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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 59]
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Nevada Lockdown, Build Unity

High Desert State Prison (HDSP), the largest prison in Nevada, housing some 3,500 inmates, has been on total lockdown for 4 days, and will remain so for at least two more weeks. This means that we will receive no yard, tier, phone, canteen, or access to any reading material.

Why is HDSP on lockdown? Because in a single week there was two "staff" assaults, and at least 8 fights.

But the pigs are doing nothing to investigate the cause of the violence. For example, that the temperature of the cells was reaching at least 90 degrees. While we have no cold water to drink, and are forced to be housed with individuals we do not get along with for up to 21 hours a day. And there is nothing for us to do: no programs, work, games, etc. We are literally trapped in cages like animals.

So how does HDSP deal with the violence? They enhance the inhumane and deplorable conditions by locking us down. Most of us do not have televisions, and with no access to any library we sit in a cell and twiddle our thumbs.

Violence and anger can only be expected as a result of such conditions. However, comrades, we must recognize that we do not win when we direct this anger and frustration towards each other.

Our focus must be on targeting the administrative policies which are responsible for our current state of existence. There is already a grievance campaign underway challenging OP516, the level system. And comrades from the United Struggle from Within in Nevada just started a new grievance campaign in regards to AR801.

AR801 is a programs AR that states that Ad-Seg is to receive a minimum of 3 hours out of their cell, and closed custody inmates are to get a minimum of 5 hours out of their cells per day. This same AR lists a ton of programs which are approved by the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC).

The bottom line comrades, HDSP under Warden Williams has failed to implement any rehabilitative programs. The violence, anger and frustration is his and his administration's fault.

We must heed the USW call for peace and unity and challenge the administration's policies. We need all of you to file grievances challenging these policies. But even more important, we need you to have your family and friends to call the office of the director and ask why HDSP prisoners are being denied all access to rehabilitative programs, school, and work. Have them call 702-486-9938 and complain.

Until then, comrades, do not allow your anger and frustrations with the pigs to be misdirected toward one another.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The United Struggle from Within comrades in Nevada are doing solid work organizing and educating folks in that state. They have set a good example of initiating targeted campaigns that could improve the lives of many prisoners. This is a good way to get folks participating in the struggle in a concrete way. But we must remember to tie these battles to the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system, and imperialism.

If we don't make these connections, we are misleading people, letting them think that these campaigns alone are all that is needed to change the system. And we know that's not true! We know the injustice system won't be reformed into a system of justice. It is rotten to the core because it is serving imperialism, which exists off the oppression and exploitation of entire nations of people. The wealth and power of the imperialists and even the "middle classes" is not something those folks will give up without a fight.

Let's follow the example of the Nevada USW comrades, and build important campaigns relevant to each prison and state. And always keep our work in the context of the anti-imperialist struggle.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 58]
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Millions for Prisoners March on DC

millions for prisoner DC march

19 August 2017 — Hundreds rallied outside the White House today for the "Millions for Prisoners' Human Rights March." The event was organized by U.$. prisoners and outside groups to focus on the issue of the 13th Amendment, which allows for the slavery of convicted felons in the United $tates. During the march to the White House, the most common signs were: "Abolish Mass Incarceration", "End Racist Prison Slavery" and Industrial Workers of the World membership cards. The latter were hard to read for the casual observer and did not reinforce the message of the march. There was one red, black and green flag, and representatives of the Republic of New Afrika in attendance.

While more than half of the participants were local, people from many states were in attendance, including New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, California and even Alaska. The crowd was a mix of movement elders, formerly incarcerated people, self-described "socialist" organizations and many youth for whom this was their first participation in the prison movement.

Last weekend's neo-nazi march, and murder of a young womyn, in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia was a motivator for a number of people to come out today. Some were there because of prisoners who had told them about the rally and asked them to participate. On the one hand this demonstrates the ability of prisoners to provide leadership to people on the outside. But these people were reachable by prisoners because they were involved in the movement already and the misnamed "Millions" for Prisoners rally proved the goals of the organizers to be a bit loftier than what was achieved.

In contrast to the hundreds in D.C., the so-called "Free Speech" rally in Boston today brought out tens of thousands of counter-demonstrators. Of course, they had the benefit of free advertising from all of the corporate news networks. The sight of hundreds of torch-wielding white men marching, chanting Nazi slogans, last weekend was rightfully jarring to many. Yet, innocent Black and Brown men are much more likely to die at the hands of the police or prison guards at this time than at the hands of a neo-nazi (that isn't employed by the state).

"Prisoner Lives Matter!" was one chant that rang true in D.C. For if there is any group whose lives are at risk, and whose unnecessary deaths receive little attention, in this country more than New Afrikan people in general, it is prisoners.

People at the march reported that some prisons had visiting shut down or were on lockdown today to prevent any group demonstrations on the inside. This is another example of why MIM(Prisons) thinks the First Amendment is a more important battle front than the Thirteenth. Just the idea that prisoners might organize a protest is enough to trigger state repression. Organized prisoners are the lynch-pin to a meaningful prison movement, so the right to organize must be at the forefront.

