The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out
[Organizing] [Denver Women's Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 55]
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Victory in Colorado Womyn's Prison Fight for Rec

I would like to update you on my lawsuit I was preparing against Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) due to one egotistical officer in recreation: Lieutenant Ross.

I think MIM(Prisons) printed my story, but due to Denver Women's Correctional Facility (DWCF) not allowing us ULK anymore I can't be sure, but I did get feedback from several readers.(1) And now DWCF allows us to go outside and walk during any weather like the men do.

So thank you for printing my fight and thank your readers for writing and supporting me. I have not had to put forward the lawsuit, but I am thankful for the MIM(Prisons) grievance petition. I sent it to the Executive Director. So thank you for the form, it really helps putting the fight against CDOC in better written terms than I would have been able to do on my own.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides an excellent example to others. From eir work fighting injustice and consistency in providing updates about the progress in this battle, to staying in touch in spite of the censorship of ULK going on at DWCF. While a victory to get all-season and all-gender access to rec is just a small battle in the overall fight against imperialism, it will allow activists in DWCF more opportunity to talk and study with others and to stay healthy. We hope everyone there will take advantage of this opportunity to build for the next battle, which may need to be a fight against censorship so we can get revolutionary materials in to our comrades at this institution.

Note:
1. a Colorado prisoner, "Why Won't Wimmin Fight for Their Rights?", July 2016, ULK 52.
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[United Front] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 55]
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Left-Leaning Unity with Radicals and Reformers

You encourage all groups in prison to set aside their differences and come together (collective action). As always in my letters to you, I believe the socialist effort will not be successful unless it makes contact with most or all of the radical/reform groups and encourages collective actions between them.

Think about it. If you could start a dialogue with other groups then you would gain the chance to educate them about how mass imprisonment is a standard feature of any capitalist government. Imprisonment is the favored control method for the masses. As long as people are propagandized to believe capitalism is good, you will have thousands of laws to control the lumpen and minorities -– hence, prisons.

Per the September 2016 newsletter of the Coalition for Prisoners' Rights (P.O. Box 1911, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1911), it was reported that the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Movement (FICPM) had a conference on September 9 in which over 500 people attended, of which people from over 30 states were in attendance. The FICPM wants to organize the 65 million people who have been screwed over by the U.$. system as a political voting block. This group has the possibility of actual success.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are two separate points we want to address in this letter. First the question of what will be necessary for the socialist effort to be successful. This comrade believes that we can succeed by bringing together the radical/reform groups (presumably within the United $tates). Where this author says we would be able to educate these groups on a deeper understanding of the relationship between capitalism and prisons, we agree that doing this on an individual basis is possible and has been proven with success on the ground. Some people enter the reform groups because that's all that they're aware of at the time. When they seek a more thorough way to address the world's problems, they may decide to switch to revolutionary organizing instead. We aim to be available for these people, ready to work with them when they're ready to switch.

But as far as winning over whole groups, this hasn't worked out successfully when tried in the past. And we understand this phenomenon in the context of our class analysis, because the vast majority of people within imperialist countries are bought off and actually support their imperialist government. They may protest a few policies, but they are very much opposed to revolutionary change in the interests of the world's majority because that would have a negative impact on their persynal financial situation in the short term.

Because of this, we see socialist revolution coming from the oppressed nations, both internationally and within U.$. borders. For the most part we anticipate it will need to be imposed on imperialist countries (like the United $tates) from the outside, but there is an important role for revolutionaries living within the belly of the beast. We must do all we can to weaken the government and also support the revolutionary struggles of oppressed nations globally. We can break off as many allies for the struggle as possible. But we shouldn't be unrealistic in our expectations of what we can achieve behind enemy lines.

With that said, we do agree that building unity with progressive organizations on the streets is a good goal. We set a baseline goal for this unity around either a political action or a political line. For instance, we work to build unity around battles against the criminal injustice system with all who will support these battles, regardless of their political positions on other issues. For the anti-imperialist struggle we build unity with all who truly oppose imperialism.

