The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Special Needs Yard] [California]
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We Can't Write Off Whole Groups From the United Front for Peace in Prisons

This is in response to a Delaware prisoners article from October 2017 (ULK 55). Legion is USW. Legion used to be ranking general in a Damu organization here in California. Then life happened and Legion began to question the line. After consulting his peoples, Legion decided to become once again a NGE 5%er. In doing so, Legion wound up on an SNY yard. Never ever snitching on any former comrade from the LO he was representing.

Legion first began re-educating deaf, dumb and blind members of the Black Nation by giving them the knowledge of themselves, then using UFPP via ULK and other publications to show and prove to these young gods the reality of the material conditions we are living in.

A Delaware prisoner is worried about a rapist or a snitch when this comrade is compromised. This comrade is using the state-issued labels to disenfranchise potential comrades. This comrade must not know how to turn base metal into gold. Every persyn we built with has become a valuable asset to the movement.

You can't have a united front without having every class of inmate represented because in California, SNY is a reality not a myth. And some counties are requiring gang members to PC up in county jail to get plea bargains without snitching. There are entire Aztlán hoods SNY because they refuse to pay taxes to the mob.

History has proven that most Blacks accused of rape are set up. These folks are instant revolutionaries and Legion welcomes them to be re-educated. As for the "snitch", I know known snitches who are walking on GP yards and are protected by policy put in place in the 90s by these pigs to "keep the peace on yards." And I know some real revolutionaries, who, because of a Delaware prisoner's line of thinking had to tap out because of unrealistic politics.

If you want revolution it's all or none. It takes time, effort and resources to build a revolutionary advocate. Real snitches are free men. Think about that.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Here, Legion echoes what we have been arguing for years about not writing off whole sections of the prison population, such as Special Needs Yards (SNY) in California, which still have a stigma among some comrades. That's not to say that there are not snitches in prison, or rapists. Both have committed serious crimes against the people. Snitches, in particular, have given us a very good reason not to trust them. But we need to guard against snitch-jacketing, which the enemy will use to divide good comrades.

Organizing the imprisoned lumpen inherently means organizing people who have committed anti-people activities, many very serious. As we say in every issue of ULK, we don't propose letting all prisoners free. Under a future dictatorship of the proletariat all people will be given the opportunity to become productive members of society. Again, as we say in every ULK, we should all see ourselves as reforming criminals in this country. Whether we've been convicted by the imperialists or not, reforming ourselves requires a deep commitment to fighting patriarchy and imperialism.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Stand Up Against the Pigs

Resist the Pigs

I usually don't weight in on stuff because most of my time is spent fighting the system, that's what I do. I don't like pigs and I don't like how these wannabe convicts be talking a lot of shit but as soon as these pigs pull out their pens and misbehavior reports they hide under their bunks!

I'm a transgender woman and I'm not scared of these pigs! I was working in the mess hall and the target of the most feared pig here and when I wrote him up all these wannabe convicts started telling me how I shouldn't fuck with him because he will retaliate. I said "fuck him I'm gonna keep doing me." Sure enough he retaliated and so did I. In the New York State Employees manual section 2.12, it states that they can't use abusive, aggressive, vulgar or obscene language, so whenever I heard him violate that rule I'd write his ass up. He retaliated by writing a false ticket on me. I got 7 days keeplock and then went back to work. Two days later I got fired and then I got threatened that if I kept writing grievances that they would set me up by giving me a new charge. I stopped grieving his ass and wrote to the Inspector General's office (ya ya!).

So, my question is this: why the fuck are dudes that have 15, 20, 25 plus years so scared to go at these pigs, but when a comrade owes them $3.24 they're ready to put a shank in the guy's back? Why when a pig disrespects you, you tuck your tail and run, but when a comrade disrespects you, you all of a sudden got a set of balls?

I'll tell you why a lot of these guys might do it. Because they know the pig will beat their ass all the way to the hole. But if they fight a comrade that shit will only last at the most a minute and then it's "get on the fucking ground before I blow your fucking head off!"

I've physically went at these pigs more than 5 times in the last 3 years and I've gotten 2 new bids behind it! I would've been home last year but there's a line that if crossed there should be consequences. I turned 10 years into 20. I'm not proud of that. Not at all. And I don't go around broadcasting it. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. If you don't stand for anything you'll fall for anything!

So, to all of my comrades, stand up to these pigs. I'm not telling you to go up against them with your fists, but don't just let them do what they want to you. Attack them by pen, fists, protests, or whatever! In the words of Malcolm X "By Any Means Necessary."

Peace Comrades!

P.S. - "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." - Rosa Parks

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides us with an important reminder that we can't just sit back passively and allow abuse to happen. And the criticism addressed at those who will fight other prisoners over bullshit but won't take on the pigs is right on. At the same time, everyone has to assess their own conditions and decide what response will work best and bring on the least suffering and retaliation. We need good comrades like this one to get out of prison, not double their time!

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[Organizing] [China] [USSR] [Theory] [ULK Issue 56]
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Zero Responds to Debating Theory, Building Unity

[This letter is responding to the debate we printed in ULK 55: ”Debating Theory, Building Unity for September 9 Protests”]

Let me try to run through this as quick as possible. To the point yo. That original article in the ULK 50 was pretty half-assed. Admittedly, so was my response to it.