When this correspondent asked participants what the most important issue in the prison movement was, many weren't sure because they were new to it. Many had a hard time picking just one issue because there are so many things wrong with the U.$. injustice system. But the one response that was more popular than ending slavery in prisons, was the disproportionate arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and mistreatment of oppressed nations. While almost always phrased as "race" or "people of color", it does seem that the national contradiction is at the heart of what people see as wrong with prisons in the United $tates. Even the focus on the 13th Amendment was regularly tied to the history of slavery of New Afrikans by speakers. One speaker called prisons the "new plantation", which is true in that they were both institutions to control the New Afrikan semi-colony. But one was an economic powerhouse fueling global imperialism, while the other is a money pit that the prison movement aims to make a liability to the imperialists.

Perhaps an even bigger distinction was in the answers given by recently imprisoned people. Their focus was on their struggles upon release and the needs of those recently released. One New Afrikan man talked about his mother dying while he was in prison and him not even knowing at first. He got the news in such a callous way he didn't even believe it at first. To this day he has not figured out where his mother's body is. Yet he has been out of prison for two years and is already working for the mayor's office providing release support and doing motivational speaking.

It is a good thing that the state is doing more to provide services to recently-released prisoners. But we still need programs for those who dedicate themselves to changing the system. The state can't provide that. And it can't serve self-determination for the oppressed. There is much work to be done to build bridges to revolutionary political organizing for comrades being released all over the country. And ultimately, as the state knows and demonstrates, the only successful release programs are those that are led and run by releasees themselves.

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [Alaska] [ULK Issue 58]
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Alaska Grievance Campaign Update

I'm writing this letter to update you on my efforts and the outcome of the grievance petition. I filed my petition with the Department of Corrections Commissioner, the Alaska Lt. Governor and to the Department of Justice (DOJ). A few days later another captive and I were transferred to administrative segregation at Anchorage Correctional Complex – East, to the same module where captives who have violated DOC rules are housed. We have been told we are not being punished, however we live under the same punitive conditions.

A few days after our transfer I received a notice from the warden (she calls herself a "superintendent" but she is a warden) telling me that the petition I sent to the Lt. Gov. was forwarded to her to address. She denies all of my claims and tells me that if I still have issues that "the grievance procedure has a specific process to follow, including an appeal process, and the right to seek redress in superior court if the department does not rule in your favor." She then states that the Standards Sgt. is backlogged with grievances and asks for my patience. This letter was coincidentally dated the day before our transfer.

During our transfer our property was seized, was deemed excess and was denied issuance of even the most essential hygiene items. I have filed multiple grievances about this, but the tactic now seems to be to ignore all of my grievances. I have unacknowledged grievances that are over 3 months since filed. The DOC policy states it has 15 working days to investigate and respond.

Now they are retaliating even more by seizing my legal mail, reading and mutilating it. They use excessive force when outside cell by over-ratcheting handcuffs and ensuring we are cuffed whenever outside our cells. If our cell is not shaken down daily, it is every other day. We have been strip searched (unwarranted) at least 3 times. When we are given new clothing to change out, a gay guard glowers at our nakedness. Books that have been sent to me by books to prisoners orgs have been denied for absurd reasons like "contains book" or "unknown substance on book." More retaliatory measures than these have been imposed on me, however it has not stopped me. I still write letters to the Commissioner (who forwards them to the warden I am complaining about), the Lt. Governor, the Governor and any other state official that may listen. Including the ACLU. The ACLU has never responded to any of my letters.

Since being transferred to segregation it is difficult to disperse the grievance petition which I am sure was the reason for my transfer. I did however get it out to close to 60 or 70 people and I believe they will pass it on as well. I have also mailed a few copies to people I know in other institutions. These at first were censored. The reason given: "typed." I eventually had an officer mail them out (after several attempts).

I am not sure what else they can to do me at this point but I am not going to stop fighting.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's story is a good example of why the grievance campaign was initiated. Prisoners across the country face this same problem with the grievance system of getting no response, or bullshit responses, and never getting grievances seriously addressed. The petition, which now exists for many states, is a simple demand that our grievances be addressed.

Of course we don't actually expect this petition will lead to victory over a grievance system that is purposefully set up to deny prisoners' attempts to demand their rights. But people like this writer are using the petition as an organizing tool; getting others involved in the fight and waking them up to their oppression and the importance of their role in fighting back. We have to combine this work with education about the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control under imperialism so that we don't mislead people into thinking petitioning will fix the entire system. In this way we can take on these smaller battles in the context of the larger struggle to build unity against imperialism.

Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or a generic petition you can customize if one doesn't already exist.

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[Spanish] [Organizing]
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Aprendizaje de Historia a Organización Atravez de la Pared

La primera vez que vine a la prisión toda mi percepción de organización en las calles cambio. Un cambio debido a la educación de historia: historia de otros movimientos y su organización en las calles desde la prisión. Yo soy creyente de que los prisioneros pueden tener una gran influencia con los activistas debido a nuestras luchas aquí. Pero como el dicho dice; “La lucha del prisionero hoy sera la lucha de la calle mañana.” El trabajo que se debe realizar desde estas paredes es para ayudar a influenciar otras organizaciones en educación, estrategia, democracia central y unidad sobre todos los trabajadores y personas oprimidas. Pero lo que encuentro en las calles es que todo el mundo quiere escoger que batalla es mas importante para su causa en vez de buscar una solución para todos los retos de las organizaciones.

Aquí en prisión a veces nos quedamos atrapados arrogantemente en pelear un asunto, que sólo satisface los deseos de egoístas de una persona, en vez de retar los asuntos que cambian el sistema de forma completa. Nosotros tenemos que aprender a unirnos bajo un paraguas para atacar los asuntos que enfrentamos.

