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[Organizing] [Palestine] [United Front]
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How to Negotiate

In a recent episode of the RevLeft podcast, a couple of student leaders reflected on their experiences so far in the student encampments demanding university divestment from I$rael. Here we will briefly summarize some of their lessons learned and connect them to similar experiences in the prison movement.

The biggest regret expressed by one of the students, and echoed as important by the other, was conceding to closed-door negotiations with the administration. A comrade once described a campaign that ended up with a large group of prisoners being in a room with administration. The administration expressed that they had heard their demands and would go deliberate on them and let them know their decision. The comrade correctly saw the risk of divide and conquer and kept everyone there until the admin would commit to how they would actually address their very reasonable requests. When making demands of the powers that be it is important to mobilize the masses as fully as possible to participate. Behind closed doors, individual negotiators, whether due to inexperience, opportunism, fear, etc, will not get the same outcome.

A related demand that the admins often made of the student encampments was to exclude community members from the struggle on campus. This similarly helped to isolate students, potentially from more experienced organizers in particular.

Another big critique one student made of eir group was too much hemming and hawing over escalation of building occupations to the point of losing the momentum they had.

The students discussed the varied interests of different parties involved, whether on campus or off-campus students, staff with tenure or not, income levels, etc. This is paralleled in prisons where people with different amounts of time often have very different attitudes towards things, and some groups are often granted privileges by staff in order to divide and conquer. Related to this is the fact that many of the students didn’t know each other at all, so there was a lack of trust and familiarity. This might be easier to overcome in prison, but speaks to the need for developing relationships with others and organization prior to events like this.

The students mentioned how they should have studied the history of how their institutions responded to similar events in the past more. We offer the pages of ULK to document the history of the prison struggle for others to study.

Finally, they self-criticized for succumbing to reformist language that was coming from the administration in their own outreach. They stressed the importance of going into a movement with established principles in order to stick to the goals and the messaging when things get hectic and confusing. They stressed how much language matters.

These are very universal lessons that we can all benefit from better understanding. We encourage our readers to write in with more examples of lessons learned from their experiences of fighting oppression so we can all get better at what we do.

NOTES: Revolutionary Left Radio, 5 June 2024, Student Encampments for Palestine: An Interview with Student Organizers.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Organizing] [Economics] [Black Panther Party]
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Forever Protecting the Community - Class Nature of the Lumpen

i want to begin with a sort of disclaimer or qualifier, due to the fact that many speak on the realities of the lumpen, particularly the street gang elements, who’re not cut from that cloth, if you will.

Although i am now a committed New Afrikan Freedom Fighter, i was initiated into what is now the Forum Park Crips, in Houston, Texas, when i was in my early teens. My life in the streets was one of tribal animosities and strife, territorial beefs, and a survivalist level of hustling and scheming. i did everything one does in the street life from selling narcotics, to thievery, burglary, armed robberies, pimping, and of course ‘sliding’, as they say nowadays.

As a result of this lifestyle and my social ignorance, and lack of firm identity, purpose and direction, by age nineteen i found myself wanted for capital murder, and by twenty-one sentenced to life without parole for said murder, while holding strong to the key principle one was taught in the lumpen sub-culture, ‘No Snitching’!

Prior and during my prison stint i operated as a makeshift hystorian, and due to my persynal background i’ve paid much attention to the historical development of the lumpen in North amerikkka in general, New Afrika in particular, and the lumpen-organizational development specifically. This along with my adherence to historical dialectical materialist philosophy, i believe, qualify me to speak with a certain level of knowledge, wisdom and understanding on the subject.

The Foundation

At the moment in time of the founding of the original Crips, one of its co-founders, Tookie Williams(Ajami Kiamke Kamara) states plainly, “The crips mythology has many romanticized, bogus accounts.” i believe We in revolutionary movements take these and other similar ones too literally and therefore misrepresent the origins and hystorical functions of the Crips and others within the class and national liberation struggles. In this realm we often promote an idealized, non-materialist perspective.

Mr. Kamara(Williams) continues,

“Another version[ of Crip mythology] incorrectly documents the Crips as an offshoot of the Black Panther Party (BPP). No Panther Party member has ever mentioned the Crips(or Cribs) as being a spin-off of the Panthers. It is also fiction that the Crips functioned under the acronym C.R.I.P, for Community Resources Inner-City Project or Community Revolutionary Inner City Project.(words like ‘revolutionary agenda’ were alien to our thuggish, uninformed teenage consciousness.) We did not unite to protect the Community; our motive was to protect ourselves and our families.”

i’ve begun this ‘Foundational’ part of this piece within these words from the late Mr. Kamara, because We too often, and too easily romanticize the beginnings of the urban amerikkkan street organizations. Now that i’ve clarified that the Crips weren’t exactly founded with a revolutionary or progressive intent it makes it clearer why the Crips have largely stagnated in their operations for so long now.

The late Malcolm X once said that ‘prison is the poor man’s university’, and proving his maxim true, it was many of the first generation of Crips who populated the prisons in California, being influenced by the politicized culture in the prison established by those who came before them, who began an effort(s) to improve the imagery, and provide meaning to what Mr. Kamara himself even called, ‘a causeless cause’.

When the imprisoned Crips began to become more culturally aware in the 80’s and onward they sought to stir the crip force in another direction by establishing a constitution, which was largely influenced by the BGF constitution, they functioned under acronyms like C.R.I.P, for Community Revolution In Progress, and other similar ones, brothers began becoming Afro-centric and instituted speaking ki-swahili. Also, many around those times became radical and politicized. Some formed orgs like the Black Riders Liberation Party, a new generation Black Panther Party that was formed in the 90’s by former Crips and Bloods. Others formed more groups like the C.C.O.(Consolidated Crips Organization) which was to be de-tribalized, more centralized and politicized version of the Crips street gang. Many of these brothers had intentions of changing the various communities and ‘Crip turfs’ they represented upon their release from prison. More often than not their efforts were not effective enough to curtail or re-focus the self-destructive culture that had by then turned southern California upside down.

Simultaneously the Crips and other similar groups were spreading throughout the north amerikkkan continent, what wasn’t spreading however was the more refined and socially aware sectors or versions of the Crips entity. So instead of ’hoods across amerikkka emulating a Conscious Crip, they were emulating cats who were Crip Crazy, and this subsequently intensified elements of self-destruction among the New Afrikan nation in amerikkka.

Building On The Foundation

As the 21st century came and settled in, the spread of the Crips to every corner of the kkkountry resulted in different locales placing their own unique cultural traits and adding on to the hystory of the original formation Mr. Kamara and Raymond Washington founded along with Mac Thomas. Therefore, many people, and groups Built of the Foundation.

i’ll preface the following by stating that lumpen organizations have repeatedly showcased the capacity to turn away from basic parasitic criminality. However, they’ve done this in two similar but unique ways. One way is progressive in terms of its break from basic criminality, yet it is reactionary in terms of its benefit to the revolution. The other way is progressive in that it provides the break from the criminal mentality, and is also revolutionary in that it seeks to join the revolutionary forces in collective war against the state and its enemy institutions.

We’ve seen examples of the first way numerous of times. One which may be familiar to some is the 1966 arranged truce between the then Blackstone rangers and the East Side Disciples, which was instigated by the promise of the $930,000 in grant money from the federal government through the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). The grant was based on a deal that the two street organizations would cease their beef and come together to prevent uprisings, which had become common throughout heavily populated New Afrikan enclaves throughout the kkkountry.

Local politicians in the Chicago Democratic Party and the Southern Democrats in Congress did not approve of these particular elements being provided with Grant money from the government, and the grant was cancelled a year later(1967). In 1968 the Chicago BPP was founded and these same lumpen orgs were enlisted or attempted to be enlisted by the federal government to prevent the rise in influence of the BPP and its revolutionary line. The Rangers and the Conservative Vice Lords opted for the former way, and were showered with grant money from the bourgeoisie(Clement Stone of Combined Insurance of America; Sears; First National Bank of Chicago, among others). These lumpen moved toward Black Capitalism, and filled the vacuum in what was then a new non-profit sector instituted to remove the teeth from the revolution and the revolutionary potential of the lumpen particularly.

On the other hand, the East Side Disciples changed their name to the Black Disciples (identifying as Black instead of negro was a culturally progressive action at the time) and formed an alliance with the Chicago BPP.

So as this hystorical account illustrates, the lumpen are a vacillating class. We can flow whichever way the wind blows, but Our life experience under monopoly capitalism and imperialism, suggested that absent a form of ‘class-suicide’, We will do like the Rangers and take the capitalist road, which will have us cozied up with the bourgeoisie, making love with our enemies and murdering our friends.

Within the Forum Park Crip experience there has been an evolution and a certain level of class struggle, and ideological struggle (which is one in the same thing). To quote Malcolm X, again, ‘Prisons are the poor man’s university’. One member of the Forum Park Crips (FPC) spent time incarcerated and chose to apply himself.

He learned somethings from the cats like myself who have been politicized while in captivity and he began to develop a New Vision for our street tribe. Upon release, he began to institute the New Vision. See everyone and every entity has a basic Identity, Purpose and Direction, and as evolution takes place it takes place within the nature of these three elements of the entity in question. So upon release the first step was to apply a New Vision to what the Identity of a FPC was/is.

Like the brothers in California decades ago with their C.R.I.P.(Community Revolution In Progress), the homie strove to fine tune the image, by establishing Forever Protecting the Community(FPC) as an official community organization dedicated to mentoring youth, minimizing gang violence, and empowering the community.

Because of the numerous influences, and illegitimate capitalism being foremost among them, FPC in its beginning stages turned down a similar road as Jeff Fort’s Rangers in 1960’s Chicago. FPC received grants from the city and used them along with other similar formations to fund a purchasing of acreage to start community gardens, promoting food sovereignty, a memorial tribute to victims of police and gun violence. Prior to the grants FPC provided school supplies and thousands of backpacks, sponsored summer kids’ festivals, and mentoring school children by doing speaking engagements at local schools.

As i’ve pointed out, these efforts are progressive in the sense they’re a long way from the parasitic criminality the homies had been involved with prior. However, it can be reactionary in the sense that absent any sense of revolutionary orientation, this amounts to nothing more than mere community service, and never did at the root of the systematic problems that cause the surface level expression of the oppressive social contract.

