might be time to change plans/ You're looking at a changed man/ from where I used to be/ It's no fear/ I ain't going nowhere/ so get used to me."

"You can make a choice now how you wanna live/ You can be negative/ You can be positive/ But either one is up to you/ It's your prerogative/ It's not what happens to us/ It's how we handle what happens/ The ups and downs in life give us understanding and balance."

And remember, Turn off the Radio! Turn off that Bullshit!

Notes: (1) Chinese Art in Revolution. MIM Theory 13: Culture in Revolution. 1997. p.30.


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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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Eminem = Emeny

Eminem
Hosted by Dr. Dre
Relapse
May 2009

eminiem relapse album cover
Relapse is Eminem's 6th studio album, released May 15, 2009, with the sequel Relapse 2 expected to drop November of this year. It sold over 600,000 copies in the first week of its release.(1) As the title implies, the content of the album is devoted to the many facets of Eminem's struggle with drug addiction. To any fan of Eminem, or anyone who's heard his older stuff, it should come as no surprise that the main objective of Relapse seems to be to perpetuate misogyny, primarily thorough rape fantasies. Although there are two whole entire songs depicting violence against wimmin ('Same Song & Dance' and 'Stay Wide Awake'), that isn't enough to keep Eminem from making references to rape and unwarranted physical contact throughout the entire album. Physical violence isn't just directed toward wimmin; there's violence against gays, graphic depiction of child molestation, and the rare allusion of violence against his peers.

The chorus to 'We Made You' is overly conceited, but with the lyric "Who could really blame you? We're the ones who made you" he is blaming the consumers for his audacity. That is partially true: if amerikans weren't so into individualism and misogyny, then they probably wouldn't be so into Em's shit. But even more true is the role that the corporate record companies have played in pushing it on the people, which you can read about in the title article to this issue of ULK.

There is also a consistent focus on the individual's problems throughout the album, instead of problems of the group. In fact, the only thing Eminem seems to have a group perspective on is that all wimmin are bitches. In the track 'My Mom' he relates all of his drug problems to his mother's addictions, as if she was one womyn separate from society. However, all of us are affected by the culture and society we live in, and drug addiction is one way the people in a fucked up society can adjust to living this way. It's likely that Mathers' mother was the strongest direct influence on him, but she is just a reflection of her culture and society, making that the real problem. In amerikan society it is especially important for us to combat individualism, because oftentimes, ideologically, it is the largest obstacle standing between the oppressed and increased public opinion for their liberation.

In real life, Mathers has been using the 12 step program for his recovery, which he mocks in the skits on Relapse. Twelve step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, may work to keep individual people from using. But on a group scale its goal is to adjust people to function without drugs in a messed up society, instead of addressing the problems of society, which can only be thoroughly dealt with through revolution. Of course, we don't think living under imperialism is easy, and people usually do need support outside of themselves to recover from addiction, and to be useful to the revolution. But we would prefer a 12 step program that's not focused on god and a "higher power" and instead focused on liberating oneself through liberation of the proletariat.

With all this talk about dealing with our problems, Relapse doesn't offer many solutions, even for the individual. 'Deja Vu' is a submission to addiction ("I wanna get away from this place, I do. But I can't, and I won't.") which is followed by the rap ballad and single, 'Beautiful.' 'Beautiful' is about fighting depression, and with a chorus like "Don't let em say you ain't beautiful/ They can all get fucked just stay true to you" it's the most, and only semi-encouraging song on the album. This can serve revolutionaries who are feeling alienated by their political views here in the belly of the beast, where the majority of amerikans are bought off by imperialism and aren't materially interested in revolutionary politics.

Dr. Dre keeps our heads bobbing, but beyond that, Relapse, and Eminem's career in general, is just another example of how imperialism and capitalism prioritize the mental health of the people last. It also is another tired example of how capitalism encourages the recording industry to push fucked up politics into hip-hop culture, and this reviewer expects more of the same from Relapse 2.


notes:

(1) http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i331f30f79c3e3c746847c8d7166631d3

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