Mi audiencia objetivo serian los trabajadores porque creo que tienen poder pero no lo saben todavía. La diferencia que contradice el trabajo con los trabajadores es que algunos están tan atrapados por el consumismo que no se organizan, o no quieren perder sus estatus así que no luchan enteramente por un mejor sueldo. También pude ser difícil trabajar con el lumpen por la falta de recursos.

Nosotros tendríamos que construir una opinión publica a través de medios de comunicación, cultura del hip hop, deportistas y revistas. La contradicción del capitalismo tiene que ser expuesta para que la audiencia asignada tenga algo porque luchar. Pero para concluir, los prisioneros también pueden ayudar a los LOs construyendo unidad y sobre entendiendo los asuntos de cada uno, combinando teorías y usando la ciencia para desafiar al sistema imperialista.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Este escritor ha traído un punto importante sobre la necesidad del poder mirar mas allá de nuestros asuntos y deseos personales hacia los problemas más grandes de los oprimidos. Esto es especialmente importante si esperamos unirnos más allá de nuestra distinción local. Y de seguro podemos usar salidas culturales para construir una opinión pública y unidad.

En la pregunta de organizar trabajadores, nosotros hemos escrito mucho sobre “la compra natural” de la mayoría de los trabajadores dentro de las fronteras de los U.$. y vemos esto como una explicación material para lo que este escritor anota: Ellos están atrapados en el consumo y no quieren pender su status. Estos trabajadores ganan más que el valor de su labor debido a todas las ganancias de la explotación del Tercer Mundo, que se trae de vuelta a este país imperialista. De forma que los trabajadores aquí sí entienden que su estatus es valioso y genera ganancias. Ellos tienen el dinero para gastar lo que les permite quedar atrapados en el consumo. Como resultado nosotros hemos visto a través de la historia de Amerika que estas personas no son una fuerza para el cambio progresivo, y organizarlos para que exijan salarios más elevados no es organizarse contra el imperialismo. Esta es una de las razones por qué nosotros nos enfocamos en la organización de los lumpen como un grupo que probablemente tenga un interés en la revolución.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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A Contribution to Thoughts on Unity and Alliances

Internationalist United

MIM(Prisons) espouses a valid conviction that here and now is not the proper moment for a popular uprising (armed struggle).(1) Historically speaking, this is correct. Yet, it raises an important question: should those following the MIM-line dissociate themselves from militant-lines?

First, we must acknowledge reality. I don't mean theoretically or philosophically. Capitalists and their contributors will not surrender control/authority, or their social, global and class positions/privileges without mortal combat. Meaning it's not a question of whether violent struggle will be necessary or not, but rather when is the indicative time? Before we (revolutionaries) can make that distinction, another question must be addressed.

How do we succeed in armed confrontation? This isn't a matter to be solved with theory and study alone. Like Marxist theory or development of such it also concerns practice. Theory without practice is Proudhon-like idealism.

Comrade UFO asks, "What good is a gun if you don't know who the enemy truly is?"(2) A reasonable question. UFO then goes on about "the enemy" being "the system" how it "must be changed" and that "guns with no vision or discipline is suicide for the united front." The better question is: what use is vision or discipline if you lack the skills necessary to champion the cause?

A reliance on educating and building correct political perspective among the masses to solve the problem (capitalism-imperialism), is the same as praying to some benevolent deity for salvation,(3) while your house burns down around you. Your prayers may not be heard at all, let alone answered. If you act to put out the flames and call for help, you may find your salvation. I fear too many place study, theory, line and the likes on a throne of divinity. By doing so they become classroom revolutionaries. As important as all of that is, none of it becomes valid without practice. Engels, Fidel, Lenin, Luxemberg, Mao, Marti, Marx and others recognized this. So why do present-day revolutionaries seem opposed to practice?

Our answer turns on the issue of armed revolt. In theory it's an accepted fact: armed, violent conflict will be needed. Still, many justify not engaging in such confrontations, at present, claiming it'll bring disastrous repressions or "might jeopardize the united front." As if "premature" military operations were the only risk to any anti-imperialist movimiento. A belief which many identify with and then shun alliances with militant organizations and/or lines. A big mistake.

These early armed confrontations are as important as educating, creating consciousness and organizing. Many militias and militant lines are conducting the practice needed to actually champion battle. Such actions create theory based on concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Classroom work is necessary but fieldwork will be the deciding factor once revolutionaries are holding their rifles.

Alienation of these groups or lines, even the apparent alienation of them, can provoke a crippling problem for communism – internal angst. One must recognize their work and sacrifice is invaluable. With their efforts running parallel to classroom work; revolutionaries who educated, built popular support, correct political comprehension and such, will not see themselves obligated to struggle to find appropriate battle theory and principles. The foundational work has been done and its results only need application.

Marx said, "to leave error irrefutted is to encourage immorality."(4) As socialists and communists we all must employ and or cherish practice, not demonstrate aversion towards it. Through practice "man, in varying degrees, comes to know the different relations between man and man, not only through his material life but also through his political and cultural life...."(5)


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is arguing that failure to engage in or at least support armed revolts is refusing to engage in practice. But yet ey concedes up front that now is not the time for armed struggle in the United $tates. It is true that historically we have seen revolutionaries gain many lessons from armed struggle that strengthen and solidify their movement. But these examples are in countries where the time for this struggle is ripe. In other countries, particularly in First World countries, where some groups have engaged in armed actions before conditions are such that there is a chance of winning, they have mostly ended up dead or in prison, not building a stronger movement.

