For the past three days now. these weak and wicked scum dogs have been attempting to get us Black prisoners Black to viciously attack a brother by telling us he's a "child molester/sex offender." All this after the prisoner filed a few complaints against these wart hogs. Go figure. This of course caused these brain dead compromising prisoners, especially the porters, to exclude themselves from the brother. The pig gave direct orders to the white feed up porter to "don't feed him shit."
After two days of this torture, the prisoner attempted to sign in to Protective Custody in hopes that he could get away from the pigs and make it home in one piece, as he has less than 30 days left. The people incorporating genocidal slavery (P.I.G.S.) weren't satisfied and decided to up the ante. They told the brother he was moving to another cell block and to pack up his property. Once on the front of the C-Block 33/34 companies the prisoner placed his bags down and was cracked over his head by a white prisoner holding a 4 inch broom handle, in the presence of six pigs, 2 in the bubble, 2 on the staircase and 2 on the companies.
Making sense of the white man's fakery to jump him, the brother began backing up towards the rear of the company, dodging several swings with his arms as the attacking prisoner aimed at his face. Keep in mind the pigs are laughing and allowing the white prisoner to assault the brother with a weapon. Both companies are watching it all play out through the side of the cell doors and mirrors. One brother said "you might as well fight them, they (pigs) are gonna jump on you anyway." But he kept saying "nah, I ain't stupid, I'm trying to go home to my son!" Finally, the pigs told the white prisoner to "put the handle down and go kick his ass, he's scared." Feeling comfortable with his "support team" the white prisoner started towards the rear to fight the brother. But the white prisoner got his ass beat. Of course, this was such a disturbing scene for the pigs, just seeing a white man in their back pocket taking blows from a Black fist caused them to quickly pull the pin alarm and call 30 more pigs to C-Block as they yelled "get the fuck off him now!"
The brother got up and locked himself inside his cell while the white prisoner, all pink and red in the face, was dazed and confused was asked by the pigs, "are you alright?" before politely telling him to "go to your cell." All the while the brother was put in handcuffs, roughed up, and rushed out the block into the hallway where the pigs beat us up out of view, but we can all hear it. Later on the pigs came back on the company to the white prisoner's cell giving him one of the brother's dreds that they ripped out of his head. Somewhat of a token of remembrance, just like they did to Nat Turner in 1831. Make no mistake about it, this is Amerikkka in 2012 for the Black man. This is exactly what George Jackson was describing in Soledad Brother. Tomorrow is the 41st anniversary that he was slain in action, and the 181st anniversary of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. Nothing much has changed.
In hindsight and conclusion, when the pig was trying to get us to feed the lie that the brother was a "Rapo," he made a profound statement. The target of harassment said "these pigs been raping our women for hundreds of years and you gonna believe him and his words on face value!?" Enough said!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right to point out that the oppressors will do everything they can to divide the oppressed. We can't trust them for information, but instead must judge our comrades through their actions. Those who work in the interests of the oppressed are our friends and those who work against the oppressed are our enemies, regardless of the reason for their confinement or what other people say about them. This is a good example of why someone might ask to be moved to an SNY/PC yard for good reason. The debate over protective custody prisoners has been ongoing in ULK for many months and MIM(Prisons) maintains that we can not let the prisoncrats divide revolutionaries with false labels and categories. There are genuine revolutionaries throughout the prison system and there are snitches and compradors found on every yard as well. Actions are much more important than prison-imposed labels.
I received issue 27 of ULK along with MIM Theory 13, thank you. I've already read the ULK and I appreciate all the articles. A few months back you sent out a letter to the warden here over an issue of ULK I did not receive. Although I never received the issue, I did talk to a lieutenant who claimed that MIM was banned. I didn't pursue it because I had passed the time limitation to raise the issue, but I've since received the most recent issues after that. I believe it was issue 25 I didn't get. Your letter got their attention.
Other than that it's business as usual with the oppressor. Just last week the pigs slammed a young Black male (22 years old) to the ground and charged him with assaulting a "peace" officer. The prisoner was attempting to enter the housing unit when one of the pigs asked to see the watch he was wearing.
The young man being a rebel without a cause chose to ignore the pig and proceeded to walk into that building. The pig and his cronies blocked the door and told him he wasn't going anywhere until he showed them the watch. The young man backed off and requested to speak to a sergeant. This simple request pissed the pigs off. They proceed to escalate the situation immediately.
As the sergeant was making his way across the yard one pig rushed the guy and slammed him to the ground. This caused some of the prisoners to act out verbally and tell the pigs that the force was unnecessary. The whole thing was a set up from the start. While one pig was confronting the guy another was on the walkie talkie reporting something (most likely a lie), and then two pigs came out of the building and the only Black pig out of the crowd of six or seven pigs chose to slam the young Black male. When I read the article "Trayvon Martin National Oppression Debate" it hit home when Soso stated: "Every persyn in this country sees the stereotypes of Black youths as hoodlums..." as a result any "unarmed Black youth can be killed by cops and vigilantes while the imperialist state does nothing."
Here lately the pigs have seemingly been trying to incite the masses. It's summertime and out here in Imperial County, California (which is less than five miles from Yuma, Arizona) it's extremely hot. Triple digits regularly, the pigs have been forcing us to wear state issue clothing to the chow hall and the shirts must be tucked in. When it was winter and cold we were not allowed to wear thermals to the chow hall. Now that it's hot they're forcing us to wear stuff that will make you hotter. Furthermore, they have launched a campaign of constant harassment. Searching cells everyday which is causing folks to complain. As of yet no one has written a 602 [grievance form] and me personally I don't have any grounds to write one as I have not been harassed. I try to lead by example and share the literature with the brothers of the struggle.
