On 18 April 2017 the prisoners here rioted against the staff. Mainly it was just the South Hall. Those youngsters are tired of being treated like animals. So they rebel the only way they knew how. By busting out all the windows on the South Hall of East Arkansas Regional Unit, which was one through eight barracks. This transpired that day from 5:30pm until 5:30am. By then Emergency Response Team (ERT) and officers from all the other units responded. They shot 30mm rubber bullets and flash bangs into those barracks. They hog tied prisoners, and dragged them down the hall to the visitation yard which was turned into a makeshift infirmary. There prisoners were beat, kicked or stomped while still cuffed and awaiting medical treatment. The pigs stayed for 3 days in extremely large numbers. 100 officers for day and night shifts the first day, then 50 extra officers on the 2nd and 3rd day. They even returned on the nights of Arkansas' executions.
The prisoners could have rebelled better, but it is what it is. I'm glad, it just goes to show only so much repression will be tolerated by the masses until change is demanded. It's just that their energy could have been utilized in a more revolutionary way than in just a release of emotional outcry. Educating prisoners, all day. Each and every day we must teach the Marxist-Leninst-Maoist way.
"Our task now is to continue to extend and make still better use of this method throughout the ranks of the people..." - Mao Tse-Tung, "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People"
What was comrade Mao speaking about when he made these comments? His topic was the democratic method. In 1942, it was explained this way: 1) beginning from a desire for/to achieve unity, 2) resolving contradictions (real differences in opinions, perspectives, positions on questions or issues) through criticism/struggle (not necessarily physical); 3) arriving at a new unity on new basis. In simpler terms: unity, criticism, unity! This was the philosophy and practice which led China to overthrow the exploitative forces draining their entire country. Before this method, the imperialists, capitalists and their allies exploited contradictions between and among the masses and political cadres; in order to maintain their strangle hold on controlling not only the means of production and the productive forces, but also the very existence of the people in all aspects of their lives. This was the oppressive reality in China and is currently the reality (although in varying degrees) in Amerikkka's prisons.
In U.$. prisons, habitually, the method of solving problems is through hyper-masculinity, or hyper-violence. In a prison, the smallest trifle, disagreement, or unintentional act is met in overly-aggressive manners. Soon a test of wills develops, "my way or no way." But this hyper-violence does nothing to encourage unity, class awareness, or political consciousness, and it cripples the movement. Here is the true reason why prison officials or those connected to prisons and the injustice system do nothing to avoid it, and in many cases, they actually promote hyper-violent methods. This method is detrimental to you but beneficial for accomplishing penological interests. To break this oppression, the democratic method must be foremost in our minds and practice.
Gangs, "clikas," alliances and groups are analogous with political parties, factions and groups of like-minded individuals, in prison and society. In prison there are numerous racial tensions. There are contradictions and various other factors, not least among them, the constant oppressive atmosphere. The only ingredient not present: political consciousness. Here, Mao's lessons can be put to good use.
The procedures of yesterday may not be the exact remedy needed for today's problems. In prison, as in capitalist society, contradictions are normally expressed in acute antagonisms and conflicts. Many times this equates to prisoner against prisoner (rival gang members or conflicting races), or to a lesser extent, prisoner against guards. What do such conflicts achieve? Only further detriment for us. "Failure to understand..." in prison as in society, perpetuates the very causes of hyper-violence, which that same violence seeks to eliminate. Should we search for a different method, other than what the capitalist system has provided us for contradiction resolution? Can contradictions be resolved at all? Comrade Mao, in speaking of progress and difficulties says, "... not only should contradictions be resolved, but definitely can be."
"The only method to be used in this struggle is that of painstaking reasoning and not crude coercion..." Crude coercion being the hyper-violence/violent methodology. By opening dialogue for mutual education of every class of people, with a focus on promoting a united front. By critically analyzing, debating and correcting mistaken or inappropriate political views, as well as sowing the seeds that will produce political consciousness. After a time, this process yields fruits and progress. Two prisoners from rival gangs may begin to discuss their mutually oppressive predicament. This leads to criticism, fueled by a desire to struggle against their oppression, a criticism of the available options, submission or hyper-violence, and a rejection of both. Soon these rivals (actually allies against the oppressors) come to realize the only true way: the democratic method. Following such an epiphany, they form an alliance based on refusing to continue being pawns in the game and find a new unity. Unity, criticism, unity!
While the method is practicable in U.$. prisons, Amerikkka's prisoners, on a large scale, lack political consciousness and that is a problem. Here we must focus on educating, which goes back to our "task," as outlined above "...we should work painstakingly and not be impetuous." Creating more "self-determinants" as I've termed it in, "The Adaption of Capitalistic Controls," (see ULK 54). For the future health of the movement, the correct political points of view must be nourished, because not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul. A movement without a soul is dead.