The question this writer raises is: what is practice? Ey argue that educating people is not practice, it is theory. And it seems ey only consider armed struggle to be real practice. Further, ey seems to define "militant" practice as armed struggle. We disagree with this position. Theory work is study: reading and writing about that study. Practice is the real world activity of building a movement. This includes educating others. Someone who spends their time on their tier talking to people about conditions and the broader prison system and how it is tied together, building a united movement to fight those conditions, is not doing theory work. This is educational and organizing work. If you haven't learned how to organize people to do something as non-committal as filling out a grievance form, how can you organize them to war? Working with others to fight critical legal battles like censorship, grievance denial, or abuse is practice. That practice needs to include educating people about the theory behind these legal battles and how they aren't going to take down the criminal injustice system. And it should be focused on building unity for the longer term battles. But it's still firmly in the realm of practice. And we do not think armed struggle is necessary for an organization to be militantly and aggressively active in the service of a cause.

In the essay On Practice (referenced by the author above), Mao wrote: "Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment." The point ey was making is that only through interacting with something can we come to fully know it. This essay actually defined practice far more broadly than just political activism: "Man's social practice is not confined to activity in production, but takes many other forms—class struggle, political life, scientific and artistic pursuits; in short, as a social being, man participates in all spheres of the practical life of society." The point being that one must participate in changing a thing to really come to know it: "If you want to know a certain thing or a certain class of things directly, you must personally participate in the practical struggle to change reality, to change that thing or class of things, for only thus can you come into contact with them as phenomena; only through personal participation in the practical struggle to change reality can you uncover the essence of that thing or class of things and comprehend them."

There are many ways that we can engage in practice to change the world. Of course we know that ultimately to overthrow imperialism armed struggle will be necessary. But this is certainly not the only form of practice that is legitimate and necessary political work.

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[Organizing] [Culture] [ULK Issue 57]
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Your Babysitter is a Puerco

In the first ULK I read (ULK 49 - Survival and Stamina), I read "Shun TV, Be Humble, and Check Security," by a California comrade. It was great to know there were others with my same thoughts about the stupid box. There are multiple reasons the "babysitter" is encouraged by authorities, likewise why you should be more than cautious about getting attached to one. Let's go straight to the pros (not for us captives) for authorities and administrators of DOCs everywhere.

Babysitters are "incentives," but not in the normal sense. Instead of being incentives (read: prizes) to earn through excellent behavior, it's used as an incentive to lose through defiance. Pay attention, this is more than just a simple play on words. In the former, you may by your own will (read: volition or choice) decide it in your best interests to excel as a "model" prisoner in order to earn the incentive. This would be a choice exercised through your own judgment. In the second predicament is where 95% of prisoners find themselves.

In the latter, babysitters are used as coercion. Here's the reality: the authorities establish rules and norms of expected behaviors. Break any rule, or fail to meet an expected norm, and the babysitter won't be there when you get "home." Their message is clear: do as we say, behave as we say, or sit in a cell with your thoughts and yourself (if you don't have a celly). To me it doesn't seem like much of a threat, but I'm the odd man out. I've been in and out of Ad-Seg, or whatever is the en vogue term now, since 2012, and have always preferred to read, study and grow. The majority of us are so caught up in consumerism and what I call "reality avoidance," that the threat of no canteen (commissary, special packages) or no babysitter (TV) is effective to smother defiance (outside of extreme circumstances) and gain compliance.

Over decades prison officials have figured out how to condition prisoners to cherish things of no importance. A lot of hombres just want to watch Castle, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, or whatever, eat their food, exercise when they have homies on their case, and be left to themselves. This is the overwhelming majority mentality here in RH-Max (formerly Ad-Seg). Why is this? Simply because nobody's taken the time to explain the dynamics. In theory we all know what babysitters are used for. In practice, how many internalize this knowledge?

As long as authorities can say "here's a TV, sit down, shut up and don't make us do our job" then we've failed, because the authorities have rocked us to sleep with something stronger than a lullaby. With TV and being "left alone," we are content enough to fight amongst ourselves instead of the puercos. As long as a babysitter can sedate us, the puercos are complacent and can run their program as they see fit. I don't know about you, but I'm not down for catering to the puercos' agenda.


MIM(Prisons) responds: You don't have to sit in your cell alone with your thoughts and nothing to do. Pushing this comrade's observations further, we call on everyone to get involved in the MIM(Prisons) political study group. Or trade some labor for books to study. Make use of your time, like this writer, to read, study and grow. Write to us today to join the next introductory study group.

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[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia] [ULK Issue 59]
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Drugs Hold Back West Virginia Organizing

I completed the drug survey from ULK 56. As the days passed I could not stop reflecting on the article "Drugs a Barrier to Organizing in Many Prisons." Here in West Virginia dope is God and those who supply them are Messiahs. I decided to put pen to paper and add my thoughts to the discourse.

I am currently incarcerated at Mount Olive, which is West Virginia's highest security prison. Recently the administration severely restricted our yard time. This was done to punish us for the rash of recent murders. Some of the more militant brothers started organizing a peaceful sitdown to protest. The shot-callers immediately vetoed the sitdown.