But coming back to our first point, we do not think that groups that, for instance, promote recycling, are actually opposing imperialism. They are just helping to put a pretty pseudo-ecological face on capitalism (also termed "green washing"). So when someone tells us to unite with all "radical/reform groups" to achieve our goals of building socialism and opposing imperialism, we have to call this out as a request that we sacrifice revolutionary politics in the name of false unity. We don't actually have unity in the fight against imperialism with those reform groups that are trying to make imperialism a bit kinder, but whose strategy keeps the overall system in place. It's important that we define our political principles and understand who are truly fighting on the side of the oppressed people of the world.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 54]
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Tactical Lessons from Historical Lucasville Struggles

lucasville uprising

Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
Second Edition
Staughton Lynd
2011, PM Press

Condemned
Keith LaMar (Bomani Hondo Shakur)
2014, www.keithlamar.org

In April 1993 there was an 11-day occupation of Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, starting on Easter Sunday when the maximum security prisoners overpowered correctional officers (COs) while returning from recreation. During the occupation, eight COs were held as hostages; one was killed and the rest were released. Nine prisoners were also killed through the course of this uprising, all by other prisoners. The 407 prisoners surrendered when the administration committed to a 21-point agreement. After the uprising, five prisoners were sentenced to death for the murders, and they are the only people held on Ohio's death row.

Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising and Condemned are good books to read together, and give two thorough accounts of the events of the SOCF uprising, and even more thorough detail of what happened afterward. Lucasville is written by Staughton Lynd, a lawyer who plays a significant role in Condemned, which was written by Keith LaMar (Bomani), one of the people condemned to death for the events during the uprising. The content in these books overlaps a lot, but not too much as to be redundant. What content is repeated through the two books just underlines lessons learned, and clarifies the authors' political orientations, some of which MIM(Prisons) does not agree with. Rather than write a point-by-point criticism of these books which most of our readers will never have the opportunity to read anyway, below we summarize some of the lessons on prison organizing we gleaned from studying them.

Condemned recounts Bomani's first-hand experience before, during, and after the uprising, especially focusing on the struggle of the five prisoners who were scapegoated for the uprising (known as the Lucasville 5). Condemned is a good case study on many common aspects of prison organizing. Lynd's book describes all the work it took, and all the obstacles the state put in place, to support the Lucasville 5's struggle from the outside.

The first theme addressed in Condemned is the author's ideological transformation. MIM(Prisons)'s primary task at this point in the struggle is building public opinion and institutions of the oppressed for socialist revolution, so affecting others' political consciousness is something we work on a lot. On the first day of the uprising, Bomani was hoping the state would come in to end the chaos. But "standing there as dead bodies were dumped onto the yard (while those in authority stood back and did nothing), and then experience the shock of witnessing Dennis' death [another prisoner who was murdered in the same cell as the author], awakened something in me." Bomani's persynal experiences, plus politicization on the pod and thru books, are what led em to pick up the struggle against injustice.

At an event where Bomani was publicizing eir case and experience, a MIM(Prisons) comrade was able to ask em what go-to books ey recommend for new comrades who are just getting turned on to the struggle. Bomani suggested Black Boy by Richard Wright, and also refers to Wright in Condemned. MIM(Prisons) would second this recommendation. Black Boy is an excellent study of New Afrikan life under Jim Crow in the South, with many aspects of that struggle still continuing in this country today.

In eir own book, Bomani also recounts acts of prisoner unity against the administration shortly following the uprising, and how politicization of fellow prisoners played out in real life. The prisoners made a pact to trash the range each day, and not clean it up. The guards cleaned the range themselves for a few days, but then brought in a prisoner to clean it up. Simultaneously, the "old heads" on the pod were leading speeches nightly about the need for unity and the relationship between the prisoners and the administration, politicizing everyone within earshot.