It seems as if we've lost a generation or two. There's a shortage of revolutionaries, at least here at this place. Only time will tell if the masses wake up. I often imagine myself coming up in the era of George Jackson and the likes. I attempt to put myself in those guys' shoes, and I try to emulate what I picture them being. I'll close on that note, power to the people.
I am writing to your publication to report some troubling statistics concerning Black men incarcerated, the parole system, and the latest Supreme Court cases regarding parole denials.
Black men incarcerated
There are approximately 27,494 Black males in the New York state prison system (50.8%) - New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) - and, that's over half (51%) of the prisoners in custody as of January 1, 2011, according to DOCCS Under Custody Report: Profile of Inmate Population. These figures are extremely drastic, appalling and warrant investigation by the United Nations, because Blacks are being targeted to fill up NYS prisons in order for certain whites to maintain employment in the rural areas up north in NY.
Black females incarcerated
In NY prisons DOCCS is warehousing 965 Black females (43.7% of the female prison population). Of the total number of prisoners (54,109) under custody in NY (including DOCCS, jails and other facilities), 2,206 (3.9%) were Black female, according to the Under Custody Report (2011). Compare these statistics to the white prisoners women who are only 1.5% of the prison population.
Blacks and Parole
Dating back almost 50 years, the Board of Parole (BOP) commissioners have been denying parole to Blacks more than any other ethnic group in NYS. Despite our (Black male and female) efforts to rehabilitate ourselves via obtaining education (GEDs, mandated programming by DOCCS and college), the BOP continuously denies Blacks parole at an alarming rate compared to other nationalities. Also, for years the BOP has utilized the nature of the crime as the sole reason for denying Blacks parole - although the nature of the crime (NOC) will not change - it is whatever someone was locked up for. This means that those convicted of some crimes have no chance at parole no matter what they do in prison. This amounts to the BOP admitting that prisons are not about rehabilitation since the one thing a prisoner can not change is the NOC.
In a recent ruling the court wrote: "...they [BOP] cannot base their decision exclusively on the seriousness of the crime and must explain their denials in detail..."(1)
On March 31st, 2011 several significant amendments to the Executive Law (BOP) were signed into law - including Executive Law (Exec. Law) 259-c(4); however, BOPs "lawlessness, arbitrariness and their refusal to follow the mandates of the legislature..." warrants an independent investigation by the United Nations (UN) for further scrutiny about denying parole to eligible inmates who have earned their freedom by doing the right thing (i.e. completing their minimum, taking responsibility for their crime(s) and obtaining their mandated programming).(2) If you are reading this article and you have been denied parole after March 31st, 2011, or you know someone in NYS-DOCCS who has been denied parole unfairly, then please be aware of the following cases recently appealed by inmates that - as a result of their litigation - were released:
Velasquez v. NYS Board of Parole (Feb 6, 2012)
Thwaites v. NYS Board of Parole, 934 NYS 2d 797 [see also Pro Se, Vol 22 No 1] and;
Winchell v. Evans, 27 Misc. 3d 1232(A) (Sup.CT.Sullivan Co. June 9, 2010), [reported in Pro Se, Vol.20, No.4].
All the above cases (Article 78s) are winning cases which resulted in prisoners - who chose to litigate their matter by challenging the BOP - being released from DOCCS custody.
Out of twenty years of my incarceration, I have witnessed the BOP deny parole to many men and women based upon their nature of the crime - despite their efforts to rehabilitate themselves. Some of these people have earned Master degrees, Bachelors and the minimum of an Associate degree, only to be denied by the BOP commissioners who judge the prisoners for a period of 15-30 minutes, if that, during their parole hearing.
The nature of the crime doesn't, will not and cannot change so why are we being denied parole solely based on the very element which will not ever be different?
In my humble opinion - after serving 20 years in NY DOCCS - the only way we prisoners will receive justice is by taking our case to the UN for review. How do we attempt to go about this? Reflect back on the Egyptian people and how they were successful in spreading the message of support for their cause via internet. This tactic will have to involve our families who are already walking around with cellular phones all day so this should not be a difficult project. I strongly believe that we can change the BOP unfair practices against us Blacks and Latinos. If we care enough to work together, putting your petty differences aside to bring our relatives home. Our family members have served their time, changed their lives by establishing entirely new ways of thinking and by obtaining higher education. It's time now for our people to step up and support our cause for challenging the BOP unfair parole denials against Blacks and Latinos.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As we reported in our review of The New Jim Crow, these statistics on national oppression in the criminal injustice system in New York mirror what happens across the United $tates. This author makes a good point about parole hearings and reasons for denial. If parole is going to be based on the very crime for which someone is locked up, there is no point to having a hearing. If prisons in Amerika were truly serving a rehabilitating purpose, the work prisoners do educating and changing themselves should be the primary basis for granting parole. It is good to hear that some court cases are being won on this front.
We do agree that this is a battle worth fighting to help get our comrades onto the streets sooner, but we don't anticipate the imperialist-dominated United Nations to offer any support for the oppressed people of the world. We may win small reforms through the courts and with mass protests, but the only way to truly put an end to the criminal injustice system is by dismantling the imperialist system it serves.
In a letter from a long-time reader of Under Lock & Key we received an interesting criticism of the general political movement around the shooting of unarmed Black youth, Trayvon Martin. While he did not criticize MIM(Prisons) directly, some of the comments apply to the the article by cipactli on Trayvon Martin printed in ULK 26 which he had not yet seen when he sent the letter. One of the main points of criticism is based on Zimmerman being half Latino — a point that cipactli's article does not address. The article in ULK 26 identifies Zimmerman with white supremacists. This is a correct categorization of his actions which manifest the results of a lifetime of racist education, but there is a more subtle point to be made about race and national oppression when these crimes are oppressed nation on oppressed nation.