I was shocked. Then I decided to follow the money, or in this case dope. The gang leaders did not want to antagonize the prison administration out of fear that they would restrict the flow of dope. Drugs were more important than our outdoor recreation privileges.

This is not the only power that drugs have given the administration over us. To curtail the flow of K-2 into the prison we no longer receive our actual mail. We get poor quality photocopies of our mail. There is still K-2 on the compound, but the price has doubled. If prisoners cannot get K-2 through the mail how does it get in? Simple, our captors bring it in. Not only are we enriching our captors, we are increasing their control over us.

Drugs drain all the money off the compound. When prisoners are broke and dope sick they not only rob and extort weaker prisoners, they are grimey with their brothers. This increases the violence on the yard. Instead of working together to improve our situation we make it worse. No unity.

As an old head I lead by example. I abstain from all drugs and alcohol. I do my best to educate the young bloods. No, I do not have much success. As soon as I turn my back they chase the dopeman. I hate to paint such a dark picture, but the truth is not always bright. I look forward to reading the other discourses on this subject.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Organizing Requires Organization: Proposed Structures for Success

Feminist Protestors

The idea of organizing, as we all know, is much harder than theorizing about organizing. I raised the idea of expanding the organized coordinated apparatus of MIM(Prisons) to states in a sub-chapter context. This would weaponize the public protest to influence policy changes, and pressure entrenched power positions to give way.

Yet, regardless of "how" this is supposed to work, the "who," as related to the public, is supposed to work this machinery is absent. There is an extraordinary lack in many quarters of the prison population, regarding outside support, who are engaged enough to work this machinery even with direction. Within the prison, prisoners are isolated and their access to outside sources of support or even an audience is hampered by a truly oppressive design geared toward just this work.

I cannot and do not expect MIM(Prisons) to produce what may not be possible and completely outside of any of our individual control, i.e. the interest, motivation and will of potential cadres to engage in this work. Yet, there should be a focused effort to attract, organize and mobilize people who have been on the web and who will deem the cause of this work noble enough to apply effort.

Finally, there is an extraordinary need to take the hidden means of repression used by this society and expose all its manifestations to the public. There are two reasons for this: 1. It de-fangs, embarrasses and exposes its naked shame by putting on blast the unlawful and inhumane abuses of those people who use the shelter of the institution to act as tyrants. 2. It raises conscious awareness in the public by removing the edicts, and cuts of media which claim to be fair and balanced, and demonstrates consistently from a human standpoint the hardships unnecessarily inflicted on a vulnerable population, often to put on a public show of toughness. The result of which is the identification needed on a human/personal level to raise outrage.

It's obvious the stagnant and retributive American prison system exists as it is today because it was a social means of controlling people who were deemed not to belong to this society, those who were not "All-American."

The webpage should publicize, state by state:
  1. Names of abusive staff who either assault or terrorize prisoners or implement abusive policies and tactics.
  2. Abusive tactics and policies specifically implemented, listed and explained for their effect in each state and institution.
State sub-chapters should be encouraged on a voluntary but organized basis. A volunteer State Director should be recruited to:
  1. Coordinate state campaigns between the community and prisoners, targeted at the state lawmakers and DOC commissioners in regards to complaints and protest relating to incidents in prisons, policies implemented and needing to be changed, and laws implemented, needing to be implemented or changed, within a state.
  2. Educate the public across states about prison conditions, with their social and class ramifications.
City sub-chapters should be encouraged on a voluntary but organized basis. Volunteer City-Community Coordinators should be established and recruited to:
  1. Coordinate community and state campaigns between prisoners/prisons and communities statewide, through State Directors, targeted at state lawmakers, DOC commissioners and local prison wardens and superintendents in regards to complaints and protest relating to incidents in prisons, policies implemented and needing to be changed, and laws implemented, needing to be implemented or changed, within prisons.
  2. Educate the public in those communities about prison conditions, with their social and class ramifications.
State administrative project departments should be encouraged. Volunteers and support members within different departments should be recruited to work on certain projects:

  1. Research tactics, strategies, and proposed policies to be approved by state directors, city-community coordinators and prison bases; and researching data and statistics that identify positive information which support proposed laws and prison policies.
  2. Political workers to inform and agitate within the state by promoting and organizing protest, phone calls and correspondence to state law makers, DOC commissioners and prison wardens and superintendents about complaints, proposed laws and policies to be adopted by state officials.
  3. Propagandists to coordinate media campaigns to inform the public about events and negative trends; measure the effectiveness and growth of information dissemination within communities across the state, with a targeted effort to inform local community members within small towns and rural areas specifically about inhumane treatment and cruelties which have inflicted demographic groups which are the same as the area being targeted.

Selected members from each of the above project departments will set the overall direction with state directors and all of the above shall provide support and statewide work that advances the vision. Thus what has been hidden inside prison walls for a century and a half will be exposed to the public. Webpage and popular social media campaigns can be interchangeable.

United Struggle from Within bases should be encouraged on a continuation of current MIM(Prisons) work and programs, but with an expansion of coordinating information-sharing and campaigns in regards to protest within the prison with community and state activities.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is laying the groundwork for an organizational system that could both expand and coordinate our organizing work beyond the prisons. Setting up good structures within which people can get involved is an important part of our work as leaders. We want to help people make the best use of their time, and become productive revolutionaries by taking up the struggle where it makes the most sense for them. So this idea of setting up organizing structure with clear roles and responsibilities and tasks could be an important contribution to our work. And this writer is correct that what we are missing now is the "who," i.e. the people who will step up and take on these roles of leadership and help build this structure for the outside struggle.