So, first lemme say that there were a few typos in my response that made some significant differences. Mainly I wanna be clear that it said I don’t care about your "lies." The correct word was "line."

Also, I have no fuckin clue what "Post-Fordism" could possibly mean. What the fuck is "Fordism"? I said "Post-Marxist". We live in a "Post-Marxist" era.

As for my acceptance of status quo definitions of "slavery", I don’t accept it simply because it's what is commonly presented to us, but because I more or less agree with it.

I do fully agree with your analysis concerning the exploited global proletariat as being the theoretical primary contradiction. Capitalist imperialism depends solely on expropriation of land and resources. In order to sustain capitalist rule this can only come as a result of perpetual expansion into foreign lands, etc., and not to mention wholesale slaughter of oppressed peoples across the globe. Imperialism being inherently nationalistic this means "global" class systems emerge and so there you see our analysis is virtually identical.

Now if you can explain to me how we can apply this dialectically correct analysis into revolutionary practice — aside from pencil-pushing while capitalism further secures itself by snowballing into a fascist state — sign me up. But in my studies of all revolutionary lines, I’ve yet to find a red theory that institutes practice in our current material time and place.

I’m a nihilist. I accept no theory/analysis simply because it’s common to any rev camp, but only if it jives with absolute objective and dialectically correct theo-analysis. I find red analysis to be exceptionally on point. But I find major flaws in dictatorships of any stripe based in historical evidence. Authority always shows to turn into tyranny. Communists are just as guilty of mass-murder and oppression as any fascist state and I find the differentiation between "nationalistic" socialism and so-called "international" socialism to be mostly a matter of semantics. Don’t get me started on Bolshevism being the theoretical root of fascism, evidenced by Hitler’s distribution of Leninist literature. So I’ll close this by saying red analysis is sound. But fundamentally anarchist methodology and principles are the only realistic road to a true egalitarian society. I don’t swallow this because of identity politics — be it the black flag or the red — but because it's true. And so I apply red analysis to anarchist principles.

Next, obviously I do recognize the importance of line as my writing clearly demonstrates. You make exactly the point of why it's important in your paragraph number five and others. When I say I don’t care about line, what I mean is that I don’t conform to any line simply because it’s a generally accepted body of politics. Though I will and do align myself with any line if it jives with my correct social analysis, theory, or mode of practice. In my case, red analysis, black theory (black meaning anarchist).

Obviously I’m also a big fan of theory. Marxist dialectics being the pinnacle of revolutionary science, this is my area of professionalism in fact. So, when I told you "your theory is based in theory", you omitted the first part of my statement which was that black theory is based in practice. So "anarchist theory is based in practice, red theory is based in theory." That was my statement, which demonstrates my ascription to theoretical science. I simply see no potential for practical application of red theory, and I’ve seen nothing from red camps that show otherwise.

Further, I say I don’t care about line, as in when I’m participating in any revolutionary campaign — not political agenda, but revolutionary campaign, which is different — I could really give a shit if you're a militant red or a backwoods biker for Christ. If you're with the business we’re crackin' off then I’ll ride in the same car with you. Do I dig your political line? That’s irrelevant during campaigns as long as our interests intersect on the immediate issues. This is also what Bakunin meant and myself when I quote him when he said in a letter to his sister "sometimes you have to throw theory into the fire for it only spoils life" — spoils, not "stalls" (another typo). We’re saying theory that cannot be applied, no matter how sound, is worthless. At that time he was still practicing Hegelian dialectics which is nihilistic in nature. And then he went and got himself a political agenda and became just as boring as Marx.

As I state in my original critique, your original article has a clear contradiction in your dudes' own analysis. The paragraph #5 and paragraph #10 directly contradict each other. But whatever. As I said, it was kinda half-assed and it's a mostly irrelevant point within all our other conversation on this shit. Ultimately I maintain my original statement on this which you neglected only to reiterate the same point which is that in refusing to participate in these pigs' exploitative practices, clearly I said "the P.I.C. will have to adjust to accommodate us." That does not even suggest a declaration that it will "close all prisons." For the record, I quoted a comrade from the Free Virginia Movement when I said that.

Lastly in my own personal defense of nihilism, I find red political agenda idealistic and historically and theoretically frightening and horrific. Be that as it may, I actually find anarchist ideas about some revolutionary end result of global economic syndications just as whimsical, and frankly unfavorable as any other systemic socio-economic structure. It's basically just another formula based around labor and industry and distribution of wealth and so on. It fails to bring into question the value and dependence of labor and production in itself. So ultimately it may be egalitarian in theory, which I align with in regard to revolutionary practice in our current socio-economic landscape, as we work from a decentralized organizational praxis. At the end of the day, the idea is to still be subject to industry, and so becomes somewhat mechanical and antithetical to the liberated spirit of the inherent animal nature of humanity. Further, any system, be it hierarchical like communism, or horizontal like anarchism, if it's a system designed to control the means of production, it is susceptible to corruption and a gradual development toward the control of humans by the worst part of other humans. In this case, the nihilist, rejecting all idealistic political theory, will be just as likely to attack and destroy anarchist syndicalism as she would any other system. That is, if it begins to be corrupted — which it would.

And so what this means for the nihilist is that we look forward to nothing but our cigarettes, our bitter coffee, and destruction.

I suppose I could go on and nit pick some more shit, but there's no point. I think we understand each other, and so I shall withdraw back into the black coils of my madness. Feel free to reawaken me for purposes of business or pleasure.