"Every night there was a variation of this same speech, and I listened to it over and over again until something took root in me. I became openly critical of the mistreatment we had all undergone and, for a few months at least, was serious in my determination to persuade others not to join the administration in the efforts to further divide and conquer us."(Condemned, p. 33)

A tactic that was mentioned in passing in Condemned was how the prisoner who was cleaning the range for the pigs was dealt with. Ey was struggled with for a period of time, and asked to not clean the range, but ey came back day after day. Eventually this prisoner was stabbed by the protesters for continuously undermining the action. Bomani doesn't mention how this act impacted the unity demo, whether it helped or not. We aim to minimize physical violence as much as possible, although sometimes it may be necessary. It is up to those who are on the ground to make the call in their particular conditions, and this tactic should not at all be taken lightly. If much physical force is necessary to maintain a peace demo, then we should ask ourselves if the masses we're organizing are ready for that type of demo. Political education is always our focus at this stage in the struggle.

Both books address how a protest with solid participants can fail or succeed depending on the protest's outside support. Several hunger strikes were launched, and ended, without progress made on the demands. It wasn't until connections were made with outside advocates and media that prison officials took any steps toward fixing them. Especially in an instance where a lawyer met with the regional director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation, which led to some property restrictions being lifted.

Recalling a victory from a 12-day hunger strike which had a lot of outside support,

"When the administration refused to follow their own rules, we complained (verbally and informally) and then asked a district judge to intervene on our behalf, all to no avail. It never occurred to us that we were wasting our time by appealing to the very people who had placed us in this predicament we were in.

"Indeed, the whole process of redressing our grievances was nothing more than an exercise in futility designed to drain off our vital energy and make us feel as though we had done all that we could do.

"It was only when we began to write and reach out to 'the people' that things began to change. First, there was Staughton's book and accompanying play; then we began holding 'talks' around the state on various college campuses, as well as writing articles in various periodicals. In this way, we were able to generate some much-needed support."(Condemned, p. 179)

To combat the psychological warfare of the prison staff, Bomani strongly recommends daily meditation and yoga as a method to protect oneself. "By learning how to watch my thoughts [meditate using simple breathing exercises], I was able to rise above the vicious cycle of cause and effect, and thereby avoid the tricks and traps of my environment."(Condemned, p. 133)

MIM(Prisons) receives regular requests for information on sovereign citizenship. While we've written against this tactic at length elsewhere, Lucasville underlines it with an anecdote about three prisoners who cut off their fingers and mailed them to the United Nations to show how serious they were in in their claim of sovereign citizenship. The request was still denied.

A final lesson from these books, especially recounted in Lucasville, is that in any attempt at solidarity and justice for the oppressed, prison officials and other oppressors will do everything they can to undermine it. Everything. We should never expect that our enemies will act in good faith toward respecting us and our needs. We should always expect pushback and always expect that they will attempt to derail us at every step of the way. Studying past struggles for clues on how we can protect our movement will only make our job easier. The state is taking notes on our shortcomings and we need to do the same of both our shortcomings and our strengths.

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[Work Strike] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 55]
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Labor Strike Against Daily Body Searches

Today we Raza and Natives/others kicked off the new year by exercising unity here in C Yard by not going to work or education at work center (head quarters) of this yard. Other factions decided not to participate because they care too much about the 5-10¢ paying job they currently have (Lumpen Aristocracy?).

This campaign we currently put into motion is to stop the form of harassment these pigs use thru daily body searches, i.e. x-ray body scan, strip search, etc. before we go to school/work and before we leave. We know that we can stop at least the x-ray scan from taking place for we will continue to refuse the x-ray scan and therefore work/education. This is the recent flow here.

Persynally I believe that we should shut down all movement but still go to Yard, programs and accept our food. Just make the pigs do all the work. That is the only way to make these pigs fly. Even then, these forms of campaigns are at a beginner step and might not be fully successful. We should still engage and get a feel of the opposition. The only way we know how to deal with an opposition is thru the motion of our resistance. It is then that we'll know what we're up against and to what extent they'll go. Not only this but we learn on how to combat the beast. New views and forms of tactics come from this. It is what we call the dialectical-materialist theory of the unity of knowing and doing.