We hope to hear from others, both behind bars and on the streets, about ideas for a better structure to our work on the streets, and even more importantly from volunteers who can step up and implement these ideas.

There are likely many different structures that could be successful for our organizing, and each cell and group will need to figure out what works best for them. But what we should all have in common in the goal of putting an end to imperialism and the criminal injustice system that it uses for social control. Conducting educational and propaganda work is an important part of that battle for us today. MIM(Prisons) doesn’t see targeting law makers and others in charge to lobby for new laws as a particularly effective strategy, especially while we have so little power relative to the imperialists. But that work can be useful when paired with education about why these laws won’t ultimately take down imperialism. In the end we must attack the system from many sides, and we should all work to our strengths to put in the best anti-imperialist work we can.

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[Ireland] [International Connections] [Hunger Strike] [Organizing]
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REVIEW:Ten Men Dead

Ten Men Dead: the story of the 1981 Irish hunger strike
David Beresford
Atlantic Monthly Press 1987

This book chronicles the period and events in Northern Ireland leading up to when nine members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and one member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) starved to death while on hunger strike inside Northern Ireland's notorious Long Kesh prison. While reading this book one may be tempted to draw parallels between the actions of imprisoned Irish nationalists and the actions carried out by prisoners in California who protested the use of solitary confinement and indeterminate sentences in the state's infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) in 2011 and 2013. However, there were qualitative differences between these two movements. Whereas one was revolutionary nationalist in nature and sought to ultimately eject British imperialism by linking the struggle behind prison walls to that of every oppressed Irish national on the streets, the other was of a reformist character and has lent itself to the preservation of the status quo; AmeriKKKa vs the oppressed nations. [Today, the hunger strikes by Palestinians in I$raeli prisons are similar in nature to the Irish strike. - editor]

While the British first invaded and began to colonize Ireland in the year 1171, the focus of this book is on more contemporary times so we'll start there. Having failed to wipe out Irish nationalism thru sheer military might the British government sought to switch strategy, and in 1972 initiated a new method of oppression called "normalization". Normalization was the policy devised to crush the IRA and other Irish nationalists by criminalizing the struggle for national liberation & self-determination. As such, normalization was also termed "criminalization". Criminalization required a four prong attack on the Irish people:

First local police and British occupation forces would cease to refer to the IRA and other Irish nationalist groups as political organizations with a political mandate. Instead Irish revolutionaries would begin to be labeled as "thugs", "criminals" and "terrorists".

Second, criminalization would entail eliminating juries and diluting the rule of evidence in IRA and INLA trials to make it easier to obtain convictions. As can be expected the number of prisoners sentenced in Northern Ireland spiked from 745 in 1972 to 2,300 in 1979.(pg 19)

Third, criminalization required that Britain begin to pull its troops from Northern Ireland delegating national oppression to local police with special military and counter-intelligence training, thereby giving the public the impression that fighting the IRA was a law and order issue and not a war.

Finally, the linchpin towards normalizing Britain's 800 year oppression of Ireland would be the repealing of Irish political prisoner status known as "special category": special category was granted to captured IRA and INLA members. Prisoners granted special category were given preferential treatment. More importantly, however, from the IRA point of view the fact that special category existed was an admission of sorts that British occupation of Ireland was something to be contested, even by the Brits.

As in any struggle, the 1981 hunger strike didn't simply develop overnight, rather it was the product of a series of protests almost a decade in the making. When Britain announced an end to special category status in 1976, prisoners immediately got to work. For Irish revolutionaries the fact that they had been captured didn't mean the war had ended. Instead prisoners viewed Long Kesh as just another front line in the war for national liberation.

The struggle to re-instate special category was first sparked 16 September 1976, when a fight between guards and a prisoner broke out after the prisoner refused to put on a prison uniform while being admitted into the general population following a conviction on a terrorism charge. Prior to 1 March 1976, there was no such thing as terrorism charges being applied to Irish revolutionaries. Once in prison, IRA and INLA members were segregated from the general population. They were also allowed to wear their own clothes. Soon other IRA & INLA members began to refuse to wear prison uniforms which marked them as criminals. As a reaction to this resistance administration then refused to clothe prisoners who refused to comply leaving them confined naked in their cells 24 hours a day with only blankets to cover themselves.(pg 16) The "blanket" protest had officially begun.

Two years later, the "no wash" protest was initiated when special category prisoners were given one towel to wear around their waist on their visits to the bathroom while being denied a second towel for their faces. Rather than continue to be humiliated in this way prisoners refused going to the bathroom facilities all-together and were given chamber pots for use in their cells. Fights with guards soon followed however when guards refused to empty the chamber pots. These events then led to the "dirty" protest in which prisoners began throwing the contents of the pots out of their cells thru windows and tray slots. After windows and tray slots were covered prisoners began "pouring urine out the cracks and dispensing excrement by smearing it on the wall."(pg 17)

Wimmin also participated in the dirty protest after thirty-two prisoners at a Northern Ireland wimmin's jail were beaten by male and femals guards in a pre-meditated attack after prisoners attempted to defend themselves during a search. The search was for IRA military uniforms which the wimmin had worn in a defiant para-military parade held in violation of jail rules.(pg 20)