There are some fundamental points on which we disagree with the reader's critique. He writes that "it's long past time for us all to stop speaking in the terms of the racist color codes used to identify human beings like any other commodity in order to facilitate marketing and manipulation." We see the national contradiction as alive and strong within the imperialist United $tates, and it is certainly possible for one oppressed nation to participate in the oppression of another. In fact, it is possible for individual Blacks to rise to positions of power within the imperialist state and help repress the Black Nation as a whole. Barack Obama is an obvious example of this. Those comprador individuals from oppressed nations who want power and wealth, even at the expense of their nation, do not provide evidence that we can move beyond the national contradiction which is what drives attitudes and practices of racism.
As we explained in ULK 26, the national contradiction is still principal in Amerika today. While not called out in the letter, underlying our disagreement on nation is a disagreement on class: MIM(Prisons) sees clearly that the vast majority of Amerikan citizens are not part of the proletariat. Their material benefits from imperialism have put them squarely within the exploiter class.
Every persyn in this country sees the stereotypes of Black youth as hoodlums, dangerous and destined for prison. Zimmerman is no different. And so it is a result of national oppression that unarmed Black youth can be killed by cops and vigilantes while the imperialist state does nothing. Studies have shown that Amerikans (of all nationalities), when asked to identify or imagine a drug criminal, overwhelmingly picture a Black person. This is statistically inaccurate: they should be picturing a white youth. (See our review of The New Jim Crow for more on this topic).
The state would prefer that oppressed nation youth kill each other, as this is a more efficient approach for the state and it helps reinforce the stereotypes about the dangerous hoodlums who must be locked away. By hesitating to pursue Zimmerman for the death of Martin the state is treating him more as a white man than a Latino.
This reader criticizes the many people who have come out to demand "Justice for Trayvon" but didn't step up when Oscar Grant was murdered by police officer Johannes Mehserle. "A cold-blooded execution that met all the elements required to convict Mehserle of premeditated murder beyond a shadow of a doubt! A murder for which he only served one year! Where's the hue and cry for Mehserle's blood!" This is a fine argument, but one which again underscores the national oppression in Amerika which leads to racist stereotypes of Blacks (and other nationalities) that results in racial profiling and police brutality targeting these groups.(1)
The reader concludes with some good points about the criminal injustice system, "After being railroaded into prison for a crime the police committed, I've learned that nearly a third of my fellow prisoners are innocent, with another third convicted by unlawful police and prosecutorial tactics. All of you out there are just one arrest away from the horror show that is justice in America. You don't have to do anything, except be in the wrong place at the wrong time and, then, even white privilege won't save your ass!" But the reality is, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and you are Black you are significantly more likely to get thrown in prison or killed. A recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement cited at least 110 Black people killed by Amerikan cops and security in the first half of 2012.(2) This is in a country where the FBI reports around 400 police killings each year, total!(3) Just as Blacks are about half the prison population in a country where they make up 12% of the population, they appear to also be about half the police killings. So in fact white privilege is alive and well. It doesn't work for everyone, the injustice system rounds up plenty of whites, but disproportionately Blacks, Latinos and First Nations are victims. This is a statistical truth that is not disproved by individual incidents that are exceptions to the rule. Statistics and thinking at the group level are important requirements for a scientific analysis of society, which in turn is necessary to transform our reality.
My writing will not analyze Black Nationalism per se, rather it aims to address the "national question" itself. My position comes from a Chicano perspective, which I hope adds to the theoretical sauce surrounding the idea of national liberation and the development of the oppressed nations ideologically, whether they be from the Brown, Black or Red Nations here in the United $tates. In the contemporary prisoner, one sees an awakening to truth and meaning amidst a state offensive to deprive millions of humyn dignity and freedom. The roundups, ICE raids and fascist laws (reinforced with putting the data of millions of oppressed across the U.$. into the state intelligence files preparing for future revolt and repression) has added to the swirl of these times for people to become politicized, and prisoners are no exception.
The struggle in the ideological arena is just as vital as that with the rifle, and perhaps more difficult. Out in society — where people have more social influences — ideas, experiences and thought can bring more diverse views into the sphere of theory. Often times the prison environment, in its concentrated form and social makeup, has more limited ideological influences. This is a trap that prisoners should guard against in developing a political line. There will always be ideological "yes people" in prisons, especially amongst one's own circle of friends or comrades. This could also be said of the limited contacts in the outside world that most prisoners have.
The "national question" is one that is not exclusive to the Black Nation; it is something that Raza and others are wrangling with as well. My critiques here are related to the national question in the United $tates in general, and not specific to the Black Belt Thesis (BBT) that Rashid addresses in his article.
In the section titled "The Black Belt Thesis and the New Class Configuration of the New Afrikan Nation," Rashid describes comrade J.V. Stalin on the national question as follows:
The [Black Belt Thesis] was based on comrade J.V. Stalin's analysis of the national question as essentially a peasant question. Unlike the analysis put forward by Lenin, and more fully developed by Mao, Stalin's analysis limited the national question to essentially a peasantry's struggle for the land they labored on geographically defined by their having a common language, history, culture and economic life together. Hence the slogan "Free the Land!" and "Land to the Tiller!"
Just to be clear, J.V. Stalin defined a "nation" as follows:
A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."(1)
This definition continues to stand as what defines a nation today and to deny this is simply a deviation. Comrade Lenin was not alive to see the development of the anti-colonial struggles and thus in his view oppressed nations could not be victorious on their own accord, but Stalin taught us differently. At the same time Stalin also stated that should a people no longer meet any of these criteria of a nation then they are no longer a nation.
