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[National Oppression] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 51]
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Conciencia Nacional y al Porqué las Vidas Negras Importan

Introducción

La recurrencia de la brutalidad policial y los prejuicios raciales contra grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU ha capturado atención general y elevado la cuestión nacional. Cada vez más, grupos y comunidades nacionales oprimidas están expresando su descontento con un sistema de opresión que los deshumaniza y marginaliza. Se han realizado protestas masivas, la incertidumbre se ha apoderado de las ciudades, y se han formado movimientos organizados como respuesta directa a estas injusticias. O sea, los reclamos por parte de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU comienzan a definir la cuestión nacional.

Estos eventos señalan una conciencia entre los grupos nacionales oprimidos en los EE UU de que el sistema actual no representa sus intereses, y que de hecho, funciona en su contra. Aunque los indicadores socioeconómicos revelan iniquidades en las comunidades donde residen los grupos nacionales oprimidos, estos indicadores no pueden comunicar las dimensiones de miseria y sufrimiento que resultan del racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación. Así como la conciencia de clases comienza a echar raíces y a crecer entre los trabajadores explotados al cuestionar y compartir sus experiencias unos con otros – dando lugar a organizaciones y movimientos diseñados para combatir esta realidad — de igual manera la conciencia nacional sigue este proceso a medida que las naciones oprimidas lidian con la realidad de la opresión nacional.

El movimiento Black Lives Matter (Las Vidas Negras Importan) o BLM, es una indicación de este proceso. Este activismo reanudado se ha dado, no solo por los asesinatos sancionados de jóvenes de naciones oprimidas, sino por la acumulación de opresión nacional que ha ocurrido por años. El desarrollo cuantitativo de la cuestión nacional en relación al imperialismo social en los EE UU ha alcanzado un punto crítico. Las semi-colonias y naciones oprimidas en los EE UU tendrán que disputar su liberación o buscar un camino de reforma y mayor integración. Entonces, la pregunta importante es, ¿Cómo es que nosotros, los Maoístas, vamos a alimentar esta semilla emergente a través del nacionalismo revolucionario?

En última instancia, el punto de este artículo es el explorar brevemente como la opresión nacional informa la conciencia de las naciones oprimidas dentro de las condiciones únicas de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU e identifica las implicaciones claves que resultan del movimiento BLM y que son relevantes al movimiento de liberación nacional a mayor escala. Es importante notar que el movimiento BLM no es una organización revolucionaria. Aun así, BLM es una enseñanza para nuestra causa, ya que demuestra el potencial de las semi-colonias internas y las naciones oprimidas internas en los EE UU de poder organizarse en base a los problemas relacionados con opresión nacional.

La opresión nacional y el derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación

En cuanto a las semi-colonias internas y a las naciones oprimidas de los EE UU, la cuestión nacional debe de basarse en reconocer sus derechos a la auto-determinación. Las naciones oprimidas están sujetas al semi-colonialismo, y por lo tanto, no pueden controlar su propio destino. Debido a que la supremacía de los blancos domina cada aspecto de la nación oprimida, la existencia material de dicha nación toma un plano secundario dentro de la estructura de poder regida por la raza blanca.

Más aun, la nación-estado blanca-dominante ha creado mecanismos de control social para mantener el dominio de las naciones oprimidas. Encarcelamiento masivo, la disfunción comunitaria y de familia, la cultura de estereotipos y estigmas, entre otros, son algunos de los medios que utiliza para no perder de vista a dichas naciones oprimidas. Un ejemplo relacionado con el punto anterior son las restricciones sistemáticas que impiden el acceso a una educación reconocida y que limitan el acceso a oportunidades de empleo significativas. La falta de trabajo significa pobreza y los males sociales que la acompañan. Además, el racismo institucionalizado y la discriminación promueven actitudes y comportamientos que continúan formando una cultura de inequidad dentro de las comunidades de las naciones oprimidas. Como resultado, algunos miembros de las naciones oprimidas se ven obligados a perseguir un estilo de vida criminal, exponiendose al represivo sistema de injusticia criminal.

Aunque la situación descrita no es una representación de la nación oprimida en su totalidad, si nos presenta la necesidad de una liberación nacional y la ejecución del derecho de una nación a la auto-determinación. Es cierto que las semi-colonias internas en los EE UU y las naciones oprimidas gozan de estándares de vida y privilegios que sus compatriotas del tercer mundo morirían por tener. Aun así, la realidad de la opresión nacional no es menos perjudicial para la nación oprimida estadounidense. El dolor y sufrimiento asociados con las injusticias a causa del semi-colonialismo no dejan de ser menos reales.

Estas experiencias sociales de opresión nacional afectan emocionalmente a las naciones oprimidas. Cada día y cada instante de opresión nacional que los miembros de dichas naciones tienen que soportar deja una impresión en su conciencia. Eventualmente, los mismos empiezan a conectar los puntos y a reconocer lo injusto de su situación en la sociedad estadounidense.

¿Qué significa la conciencia nacional?

El punto central de este artículo es el ayudar a que las naciones oprimidas desarrollen una conciencia de su situación debido a la opresión nacional. Esta conciencidad no es revolucionaria ni es substantiva. Para aclarar, cualquier situación material que los humanos viven provoca la conciencia correspondiente y refleja su situación de vida. Rashid Johnson nos dice en su libro, “Historical and Dialectical Materialism: The Science of Revolution points,” que la conciencia es un producto de la materia; del mundo físico. La casa-prisión que resulta de una sociedad imperialista en los EE UU es el mundo físico, y las relaciones e interacciones económicas, políticas, y sociales que lo forman envuelven actividad física.

En este sentido, las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU están sujetas a este proceso dialéctico a medida que estas relaciones e interacciones acondicionan su conciencia. La actividad en la vida diaria dentro de la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU deja una impresión en el estado mental. Y como demostramos anteriormente, la opresión nacional es una parte fundamental de la vida diaria de las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU. Además, la conciencia nacional es similar a la clase nacional en que durante el ajetreo de la vida diaria las personas intercambian y comparten ideas en cuanto a su situación material, sus condiciones de vida. Comienzan a buscar maneras de resolver los problemas a los que se enfrentan. Los intelectuales se reúnen a discutir, teorizar, y buscar la solución a problemas comunes. Pero más importante aún, se fundan instituciones y organizaciones para ayudar en el empuje de sus agendas. Todas estas acciones toman lugar a medida que las personas se reúnen después de reconocer el problema.