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[United Front] [Education] [Organizing] [Black Panther Party] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 55]
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CCI Study Group Puts Theory Into Action, Organizing Unity Celebration

I'm once again checking in from California Correctional Institution (CCI). In 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale planted the seeds of the Black Liberation movement in Oakland. The seeds they planted rapidly spread to the rest of the United States and now years later we're fighting for the same things as the Panthers.

We still follow the same theme of Black nationalism, armed militancy, intercommunalism, and answering the call to join the revolutionary struggle. Even today, I can still see and hear the voices of comrades such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Gwen Fontaine, Fredrika Newton and Lil Bobby Hutton; their teachings, thoughts, practices. And they still resonate with significance and power through the pages of books.

The spirit of the Panthers have been spread so deep into the roots of Black life and into the fabric of every African Community in America, that it's just natural for us to want to stand up and fight when we hear the call. In our homes, schools, hoods, jails, and prisons. That's the revolutionary legacy, and the spirit these comrades planted in us.

This yard we're on is considered an Ad-Seg kick out yard. But in our efforts to educate the people we've begun to create something better. This yard is becoming a place where cadres are born. We have created programmes that serve the people: we have political study groups, we have a GED study group, in which we are helping comrades get their GEDs, and we are helping individuals with their college classes as well.

I am very proud of the comrades on this facility of all nationalities. Because we're not just talking we're doing, pushing hard for a truly united front and serving the people. We have just submitted the paperwork for a banquet. That will be used as a Unity Celebration, where we will all meet and share our thoughts on the issues of today, and share a little political knowledge with each other.

The only issue I see is that the room only holds fifty people, so not all of the groups can fit in this room, so we're planning to have another on the yard the next day. We don't want anyone left out. We are here to serve the people, educate the people, and to help liberate the people, all the people. My rules are if we focus on what we have in common and less on our differences we'll be able to learn better, who we are, and what we're about.

We all want the same things. We all have the same goals, and we all want to create positive change in our world, and in our communities. A community by way of definitions is a comprehensive collection of institutions that serve the people who live there. CCI C-Facility is where we are living right now. So this is the community we're serving.

It is the duty of all revolutionaries to make the revolution. This is obviously rule one. But this is a way of denouncing, in the context, all the so-called revolutionaries who not only did not seek to make the revolution, who managed secure income, talk the revolutionary shit, but who torpedoed the efforts of the people to liberate themselves and that must not be. As Huey said, revolutionary theory without practice ain't shit.

Power to the People
a servant.
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[United Front] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Building Peace Through ULK

I randomly bumped into a homie who I had previously met a few years back. We got to conversating and eventually got to swapping materials (books, magazines) and we each offered to exchange a "political newsletter." It turned out that we were both referring to ULK; each of us not knowing at the time that we were both corresponding with MIM(Prisons) and we were talking about the exact same newsletter (ULK 52).

An interesting fact to note is that we were both able to overcome past "beef" that we had against one another. Beef that had manifested in an administrative segregation barracks during 2015 as a result of our poor/squalid isolated living conditions. Our beef was evidence of the negative side-effects that ramify into violence and verbal insolence/disrespect/threats between captives, all being things consequential of our long-term solitary confinement that is deliberately facilitated by the pigs.

We both (me and this said comrade) peeped game and realized that the police want us to have discord sown between us (captives in general, but also specifically between me and this comrade) and I immediately took personal measures to end the pettiness and hostilities –- for unity's sake. By squashing the trivial/frivolous "childsplay," and setting aside our pride (which has always been a real challenge for me), we wound up developing a very strong unified bond and comradeship that is likely going to carry on into the free world. We passed knowledge back and forth, to fortify one another. I was stoked to be able to aid and assist this comrade as much as possible.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Often Under Lock & Key is censored by prison administrators for encouraging violence. We hope the administrators are paying attention to this letter as it clearly demonstrates what we've been saying all along: ULK actually encourages peace!