In this section, Rashid refers to a "Great Migration" of Blacks out of the rural south and across the United $tates, which he uses, or seems to use, as justification for not having "need of pursuing a struggle to achieve a New Afrikan nation state, we have achieved the historical results of bourgeois democracy..." Just because a people migrate across the continent does not negate a national territory so long as a large concentration remains in the national territory. For example, if the Mohawk nation continues to reside in the northeast but a significant portion of their population spread out "across America" and become urban dwellers, their nation remains in the Northeast no matter how much they wish to be Oregonians or Alaskans. But what really seemed grating in this section was the last paragraph, which reads:
To complete the liberal democratic revolution and move forward to socialist reconstruction the proletariat must lead the struggle which is stifled by the increasingly anti-democratic, fascistic and reactionary bourgeoisie. The bourgeois are no longer capable of playing a progressive role in history.
First, the proletariat in its original sense for the most part does not exist in the United $tates. In addition, the Trotskyite approach of relying on the Amerikan "working class" is a waste of time. Amerikan workers are not a revolutionary vehicle - they are not exploited when they are amongst the highest paid workers in the world. How can those seeking higher pay for more or bigger plasma TVs and SUVs be relied upon to give all that up for "socialist construction"? And my view does not come unsupported by the ideological framework that Rashid claims to represent. Engels wrote to Marx in 1858:
The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.(2)
So even back in Marx and Engels's day the English proletariat was already bourgeoisified. Imperialism has developed far more since 1858, further concentrating the wealth disparity between the oppressor and oppressed nations globally.
In the section titled "The Revolutionary Advantages of Our Proletarian National Character," the idea is put forth of "building a multi-ethnic, multi-racial socialist America." Although I am not opposed to multi-ethnic organizing, I also don't negate the usefulness of single-nation parties. One has to analyze the concrete conditions in the United $tates. The historical development of the social forces may not agree with this approach, and just because it may have worked in some countries it may not apply to this country. It obviously didn't apply to South Africa, another settler state. In Azania the Pan Africanist Congress seemed to forward the struggle more than other groups, in particular the integrationist African National Congress that took power and changed little for Azanians. Huey Newton himself understood this, thus the Black Panther Party was a single nationality party, with internationalist politics. Of course, at some point things will change, but the advancement of imperialism and a long lineage of white supremacy and privilege remains a hurdle still too huge for real multi-ethnic organizing advancements at this time in the United $tates.
In the section "Separation, Integration or Revolution," what is put forward for liberation is to overthrow "imperialism and play a leading role in the global proletarian revolution and socialist reconstruction." This, Rashid states, is "our path to liberation." This smacks of First World chauvinism. The International Communist Movement (ICM) will always be led by the Third World proletariat. The ICM is dominated by the Third World and our voice in the First World is just that, a voice, that will help advance the global struggle, not lead. The idea of First World leadership of the ICM is classic Trotskyism.
In the section "Reassessing the National Liberation Question," in speaking of past national liberation struggles, Rashid points to them having an "unattainable" goal. Yet countries like Vietnam, northern Korea, as well as Cuba come to mind as being successful in their national liberation struggles. [China is the prime example of liberating itself from imperialism and capitalism through socialist revolution. Of course, Huey Newton himself eventually dismissed China's achieving of true national liberation in his theory of "intercommunalism" that the NABPP-PC upholds - Editor]
Rashid goes on to say, "Even if we did manage to reconstitute ourselves as a territorial nation in the "Black Belt," we would only join the ranks of imperialist dominated Third World nations — and with the imperialist U.S. right on our border." Here it seems the idealist proposition is being put forward that an oppressed nation could possibly liberate itself to the point of secession while U.$. imperialism is still breathing. So long as U.$. imperialism is still in power, no internal oppressed nation will emancipate itself. So the thought of the imperialists being on one's border will not be a problem as at that point in the struggle for national liberation imperialism will be on no one's border.
In this same section, Rashid quotes Amilcar Cabral, who posed the question of whether national liberation was an imperialist creation in many African countries. Now we should understand that the imperialists will use any country, ideology or leader if allowed (Ghadaffi found this out the hard way most recently) but we should not believe that the people are not smart enough to free themselves when oppressed. The white supremacists put forward a line that Jews are in an international conspiracy creating revolution and communism. These conspiracy theorists look for any reason to suggest that the people cannot come to the conclusion to decolonize themselves.
Later in this section the question is asked if the "proponents of the BBT expect whites in the 'Black Belt' to passively concede the territory and leave?"
I'm not a proponent of the Black Belt Thesis, but speaking in regard to national liberation I can answer this question quite clearly. As this writer alludes to, there may be a "white backlash." But in any national liberation struggle anywhere on the planet there is always a backlash from those whose interests are threatened. When the oppressed nations decide to liberate themselves in the United $tates the objective position of the reactionaries will be to fight to uphold their white privilege. This privilege relies heavily on the state and the culture of white supremacy in Amerika. So their choice will be to support the national liberation struggles, as real white revolutionaries will do, or to side with imperialism. But there will be no sympathy for oppressors in any national liberation struggle.
Asking the question of what do we expect whites to do is akin to asking the revolutionary post-Civil War, when many were cut off from parasitism, "well do you expect the people to stop exploiting 'their' field workers?" Do you expect Amerikan workers to stop being paid high wages gained through the exploitation of the Third World? Do you expect the pimp to stop pimping the prostitute? Do you expect the oppressor nation to give up their national privilege? To all of the above I say if it's what the people decide, then YES!
Real white comrades not only will support the oppressed to obtain liberation in a future revolution, but most do so in their work today, even though they are a small minority compared to the larger Amerikan population. By that time in the distant future hopefully more people will have been educated and converted.