In the end, I hope I speak for everyone who gives a shit when I say I look forward to solidifying an alliance with you — as I’ve done before — for the coming tidal wave against the agony of oppression.

Face first in the fight for peace.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate Zero's willingness to continue the dialogue over our theoretical disagreements, and to build our practical unity in the struggle against oppression in which we do have much agreement. We want to reiterate that at this stage in the struggle, we have more unity with Zero and other anarchists than we have differences. We are all fighting to overthrow imperialism, and to take on that enemy we need a united front of all the enemies of the imperialist state. As Zero stresses that means uniting around the battles of the day, despite ideological differences.

There's no need to reiterate our responses to most of Zero's points, instead we want to take this opportunity to again comment on the theoretical debate over anarchism vs. communism and what's the best way to achieve liberation for the world's oppressed. As we've said before, anarchists and communists are fighting for the same end goal: a world where no group of people has power over any other group of people. Contrary to how Zero phrases it above, saying communism is hierarchical while anarchism is horizontal, anarchism is the communist's ultimate goal, we just disagree on how to get there. It is the getting-there process where communists believe in the use of force and repression of the oppressors.

This may seem like a theoretical and esoteric discussion that doesn't have much relevance to our day-to-day organizing. After all, we all know that right now the imperialists hold the power, and in the context of the prison struggle the criminal injustice system is a daunting and powerful enemy that we are all struggling against in many arenas. We aren't close to a revolutionary situation in the United $tates today, and so neither the communists nor the anarchists are in a position to seize power tomorrow. But this theory informs our practice in the struggle. Zero understands this and so stands firm in eir political positions, weaving them into eir discussion of the September 9th protests. In this we completely agree with Zero. In the long run this theory will determine whether or not (and how quickly) we are successful in overthrowing imperialism, which for many in the world is a life and death battle.

As scientists, we look to history to inform us about the most effective theory and strategy. Zero takes this same approach but draws different conclusions from eir study of history. We disagree with Zero's analysis that there isn't a significant distinction between communism and fascism (ey wrote: "the differentiation between 'nationalistic' socialism and so-called 'international' socialism to be mostly a matter of semantics.") Obviously Zero knows that fascism is an ideology that promotes the oppression of certain groups of people to the benefit of others, while communism promotes the end of oppression of groups of people. But studying the historical practice of communist revolutions we come to different conclusions from Zero. While capitalist propaganda tries to convince us that communists are brutal and murderous dictators, a careful study of Russian and Chinese history, from history books not written by capitalist apologists, demonstrates otherwise.

First we will state the obvious: neither the Russian nor the Chinese revolutions succeeded in implementing communism. Both reached a socialist state and then were overthrown by state capitalists from within. But during the years when they were implementing socialism and building towards communism, both countries made tremendous contributions to humynity. There are several important metrics we could look at here. To name just a few important ones: (1) Lives saved from feudalism/capitalism, i.e. people no longer starving to death, receiving health care, etc. (2) Lives saved from fascist and imperialist aggression, i.e. the Russian pivotal and central role in the defeat of Hitler and the fascists in World War II, the Chinese support for revolutionary movements around the world. (3) Advances made towards communism, i.e. the Chinese Cultural Revolution as a historical advance over the Russian implementation of socialism in terms of addressing the issues of corruption in socialist state structures through mass participation.

"The central problem with the critics of Stalin is that they do not understand the historical time period he lived in and the real-world choices that actually existed. Yes, he killed many people, too many even according to himself. However, all his repression combined was small compared with the lives he saved through the rapid and revolutionary transformation of society that he carried out. The choice the USSR had was not between liberal humyn-rights utopia on the one hand and tzarist era backwardness on the other. As if to drill this point into thick skulls, history has shown what happens after decades of criticism of Stalin: regression so that millions today are dying for lack of conditions that used to exist under Stalin almost 50 years ago! People supporting 'humyn-rights' and attacking Stalin are responsible for far more deaths than Stalin. That is evidence of the real world choices being faced — not between utopia and Stalin but between the pro-Western phony communists like Khruschev and Brezhnev and bourgeois politicians like Yeltsin on the one hand and Stalin on the road of Marxism-Leninism on the other hand. Stalin should be compared with other political leaders and then his merits will stand clear.

“Middle-class people from the West focus much too much on dissidents and not enough on causes of death such as food, clothing and basic medical care being lacking. Even including the repression he carried out, Stalin still doubled the life expectancy of his people. For this reason, polls of Russians on their favorite past leaders continue to show Stalin as the second most preferred leader of the past century, after Lenin. Although Amerikkkans love Lincoln more than Russians love Stalin, Stalin has a higher public acclaim than most U.S. presidents have amongst Amerikkkans, according to the survey by the Public Opinion fund cited in Pravda.” (From MIM Theory 6: The Stalin Issue)

Zero believes that humyn nature will inevitably lead to people seizing power for persynal gain if a state remains. In some ways Zero is correct. Zero's conclusion is similar to what Maoists say about the dangers of a new bourgeoisie arising within the party because of the strong history and remnants of capitalist culture. People don't just magically change overnight, and some will try to take advantage of opportunities to seize power and wealth even after a revolution. This is why the Chinese communists initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: to encourage and foster the criticism of leadership by the people so that leaders who become corrupt will be exposed and removed.