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[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 56]
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Subjectivism in Recruiting: Dangerous or Tactical

influence tactics
Revolutionary Greetings,

...I plan to reach out to this girl I'm dating here in re politics. I will start to feel her out on that topic tomorrow for the first time. She is 24 years old. I'm 31 years old, so I believe I can mold her. She is naive and trusting. I will attempt to teach her once I feel her out. Please write back and let me know what you think about this particular matter.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Generally, we discourage recruiting someone you're dating. Particularly when this persyn has exhibited no independent interest in anti-imperialism. We do agree with your seemingly cautious approach of "feeling her out" first. It is a prudent security tactic to not expose what political work you do to someone you're not sure about.

Next you say ey is younger, naive and trusting, and you imply that you will take advantage of that. That is how you create resentment. And when people resent people associated with the movement, the movement is put at risk. This is very likely when romance is involved. That is the number one reason not to mix dating with recruiting. People get confused about motivations. Recruiting friends is a little less risky, but also has this problem. It is true that the young are more open to revolutionary politics, which might lead us to take up tactics like leafleting at schools. Our approach should not be to take advantage of the young, or wimmin in general, by using characteristics caused by the gender oppression that they face. It should rather be to tap into the righteous resentment they might have of that gender oppression so that they throw off the negative characteristics that it has encouraged in them, and become revolutionaries.

In more advanced situations it can go another way where comrades start to question whether someone is hanging around because they're dating a comrade or because they're down for the struggle themselves. So for the individual and the collective it is better to be clear and scientific about what one's position is.

Recruiting should always be done based on a scientific explanation of political line. Of course, subjectivity comes into play, and there’s nothing wrong with packaging things so they will be more attractive to the masses (i.e. form/language). However, there is something wrong with manipulating people based on their subjectivity to take up politics for reasons other than their support of those politics. This leads to confusion, both politically and interpersynally. This is really a strategic question when we say don't use sex, flirtation or friendship to recruit people. Our goal is to teach people to think scientifically and create strong, scientific organizations.

This is not to say that most people in the mass movements will be scientific thinkers won over by purely objective motivations. So there are tactical questions of what language and images we use in order to present our message to the masses in ways that they can relate to. Wearing uniforms, having good music associated with our movement, or having famous people recommend our work are all tactics that appeal to peoples' subjectivism in a way that is not manipulative of the individual and therefore threatening the movement.

At least half of our readers are in prison. And even in university or any smaller community, you will often find people you are already friends with becoming interested in politics. Then it becomes a skill of separating business from pleasure. Political disagreements should not decide friendships and vice versa. A useful tactic to use in this situation, if you feel there might be a conflict of interest or confusion, is to pass a friend off to another comrade to be their primary contact and recruiter. This gives the friend more independence to explore politics on their own terms with less pressure from implications that political agreement with you is a requirement for that friendship.

One new comrade who was won over to our cause reported how another prisoner dropped a ULK in eir lap on the way to a hearing and said, "here, you'll like this." Many of our subscribers report finding ULK in the dayroom. Both of these are examples of "free dropping," a technique to spread our ideas as far as possible to ensure that all who are interested have the opportunity to be exposed to them.

Finding the right balance between casting a wide net, like free dropping, and developing new cadre one-on-one is a tough tactical question. MIM has always erred on the side of casting a wide net. This is based in a strategic decision that building public opinion against imperialism is more important in our conditions than building cadre organizations. But we need people to do more than read ULK and our website. Whether it's supporting MIM(Prisons) projects or not, we need people to step up for anti-imperialism to amplify that anti-imperialist voice and to build independent institutions of the oppressed. The oppressed are reaching out to us every day for help. We need more comrades to step up and build the power necessary to provide real solutions to their problems.

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[Organizing]
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Xmas Came Early for MIM(Prisons)

santa mao

This week MIM(Prisons) received sizeable contributions from both inside and outside prisons. Whether you're looking forward to celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Mao Zedong's birthday this month, please consider supporting our work financially.