After discussing this somewhat with some of the guys plans have come to fruition to establish a campaign that attacks a particular vestige of genocidal culture in the Forum Park area. This being the out of control open-air sex trafficking that de-values our community and makes it uncomfortable and unsafe for elements in Our community. The campaign will create a class struggle for unity both within the community and the organization, and will make the bond between the org and the people. Moreso, it will begin to establish what will hopefully become a distinct line of demarcation between the local government, and the rest of the non-profit sector, who’ve become entranced with utilizing the plights of the people as a stepping stool to gain economic upliftment. As FPC and other similar formations move out of that mode of operations, and begin to call others out on it and for their deceitful service to the people, it will create unity within classes apart of the local class struggle.

In closing, i’ve found the observation of comrade Jalil Abdul Muntaqim to be true,

“Beneath the Black working class are the subculture lumpen-proletariat, the unskilled and menial laborers whose primary means of subsistence is based on hustling(stealing, selling drugs, prostitution etc), marginal employment, and welfare. For the most part the socioeconomic provision within the subculture are maintained by the ‘illegitimate capitalist’ activity of the lumpen-proletariat. In accordance with their aspirations to fulfill the social values of the bourgeoisie, they employ business acumen in criminal activity for subsistence and profit. As they seek material wealth and social status of the bourgeoisie within the confines of the subculture, they are in many ways politically reactionary, unconcerned with anything other than personal survival and individual gain. It is only when the lumpen-proletariat are educated and become politically aware of their socioeconomic condition, that the possibility exists for them to become staunch supporters of the revolution, recognizing their dire standard of living is based wholly on the system of oppression they are desperately trying to emulate…”

As has been routinely stated, the revolutionary forces must ingratiate themselves within the activities of the lumpen organization. Specifically once they’ve already reached a certain level of collective social awareness and activity. And then, influence the development of their social awareness and activity by providing political education, by conceptualizing programs that are pertinent to the particular lumpen community one is seeking to organize. The lumpen is a vacillating class, that can and often does see-saw between revolutionary and reactionary activities. There are some socially aware and nationalistic elements, particularly among the oppressed nations of north amerikka, who can be coached towards full support of the revolution, the choice between serving the people heart and soul, and the reactionary road are ultimately up to the lumpen themselves. i’ll leave with a word from Comrade George:

“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of the situation, understand that fascism is already here. That people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your life in revolution. Pass on the torch, join us, give up your life for the people.” - George L. Jackson

SOURCES:
1. Blue Rage Black Redemption, Stanley Tookie Williams
2. Ibid.
3. Vita Wa Watu #11, Spears & Shield Publications
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. We Are Our Own Liberators, Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, ‘National Strategy of FROLINAN’
7. Blood In My Eye, George L. Jackson

Intensify The Struggle for Class Unity

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[Environmentalism] [New Afrika] [Organizing] [Maryland]
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Free Your Voice! Student Activism in Baltimore Shows the Way

Free Your Voice student activists
Free Your Voice student activists give presentation at construction site

They say the best way to hide something is to put it in plain sight. Student-led activism in the majority New Afrikan populated area of South Baltimore has rendered this old saying no longer true. For about ninety years corporate coal companies and the city government have allowed and perpetuated landfills, and literal mountains of coal being piled up in plain sight in residential areas, and even directly behind rec centers with playgrounds and children.

For the last 100 years, coal has been brought into the port city of Baltimore by the freight transportation company CSX. In data derived from 2021, it was found that CSX transported more than 8 million tons of coal into South Baltimore, where the coal is then transported all over the world. Freight trains coming through the Baltimore transport terminal with coal on them spill black coal dust throughout South Baltimore and pollute the air.

Pollution is so outrageous in this predominately New Afrikan community that the number one cause of death is respiratory related issues. The death rate from respiratory disease in South Baltimore is more than twice the rate for Baltimore as a whole. Respiratory disease is killing more people in this section of the city than diabetes, drugs, or gun violence. A staggering 90% of youth from the area suffer from different degrees of asthma, which has been causing chronic death.

What is by now very obvious to anyone is that coal and other pollutants should not be in residential areas, but the fact that they are and have been so carelessly handled for generations now, in a predominately New Afrikan section of a predominantly New Afrikan city, illustrates major contradictions of the national oppression of so-called Black people, and Our neo-colonial relationship to the empire and certain classes within Our collective body-politic.

It is under this back drop that a youth organization was founded in 2011 at the local Benjamin Franklin High School, called Free Your Voice. In 2011 the Free Your Voice student-activists were fighting, and eventually defeated an effort to build a waste incinerator in South Baltimore. The incinerator would’ve burned tons of trash and waste, and released pollution, as well as converted electricity from the burned waste.

Today, Free Your Voice is still active and continues to replenish its pool of student-activists. Now however, the struggle with CSX and city and state officials is much more daunting. Free Your Voice and supporters from the community and local colleges have set out to get the state’s environmental regulators to deny CSX’s operations permit on the transport terminal and pay residents of South Baltimore reparations for generations of ‘environmental racism’ (Genocide).

These efforts have been hampered by what some deem as betrayal by the first ‘Black’ top environmental regulator in Maryland and her declaration that she and her agency know its coal and coal dust found on streets and public areas but can not act without actual proof of the identity of the substance.

Laws against air pollution are written so that oppressed and vulnerable masses of people are at severe disadvantage and would in most circumstances be dependent upon state agencies who are in cahoots with big industrialists, to gather and test substances in question. People have to prove they’ve been or are being poisoned by specific substances before regulators can take action.

Students from Free Your Voice along with local college volunteers spent the summer of 2023 collecting and testing particles of dust found in the S. B-More area. They have and continue to go door-to-door spreading the findings of their research with the general community. Thus far, although the terminal has not been shut down and the mountains of coal still reside behind rec centers and playgrounds, Free Your Voice has achieved quantitative victories.

The student-activists’ work thus far has:

  1. Made it harder for city officials, state politicians, and local residents to ignore their oppression;

  2. They’ve won over neighbors to their work, elevated consciousness around air pollution and the complicity of the occupying government in environmental destruction;

  3. They’ve garnered meetings with state regulators, and the fact that the head of environmental regulation agency in Maryland is a ‘Black’ female, has elevated the class consciousness and the reality of the New Afrikan National neo-colonial status;

  4. The aspirations of their movement have rose. From slight reforms like covering or pouring water on coal mountains in the ghetto, to now, aspiring to remove or shut down the train terminal.

The continuing work of Our young people is not only there to be acknowledged and supported, but more importantly in the long run there are lessons to be learned from this particular student movement. I’ll touch on some of them briefly here.

For one, while it is widely known that almost all previous moments in the generational struggle of New Afrikan people the student movement was the brain trust, and the heart of the struggle, We often fail to make the connection that these previous students were so successful in galvanizing people and nationalizing their structures because they championed causes that had nothing to do with school or education. The Free Your Voice Movement in S.B-More has connected the youth movement with environmentalism, and those two things have unearthed class oppression and national oppression. Our students must make these same connections around the empire. What is the one thing that connects the student in B-More to the student in southside St.Louis, or San Francisco, or in Cancer Ally Louisiana, or Jackson, Mississippi, or Flint, Michigan? It’s environmental issues. The organizing method We should take at organizing the student movement in the spirit of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) is to connect environmentalism with student activism and revolutionary nationalism.

What also struck me in my research of this issue and struggle was the fact that college students and former students of Franklin High School have continued to come back and aid and assist in the struggle there.

The college level student with a NARN orientation must make their presence and ideological-theoretical prowess available at the sites of active student movements. In these times of social media, student activists from each of the previously mentioned cities and others can and should be in direct communication, and NARN’s must take proactive steps to influence the direction of the student movement, nationalizing it and moving it in the direction illuminated by the Front for the Liberation of the New Afrikan Nation (FROLINAN)’s Programs For Decolonization, while also incorporating environmental and climate related concerns to the FROLINAN program for National Alliance of New Afrikan Students. If implemented by youthful NARN, i believe We can succeed in building a NARN centered national youth movement.

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[United Front] [Drugs] [Campaigns] [COVID-19] [Organizing] [Digital Mail] [ULK Issue 85]
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Discussing Campaign to Expand ULK

ULK 85 promo art - build ULK

In ULK 84 we reported on a sharp drop in donations from prisoners in 2023, and a gradual decline in subscribers in recent years. We asked our readers to answer some survey questions to help explore the reasons for these declines and to begin a more active campaign to expand ULK in 2024. Below is some discussion with comrades who have responded to the survey so far about drugs, gangs, COVID-19, generational differences and more. If you want to participate in this conversation, please respond to the questions at the end.

Problems We’ve Always Had

A North Carolina prisoner on censorship: i pass my copies around when i’m able, what i always hear is “Bro i wrote to them but never received the paper.” Then there is a couple guys who were on the mailing list who say they’re not receiving the paper no more.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The obvious answer to this is the newsletter is being censored. Any prisoner of the United $tates who writes us for ULK will be sent at least 2 issues, and if you write every 6 months we will keep sending it. Censorship has always been a primary barrier to reaching people inside, but we have no reason to believe that has increased in the last couple years. Relaunching regular censorship reports could help us assess that more clearly in the future.

A Pennsylvania prisoner on the younger generation: I think it is these younger generation people who are coming into the prison system or people who have been pretty much raised by the judicial system, and the guards become mommy and daddy to them… They do not want to or are possibly afraid to change the only life they have ever known. I know some of these younger guys here who have gotten too comfortable and think: “Oh, I am doing so good, I have a certain level of say-so here, the guards are my buddies, they get me, et cetera.” When on the outside they did not have that.

Also, on my block, many people are illiterate and cannot read. I know this because I am the Peer Literacy Tutor.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Most of this doesn’t sound new. Older prisoners have been talking about the lacking of the younger forever. Illiteracy is also not new in prisons. There is some indication that the COVID pandemic has impacted literacy in children, but that would not be affecting our readership (yet).

A California prisoner: I think a lot of prisoners do not want to hear negativity or incendiary language, we get enough of that in here and I notice a lot of unity around positivity in here. I suggest less dividing language and more unifying language. In particular, the “who are our friends and who are our enemies” line could certainly drop the “who are our enemies” part. Prisoners don’t want someone telling them who to be enemies with, prisoners want to be told who to be friends with.

I have trouble passing on ULK, natural leaders won’t even accept it (I try to revolutionize the strong). As soon as I say “it’s a communist paper”, the typical response is “I’m not a commie.” Any suggestions??

MIM(Prisons) responds: Not sure if you’re leading with the fact that it’s a communist newspaper. But when doing outreach, the fact that we’re a communist organization will not come up until we’ve gotten into an in-depth conversation with someone. We want to reach people with agitational campaign slogans, hopefully ones that will resonate with them. What in this issue of ULK do you think the persyn might be interested in? Lead with that.