It is the task of conscious prisoners to develop a political line that propels the imprisoned masses forward via concrete analysis, not just of prison conditions, but of conditions outside these concentration camps as well. Oppression in imperialism is a three-legged stool that includes class, nation and gender. Thus we must develop our political line according to these concrete conditions. Our line should be grounded in reality. Our society is still very much segregated along class and national lines, particularly in the fields of housing, education and freedom.
Indeed, over half the people living within two miles of a hazardous waste facility are Brown, Black or First Nations.(3) In many high schools in the inner city Brown and Black youth are forced to share one textbook for 3 or 4 students, while their parents are jailed when they attempt to enroll their children in "better off" schools which unsurprisingly are predominantly white.(4) The prisons are no different, nor the "justice system." Of the 700,000 who were reported to have been stopped and frisked in New York City last year, 87% were Latinos and Blacks even though whites make up 44% of New York City's population.
When we develop a political line we must challenge it on a materialist foundation in order to sharpen things up in a positive way, but it must not be detached from reality. Only in this way will we identify what is palpable in the realm of national liberation.
As Lenin said, "it is fine, it is necessary and important, to dream of another or radically different and better world — while at the same time we must infuse and inform our dreams with the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific outlook and method, communism, and on that basis fight to bring those dreams into reality."
MIM(Prisons) adds: The original article by Rashid is in response to the New Afrikan Maoist Party and cites the Maoist Internationalist Movement as another party promoting the Black Belt Thesis. While MIM certainly never denounced the Black Belt Thesis, they recognized the crumbling material basis for seeing it through in the post-Comintern years that Rashid points to in his article. It is worth noting that more recent statistics show the New Afrikan population since 1990 has increased most in the South, where 55% of New Afrikans live today and that in the Black Belt states a much higher percentage of the population is New Afrikan than in the rest of the country.(5) MIM did publish an interesting discussion of the land question for New Afrika as an example of a two line struggle in 2004. Ultimately the land question must be determined by two conditions which we do not currently have: 1) a Black nation that has liberated itself from imperialism, and 2) a forum for negotiating land division in North America with other internal semi-colonies free from imperialist intervention.
In his article, Rashid responds to our critique of his liquidating the nationalist struggle in the book Defying the Tomb. In doing so he speaks of a Pan-Afrikan Nation, which is an oxymoron completely liquidating the meaning of both terms. Pan-Afrikanism is a recognition of the common interests of the various oppressed nations of Africa, often extended to the African diaspora. You cannot apply the Stalin quote given above to New Afrika and Pan Afrikanism and consistently call both a nation.
But ultimately, as the USW comrade criticizes above, the liquidationism is strongest in the NABPP-PC line on the progressive nature of the Amerikan nation. It is this dividing line that makes it impossible for our camps to see eye-to-eye and carry out a real two line struggle on the question of New Afrikan land.
Among those in the United $tates who have consistently upheld the right to self-determination of the internal semi-colonies, there has been some questioning of the MIM line that the principal contradiction within the United $tates is nation. With the degree of integration and buying off of the oppressed nations that has occurred since the Black/Brown/Red Power era some have questioned if the lumpen underclass are the only real revolutionary force left in the internal semi-colonies. Others have pointed to the level of wealth in the United $tates to dismiss the potential for national liberation struggles within U.$. borders without offering a new thesis on the principal contradiction. MIM(Prisons) has entertained the integration question and the possibility of a growing class contradiction across nation and will address both in more detail in an upcoming book.
In this issue of Under Lock & Key we feature a number of articles that demonstrate the dominant role that nationality plays in how our world develops and changes. The history of MIM's work with prisoners comes from its understanding of the principal contradiction in this country being between the oppressor white/Amerikan nation and the oppressed internal semi-colonies (New Afrika, Aztlán, Boricua, countless First Nations, etc.). It is through that work that it became clear that the quickly expanding prison system of the time was the front lines of the national struggle.
USW C-4 gets at this in h review of MIM Theory 11 where s/he discusses the need to launch "the new prison movement in connection with the national liberation struggles which have been repressed and stagnated by the oppressors with mass incarceration." Progress in our struggle against the injustice system is progress towards re-establishing the powerful national liberation struggles that it served to destroy in the first place. Any prison movement not based politically in the right to self-determination of the nations locked up cannot complete the process of ending the oppression that we are combatting in the United $tates.
MIM(Prisons) focuses our mission around the imprisoned lumpen in general whose material interests are united by class, even though the injustice system is primarily about national oppression. Within the imprisoned class, we see the white prison population having more to offer than the white population in general for revolutionary organizing. Even non-revolutionary white prisoners are potential allies in the material struggles that we should be taking up today around issues like censorship, long-term isolation, the right to associate/organize, access to educational programs, a meaningful grievance process and accountability of government employees in charge of over 2 million imprisoned lives. Just as we must be looking to recruit oppressed nation lumpen to the side of the world's people to prevent them from playing the role of the fascist foot soldier, this concern is even greater among the white lumpen and is a question we should take seriously as our comrade in Oregon discusses inside.
In this issue we have the typical reports from both Black and Latino comrades being labelled gang members and validated for their political and cultural beliefs. This is nothing less than institutionalized national oppression, which is at the heart of the proposed changes in the California validation system that are somehow supposed to be a response to the complaints of the thousands of prisoners who have been periodically going on food strike over the last year.
While we support the day-to-day struggles that unite as many prisoners as possible, we are clear that these are only short-term struggles and stepping stones to our greater goals. The most advanced work comrades can be doing is directly supporting and promoting revolutionary nationalism and communism within disciplined organizations based in scientific theory and practice. An example of a more advanced project is a current USW study cell that is developing educational and agitational materials around Chicano national liberation. Meanwhile, the United Front for Peace in Prisons, while focused on mass organizations, is laying the groundwork for the type of cross-nation unity that will be needed to implement the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations required to truly end imperialist oppression and exploitation (see our 6 Points).