Having literally been raised in the fedz (age 23-40), I developed a very unique perspective/world view on the "struggle" and the varying dynamics associated with it. One of the things I saw in the fedz from the beginning was the abundance of "official" OGs on the yards. Revolutionaries and street entity! They put efforts into educating males that, at minimum, one only had to carry oneself with a certain level of convict decorum if you will, to stay on level 5 lines. The various nations policed themselves. Which in turn negated much of the reactionary interracial violence which'd typically occur.
My journey began in a United States Penitentiary (USP) where I lasted 6 months before an encounter in center hallway with an aggressive pig! Before my 1st full year was done, I'd added 24 more months to the 15 years I'd been given! That set the tone for my bid and life. In that the hatred I felt for authority manifested quite regularly over the next 2 years. Accumulating a slew of violence shots (writeups), FBI referrals for prosecution and ultimately my first SHU placement.
What I recall most of my first ADX stay (mid-late 90s) was the standard of the majority of men I met, be they euro-nationalist, Muslim, revolutionary nationalist, Chicano, tribal structures, New Afrikan, tribal cats, etc. All stood firmly against the pigs. Anti-rodent philosophies included. Granted, we had the typical frictions associated with being in unnatural environments, forced to occupy very tight spaces. Many cats got hurt, racial reactionary issues and intra-racial fratricide due to geographical biases typically. However, I recall many instances where those of us who had any "credibility" and/or "entity status" would regularly parley (i.e. politic) to maintain respect between us and thereby negate potential violence.
At this time, I personally put down my own "tribal identity" and embraced a progressive ideological precept, albeit infantile. Three specific men entered my life and changed it forever: a European communist, a founding member of the dominant Chicano structure, and last but not least, a bay area militant turned Muslim! While in "stepdown units" of ADX, each took time to work with me, share progressive literature with us, build via dialogue. Many of my/our (i.e. tribal cats) previously held biases and notions on particular ethnic groups, etc. These were proven false once we were put within the close confines of ADX and actually talked.
I learned of various German philosophers (Nieche, Clausowitch) from euro-nationalists; about Aztecs, Toltecs, etc. from Chicanos under structure; about Mao, Lenin, Marx from communists; about Chaka, Diop, Huey P., George, Fred, so many more fallen heroes (and sheroes) from Afrikan nationalists! All of which giving insight into how these men thought, crucial to forging any qualitative bonds across both tribal and/or national lines in prison! I left ADX for Lompoc, where I remained 4 years, got to finally visit my family, and where I was embraced to the revolutionary nationalist ideology via affirmation and deeds!
There I again encountered some truly conscious men who embraced one and aided in my growth from tribal reactionary towards revolutionary activist. [Many comrades freely gave of themselves on a daily to uplift all of us! What I learned from them was "struggle"! To educated ourselves and others to learn the needs of the people, stand beside all who share same struggle (i.e. quest for revolutionary political and economic change in U$). Skin color being a non-factor in assessment of one's revolutionary authenticity. This is a reality I took with me over the following 5 years, including a (3 year) ADX return. Each line I hit, my objectives stayed fairly fixed, but open to change depending on conditions and personnel. This led to many fruitful alliances with a cross section of the populace on one hand, and quite a few situations where we organized and in turn undermined the progression of our common oppressor.
The biggest hurdle that I see to Euro-nationalists truly embracing a genuinely revolutionary ideology is their own fears and inherent biases. The fear of being ostracized by other Europeans keeps majority from standing beside folks of color. Their shared sociocultural backgrounds with the pigs (in majority of states) oftentimes see the euro-captive identify with the euro-captor out of some misguided sense of cultural identity vs. those held beside them, who are of New Afrikan or Latino ancestry. Ray Luc and Richard W. (rip) showed exactly how one of European ancestry can be revolutionaries. Neither of them were cowards about reactionary BS! They walked as men, and as such, all respected them. And both had full military support of party, tribal sets, etc. should any of the racists attempt to move on them. Those who are really striving to be about the struggle stand on "people's power" not skin affiliations or entities which espouse supremacist rhetoric.
The article by Bro Rashid (ULK 55, p. 14) I related to as I am presently housed in the cesspool (twilight zone) of Oregon DOC. What he described from 2014 could've easily been today. Thus far I have lasted 1 month at East Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) and 3 months on this mainline. In both instances I was kited off yard, likely by other folks of color. My party jacket, coupled with the past tribal ties (i.e. gang) has apparently moved my captors to indeterminately SHU me. Oh, and my conversion to Islam a couple years ago likely didn't help my cause, considering all of the extremist activities going on globally, that is. It appears I shall be sent out of state at some point. Objective being to get the militants up out of ODOC so as to keep these cats asleep and complacent! Lifers content to own multiple pairs of shoes; mp3 players, etc. I am constantly amazed, daily, at how warped these Oregonians ideals are, as they relate to acceptable conduct for ethical men in prison! Kickin it with pigs is not only accepted by the so called "good dudes" (Oregon speak for a Euro-captive that is not a sex offender). Cell soldiering back and forth is a daily occurrence. I hear an abundance of anti-sex-offender rhetoric, but next to nothing about the "system" which creates misogynist cats who in turn abuse women?!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer brings up some good examples from eir history that demonstrate the potential for people to learn and grow, for unity across groups in prison, and for people of all nations to take up revolutionary struggle. While there are material reasons why oppressed nations have a stronger interest in revolutionary struggle, people from the oppressor nation in prison are in a unique situation that can inspire them to take up the struggle.