As far as who are our friends and who are our enemies goes – this is actually a key point we must understand before we begin building a united front (see MIM Theory 14: United Front where a prisoner asks this same question back in 2001). We must unite all who can be united around anti-imperialist campaigns. Our goal is not to have the most popular newsletter in U.$. prisons; that might be the goal of a profit-driven newsletter. Our goal is to support anti-imperialist organizing within prisons. As we’ve been stressing in recent months, prisons are war, and they are part of a larger war on the oppressed. If we do not recognize who is behind that war, and who supports that war and who opposes it, we cannot stop that war. If you see a group of people that wants to carpet bomb another group of people as a friend, then you are probably not part of the anti-imperialist camp yourself. Prisoners who are mostly focused on self-improvement, parole, or just getting home to their families may be willing to be friends with anyone who might help them do so. But we must also recognize the duality of the imprisoned oppressed people as explained by comrade Joku Jeupe Mkali.

Problems That May Be Getting worse

A Washington prisoner on the drug trade: Drugs and gangs are the biggest threat to radical inclination in the system. Drugs keep the addicted dazed and unable to focus on insurgency. Whereas the self-proclaimed activist gang member who actually has the mental fitness to actually avoid such nonsense has become so entrenched in a culture aimed at feeding on the profit he gains in the process has forgotten his true goal and would rather stand in the way of change to maintain profit.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is perhaps the biggest shift we’ve seen in reports on conditions on the inside in recent years. Of course, these are not new issues. But there are new drugs that seem to be more easily brought in by guards and have more detrimental effects on peoples’ minds. Meanwhile, the economics of these drugs may have shifted alliances between the state-employed gangs and the lumpen gangs that work together to profit off these drugs.

When we launched the United Front for Peace in Prisons over a decade ago, it was in response to comrades reporting that the principal contradiction was lack of unity due to lumpen organizations fighting each other. In recent years, most of what we hear about is lumpen organizations working for the pigs to suppress activism and traffic restricted items. While Texas is the biggest prison state and much of those reports come from Texas, this seems to be a common complaint in much of the country as regular readers will know.

Related to drugs is the new policy spreading like wildfire, that hiring private companies to digitize prisoners’ mail will reduce drugs coming into prisons and jails. Above we mentioned no known increase in censorship, but what has increased is these digital mail processing centers; and with them more mail returned and delayed. In Texas, we’ve been dealing with mail delayed by as much as 3 months for years now. As more and more prisons and jails go digital, communications become more and more limited. Privatized communications make it harder to hold government accountable to mail policies or First Amendment claims. There is no doubt this is a contributor to a decrease in subscribers.

A Pennsylvania Prisoner reports a change in the prison system due to COVID-19: The four-zoned-movement system has been implemented here at SCI-Greene because of COVID. Before COVID, everything was totally opened up. Now everyone is divided from one another and it makes it that much harder for someone like me who is constantly surrounded by an entire block full of people with extreme mental health or age-related issues.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting explanation that we had not yet thought of. While we don’t have a lot of reports of this type of dividing of the population in prisons into pods since COVID, we know that many prisons have continued to be on lockdown since then. An updated survey of prisoners on how many people are in long-term isolation may be warranted. But even with the limited information we have, we think this is likely impacting our slow decline in subscribers.

This does not explain why donations went up from 2020 to 2022, but then dropped sharply in 2023. However, we think this could have been a boom from stimulus check money, similar to what the overall economy saw. In prisons this was more pronounced, where many people received a couple thousand dollars, who are used to earning a couple hundred dollars a year. While we would have expected a more gradual drop off in donations, this is likely related. In 2023, prisoners were paying for a greater percentage of ULK costs than ever before. We had also greatly reduced our costs in various ways in recent years though, so this is not just a sign of more donations from prisoners but also a reflection of decreased costs. We’d like to hear from others: how did stimulus checks affect the prisoner population?

Like many things, our subscribership and donations were likely impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s response to it. Another interesting connection that warrants more investigation is how the stimulus money may have contributed to the boon in drug trafficking by state and non-state gangs in prisons. And what does it mean that the stimulus money has dried up? So far there is no indication of a decline in the drug market.

A California prisoner on “rehabilitation” and parole: The new rehabilitation programs in CDCR are designed to assign personal blame (accept responsibility). A lot of prisoners are on that trip. “It’s not the state’s fault, it’s my fault cause I’m fucked up.” That’s the message CDCR wants prisoners to recognize and once again parole is the incentive, “take the classes, get brainwashed, and we might release you.” I call it flogging oneself. But a lot of prisoners are in these “rehabilitation” classes. It’s the future. MIM needs to start thinking how to properly combat that.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The Step Down program in California in response to the mass movement to shut down the SHU was the beginning of this concerted effort to pacify and bribe prisoners to go along with the state’s plan.(1) As we discussed at the time, this is part of a counterinsurgency program to isolate revolutionary leaders from the rebellious masses in prison.

Our Revolutionary 12 Step Program is one answer to the state’s “rehabilitation.” Our program also includes accepting responsibility, but doing so in the context of an understanding of the system that creates these problems and behaviors in the first place. Yes we can change individuals, but the system must change to stop the cycle. The Revolutionary 12 Steps is one of our most widely distributed publications these days, but we need more feedback from comrades putting it into practice to expand that program. And while it is written primarily for substance abuse, it can be applied by anyone who wants to reform themselves from bourgeois ways to revolutionary proletarian ways.

In other states, like Georgia and Alabama, parole is almost unheard of. The counterinsurgency programs there are less advanced, creating more revolutionary situations than exist in California prisons today. In the years leading up to the massive hunger strikes in CDCR, MIM mail was completely (illegally) banned from California prisons. Today, it is rare for California prisoners to have trouble receiving our mail, yet subscribership is down.

Solutions

A California prisoner: Personally I would like to see play-by-play instructions for unity. I saw something like that in the last Abolitionist paper from Critical Resistance. A lot of us want unity but don’t know how to form groups or get it done. I know MIM’s line on psychology, however it has its uses. The government consults psychologists when they want to know how to control people or encourage unity among their employees. I suggest MIM consult a psych for a plan on how to unify people, then print the play-by-play instructions in ULK. It’s a positive message prisoners want to hear.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As mentioned above, building the United Front for Peace in Prisons was a top topic in ULK for a long time, so you might want to reference back issues of ULK on that topic and MIM Theory 14. Psychology is a pseudo-science because it attempts to predict individuals and diagnose them with made-up disorders that have no scientific criteria. Social engineering, however, is a scientific approach based in practice. By interacting with people you can share experiences and draw conclusions that increase your chances of success in inter-persynal interactions. This is applying concepts to culture at the group level, not to biology of the individual.

Again, the key point here is practice. To be honest, the engagement with the United Front for Peace in Prisons has decreased over the years, so we have had less reports. Coming back to the question of how to approach people in a way that they don’t get turned off by “commie” stuff, a solution to this should come from USW leaders attempting different approaches, sharing that info with each other, and summing up what agitational tactics seemed to work best. Comrades on the outside could participate as well, but tactics in prison may differ from tactics that work on college campuses vs. anti-war rallies vs. transit centers.

A North Carolina prisoner: i look forward to receiving the paper and i love to contribute to the paper. ULK is not just a newspaper in the traditional sense of the word it’s more than that. It’s something to be studied and grasped, and saved for future educational purposes. In my opinion its the only publication that hasn’t been compromised.

i think ya’ll should publish more content on New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) then ya’ll do. To be honest, the ULK is probably the only publication that provides content that elucidates NARN. Nonetheless, ya’ll keep doing what ya’ll doing.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We’ll never turn away a well-done NARN article, so keep them coming. This is a newsletter by and for prisoners of the United $nakes.

A Pennsylvania prisoner: As with everything, “education” is a key factor. A lot of people really have a lack of comprehension of the Maoist, Socialism, Communism agenda or actual belief system is about. I have a general idea, but not the whole picture. Many people are ignorant to what it is all about. … I was a bit of a skeptic when I first began writing MIM(Prisons), but I no longer am 3 years later.

As I have continued to write and read all your ULKs I have begun to realize what you stand for, and that is the common people who are struggling to survive in a world full of powerful people, who do not play by the rules. … Those powerful and wealthy who have forgotten what it is like to be human. … When I get released from prison later this year and get back on my feet I do plan to donate to MIM(Prisons) because I strongly support what you stand for.

…It was word of mouth that got me interested in ULK, and that is what we should use to spread the word. Sooner or later someone, somewhere is gonna get interested.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade’s continued engagement and struggling with the ideas in ULK. Eir description of what we do is accurate. Though, the same could be said for many prisoner newsletters. We recommend comrades check out “What is MIM(Prisons)?” on page 2 to get an idea of what differentiates us from the others; and to ask questions and study more than ULK to better understand those differences.

A Washington prisoner: I believe there has not been enough exposure of ULK in the prison system. I only happened on it by chance. I sought out communist education on my own after not being able to shake an urge that there was something incredibly wrong with the political and economic structures in my surroundings. I believe we should launch a campaign of exposure and agitation. Create and pass out pamphlets and newsletters geared to helping people see the relevance of communism and their current situation. For a start, I would like to receive copies of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program pamphlets to strategically place in my facility so prisoners can have access to them.

MIM(Prisons) concludes: Expanding ULK just for the sake of it would be what we call a sectarian error. Sectarianism is putting one’s organization (one’s own “sect”) above the movement to end oppression. The reason we are promoting the campaign to expand ULK is that we see it as a surrogate for measuring the interest in and influence of anti-imperialist organizing in U.$. prisons. As comrades above have touched on, there is always a limitation in access and numbers do matter. Most prisoners have never heard of ULK. The more we can change that, the more popular we can expect anti-imperialism to be within U.$. prisons and the more organized we’d expect people to get there.

We are working on expanding our work with and organizing of prisoner art. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. More art that captures the ideas of our movement can help us reach more people more quickly. So send in your art that reflects the concepts discussed in ULK. We also offer outside support for making fliers and small pamphlets. What types of fliers and small pamphlets, besides the Revolutionary 12 Steps, would be helpful for reaching more prisoners with our ideas and perhaps getting them to subscribe to ULK?

Another way to reach people in prison is through radio and podcasts. We are looking for information on what types of platforms and podcasts prisoners have access to that we might tap into.