Communists believe that people are conditioned by their environment. We have loads of historical evidence to support this. And so, like the anarchists, we believe that if we can build a society where all people are equal and all people's needs are met, and where the culture doesn't encourage violence and power grabbing, but rather fosters cooperation and kindness, people will learn and adapt into this more peaceful existence. But unlike the anarchists, we don't think this can be implemented overnight. We will need a period where we have a state to force the former-oppressor classes out of power and keep them from taking that power back. We call this state the dictatorship of the proletariat, because it is using the power of the state in the interests of the oppressed. And during this time we will also be fighting against new people trying to take and abuse power. During this period of cultural revolution we will be remaking the culture while we are transforming ourselves to think and work collaboratively, for the good of all of humynity. People won't just start doing this on a mass scale spontaneously; it will take a long period of struggle against the capitalist patriarchal culture. The Chinese communists made significant strides, but we must continue to do more and better.

For people interested in going deeper into these questions we recommend a few readings:

  1. There is an entire theory journal written by MIM in 1994 about Stalin, along with other relevant articles and reviews. Get MIM Theory 6.
  2. For a deeper look at the successes and failures of communism we recommend MIM Theory 4, a theory journal by MIM, but also we distribute many books by both communists and non-communists detailing their experiences and observations in revolutionary China which provide objective (non-bourgeois-propaganda) facts about the real successes and struggles in that country under Mao.
  3. We distribute several books and essays on the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and China for a more in-depth study of that history.
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[Organizing]
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Practice Directs Our Movement

After reading ULK 54 I felt a lot of comrades put forth good ideas on tactics and strategy. One article in particular, "By Any Means Necessary", written by a comrade in Maryland, was especially inspiring. While I'm impressed by the fire in this comrade's belly, I'd humbly like to offer some added wisdom.

Practice is the only way to test the thoroughness of our revolutionary education (study of the past and analysis of the present to create theory for advancing towards communism) and resolve contradictions between theory and objective reality. Experience has shown us that in the struggle to supplant capitalism, there is no telling which campaigns will bear fruit and which will be fruitless. As MIM(Prisons) rightly states, even seemingly doomed projects, like grievance campaigns, can be valuable. It's the small battles, lost and won, that constitute the formative education of the revolutionary and enable em to lead the people successfully by such experiences.

Experience also demonstrates compromise with the oppressor is impossible. No meaningful change can be negotiated if the oppressor class maintains power. This, as the past shows, is the only compromise they understand or tolerate. As such, I agree with a "by any means necessary" mentality being needed. But I feel that caution and restraint must always be in the forefront. By any means necessary can easily lead to ultra-leftism, which is debilitating; or "fearlessness," equally detrimental; or worse still, an undisciplined revolutionary, an indiscriminately destructive force.

In our work we must be courageous but circumspect, undaunted but not oblivious, uncompromising in our mission but forever dialectical materialists. Mao wrote in "On Practice," "There can be no knowledge apart from practice." As on so much, Comrade Mao is correct. Our knowledge of struggles, fruitful and fruitless, directs our practice. Our practice leads to knowledge which directs our movement.


Related Articles:
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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Building Unity through Talk Instead of Violence

Yarddi Work

In Mao’s essay "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People," (27 February 1957) ey wrote of melding practice with criticism and discussion in order for our movement and the masses to grow to greater understanding, unity, and strength. The essay explains, when struggling over disagreements amongst political allies (friends), to start from a place of unity, struggle through discussion, and come away with greater unity. For short, we call this unity-criticism-unity. In this issue of Under Lock & Key we explore how this method applies to the prison environment. How can unity-criticism-unity help counter the typically hyper-violent method of handling disagreement in prisons?

"The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.
There are often situations behind bars that require first identifying who are our friends and then we can apply unity-criticism-unity among those people.

A comrade in California reported in ULK 55 about eir long struggle to build unity across different organizations in the yard at California Correctional Institution (CCI), leading up to a banquet with various lumpen orgs participating.(1) This was done through discussion and peaceful struggle, maintained even through some violent episodes. This is a good example of identifying friends even among those who may initially be unfriendly, and patiently working to build unity.

An organizer in South Carolina reported in ULK 53 on eir work fighting lumpen-on-lumpen violence by holding classes to educate the youth on what it means to have unity.(2) Educational classes are a good form of criticism of political line that doesn't involve attacking individuals' views directly, sometimes making it easier for people to accept the criticism and come to see why they are wrong. This holds true for both leaders and class participants. No one person has all correct knowledge in educational classes. Leaders should also be open to learning new things from participants.

It's not always easy to see someone as a political friend when you've had past beef with them. In "Building Unity Through ULK" (in this issue) there is a report from Arkansas about how two prisoners overcame past differences through political unity. And the article "From Cop to Anti-Imperialist" shows us the sometimes fluid nature of identifying our friends. Someone who was an enemy of the people while working for the police force has been won over to the side of revolution through circumstances in eir life that put them in the camp of the oppressed.

Finally, the public debate we are having with Zero, continued in this issue of ULK, is an example of building unity while engaging in political struggle. One which we hope to build on as we further our alliance with Zero and others.

Contradictions with enemies vs. contradictions among the people

"Since they are different in nature, the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and the contradictions among the people must be resolved by different methods. To put it briefly, the former entail drawing a clear distinction between ourselves and the enemy, and the latter entail drawing a clear distinction between right and wrong." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.