Entonces, cuando los marxistas de antes hablaban en cuanto a construir y profundizar la conciencia de clase entre los trabajadores explotados, se estaban refiriendo al proceso por el cual la gente comienzaba a darse cuenta del predicamento en que se encontraban, pero de una manera revolucionaria. Para nosotros, los Maoístas, nuestro trabajo en este punto histórico es el de mover hacia adelante las luchas de liberación nacional dentro de las naciones oprimidas con nacionalismo revolucionario. Debemos construir conciencia nacional entre las naciones oprimidas para que estos grupos entiendan que los conceptos tales como raza son falsos y que Amérika no vela por sus intereses. Estos grupos tienen que llegar a entender que las naciones existen y que su respectiva nación se merece el poder ejercer su derecho a la auto-determinación.

¿Por qué las vidas negras importan?

El movimiento BLM no es nada diferente al compararlo con el movimiento chican@ que exigió la revocación de la legislación chauvinista, racista, dura-contra-inmigrantes en Arizona unos años atrás.

En las comunidades chican@s, la inmigración es un problema extremadamente decisivo. Las pólizas chauvinistas de Obama han deshecho familias, el maltrato de los trabajadores migrantes en el campo laboral se ha hecho demasiado frecuente, y en general, las comunidades chicanas sin servicio ni recursos continúan creando iniquidades y pobreza. El hecho de que Arizona estaba tratando de pasar—y eventualmente pasó—leyes anti-inmigratorias, fue la última gota que llenó la copa, lo cual movilizó a la comunidad chicana. De igual manera, la opresión nacional ha causado estragos en la comunidad Nuevos Africanos (New Afrikan o NA), siendo dicha comunidad la cara de la inequidad y la injusticia en los Estados Unidos. Los NA, particularmente los jóvenes, están cansados del maltrato. El movimiento BLM, aunque surgió como resultado de la brutalidad policiaca, personaliza el rencor y la angustia de la nación oprimida de NA ante la marginalización y represión que han sufrido por años.

Debemos tomar ventaja de movimientos como estos ya que demuestran la frustración de las personas oprimidas con el sistema, como también su disposición a comprometerse y cambiarlo.

Una implicación clave que surge de esto es la recurrencia de las naciones oprimidas a querer superar la opresión nacional. ¿Competirán las naciones oprimidas en los EE UU por su liberación o se conformarán con una reforma, y por extensión, una asimilación e integración parcial? Los medios convencionales proveen cobertura de estos eventos para controlar un grupo que de otra manera seria una amenaza a su situación vigente (status quo). Por lo tanto, actúan como supervisores en vez de reporteros objetivos con el propósito de formar una opinión pública y debilitar la idea de una revolución organizada. Esto tiene consecuencias serias para el movimiento de liberación nacional en los Estados Unidos en conjunto. Por eso es que el movimiento BLM es tan crítico, porque no podemos permitir el mismo resultado que ocurrió al final de la era radial en el año 1960.

Conclusión

En pocas palabras, el impacto de la opresión nacional en las semi-colonias internas y naciones oprimidas de los Estados Unidos ha comenzado a empujar hacia adelante la cuestión nacional. Hemos comenzado a ver una realización emergente entre las naciones oprimidas de que la sociedad imperialista en los EE UU esta cundida de inequidades e injusticias. Solo el nacionalismo revolucionario puede nutrir y ayudar a crecer la semilla de la conciencia. Y si nuestra meta es la liberación de las naciones oprimidas dentro de los Estados Unidos, entonces debemos de formar nuestra conciencia nacional como preparación. Los movimientos como el de BLM ilustran el potencial y el activismo que está vivo dentro de las naciones oprimidas. La responsabilidad cae sobre nosotros quienes debemos de capitalizarlo.

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[National Oppression] [First Nations] [ULK Issue 50]
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Commemorating Mary Crow Dog, AIM and the BPP

The Black Panther cover
Cover of The Black Panther Vol. 3 No. 5, May 1969

This month the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter (BB-PC) honors Mary Crow Dog, born Mary Blue Bird. She was a resident of a town called Saint Francis on the reservation of Rosebud during 1973 at the siege of Wounded Knee.

In 1971 Mary joined the American Indian Movement (AIM). During the siege at Wounded Knee Mary was tasked with organizing the women to do the cooking, cleaning and communications. She organized food running and getting in and out of Wounded Knee to get much-needed supplies. The siege lasted 73 days, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) using armored personnel carriers and Huey helicopters. Mary helped keep morale up among everyone at the camp. Her bravery and courage is why my family in Pine Ridge and Rosebud have the freedoms we do today.(1)


MIM(Prisons) responds: The BB-PC sent us these words on Mary Crow Dog, along with some notes on the documentary on the Black Panthers that we reviewed in ULK 49. We thought it appropriate to print something on the AIM in this issue, as they are very relevant to understanding the conditions in the United $tates during the time of the Black Panther Party. While the BPP can brag of having most of the FBI actions of the time targeting them, this is probably due mostly to the size of the New Afrikan nation and their mass base, compared to the First Nations who have been decimated by genocide. And while Panthers engaged in long shoot outs with police, nothing compared to the U.S. Army invasion of Wounded Knee:

“In the first instance since the Civil War that the U.S. Army had been dispatched in a domestic operation, the Pentagon invaded Wounded Knee with 17 armored personnel carriers, 130,000 rounds of M-16 ammunition, 41,000 rounds of M-1 ammunition, 24,000 flares, 12 M-79 grenade launchers, 600 cases of C-S gas, 100 rounds of M-40 explosives, helicopters, Phantom jets, and personnel…”(2)

Churchill and Vander Wall document the details of the intensive war the FBI led against AIM. They write about the pursuit of AIM founder Dennis Banks as having “garnered the dubious distinction of becoming the most sustained attempt at a federal prosecution in the history of American jurisprudence.”(3) While on the run from the state in 1976, Banks is reported to have been hidden by Chican@ leader Corky Gonzalez, and members of the Crusade for Justice working with local AIM members. Later that year, Corky Gonzalez was falsely accused by the FBI of possessing “a rocket launcher, rockets, M-16 automatic rifles, and hand grenades,” intended to use in combination with AIM and others to kill police.(4) Such rumors were part of the FBI’s public relations war against liberation movements, attempting to distract from the fact that the U.$. government is the real perpetrator of violence.

The American Indian Movement was formed in 1968, in a rising movement for national liberation among First Nations that paralleled that in New Afrika. Forming two years after the Black Panther Party, like many, they were inspired by and modeled themselves after the BPP, though not taking up the explicit Maoism of the BPP or the Young Lords Party. Like the Panthers, AIM saw chapters pop up across the country soon after its founding. And like the Panthers, AIM promoted armed self-defense of its people and territory.

It is worth noting the different conditions faced by First Nations compared to other internal semi-colonies. The threat of annihilation, and the clear recognition of territory rights, lead to a more advanced national consciousness and more advanced conditions for national struggle. While we take lessons from the BPP’s ultra-left tendency to pick up the gun too soon, the conditions of the time – from the First Nation reservations in the United $tates to Vietnam to China – makes their decision much more understandable than it would be today. Even today, we recognize the objective conditions among First Nations overall to be more advanced and armed struggle to be a correct path for them before it would be in other parts of the United $tates.