We only received 4 responses to our survey in ULK 84 in time to print in this issue. This is another data point that indicates the low level of engagement with ULK compared to the past. Another possible explanation for lack of responses is that this survey was more difficult to answer than previous surveys we’ve done because it is asking for explanations more than hard facts. Either way, in our attempt to always improve our understanding of the conditions we are working in, we are printing the survey questions one more time (also see questions above). Even if your answer to all the questions below are “no”, we’d appreciate your response in your next letter to us.

  • Have you noticed changes in the prison system that have made it harder for people to subscribe to ULK or less interested in subscribing?

  • Have you noticed changes in the prisoner population that have made people less interested in subscribing?

  • Have you noticed/heard of people losing interest in ULK because of the content, or because of the practices of MIM(Prisons)?

  • What methods have you seen be successful in getting people interested in or to subscribe to ULK?

  • Do you have ideas for how we can increase interest in ULK in prisons?

Notes: 1. cipactli of Brown Berets - Prison Chapter, October 2014, (Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs, Under Lock & Key No. 41.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [Education] [Principal Contradiction] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 85]
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Tipless Spear: An Analysis of the Prison Movement Through the Lens of Michigan Prisons

Fuck Social Control2

A Juxtaposition to the Works of Orisanmi Burton

A spear, utilized as a weapon to engage in battle, can only be effective insofar as its tip is both sturdy and sharp. And the sharpness of its tip is maintained as part of a process of sharpening in the continuum of a protracted struggle campaign. Otherwise, what you’ll have is not an implement for war, but a stick that merely rhetorically projects a technology for combat that in actuality, is incapable of immobilizing or pushing back against a harmful, even deadly force. So considering the condition of the spear, I have no intention to deal with or re-visit the “Long Attica Revolt” with historicism, relegating the event to a time in history; nor to romanticize its existence for the purposes of psycho-emotional or intellectual masturbation. Instead, I relocate the Long Attica Revolt to the present moment in hopes of creating dialogue and theory around the fundamental question of whether the “Long Attica Revolt” (i.e the prison movement) still exists?

I start my analysis of the question at the end and (epilogue) of Orisanmi Burton’s (hereinafter Ori) text with the statement:

“For many, 1993 was a watershed in the slow disintegration of the prison movement.”(1)

If 1993 marked the crucial turning point in which the prison movement started dissipating, or decomposing, what does the reality look like in 2024, 31 years after its evocation? If we are serious about “interpreting the world to change it, there is no escape from historical materialism,”(2) requiring my analysis to stay anchored to tackle the question from my direct experience as a prisoner of 21 and a half consecutive years of carceral bondage within Michigan prisons. In so doing, I stay true to Mao’s injunction to adhere to what [Vladimir] Lenin called the “most essential thing in Marxism, the living soul of Marxism, [the] concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”(3)

The “prison movement,” according to the New Afrikan analysis that I subscribe to, marked a specific moment in time that spearheaded a qualitative change, transforming issue-based prison struggles centered primarily around conditions of confinement (reform), into a movement that was influenced by and married itself to the anti-colonial national liberation struggles being waged beyond the concrete walls (revolutionary). These circumstances, having affected colonial people on a world scale, radicalized and politicized sections of the colonial subjects in the united states to such an extent where the consciousness developed inside of penal dungeons was being disseminated to the streets where it would be internalized and weaponized by agents against the state. The impetus for this qualitative leap in the substance and character of the prison movement was Johnathan Jackson’s 7 August 1970 revolutionary act of pursuing the armed liberation of the Soledad Brothers, culminating in the 9 September 1971 Attica Rebellion. This is why Ori argued the “Long Attica Revolt was a revolutionary struggle for decolonization and abolition at the site of US prisons.”(4)

While Ori’s assessment may have been correct, his very own analysis, and a concomitant analysis of present-day Michigan, exposes a revolutionary contradiction prone to reversion and therefore revolutionary (Marxist) revision by elements that were, in fact, never revolutionary or abolitionist but only radical reformist. Revisionism spells doom (death) to the prison movement, so part of our objective has got to be how do we oppose the carceral state from an ideological and practical perspective to ensure the survival of a dying prison movement, and reap benefits and successes from our struggle. After all, Ori tells us the aim of his book is “to show that US prisons are a site of war, [a] site of active combat.”(5)

Clausewitz (Carl von) observed that war was politics by other means, just as Michel Foucault reasoned politics was war by other means. War and politics being opposite sites of a single coin, this “COIN” in military jargon is none other than “counterinsurgency.” As explained in the U.S. Army Field Manual at 3-24. It defines insurgency as:

“an organized, protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken the control and legitimacy of established government, occupying power, or other political authority while increasing insurgent control.”

“The definition of counterinsurgency logically follows:”Counterinsurgency is the military, paramilitary, political economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency.””

“Counterinsurgency, then, refers to both a type of war and a style of warfare”(6), whose aim is, in the context of prisons, to neutralize the prison movement and the ability of its agency to build the movement into the future.

As we can see, by isolating and extracting this point from Ori’s text, u.s. prisons as combat zones where war is waged is significant if we are to gleam from this fact what the proponents, the protagonists of the prison movement must do next; how we struggle accordingly in hopes of gaining victories.

The Master Plan

The logical response of a revolutionary tactician to state repression is resistance. But not just resistance for the sake of being recalcitrant – as Comrade George (Jackson) informed us, our fight, our resistance has to use imagination by developing a fighting style from a dialectical materialist standpoint. Because

“…we can fight, but if we are isolated, if the state is successful in accomplishing that, the results are usually not constructive in terms of proving the point. The point is, however, in the face of what we confront, to fight and win. That’s the real objective: not just make statements, no matter how noble, but to destroy the system that oppresses us.”(7)

In constructing long-term insurgency repression (counterinsurgency), the scientific technology deployed by the state was “soft power” as its effective mechanism to accomplish their task. Ori tells us the federal government drafted a “Master Plan” which hinged on “correctional professionals coming to realize that the battle is won or lost not inside the prison, but out on the sidewalks.”(8) This assessment could only be true considering the question surrounding prisons and the corollary prison movement is one of legitimacy, for only through legitimacy could the state preserve carceral normalcy. So counterinsurgency, or war, to be overtly specific, and the game is the acquisition of legitimacy from the masses (national public at-large) as a main objective. This fact should be telling that the struggle for state oppression, aggression and repression within the context of the prison movement is ultimately always a struggle for the people. Thus, “in an insurgency, both sides rely on the cooperation of the populace; therefore they compete for it, in part through coercive means.”(9) These political facts, as tactics of war, envision the real terrain in which the battle for prison lives is waged: the mental realm. It is within this domain that resistance and the legitimacy on both sides of the barb wired cage will be won.

The prisoner population must take cues from these facts. The very first recognition has got to be that prisons, deployed as war machines, cannot possibly be legitimate if we (the prisoners) have been cast as the enemies the state seeks to annihilate as human beings by re-converting us from second-class citizens back to slaves. This was the very point Ori lets us in on regarding Queen Mother Moore’s August 1973 visit and speech in Green Haven Prison in New York, that New Afrikans were in fact enduring “re-captivity.”(10) Blacks have long hoisted this argument, lamenting an amendment to the 13th Amendment to the u.s. constitution, and a host of case law, like the case of Ruffin v Commonwealth cited by Ori, have declared “incarcerated people slaves of the state.”(11) And as slaves, to borrow the words of George, “the sole phenomenon that energizes my whole consciousness is, of course, revolution.” In this vein the prison movement is partially about the survival of the humanity of prisons, their dignity, which requires the survival of the spirit of the prison movement. This is what Chairman Fred Hampton meant when he said “You can kill a freedom fighter, but you can’t kill freedom fighting. You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill revolution.” It is this very same deprivation of human dignity that Huey talked about resulting in what I’m experiencing among Michigan prisoners, who are largely “immobilized by fear and despair, he sinks into self-murder”.(12) But even more dangerous to Huey than self-murder, is spiritual death, what Huey witnessed become a “common attitude… driven to death of the spirit rather of the flesh.”

So the very idea (spirit) of the prison movement must survive, must be kept alive, or, “your method of death can itself be a politicizing thing.”(13). And this is precisely the reality Michigan’s male prisoners have succumbed to, death of spirit, death by de-politicization.

All this begs the question posed by George: What is our fighting style in face of political death? This question can only be answered against the background of the statement: “For many, 1993 was a watershed in the slow disintegration of the prison movement,” because the reality shouts out to us that the prison movement has diminished to such a degree, it’s in desperate need of being incubated back to life (if it still exists at all).

Thus far it has been made clear that at issue is the survival of the prison movement which means by extension a revival of the political life of prisoners. The catalyst breeding political consciousness can only be education. As Ori illuminates, part of the prisoner war project requires guerrilla warfare, the life of which itself is grounded in political education.(14) Ori himself writes in the acknowledgment section of Tip of the Spear that he sharpened his spear (political analysis) by tying himself to a network of intellectuals and study groups, like Philly-based podcast Millenials Are Killing Capitalism.

The Role of Outside Supporters

The “Master Plan” developed by the state concluded “that the battle is won or lost not inside the prison, but out on the sidewalks,” and this leads directly to the utility of individuals and organizations outside the confines of prison life to be leveraging against the subjects inside the walls. Yet, it must not be lost upon us that by virtue of the state’s “Master Plan”, they seek to weaponize outside organizations as tools to drive a nail in the coffin of the prison movement once and for all. Proponents of the prison movement, accordingly, must also utilize and weaponize outside agency to advance the prison movement. When asked, although George said, “A good deal of this has to do with our ability to communicate to people on the street,” we must nevertheless be sure not to allow this communication or the introduction of outside volunteers to stifle the spirit of the movement.