First we must distinguish between contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people. In contradictions with the enemy, such as with the prison COs, or with the Amerikan imperialist government, we are not seeking unity and we should be clear and straightforward in our statements about them. Criticism of enemies is important because it keeps the revolutionary movement on point. We do this when we identify all the candidates in the imperialist elections as part of the imperialist system. We also do this when we call out white supremacists behind bars collaborating with the COs to attack New Afrikans.

In contradictions among the people, on the other hand, Mao wrote: "the essential thing is to start from the desire for unity. For without this desire for unity, the struggle, once begun, is certain to throw things into confusion and get out of hand." This is the opposite of how we deal with contradictions with our enemies. When we run into problems with people who should be our allies, we need to start from this desire for unity.

Contradictions with our comrades, including disagreements within our organizations, should be approached from a position of unity-criticism-unity. In practice this means starting from the understanding of where we have unity, and that our criticism of one another's line and practice is always with the goal of building even greater unity.

We should not just throw out criticisms for the sake of making someone look bad or tearing them down. Criticism must always be with the goal of building greater unity. Sometimes we will not come to agreement over the criticism, but we can at least come to better understanding of our disagreements. Perhaps we can agree on a way to test which position is correct, or further research we need to do, or maybe we will agree that the criticism is not significant enough to lead to a split as our areas of agreement are far more significant.

Who are "the people"?

The people are those who we should be approaching as friends, not enemies. Mao wrote: "The concept of 'the people' varies in content in different countries and in different periods of history in a given country." In revolutionary China, Mao was talking about contradictions among those who supported and were served by the revolution in China. The identification of the people in revolutionary China was relatively straightforward as it encompassed the vast majority of the population.

Identifying who are "the people" in imperialist countries, where we're surrounded by enemies of the international proletariat, is a more difficult question. Broadly, the people include those whose class, nation or gender interests are counter to imperialism, as well as all people who take up anti-imperialist organizing. More specifically, within the United $tates, the people whose class, nation and/or gender interests makes them potential allies includes:

1. Oppressed nation lumpen
2. The very small proletarian class (mostly migrant workers)
3. Petty-bourgeoisie from the oppressed nations
4. Youth of all nations, particularly students
5. Others who are marginalized by imperialism and the patriarchy (i.e. queer and trans folk)

Many of these people could be happily integrated into imperialism, but we should still approach them with a goal of building unity and not as enemies. For the most part however, when we talk about contradictions among the people, we're talking about contradictions with those who are already on the side of the oppressed — either due to circumstances or because they have consciously taken up the cause of the oppressed — not those who are actively supporting imperialism.

Distinguishing enemy lines from enemies

When looking at contradictions among the people it is important to distinguish enemy lines from enemies. We're all going to take up incorrect ideas and practices some of the time. That doesn't make us into enemies, even if the line we take up turns out to be pro-imperialist. Learning from our mistakes is part of being a revolutionary. Our job is to help our comrades identify their mistakes, and to be open to hearing from others when they point out our mistakes.

In the essay under discussion, Mao asked "how should our people judge whether a person's words and deeds are right or wrong?" In response ey laid out six criteria that applied to a country that was already socialist. We have modified these slightly below to apply to our current conditions.

1. Words and deeds should help to unite, and not divide, oppressed people of all nationalities
2. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to anti-imperialist struggle
3. They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people's revolutionary organizations
4. They should help consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism
5. They should help to strengthen, and not shake off or weaken, communist leadership
6. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world.

The first three points apply to all anti-imperialists, and we would propose them as good criteria to use for all people who are building united fronts. The last three are specific to communists who are actively fighting for socialist revolution. Communists should apply all six points to our practice.

These six points and the strategy of unity-criticism-unity should be at the forefront as we refocus energies on building alliances and a united Maoist movement here on occupied Turtle Island. The USW Council is also in the process of putting unity-criticism-unity into practice to reach out across the prison movement to consolidate forces friendly to anti-imperialism and national liberation. We will continue to report back on these efforts in future issues of Under Lock & Key.

Notes:
1. a comrade of United Struggle from Within, “Combating Gossip, and Setting Examples to Build the UFPP,” January 2017, Under Lock & Key No. 55 (March/April 2017).
2. a South Carolina prisoner, “September 9th Setback Leads to Unity Building,” October 2016, Under Lock & Key No. 53 (November/December 2016).
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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Georgia State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 56]
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Petition Against Tier II Program at GSP

[Comrades in Georgia have been suffering from and fighting against the Tier II program since its inception. Tier II is a long-term isolation program with indefinite terms and severe restrictions on communication and other "privileges." Of course the program is officially not for disciplinary purposes. And of course the program has set terms on paper. Below is a portion of a petition some of our subscribers have signed on to and mailed out to various administrators. It illuminates in detail many of the problems that prisoners in Georgia are facing. In December 2014 another comrade from Smith State Prison mailed us a similar petition with over 30 signatures, which we publicized on our website.

Another comrade in the state is working on a guide on how to fight against the Tier program. We encourage anyone who has successfully won any battle against the Tier program to write in with your experiences, so we can consolidate this knowledge and distribute it to those in need. However, many people on Tier restriction can't even have access to Under Lock & Key or other mail from MIM(Prisons), so those who are in most immediate need of this information aren't even able to receive it. Prisoners who aren't (yet) assigned to the Tier program should take an immediate interest in this topic, so that the knowledge is circulated among the Georgia prisoner population before people can't access it anymore.