Afterwards prisoners began to organize more effectively when IRA leaders began to arrive in Long Kesh. In 1979 efforts by prison administrators to isolate IRA leadership backfired when top IRA figures were transferred to H Block 6. According to the author it was the equivalent of setting up an "officers training academy" inside the prison, as prisoners began to further develop "a philosophical and strategic approach" to Irish national liberation. (pg 18) Nine months later administration became alarmed with how prisoners had taken control of their new social conditions. They soon split up the "academy", but not before prisoners began to discuss hunger striking to protest normalization and an end to special category. However, outside IRA leadership was opposed to a hunger strike by prisoners on the grounds that the IRA's limited resources would be better spent on the military campaign against Britain instead of on building public opinion on behalf of the hunger strikers.(pg 21)

After much discussion the IRA Army Council and Sinn Fein the political wing of the IRA gave the go-ahead for prisoners to begin a ten man hunger strike to the death if their demands weren't met. However, the hunger strikers were prohibited from making any explicit references towards the re-instatement of special category or normalization in order to give the government some room to compromise. Instead the protest would officially be known as the struggle for the "five demands".(pg 27) The five demands the prisoners put forth were: "the right to wear their own clothing; the right to refrain from prison work; the right to have free association with other prisoners (a right implying freedom to separate from other paramilitary groups); the right to organize recreation and leisure activity — with one letter, parcel and visit allowed per week; and the right to have remission lost, as a result of the blanket protest restored. A suggestion that demands for the reform of the Diplock court system — the system of trial without jury and related dilutions of the rule of evidence — be included was vetoed by the external leadership as being too ambitious."(pg 27)

For the government to give in to the prisoners' demands from the IRA point of view would have meant a de-facto re-implementation of special category and a step towards repealing criminalization. Criminalization was turning out to be a very effective public opinion/smear campaign against the IRA and was having a real effect on how Irish Catholics were viewing the IRA:

"The phasing out of special category status in 1975 was an integral part of a new security strategy developed by a high powered government think-tank — which included representatives of the army, police and the counter-intelligence agency MI5 — in an attempt to break the IRA and end the fighting in Ireland. Known as the "criminalization" or "normalization" policy it was essentially an attempt to separate the Republican guerrillas from their host population, the Catholics; depriving the fish of their water to echo Mao Tse-Tung's famous dictum."(pg 15)

Once the decision to hunger strike was made it was decided that only ten of the most dedicated volunteers would be chosen being that they would be hunger striking to the death if the government refused to meet their demands. Leading the strike would be a young revolutionary named Bobby Sands. Sands was one of those "young Turks" deemed to be responsible for the "Marxist strain" that seemed to be spreading in the IRA at the time. At age of 19, Sands was made an officer in the Provisional IRA commanding one of the huts in Cage 11 where he was housed. According to the author, Sands "showed himself to be a prolific as well as a politicized writer: He read voraciously — his favorites including Frantz Fanon, Camilo Torres, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, George Jackson and of Irish writers, Connolly, Pearce and Mellows — keeping a fat growing pile of exercise books full of political analysis, quotations and notes. He was planning to write a book with it all, but they were destroyed in 1974 when the IRA in the compound burnt their huts in a dispute with the administration over rights and privileges."(pg 43)

Sands also contributed articles to the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News, which he was able to smuggle out of the prison thru the use of couriers.(pg 46) Something else that was relevant about Sands, and which is worth noting here, is that he showed the correct attitude with comrades when it came to discussing revolutionary politics. Sands would push his comrades hard on the topic of political study. Whenever he lent someone a book he'd question them on what they'd learned, and if he didn't think they'd seriously absorbed the material then he'd insist they read it again.

When Sands first arrived in Long Kesh he was sent to a segregated area called the "Cages". The Cages was where IRA, INLA and other nationalists were sent to prior to the 1 March 1976 cut-off date for special category. Because the IRA as a organization never developed or held to one particular ideology that they believed or upheld to liberate Ireland meant that there existed different cliques and factions within the IRA that believed that different roads would lead to Irish liberation. This had a huge impact on the IRA and surely contributed to many of the set-backs and stagnations in the national liberation movement there. One example of this was how the younger prisoners housed in Cage 11 were looked down upon and called "renegades" by the older, more conservative "veterans" of the IRA who were housed in Cage 10 due to Cage 11's belief in a socialist road to liberation. The veterans in Cage 10 despised Marxism so much that they went so far as to stage book burnings of such works as Marx's Capital, The Communist Manifesto and The Thought of Mao Zedong. Cage 10 outranked the younger Cage 11 and considered ordering them to stand down after word spread that the Cage 11 presented a series of lectures called Celtic Communism.(pg 42) No doubt, that prior to these lectures the speakers in Cage 11 studied On the Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State by Freidrich Engels, which is a revolutionary study from a dialectical materialist standpoint of how property relations and the patriarchy influenced and shaped humyn society from the primitive stage of humyn development to civilization.