We also want to comment on the last paragraph in which this writer talks about ethical behavior in prison, as this is an important point. The ideals that make it correct to talk trash about sex-offenders but not fight misogyny is something we need to address head on. It is the patriarchy that makes males feel good to attack those convicted of sex offenses without thinking about their own patriarchal behavior. Further the idea that attacking sex offenders is correct but murderers are ok makes no sense. We need to create a culture where all crimes against the people are condemned. And then we need to struggle with those who commit these crimes to see the mistakes they have made and reform their lives.
Con respecto a la pregunta de las alianzas del frente unido con grupos nacionalistas blancos, hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos. Ya voy escribiendo a MIM(Prisiones) por unos años y disfruto leer el ULK. Soy prácticamente mi propia armada con un solo hombre. No les pido a otras personas que hagan cosas que yo no haría por mismo.
Me encuentro en una Penitenciaría Federal en Tuscon, Arizona. Este es un pabellón para agresores sexuales, desertores de pandillas, Custodia Preventiva. No me encuentro aquí por elección propia. Soy un agresor sexual registrado por exposición indebida en un bar. Incluso aún cuando se retiraron los cargos, me obligaron a registrarme y ahora me encuentro todavía peleando el caso en el estado. Me encuentro en una prisión federal por cargos que no se relacionan con el cargo estatal. Este pabellón no tiene las mismas políticas que otros pabellones tienen. Sí tenemos políticas, pero no al extremo. El salón chow se encuentra divido por razas, pero te puedes sentar donde se te dé la gana. Lo que estoy tratando de decir es que, yo podría dejar este pabellón e ir probablemente a un pabellón activo, y que me asesinen por ser un agresor sexual registrado, aún cuando se retiraron los cargos. Esa es la política. Ahora, hay un montón de agresores sexuales y homosexuales, ratas y desertores. Todos tienen una razón para estar aquí. He estado en pabellones activos y muchas veces, en realidad la mayoría de veces, una persona pone su vida en riesgo por alguien que no es más que una mierda o un drogadicto. Ya no uso drogas y no me drogo en prisión.
Crecí en el oeste, desde Montana a Arizona, en el corazón de la nación Aria, un ejecutor de la Hermandad Aria con el viejo refrán, si no es blanco no está bien. Fui un niño ciego pero un buen soldado. A los 41 años soy ahora mi propio hombre. Nunca he abandonado a mis hermanos pero ya no peleo más esa batalla de odio. Hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos.
Tengo una pregunta: ¿No hay Maoístas que sean agresores sexuales o soplones? ¿Los Maoístas escogen trabajar con otros grupos o intentan convertir a otros grupos al maoísmo? Es algo diferente el trabajar con un grupo distinto para lograr la misma meta. Soy un individuo en un grupo y mis metas como individuo no son siempre las mismas que las del grupo. Mi meta es la libertad de un gobierno opresivo y corrupto, y no importa si es EUA o Rusia, opresión es opresión, corrupción es corrupción y esto debería detenerse. Todos pertenecemos a grupos diferentes, incluso a los grupos que sienten la necesidad de oprimir a otros.
El enemigo de mi enemigo es mi aliado. ¡El Frente Unido por la Paz!
Esto no se trata más de política o a qué grupo pertenece una persona. Yo soy un Hermano Ario independiente y apoyo al Ministerio Internacionalista Maoista de Prisiones y a la lucha de personas encarceladas. (No me gusta usar la palabra preso o convicto o cualquier otra palabra para prisionero que se usa para tomar el poder personal de una persona. Estas palabras hacen que las personas se sientan sin poder, sin esperanza, y eso no es verdad). Somos personas, humanos. Tenemos familias, amigos, al igual que el resto de personas.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: Esta es una carta interesante sobre los frentes unidos porque viene de alguien que representa a dos de los grupos con quienes, a menudo nos dicen, nunca deberíamos aliarnos, lo cual levanta preguntas de la otra parte. Primero, con respecto a la pregunta de agresores sexuales, este escritor demuestra porqué el confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “agresor sexual” es tan malo como confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “criminal”. Debemos decidir por nosotros mismos cuales individuos son aliados y cuales son enemigos.
