Betrayal of one’s comrades: what in prison is called “snitching”, is an aspect of capitalism. Capitalism creates the myth of an isolated individual. “Snitches” and “informants” are people who are convinced that they are acting in their own best interest at the cost of breaking their social ties. “Prison create snitches” not only because they want information to use against others, but because it is a proven method of “breaking” people.
Denmark Vessey, who was betrayed before an 1822 slave uprising, warned against trusting a slave who accepts gifts from a master. These gifts represent attaching values to “things” and not one’s bond with other human beings. They reflect the “fetish” of commodities; putting values into possessions at the cost of your human relations is cruel & deadly. Prisons found that snitches become a lot more violent, animalistic, & don’t care who they hurt – just to survive for the moment. Prisons had to create special yards just for them, which even according to their own data, were most violent, where new gangs were created as the snitches attempted to create some semblance of self-respect.
The Pelican Bay hunger strikers overcame the idea the system perpetuated. It re-established human solidarity across gang & racial lines. As opposed to the snitches the system used to keep people in perpetual solitary confinement. The idea of solidarity caught on with tens of thousands of state & federal prisoners, and many times more out on the streets nation-wide…(wake up) we can no longer allow the imperialists to use us against each other for their benefit!!!
Collectively we are an empowered force. The People’s Commission, consisting of: the Almighty Black-P-Stone Nation El Rukn Tribe, the Almighty Latin King Nation, & the Almighty Vice Lords Nation have been united in solidarity & nation building for 75 years. We call upon all street organizations in the American western hemisphere to do the same.
Within the prison movement there is much talk about ‘political education’ and ‘raising consciousness’. Truthfully, even when We reflect on recent and distant episodes in Our collective struggles against the bourgeoisie, many of us often lament upon the fact that a key ingredient that has always been lacking from Our movements, parties, organizations, and the unorganized masses, is the lack of a systemic and organized framework to political education. Assata Shakur expressed her criticism of the Black Panther Party for the same reason. Veterans of the [email protected] movement i’ve spoke with have expressed the same criticisms, stating that had more deliberate, organized approaches been given back in the days it may have progressively altered the cultural nationalist tendencies of the movement towards a revolutionary nationalist praxis. Yet and still, today We’re still stressing, and rightly so, the paramount importance of political education. However, the question has become, must become, what is political education, how do we apply it, and why is it so important?
Political education takes many forms, and phases, and the correct application of it, or what is paramount for a persyn to know is dependent upon the conditions one finds themselves in. Thus i begin with Fanon,
“It is commonly thought with criminal flippancy that to politicize the masses means from time to time haranguing them with a major political speech…But political education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world…To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone.” (1)
Now as i was saying conditions will determine quite alot. So it is the line of USW, and many others, that amerika is a settler-neo colonial imperialist empire, and as such holds actual nations of people subjugated, meaning their/our self-development is thwarted, within its borders as well as in the Third World.
Hystory indicated that this line is right and exact. When We recall the process of how amerika was established we understand that it (nation of euro amerikan settlers) settled upon this land, removed, and committed genocide against the native nations of people, some of which are still among us today. So those (the indigenous) are just one group of nations within the borders of amerika, which We call the First Nations. Of course We all know about the forced migration of millions of Africans, and We know they underwent slavery at the hands of those same settlers, as did some Natives. What We often fail to analyze is that slavery, is only an economic system, it is a mode of producing social value, however, to describe the plight of the African people in amerika by mere economic lingo alone is highly insufficient. What is the term that would encapsulate the experience of the economic exploitation, social and political repression that the African people in amerika eventually triumphed over? Slavery? No, servitude? No. That one word which encapsulates that struggle is COLONIALISM.
Well, what the heck is colonialism? Quoting from the Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary;
Colonialism - foreign domination of a country or a people, where the economic, political and military structure is controlled and run by the occupying force. (2)
So African people residing in the United $tates are not merely the offspring of enslaved people, but a colonized people, and because of that diametrically opposed nature of a colonized people to its colonizer, the African people residing in amerika developed organically into a nation, that is a people distinct from the settler by its culture, its language, its land, and thus We call this nation today New Afrika, but others call it Black Amerika, or Black nation, or a host of other titles. No matter the title New Afrikan people are deep down aware that they’re distinct and separate, but the reality of a nation within an empire doesn’t register to some, to most, after a substantial time frame of this reality being obscured from the public consciousness.
Having roots in, but eventually developing distinct from the First Nations, there is the [email protected], and Puerto Rican nations/colonies. Overtime all these domestic colonies subjugated by the settler amerikan empire have developed thru struggle, and have reached a new and different phase of colonialism, called neo-colonialism, which can be characterized by the power structure now formally allowing representatives of these oppressed peoples to integrate into the economic, political and military structures, and in many ways act as a buffer between the ruling class and the masses of neo-colonized people.
This brings me back to Our discussion on organizing, and political education. See, depending on what We organizing for, one will require different political understanding. Fanon says,
“A political informed [person in a colonial situation] is someone who knows that a local dispute is not a crucial confrontation between [them] and [the system]”
“It is the repeated demonstrations for their rights and the repeated labor disputes that politicize the masses.” (3)
So basically what Frantz Fanon is saying here is that first one must understand they are indeed colonized, and this understanding disallows them from settling for any ol’ concession that can come from a ‘local dispute’. And here when he says local, We can put it in Our immediate context and understand it to mean, ‘prison struggles’.
What does this mean? It essentially means that We utilize, and in fact manufacture these ‘repeated demonstrations for their/our rights’ as a means to politicize the masses. However, if We are organizing the masses utilizing such demonstration alone We run into a few pitfalls. The one which i’ll deal with here can be understood by the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for you just might get it.” So in Our context, in the prison movement, what happens to the momentum of the masses, of the people as a whole if We as organizers manufacture a or a few demonstrations and the administration actually concedes? If the masses don’t understand the complexity of Our situation, that We’re colonized, dehumanized, an alienated sub-class, the dregs of the society, and that not only must these realities change, We must change within Ourselves, and We must take part in changing these realities, then the masses the people will quit the struggle after what they’ve perceived to be success, and they’ll resume their normal ways of existence. This pattern is counter-productive to the cause of revolution. We must at all times possible keep the masses active, and that activity pertaining to the struggle. Fanon said, “The colonized subject is at constant risk of being disarmed by any sort of concession.”(4)
So an understanding of what Our issues are, colonialism, neo-colonialism or racism, or individual wrong decision making, will determine the strategies and tactics We take moving forward. If We begin Our study of literature proceeding from the perspective that We’re colonized nations of people, We study how anti-colonial struggles have developed, failed and triumphed around the world. Furthermore We realize that unless an action fundamentally eradicates Our colonial existence than it is only a reform and does not solve Our fundamental problem(s) which stem from Our thwarted development under neo-colonialism. Thus We don’t even seek certain reforms, or concessions, and the ones We do are to advance Our strategic goal.
The question now becomes again HOW to maintain the masses attention before, during, and after demonstrations? The answer leads us to ORGANIZATION. Those who have a study level of political vision must take the initiative in forming real organized organizations. Within these organizations leaders should allow for activities to be carried out by the rank & file and must be sure that activities assigned to a comrade are in alignment with the talents, interests, and abilities of said comrade. In this way one keeps the masses involved and engaged. If able weekly or bi-weekly meetings should be established. Minutes should be kept of the meetings, meaning, write down what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, what are the plans going forward, etc. At said meetings each comrade should have a progress report, which entails what they’ve been doing since the previous meeting.
If a comrade can draw, they should be assigned something to draw. If a comrade can write, they should be assigned something to write. If a comrade has a typewrite they should be tasked with typing up the documents of the group. In fact it is good to take up one project that the entire collective can attribute to. Say a pamphlet, of course you need writers, We need art work, and We’ll need a typist, We’ll need some donations of stamps to circulate it to publishers, and in this way every one not only feels involved, but more importantly feels that immeasurable feeling of accomplishment. In understanding the complexities of Our class (lumpen) We must understand a lot of us have not accomplished much of anything in the way of real world accomplishments. A lot of us have been caged, stagnated in a state of arrested development, since Our pre-teen and teen years, and thus are persynally under-developed in many ways. This feeling of accomplishment motivates and inspires one to continue to chase that good feeling, and particularly when the feeling is derived from doing something productive, it overtime alters a persyn internally, and this is what We, as revolutionaries especially within the lumpen class want most.