Notes:
  1. Mary Crow Dog, 1991, Lakota Woman. recommended by BB-PC, Colorado.
  2. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, 1990, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, South End Press:Boston, p. 144.
  3. Churchill, p. 343.
  4. Churchill, p. 281.

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[National Oppression] [Minnesota]
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From the Perspective of 12 Years a Slave, Three Prominent African American Men

On 20 February 2016, one day before we would mourn the assassination of Brother Malcolm some fifty-one years ago, Stillwater Penitentiary, in honor of Black History Month, welcomed three of Minnesota’s most prominent African American leaders. Bobby Champion Keith Ellison and Spike Moss took valuable time out of their busy schedules and spoke on the topic of how they became who they are today. An appropriate topic considering the month, and the current state of affairs Black men find themselves in today.

I think before I provide my opinion of each speech from the men of honor, I should include the fact per our overseers, the benevolent Department of Corrections, we were shown Twelve Years a Slave, and also Django. Of course I couldn’t watch Django, but Twelve Years a Slave, I watched. After the movie I wondered if the kernel of truth in the movie was supposed to be: all white men aren’t liars, or just wait on the white man because he’s coming to save you. I think the hardest pill to swallow was watching a movie from within a failed system, and being subliminally told that a slave’s belief in a system that makes the slave a slave will save him.

Boby Champion, a Minnesota Democratic State Senator and fabulous orator, spoke about the obstacles he faced in graduating from Macalester College. Senator Champion’s speech took us on a journey of perseverance and fatherhood. He based his success on staying out of trouble, and singing gospel in his group he established. It was Senator Champion’s belief that serving the community completed the healing circle. I thought that was noble, and believed he was sincere in his belief that he served his community through assistance in our incarceration. Yet, I felt as I sat there he didn’t talk about criminal justice, and avoided what I had on my mind, the death of unarmed Black men.

Next to hit the floor was the University of Minnesota graduate, Keith Ellison, Representative of the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives, fresh off his endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders. U.S. House Rep. Ellison, with little talk of his life, stayed on topic with a Zinn-esque perspective on Black History. I can only speculate on the reason he didn’t talk about his life. Perhaps if he had spoken on his profession as a defense attorney, in turn the defense and assistance in lengthy prison sentences for those in the gymnasium would have become the topic of conversation. Although House Rep. Ellison was not as energetic as Minnesota Senator Champion, his topic fit with the theme; however, I still wanted someone to speak about current relevant issues.

Finally, Spike Moss took the stage and he didn’t disappoint. Within his Civil Rights history lesson he baptized the crowd in cultural appreciation, and pointed to the lack of cultural markers as one cause for black men losing their minds. At some point his message shifted form uplifting to victim-blaming Black Lives Matter, and African men for being complicit in the death of the black community.

I sat in my chair and tried to figure out where Moss had gone wrong. How did an event about the ascension of Black men, successful men, to relative success, turn into a selective history lesson on the Black community destruction being the sole responsibility of those who have destroyed? The connection between drugs and guns is forgotten. I didn’t understand. It’s true that Black men sold drugs, shot guns and murdered innocent people in the Black community. This is equivalent to white folks paying Black mercenaries to destroy the community in which Black mercenaries live; when the Panthers were imprisoned and murdered, the drug dealer was given the community under police protection. If Spike Moss is willing to accept the fact drugs were placed in our community, then why is he not willing to accept that guns were too?

Black people don’t know a Black drug dealer who own cargo ships, and Black people don’t know Black gunsmiths or a Black gun store owner. Moreover it’s through the lens of these facts a capacity to destroy a city is severely minimized. The Uzi machine gun comes from Israel, yet in the 1990s it was the weapon of choice. How does it get to Los Angeles? The FBI and CIA are involved.

In defense of Spike Moss, because most, if not all of those persons in prison think he is a snitch for actively turning dealers and gang members in. It is only prison gossip and I have not verified it for the record, but in defense, not excuse of his “Negro of two minds position,” I believe he’s scared of the white man, and the unconscious mercenary Negro. I think his fear is justified. I am in prison with them, and from far off they resemble that thug that Jesse Jackson said “he was scared might run up behind him.” But what must be understood, even a domesticated dog will bite his owner in the right conditions. Freud once said: “That which you fear, and are afraid of is that what you truly desire.” In the case of Spike Moss, his double conscious mind actually inversed and he hates the thing he helped create; the incarcerated youth.

I am neither for Black Lives Matter, nor am I for Mr. Spike Moss, but believe they both represent positive activism, and have the betterment of Black people in mind, Therefore, I say “seize the time.”

After the show I stopped House Rep. Keith Ellison and asked some of those relevant questions I thought the voiceless had a right to ask:

“Why did Hennipin County District Attorney Mike Freeman only charge the white boy who shot at the protesters with a single offense that at the end of the day will get dropped down to a misdemeanor offense? Because if that was some brothers, who done the same crime they’d be charged with a drive-by shooting, and reckless firing of a firearm in public place. They’d be charged not only with the victims that were shot, but with every potential victim, and every person in the area would have aiding and abetting charge. I know people right now in the gymnasium that Freeman charged and got a conviction with suspect evidence, and in the white boy’s case Freeman gots the gun, witnesses, and him on Youtube.”

I also told him: “It seems to me and a few of the brothers here that ever since Blacks started migrating from the south to northern cities, whites have saw fit to enact legislation, specifically to target our behavior and gave more time.”

After listening to three of the most prominent African American men in Minnesota, it was hard not to feel like I was Platt Epps in Twelve Years a Slave. With a voiceover Malcolm X narrates from a speech he performed some fifty-one years prior, called “Message to the Grassroots.” As my voice, Malcolm attempts to argue that African American men should not be dependent on the white man:

“And if someone comes to you right now and says, ‘Let’s separate,’ you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. ‘What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?’ I mean, this is what you say. ‘I ain’t left nothing in Africa,’ that’s what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.” (Malcolm X’s speech “Message to the Grassroots,” December 1963)
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[National Oppression] [ULK Issue 50]
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National Consciousness and Why Black Lives Matter

The recurrence of police brutality and racial prejudice against U.$. oppressed nation groups that has captured widespread attention has also heightened the national question. More and more, oppressed nation communities and groups are expressing their discontent with a system of oppression that dehumanizes and marginalizes them. Mass protests have taken place, unrest has gripped cities, and organized movements have arisen all in direct response to these injustices. In other words, the demand for change by U.$. oppressed nations is beginning to define the national question.