One time donations are always welcome. But we'd like to recognize the comrades who donated this week as regular contributors. We think it is important to have an anti-imperialist newsletter for prisoners that comes out regularly. To do so we need to have the funds coming in regularly and reliably. It is our regular comrades and supporters that allow that to happen.

So where's our Paypal link? Well, you might have to make a slightly greater effort to donate without utilizing the infrastructure of corporate Amerika. But if you've got Bitcoin, we added our Bitcoin donate button this year. And if you don't think Bitcoin is anonymous enough email us for a Monero address to donate to. If none of that made sense to you, cash is still king, and cash by mail is always useable. If you want to send U.S. postage stamps, we are currently flush in 47¢ Forever stamps, but we always need more 21¢ additional ounce stamps.

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[Gender] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 55]
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Sex Offenders Reconsidered

I was sitting on tier speaking with a brotha on an intellectual note on topics in your ULK 52 issue. The thing is neither of us ever seen your publication (any of them). After we were done another brotha handed me issue No. 52 on his way to see the Sergeant over some writeups he got when they hit his room. He told me "you'll like this!"

Now before we explore my reaction to your publication you have to know the ground on which I stand and the position I'm coming from. I'm a sex offender. Believe it or not, not by choice, but in the state of Nevada I knew that signing a deal would be the only way to see light again. Trial would be death.

I read your issue from front to back. The whole time I was reading it I wanted to write to you and tell you how I was waiting for something like this to approach me. Then, I got to the last page and read the upcoming themes. In No. 55 I read "Would unity with pariahs such as snitches or child molesters ever be appropriate?" Reading that prompted me to switch my motive to speak on this first hand. But before I can do that you need to know a little about me.

I was raised very well with a loving family. My academics always were "en punto." National Honor Society — all that stuff. I spent 9 years in the military. Leaving my family several times so spoiled brats could remain safely at home with theirs. I have an Associates Degree, I'm semi-fluent in Spanish, I'm halfway through obtaining a paralegal certificate from Blackstone, I'm a writer, and I'm Black.

I will not defend child molesters or snitches but I want to shed some light on sex offenders in general — since I am one. I have five kids so I know the need to protect my babies. Then I found myself fighting for my life on the very subject that I said I would kill someone over for messing with my babies.

I had and have a different outlook now by my circumstances and by removing my bias. After it was evident I was coming to prison I decided to help other sex offenders (SOs) fight their cases. I obtained a client, a pisa, who couldn't speak English well. I fine-tooth-combed his discovery. There was no evidence but much hearsay. Despite my help and a paid lawyer he received a kidnapping and sexual assault charge with a teen.

Sounds like a typical innocence story right? Well, I have more detail that I can't tell you but I believe he's innocent. There are more people in here with similar innocence claims all over the world but I wanted to get to a point in response to your issue No. 55 question.

Prison has a caste system and SOs find their way to the bottom. We are the lowest class in society and outside of society. I don't like calling myself a sex offender. In fact, I'm not, but I'm labeled as one because my charge says that I am. My circumstances of my charge won't allow me to admit to being one. But it doesn't matter what I think or say. I've noticed, in my time around other SOs that they (most of them) made a mistake or a bad choice. I'm not talking about rapists, but still, I've met some very good people.

I've lived a very good life. I always been hard working, trustworthy, reliable, smart and loving. I've learned a lot in the military especially from visiting foreign countries. Cambodia and Iraq taught me a lot. Before now I never been in trouble with the law. When I didn't have I still gave. And I still do. I run store in my unit but it's not for me. The profit takes care of who I choose, who I believe is the less fortunate. If somehow I can make one person see that sex offenders are human, I made a difference. I would like to be a force to help unite all. The sex offender label shouldn't disqualify people in a movement bigger than us because if it does — would that really be socialism?