Ori hits the nail on the head when exposing the “Master Plan” to absorb outside volunteers as part of the “cynical logic of programmification, with well-meaning volunteers becoming instruments of pacification.”(15) I spoke to this very phenomena in 2021 essay entitled “Photograph Negatives: The Battle For Prison Intelligentsia”, in response to a question posed to me by Ian Alexander, an editor of True Leap Press’s “In The Belly” publication, on whether outside university intellectuals could follow the lead of imprisoned-intellectuals? There I mentioned how Michigan’s outside volunteers near absolute adherence to prison policy, designed to constrain and be repressive, retarded our ability to be subversive and insurgent, called into question the purpose of the university-intellectuals infiltration of the system in the first instance. And while “many of these volunteers undoubtedly had altruistic and humanitarian motives, they unwittingly perpetuated counterinsurgency in multiple ways.”(16)

The battle for prison intellgentsia itself creates an unspoken tension between the inside (imprisoned) and outside (prison) intellectuals to the detriment of the prison movement, benefiting the state’s “Master Plan.” As I cited in “Photograph Negatives,” Joy James correctly analyzes that it is the imprisoned intellectuals that are “most free of state condition.” Scholar Michel-Rolph Troillot’s insight also champions that imprisoned intellectuals, “non-academics are critical producers of historiography,”(17) yet, as Eddie Ellis told Ori during a 2009 political education workshop, “We have never been able to use the tools of academia to demonstrate that our analysis is a better analysis.”(18) This fact further substantiates my position in response to editor Ian Alexander that outside university-based intellectuals must take their lead from imprisoned intellectuals because (1) we are the experts, validated through our long-lived experiences; and (2) most university-intellectuals are clueless they’re being used as tools within the state’s “Master Plan” against the very prisoners that altruism is directed.

Carceral Compradors Inside

But sadly, it’s not just the outside volunteers being positioned as pawns in the state’s war against prisoners. To be sure, prisoners themselves have become state agents, be it consciously or unconsciously, pushing pacification through various behavioral modification programming that intentionally depoliticizes the prisoner population, turning them into do-gooder state actors. It is in this way that the prison state “strategically co-opted the demands of the prison movement and redeployed them in ways that strengthened their ability to dominate people on both sides of the wall.”(19)

In Michigan prisons, these compromised inmates function as “carceral compradors,” and part of the plan of this de-politicizing regime is to convince the prisoner population to surrender their agency to resist. It has been the state’s ability to appease these, what Ricardo DeLeon, a member of Attica’s revolutionary committee, said was the elements of “all the waverers, fence sitters, and opponents,”(20) exacerbating already-existing fissures, exposing the deep contradictions between a majority reformist element, and the minority revolutionary element. This success effectively split and casted backward the “prison movement” to its previously issue-based conditions of confinement struggle model by “exposing a key contradiction within the prison movement, ultimately cleaving support from the movement’s radical edge while nurturing its accomodationist tendencies.”(21)

All of this was (is) made possible because “a sizable fraction of the population that saw themselves, not as revolutionaries, but as gangsters: outlaw capitalists, committed to individual financial gain”(22), and radical reformist, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, focused rather exclusively on conditions of confinement, instead of materializing a revolutionary goal. If the prison movement is a revolutionary movement, then the revolutionary element must manage to consolidate power and be the final arbitrators of the otherwise democratic decision-making processes. Ori cites Frantz Fanon to make clear that political parties serve as “incorruptible defenders of the masses,” or, the movement will find itself vulnerable to neocolonial retrenchment.(23) The schism that emerges between these two factions, ideologically, paralyzes the prison movement. These implications obviously extend beyond the domain of prisons to the collective New Afrikan struggle on the streets, as the prison movement was fostered by national liberation struggle on the outside, lending the credence to the victory from the sidewalk notion. But in order to secure a revolutionary party-line, the revolutionary party must be the majority seated element in the cadre committee.

Perhaps this is precisely why Sam Melville, a key figure in the Attica rebellion, said it was needed to “avoid [the] obvious classification of prison reformers.”(24) This is significant because otherwise, reformists would dominate the politics, strategies and decision-making, killing any serious anti-colonial (revolutionary) ideology. Again, this is true for both the inside and outside walkways. As a corollary, this reality should cause the revolutionary-minded to seriously rethink ways in which our struggle is not subverted from within the ranks of fighters against the state who, contradictorily, are okay with the preservation and legitimization of the prison machine and its “parent” global white supremacist structure, so long as remedial measures are taken to ameliorate certain conditions.

Our Road

In advance of summarizing, let me just say I do not at all intend to imply a reformist concession can’t be viewed as a revolutionary advancement within the overall scheme of carceral war. I pivot to Rachel Herzing, co-founder of Critical Resistance, that

“an abolitionist goal would be to try to figure out how to take incremental steps – a screw here, a cog there – and make it so the system cannot continue – so it ceases to exist – rather than improving its efficiency.”

But that’s just it. The Attica reforms did not, as Rachel Herzing would accept, “steal some of the PIC’s power, make it more difficult to function in the future, or decrease it’s legitimacy in the eyes of the people.” On the contrary, the Attica reforms entrenched the system of penal legitimacy, seeded the proliferation of scientific repression, and improved upon the apparatus’s ability to forestall and dissolve abolitionist resistance. In addition, the reforms were not made with the consent of the Attica revolutionaries, but by a splintering majority of radical reformers who, in the end, the present as our proof, greased by the levers of power assenting to the machine’s pick up of speed and tenacity.

As inheritors of the prison movement, and as we consider the de-evolution of the Long Attica Revolt and all it entails, specifically its survival, we are called upon to meditate on Comrade George’s essential ask – What is our fighting style? At minimum, I suggest our task is implementing a twofold platform: (1) political education; and (2) internal revolutionary development.

First, those equipped with the organization skills and requisite consciousness, as a methodology of guerilla war, should construct political education classes. These classes should operate within study group formats. We must return to the injunction of prisons functioning as universities, that “The jails (and prisons) are the Universities of the Revolutionaries and the finishing schools of the Black Liberation Army.”(25) We align ourselves with the Prison Lives Matter (PLM) formation model and utilize these study groups to engage in:

“a concrete study and analysis of the past 50+ years, and in doing so, We learn from those who led the struggle at the highest level during the high tide (1960s and 70s), where and how the revolutionary movement failed due to a lack of cadre development, as well as knowing and maintaining a line.”(26)

Our political education study groups must also instill a pride, courage, and will to dare to struggle along the lines of New Afrikan revolutionary ideology. For desperately, “Our revolution needs a convinced people, not a conquered people.”(27) The quality of courage in the face of impending brutality by what Ori calls the state’s “carceral death machine”(28) will be necessary to put in gear the wheels of guerrilla resistance. The invocation of this spirit sets apart the human prepared to demand and indeed take his dignity by conquest, from the weak, pacified slave who rationalizes his fear, which is in fact “symptomatic of pathological plantation mentality that had been inculcated in Black people through generations of terror.”(29) This terror in the mind of Black males inside of Michigan cages is displayed at even the mention of radical (revolutionary) politics, inciting a fear drawn from the epigenetic memory of chattel slavery victimization, and the propensity of master’s retaliatory infliction of a violent consequence. This thought has frozen and totally immobilized the overwhelming majority of Black Michigan prison-slaves, not just into inaction, but turning them into advocates of pacified slave-like mentalities. But these niggas are quick to ravage the bodies of other niggas.

To this point, Ori writes

“Balagoon suggests that the primary barrier to the liberation of the colonized was within their minds – a combination of fear of death, respect for state authority, and deference to white power that had been hammered into the population from birth. Liberation would remain an impossibility as long as colonized subjects respected the taboos put in place by their oppressors.”(30)

To be sure, liberation struggles can only be “successful to the extent that we have diminished the element of fear in the minds of black people.”(31) Biko, speaking to this fear as something that erodes the soul of Black people, recognized “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed.”(32)

Secondly, hand-in-hand with our political education must be the material engagement in the first revolution, the inner revolution. This is “The hard painstaking work of changing ourselves into new beings, of loving ourselves and our people, and working with them daily to create a new reality.”(33) This first, inner-revolution consists of “a process of rearranging one’s values – to put it simply, the death of the nigger is the birth of the Black man after coming to grips with being proud to be one’s self.”(34)

The ability to transform oneself from a nigga to an Afrikan man of character is perhaps the most important aspect of developing concordance with a New Afrikan revolutionary collective consciousness. Commenting “On Revolutionary Morality” in 1958, Ho Chi Minh said that “Behavioral habits and traditions are also big enemies: they insidiously hinder the progress of the revolution.” And because niggas, unbeknownst to themselves are white supremacists and pro-capitalist opportunists, the vanguard security apparatus must forever remain on guard for the possibility of niggas in the rank-and-file corrupting the minds of other niggas who have yet to internalize New Afrikan identity.

May these be our lessons. Ori’s Tip of the Spear text is important in the overall lexicon on the history of the prison movement, and must be kept handy next to the collection of Notes From New Afrikan P.O.W and Theoretical Journals. Tip of the Spear should serve not just as reference book, but a corrective guide for the protagonist wrestling the prison movement out the arms of strangulation, blowing spirit into the nostrils of its decaying body until it’s revived, and ready to fight the next round. And We are that body. Let’s dare to do the work.

Forward Towards Liberation!

We Are Our Liberators!

^*Notes: 1. Orisanmi Burton, October 2023, Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt, University of California Press, p. 223 2. Praveen Jha, Paris Yeros, and Walter Chambati, January 2020, Rethinking the Social Sciences with Sam Moyo, Tulika Books, p.22 3. Mao Zedong, 1937, “On Contradiction”, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung 4. Burton, p.52 5. Burton, p.224-226 6. Life During Wartime, p.6 7. Remembering the Real Dragon - An Interview with George Jackson May 16 and June 29, 1971, Interview by Karen Wald and published in Cages of Steel: The Politics Of Imprisonment In The United States (Edited by Ward Churchill and J.J. Vander Wall). 8. Burton, p.175. 9. Life During Wartime, p.17. 10. Burton, p.1 11. Burton, p.10 12. Huey P. Newton, 1973, Revolutionary Suicide, p.4 13. Steve Biko, I write What I Like, p.150 14. Burton, p.4 15. Burton, p.179 16. Burton, p.175 17. Burton, p.8 18. Burton, p.7 19. Burton, p.150 20. Burton, p.41 21. Burton, p.150 22. Burton, p.99 23. Burton, p.92 24. Burton, p.82 25. Sundiata Acoli, “From The Bowels of the Beast: A Message,” Breaking da Chains. 26. Kwame “Beans” Shakur 27. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, p.417 28. Burton, p.105 29. Burton, p.42 30. Burton, p.42 31. Biko, p.145 32. Biko, p.92 33. Safiya Bukhari 34. Burton, p.62

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Grievance Process] [Elections] [Allred Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 85]
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Attention Joe Biden: Texas Prisons Are a Mess

In mid-February on H-pod here in the ECB [Expansion Cell Blocks] prisoners got together and submitted 30 grievances about lack of dayroom and outside rec which G-5, G-4 and G-2 are all experiencing here in the ECB. The response from Warden Smith was that they are “understaffed”. I may submit my own grievance just to see if I get the same response though I have to be careful as the guards are using the gangs to police the prisoners and some of these fucking “Homeboys” do the pigs’ work for them violently. But I thought I would call your attention to an interview of Bryan Collier in the Nov-Dec 2023 and Jan. 2024 Echo Newspaper. In the January edition Collier admits to having “staffing” problems. So both Collier and Smith are aware of this understaffing but still it continues and they are not releasing anybody or hiring enough to quell the problems.