Sobre la pregunta de nacionalistas blancos y aliados, este escritor todavía se encuentra en su grupo pero al parecer, tiene desacuerdos considerables con ellos si apoyan a ULK y MIM (Prisiones). Este es un ejemplo excelente de unir a todos los que se puedan unir contra el sistema de injusticia criminal. Sabemos que la hermandad Aria se encuentra básicamente en oposición a la liberación de naciones oprimidas. Al igual que el Partido Comunista de China sabía que el Kuomindang se encontraba esencialmente en oposición al comunismo. Pero en China antes de que la revolución fuera un éxito, hubo la oportunidad de construir una alianza contra el imperialismo Japonés, la contradicción principal en su momento. Y nosotros tenemos una oportunidad parecida de construir una alianza contra el sistema de injusticia criminal dentro de las prisiones. Ciertamente, que a una escala menor que la del frente unido en China, nuestro enemigo común en las prisiones ofrece la oportunidad de alianzas con grupos que serán nuestros enemigos, en otras batallas. Además es posible que ganemos algunos de estos tipos de estos grupos que, como este escritor, piensan que “la opresión es opresión…y debería detenerse”.
Este camarada menciona Rusia, tal vez como un ejemplo aleatorio. Pero hablando de Rusia y la opresión, es algo que se está convirtiendo en un asunto delicado en los Estados Unidos actualmente. Este fervor anti Rusia, como siempre, se encuentra ligado al nacionalismo americano. Se usa para atacar el régimen actual de Trump de forma que amenace al mundo con un inter imperialismo e incluso una guerra nuclear. Rusia fue alguna vez parte de la Unión Soviética, que bajo Lenin y Stalin fue socialista. Pero después de que murió Stalin en 1952, el país adoptó rápidamente el capitalismo estatal. Y el capitalismo es un sistema que crece con la opresión y corrupción. Pero el renacimiento anti Rusia en los EE UU no se debería confundir con anti imperialismo, sino más bien es nacionalismo que se mueve alrededor del poder imperialista más grande y peligroso en el mundo – los E$tados Unido$.
I believe that having alliances with lines that are military minded is somewhat dangerous to the united front. First and foremost, I do believe in armed struggle, but building public opinion on imperialism and moving toward communism as the ultimate goal to end all oppression is key. Some lumpen orgs or nationalists might criticize MIM(Prisons) on their line. But truth be told we must study the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, which gives us the best way to move toward socialism, ending in communism. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Amerikkka targets lumpen orgs, and nationalist groups. So alliance with a militia group might jeopardize the united front. And once the imperialist policies place everyone in one basket who they feel are a threat, they will place them in prisons or worse eliminate them as what happened to many BPP members in the late 1960s. So, I must say comrades, that MIM(Prisons)'s approach with study groups and challenging all comrades to study history and dialectical materialism prepares us to use public opinion to change the minds of the lumpens and all those who are oppressed.
What good is guns if you don't know who the enemy truly is? By enemy I mean, just going up against amerikkka's army is not enough. The enemy is the system which must be changed. Guns with no vision or discipline is suicide to the united front. The best weapon in the struggle is unity, and armed struggle is also important. But each one teach one is the method to awakening the masses on how capitalism destroys lives.
Once the American people become self-reliant and help their fellow man and stop supporting this economic monster (capitalism-imperialism) then hopefully through public opinion and democratic centralism we can achieve the goal we all want which is communism.
As for snitches, there are different levels of snitching. But I will not allow a person in my circle who I know has the tendencies to crack under pressure. I mean those individuals who work for the prison administration, receiving goods in order to cause chaos. They would go so far as telling prison officials that you are sharing revolutionary material and having your books confiscated.
Even on the outside you have to be careful aligning with rats who will jeopardize the united front in order to demoralize and cause dissociation. But as long as those who represent the militant side of fighting oppression can agree that we must use strategy and wait for the right time to strike the imperialist monsters, I'm all for it. But if militants feel as though focoism is their aim, I'm all out. Educate the poor and oppressed first, to show them the real enemy. And there needs to be a change in habits and consciousness so that we will not allow materialistic ideology to control us.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the risks of allying with those who are engaging in military actions now. We agree with em that focoism is not the right strategy. But the value of a united front is that we can disagree on this point of strategy in terms of the right time for armed struggle, but still unite in our fight against imperialism. We can work with these organizations while struggling with them over these points if such struggle seems fruitful. We do not need to have complete agreement on points of strategy in order to work together in a united front. We would also want to keep these groups at arms' length for the simple fact that advocating armed struggle now is a known tactic cops use to wreck a movement from within.
But beyond the question of uniting without complete theoretical agreement, this writer is arguing that it is too risky to unite with focoists because their premature military action could bring down the whole united front. This is certainly a risk we need to consider. Groups within the UF have the autonomy to act independently of the group, and so some may engage in actions that others disagree with. While we wouldn't automatically exclude focoists from a UF based on their political line, this comrade is correct to warn that we need to stay vigilant about actions that present a risk to our work and to our organization.