Organizations in their many varieties are the vehicles of the people and their struggle. Vanguard elements must seek to organize all aspects of the people’s struggle, all aspects of the people’s lives under their leadership and influence. This doesn’t mean everyone has to or will be a member of a particular leading organizational body. What it means is that organization must make itself seen & heard & felt in each aspect of the people’s lives. The musician they listen to should be expressing some theme derived from the organization. The farmer should have the organization’s line on collectivizing agriculture and land. The prisoner and their family should know that the prisoner, if deemed capable can/will have a place of refuge, work, and re-humanization with the organization. The womyn must know she has a group trustworthy and capable to care for her kids collectively, and ensure her access to safe abortion if necessary. Those in the LGBTQ community must feel at one with the organization, enabled and empowered.
In a nutshell the proper organization will galvanize the popular masses of the people, educating and organizing the most capable from every and all sectors, and from there synthesize the aspirations, and ambitions of the people’s struggle with practical and concrete measures to realize these objectives.
With the formation of Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., the Texas USW re-branded, We have formed the vehicle for the Texas prisoner’s struggle. We have thus far established multiple wings which can/will be used to activate the stored away genius of the masses. We have the legal wing for those writ-writing jailhouse lawyers, a space for like minded cats to put their heads together to attack certain aspects of the system that can help us better build the movement. We have established, in its early stages, a wimmins & LGBTQ wing, which is again an avenue for certain people to step up and utilize what they already know how to do, in concert with the rest of the organized body to get what We want. We’ve established the Worker’s wing a lane where people around the state can collectively struggle for worker’s rights, and incorporate those struggles with the others and in combination gain bigger gains…We’ve established and/or influenced the establishment of numerous committees with the members therein playing roles in the ‘wings’ mentioned above. In all this We’ve done well in applying lessons learned from MIM(Prisons), and some of Our own experiences, thus synthesizing theory & practice.
It must be said however that We have made many mistakes. We began organizing as Fanon said, around demonstrations. We learned in practice, some of us without ever having read Fanon, that the masses, and Ourselves could easily get complacent after concessions are made. The mistake came by not initially focusing on ideo-theoretical questions. We had to learn that the truth of the matter that prior to any organization the people in question must sit down and individually intake information, after a certain amount of information has been accumulated they must come together and discuss their findings and thoughts, establish their points of unity, modes of organization, and other such matters. Of course this isn’t to say that all organizations come together like this. Many take on a more spontaneous approach to development and this approach is observed in their style of work.
The re-occurring theme will always be political education, the need for it will never cease, and the need to bring all the people to an active level of consciousness, that is a level where they can be/are active in the struggle.
In Our campaign to end RHU, it was selectively chosen for a multitude of reasons. One of which is to show & prove We can shut it down if & when We organize Ourselves and the people correctly. Because of conditions that prevail in long-term isolation, many of the most radical and politically astute people are in or have been in long-term isolation, if We could multiply those types of elements, and then get them out on the pop city We can make conditions more conductive to politicizing more and more prisoners sending more and more of these to the outside. To illustrate the contradiction that despite the various levels of illegality present within the solitary confinement apparatus, it still continues, and yet We’re the so-called criminals. There is of course the fact that if We can eliminate the punitive answer for dissent then We leave the enemy with little recourse once Our collective resistance picks up. In this way We take a tool out of their tool kit. However, the underlying goal is simply to shut seg down, what if they just capitulated and gave us what We wanted? What becomes of the struggle then? IF that was Our actual GOAL and not a MEANS TO AN END, then Our entire struggle would have been defeated, at least temporarily, not by bullets, or bombs, but by sugar-coated bullets, by concessions, by reforms, which weaken the intensity of contradictions rather than increase them. Mastering this delicate balance will determine the successes and failures of Our organizing methods.
“At first disconcerted, they then realize the need to explain and ensure the colonized’s consciousness does not get bogged down. In the meantime the war goes on, the enemy organizes itself, gathers strength and preempts the strategy of the colonized. The struggle for national liberation is not a question of bridging the gap in one giant stride. The epic is played out on a difficult, day-to-day basis and the suffering endured far exceeds that of the colonial period. Down in the towns the colonists have apparently changed. Our people are happier. They are respected. A daily routine sets in, and the colonized engaged in struggle, the people who must continue to give it their support, cannot afford to give in. They must not think the objective has already been achieved. When the actual objectives of the struggle are described, they must not think they are impossible. Once again, clarification is needed and the people have to realize where they are going and how to get there. The war is not one battle but a succession of local struggles, none of which, in fact, is decisive.” (5)
An Ongoing Discussion
We’ve picked this discussion back up, as some of us felt that somethings were still left unsaid or unclear.
We’ve articulated previously that one’s method to organization is logically dependent upon one’s goals, and also one’s circumstances or conditions. It is Our view that the conditions and circumstances being what they currently are in North amerika, the lumpen-prisoner class is a highly dynamic entity. This class, Our class is also a vacillating class, meaning its members can be like see-saws, moving from one side (revolutionary) to another (reactionary) as their emotions and whims take them. However, We assert that the other classes of North amerika have become so bourgeoisified that the social vehicles for social revolution are so slim to none that the last objectively repressed class in amerika, the class that still has little to no stake in the bourgeois democracy, is the lumpen.
We’ve reached this conclusion by analyzing the social forces and classes within North amerikan society. Observing their material benefits of being cozied up to their bourgeoisie. We’ve observed how and why social movements only advance so far, being largely unwilling, or sometimes unable to carry the struggle to higher levels, due to a certain level of comfort in the status quo. And We logically look to Our own class and see that these factors, though still present are vastly diminished. Therefore, arriving at this class analysis We say that it is most conductive to Our goal of social revolution to invest time and resources into the lumpen in order to politicize them, and that investment should be in proportion to the classes potential to lean towards a revolutionary line and practice.
Now We reach the basic question, how do we maximize the dynamic potential of this vacillating lumpen class? How do We ensure that the majority of lumpen are progressive, neutral, or all the way revolutionary and not objective enemies of the people? The answer again points to ORGANIZATION. The only way to maximize the people’s initiative in general and the lumpen in particular is to formulate them into tightly organized units/groups. The lumpen struggle is a class struggle, and thus We must organize the First World Lumpen on a class basis.
What does this mean, what does this look like? What is a class? There is often mention of the prisoner class, or a particular class of prisoners. However, very rarely do comrades utilize class in a Communist framework.
A ‘Class’ 1) shares a common position in their relation to the means of production; common economic conditions, relative to their labor and appropriation of the social surplus; 2) that they must share a separate way of life and cultural existence; 3) that they must share a set of interests which are antagonistic to other classes; 4) that they must share a set of social relations,;i.e. a sense of unity which extends beyond local boundaries, and constitutes a national bond; 5) that they must share a corresponding collective consciousness of themselves as a ‘class’, and; 6) they must create their own political organizations, and pursue their interests as a ‘class’ (6)
We must also clarify that Marx differentiated between a ‘class in itself’ and a ‘class for itself’. The difference between the two can be summarized by saying that a class in itself simply shares a common economic position but lacks the other listed criteria. Whereas a class for itself is an entity fully organized and meeting all listed criteria.
Therefore, what We are saying here is that We must organize in a manner that will bring the lumpen from the level of class in itself, to the elevated level of a class for itself. Our organization should be modeled in a way to obtain the collective mobility, ingenuity, and potential of the lumpen as a whole. We must ‘nationalize’ these structures, meaning expand them state-to-state, with each one developing its own relative strength locally.
The next question is how do We get there? How do we reach this point of mass participation and organization? We’ll quote Fanon here:
“The duty of a leadership is to have the masses on their side. Any commitment, however, presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission to be accomplished, in short a rational analysis, no matter how embryonic.” (7)
Here he stresses the basic conscious political education of the people. We continue:
“The people should not be mesmerized, swayed by emotion or confusion. Only [under-developed people] led by a revolutionary elite emanating from the people can today empower the masses to step out onto the stage of history.” (8)
I’ve put the above in bold to illuminate certain mistakes We often make. We often capitulate to the weaknesses of the masses in Our good intended desire to win them over. One of the weaknesses of this sort is the masses never-ending desire to be entertained. This desire almost always precedes from a desire to escape reality, and when done too much establishes a state of complacency with oppression and exploitation and undermines revolutionary or productive/progressive activity. When We reach out to the masses We often make the mistake of trying to move them into immediate action with a fiery speech, with the showing of the video of the latest police killing, or whatever We believe may move them. Although We have good intentions this method has hystorically proven inadequate for carrying out revolution. Instead, because it relies on emotions, which fluctuate, the activity it renders, if it renders activity at all, is necessarily fluctuating, and vacillating.
We can see this in real time if We observe the ebbs and flows of social movements in North amerika. George Floyd’s taped murder shook people emotionally. It awakened pent up anger and frustration from many sectors. People took that, and nothing else, no political education, no political organization, no political vision, only anger and frustration into their protests, and rebellions, and uprisings. Soon, the only people left in the streets were politicized people. Anarchists, Socialists, Abolitionists, and this sort. The masses however, had long since retreated back into the comforts of their amerikan life of escape, and leisure, isolating what was then allowed to be percieved as extremist/terrorist elements.