Two weeks ago it is rumored that a prisoner was raped by his celly. The word is this is the reason one of my classmates has been missing. I don’t know if a FOIA can be filed and help his family to get these motherfuckers? But being understaffed is dangerous and cruel for all of us.

These 30 grievances from G-4’s in H-pod on ECB and the January 2024 interview of Collier show corroborated “Deliberate Indifference.” Maybe I should also grieve this and send my copies to a supporter who can coordinate with prisoners, legislators, and the D.O.J. I’m sure Genocide Joe would love to get a piece of Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton for the bad press they have given him on the border?? We should take advantage of these asshole politicians whenever we can!!! Anyway, if you have any extra ULKs sitting around and can afford to send me another bulk mailing, please do so, so that I can distribute them here.

Securus advertises package pricing for movies I think that are about $12 a month but they are not offering these packages. Instead we have to pay from 6-12 dollars per movie rental! And they blame Hollywood Studios for this price gouging. I wonder if Hollywood knows about how they are exploiting us and our families? We should get Netflix for $16/month or something but 4.99-19.99 before tax is too much to charge “slaves” who do not get paid for their mandatory work!


MIM(Prisons) responds: It’s ironic that Abbott is fighting to militarize the border, but can’t find enough people to run his prisons. Though it’s our understanding that many Texas prisons are already being staffed by Nigerian immigrants working on visas. Meanwhile they have gangs working for the state, implementing repression and keeping the population sedated on drugs, while the staff sit around doing nothing. Though Biden has no qualms about supporting genocide, he does like scoring political points on Greg Abbot. This comrade might have a good idea here.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Security] [Aztlan/Chicano] [ULK Issue 84]
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Seducing The Jaguar: Chican@ notes on U.$. Counterinsurgency

Communist Party of Aztlan logo

The methods employed by the U.$. government that are directed at the internal semi-colonies are vast. Although counter insurgency is a practice taken up by many oppressor nations globally, it is unique within the U.$. empire because of the magnitude of national oppression in the form of mass imprisonment of the internal nations and the fact that the carceral state has in fact created the very conditions that uphold and nurture insurgency from its very bowels. U.$. counter insurgency has had a program in place which changes names but stays consistent in targeting its enemies within the prison system in general and those within the prison movement in particular. Methods employed today within U.$. prisons and especially prisons within Aztlán (the so-called “U.S. Southwest”) are meant to declaw our young Jaguars and to seduce the nation into a role that is at war without shield nor spear.

It is this clear persynal experience in being a target of COINTERLPRO which led to the culmination of this paper. Our party sees the need to begin this conversation in the nations so that not just Aztlán but all who fight colonization and the hyper-policing, frame ups, state-sponsored terror, and assassination can begin the hard work of guarding against counter insurgency in an era that demands our boots on the ground to stomp out the rising tide of repression.

Revolutionaries are organizing daily in the occupied territories to raise consciousness and heighten the contradictions whenever they arise through agitation and political education. The state and its apparatus is also working hard daily to subdue our efforts and seduce our young jaguars into the temptation of empire and all the trappings of U.$. imperialism.

Chican@ units and organizations that influence the nation to challenge the state and set out on the path of liberation and independence are targeted. The imperialist state will do everything in its power to prevent socialist revolution from developing in Aztlán and beyond. Our role as Chican@ revolutionaries should be to hold workshops in every barrio of Aztlán where the ideas of socialist revolution are realized and embraced, it is the duty of Chican@ communists to respond to U.$. counter insurgency in this manner. Only by mobilizing the entire community, the entire barrio in this way, will we ever finally get over the obstacle of U.$. counter insurgency.

Political Line Is Decisive

In our analysis we uphold the idea that ideology is key in how we move. Political line helps guide us in our political endeavors and we must constantly make adjustments and test our theory in order to maneuver in ways which push not just the Chican@ movement forward but the whole International Communist Movement (ICM) forward as well. We realize that the trappings of living in the imperial core among the world’s labor aristocracy pushes many to believe that revolutionary organizing is not a life-or-death choice. The Communist Party of Aztlán (CPA) feels otherwise. Indeed we see that – even here in the First World where most “workers” are bought off by blood stolen from the Third World – revolutionary organizing is a matter of life or death to the Chican@ nation. If we do not set out on the task of organizing Aztlán and revolutionize our nation it will succumb to capitalist roaders. For this reason this paper serves not just as a study guide for oppressed nations but also as a cri de coeur (cry of the heart) for the raza to grasp the urgency that we see in the great task ahead or our nation may die.

Although we have a huge responsibility positioned here in the heart of imperialism, as we combat counterinsurgency and mobilize the people we have no confusion about the fact that the Third World leads the ICM and our efforts here in the First World merely compliment them. Maoism as an ideology is clear on this despite the eye rolls from the trots, who have never led a single successful revolution.

It is crucial that Aztlán comes to grasp the reality of the class structure in the United $nakes – as well as in Aztlán – as being made up of petty-bourgeois class forces. The exploitation of workers does not exist on the scale that it did in Lenin’s Russia, on the contrary, what exists today in the occupied territories for the most part is a labor aristocracy whose life support remains connected to the value extraction from the Third World. We need to move from this perspective and understanding. Aztlán’s future demands that we grasp this. Political line must be decisive in order for our tactics and strategies to be effective in our struggle for national liberation in the midst of the counterinsurgency offensive. Ideology allows us to identify our friends and separate them from our enemies. This does not mean we will not take losses to state repression. it simply means that we will be better equipped to continue in this beautiful struggle against oppression.

As Maoists we realize that being triumphant over U.$. counterinsurgency efforts and the occupation of our homeland will only happen when the U.$. government has been completely overthrown and a complete revolution on these shores has occurred. Anything short of that will prevent real liberation from being realized for Aztlán.

As a party for the Chican@ nation we believe the Maoist concept of mass line is the way forward. It is the Chican@ masses who define the path by their ideas which are synthesized by our party. The raza will make hystory. Ultimately, our job is to engage the people into realizing their power.

The U.$. government is at war with Aztlán, yet the tactic of low intensity warfare pulls the wool over our eyes and clouds our social reality from being realized except for the more politically conscious. Even among conscious raza in general, and communist raza in particular, one of the things which separates revolutionaries is the understanding, which Mao pointed out, of class struggle continuing not just under a socialist government but even within the party itself as a bourgeoisie develops within. Understanding this Maoist doctrine in pre-revolutionary times is perhaps more crucial than even picking up the gun in revolution. Even in our current battle of raising public opinion and evading counterinsurgency tactics by the state, grasping this doctrine helps anchor us on the path to liberation rather than the capitalist road.

Raza of all political stripes may be targets of the imperial counterinsurgency campaign. Many may even be successful in evading state repression, yet evasion per se is not the objective, our aim of course is national liberation. As a semi-colony existing in the world’s imperialist center Aztlán’s primary objective is national liberation. We cannot help free other nations if we are not yet free. At the same time we should also identify that in order to win a war for national liberation we need a Raza Army, a Raza Army that is led by the CPA.

U.$. Counterinsurgency

Counter-insurgency is a military concept meant to partake in certain actions that neutralize insurgents. The United $nakes target and identifies politically conscious and revolutionary folks within the occupied territories as insurgents and has designed a program that aims to destroy us and our efforts. This program attempts to neutralize us “legally” according to its own illegitimate “laws”, but will resort to cold-blooded murder if necessary.

Most of those targeted come from the oppressed nations. This is not to say that most anti-imperialists or revolutionaries are from the oppressed nations, but that the U.$. knows that it will ultimately be the internal nations that tip the scale in our favor come civil war. AmeriKKKa has worked hard to brainwash the oppressed and although they have managed to ward off the seizure of power by the oppressed they truly never gained real legitimacy in the eyes of the raza. At the same time the imperialist center has not held on to the internal colonies and its global influence for nothing, indeed they pour billions each year in its various agencies in order to hold onto white power.

Communists often say we are “professional revolutionaries” because we take our role seriously and understand that many times our very lives are at risk as we organize here in the Snakes. We should also grasp that the imperialist state also sees itself as professional oppressors because it is their lives that are in peril should revolution succeed.

The oppressor’s counterinsurgency methods rely largely on intel. Information about the intended target is essential. Knowing everything about a target is vital to take that target down cleanly. The state agents are like hunters at this stage of struggle, one of their roles is to stalk their prey, find its habits and activities so that when it’s time to hunt they’ll know whether to use a bullet, crossbow, knife or simply poison the water hole. We give them this intel wittingly or not because they can only find a trail that we ourselves leave.

In the year 2023 our party took some hits by the state. It’s interesting that in the California prison system the number 23 is a known symbol of white power so in some sense we anticipated the white power structure to strike in some way. But 2023 was also a year of growth and development for the CPA. We were able to learn a lot from the repression that was rained down on us when our Chairman was kidnapped.

National oppression in the form of imprisonment is one of the weapons the state uses in its counterinsurgency campaign. When targeting revolutionaries the state will often raid a cell or do a round up sweep but allow one or two to “get away”. This tactic is meant to study the regrouping method and allow the one or two “lucky ones” to lead them to the others. It reminds me of an ancient Chinese tactic, where Chinese families for thousands of years have caught cormorant birds on Weishan Lake and tied string around their throats, letting them dive in lakes for fish while being unable to swallow, in this way recruiting a fleet of slaves for the master fisher. This is also akin to probation/parole.

The state also employs agents of various stripes who do in fact infiltrate revolutionary groups and cells. Counterinsurgency aims to neutralize insurgents. The state identifies those who take up agitation and/or organizing in order to reach our goal of national liberation. Once identified these individuals, groups, or organizations become the state’s target. Various methods are used in surveillance, but of course human intel is always preferred by the state. Plants who give the state the ins and outs of a target’s daily functions as well as goals and objectives or war plans are golden.

The FBI and CIA both utilize various assets for COINTELPRO – like operations which spawn various counterinsurgency actions. Their assets may be a partisan, prisoner, or paralegal. Most people can be utilized so nothing should be a surprise and people should be on a need-to-know basis from a comrade to a lover. We should also understand that the $tates’ wet dream is to in fact have the comrade or lover of a target as an asset, it is the golden egg in the realm of counter-insurgency.