As we've been writing about for a long time, we see long-term isolation not only as an atrocity because of the humyn suffering, but also as a political tool that is used by the state to keep the oppressed nations subservient, preoccupied, and broken. We want self-determination of oppressed peoples, and we oppose all tactics that the state uses to subvert this goal. -MIM(Prisons)]

In the name of liberty, life, and human rights the Administrative Segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us, through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, because the grievance system here is a mockery and has rendered us no relief from the oppressive, repressive, and dehumanizing tactics of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).

Georgia State Prison, which for decades has held a large lockdown population with some inmates being on lockdown for 20 or more years, began what is called the "Administrative Segregation Tier II Program" on July 16, 2014. On this date, GDC's tactical squad, along with GSP's correctional officers confiscated all of our personal clothing, hygiene products, health care products, books, photo albums, lawbooks, magazines, newspapers, CD players, radios, drinking cups, bowls, etc., with us only being allowed to keep 20 personal letters, a portion of legal mail, and a Qur'an or a bible (one or the other). Our personal hygiene products were replaced with only state-issue soap, toothpaste, and roll-on deodorant which are of very poor quality.

The guidelines for the Tier II Program (which lasts for a minimum of 9 months) places a ban on all books, newspapers, magazine (novels, textbooks, dictionaries, etc.) and many materials to self-educate ourselves. All books, magazines, newspapers, etc. which are mailed to us are returned to sender without giving us notification or a chance to appeal the prison's decision.

We are not being allowed to continue educational correspondence courses to earn degrees or diplomas so that we can have a better chance of getting legitimate jobs upon release.

Inmates are allowed very restricted contact/access to the "free world" which is perpetuated in part by the ban on books and periodicals and the confiscation of all TVs and radios which effectively blocks us from being kept abreast of current events and aware of the world's happenings beyond the prison's gates. Phone calls and visits are limited to only 3 fifteen-minute collect calls and 3 two-hour non-contact visits for the first 6 months of the program.

We are not being given proper access to the law/courts. Tier II inmates are routinely denied "law-library" by officers. The law library for Ad-Seg inmates only has seven small holding pens and one computer to service the needs of the entire lockdown population, which is approximately 600-700 prisoners.

We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us. This is evident in the fact that the number of prisoners being placed on medical diets to increase weight and calorie intake has made a steep incline. Bugs (both live and dead) are often found in the food and the officers still force the trays on the prisoners.

We are inadequately clothed. The prison won't provide us with the proper clothing and won't allow us to purchase the clothing we need.

We are not being given the means to sanitize the cells that we are housed in. The cells are filthy. Most have food, blood, and feces on the walls and there is a serious rodent and insect infestation. We cannot even flush our own toilets; we rely on officers to flush the toilets for us so we may have feces and urine in the toilets for hours at a time.

We are not being allowed to have the hygiene products that we need and are not allowed to purchase any so most inmates have a foul odor because the deodorant the state issues us doesn't work for most of us.

We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression. We are not allowed to practice beliefs that forbid cutting the hair, keeping kosher or other restrictions from eating certain foods.

Prisoners are subjected to brutality, humiliation, and harassment by correctional officers and staff at any given time. Prisoners are often assaulted while in handcuffs/restraints for no reason at all, but most frequently for practicing "freedom of speech." If a prisoner addresses the warden or other administrative staff about anything they don't like, or mistreatment, you are liable to be sprayed with mace, OC spray, any of the other toxic gases, stripped naked and humiliated and be placed on "stripped cell" with no bedding, clothing, or anything else (regardless of the temperature) for 8 or more hours just for exercising your 1st Amendment rights.

Prisoners are forced by the administration to bunk with other prisoners against their will, even when they let officers know there will be a conflict. This deliberate indifference has led to deaths, stabbings and other serious injuries.

Mental health prisoners are often times punished for mental infirmities and deficiencies which are beyond their control and made worse by the conditions of confinement forced upon them. Mental health patients here are suffering because of a lack of treatment and staff. Many are wrongly diagnosed and are either over- or under-medicated.

Prisoners validated by the GDC as being part of Goodfellas, Young Mafia Family or plain and simply as "Mob" are being subjected to group punishment and all prisoners with this validation are kept on Tier II, and most have been on lockdown since November 2011 or even longer. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Tier II program states that prisoners can only be held on the program for 2 years, but those validated as "Mob" are being transferred from prison to prison at the completion of one prison's Tier program requirements and forced to begin the program again at the entry level at the new facility.

We know that prison isn't supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is torture and extreme abuse of authority. Regardless of our debts to society, we are no less human than anyone else. Many of us are mentally unstable, indigent, or have no family or friends who are willing to help us fight for our rights to be treated like human beings and not be subjected to such demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment.

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[Organizing] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 56]
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Solidarity Protesting Food Tampering in New York

I write with news of what I believe to be progress by a few comrades and I here at Clinton Correctional Facility on 27 February 2017. Me and 7 other comrades staged a peaceful protest in response to gaolers playing around with me and my neighbors' food.