These events signal a realization among U.$. oppressed nations that the prevailing system does not represent their interests, and that in fact, it functions at a disadvantage to them. While socioeconomic indicators reveal inequalities in communities of oppressed nations, they cannot communicate the dimensions of humyn misery and suffering that result from institutionalized racism and discrimination. Just as class consciousness begins to take root and grow within exploited workers as they question and share their experiences with each other, resulting in organizations and movements expressly designed to overcome their plight, so too does national consciousness follow this process as oppressed nations deal with the reality of national oppression.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is indicative of this process. It is not the recent sanctioned murders of oppressed nation youth alone that is responsible for this renewed activism, but the accumulation of years of national oppression. The quantitative development of the national question as it relates to U.$. imperialist society has reached a critical point. Either U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations are going to vie for liberation, or seek the path of reform and further integration. Thus, the question becomes how are we, as Maoists, going to nurture this emerging seed of awareness with revolutionary nationalism.

Ultimately national oppression informs the consciousness of oppressed nations within the unique conditions of U.$. imperialist society and there are implications from the BLM movement that are relevant to the larger national liberation movement. It is important to note that the BLM movement is not a revolutionary organization. Yet, BLM is instructive to our cause because it demonstrates the potential among U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations to be organized around issues of national oppression.

National Oppression and a Nation’s Right to Self-Determination

For U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations the national question should be about realizing their right to self-determination. Oppressed nations are subject to semi-colonialism and thus have no control or power over their destiny. Because white supremacy dominates every aspect of the oppressed nation, their material existence merely functions as an afterthought to the white power structure.

Moreover, the white-setter nation-state has created mechanisms of social control to maintain dominance over oppressed nations. Mass incarceration, family and community dysfunction, the culture of stereotypes and stigmas, etc. are just a few means used to keep oppressed nations in check. To elaborate more on this point, the systematic restriction of access to meaningful education undermines access to meaningful job opportunities. No jobs means poverty and the social ills that accompanies it. In addition, institutionalized racism and discrimination inform attitudes and behavior that further creates a culture of inequality within communities of oppressed nations. As a result, some members of oppressed nations are compelled to pursue criminal lifestyles, opening themselves up to the repressive criminal injustice system.

While the above scenario is not representative of the entire oppressed nation it does speak to the need for national liberation and the exercise of a nation’s right to self-determination. Granted, U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations enjoy living standards and privileges that their Third World counterparts would die for. Nevertheless, the reality of national oppression is no less detrimental to the U.$. oppressed nation. The hurt and pain associated with injustices of semi-colonialism is no less real.

These social experiences of national oppression take a mental toll on oppressed nations. Every day and every instance of national oppression that members of oppressed nations go through makes an impression upon their consciousness. Eventually, they begin to connect the dots and recognize the injustice of their situation in U.$. society.

What is National Consciousness?

Oppressed nations within U.$. borders develop an awareness due to enduring national oppression. This awareness is not revolutionary nor is it substantive. To be clear, any material situation that humyns inhabit conditions a corresponding awareness that reflects their living state. Marx and Engels developed the theory of materialist dialectics, which dictates that consciousness is a product of matter, the exterior world. The prison-house that is U.$. imperialist society is the physical world and the social, political, and economic relations and interactions that comprise it involve actual activity that is outside of our minds.

In this sense, the oppressed nations are subject to this dialectical process as these relations and interactions condition their consciousness. The activity of daily life within U.$. imperialist society makes an impression upon mental capacity. And as shown above, national oppression is a fundamental part of the daily life of these oppressed nations.

Furthermore, national consciousness is similar to class consciousness in that during the grind of daily life people exchange and engage ideas about their material situation, their living conditions. They begin to seek ways to resolve the issues that they face. Intellectuals gather to discuss, theorize, and come up with solutions to common problems. More importantly, institutions and organizations are founded to help push their agendas. All of these actions take place because somewhere down the line people got together after recognizing a problem.

Thus, when Marxists of old talked about building and deepening class consciousness among exploited workers, they were referring to a process in which people began to realize their predicament, but in a revolutionary manner. For us, as Maoists, our job at this hystorical point is to push forward national liberation struggles within oppressed nations with revolutionary nationalism. We must build national consciousness among oppressed nations so that these groups understand that concepts such as race are false and Amerika is not representative of their interests. These groups must come to understand that nations exist and that their respective nation is entitled to exercise its right to self-determination.

Why Black Lives Matter

The BLM movement is no different from the Chican@ movement that demanded repeal of the chauvinist, racist, tough-on-immigrant legislation in Arizona a few years back.

In the Chican@ communities, immigration is an extremely decisive issue. Obama’s chauvinist policies have broken families apart, the mistreatment of migrant workers in the workplace has become all too frequent, and in general, under-served and under resourced Chican@ communities continue to suffer from inequalities and poverty. The fact that Arizona was trying to pass - and eventually passed - even more extreme anti-immigrant laws was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, mobilizing the Chican@ community.

Similarly, national oppression has wreaked havoc on the New Afrikan community, as the New Afrikan is the face of inequality and injustice in the United $tates. New Afrikans, particularly the youth, are tired of the overt mistreatment. The BLM movement, while it arose in response to police brutality, embodies the anger and angst of the New Afrikan nation at the marginalization and repression they have suffered for years. Movements like these must be used to our advantage as they demonstrate that oppressed people are not just fed up with the system, they are willing to commit themselves to actually changing it.

One key implication that arises from this is the recourse for oppressed nations to overcome national oppression. Will U.$. oppressed nations vie for liberation or will they settle for reform, and by extension, assimilation and partial integration?

Mainstream media provide coverage on these events to control a group that might otherwise threaten the status quo. Therefore, they act as a supervisor rather than objective reporter all in an attempt to shape public opinion and undermine revolutionary organizing. This has serious consequences for the national liberation movement in the United $tates as a whole. This is why the BLM movement is critical, because we cannot allow the same outcome as took place at the end of the radical era of the 1960s.

Conclusion

The impact of national oppression on U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations has begun to push the national question forward. We are starting to see a realization emerge among oppressed nations that recognizes U.$. imperialist society is rife with inequalities and injustices. Only revolutionary nationalism can nurture and grow this seed of awareness. And if our goal is the liberation of oppressed nations within the United $tates then we must build their national consciousness in preparation. Movements like BLM illustrate the potential and activism that is alive within oppressed nations. The duty falls upon us to revolutionize it.

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[National Oppression]
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Blinded by the White

In MIM(Prisons)’s response to “How to Unite with White Lumpen” in ULK 46, it is pointed out that white supremacists in prison generally do not make for allies in the anti-imperialist struggle.

It is necessary to distinguish between white supremacist and so-called white people. A white supremacist whole-heartedly believes the purported “white race” is superior to all other skin colors. Because of this supposed superiority, they believe it is moral and destined that they should rule, dominate, and oppress/extort/enslave people of other skin tones/colors. Naturally, these views are not scientific nor are they compatible with Marx-Lenin-Maoist ideology.