MIM(Prisons) responds: "Sex offenders" in general are seen as pariahs who can't be touched, and certainly can't be part of a progressive movement. But as this comrade points out, people are labeled as sex offenders by our enemies, and we have no reason to take their word for it. How many people behind bars are unjustly sentenced or even innocent? Why do prisoners know this is true for people convicted of other crimes, but condemn all convicted sex offenders on the word of the criminal injustice system?

Our society encourages rape. Movies, music, advertising, porn, it's all pushing coercion and sex. Rape is coerced sex, and in a patriarchal society it's impossible to set up a relationship where both people are totally equal. There are differences in income, social status, beauty, educational achievement, etc. etc. All these things have become part of what people find attractive and we are indoctrinated to believe these inequalities are sexy.

We don't let people off the hook for knowingly committing violence against other people. But we also know that people are a product of their culture and we need to push for the re-education of people if we hope to build a society where all people truly are equal. Because of this, we must also judge people based on what they do, and not a label put on them by the criminal injustice system. We agree with this writer that people make mistakes, and that they can change.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 54]
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Build a Strong Revolutionary Foundation

First, before we erect or construct anything we must have a strong foundation, a base – so to speak. Otherwise the whole structure will eventually collapse. That said, we must focus most of our energy and efforts on building a base inside prison, then work our way outwards. Once we are well-rooted, it will be easy to branch out by sending our ideology to the streets with serious minded brothas/sistas who will push the movement out there. However, that is not to say that we shouldn't be trying to build out there right now.

Thus, we must advocate for the development of a movement rooted in the revolutionary tradition that looks out for the interests of all oppressed people as a whole, opposes fratricidal violence (black-on-black, brown-on-brown) and work to develop an alliance with other social movements outside prison.

Secondly, we must understand that even small movements, because they include people with different ideas, reveal political debates over next steps, practical objectives, potential allies, and movement tactics. The idea and politics that guide a specific movement have a profound effect on its ultimate direction as well as on the activists involved. But, the guiding politics of social movement don't simply appear out of thin air. Rank-and-file BPP members themselves invented the armed self-defense tactics just as rank-and-file civil rights leaders developed the civil disobedience and non-violent protest strategy, and these members had to win others to these new tactics through a process of political debate and experience. They were leading with their ideas and testing them in practice.

Political leadership is just this: individuals, with the experience of struggle, can advance ideas and tactics that will strengthen the movement and develop to help prepare it for the next stages in struggle — whether economic, political, or ideological.

Huey P. Newton and others recognized the importance of uniting oppressed people into a political party that could act as a unit, providing leadership and an important counter-weight to the overbearing power of the capitalist state.

I'm going to finish with a quote from one of the leaders of the Black Power movement, who said "when a people arises, when it develops awareness, when it is convinced of the righteousness of its actions, there is nothing that can stop it. The people sweep aside all obstacles placed in their path like a whirlwind cleaning out all the dirt in a country."

Now, we have a lot of work to do before we can go around making claims like that. But this idea that we need to be building inside right now is, I think, the only perspective that fits when you understand that we're looking at a war against the system that is being launched from within, and when you understand the scale of resistance that is necessary.

People are receptive to the "idea" of resisting, but they're doing so in a context in which their revolutionary spirit is very weak and needs to be ignited. But, this is the task of our generation, and I think these kinds of ideas we are building on now are all about the process of trying to rebuild that Black revolutionary fighting anti-capitalist regime.


MIM(Prisons) adds: "Unity from the inside out" is a slogan that United Struggle from Within has used in promoting the development of unity among and between lumpen organizations (LOs) in prison. This slogan echoes the strategy promoted above of building a strong prison movement to affect the rest of society. Sloganeering is one of the tactical tasks necessary to build an effective anti-imperialist movement. Good slogans are based in mass line. This means taking correct ideas from the masses and reinforcing them through propaganda. Finding effective slogans and language that connects the mass consciousness to the revolutionary struggle should be a focus of USW. This is part of what it means to provide leadership as the comrade describes above.

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