At the same time, resistors of all stripes, even those who aren't focoist, bring down repression from the state. Even anti-imperialist academics and people working in electoral politics are harassed, and murdered, by the state when their words are too effective. One could also argue that the frivolous security practices of other groups will jeopardize the UF. We have to find a balance between putting ourselves out there, and getting the work done.
We can't make up easy rules to answer to this contradiction. Instead everyone has to evaluate alliances based on the circumstances and current situation.
This is an open letter to all you advocates and activists who are at war with the prison system. The American Corrections Association (ACA) has done their two-stage, once in a decade, onsite prison review beginning in January 2017 ending in March 2017. They've posted memos to the effect of talking to prisoners and performing audits to better use monies towards treatment and rehabilitational programs. Well at California Correctional Institution (CCI) this is a joke, especially of the level 3 yard where there is no accountability on safety issues.
There are no cameras on yard nor in buildings that would hold Correctional Staff to a higher level of accountability on the lines of brutality waged against prisoners. This brutality is covered up too often by collusion between Correctional Officers in reporting of incidents which comes down to their words against prisoners' with no physical evidence to support because there are no surveillance cameras. This is a black site operation, period. There exists no accountability when it comes to enforcement practices. Correctional employees are given full discretion and are supported fully by a Gestapo Culture with no checks and balances from outside authorities. This is including the ACA, who only talked to 2% of the prison population, and those were selected by this administration, i.e. Correctional Staff.
There is no accountability on the running of programs, which means anything from dayroom, yard, school, vacations, or even jobs. At the same time there is no program and no movement, prisoners walk to medical lines, walk to chow, go to self help groups, etc. No matter what the weather is they are required to walk to and from just to lock themselves back into their living quarters, i.e. cells. The ACA didn't assist prisoners to get assignment cards for going to college classes onsite nor through mail even though they know these participants miss at least 9 hours a week from yard and dayroom, at the same time providing assignment cards to prisoners in GED courses. Though the institution is making money from these new college onsite classes of which I myself am in, earning 6 credits for 2 classes this semester and enrolled in both summer and winter courses. Yet, I am not able to go outside on the weekend to get fresh air so I now get outside rec and fresh air less than my brothers and sisters in the SHU. The American Correctional Association is there for a waste of tax payers' money.
Blame is put on the prisoners for most that continues to occur here to be absolutely honest, because most of them fail to study the rules, are rule breakers and have terrible conduct creating negative attention. Once more I must state in complete truth, that all levels of staff have treated me with respect, I haven't gotten any write up, never assaulted on any level by any level of Correctional Staff. Quite the opposite has happened to me. I've initiated my own services, I've signed up and am currently going to college, I had constructive conversations with all levels of Correctional Staff. At the same time I've read the Title 15 and re-read it several times complying with every law and rule. I've communicated with complete respect at all times with prisoners and prison staff of all levels and walks of life.
This is written for the purpose of exciting advocates to get involved with pro-social programs in person, to let them know that the ACA and many other organizations are rip-offs and monies would effect more positive change if and when it goes directly to the prison and prisoners who are willing to take advantage of all pro-social programming. That those who are doing the work to create better futures by learning in college or vocational skill learning should receive beneficial treatment and be allowed to go to yard on weekends and holidays even days that they are off. We need advocates to sound the bell for us ensuring that we are treated with favorable treatment, so that we are not being punished for attempting to get ahead.
A Socialist and Conscious Comrade
MIM(Prisons) responds: We've been watching the great progress of organizers at CCI with interest and excitement over the last year. But playing by the rules does not generally pan out so well for prisoners across the United $tates engaged in postive organizing along the lines of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). In one recent example, the United Kage Brothers have been denied the ability to form an official organization by the CDCR at Pelican Bay State Prison. And this is why the UFPP stresses INDEPENDENCE as one of the 5 principles. If local staff are supportive of your efforts that is great. And there is plenty reason for them to be supportive of a safer work environment. But we also must not build or organizing in a way that is dependent on the whims of the state, which has a general principle of opposing the organizing of the oppressed.
Recently we learned that one of our readers and a long-time activist, Zero, had a letter published on the Anarchist Black Cross Portland (ABC PDX) website and in the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) newsletter responding to an article in Under Lock & Key No. 50 (May/June 2016) about the September 9 work stoppage. Zero invited us to respond publicly and so we have done our best here to distill this debate down to what we see as the most important points.
With IWOC, ABC, and Zero, we have a common enemy in the criminal injustice system and imperialism more broadly. We are writing this response with the goal of building unity, not division, between organizations and individuals that are working hard to fight this unjust system.
Anarchism vs. Communism
Fundamentally we have a disagreement over anarchism vs. communism, but we believe that both camps are fighting for the same thing at root: an end to oppression of groups of people by other groups of people. We just think that communists have a more scientific plan for how to get there than anarchists, based on our study of how these same efforts have been attempted, succeeded, and failed in the past. The oppressed people of the world deserve the best and fastest route to liberation. Communists hope to discover what that route is through not only our study but also our practice.