This what Fanon calls the ‘weakness of spontaneity’ showed its face. We must learn from this. In the quote above the ‘under-developed people’ are those masses of North amerikans. They reside in the land of excess, material excess, but the land of political sleep-walkers. These are the people Fanon says must be led by a REVOLUTIONARY elite. Now what does he mean by this? Because of the under-developed state of the people’s sociopolitical consciousness, those cadre elements who’ve struggled to grasp the complex concepts of political-economy, and revolutionary theory, although not desiring to be perceived as an elite, meaning above the rest, they actually do represent a higher stage of development, and in that context ONLY are they ‘elite’. The key phrase of the quote is the necessity that these ‘elite’ emanate from the people, meaning they must be one of their own, or perceived as such. The cadre-organizer must take care to balance its level of understanding with the level of the masses. There will be a contradiction between these masses and the politicized persyn, there should be, but this should not be an antagonistic contradiction. The people should be able to look to you for example, not look at you in disdain. As one might do to someone who thinks their shit don’t stink. Now we move to exactly HOW does these cadres, EMPOWER THE MASSES,
“…On the condition that We vigorously and decisively reject the formation of a national bourgeoisie, a caste of privileged individuals. To politicize the masses is to make the nation (or class) in its totality a reality for every citizen. To make the experience of the nation (or class) the experience of every citizen.” (9)
“Only the massive commitment by men and wimmin to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.” (10)
“No leader, whatever their worth, can replace the will of the people, and the national government, before concerning itself with international prestige, must first restore dignity to all citizens, furnish their minds, fill their eyes with human things and develop a human landscape for the sake of its enlightened and sovereign inhabitants.” (11)
It is Our intention as USW leaders in Texas, as Tx T.E.A.M.O.N.E. cadre, to have Our organization act as a vehicle to organize and mobilize and educate the masses of lumpen in North amerika. We hope you will be inspired to join us.
1) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.138, chapt.3
2) Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary, pg.4
3) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.63 chapt.2
4) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
5) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
6) see; Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire; also Karl Marx, The Holy Family;also, Meditations On Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, James Yaki Sayles, pg. 286
7) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.140, chapt.3
As imperialist crisis deepens, national liberation grows. The right for national self-determination is gaining mainstream discussion with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The imperialists are boycotting Russia to support Ukraine, when they punished those boycotting I$rael for denying the self-determination of Palestine. Meanwhile, here in occupied Aztlán comrades are engaging the [email protected] movement on this topic, which has forced the largest reformist parties to discuss national liberation in the current political climate.
Before the next issue of Under Lock & Key comes out we have two events that we are asking you to support. One is our second annual Fourth of You-Lie fund drive. Thanks to all who donated already this year, we are off to a good start rivaling last year’s steady increase in donations. If you haven’t donated yet this year, we’re asking every reader to send us 7 stamps or more by July 4th. We just received notice that, like most things, printing costs will be increasing this summer.
And more importantly, June 19th marks the boycott Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. The campaign is centered in Texas, where comrades are organizing a general strike in prisons across the state. Different custody levels will be organizing different forms of action leading up to and continuing after June 19th. We will be sending updates to USW comrades in Texas over the next month. Campaign demands include:
End Solitary Confinement!
End Restrictive Housing Units!
End Mass Incarceration!
Transform the prisons to cadre schools!
Transform ourselves into New People!
Speaking of transforming ourselves, we released the Revolutionary 12 Step program this winter as promised. USW leaders should have that in their hands already. The Power to New Afrika pamphlet is almost done, and should be out shortly after this ULK. The new The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons however, is not on schedule and we do not know when we will be able to complete that. For now our introductory study program will continue using the old version. We are also very behind on responding to comrades in the intro study program. As always, we need more outside supporters to help with basic tasks like transcribing, editing, lay out, and promoting prisoner-led campaigns. We just don’t have enough comrades out here to keep up with everything comrades need in there. Thank you to our newest supporters who helped with this issue, we hope to have a long and revolutionary relationship!
This is your newsletter, as evidenced from the vast majority of articles, reports, poetry and artwork coming from prisoners in every issue. In the last year comrades inside really came together to support our fund drive and our distribution drive as well, and we are making steady progress on both. 2021 was a good year for us overall and we hope to build greater things in 2022, some of which are outlined in this issue of ULK.
Our MIM(Prisons) annual review meeting in December was focused on re-prioritizing tasks in order to expand our outside support base, increase subscribers inside and support the growth of a broader Maoist movement. To increase subscribers inside we’ve been slowly increasing our list of ULK distributors who receive extra copies of ULK to distribute to others in their prison. We’ve reached the point where almost 10% of the newspapers we’re sending into prisons are going to distributors, but we want to see that number much higher in 2022. If you’d like to receive extra copies of ULK to distribute let us know how many you can use and send us reports on your distribution efforts each issue.
Because of the decrease in frequency of ULK and the decrease in subscribers, we are sending less than a fifth of the number of newspapers into prisons we were sending in some years ago. The main way we think we can improve our numbers is by increasing ULK back to every other month. However, we will need to recruit much more outside support to make this happen as we are barely pulling this together every 3 months. Issue ULK 76 was almost delayed, and much work was rushed together at the last minute because we don’t have enough steady supporters.
In spring 2021 we announced we would be doing an annual Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser drive among the readers of ULK. We told you that 7 stamps would cover the cost of your 4 issues for the year. Below we’ve graphed the contributions we received from our readers in prison for the whole year. In Q1 and Q2 we removed the contributions of one particularly generous comrade who contributed over $200 in Q1 because ey was skewing our results so much. By excluding em, we see a steady growth in contributions coming in, and more importantly a steady growth of individuals sending contributions. While we welcome our comrades to send in $200 that can, it is by increasing the number of donations that we know our mass base is growing. Looking at our numbers for the last quarter of 2021, we see about 8.5% of the people receiving ULK 75 sent a donation during that quarter. While we didn’t do the math to track this over time, we believe this is probably one of the higher contribution rates we’ve ever had!
The line on the graph above represents the number of people contributing funds over the four quarters of 2021. The bars represent the money coming in as donations or payments. (All numbers include prisoners only.) ‘Payments’ means people sending money for a specific book or document. In some cases the difference is not important. However, if we get 100 people ordering copies of the TX Pack next quarter, that would shoot up our contributions but none of that money would be going to ULK or other projects, it would just pay to print and mail TX Packs. So it’s better to see the donations portion increasing. If we look at just the donations on the graph, prisoners are covering 18% of the cost of printing ULK! This level of support will make it much easier for us to increase the frequency of ULK, but we still need outside comrades to help do the work.
We hope you will be a part of ULK’s success in the coming year by doing any of the following: donating 7 stamps or more, sharing/distributing ULK, sending in conditions reports, writing articles, creating anti-imperialist artwork and promoting MIM(Prisons) work with your contacts outside prison. Of course, ULK exists to serve the anti-imperialist prison movement, and anything you do to build that movement is why we are here.
TX Pack and book orders
For those of you who are sending payments (no checks/money orders) for books or resources, please expect about 2 months between the time you mail out your request and you receive your item. For TX Pack requests, you must pay 7 stamps or $3.50. We do not have anyone working on the TX Pack, so the 2020 edition is all we have.
In this article I-self will be building with ya’ll in unity, criticism, unity on the ongoing discussion on organizing strategy that’s been going on in the last 3 ULKs. But where my focus is going to be on are the questions that the comrade Wiawimawo stated at the end of Comrade S. Xanastas’ “An Ongoing Discussion Organizing Strategy Pt. 2” in ULK No. 74. Also, a little on the redefining words that are used to villianize WE from Comrade Triumphant’s article “Forever Protecting the Community: We Are Our Own Liberators” in ULK No. 75.
The questions posed by our comrade Wiawimawo are stated below:
"can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state?
“…Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or hide their use of long-term isolation? Or should we focus solely on the Third World neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling in Ethiopia, Cuba and Haiti?”
To answer the first question: can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state? I would have to say yes, and I also think that the Re-Lease on Life and the University of Maoist Thought Programs will aid and assist with the campaigns making demands from the state. Reason why is that the University of Maoist Thought programs and the Re-Lease on Life will give the de-imperialization study groups, programs, or classes, etc. Plus the most right and exact educational class WE can bring to the masses so WE can liberate ourselves. Which will in turn not just promote these campaigns, but these individuals who “over”take these classes will have a sense of duty to not just self, but the whole commune to start up campaigns that are making demands from the state. In turn, this will open the opportunity to capture the minds of more of the masses from the imperialist reigns of control to be re-directed to our de-imperialization study groups and/or classes, and then that situation repeats until the masses are overwhelmingly pushing S.O.P.s in these koncentration kamps and communism to the outside free world.