Assets

Assets come in many forms as has been stated. The state may employ a deep cover asset which would provide undercover intelligence and assist the state in gauging the threat. By alerting her/his controllers to an impending “crime” which can be real or imagined, for example the deep cover asset may report that a target has an arsenal of firearms at their residence which may not even be true, the controllers will either obtain probable cause for a search warrant or will send in an undercover informant within the scenario who can then corroborate the asset’s intelligence. An informant’s job will be to record conversations (wear a wire or plant bugs) and to get up on the stand in open court to swear on their undercover “evidence”. With regard to revolutionaries, this “evidence” is usually the most outlandish story imaginable so long as it neutralizes the target. An informational informant would be one whose only role is to gather intel to feed to the agents but would never reveal themselves nor get on the stand in open court. Such informants usually work for years in this way and almost always join the movement in some way, in an organization, as an occasional protester or in today’s world as some sort of online activist . . . the point is they will attempt to stay familiar to revolutionaries and to gain the raza’s trust in some way.

COINTELPRO - keep our secrets secret

COINTELPRO

We can never hear too much about COINTELPRO, (counter intelligence program) which the U.$. government unleashed on the people in the 1950’s. Initially COINTELPRO was used during the “Red Scare” when communists in these false U.$. borders were targeted and terrorized. The state would infiltrate communist organizations and even study groups gathering intel in order to strike. In the 1960’s the repression continued this time on the oppressed nations.

AmeriKKKa trembles at the thought of a Leninist cadre organization developing on its shores, its stomach turns when professional revolutionaries are conceived in its putrid womb. Our existence can only be realized if security measures are upheld to guard against COINTELPRO attacks.

The state employs COINTELPRO tactics to entrap or even assassinate our leaders. It develops moles of all types and agent provocateurs to get our cadre killed or captured. It slanders our brightest and most dedicated and frames those who can’t be neutralized any other way. The imperialist state does the unthinkable in order to keep the slaves holding their own blinders and covering their own ears. Just as the unjust cruelty is unleashed on the Third World, our most cherished acts and ideas are thoroughly violated in order to inflict the most damage to the movement. Not only are emotions like love defiled, in some cases they are weaponized to serve the imperialist masters.

Today we have the memory of COINTELPRO and even of the pigs that have been mostly etched out for us from seasoned revolutionaries or from the dusty pages of library shelves. But we define a pig as the MIM defined it in their pamphlet “What’s Your Line?”:

“A pig is a police officer or other representative of the government’s repressive apparatus, especially one who breaks down people’s doors or quietly infiltrates a movement.”

We often think of a pig as a uniformed badge-wearing slave hunter but, according to the above definition, how many pigs are really out there?

Our party has enacted security precautions because of COINTELPRO attacks that we suffered in 2023. We do not name members of our party. How can organizations that are seeking to seize power identify themselves to the enemy who will come to kill them when the revolutionary war arrives? Why would we arm the state with a list of those it should round up? Why would we hand them the thread to pull apart the fabric of our party?

Those who scoff at the warnings of COINTELPRO are those who consciously or not believe in the fantasy of U.$. “democracy”. They have a disdain for those who attempt to raise the alarm of COINTELPRO and who raise consciousness around these matters. These Ti@ Tacos usually embed themselves in progressive orgs and wallow in cultural nationalism if they are raza. They essentially feel safe in the United $nakes. We should identify these Toms and learn to never feel safe among them or their kind.

Most recently it was reported in the corporate U.$. news that the settler state of I$rael assassinated the leader of the Palestinian resistance in its current war on Palestine. We hear these selective strikes happen all the time yet many are still oblivious to the fact that the oppressor nation and its agencies always keep lists of revolutionaries. Their flow charts list leaders of the movement it has identified and will strike at will. We should move like we know this.

Hystorical materialism teaches us to learn from hystory in order to transform the future, and COINTELPRO in the 1960’s taught us lessons when it came to the Black Panthers. For example, the FBI sent in informants and agents who identified what groups the Panthers were funking with, and one such group was the black nationalist organization United Slaves. The feds ordered their agents to foment conflict and heighten tension. Within the Chican@ movement today we see this play out in various forms. In order to guard against this we need a no tolerance policy in this area.

Tactics

AmeriKKKa has been very creative in its efforts which have helped to stunt the growth of any real rebellion that confronts U.$. imperialism. Since colonization the state has employed various tactics to the oppressed nations, often utilizing others among the oppressed to do the $tates’ bidding. An early record from the U.$. army from Geronimo touches on this:

“Reliable Indians will be used as auxiliary to discover any signs of hostile Indians, and as trailers. This is the fifth time within three months in which the Indians have been surprised by the troops . . . given them a feeling of insecurity”

The above gets into the mindset of the imperialist state. It tells us that – despite many among the oppressed internal nations feeling as if they are mere fingerlings in the geo-political landscape – the state sees us as extreme threats. The U.$. government wants to know who the hostile people are, who the rebels are, the anti-imperialists, the revolutionary nationalists, and all the enemies of the state. The state also wants to psychologically harass and confuse us, at one time this was accomplished by horseback and today it is via the internet.

Prisons are also a target. The state knows very well that when revolutionaries are captured they continue with their duty to raise consciousness and to politicize the very concentration kamps they are held in. La lucha don’t stop in any sense of the word, if anything the struggle accelerates because of the uncut repression that prisons and prisoners experience.

The FBI actually created a prison activists surveillance program (PRISACTS) in 1970. This was meant to crush the prison movement. The methods used were military tactics which Orisanmi Burton calls “carceral spaces as zones of counter-revolutionary warfare” in Targeting Revolutionaries. This government project displays the lengths to which the state is willing to go to neutralize revolutionaries even when they are imprisoned. We take these methods serious as all people should as we all have comrades who have been captured if we are truly fighting imperialism.

Outro

The state ultimately works to seduce our raza with financial incentive, integration, or intimidation. We need to build a stronger security culture which strengthens our efforts in the anti-imperialist movement. Counterinsurgency efforts by the state are real. Our role in the empire is real.

We need to build stronger networks that nurture and support our imprisoned and captured comrades. We cannot forget about those who sacrificed their lives by being on the front lines. The front is wherever we find ourselves, even behind the razor wire and in the concentration kamps. All Power To The People!

Communist Party of Aztlán

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[Palestine] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 84]
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Interviewing Activists in Support of Palestine

A comrade attending rallies supporting Palestinian resistance to the I$raeli war distributed ULKs this winter and talked to attendees. Here are a couple of the interviews ey sent to ULK.

1.What brought you to this event?

Well, seeing as I am Black and a Christian, I find it important to come out and demonstrate solidarity with the people of Palestine as I believe our struggles are connected. Many people tend to see what is going on in Palestine as a sort of religious conflict, portraying it simplistically as a conflict between Jews and Muslims. Many Christians in this country support Israel because the Church tells them to, when in reality Christians are just as persecuted as Muslims in Palestine. I mean, they just bombed the Church of Saint Porphyrius – one of the oldest churches in the world – last night.

2. Do you see any parallels, either current or historical, between i$rael and the united $tates? if so, can you elaborate?

Yes, I see many parallels actually. The biggest one being that they are both settler-colonial projects. It is important to remember that in both cases, the land was not empty when the settlers arrived. Israel has been waging a war against the Palestinian people in order to clear and settle the land. When the Europeans came to America, the first thing they did was wage war against the Indigenous population to do the same thing. They are both guilty of ethnic cleansing. Think about the Nakba. Think about The Trail of Tears. In Ohio, they said the land was “too good for Indians” – similar justifications were made for the initial Nakba.

I would also say that Israel is almost as racist as the United States. They have different laws for different people. That’s apartheid. Zionists call us anti-semetic, yet they treat non-White Jews like second-class citizens. Look at how they treat Ethiopian and South-East Asian Jews within their borders. You know they sterilized them in the 1970s and 1980s. Zionism isn’t about Judaism, it’s about white supremacy. So I think there are very real parallels to draw between Israel and the United States as they both are rooted in war, ethnic cleansing, and white supremacy.

3. We promote the right to self-determination of all oppressed nations from oppressor nations and imperialism more generally. What do you think about the idea of the oppressed nations (i.e. Chican@/Latin@, First Nations, New Afrikans, and other Third World Peoples) within the so-called United $tates breaking from the United $tates in order to realize self-determination?

I’m not entirely sure if I think it is possible, but I support it. That said, I am very skeptical. The only feasible way I think that could happen is if the American Government allows it to happen by carrying it out themselves, but I really don’t see that happening anytime soon.

4. Finally, what do you think is the best way we could demonstrate our support and solidarity to the Palestinian people?

I think we could demonstrate our support and solidarity by boycotting Israeli products and participating in the BDS movement as a whole. By continuing to protest. By not allowing Israel to participate in soccer. And by not allowing Israeli academics to sanitize what has happened in the past 70 years. It is important that we utilize our legal means and push politicians to support an end to the genocide.

Second Interview

1.What brought you to this event?

I’m here to show support against the repression of Arabs in Palestine, to demonstrate mass support, and to lift the spirits of others who find these war crimes unacceptable.

2. Do you see any parallels, either current or historical, between i$rael and the united $tates? if so, can you elaborate?

Yeah, I see parallels in that they’re settlers, racists, and repress native populations. But I also see parallels between First Nations and the Palestinian people – especially in their emancipatory spirit.

**3. We promote the right to self-determination of all oppressed nations from oppressor nations and imperialism more generally. What do you think about the idea of the oppressed nations (i.e. Chican@/Latin@, First Nations, New Afrikans, and other Third World Peoples) within the so-called United $tates breaking from the United $tates in order to realize self-determination?

Yeah, of course! The first priority is emancipation of those groups, even if that means through violence.

4. Finally, what do you think is the best way we could demonstrate our support and solidarity to the Palestinian people?

I think we can demonstrate our support by continuing to go to these demonstrations and by showing our support for fringe groups such as Hamas, PFLP, etc…the militant fighters.