In prison I’ve encountered varying groups of white supremacists: Aryan Brotherhood, Odinists, Wotan, Christian identity, to name a few. Each group has two prominent things in common: 1. Non-white races are not equal and it isn’t wrong to treat them as inferior subhuman species; and 2. These groups idolize Hitler and the politics of National Socialism (Nazism). Ironically, Hitler would have enslaved and/or exterminated most of these white supremacists just as he did “white” poles, Czechs, Russians, etc.

In the prison context my experience has been that the white prisoners who are not affiliated with any lumpen organizations are more open to anti-imperialist truth. Those who have been rejected, impoverished, put in institutions at an early age, and generally shit upon by Amerikkkan society have no allegiance to it. Don’t be blinded by the white, but wisdom says don’t look for gold in a sack of pennies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer’s assessment of the greater potential to appeal to unaffiliated white prisoners than those who are a part of explicitly supremacist groups. Different units and facilities have their own unique cultures (as in the article under discussion, the facility was reported to be controlled by the Black Muslim population, a unique condition indeed). It’s certainly possible that Amerikkkans in Virginia prisons are friendly to socialist ideas at a higher-than-average rate. Whether they’re devoting their lives to fighting against imperialism and oppression is another question altogether, and is not something MIM(Prisons) has noticed in our work.

We still think it is worth noting that we are talking about national oppression, not racism, and even the whites who have led very difficult lives have been raised on an unconscious diet of national superiority. It’s not that everyone is consciously racist, but the white nation as a whole enjoys privileges that individuals don’t even notice in day-to-day life.

White people don’t notice that the cops aren’t stopping them just for “looking suspicious”, whereas cops regularly stop Black and Chican@ people for this reason, or none at all. White people don’t notice that they’re receiving better treatment in so many situations, just as a privilege of the nation to which they were born. At the same time, whites are taught that they deserve better (as they are taught that New Afrikans are more likely to commit crimes, Muslims are all terrorists, Chican@s are lazy, etc.) and those who want to fight on the side of the world’s oppressed must consciously fight against this mis-education. That is what the article “How to Unite with White Lumpen” is about – unaffiliated whites, who supposedly are not conscious white supremacists, are very likely to get defensive in protecting their superiority on questions of imperialism and liberation of oppressed nations (i.e. on questions of reducing their national superiority). We’re speaking in terms of generalizations and national tendencies discovered through studying history and practice, not painting every single Amerikkkan as an inherent, conscious and unchangeable white supremacist.

We say Amerikkkans working against the interests of the predominantly white Amerikkkan nation are “committing national suicide.” We encourage them to do so, while not holding our breath waiting on them to take the plunge. We call on all people to join the anti-imperialist struggle and consciously work to end whatever national or class oppression they may benefit from, for the benefit of humynity and the world as a whole.

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[New Afrika] [Africa] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 47]
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Two Sides of Garvey

Amy and Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey and Amy Jacques
In response to the call to honor freedom fighters, it is an honor and pleasure to journal the commemoration of New Afrikan freedom fighter Amy Jacques Garvey.

So many today dismiss the Pan-Afrikan movement and its various bodies, both within and outside of U.$. prisons, as that of an unnecessary call and reference to an outdated idea. In the context of the proletarian political causes, it is often the ultra-leftist who has taken up this position.

However, in our attempts to fast forward the most correct methods of resolving contradictions, we acknowledge that they come in the form of class consciousness among nationalist leaders driven by internationalist struggles led by the proletariat. The Pan-Afrikan movement is one likely place where we find these elements.

Many prisoners are aware of the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but very few are familiar with Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Marcus Garvey and the bone and marrow of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Amy Garvey was a special person in the history of liberation struggles. Born 31 December 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica to a middle-upper class family, Amy Garvey was ahead of her time. Though “all identity is individual, there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words, constructed within a field of social values, norms of behavior and collective symbols.”(1)

The mother of what author Ula Yvette Taylor coined “community feminism,” Amy Garvey pressed the issue of lower class wimmin not only in serving their male counterparts, but also educating themselves to become political leaders in the nation. Today, lumpen wimmin of the internal semi-colonies still find themselves criticized for either being home-oriented or for sex. UNIA enjoyed support across gender and promoted equality of the sexes. Yet, in practice, this “community feminist” approach was a means of dealing with the expectations put on wimmin to be supporters of men while still being political leaders. While wimmin like Amy Garvey had to take on an unequal burden compared to their male counterparts, their actions served to break down the expectations of gendered roles, paving the way for others.

Amy Garvey empowered wimmin to confront racism, colonialism and imperialism, while contesting masculine dominance as well.(2) As she wrote, wimmin should use their “intelligence in a righteous cause” as they are needed to “fill the breach, and fight as never before, for the masses need intelligent dedicated leadership.”(3)

Since the 1920s, Amy Jacques Garvey’s organizing activities had sought to further the decolonization of West Afrikan nations as people of African descent endeavored to restructure their societies. The antecedents of these largely nationalist movements were well-established in Pan-Afrikan struggle that came into its own during the early 1940s, including the fifth Pan-Afrikan Congress. Meanwhile, other power shifts were occurring such as: the rise of the Soviet Union, liberation struggles in southeast Asia, the independence of China and the Asian-African Bandung Conference.(4) Indeed, within this political milieu, “West Afrikan nationalism and various brands of Pan-Africanism, could mix with everything from Fabian socialism to Marxism-Leninism.”(5)

While engaging in the international arena, Amy Garvey also struggled against fellow comrades of the UNIA. She was well known for her refusal to hold her tongue on the contradictions that arose within, even at times writing critical positions of Marcus Garvey himself. It resembles so many of those within the belly of the beast babylon who struggle to liberate themselves in order to offer liberation to their people, only to be hushed by LO leadership.

Amy Garvey was from Jamaica and considered herself an Afrikan. She drove home the point that people of Afrikan descent in the United $tates (New Afrikans) and elsewhere were living as second-class citizens, largely as a result of economic oppression. Today we see the second-class citizenship that New Afrikans and Chican@s face as the biggest targets of social isolation by the U.$. prison system. The second class that the oppressed nations are being bred into today is what we call the First World lumpen class. In the imperialist countries, that is the class that has nothing to lose from a revolution except the very chains that bind them to a bourgeois system that doesn’t serve them. “As the lumpen experience oppression first hand here in Amerika, we are in a position to spearhead the revolutionary vehicle within the U.$. borders.”(6)

The 2015 release of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group introduces prisoners to the reality of their class identity with the lumpen of oppressed internal semi-colonies in North America.