Each comrade refused to return their empty food trays until my neighbor and I received new food trays that wasn't tampered with (my neighbor was a diabetic and needed to eat). Lieutenant Durkin came around to see what was going on and he seen the seriousness of our solidarity and brought us new trays. (Protest over right? But you know these pigs.)

After me and my neighbors' trays were collected these gaolers decided that they were not going to pick up the trays from the comrades who initiated the protest, in order to use this as their own excuse to deny them showers for the night, and to use these trays to extract them from their cells to inflict abuse.

These pigs tried to offer my neighbor and I showers but we refused unless everyone had their right to a shower, and we continued to press to speak to higher authority.

That only led to higher authority getting tired of our solidarity and want to teach us a lesson by summoning the "Extraction Team." These pigs pumped gas into my cell and the cells of three others, and invaded our cells in units while we were incapacitated by the gas, and beat us one by one. We are in the SHU and on complete lockdown and posed no threat to those cowards.

I was taken to an outside hospital in Malone, New York after the assault only because these pigs thought they broke my ribs. But I won't break, not even bones comrades, not even bones.

These cowards put us on deprivation orders and took all of our in-cell property and left us with just a bare mattress and pillow for the next 5 days (February 27 - March 4). They also took our sweaters and socks and cut the heat off at night in below-freezing weather.

I organized a mass letter to the Superintendent and that's when we started to get our property and water back. The cells were never cleaned after the gas was pumped in and I burned my eyes a few times some nights laying on the plastic bed and pillow.

We all received false tickets to cover up the racially-motivated mass assault, so we all (7) decided to file grievances on what happened. We're just waiting now. They haven't separated us yet because I know they are just listening to our conversations. Most of us don't have the discipline to speak in silence. Anyway comrades I need advice, stratagems, literature or whatever you think we may need to continue our struggle on the inside in a winning fashion.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We encourage anyone with advice for these comrades to get in touch with us and we'll pass along your suggestions. These sorts of retaliations for peaceful protests are all too common in prison. One suggestion we can make to these comrades is to continue to build unity and knowledge among the group, and work to expand the solidarity to others if possible. Our power comes from unity and this is built in part through studying and struggling together. And because we know admin may transfer anyone at any time, especially if someone is seen as a threat because of eir ability to unite people, we encourage everyone to get set up in our MIM(Prisons) correspondence study course. This will allow people to study together and continue studies even if some folks get moved around.

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[Organizing] [East Arkansas Regional Unit] [Arkansas]
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Riots in Arkansas Protest Abuse

On 18 April 2017 the prisoners here rioted against the staff. Mainly it was just the South Hall. Those youngsters are tired of being treated like animals. So they rebel the only way they knew how. By busting out all the windows on the South Hall of East Arkansas Regional Unit, which was one through eight barracks. This transpired that day from 5:30pm until 5:30am. By then Emergency Response Team (ERT) and officers from all the other units responded. They shot 30mm rubber bullets and flash bangs into those barracks. They hog tied prisoners, and dragged them down the hall to the visitation yard which was turned into a makeshift infirmary. There prisoners were beat, kicked or stomped while still cuffed and awaiting medical treatment. The pigs stayed for 3 days in extremely large numbers. 100 officers for day and night shifts the first day, then 50 extra officers on the 2nd and 3rd day. They even returned on the nights of Arkansas' executions.

The prisoners could have rebelled better, but it is what it is. I'm glad, it just goes to show only so much repression will be tolerated by the masses until change is demanded. In some shape form or fashion. It's just that their energy could have been utilized in a more revolutionary way than in just a release of emotional outcry. Educating prisoners, all day. Each and every day we must teach the Marxist-Leninst-Maoist way.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Can the Democratic Method be Applied in U.$. Prisons?

"Our task now is to continue to extend and make still better use of this method throughout the ranks of the people..." - Mao Tse-Tung, "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People"

What was comrade Mao speaking about when he made these comments? His topic was the democratic method. In 1942, it was explained this way: 1) beginning from a desire for/to achieve unity, 2) resolving contradictions (real differences in opinions, perspectives, positions on questions or issues) through criticism/struggle (not necessarily physical); 3) arriving at a new unity on new basis. In simpler terms: unity, criticism, unity! This was the philosophy and practice which led China to overthrow the exploitative forces draining their entire country. Before this method, the imperialists, capitalists and their allies exploited contradictions between and among the masses and political cadres; in order to maintain their strangle hold on controlling not only the means of production and the productive forces, but also the very existence of the people in all aspects of their lives. This was the oppressive reality in China and is currently the reality (although in varying degrees) in Amerikkka's prisons.

In U.$. prisons, habitually, the method of solving problems is through hyper-masculinity, or hyper-violence. In a prison, the smallest trifle, disagreement, or unintentional act is met in overly-aggressive manners. Soon a test of wills develops, "my way or no way." But this hyper-violence does nothing to encourage unity, class awareness, or political consciousness, and it cripples the movement. Here is the true reason why prison officials or those connected to prisons and the injustice system do nothing to avoid it, and in many cases, they actually promote hyper-violent methods. This method is detrimental to you but beneficial for accomplishing penological interests. To break this oppression, the democratic method must be foremost in our minds and practice.

Gangs, "clikas," alliances and groups are analogous with political parties, factions and groups of like-minded individuals, in prison and society. In prison there are numerous racial tensions. There are contradictions and various other factors, not least among them, the constant oppressive atmosphere. The only ingredient not present: political consciousness. Here, Mao's lessons can be put to good use.