This disagreement over the importance of science to revolutionary struggle is highlighted in a lot of what Zero wrote. Ey accuses MIM(Prisons) of being intellectuals whose "theory is based in theory." Zero also claims to have no interest in political line in the development of the September 9 work stoppage: "I don't care what your line is, nor does anyone else I work closely with on this project. Beyond small friendly jabs at each other, nothing I've seen or read, or heard from anyone in this campaign suggests anyone cares much about line."
Yet it's a discredit to the hunger strike organizers to say that they don't care much about line. It is precisely political line and theoretical analysis that drives the concept that "prisoner labor is slavery and this mass work stoppage is a good plan to shut down prisons." Without unity on this analysis, the organizers might have decided (as an example) the best approach is for everyone to fast because the Amerikkkan farms depend on prisons to buy agricultural goods and so this boycott would shut down the farms and hence force prison reform. IWOC and ABC aren't suggesting this, and that's probably because of their correct theoretical understanding of agriculture in this country. In forming their alliance on this campaign, Zero, IWOC, and ABC at least agree on this political line, even if they don't talk about it. After all, they are all anarchists (or anarchist-led), so they have much unity on line already.
Zero finds "contradictory statements" in our original article that help demonstrate where we depart from the anarchists because our strategy differs from theirs. Zero wrote:
"In paragraph #5 you say: 'we do see power in the ability of prisoners to shut down facilities by not doing the work to keep them running for a potentially longer period'. But then in paragraph #10 you say 'the organizers of the anti-slavery protest are misleading people into believing that shutting down prison work will shut down prisons'.
If masses of prisoners stopped working, forever, some facilities may close. This would likely be because of where they're located geographically, the layout and security level of the facility, and how easy or difficult it is to staff the prisons to accommodate for the loss of labor. But would that close all prisons in the United $tates? We doubt it. Does that mean we think prisoners should all just keep working? No! Short of overthrowing capitalist Amerikkka's power altogether, we will still have prisons in this country based on national oppression. But making that oppression more difficult is always a good thing.
Our point is that Amerikkka is willing to spend a lot of time, money and resources on imprisoning a staggering number of people, all at a financial loss. So we do not see evidence that if prisoners stop working and it suddenly becomes more expensive to imprison people that that will shut down the prison system. It most certainly is a form of resistance that heightens the contradictions between the oppressed and the oppressor, and even within the oppressor camp. Such an act would certainly have great influence on the ever-changing realities within the U.$. criminal injustice system, as would any sustained, mass prisoner mobilization.
Zero criticizes MIM(Prisons), "You spell united front with capital 'U' and 'F' which is what MIM calls one of its programs, short for UFPP, and as [UFPP] makes specific ideological demands for any entity it is willing to work with, I'm led to believe that what you truly mean by 'work with' is to 'co-opt'." We do capitalize the name of the organization United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), which has a specific program (the 5 Principles of the UFPP: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence). Organizations that agree with those principles but disagree with us on many other things have joined this United Front and there is no attempt to co-opt those groups. We do not capitalize "united front" when not talking about this specific organization (if we have in print it was a mistake, not a political point). This is not a problem of elitisim, it is simply grammar. We welcome the development of a united front against prisons, and even better a united front against imperialism, outside of the UFPP and not bound by its 5 principles. But we do believe that united fronts need to have clear points of unity so that there isn't a question of organizations being forced to change their political line or give up their independence to participate. In other words, we are actively trying to organize in a way to prevent the co-opting of organizations that Zero accuses us of attempting.
Zero goes on to say that MIM(Prisons) "... refuse[s] to even mention the names of these other revolutionary organizations so that your readers can reach out and seek information on their own. Another display of elitist hegemonization of line." Yet this comment is in the context of criticizing an article that specifically named the IWOC and included a link directly to its publication, so we're confused about where we failed to mention the other organizers' names. On this point, however, we did fail to convert the web address to a print address in our print version of ULK, which of course makes it harder for subscribers to reach out directly to IWOC, and we are correcting that mistake in our footnote to this article and our general practice. We actually print many articles debating theory and practice, including some that explicitely disagree with us. To be clear though, the purpose of ULK is to educate and inform people on what we see as the most correct political line and practice and so we always offer our response to those points of disagreement and allow our readers (and history) to decide who is correct.
On this same point, we also highlight the correct practice of our predecessors in the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) who distributed a pamphlet "What's Your Line?" with the names, addresses and political positions of a wide spectrum of political organizations. We haven't put the time or money into compiling a similar up-to-date list because our resources are sadly limited, but we still support this practice. Perhaps an innocent oversight, but neither the ABC nor the IWOC bothered to link to our website or print contact information for MIM(Prisons) alongside Zero's long and scathing critique of our organization.