“Kwame Nkrumah in his analysis of neo-colonialism in Africa defined it as: ‘The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.’ Nkrumah stressed the importance of dividing the oppressed into smaller groups as part of this process of preventing effective resistance to imperialism as had already occurred in China, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba and elsewhere.”(7)

Amy Garvey too considered the likes of Kwame Nkrumah as her comrade, alongside of Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore, just to name a few. She was a disciplined, arduous scholar whose objective was to fold Garveyism into existing progressive organizations, thus uniting a divergent Pan-Afrikan world.

Many of the ideas that are circulated amongst the lumpen organizations within the belly of the beast babylon are grafted from the ideas of the peoples parties like the UNIA, whether they admit it or not. The proof is in the pudding. Amy Garvey showed that one could stand on two legs and not buckle under the pressure of integrationist culture.

Amy Garvey held Marcus Garvey up while he served his prison bid in Atlanta, and took the driver’s seat of one of the world’s most influential Negro organizations in its time when wimmin weren’t expected to be political. It is so similar to the anti-imperialist prisoner movement; prisoners aren’t expected to be political souljahs.

Death to babylon-imperialism!


MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM said that Pan-Afrikanism should be a strategic question, and is not worth splitting over.(8) They also said that Pan-Afrikanism has historically been the most progressive of the “pan” ideologies. Clearly that the Pan-Afrikan mission has yet to succeed in the dire need for effective revolutionary leadership is evident in the recent revelations that

“In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008.”(9)

The imperialists continue to foment the tribal divisions across the African continent to wage proxy wars that amount to inter-proletarian killing on the ground. The overwhelming proletarian character of the populations in Africa gives Pan-Afrikanism its strong progressive character.

Notes:
1. Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, Verso Books, 2011.
2. Yvette Ula Taylor, The Veiled Garvey, the life & times of Amy Jacques Garvey, University of North Carolina Press, 2002, p. 2.
3. Amy Jacques Garvey, “The Role of Women in Liberation Struggles”, Massachusetts Review, Winter-Spring 1972, p. 109-112.
4. Ehecatl, “Lessons from the Bandung Conference for the United Front for Peace in Prisons”, Under Lock & Key No. 43, March 2015.
5. Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Washington DC: Howard University Press, 1982, p. 277-78.
Hakim Adi, West Afrikans in Britain 1900-1960: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Communism, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1998, pp. 160-170, 186.
6. A MIM(Prisons) Study Group, Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, MIM Distributors, 2015, p. 14.
7. Ibid, p. 68.
8. 2002 MIM Congress, “Resolution on Pan-Africanism.”
9. Nick Turse, “The U.S. Military’s Battlefield of Tomorrow”, TomDispatch, 14 April 2015.

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[National Oppression] [Campaigns] [Education] [ULK Issue 47]
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Freedom Fighter: Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass on learning
For my essay I chose Frederick Douglass. I admire his inner strength, free spirit, and intelligence. I believe that he could see opportunity in every situation. For example, when his oppressors became so irate of his learning to read and write, he knew that things that are restricted are usually worthy of pursuit.

He overcame so many obstacles with so few resources, and he gives me motivation and inspiration to overcome and succeed, although my difficulties are minor compared to his. He was a great man and an unsung hero of freedom fighting. He must have thought to himself that it was better to risk death and fight for his freedom, than to conform to the wishes of tyrannical beings.

He fought and won. So much was against him and yet his spirit refused to be broken. He knew how powerful words can be. He learned them and mastered them. And once he’d won, he didn’t let the realm of success lull him into complacency – a realm where many men venture and are swallowed, ending their reign of greatness. No, Frederick Douglass was a mossless stone; he never stagnated. Douglass continued pressing forward, not only bettering himself, but also bettering those he came in contact with and helping other oppressed individuals.

His written word will echo through the generations, inspiring thousands and perhaps millions. The American education system gives him only a cursory glance, then moves on to lies about founding fathers. Imagine if they lingered longer or more often on Frederick Douglass, and the valuable influence on those impressionable minds he would render. Frequently, I wonder about a stronger, less passive and more spirited generation. Like Frederick Douglass.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Frederick Douglass was born into slavery around 1818 in Maryland. Ey escaped slavery and went on to become a prolific writer, speaker, and newspaper publisher. Eir primary battles were against slavery and for wimmin’s right to vote. Douglass had a similar path to radicalization as many readers of ULK, even though ey lived almost two centuries ago.

Douglass was taught the alphabet at around 12 years old from eir slavemaster’s wife. Even though ey was discouraged from reading, sometimes with violence, Douglass continued to study and taught many others how to read as well. With the ability to read, Douglass became politicized through reading newspapers, which helped em develop into an internationally-acclaimed writer and speaker against slavery and oppression.

Even in the face of censorship and lack of programming, many U.$. prisoners build themselves and others up in the same way Douglass did. Present-day prisoners are not allowed to come together in a group to study, for “security threat concerns,” which parallels Douglass’s experience of having eir weekly literacy classes disbanded by the clubs and stones of slave owners. Nowdays, those who try to teach in spite of restrictions are locked in isolation toture cells.

Without good literacy skills, one can’t file a lawsuit, or write grievances, or understand the prison handbook, or read Under Lock & Key; get the picture? Various sources state that 60-70% of U.$. prisoners are functionally illiterate.(1) Illiteracy affects the majority of prisoners, and thus hinders the organization of the majority of our subscribers’ peers. Passing on an issue of ULK does little good if the recipient can’t understand it.

Statistics from the prisoncrats themselves state that prisoners have a 70% chance of recidivism if they get no help with their literacy, whereas prisoners who do receive literacy help have a 16% chance of recidivism.(2) We wonder, why aren’t there more programs for teaching reading comprehension and writing skills in prisons? It’s clearly a continuation of the same exact national oppression faced by Frederick Douglass’s generation.

That we are still having a conversation about building literacy among New Afrikans should give us a clue of the ineffectiveness of reformism and the necessity of complete communist revolution. After gaining state power, one of the first steps of this revolution will be to establish a joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations (JDPON), so that the most oppressed people in the world can dictate to those who have been oppressing others for centuries how society will be run. As was done in communist China under Mao, one of the primary functions of this dictatorship of the proletariat will be to build literacy at every single level of society, and especially among those who are furthest removed from the benefits of the economic system. One can’t fully participate in society’s development without literacy, and we need as many people as possible to participate.

We want to do as much as we can now to speed up the transition from capitalism to communism, and reading and writing are essential to this task. Building literacy also fits well into our immature Re-Lease on Life program, so those who are released can have a better chance of success and hopefully also a better chance of staying engaged in political work when on the outside. Even though MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within are on a much smaller scale than a JDPON, or even a single nation-state, we can still contribute to this goal while we build for a society where advanced literacy is taught to everyone systematically.