The procedures of yesterday may not be the exact remedy needed for today's problems. In prison, as in capitalist society, contradictions are normally expressed in acute antagonisms and conflicts. Many times this equates to prisoner against prisoner (rival gang members or conflicting races), or to a lesser extent, prisoner against guards. What do such conflicts achieve? Only further detriment for us. "Failure to understand..." in prison as in society, perpetuates the very causes of hyper-violence, which that same violence seeks to eliminate. Should we search for a different method, other than what the capitalist system has provided us for contradiction resolution? Can contradictions be resolved at all? Comrade Mao, in speaking of progress and difficulties says, "... not only should contradictions be resolved, but definitely can be."

"The only method to be used in this struggle is that of painstaking reasoning and not crude coercion..." Crude coercion being the hyper-violence/violent methodology. By opening dialogue for mutual education of every class of people, with a focus on promoting a united front. By critically analyzing, debating and correcting mistaken or inappropriate political views, as well as sowing the seeds that will produce political consciousness. After a time, this process yields fruits and progress. Two prisoners from rival gangs may begin to discuss their mutually oppressive predicament. This leads to criticism, fueled by a desire to struggle against their oppression, a criticism of the available options, submission or hyper-violence, and a rejection of both. Soon these rivals (actually allies against the oppressors) come to realize the only true way: the democratic method. Following such an epiphany, they form an alliance based on refusing to continue being pawns in the game and find a new unity. Unity, criticism, unity!

While the method is practicable in U.$. prisons, Amerikkka's prisoners, on a large scale, lack political consciousness and that is a problem. Here we must focus on educating, which goes back to our "task," as outlined above "...we should work painstakingly and not be impetuous." Creating more "self-determinants" as I've termed it in, "The Adaption of Capitalistic Controls," (see ULK 54). For the future health of the movement, the correct political points of view must be nourished, because not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul. A movement without a soul is dead.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 56]
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Thoughts on Unity and Alliances

I believe that having alliances with lines that are military minded is somewhat dangerous to the united front. First and foremost, I do believe in armed struggle, but building public opinion on imperialism and moving toward communism as the ultimate goal to end all oppression is key. Some lumpen orgs or nationalists might criticize MIM(Prisons) on their line. But truth be told we must study the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, which gives us the best way to move toward socialism, ending in communism. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Amerikkka targets lumpen orgs, and nationalist groups. So alliance with a militia group might jeopardize the united front. And once the imperialist policies place everyone in one basket who they feel are a threat, they will place them in prisons or worse eliminate them as what happened to many BPP members in the late 1960s. So, I must say comrades, that MIM(Prisons)'s approach with study groups and challenging all comrades to study history and dialectical materialism prepares us to use public opinion to change the minds of the lumpens and all those who are oppressed.

What good is guns if you don't know who the enemy truly is? By enemy I mean, just going up against amerikkka's army is not enough. The enemy is the system which must be changed. Guns with no vision or discipline is suicide to the united front. The best weapon in the struggle is unity, and armed struggle is also important. But each one teach one is the method to awakening the masses on how capitalism destroys lives.

Once the American people become self-reliant and help their fellow man and stop supporting this economic monster (capitalism-imperialism) then hopefully through public opinion and democratic centralism we can achieve the goal we all want which is communism.

As for snitches, there are different levels of snitching. But I will not allow a person in my circle who I know has the tendencies to crack under pressure. I mean those individuals who work for the prison administration, receiving goods in order to cause chaos. They would go so far as telling prison officials that you are sharing revolutionary material and having your books confiscated.

Even on the outside you have to be careful aligning with rats who will jeopardize the united front in order to demoralize and cause dissociation. But as long as those who represent the militant side of fighting oppression can agree that we must use strategy and wait for the right time to strike the imperialist monsters, I'm all for it. But if militants feel as though focoism is their aim, I'm all out. Educate the poor and oppressed first, to show them the real enemy. And there needs to be a change in habits and consciousness so that we will not allow materialistic ideology to control us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the risks of allying with those who are engaging in military actions now. We agree with em that focoism is not the right strategy. But the value of a united front is that we can disagree on this point of strategy in terms of the right time for armed struggle, but still unite in our fight against imperialism. We can work with these organizations while struggling with them over these points if such struggle seems fruitful. We do not need to have complete agreement on points of strategy in order to work together in a united front. We would also want to keep these groups at arms' length for the simple fact that advocating armed struggle now is a known tactic cops use to wreck a movement from within.

But beyond the question of uniting without complete theoretical agreement, this writer is arguing that it is too risky to unite with focoists because their premature military action could bring down the whole united front. This is certainly a risk we need to consider. Groups within the UF have the autonomy to act independently of the group, and so some may engage in actions that others disagree with. While we wouldn't automatically exclude focoists from a UF based on their political line, this comrade is correct to warn that we need to stay vigilant about actions that present a risk to our work and to our organization.

At the same time, resistors of all stripes, even those who aren't focoist, bring down repression from the state. Even anti-imperialist academics and people working in electoral politics are harassed, and murdered, by the state when their words are too effective. One could also argue that the frivolous security practices of other groups will jeopardize the UF. We have to find a balance between putting ourselves out there, and getting the work done.

We can't make up easy rules to answer to this contradiction. Instead everyone has to evaluate alliances based on the circumstances and current situation.

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