Nihilism or Subjectivism
In eir argument against political theory Zero writes: "I'm an anarchist. More, a nihilist. ... In the words of Bakunin, the true revolutionist is concerned with the science of destruction. Let the other sciences be the work of future generations. ... And as Bakunin said, sometimes we just have to throw theory into the fire, for it only stalls life." It's great to have faith that humynity can work out the problems of the future, but the problems of today also require scientific analysis. The oppressed don't have the luxury of banging their heads against the wall for years failing to make progress. If historical revolutions have failed in the same way repeatedly, we need to learn from those mistakes. And if revolutions have succeeded with certain practices, we should learn from those. This is what theory is all about: learning from history and applying those lessons to our practice today. Then looking at our own practice, drawing conclusions, and adapting our approach.
Citing Webster's dictionary and dictionary.com, without acknowledging the class interests that those resources represent, and saying "that's good enough for me" is simply subjectivism. Denying the importance of theory to our practice is to make us slaves (pun intended) to our emotions and subjectivism, which are very thoroughly conditioned by our residence in an imperialist country. We cannot expect to overcome subjectivism 100%, but through applying dialectical and historical materialsm we hope to make the fewest errors in our revolutionary work as possible.
Zero gives a good example of theoretical analysis in eir criticism:
"In closing, let me clarify that dialectical soundness can often depend on interpretation. You all use orthodox marxist definitions of 'slavery' even though we live in a post-modern, post-fordist time and place. The dynamics of our current reality are different. And so we must also re-assess our definitions. Besides, though personally I use marxist formulas I'm ultimately a nihilist, un-beholden to an particular ideological parameters. In other words. My definition of 'slavery' is reflected by our material conditions, not political agenda."
Zero is correctly stating here that we must adapt our theory to current conditions. What held true in Marx's day may not be true today. We can't just get stuck in what Marx wrote and ignore changes in conditions. We agree with that. But we ask Zero, what is it but theory that allows us to discuss who is or isn't a slave? If this discussion isn't based in theory, then it's just subjectivism.
For example, here is an instance where MIM(Prisons)'s analysis has adapted to changing conditions since Marx's day. We see that while the vast majority of workers of all countries were exploited in the past, and made up the proletariat class that Marx wrote about so thoroughly, today imperialism has advanced to the point where workers in imperialist countries are mostly petty-bourgeois. This is a point where we tend to disagree with groups who organize people in the First World around their economic interests (as opposed to national interests).
Finally, demonstrating the difficulty in remaining anti-theory while discussing political theory, Zero critiqued our point that work strikes will not in-and-of-themselves bring down the Amerikan criminal injustice system: "I’d ask on what dialectical evidence you base your theory that america would 'figure out' how to keep us locked up." This is a good example of the importance of theory. If we're wrong, then we should focus our efforts into organizing work stoppages. And Zero is right, it is dialectical materialist analysis that will help us figure that out here. The article that Zero responded to actually went into a lot of depth on this very point, explaining that prisons are primarily tools to control society, not make profit, which aid in the oppressive force of the bourgeoisie by keeping lumpen and anyone deemed dangerous to their power locked away. We know that prisons are not reliant on the money made from prisoner labor, because there is public information showing that prisons are money-losing operations.
Political debate is not the same as political opposition
To clarify our position, in the original article about the September 9 protests we talked about the similarities and differencess between the five-year history of the United Front for Peace in Prisons September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, and this newer call for prisoner activism on September 9: "First we want to say that we are always happy to see people taking up organizing and trying to build unity behind bars. There are some very good points taken in this call to action... we would hope to work with these folks to broaden our movement." We followed this up with multiple articles reporting on the work stoppage and praising the widespread protests.
But Zero seems to think that by publically criticizing an incorrect point of political theory from the organizers we are opposing the protests. Ey wrote
"What we have here is a huge social base, across prison walls, that is extremely pissed off. And we have an opportunity to harness that anger and point it at our enemy on September 9th, thats all the analysis I need. and I say that if you oppose this in any way, you’re nothing but a house slave ready to defend your master. your complicit and should be among the first to be taken to task."
If we won't just blindly agree and follow eir leadership, apparently we are written off as complicit with the enemy. Isn't this the squelching of political debate that anarchists so vehemently oppose? To be clear, we support the September 9th protests, both those organized by members of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, and those promoted by the IWOC. Our criticism is directed toward statements that participating in these protests will shut down the prisons because prisons are dependent on prisoner slave labor. If we did not make this clear in our articles about September 9, we will take this criticism to help us approach the struggle with a clearer focus on unity.
Finally, Zero wrote that we should have known about this work strike sooner. It looks like there was some censorship of our mail from em so letters from Zero about this didn't get to us. We did reach out to IWOC and others about working together on September 9 organizing once we learned about the work strike (which we did hear about from a number of ULK subscribers). We never got a response from the organizers. We hope that going forward we can collaborate in the fight against the criminal injustice system to build a stronger movement. This doesn't mean we will give up our communist position, nor does it mean that Zero, ABC, or IWW need to give up their anarchism, and in fact we would argue that continuing this debate publicly is good for everyone. In practice we hope to collaborate on the September 9 protest in 2017.