Next question is: Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or widen their use of long-term isolation? I knowledge that these campaigns that expose widespread use of torture and long-term isolation, with the many campaigns to teach the deaf, dumb, and blind of our First World lumpen class to see, be mindful, and more nationally, internationally, revolutionarily conscious, and be able to discern the difference from what is revolutionary and what is not. This will breed the revolutionary souljas which is needed to topple U.$. imperialism and imperialism as a whole. Souljas like those in the Ayiti (Haiti) revolution (Aug. 14, 1791 - Dec. 1803) the first and only successful revolution of Afrikans where General Francois Capois yelled this battle cry at the final battle:
“Grenadye, also! Sa Ki Mouri, Zafe a yo! Nan pwen manman. Nan pwen papa. Sa ki mouri, zafe a yo! Grenadye, aloso!”
Which translates to:
“Soldiers attack (or to the front and move forward)! Those who die, so what! There is no mom. There is no dad. Those who die, so what!”
WE have to come with this mindset while in this realm of revolution, and if WE are not there yet then WE better hop-scotch into a Usane Bolt sprint to it and lock it in for eternity. For this is the mindset which is going to get us to the transfer of power from imperialism to communism. WE gotta be expecting that the imperialists are going to try to hide their dirty laundry after WE show how filthy their ways are. So in saying that we ALL have to become counter-attack masters and specialists just as much as WE ALL ARE to be ready to become future leaders of the revolutionary struggle.
Which is also answering the following question: or should we focus soley on the third world neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling on Ethiopia, Cuba, and Haiti? Now just stating that WE ALL have to become counter-attack specialists and be ready to become future leaders, the comrade with the most knowledge gets to speak on either of the three. If WE don’t have any of the comrades or leaders who have that knowledge, then WE gone get into that study hall classroom and get some knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and elect a cadre to each country.
So the focus that is needed to build campaigns that will undermine the imperialists here in the U.$. and the world abroad, will be there in full discretion. WE gotta become the monsters that the beast is scared to death of. Since everybody has or had a monster that they was afraid of, why not BE the monster(s) the imperialists shit and piss in their pants every time they think of WE. Then die of heart attack when WE manifest in the flesh.
Because WE as revolutionaries and FW lumpen have been villainized by the imperialists already right? It’s either now that WE redefine these words or abandon words like “monster,” “demons,” “gang,” “criminal”, and etc. Just how the comrade Triumphant stated in their article “Forever Protecting the Community: We Are Our Own Liberators,” I see and knowledge that this task is going to be a difficult one. First, redefining these words to the point it’s worldwide spread that even our opps – the imperialists – knows the redefinition of word that they use to villainize WE and use the new definition their damn selfs. Example: How many knows Tupac Amaru Shakur’s redefinition of the word ‘NIGGA’? Which is “Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished” or does the first thing a persyn think about is a New Afrikan individual? And this leads into part two: WE have to remember our leaders and souljas locked away like Larry Hoover Sr., Iman Jalil Amin, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Bomani Shakur, and many others’ lives are dependent on WE and if WE fail to redefine correctly and get it worldwide recognition; WE’ll do more harm to WE then forward progression of the movement. This will push us back like Gang injunctions and R.I.C.O. acts. Just something WE should keep in mind as we progress forward in these stages of organizing strategy.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2021 permalink
On 15 September 2021 twenty four prisoners declared hunger strike at Foothills Correctional Institution in North Carolina. By 2PM the administration locked up 3 comrades. Me and another comrade stayed fasting.
They only give us phone once a week; no yard in a month; and less than 2 hours of recreation per day. Basically we’re in segregation for no reason. I reflect on these b.s. measures, then I asked myself why and how does this opre$$ion end?!
“Why are the battles endless?! Why the Us vs. them?! Why is the Earth CRYING ?!”
When my brother first articulated the vision for the new venture, Forever Protecting the Community, and his general desire to uplift Our people, We were in a supermax prison, in the middle of nowhere. He himself had just days prior been released from a similar prison and had come to visit me. It was Our first time seeing each other in six years, since my trial, in which i was unjustly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Thick, shatter proof glass separated Us in the visitation booth. i expressed through the phone, between static, my approval and tipped my head in acknowledgment of the self-development and maturation process that i knew had led up to this point in his life. i knew the process intimately, as i myself have undergone it as well in my own way. It is a process of social and mental growth that many before us have gone through. It is a process that sees one evolve from a state of self and socially induced ignorance, towards a state of a more completely functional humyn being, one who is engaged with the community and world around them, being productive therein. It is this way which We were meant to live among each other, but through the process of social-economic development, from a communal economy, into a hyper capitalistic society, We’ve become a mutation of Our true selves. Individualism dominates collectivism, greed has taken the place of contentment. Being as We are born and bred in such a world it takes a process of re-education and re-commitment in order to shun these counter-productive characteristics and act in the furtherance of productivity and communal upliftment.
Sometime later after Our visit, Prisoner A asked me to make a contribution to a collection of short stories that he wished to publish under the banner of Forever Protecting the Community. He stated that his vision was to correct those of Our homeboys behind enemy lines with the movement that was/is in process in the streets. As it is, when Our people are held captive by the state they’re often forgotten about, or merely become just another hashtag, as the world moves on. Additionally he figured, and i agreed, that brothers such as myself who are living the effects of social alienation, political disengagement/dependence, and economic insecurities, the combination of which has led to lives tarnished by and through captivity, should have much to express in regards to the direction of Our communities and Our nation (that is the nation of Black people in Amerika which i refer to as New Afrikans).
In responses to my brother’s request i consciously refused to contribute a ‘short story’. Reason being, short stories are fictional, while the subject matter surrounding the necessity of Forever Protecting the Community is far from fiction. It is real life that drugs and STD’s have ravished Our communities. It is real life that millions of New Afrikans – Black children, wimmin, and men are currently in captivity or under the ‘supervision’ of the state. It is real life that the public school system is failing Our youth, not providing the necessary tools to live a self-sufficient life but only to enter the ranks of the wage slaves. It is real life that in areas which We call ‘Our community’, property ownership among New Afrikan people is less than 5%, this number includes homes, commercial real estate, and ‘essential infrastructure’. These property relations are significant, as it is this factor which creates ‘social alienation, political dis-engagement/dependence, and economic insecurities’, so it is real, very real, that many of us live and die without having owned Our living spaces, and under the rules of Amerikan settler-colonialism and imperialism, it is increasingly difficult to own Our very identities, both collectively and individually.
So because this is Our real life, and has been for sometime, i felt what was/is needed more than mere entertainment is some ‘real talk’ as it pertains to ‘us’. Therefore i’ve offered up this place to shed light and open much needed communal discussion.
The word ‘protect’ means ‘to guard’; ‘to secure’; ‘to hold in safe keeping’; all these definitions imply that there is a force, or forces which seek to bring destruction, in whole or in part, to whatever entity needs guarding, security, safekeeping, or protecting. In Our context We are alluding to the need to secure Our ‘communities’, which are essentially semi-colonized territories dependent upon and occupied by outside forces.
It follows that if and when there is an entity that seeks the destruction of Our territory, Our community, Our nation, Our family, Our people, and Our self, that said entity is an avowed enemy to Our cause and Our interests. So therefore i pose the question, ‘who are Our enemies and who are Our friends?’ 402 years ago with the advent of the Maafa (African slave trade; tragedy) an unresolved contradiction arose. This contradiction has been characterized by the colonization of New Afrikan Black people, first as slaves, a nation of slaves, and oppressed and exploited free people, until now, where Our colonization is characterized by the forced dependence upon the United States, settler-imperialist neo-colonial empire, for the basic functions of modern nationhood. That is free development of independent political, social, and economic production and advancement.
During the last 402 years, what it means to be a New Afrikan in Amerika has been tied to Our ongoing collective struggle to express Ourselves in the full extent of Our humynity, to cast off the old forced colonial relationship, which saw us as completely dependent pawns in the ‘game’ of world affairs, and to exercise a role and position which has been guaranteed to almost all other peoples of the world, that is to determine for Ourselves who We are, what We are (a colonized nation), and how We wish to organize Ourselves for the daily survival of Our people.
For the settler-empire’s part in this contradiction they’ve sought to undermine Our natural, independent, development at every turn. All the empire’s actions towards Our people, whether they be in the field of military intimidation (police terrorism), propaganda, political policies, and all other matters, they have all been to further the relation of dependence upon their governance and economic structure.