The struggle for the five demands would rage for six months while the British government publicly refused to negotiate with "criminals" and "terrorists". Behind closed doors however was a different story as the government reluctantly began to give in on the demands after public opinion began to shift in favor of the hunger strikers. International pressure also became a strong factor as one country after another openly condemned the Brits. Also, Guerrilla attacks and bombings on British occupation forces were not only sustained during this period but were stepped up. The five demands were finally met, but not until six months had elapsed and the last of the hunger strikers had died of starvation-related health complications. On 5 May 1981 Bobby Sands was the first to expire, but not before managing to become an elected member of the British Parliament, a seat he won while in prison for an attempted bombing.(pg 39) 30,000 people voted for Sands, thereby dispelling the government lie that the IRA had no support in Northern Ireland.(pg 332)

Conclusions and Analysis

Unfortunately, the author doesn't tell us what happened next, even though six years had elapsed from the time of the hunger strike to when the book was written. A new updated edition of this book would be great to explain how Ireland's national liberation struggle has played out. According to MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism, printed in 1995, the Irish struggle had greatly degenerated as IRA leaders began to opt more and more for the ballot over the bullet. The belief that bourgeoisie democracy and/or the imperialists will ever consent to the people coming to power, or give up peacefully thru a vote, the territories they have stolen and occupy is a pipedream. Bobby Sands being put up as a candidate representing South Tyrone Ireland in the British Parliament was only intended as a move to agitate around the five demands and no one ever really thought he'd win, not in the beginning anyways.(pg 72) That said, it seems that Sands' victory spurned on those within the IRA who were already looking to put down the gun in favor of taking up electoral politics. But as MIM Thought has continuously re-iterated: the oppressed nations will never be free to control their destiny so long as the imperialists hold a gun to their heads.

Maoists understand that there can be no peace so long as the imperialists hold power, therefore the only solution for the oppressed nations is to take up armed struggle once the conditions are finally right. Instead of looking to put more people from the oppressed nations into the imperialist power-structure, [email protected], New Afrikans, Boriqua and First Nation people should be working to establish a United Front to liberate their nations and towards the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations.

Revolutionaries should always strive to push for the best possible deal for the people without selling out the masses or trading out our socialist principles. That is the excellent and heroic thing about what the hunger strikers in Long Kesh did, even when the movement began pressuring them to quit the hunger strike or settle for one or two of the demands instead of the five they refused to budge. In the words of Bobby Sands:

"They wont break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon."(pg 73)

The peddling of multi-culturalism, the temporary success of globalization following the temporary defeats of socialism and revolutionary nationalist movements as well as the election of Obomber have created the notion that the struggle of the oppressed nations are irrelevant. Even back in 1986 the author of this book was pandering this idea when he said that the 1981 hunger strike "belongs more to humanity than to a limited Nationalist cause, no matter how ancient ... "(pg 333)

The reality of national oppression however contradicts the author's idealism, this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so threatening to AmeriKKKans and why it has slapped post-modernism in its face, because it dredged up a reality they once thought distant and better left repressed — best to pretend like genocide, slavery and annexation never took place. Most importantly, however, because it signals the contradiction coming to a resolution and the smashing of empire. What the oppressed nations need are more national liberation movements, not less.

Another point worth drawing attention to is the false distinction the IRA made between political prisoners and "common criminals". We believe that is a bourgeoisie distinction and one that sets back both the prison movement and national liberation as they are inter-related. MIM Thought has consistently held that all prisoners under this system are political exactly because the system is political. One need only to look at mass incarceration in the United $tates and its many similarities to the criminalization policy that helped derail the IRA at a time when it was at its peak.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Learning History and Organizing Thru the Walls

When I first came to prison my whole perception of organizing in the streets changed. It changed due to education of history: history of other movements and how to organize the streets from within the prison walls. I do believe that prisoners can have a great influence on activists due to our struggles in here. But as the saying goes, a prisoner struggle today is the street's struggle tomorrow. The work which must be done inside these walls to help influence other organizations is education, strategy, and unity among all workers and oppressed people. But what I find is happening in the streets is that everyone wants to choose what battle is most important to their cause rather than finding a solution to all organizers' challenges.

Here in prison we sometimes get caught up getting a big head for fighting an issue which just caters to a person's selfish desires, rather than challenging issues which change the system as a whole. So we must learn to unify under one umbrella to tackle the issues we face.

My target audience will be the workers 'cause I believe they have power but don't know it yet. But the difference that contradicts working with workers is some are so caught up in consumerism so that they will not organize, or they don't want to lose their status so they will not wholeheartedly strike or fight for better wages. The lumpen can also be tricky to work with, due to a lack of resources.

We will have to build public opinion thru certain media outlets, hip hop culture, sports entertainers, and thru magazines. The contradictions to capitalism must be exposed so the targeted audience will have something to fight for. But to conclude, prisoners can help street LOs by building unity and overstanding each others' issues and combining theory and using science to challenge the system of imperialism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about needing to be able to look beyond our persynal issues and desires to the broader problems of the oppressed. This is especially important if we hope to unite beyond our local set. And we can certainly use cultural outlets to build public opinion and unity.

On the question of organizing workers, we've written a lot about the bought off nature of the vast majority of workers within U.$. borders and we see this as a material explanation for what this writer notes: they are caught up in consumerism and don't want to lose their status. These workers are earning more than the value of their labor because of all the profits from exploitation in the Third World brought back to this imperialist country. And so the workers here do understand that their status is valuable and profitable. They have the money to spend that allows them to get caught up in consumerism. As a result, we have seen throughout Amerikkkan history that these folks are not a force for progressive change. And organizing them to demand higher wages is not organizing against imperialism. This is one of the reasons we focus on organizing the lumpen as a group more likely to have an interest in revolution.

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