Douglass is just one individual example of a larger social phenomenon: when higher education meets a lack of opportunity, it produces radicalization and objection to the status quo. We know there is much more we can do to increase the reading and writing skills of oppressed nation lumpen in U.$. prisons, and to foster this politicization. But since MIM(Prisons) can only reach people with written material, we need our comrades behind bars to do the work on the ground. Anyone who is already teaching others basic literacy skills should get in touch with MIM(Prisons) to help us develop this Serve the People program. If you already have a study group, try to think how you can expand it to teach literacy as well. Tell us what materials we can send you to help you teach reading and writing to others. It is one of the ways we can improve the material conditions of our fellow oppressed peoples, and one way we can uphold the legacy of Frederick Douglass.

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[National Oppression] [United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Black August Organizing Focused on Popularizing Agreement to End Hostilities

We’ve been working hard to express the need to end all hostilities amongst all ethnicities. Us New Afrikans here in the belly of the beast known as the Corcoran SHU have just completed a beautiful BAM (Black August Resistance/Memorial) and we came together to struggle today [September 9th] for the purpose of unity. We exercised in a group that consisted of ourselves, a couple southern Hispanics, and a northern Hispanic. Our study habits still consist of revolutionary literature, economics, politics and some history where our cultural and social interactions are similar without division.

We don’t have a short corridor anymore here in this concrete tomb, so with people arriving from the mainline just to do a SHU term we can educate them on the importance of the agreement to end all racial hostilities, and stay on guard because the fascist oppressors will always try to sabotage our collective struggle. A lot of these youngsters who come in here don’t have a clue about the Attica uprising or Black August Memorial, and how could they when all the teachers of New Afrikans struggles are still anguishing behind enemy lines. The importance of us getting out of the SHU is to educate our youth about their history.

Today we had a group study session on the importance of revolutionary internationalism, which is the ideological expression of global revolutionary scientific socialism in service to the oppressed underclass of the world. We feel that revolutionary internationalism is the ideological vanguard of global liberation and source of theoretical development in coordinating disparate national revolutions. Also, keeping the permanent struggle of ideological mental warfare going in order to eradicate backwards and unprincipled thinking, or incompatible ideas or activities, and proving the correctness of the revolutionary party’s views.

This weapon in which we speak is part of the dialectical processes that are ongoing and endless, until the principle contradictions of the oppressed and the oppressor are eliminated. Once this takes place you will see the transformation of the cultural values, practices and relationships of the people prepare and condition themselves for a revolution against the oppressor state. The outcome is uprooting and destroying the old oppressive rationale and mindset of colonial society and bringing into being new values which move the people outside of the colonial mindset and into that of the emerging revolutionary society. We can accomplish this through the agreement to end all hostilities. So we strive to do so. It’s a long out-dated situation that produced no winners, and only losers, and that has also further pushed us into oppression. We realize that now, and since it’s not too late to correct it, we struggle collectively to do so.

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[Religious Repression] [National Oppression] [Delta Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 48]
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Muslims Fighting for Rights in Arkansas

[Recently several prisoners wrote in to describe the religious discrimination against Muslims going on in Arkansas prisons. The Supreme Court determined that the prison must allow people to grow facial hair if this is a part of their religious beliefs, but the Delta Regional Unit continues to deny this right. Below, several correspondents explain their struggle.]

Prisoner #1: I am a Muslim and through religious beliefs I should be able to grow and groom neat facial hair. It was proven in the Supreme Court (Holt vs. Hobbs 135 S. CT. 853) that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) policy was not the least restrictive means of preventing prisoners from hiding contraband and disguising their identities. I went through all proper procedures and paperwork to get a script saying I was able to grow my facial hair through religious beliefs. I was approved by the unit Chaplain for my script, but when it came to the next step of the Warden signing off on it I was denied due to him determining if I was sincere enough. What gives the Warden the right to determine a person’s sincerity about their religious beliefs?

Prisoner #2: I am currently incarcerated at the Delta Regional Unit in Deumott, Arkansas. I have been in my walk of faith (Islam) sincerely for almost three years now. In the beginning I didn’t think that I would suffer from so much ridicule for choosing this way of life, but still, I hold my head high and continue on my walk of faith.

Sometime and somehow, this ridicule and discrimination has to cease. I am ready to come together with a group of fellow prisoner to stand up for our rights as well as the things we believe in.

The current problem that I am having involves the ADC programming policy. A law was recently passed that allows prisoners to grow their hair and/or facial hair for religious purposes only, and Muslims seem to be the majority of those who are being denied their rights, along with me as well. I am currently in the middle of a grievance process because I was denied my script. I think the problem is religious discrimination.

Prisoner #3: Warden James Gibson and the Chaplain Chuck Gladdon are violating the constitutional rights of the Muslims and other prisoners under their care. The supreme court ruled in Holt v. Hobbs that the grooming policy was a substantial burden on prisoners’ religion, by not allowing them to grow facial hair/beards. As to security concerns, the Supreme Court also said it was not the least restrictive means of stopping prisoners from hiding contraband, or disguising their identity.

The procedures are still burdensome because all the Muslims who apply for the right to wear a beard are denied automatically while the white inmates are receiving the right to grow hair or receiving a religious accommodation script from Warden Gibson and Chaplain Gladdon. Even after the Supreme Court made its ruling, this has not changed.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This denial of rights to Muslim prisoners is more than just religious discrimination. Because the majority of Muslims in Amerikkkan prisons are New Afrikan or Arab, targeting Muslims fits in with the overall system of national oppression that is especially acute within the criminal injustice system in the United $tates. Further, Amerikans like to equate Islam with terrorism in a racist attempt to denigrate entire nations. While the cultural practice of growing facial hair is not a particularly revolutionary battle relevant to the Maoist movement, this attack on oppressed nations under the guise of religious expression is important to expose.

Communists are working towards a world where all people are free to express themselves, without restrictions that come from the oppression of groups of people by others. However, we are also working towards a society where all people are provided education and scientific analysis around the false prophets and gods that religion proffers. We do not need faith in higher mystical powers, instead we need humynity to take responsibility for its own destiny and build a society where we can have faith in the ability of people to solve the problems created by people, as well as the problems we face in our material world.

Under socialism, all people will have the freedom to practice whatever religion they choose, but they will not be given the platform to proselytize for their religion and build a broader movement of mysticism. Science and scientific thinking will be the basis of education. Only this scientific method will ensure an end to oppression of all groups of people. For more on how religion was handled in communist China under Mao, ask for our religion study pack.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [Racism] [Political Repression] [United Front] [Folsom State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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CDCR Lackeys Assassinate Leader of Prison Movement

Hugo Yogi Bear Pinell
On 12 August 2015, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was murdered on the yard at California State Prison – Sacramento in Represa, also known as New Folsom Prison. Yogi was in solitary confinement a week prior to his murder, having spent 46 years in solitary confinement. Yet somehow someone on the yard had enough beef with him to murder the 71-year-old man in cold blood? Not possible. Yogi’s blood is on the hands of the state officials in charge of CSP-Sacramento.