It is no coincidence that the word fascism comes up a number of times in this issue focused on national struggles. In terms of the principal contradiction between imperialist nations and the oppressed nations they exploit, fascism is the imperialist nation's reaction to successful struggles of the oppressed nations; when the oppressed have created a real crisis for imperialism; when Liberalism no longer works. While fascism is defined by imperialism, being guided by imperialist interests, it is the labor aristocracy in the imperialist countries that form the main force for fascism.(1) Again, this breaks down to the national question where oppressor nations and oppressed nations take up opposite sides of the principal contradiction that defines the United $tates as a phenomenon.
Rashid of the NABPP-PC suggests in his book Defying the Tomb, that "right-wing militias, survivalists and military hobbyists" are "potential allies" who "have a serious beef with imperialist monopoly capitalism." In contrast, we recognize that the principal contradiction that defines the imperialist system is between the imperialist nations and the oppressed nations they exploit. Amerikans calling for closed borders to preserve white power are the epitome of what imperialism is about, despite their rhetoric against the "bankers." It is the same rhetoric that was used to rally the struggling petty bourgeoisie around the Nazi party to preserve the German nation. It is the same rhetoric that makes the anti-globalization and "99%" movements potential breeding grounds for a new Amerikan fascism.
Recent events in Greece, France and elsewhere in Europe have shown this to be the case in other imperialist countries, which are also dependent on the exploitation of the Third World. While Greece, where the European crisis is currently centered, cannot be described as an imperialist power on its own, its close ties to Europe have the Greek people convinced that they can regain prosperity without overthrowing imperialism. Social democrats are gaining political power in the face of austerity measures across Europe, while fascist parties are also gaining popular support in those countries. Together they represent two sides of the same coin, struggling to maintain their nation's wealth at the expense of others, which is why the Comintern called the social democrats of their time "social fascists." Austerity measures are the problems of the labor aristocracy, not the proletariat who consistently must live in austere conditions until they throw the yoke of imperialism off of their necks.
The fragility of the European Union along national lines reinforces the truth of Stalin's definition of nation, and supports the thesis that bourgeois internationalism bringing peace to the world is a pipe dream, as MIM has pointed out.(2) On the contrary, the proletariat has an interest in true internationalism. For the oppressed nations in the United $tates bribery by the imperialists, both real and imagined, will create more barriers to unity of the oppressed. So we have our work cut out for us.
Looking to the Third World, the struggle of the Tuareg people in West Africa parallels in some ways the questions we face in the United States around Aztlán, the Black Belt and other national territories, in that their land does not correspond with the boundaries of the nation-state that they find themselves in as a result of their colonization. And the greater context of this struggle and the relation of the Tuareg people to Ghaddafi's Libya demonstrates the potentially progressive nature of the national bourgeoisie, as Ghaddafi was an enemy to U.$. imperialism primarily due to his efforts at supporting Pan-Afrikanism within a capitalist framework.
Nationalism of the oppressed is the antithesis to the imperialist system that depends on the control and exploitation of the oppressed. It is for that reason that nationalism in the Third World, as well as nationalism in the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, are the primary focus of anti-imperialist organizing. As long as we have imperialism, we will have full prisons and trigger-happy police at home, and bloody wars and brutal exploitation abroad. Countering Amerikan nationalism with nationalism of the oppressed is the difference between entering a new period of fascism and liberating humynity from imperialism.
It's not for nothing that MIM dubbed the Amerikkkan prison system "the primary tool of oppressor nation repression in the united $tate$," and a review of MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons On Trial makes this point ever so clear. Though this particular MIM Theory journal is dated (1996), like all MTs its message is not. It still serves as a good introduction to the Amerikan injustice system just as Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism continues to serve as an introductory foundation in political economy for those wanting to study the thinly veiled intricacies of modern-day imperialism. One read and you'll see why Amerika, that "shining city on a hill," is in all actuality the prisonhouse of nations.
MT 11 is a must-read, not just for the political- and class-conscious prisoner, but for all prisoners as a stepping stone on the road to liberation and sure footing to understanding the exact context of our imprisonment.
Beginning with the essay "Amerikan Fascism & Prisons," MIM lays out the only real fascist aspect in Amerikan society - the Amerikan prison system. This work is indeed of exceptional relevance as MIM points to the economic motivation behind fascism as well as to the white petit-bourgeois element that breathes life into this most barbaric expression of capitalist production and its anti-revolutionary mission statement.
The article "Capital & State Join Hands In Private Prisons" further elaborates on the thesis that fascism is not just alive and well within the Amerikkkan prison system, but that it has been expanding since the 1980s in the private prison phenomenon, which is but the melding of capital and the state in the growing war against the oppressed nations, with the prerequisite and additional benefit of continuing to win over the middle classes to their side by ensuring them an always available form of employment.
"Prison Labor: Profits, Slavery & the State" then explains how the possibility of open slavery can come back full force thru the institution of the prisons as it was once manifested pre-Civil War. This article also speaks of the important political functions the prison system serves repressing in the national liberation movements and the further indoctrination of the labor aristocracy with fascist ideology.
Nothing however drives home the colonial relation between Amerika and the oppressed nations like the articles "Political Prisoners Revisited," "Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" and "Who Are the Political Prisoners?"