Due to these simple truths and the multitude of ramifications that they produce, it shouldn’t be lost on the reader that the enemy of New Afrikan–Black people is the system of economic and political power that has been FORCED upon us. This system is called capitalism-imperialism, and the u.s. government at both federal and local levels is the world leader of this system which is the cause of not only Our collective misery, but that of the majority of the world’s people.
We, as a people, must come to understand that, ‘yes’, ‘protection’ is needed and it is needed from the forces of power. Our enemies are not those of another block, set, or turf who not only look like us, but more importantly, are victims of the same systemic oppression and alienation as us, which has fostered Our like conditions. Our enemies are not those whom the real enemy has told us are the ‘gangs’ and ‘criminals’. These We must begin to see as Ourselves, Our siblings, Our allies, in this struggle. Allies whom have not yet been awakened to their place and position within the ranks of Our New Afrikan Independence Movement.
Forever Protecting the Community, as many of you reading this already know, has grown out of the legacy of the Forum Park Crips, in particular, and that of New Afrikan-Black street organizations in general. Modern street organizations within Our colonies (communities) have for a long time possessed the tendency to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders.
Prior to the creation of the original Crips of Los Angeles in 1971, there were other street organizations. During the mid-1960’s as Our nation was on a collective march to determine for Ourselves Our own destiny, several Black Power organizations began to recruit effectively within the class of people in Our colonies that were or would likely become members of street organizations. These Black Power revolutionaries impressed upon the sisters and brothers that the most effective way to combat the mistreatment they all faced was to unite on the basis of nationhood, and the shared quest for self-determination.
On the West Coast, the main Black Power groups leading the shift in social philosophy and participation among the ‘street class’, were the Black Panther Party, and the US organization. The former would succeed in consolidating ALL of the New Afrikan Black street organizations on the West Side of South Central into one mass body. This effort was led by Panther deputy chairman Alprentice Bunchy Carter: a former leader of the ‘Slausons’ street organization, and convict, turned political revolutionary while in California’s San Quentin Concentration Camp. Bunchy Carter would help politicize most of his former ‘gang’ buddies, recruiting them into the Panther organization and more importantly, re-install the sense of common-unity (community) among the working class of the surrounding area, with the former ‘destroyers’, the ‘gang’ element. This was only possible once the people could see that the 5,000 strong Slausons had made themselves a vehicle for productivity in opposition to the people’s REAL enemies instead of assisting the enemies of the people in the destruction of the people and Our areas of residence. Forever Protecting the Community, if it lives up to its calling, will follow down this same path of self-liberation, utilizing the examples set by the Slausons and others to build upon the advancement of Our nation in Our quest for self-determination and independence.
"The time is NOW for a total refocusing of Our efforts, away from non-productive distractions and other elements of temptations, and focus towards those disciplines that will make us real [contributors] in Our communities. We must stop the gangbanging and drive-bys. Our [nation] is being destroyed by the killing [drugging and imprisonment] of Our own youth. We must stop hating one another because of the block, hood, turf, and color We represent, these actions only continue the cycle of self-destruction.
“And finally, in my sincere appeal for peace and unity: Those of us that have experienced being Our brother’s keeper – We must educate Our members around Us. Education brings about awareness. Awareness generates the ability to think. Our youth must know the end result of crime is shame, disgrace, and imprisonment to themselves, as well as the community. We must come to the point of outlawing those who willfully disrupt Our communities and Our call [to Forever Protect the Community]. Crime must not be accepted as the normal way of doing things.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993 ‘Call For Peace’
As articulated previously, there has been a tendency among New Afrikan-Black street organizations to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they play, or intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders. Larry Hoover leading the transition of his organization from ‘Gangster Disciples’ to ‘Growth and Development’ is one of the most noteworthy and informative examples that We can/should take lessons from. Yet before We delve more into the lessons We can take from this grouping, it is important that We illustrate the hands of the enemy in regards to the growth and expansion of today’s street organizations and the sanctioned culture of gangsterism.
Going back to the mid-60’s, as the Slausons and other similarly situated groups began to cast off the self-destructive, and counter-productive behaviors, they consequently began engaging in the socio-political battles Our people faced at the local, ‘national’, and global levels. Once it became clear to the masses that Our oppression was/is political and economic and that the political reinforced the economic, it became evident that the interests of Our people had to be represented, by Our people, in the political sphere, and subsequently political bodies were formulated. The Black Panther Party, along with the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, were two of the foremost leaders among these such groups. On a national level, the ‘street class’ began to be involved in the development of themselves, and their people on an objective basis, as such naturally their priorities began to shift, instead of clubbing, slanging and banging, this class of people, many of Our predecessors, began to initiate community political education classes, free health clinics, community ‘face lifts’, and clean up programs, free busing to prison for visits, and a host of other ‘survival programs’.
It was during this time, because Our people had clearly drawn a line of demarcation between themselves and the enemies of the people, furthermore the same elements of the New Afrikan-Black Nation which had, by force of circumstance, been most dependent upon the u.s. federal and local governments couldn’t and/or wouldn’t. Such a development signaled to the people that they themselves had the necessary power to liberate themselves, hence the popularity of the phrase, ‘Power to the People’.
Much of the oppressors continued rule depends upon the people’s belief that they’re utterly helpless without the structure of the settler-colonial imperialists. Once this illusion is unmasked and the essence of the establishment is exposed, the oppressive state apparatus must solely rely on brute force to maintain its illegitimate rule upon the people, Our people. The establishment seeks to bypass such a reality. Overt violence for the sake of political repression usually swells the ranks of those in opposition to the illegitimate governmental authorities.
It was this exact situation which saw the federal government intensify the contradiction which began in Black August 1619 to the level of a domestic war between two opposed and contradictory entities, through the FBI’s declared war on the various organizations and people within the Black Liberation Movement, by way of the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
The u.s. government’s carrying out of COINTELPRO in order to prevent the self-developed expression of the New Afrikan-Black experience as a colonized nation held captive for centuries by the u.s. government, resulted in numerous political assassinations of New Afrikan-Black liberation combatants, the political/false imprisonment of various souljahs and activists of Our cause, and the subsequent obliteration of what has been up until this point the most progressive era of Our collective struggle in 402 years (the Black Liberation Movement).
The defeat of the movement is important to this discourse on FPC, because it was in the wake of the defeat of the movement that the Crips, Bloods, Folks and Peoples established themselves. The establishment of these street groups was facilitated by the war initiated on the movement, and the subsequent elimination of progressive, productive, and revolutionary leadership in the colonies which We call communities. Ajamu Niamke Kamara (Stanley Tookie Williams), co-founder of the Crips, said the following:
"i’m convinced that had the Black Panther Party still been recruiting - uninterrupted by the duplicitous COINTELPRO… Huey Newton and Bobby Seale would have salivated over the untapped youthful potential We represented.
“Throughout this state and country, We embodied only a small divided body within a multitude of reckless, energetic, fearless, and explosive young Black warriors. Though we were often seen as social dynamite, i believe We were the perfect entity to be indoctrinated in cultural awareness and trained as disciplined soldiers for the Black struggle.”
Unfortunately for the original Crips and Bloods, and the many multitudes who have since followed in their foot steps, in 1971 while Tookie Williams and Raymond Washington were establishing the teenage clique that would become an international menace, the Black Panther Party was enduring a major split within its ranks, which was caused, partially, by the assault(s) of COINTELPRO, that would be the beginning of the end for the Party and the movement.
In the wake of the defeat, the establishment initiated a wide variety of methods to ensure that the widely dispersed wave of righteous rebellion and the desire of an internal colony to free itself from the forced yoke of imperialism and neo-colonialism, would never happen again. To insure that Our people would remain collectively divided and conquered, and sleep, the enemies invented and distributed crack cocaine, and military grade weapons throughout the mid 1980’s and into the 1990’s, allowed for the AIDS/HIV epidemic, created laws and policies that would hold millions of Our youthful and vibrant siblings in captivity based on fabricated and over-exaggerated portrayals of Our colonized territories and peoples, and Our responses to Our colonial oppression.
While the movement for self-determination was brutally crushed by the u.s. government, that same government, wherever it could, assisted the growth and expansion of the street organizations. The very industry that was factually created by the CIA (the Crack Trade) was the vehicle which drove Crips, Bloods, Folk, and Peoples factions in their growth across the u.s. empire. This subsequent growth and expansion led directly to the formation of the street organization, Forum Park Crips, an independent Crip faction in Houston, Texas, along with countless other similar factions and groups. What could have been the u.s. establishment’s motive in instigating the growth of parasitic groups, while murdering and torturing the productive organized bodies? The answer can only possibly be the intended destruction of Our nation and people.
With this realization that We have been manipulated, on a large scale, to act against Our own interests and that of Our nation, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community, though not the solution within itself, surely takes a step in the correct direction.