NOTE: PFLP is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization that arose during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, and was one of the Palestinian organizations greatly influenced by the Maoism of the time. In those early years they gained notoriety for hijacking airplanes and remain on the U.$. terrorist list to this day. They took a pan-Arab approach to the revolution, and co-ordinated with many organizations outside the Arab world, including providing training to communists from Azania (aka South Africa). This connection is relevant to why South Africa today has brought charges of genocide against I$rael to the International Criminal Court, as well as the fact that Palestinians today are facing the same apartheid conditions that Africans in South Africa once faced. PFLP took part in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7th along with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The latter is also a Maoist-inspired group that came out of PFLP.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 83]
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The Necessity for Revolutionary Introspection

The No. 80, Winter 2023 edition of Under Lock & Key hosted an article titled “Sacrifice Behind Bars”, wherein a comrade expressed very heavy sentiments that I intend to magnify and address from a revolutionary perspective. The details of his mention were strikingly consistent with the circumstances and characters of the North Carolina prison system enabling an apparent conclusion that our obstacles as lumpen are, indeed, collective. To that extent I consider it necessary to re-evaluate our responsibilities as revolutionaries from within; as they are comparable to our revolutionary history as Marxist-Leninist-Maoists.

The central theme of the comrade’s message can be boiled down to one question he posed: “what are you willing to sacrifice?” The comrade illustrated his legacy of sacrifice to which he is honored and should know he’s not alone in that identical regard. However, for the new-coming comrade who may not understand his conviction yet and is attracted to his energy and posture; for the seasoned comrade who may be becoming burned out; for the growing comrade who may be struggling with understanding this political line; and for the critic, we must unify on the collective understanding of why sacrifice is necessary and how to measure the particular type of sacrifice to be offered for our revolutionary objective.

The author of that article asks the question of sacrifice to comrades on the streets and comrades within alike. Demonstrating his willingness to actualize guerrilla tactics amidst similarly situated individuals who have been compromised in exchange for goods supplied by the opposition makes it apparent that a revolutionary united front is diminished in that environment, to say the least. Essential to being compromised is the viewing that an individual – or a class – is not only without, but is desperate, moralless and to whatever degree, gullible. With respect to comrade’s mention of such individuals, we should not haste into judgment nor spring into belligerence without careful and scientific observation of our own perspective. It is not sound to conclude that it is an immaculate practice of social science for the opposition to infiltrate a mind that has never operated outside of its conditioning by that opposition. “Boy they got you good” etc. is not technically true if that person is underdeveloped morally, politically, and intellectually. Even if that person is from where you are from and have been through similar experiences. If you are a conscious revolutionary – conscious in the sense that you are aware of and intuit the frame of thinking employed by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong – then you are unique: especially coming from capitalist-imperialist Amerikkka. That’s nothing to pride yourself on in arrogance nor egoism, its to empower your desire to fulfill your responsibilities to those unconscious. Therefore, to be ‘revolutionary’ in its most rudimentary expression is to redirect the impulses to be inhuman as you usher in humanism.

If one is morally sound, intellectually competent, and has a desire for general welfare of others, then from those perspectives that one is enriched, if he/she/they have not sequestered the abstract and subtle impetus of the capitalist-imperialist nature of his/her/their cultural (and political-economic) domicile then even with the above virtues, in those contexts, what will be is a repeat of what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called in The Communist Manifesto ‘reactionary socialism’; the remnants of feudal socialism. This is to the extent and in the regard of issuing counter-narratives in sole order to arouse sympathy in those who aren’t as ‘enriched’ as you to behave in a way that secures your sense of comfort. The motivations are not comparable in that example and the circumstances are as night and day by juxtapose. However, by principle and mentality its enough to say that one could be more creative from a revolutionary vantage point.

Sacrifice of any sort is rooted in the intention for a net-positive future occurrence. Therefore, the theoretical objectification of that sacrificial act bears no weight on the immediate circumstances one experiences. To add on to the comrade’s thoughts, what you are willing to sacrifice depends on your measure of awareness of what is to come of it. The knowledge of the accuracy of what is to come is based on your ability to identify with the material circumstances – emphasis on the conditions that define them – of that situation as it relates to your theory, essentially, of the world. From a revolutionary perspective ‘the world’ includes others, so when we speak of practice, i.e., sacrifice, it is necessarily unbalanced without theory.

If the masses, even in the prison setting, are viewed to be slumbering it is not for the revolutionary to wake them with a cacophony of political rhetoric, especially if their slumber is characterized by the fanaticals of capitalist production. So, we do place a high emphasis on practice. It is that practice must be guided by theory. Lenin stated:

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” (V.I. Lenin, What is to be done?)

In his Selected Works Mao Zedong stated:

“Theoretical knowledge is acquired through practice and must then return to practice.” (Mao, On Practice: The Relation Between Knowledge and Practice, 1937)

Mao did not differ with Lenin in this regard, he magnified the principle of Lenin’s point. In real time this means to structure revolutionary practice in a manner that conveys the core principles at work in an action bound language that is interpretable to and for the observer all while being disciplined enough not to exaggerate your behavior as to make the demonstration unrealistic. The standard by which one can scale his/her/their proposed action is in one’s ability to become one with the reality of the situation; being cautious of personal biases and having rational and isolated conclusions about each component of the embodying manifest circumstance. The sum of this process is the base from which to determine what means of action to deploy. To that extent, we in prison have to be realistic without compromising our theory (i.e. political line), some of us have immense anger issues and if that is true for the proposed actor in a revolutionary demonstration then if the action to be had does require a use of force we must consider if that one is sufficient or not for the action. Use of force does not always mean complete annihilation or insurrection. Whatever is decided upon, the objective is to be clear and decisive. The actualizer must be disciplined enough to actualize the task without going too far and thereby jeopardizing the precision of the demonstration. Lenin and Mao actually had a revolution, so this frame of thinking is sound, its relevance here and now depends on our willingness to truly get with the program, i.e., Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

The answer to the comrade’s question to the world of sacrifice, should be proportional to the details of your circumstance and the individuals and lives it would effect; from a revolutionary perspective. Only a matter of intelligence compels the conclusion that revolution is sustained by an environment prepared for it. The blaze does not come before strenuous economic, political, financial, social, cultural, and theoretical preparation. Let us take the time we DO have and align ourselves with the correct theoretical knowledge.


North Carolina IS in the building. We have recently birthed a movement – S.W.A.P. (Serving With A Purpose) – which I am proud and honored to be a founding member of. S.W.A.P. is a N.C. prisoner-led organizational base empowered by the literary guidance of MLM and in unity with the United Front for Peace in Prisons; a United Struggle from Within initiative. Our halls of learning are open for all sisters, brothers, and non-binary comrades to partake in our programs and we are dedicated to organizing with comrades abroad on the basis of theory and practice – being MLM distinguished. We currently do provide a bi-monthly newsletter called Voice of the Lumpen, by which comrades may submit articles to be published, we host a penpal mentorship program with at risk youth both in facilities and those on the streets, we provide a jailhouse lawyer legal program called “Blue Skies Legal Initiative” where comrades can learn how to utilize legal provisions in a manner that furthers our political line, and are developing more programs as time progresses.

Organize, strategize, execute!

Death to capitalist imperialism!

SWAP 1625 S. Alston Ave. Durham, NC 27707


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[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 82]
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Criticism & Self-Criticism

criticism and self-criticism

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

The practice of criticism and self-criticism is an essential component of a revolutionary organization. It is more intensely so inside a party based upon democratic centralism and the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Indeed, the very life of the party depends upon it. Life is a struggle and the ideological-political life of the party depends upon active, integral, ideological-political struggle. It won’t do to let things slide for the sake of friendship or to “keep the peace”. This is how little differences grow into big ones and disagreements turn into splits.

As Mao cautioned:

“I hope that you will practice Marxism and not revisionism; that you will unite and not split; that you will be sincere and open and not resort to plotting and conspiracy. The correctness or otherwise of the ideological and political line decides everything. When the Party’s line is correct, then everything will come its way. If it has no followers, then it can have followers; if it has no guns, then it can have guns; if it has no political power, then it can have political power. If its line is not correct, even what it has it may lose. The line is a net rope. When it is pulled, the whole net opens out.” -Talks With Responsible Comrades At Various Places During Provincial Tour, 1971

We must bear in mind that there are:

“Two types of social contradictions - those between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people themselves [that] confront us. The two are totally different in their nature.” (On The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among The People, February 27, 1957)

It won’t do to confuse one for the other.

“To criticize the people’s short-comings is necessary . . . but in doing so we must truly take the stand of the people and speak out of whole-hearted eagerness to protect and educate them. To treat komrades like enemies is to go over to the stand of the enemy.” (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, May 1942)

Criticism and self-criticism can be “toxic” if it is not done properly. Our aim must be constructive and not to shame any komrades or ourselves. Some people chronically “beat themselves up” over their shortcomings, thinking that will correct their unwanted behavior. often times, they grew up in an abusive parenting situation and thus think this is normal, but it is not. This type of self-criticism only undermines self-esteem. Criticism can be a form of bullying, of mental and psychological abuse. What we want to nurture is constructive criticism that is an expression of Panther Love and true komradeship. We all have issues of bourgeois ideology and it could not be otherwise. We grew up in the sewer of capitalist-imperialism, how could we not need scrubbing?

We not only grew up in it but we still live in it. How could we be sparkling clean? We need to help each other to scrub the parts we cannot reach, to see the filth we cannot see. Sometimes it is hard to see where we are in error or we’ve become “nose blind” to our own smell. Our egos can get in the way. If we have an exaggerated estimation of ourselves, where is the incentive to grow and to become better revolutionaries? Likewise, if we underestimate ourselves, we may need positive feedback from our komrades to build our self-confidence and appreciate our worth to the struggle.

Every komrade should be part of a revolutionary collective, a basic unit of the party. This is imperative to have the benefits of collective wisdom. Our collective is our family, our closest komrades. You don’t want your closest komrades to “look up to you” but to see you as an equal. You want them to understand your strengths and weaknesses and to be there to check you when you need checking, and give you a push when you need pushing, and to catch you when you fall. Every komrade is a work in progress and we must be constantly building each other up and struggling to make each other the best we can be.

We are not “carbon copies” of one another, our struggles are complimentary. Collectively we are stronger than our individual strength. Teamwork makes us each more powerful and competent. It minimizes our individual shortcomings and makes us wiser and more capable. A team of horses or oxen can pull more weight for longer than each can individually. The party is stronger than many times its number of individuals acting on their own judgment and initiative. The base of this strength is the basic unit of the Party and its democratic centralism. At each level there are committees up to the central committees and at each level we must practice criticism and self-criticism and work together to achieve collective wisdom and cheeks and balances.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While we do not have a party at this time, these same principles should still be applied at the local cell level. This is why we have said a cell should have at least 3 members to function in a healthy way.

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