"Political Prisoners Revisited" is a good example of the Maoist tenet of unity-criticism-unity in which MIM explains the basics of their line concerning prisoners in Amerika in a dialogue with the New Afrikan Independence Movement. MIM argues that the term "political prisoners" shouldn't just be reserved for individuals such as Mumia Abu-Jamal or Leonard Peltier, but is more appropriately and powerfully applied to all prisoners. All prisoners currently incarcerated under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are rightly so political prisoners because the "laws" that we supposedly broke were laws specifically designed for the backing of the backward illegitimate political agenda of the superstructure and the settler state which it serves. To ignore or refute this point with respect to the entire imprisoned population and instead deflect the political aspect of this oppression to just a few individuals is not just a victory for the bourgeoisie but is itself bourgeois in essence!
"Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" centers on the antagonistic contradiction of Amerika vs. the oppressed nations that is reflected thru the prison system. It focuses on the material basis objectively present in the form of the gulag, and the material forces already present therein. MIM discusses the dire need for leadership to further help develop these potentially revolutionary forces to their logical conclusion, or in MIM's words: "to unite all who can be united to smash imperialism and all its tools of oppression..."
MIM understood the process of rapid radicalization of "common criminals" as a profoundly political one and in their agitation they emphasized that process as reflecting the material basis for revolution as does MIM(Prisons) and USW. Unity on this point is therefore essential to re-launching the new prison movement in connection with the national liberation struggles which have been repressed and stagnated by the oppressors with mass incarceration.
Finally, "Who Are the Political Prisoners?" is a New York prisoner's contribution and advancement to the MIM line on political prisoners in which s/he expounds MIM's line in detail and in such a way as to leave no doubt that the growth of the prison system within U.$. borders is not just a boil, but a cancer on the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies that needs to be mercilessly removed!
MT 11 also contains, among other things, an essay on Malcolm X's progressive development, a critique of Gandhi's so-called "non-violence" and pacifist strategy and tactics, as well as some good theoretical works and revolutionary poetry.
For all these reasons combined, MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial gets four out of four red stars.
And so with that i end this review the same way the New York prisoner ended his article:
Death and Destruction to the U.$. Empire! Birth and Construction to the Prison Revolutionary Movement!
En diciembre de 2011, la Oficina de Estadísticas de Justicia dio a conocer sus informes anuales sobre la población penitenciaria en los Estados Unidos.(1) Los informes se refieren a personas mayores de edad bajo la supervisión correccional del año 2010. Por segundo año consecutivo, esta población ha disminuido; este fue el primer descenso desde la década de 1970 cuando el numero de presos en la cárcel empezó a crecer significativamente. A finales de diciembre de 2010, el número total de personas en el sistema penitenciario, incluyendo aquellos bajo libertad condicional, y aquellos en la cárcel, fue 7.076.200. La población carcelaria en este país cayó 0.6% a partir de 2009, el primer descenso desde 1972. El número de presos federales en realidad aumentó un 0.8%, pero la población carcelaria del estado se redujo por la misma tasa. Debido a que hay más presos estatales que presos federales, hubo una caída general en las tasa de encarcelamiento.
Las tasas de encarcelamiento por causa de convicciones penales nuevas han ido disminuyendo desde 2007. No obstante este ha sido el primer año que las cifras de liberaciones han excedido el numero de nuevos presos ingresos, lo que mantiene la población carcelaria casi igual. Sin embargo, las tasas de liberación se redujeron un 2.9% en 2010, por lo que estos números no reflejan un aumento en liberaciones. De hecho, el tiempo servido por presos estatales siguió siendo el mismo.
Estas últimas cifras pueden indicar que la población carcelaria ha llegado finalmente a su punto álgido en Amerika, posiblemente debido a la pesada carga económica de mantener una infraestructura masiva de injusticia criminal en este país. Pero incluso si las tasas de encarcelamiento siguieran disminuyendo, tomará muchos años y contará con cambios enormes antes de que las tasas lleguen a ser lo suficientemente bajas para ser comparables a otros países. Los Estados Unidos tiene más de un 30% de las personas encarceladas en el mundo y tiene la mayor tasa de encarcelamiento en el mundo. (2)
El informe ofrece dos posibles explicaciones para la caída de la población carcelaria en los Estados Unidos: “Ya sea una disminución en la probabilidad de una pena de prisión, o condena dada, o una disminución en el número de condenas.” Por desgracia, los datos sobre estas medidas todavía no están disponibles, pero cualquiera de ellos sería una buena cosa para lograr. Sin embargo, como se mencionó anteriormente, es probable que estos cambios sean el resultado de las necesidades financieras y no un cambio en la política en torno a la prisión y el encarcelamiento.
Hay algunas tendencias interesantes que demuestran la nacionalidad por parte de un compromiso continuo con la opresión nacional por el sistema de injusticia criminal en Amerika. Negros y blancos ambos han sentido una caída en las tasas de encarcelamiento, pero la disminución de los blancos (6.2%) fue mucho mayor que aquel de los negros (0.85%). En los últimos años los inmigrantes han sido la población de más rápido crecimiento en las cárceles de los Estados Unidos. Mientras que el 2010 vio un aumento de 7.3% en las tasas de “hispanos” en la cárcel, indocumentados vieron una ligera disminución en sus cifras de encarcelamiento, probamente debido a un aumento masivo de deportaciones. Los hombres negros siguen componiendo el sector mayor de la población carcelaria y son encarcelados casi 7 veces más que hombres blancos.
I was reading an article I would like to bring to your attention, titled "Facing Race in Oregon," it was printed in Justice Matters, published by Partnership for Safety and Justice, out of Portland, Oregon.
As of 2010, whites in Oregon made up 78.5% of the state population, while "people of color" made up 21.5%. (The article uses the term "people of color.") Whites are 72.5% of the prison population. Oregon's population is 2% Black, but Blacks are 9.6% of the prison population. Oregon's population is 11% Latino while they are 14% of the prison population. Oregon's general population is 1.6% Native American, Native Americans are 2.4% of the prison population. Oregon's general population is 3.7% Asian/Pacific Islander, with this group comprises 1.4% of the prison population.