“… Our women and children are suffering greatly at the hands of an oppressive, dominant, racist political system… We can no longer afford the forced luxury of non-involvement or non-participation. The question remains: How can We contribute within Our limited capacities? .. i say to you: If We accept a partial responsibility for the plight of Our own people, then We must take an active role in the game of POLITICS.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993, “Call to Action”
Where Do We Go From Here? As stated above, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community is not a solution in and of itself, and it remains to be seen whether or not this formation will live out its full potential. What has already taken place however is the necessary act of determining for ones self what your identity and purpose will be. There will be naysayers who will point to all sorts of negative aspects of those who are or become active with the new FPC movement. They will, if hystory is any indicator, deter the general public from supporting and identifying with the movement of Our people and colonies.
In order to get out in front of this foreseeable roadblock to Our progress, We must do one of two things. 1) Abandon the words and personification of ‘gang’, and ‘criminal’, to those who have defined them (Our enemies) so that now they will have purely negative connotations; 2) redefine those words/personifications - or create a new word or phrase to describe organized groups within Our oppressed colonies (communities).
Whichever choice is made, NEW concepts must be developed that reinforce NEW forms of activity that should begin to appear on the basis of the NEW concept. Forever Protecting the Community is the NEW concept, and now what the leaders of this organization must act towards is organizing a wide variety of people of the community to work collectively to transform the ‘gang’ into a progressive organization of New Afrikan people, which struggles and works in the interests of Our people. The problem within Our colonies (communities) isn’t that there are ‘gangs’, but it is the real problems which all peoples under capitalist domination face, it is capitalism itself, and the social, economic and political alienation it creates, which indirectly gives birth to ‘gangs’ and ‘crime’.
Forever Protecting the Community has taken one step towards empowerment – one critical step closer to a new sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – by using the power that We already have, to define Ourselves, name Ourselves and speak for Ourselves – instead of being defined and spoken for by others. The next step consists of leading all the people of the community to share in the responsibility for providing a NEW broader sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – for Our children and Ourselves. It is time now to promote NEW ideas about the life We wanna live and the society We wanna live in. Its time to promote NEW definitions of Our problems (e.g. ‘racism’ or capitalism/colonialism) and the real solutions to Our problems (e.g. ‘empowerment’ or genuine independence). We must begin to promote among Our people the idea that Our purpose isn’t to simply own a nice car, jewelry, a house, or even to quasi control a few city blocks, but to share in Our control of entire cities, entire states, and eventually, to share in the control of Our independent nation.
The task is to begin to formulate a community coalition behind the idea/motto/slogan of Forever Protecting the Community. By a coalition i mean connecting with a variety of people who identify with and support the cause of the organization. Particularly, the following elements within the community should be sought out for support and assistance:
“What We have to do is get together the conscientious progressive thinkers within these [street] organizations that know that they have to make a change in order to survive… We have to put together a concerted effort by all segments of Our community– clergy, business, activists, and progressive thinkers within street organizations [local elected officials, educators, health care providers]. You have to go within these organizations to change them… You can’t just write off a generation… It is time for [New Afrikans] from all over the country to realize what has happened to Our people, and that while much of it can be attributed to outside forces We have to begin to take responsibility for Ourselves.” – Larry Hoover
As a politicized prisoner, and activist, co-founder of the prison activist organization Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., i extend my hand, and that of my comrades and supporters on both side of the walls, in support and solidarity of the Forever Protecting the Community organization, and more importantly i look forward to workin with my brothers, the 10’zzz, on concrete actions both FPC and Team One can collab on that will suit both Our missions.
We of TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. believe the current United Struggle from Within movement which We support, along with the general prison resistance/abolition movements, align perfectly with Forever Protecting the Community’s mission. As such, We humbly ask that if you are a part of or support the mission to FOREVER PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY, that you also contact and actively support the souljahs behind enemy lines within the TX Team One formation fighting against legal slavery in Texas prisons, and the inhumane use of indefinite, and long term solitary confinement, as a toll of social and political repression.
Dare 2 Struggle Dare 2 Win; 1 Love 1 Struggle for LAND AND INDEPENDENCE
“Look you a Blood, i’ma Crip, but i figure we can get back to that Black shit, instead of killin and bangin for crack shit, is n****z too stuck in they ways? i know We long overdue, but is We ready for change? Stand under one flag like an ARMY brigade. Time to put the deuce-deuce down and pick a ‘K’, and if We bangin on sum Black shit. Let’s ride for the dead homies and get the burners for Malcolm and Nat Turner. Talkin’ to them other n*****z, my so called enemies We don’t own one block but We live and die for these city streets. Even though the pain runs deep, REAL n*****z know its time to make PEACE so We can FOCUS ON THE PAYCHECK.” – Nipsey Hussle
“Now if We wanna live the THUG LIFE and the gangsta life and all that, okay, so stop being cowards and let’s have a REVOLUTION. But We don’t wanna do that, dudes just wanna live a character. They wanna be cartoons, but if they really wanted to do something, if they was tough alright, lets start Our OWN COUNTRY, lets start a REVOLUTION, let’s get out of here [prison], let’s do something.” – Tupac Amaru Shakur
Triumphant TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E Co-founder New Afrikan Independence Movement
“From an organizers perspective, [struggling for quality-of-life reforms such as increased phone access] are not battles which we can effectively push anti-imperialism forward, much less MLM…”
The author cites a failure to apply the materialist dialectic, or the ‘science’ behind scientific socialism, to the situation at hand. When viewed in isolation and out of its proper context, the conclusion that they have reached would certainly be a commonsense position to take. And as they write a little further on:
“How can we then deem that prison struggles aren’t aligned with anti-imperialism?”
Yet if the quote being critiqued were analyzed in its totality, we can begin to see more nuance and why such a statement was made in the first place. So to continue where the partial quote left off:
“…without veering into reformist practices of little tactical or strategic value. I am aware that arguments of principle can be mounted to the contrary, but absent a practicable, totalizing strategy for revolution domestically being put forward by an MLM organization that is actionable in the here-and-now, we cannot effectively utilize many of these prison struggles as a proper springboard to corresponding actions in other areas, actions which do not translate into long-term pacification which benefits their prison administration in an objective, cost-to-us, benefit-to-them analysis. If we cannot muster the resources and external manpower to mount a facility or state-specific campaign for a tactical reform to push our agenda and continually imprint firmly in the minds of all incarcerated that we have their best interests in mind, it may be advisable to abstain from participation lest credit for the reforms go elsewhere and become politically-neutered, or, worse yet, the system co-opts the struggle as its own and touts its successes (ie. The First-Step Act). Otherwise, we are gaining no more than sporadic traction amongst those we are attempting to revolutionize, and then only of a transient nature.” (emphasis added)
As mentioned earlier, there is a nuance to the position I have taken that is obscured in comrade Triumphant’s approach to mounting an argument on principle, and that in itself constitutes an incorrect and unscientific approach to proper discourse. Quoting someone out of context may buttress a particular argument or agenda, however arguments begin to lose their strength when quotations are re-situated in their proper place. You ask, ‘how can we then deem that prison struggles aren’t aligned with anti-imperialism?’, but who has or where has such a view been advocated in the first place for this allegation to be made? As you can see, the position put forth in the original commentary advocated not an abandonment of revolutionary struggle within prisons but rather its placement within a more explicitly revolutionary framework. Refining our approach does not imply an abandonment of all struggle just to focus on study.
It is agreed that the materialist dialectic can be applied in all manner of social phenomena, and the Amerikan injustice system and the struggle between prison staff and the captive population are no exception. But the real question is, should it be applied in this particular instance in the manner which the Team One Formation, K.A.G.E. Universal and others have done thus far – that is, pushing for minor reforms largely divorced from a wider revolutionary anti-imperialist agenda resulting in pacification once concessions are made? I would argue that advocating for these various minor reforms to address the prison masses immediate needs can be classified as (presupposing these formations desire revolution or claim communism as their goal) right opportunist deviations.
Right opportunism is an error in practice that occurs when an organization attempts to embed itself in the masses and in doing so gives up a clear revolutionary program in the interest of fighting for immediate demands. This leads to economism/workerism (or in this case ‘prisonerism’), which is the purview of reformism: solely focusing on economic demands (economism), or the demands of prisoners.
You write that “quality-of-life reforms are connected to the strategy of cadre development.” Now can experience be gained in how to train cadre and organize people while doing this? Sure, but similar things can be argued about improving one’s marksmanship and related skills acquired while employed as a cop too. While a rather extreme analogy, what I am getting at is that productive skills can technically be derived from incorrect practice. Yet the question for both scenarios remains the same: Is there a better methodological approach to training cadre?