Memorializing Yogi, his comrade David Johnson called him an “educator” and the “spirit of the prison movement.”(1) Former Black Panther and long-term friend Kiilu Nyasha said the word that came to her mind was “love.”(2) Most of the information in this article comes from Kiilu as well as Yogi’s fellow San Quentin 6 comrades David Johnson and Sundiata Tate.(3) All recounted stories of his immense love, his prominent leadership, his indomitable spirit, his dedication to creating and becoming the “new man” and his role in educating others.

The state of California attacked Hugo Pinell for 50 years, from the time of his imprisonment on a phony charge of raping and kidnapping a white womyn, through to his death this week. He was one of a number of comrades involved in an incident on 21 August 1971, in which George Jackson was killed along with three prison guards and two prisoner trustees. Hugo Pinell was charged and convicted with slashing the throats of two prison guards during this incident, though neither was killed. One of these guards was known to have murdered a New Afrikan prisoner in Soledad and had gone unpunished. Those prisoners charged with crimes for the events of 21 August 1971 became known as the San Quentin 6. It was this incident, and the murder of George Jackson in particular, that triggered the takeover of the Attica Correctional Facility in New York by prisoners of all nationalities in response to the oppressive conditions they had faced there for years. Beginning on 9 September 1971, the prisoners controlled the prison for four days, setting up kitchens, medical support, and communications via collective organizing. Prison guards were treated with respect and given proper food and medical care like everyone else. It all ended on 13 September 1971 when the National Guard invaded the yard, killed 29 prisoners and 9 staff, and tortured hundreds after they regained control. It is the collective organizing for positive change that occurred during those four days that we celebrate on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates.

The prisoners in Attica acted in the ideals of men like George Jackson and Hugo Pinell who were well-respected leaders of the first wave of the prison movement. Jackson, Pinell and their comrades, many who are still alive and mourning and commemorating Yogi’s death(1, 3), always promoted unity and the interests of all prisoners as a group. The Attica brothers took this same philosophy to a more spectacular level, where they flipped the power structure so that the oppressed were in control. Not long afterward, prisoners at Walpole in Massachusetts won control of that facility as a result of the events at Attica. In both cases prisoners worked together collectively to meet the needs of all, peace prevailed, and spirits rose. Like a dictatorship of the proletariat on a smaller scale, these prisoners proved that when the oppressed are in power conditions for all improve. And it is historicaly examples like these that lead us to believe that is the way to end oppression.

Following the incidents of August and September 1971, the Black Panther Party printed a feature article on Hugo Pinell, who they upheld as “a member in good standing of the Black Panther Party.” It read in part:

“[Prisoners across the United States] began to realize as Comrade George Jackson would say, that they were all a part of the prisoner class. They began to realize that there was no way to survive that special brand of fascism particular to California prison camps, except by beginning to work and struggle together. Divisions, such as this one, like family feuds, often take time to resolve. The common goal of liberation and the desire for freedom helps to make the division itself disappear, and the reason for its existence become clearer and clearer. The prisoner class, especially in California, began to understand the age-old fascist principle: if you can divide, you can conquer.

“There are two men who were chiefly responsible for bringing this idea to the forefront. They helped other comrade inmates to transform the ideas of self-hatred and division into unity and love common to all people fighting to survive and retain dignity. These two Brothers not only set this example in words, but in practice. Comrade George Jackson and Comrade Hugo Pinell, one Black and one Latino, were the living examples of the unity that can and must exist among the prisoner class. These two men were well-known to other inmates as strong defenders of their people. Everyone knew of their love for the people; a love that astounded especially the prison officials of the State. It astounded them so thoroughly that these pigs had to try and portray them as animals, perverts, madmen and criminals, in order to justify their plans to eventually get rid of such men. For when Comrades George and Hugo walked and talked together, the prisoners began to get the message too well.”(4)

Today the prison movement is in another phase of coming together, realizing their common class interests. It is amazing that it is in this new era of coming together that the pigs finally murder Yogi, on the three year anniversary of the announcement of the plans to end all hostilities across the California prisons system to unite for common interests. This timing should be lost on no one.

As a Nicaraguan, Yogi became hated by certain influential Mexicans in the prison system for ignoring their orders not to hang with New Afrikans. While the prison movement over the last half-century has chipped away at such racism, we also know that racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. Until we eliminate the oppression of nations by other nations, we will not eliminate racism completely. But we work hard to fight it within the oppressed and in particular among prisoners, as Yogi, George and others did 50 years ago.

In the 1950s and 1960s the racism was brutal, with nazis openly working with correctional staff. The state used poor, uneducated whites as the foot soldiers of their brutal system of oppression that is the U.$. injustice system. Tate and Johnson tell stories of being terrorized with the chants of “nigger, nigger, nigger” all night long when they first entered the California prison system as youth.(1, 3) While we don’t agree with George Jackson’s use of the term “fascist” to describe the United $tates in his day, we do see a kernel of truth in that description in the prison system, and the white prisoners were often lining up on the side of the state. But the efforts of courageous leaders broke down that alliance, and leaders of white lumpen organizations joined with the oppressed nation prisoners for their common interests as prisoners at the height of the prison movement in California.

We recognize the national contradiction, between the historically and predominantly white Amerikan nation and the oppressed internal semi-colonies, to be the principal contradiction in the United $tates today. Yet, this is often dampened and more nuanced in the prison system. Our white readership is proportional to the white population in prisons, and we have many strong white supporters. So while we give particular attention to the struggles of prisoners as it relates to national liberation movements, we support the prison movement as a whole to the extent that it aligns itself with the oppressed people of the world against imperialism.

The biggest complaint among would-be prison organizers is usually the “lack of unity.” Any potential unity is deliberately broken down through means of threats, torture and even murder by the state. Control Units exist to keep people like Yogi locked down for four and a half decades. Yet another wave of the prison movement is here. It is embodied in the 30,000 prisoners who acted together on 8 July 2013, and in the 3 years of no hostilities between lumpen organizations in the California prison system. Right now there is nothing more important in California than pushing the continuation of this unity. In the face of threats by individuals to create cracks in that unity, in the face of the murder of an elder of the movement, in order to follow through on the campaign to end the torture of long-term isolation, in order to protect the lives of prisoners throughout the state and end unnecessary killings, there is nothing more important to be doing in California prisons right now than expanding the Agreement to End Hostilities to realize the visions of our elders like Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell.

Notes:
1. Interview with David Johnson, Block Report Radio, 14 August 2015.
2. Interview with Kiilu Nyasha, Hardknock Radio, 13 August 2015.
3. Interview with Sundiata Tate, Block Report Radio, 17 August 2015.
4. “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell,” The Black Panther, 29 November 1971 .

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