The imperialist pigs gave out a 2011 report card, a legislative report card on racial equality. The Senate received a "C" while the House received a "D" (great grades from our supposed leaders eh?) These grades alone show that racial "equality" isn't a matter these swine politicians care about. (The entire whack report can be found at the website for the Partnership for Safety and Justice. But it's useless to read because it amounts to imperial pigs wasting $ on stupid reports instead of solving problems.)
The supposed "justice" system clearly shows it's practice of disproportionate and biased policies on "people of color," by the fact that, despite having one of the smallest Black populations in the country, Oregon ranks 13th highest in the country for Blacks in prison per capita. And Blacks are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated in Oregon than whites. But here's the kicker, national research proves that crime rates as a whole show there is no difference among racial groups in regard to likelihood to commit crime. So obviously race plays a factor in who Oregon decides to send to prison.
And check this out, Oregon has a whack law called Measure 11 (it's some mandatory minimum bullshit) and it requires youth of the age of 15 and older to be automatically prosecuted as adults as soon as they are charged. And when they are convicted it's mandatory they serve the same sentence that applies to adults. And guess what, of the 36 percent of youth who are victims of this Measure 11 crap, 25% of them are "youth of color." While Black youth make up only 4 percent of Oregon's general population, 34% of all juveniles who are female measure 11 indictments are Black girls!
Point is this, numbers sure don't lie. And the corrupt swindlers and leaders of Oregon seem to enjoy putting "people of color" (as they term nonwhites) to work in their prison factories to keep the money rolling into their greedy pockets. And the sad thing is, inmates do the labor for these pigs and shuffle to the "cotton fields" like mindless cattle.
That's why MIM is vital! Because it educates the people. That's why I cherish each of your newsletters and share them with everyone who can read, and wants to, and why I read it to the ones who can't or don't want to.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a common misperception that prisoners who work play a role in enriching their captors in this country, and even that such labor is there are so many prisons. Like the prison system itself, prison labor is more about oppression (largely national oppression as this author points out) than making money. As we explained in an article on The U.$. Prison Economy, prisoners who work are helping to offset some of the cost of imprisonment, at best. Prisons are a very expensive system of social control for the imperialists. The people who get jobs in the criminal injustice system certainly are benefiting from it, but the money mostly comes from the government, not from prisoner labor.
A clenched fist goes up for the New Afrikan youth Trayvon Martin who was murdered in Sanford, Florida on February 26 2012.
Here we are in this endless cycle of genocide inflicted on the internal semi-colonies. Hunting season is never over in Amerika; it is merely covered up with different words to describe it. But those of us in prisons across Amerikkka understand what is taking place.
It has taken almost two full months for the arrest of George Zimmerman to be finally carried out. That's sad, when a Black 17-year-old is executed in cold blood and the killer is allowed to roam free, but we are arrested for reckless driving and given a life sentence. U.$. soldiers slaughter villages, cut off ears, take photos of themselves urinating on the bodies, without being charged; and when they are charged they walk free. Migrants are shot and killed by white supremacist militia groups, and not only does the corporate media not report it, but bills are currently being pushed through that call for militia groups to formally work in concert with border patrol.
The truth is the state operates in a way that allows many loopholes and leeway for white supremacists to survive and continue their terror. This is seen in the treatment these groups are given from Amerika. If you look closely at this phenomenon it shows us what kind of a rotten system we really live under. The problem is we have been born and raised in this imbalanced existence so we now believe many things are "normal" or "okay" when in fact they are very wrong.
Case in point: the existence of white supremacist militia groups. If we were to have a handful of Chicanos with guns in any house we would be labeled "gang members" and the SWAT team would come in and crush our existence. If a handful of New Afrikans were at a house with guns and a flagpole flying their banner, they would be labeled terrorists and crushed. Yet there are entire compounds of white supremacists with guns and websites proclaiming their objectives, and for the most part Amerika leaves them untouched. Why is this? Well because these neo-Nazi or other white supremacists actually complement the imperialists' agenda here in Amerika in many ways.
In one way they help to keep the mass attention off the state itself, but they also make room for the state to step in and appear as some savior. As in the Trayvon Martin murder, they allow this vigilante psychotic maggot to run amok, allowing the people's anger to boil, and then step in to arrest him. This way many will think "they did the right thing" or "the law works."
These tired old bait-and-switch tactics don't fool nobody. We know Amerika is Zimmerman! Zimmerman is only a physical manifestation of imperialism. Imperialism, like Zimmerman, travels the world stalking Third World nations and then attacking the oppressed nation, latching on and sucking the blood, the resources, leaving a lifeless corpse in its place. They can call Amerika a "colorblind" society; they can allow the public to be "intermingled"; they can nominate Obama as president; but any way you slice it there is no justice to be found here for Brown or Black folks. Our justice will only come from our own hands through struggle.
Racism is generally understood by revolutionaries first and foremost as an outgrowth of the ruling class, which nurtures these white supremacists into fascist foot soldiers. They are imperialism's reserve army and are intertwined with the state apparatus. They have a mutual interest in keeping things "the way they are."
The most we've gotten out of Obama concerning this modern day lynching was him saying "if I had a son he would look like Trayvon." Really? He couldn't even make a speech denouncing the attack on Black people, the problem of white supremacy, or the new caste-like system that encourages these modern day lynchings lest he offend the oppressor nation. But saying nothing at all would offend the Black nation. His "middle ground" was "if I had a son he would look like Trayvon."
These bourgeois politicians serve the ruling class, they serve capital, they serve Wall Street. Our justice may not come tomorrow but it will surely come, and until then let us prepare the people for the cold reality in Amerika.