It is a laudable desire to want to avoid being all ‘study’ and no struggle, but if ‘struggle’ leads a group to avoiding, obscuring or watering down their politics in order to attain their demands, then that is not getting us any closer to our desired results. As MIM(Prisons) notes:
“We can also say that only focusing on the reformist campaigns, without the larger goals, is not going to change anything in regards to ending oppression and injustice.”
It is encouraging to see that in consequence of previous organizing experience comrade Triumphant has pledged to focus on “reorganizing of the TX Team One under a clearer program and a better understanding of what our strategic and tactical goals are.” This statement also aligns with what this comrade wrote in the November 2020 USW organizing update in reference to the reformist practice of the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM):
“unless anti-imperialist, revolutionary nationalist and/or communists take hold of this movement and see it as a tactical operation instead of a be-all end-all and thereby re-center the movement, it may only further ‘Amerikanize’ the (only) vastly-proletarian revolutionary sector of society we have (lumpen in prison). That could occur if cats become pacified with all these tokens and reforms that have been struggled for.”
But just because we re-center a movement along these lines and dress future demands to the state in sufficiently ‘revolutionary’ language to avoid the perception of reformism does not mean that we are actually avoiding these same pitfalls.
Here I will argue that even with an explicitly revolutionary program guiding us in the struggle for tactical reforms, we can still be susceptible to a sort of unwitting crypto-reformism if our struggles are not chosen very carefully and with the correct tactical, strategic and narrative approach. In the original commentary I wrote that
“we should not be trying to ‘improve’ Amerikan prisons, much like we should not be attempting to cut a bigger portion of imperialist profits from Third World super-exploitation for the lower class, yet still relatively privileged, citizens of empire.”
This statement meshes with your desire not to have strictly-reformist campaigns “further ‘Amerikanize’ the (only) vastly-proletarian revolutionary sector of society we have.” Of course our current approach differs strategically from the reformists but, noble intentions aside, it is still having the same overall effect in practice: we are inadvertently pacifying individuals, making them complacent sleepwalkers again. You may probably think: ‘Bullshit. We are teaching the masses not to fall for any old reform, that these are ’tactical maneuvers’,etc. And you may very well be able to indoctrinate a core of cadre to hold strong to a political line which promotes this view. However, if we view matters through a historical lens, when concessions from the state were achieved via a revolutionary stage of struggle these victories largely blunted the sympathetic masses desire to seek further redress by way of revolutionary means. Whether that be (to cite a non-Maoist, yet anti-capitalist example) during the peak of IWW organizing a century ago, the transient successes of the anti-revisionist New Communist Movement era or our current campaigns to ‘Abolish the SHU’ and ‘Release the Kids in Kages.’ Our ‘successes’ end up serving as a pressure-release for many and creating a ‘kinder, gentler machine-gun hand’ for our opponents to use against us, akin to replacing the arrogance and political incorrectness of Trump for the soothing reassurances of Biden.
From the commentary of the same USW organizing update from November 2020, you write that
“from an anti-imperialist perspective, the PHRM is only a tactic, a means to an end. That end being, sharpening the contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations, and advancing the oppressed aspect of that contradiction.”
But how do we really expect to sharpen the contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations and advance the oppressed aspect of that contradiction if we are actively participating in the lowering or resolution of the contradictions which heightened tensions in the first place? There is a periodic ebb and flow of the revolutionary tide in this country; why do we by way of our current tactical, strategic and narrative approach inadvertently help turn an upswing into a downturn? Of course the inherent contradiction in (note:their) Amerikan society will never truly go away absent revolution, but we are in the meantime attempting to apply balm to their societal problems and in effect delay its arrival.
Circling back to the arguments put forth in ‘An Ongoing Discussion on Organizing Strategy’, you bring up a good question when you write that
“the real crux of the issue, as it pertains to linking a totalizing revolutionary strategy, lies in practical experience gained by the masses in asserting their collective power. For, how will we seize state power if the people lack the strategic confidence to assert their power?”
As my position does not advocate pushing for more quality-of-life reforms even if there happens to be some positive by-product in cadre development, my reply to this question is that we should re-orient our tactics, strategy and narrative approach to the masses by over-emphasizing self-reliance and independence-mastery on the road to communist revolution. Therefore we should largely abstain from trying to prevent erosions of their bourgeois legal rights such as affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, abortion access, etc. and, if we are to engage in any tactical reforms to begin with, instead focus on opposition to proposals to place limits on magazine capacity, bans on assault rifles and other perceived or actual threats to their 2nd Amendment and other measures which will aid in our ability to maneuver and take them down when the time comes. This of course does not mean that we don’t support LGBTQ rights or abortion access, but fighting for their (re:Amerika’s) civil liberties and other bourgeois rights keeps many, including some well-meaning comrades, from seeing the bigger picture: Let their country go to hell. The Amerikan government will not become any less imperialist by advocating for more rights for more people within U.S. borders and it is debatable that we are contributing to anything more than a temporary weakening of imperialism domestically. If anything we are contributing to its further consolidation under the guise of new exploiters with more varied genders, orientations and skin tones.
Our cadre and the masses will gain practical experience and strategic confidence in their power by continuing to focus on construction of independent institutions, not making demands of an illegitimate government to provide redress. In the prison context, I repeat: “if we are to engage in any prison organizing, then censorship battles concerning our political ideology, the UFPP and the Re-Lease on Life programs should take center stage… As for our comrades who do not have the luxury of a release date, or have sentences which essentially translate into the same, their best hope for release lies not in reforms but with an all-sided MLM revolutionary organization planning their release through eventual People’s War.”
Bypass the reforms which do not help us either strengthen our party/cell formations, build independent institutions for the people or hasten People’s War.
Say ‘NO’ to negotiations; focus on revolutionary-separation and self-determination.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: I want to thank Triumphant and S. Xanastas for their thoughtful articulations on this topic. And i hope that printing these in ULK are helpful to others in thinking about how to organize effectively under the United Struggle from Within banner or on the streets.
In my many years of working on this project i would say this two-line struggle is really at the heart of what we do. Of course, how we walk the line between ultra-left and rightism is always at the heart of those deciding strategy for a communist movement. But these comrades address this question in our context today in the United $tates and in the context of organizing the First World lumpen and engaging in prison-based organizing.
In all contexts, going too far left means isolating ourselves from the masses and going too far right means tailing the masses and following them into dead ends. Therefore finding the correct path also requires determining who are the masses in our conditions. If we did not agree on who the masses are then we could not have this discussion in a meaningful way. Since we do agree, this is a two line struggle within our movement. With that frame I want to quickly address a couple points brought up here.
First, I think the strength in Triumphant’s argument is not in the skill-building of the individual cadre leaders as organizers, which arguably could be found elsewhere, but rather “in practical experience gained by the masses in asserting their collective power.” Triumphant also talks about the importance of the tactical battles in “increas[ing] the collective practical experience of contesting the state as a united body.”
S. Xanastas’ suggested program echoes closely to what Narobi Äntari’s calls for comrades to do upon release. And they echo much of MIM(Prisons) focus, especially in more recent years. Yet, i pose the question: can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state?
And one final point, is that MIM always said the principal task was not just to build independent institutions of the oppressed, but also to build public opinion against imperialism. Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or hide their use of long-term isolation? Or should we focus solely on the Third World neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling in Ethiopia, Cuba and Haiti?
The American reformers who first devised the penitentiary believed that criminals could be ‘reformed’ through solitary confinement, labor and religious indoctrination. The use of solitary confinement and isolation/sensory deprivation began at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1820’s. But what was actually discovered was that conditions of sensory deprivation caused mental deterioration and psychosis. Leading writers such as Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin, upon touring the penitentiary, spoke out against its conditions of mental torture. As Dickens observed: ‘I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.’ The Supreme Court ultimately ruled such solitary confinement ‘mentally destructive’ and outlawed it. It stated,
“A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to remove them, and others became violently insane; others still committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal better were generally not reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of sufficient service to the community.” See: In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 168 (1890)
Since that time, however, solitary hasn’t ceased. This is even after courts and legislators in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have outlawed even the new and more scientifically designed forms of solitary confinement.
TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. was founded by persyns who have endured years and decades of solitary confinement in the forms of SHU and Ad-Seg (now called ‘restrictive housing’).
Many modern courts have found the same conditions and injuries to prisoners from confinement in modern control units as did the high court of 1890 in the Medley case (see: e.g. Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146 (N.D. Cal. 1995) )
“Many, if not most inmates in SHU experience some degree of psychological trauma in relation to their extreme social isolation and the severely restricted environmental stimulation in SHU.” This court concluded that confinement under such conditions may press the outer boundaries of what humans can psychologically tolerate. The psychological consequences of living in these units for long periods of time are predictably destructive, and the potential for these psychological stressors to precipitate various forms of psychopathology is clear cut. "Another court found that isolating human beings year after year or even month after month can cause substantial psychological damage, even if the isolation is not total. Davenport v. DeRoberts, 844F,2d 1310, 1316 (1999)
As a study on sensory deprivation by a team of 4 Harvard psychologists conducted for the CIA revealed:
The deprivation of sensory stimuli induces stress;
The stress becomes unbearable for most subjects;
The subject has a growing need for physical and social stimuli, and;
Some subjects progressively lose touch with reality, focus inwardly, and produce delusions, hallucinations and other psychological effects.
“Segregation is the modern form of solitary confinement. Segregation inmates are almost completely deprived of the commonplace incidents and routines of prison life. In theory [RHU] is not punitive. In practice, it can only be described as punishing.”
It is with the preceding information that TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. has been inspired to put Our lives on the line in the most literal sense, by refusing the necessary nutrients for survival, and good health. This coming Black August 21st, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of George L. Jackson, TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. will be leading the masses on TDCJ’s Allred Unit in a hunger strike to protest and bring attention to the fundamental injustice that is embodied in the mere use of isolation solitary confinement. We ask the inside community to join us in struggle, as We already have a case in the courts challenging TDCJ’s use of the RHU. We ask the outside community to join us in solidarity (solidarity actions will be listed at the end of this pamphlet).
What is BP – 3.91?
Board policy 3.91 has recently been revised and is set to take effect on August 1st. These revisions seek to create an asexual environment in prison. If the penal system has its way, all publications, pictures which may possibly cause arousal will be considered contraband.
While We, T.E.A.M.O.N.E., recognize the needs of some to rehabilitate themselves from what may be considered perverse sexual behavior, the same cannot be said for all, nor even most, prison captives. For factually speaking, each individual has individual needs to the realm of recovery and redemption.
TDCJ, when it benefits their agenda, seems to agree. For, in recent years they have mandated that each captive complete an ‘individualized treatment plan.’ All captive persyns must complete the plan prior to their release on parole, or risk remaining in prison.
What Penological Reason Does BP – 3.91 Serve?
At the date of this writing TDCJ has refused to state any reasoning for this policy amendment. This refusal in itself is unlawful, by the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Turner case.
That aside, since they’ve left the reasoning up to interpretation, let’s interpret it:
Why on earth would anyone want an asexual environment? One where in theory only sexual desire doesn’t exist? We say in theory only because factually speaking, no matter the variations of sexual expression, desire and arousal are as natural as breathing. What then happens when large masses of people are warehoused, cut off from ALL social stimuli, as We are in RHU? Frankly, this act falls in line with historical missions of the american establishment, in terms of genocide, a slow and deliberate de-population of outcasted sectors.
REMEMBER EUGENICS? The selective breeding of persyns in order to weed out unwanted social characteristics that were thought to be found in ones genetics. REMEMBER FORCED STERILIATION of both wimmin and men who were largely held captive, were mentally unequipped, or otherwise considered a liability to the social order. This BP – 3.91 is aligned with this grim history.
But that’s not all! BP – 3.91 will ban any material which depicts a persyn with their face covered! Still in the middle of a pandemic! Enough said!?
Phone-zap: Those outside persyns who’re not local should call the TX Board of Criminal Justice on August 1st (512-475-3250) demanding BP 3.91 be annulled as it has been revised, as it is an unlawful use of prison censorship.
On August 24th, supporters should call the executive director of TDCJ (936-437-2101). On the 24th We will have been on strike for 3 days, which makes it official. Demand that TDCJ begin to rectify its inhumane confining of RHU inmates indefinitely and without meaningful review. Express your support for the hunger strikers on Allred.
Those who are local to this region, We ask to come out in droves to support Our cause via an outside noise demonstration at the grounds of the Allred prison colony. We need and appreciate your support.
USW 27 in California reports: Abolitionists From Within(AFW) is back on the move. Building, can’t stop, won’t stop. We put forth United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. The work on the ground is coming together. About a month ago, one of the comrades pulled me to the side and had a novel idea about bringing the community together for Juneteenth. What do you know, they made Juneteenth a national holiday. And we had a day of peace and unity here in our facility.
The young Afrikan and older comrades smiled that day. You know me, I told them to get ready for Black August. But it was nice to see our community ask questions about Juneteenth, the end of slavery. However, for us it was a day to learn and come together. Unity, Peace. A day that I can’t be lied to anymore. Thank you to the comrade who hit me up with the idea.
Now I need that same energy come Black August. Now to all you New Afrikans who participated in Juneteenth Day, thank you. You are free Black men.
Da Struggle Continue
a USW leader in TX reports: For Juneteenth, the ‘Black Unity group’, which is called Black Independence Taking Root(BITR), initiated a peace treaty among Black lumpen street organizations. A community meal was shared after sundown as the daytime was reserved for fasting as a show of appreciation to New Afrikan ancestors, and activists of various stripes who’ve pushed the cause of New Afrikan liberation forward. During that time, this cell provided the brothas here with largely unknown New Afrikan revolutionary contributions of the past, both recent and not so recent. The masses responded to the initiative very well.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The New Afrikan holiday, Juneteenth, was made a federal holiday just prior to 19 June 2021. While Amerikans celebrate 4 July 1776 as their independence day, 19 June 1865 has been celebrated by many as “Black Independence Day.” Though the New Afrikan nation was not liberated from the emerging U.$. empire on that day, it marked the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was announced and enforced in Texas, the last state it reached. It took two and a half years after the proclamation for the northern troops to make it to Texas and enforce the law. While the proclamation made on 22 September 1862 by President Lincoln was not originally a permanent law, the Thirteenth Amendment making slavery illegal, except for the convicted felon, was passed in January 1865, prior to the freeing of the slaves in Texas.
With the Thirteenth Amendment, former slaves were made citizens of the United $tates by mandate, and with no say in the matter. This new people had evolved from 100s of years of African slaves working together in a common economic situation, developing its own culture and investing in developing the land they found themselves on. After 100s of years of being denied any rights by the slavemasters who brought them there, suddenly they were told they must join the nation of their slavemasters.
What happened in the south following the civil war was a plan for a bourgeois democratic program for Black people, to incorporate them as full citizens, within the confines of capitalism. This plan was called Reconstruction. It was short-lived (1863-1877), as the whites charged with enforcing it soon gave in to the resistance by the whites who opposed it. We learned that the white nation was not willing to see through the struggle for bourgeois democracy for the New Afrikan nation. That is why today we say real independence, full rights and self-determination for New Afrikans, requires New Democracy. A New Democracy is a proletarian-led democratic revolution, different in class leadership from the bourgeois Amerikan Revolution.
The history of Reconstruction followed by Jim Crow is the most culturally relevant example for us in the United $tates of why a dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary to end oppression. No oppressor class, nation or gender in history has yet to give up its power without a fight. The all around dictatorship of the proletariat is what communists have used to revolutionize societies at all levels to undermine class and gender distinctions.
Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation remained in effect until 1965. During the 1960s there was a significant movement for true liberation of the New Afrikan nation centered around the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. As we enter Black August later this summer, we commemorate those who were murdered by the state in the righteous struggle against oppression. A struggle that was recognized as necessary thanks to the lessons of Juneteenth.
Last year, President Donald Trump made a point by scheduling a rally speech on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma where whites waged an all-out-war against New Afrikans in 1921. This year was the 100th anniversary of the battle of Tulsa, where the communist African Blood Brotherhood(ABB) led the brave defense of “Black Wall Street” from marauding whites, who shot up and bombed the Greenwood district of the city from planes. The ABB was a secret society in Jim Crow Tulsa and many other southern cities, because to be a communist outright would have meant a death sentence from whites. The battle began when the ABB organized a resistance to the lynch mob coming for a young New Afrikan falsely accused of raping a white girl. While this battle led to many deaths on both sides and the burning of both white and Black-owned properties, it put an end to lynchings in Tulsa for a long time.
A year after Trump’s Tulsa debacle, President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday. This symbolizes the conflict within the Amerikan ruling class, and the white nation as well, in how to deal with the oppressed internal semi-colonies today. While the Republican and Democratic parties have switched positions, with the Republican Party now being the one trying to disenfranchise New Afrikans, the disagreement over the national contradiction is very similar to the days of Republican Abraham Lincoln.
As communists we strive for the resolution of this national contradiction by freeing all oppressed nations once and for all, not waiting and hoping for one slightly friendlier sector of the oppressor to win out. The ongoing struggle for New Afrikan liberation is tied to the struggle of all oppressed people for liberation. It is not surprising that the nation that ultimately worked so hard to keep the Black nation down in the 1800s is now the primary force keeping oppressed people down around the world. We have seen the limits of the euro-Amerikan revolution.