As to the comrade in Ohio and MIM(Prisons)'s response on "Coffee House Revolutionaries or Real Militants?" in ULK 54 I don't think the comrade in Ohio knows or realizes what MIM(Prisons) does or does not have in the organization's caches or whether or not MIM is or isn't physically or militarily preparing for the perfect time to do what that comrade is expressing in this letter. Also MIM follows Mao's line on war strategy. MIM(Prisons) is not a street gang, or a criminal org. If you want to, and feel the time is perfect to take on the imperialist U.$. army, you're sadly mistaken. In your commentary, I understood where you're coming from because I am not much of a politician. I'm a soldier, and fighter as well. I, comrade in Ohio, agree with you that violence is a necessary means to achieve one's goals in our type of struggle, and little by little, on a small scale the snowball has begun to roll. Trump is helping us push that ball forward, with his political ignorance. He's threatening to dismantle people like us, who have outside organizations — other than MIM(Prisons) — whom we have direct third world connections to.
Now, where I am in disagreement with MIM(Prisons) is that they, or we, should not be reluctant to put a cache of weapons in bunkers or safe-houses just because of what MIM(Prisons) says "recent history" in the United $tates reveals about the murder or imprisonment of revolutionary groups that have attempted to do that. There does not have to be a set time to get weapons ready. That can be done clandestinely. I will not elaborate on that any more at this time. I will say that I do respect how MIM(Prisons) responded to the comrade in the Ohio prison. You, MIM(Prisons), stated at the end of your response that you "look forward to learning and building with this comrade and eir organization for many years to come." The organization I'll be working for out there are ex-military, ex-cops, and from ex-intelligence of 3rd world military groups from all over the world, and of whom they, as well as all other organizations like them, can't be too happy about the hard line President Trump is taking.
...Estoy pensando acercar a la chica con la que estoy quedando a la política. La empezaré a tantear por primera vez sobre este tema mañana. Ella tiene 24 años y yo 31, así que creo que puedo moldearla. Además, es inocente y confiada. Intentaré enseñarla cuando la haya tanteado. Agradecería que me respondierais y me dijerais lo que pensáis de este caso particular.
MIM(Prisons) responde: Normalmente, desaconsejamos que se reclute a alguien con quien se está saliendo, sobre todo si dicha persona no ha mostrado estar interesada por sí sola en el antiimperialismo. No obstante, coincidimos con tu aparente actitud prudente de "tantearla" primero. Es una táctica de seguridad prudente no poner todas las cartas sobre la mesa respecto a tu actividad política con alguien que no estás segur@ de si lo va a tolerar.
Otra cosa que has comentado es que es más joven, inocente y confiada, e insinúas que te aprovecharás de eso. Es así como creas resentimiento y, cuando una persona está resentida con otra asociada con el movimiento, se pone en peligro dicho movimiento. Esto es más probable cuando está involucrado el amor. Esa es la primera razón por la que no mezclar las relaciones con el reclutamiento: La gente confunde las motivaciones. Reclutar a amig@s es algo menos arriesgado, pero también tiene este problema. Por otro lado, es cierto que l@s jóvenes están más abiert@s a políticas revolucionarias, lo que puede llevarnos a emprender tácticas como repartir folletos en las escuelas. Nuestra actitud no debe ir dirigida a aprovecharnos de l@s jóvenes o de las mujeres en general, usando características derivadas de la opresión de género a la que se enfrentan. Más bien, debemos acceder al resentimiento justificado que pueden tener por esa opresión para que dejen de lado las características negativas que las ha animado y volverse revolucionarias.
En situaciones más avanzadas, esto puede producirse de otra manera en la que l@s camaradas comiencen a preguntar si alguien ha empezado a juntarse porque está saliendo con un@ camarada o porque cree por sí mism@ en la lucha. Por ello, tanto para ella individu@ como para el colectivo es mejor ser clar@ y científic@ sobre cuál es la posición de cada un@.
Reclutar siempre debe hacerse basándose en una explicación científica de la línea política. Naturalmente, la subjetividad entra en juego y no hay nada de malo en adornar las cosas de manera que sean más atractivas para las masas (ej. Forma/ lenguaje). Sin embargo, no está bien manipular a la gente basándose en su subjetividad para que hagan política por otras razones distintas a su apoyo a dichas políticas, ya que esto conlleva a confusión, tanto políticamente como interpersonalmente. Esta es una cuestión realmente estratégica cuando decimos no usar el sexo, el coqueteo o la amistad para reclutar gente. Nuestro objetivo es enseñar a la gente a pensar científicamente y crear organizaciones científicas fuertes.
Esto no quiere decir que la mayoría de la gente en los movimientos de masas sean pensadoræs científic@s convencid@s por motivaciones puramente objetivas. Así que existen cuestiones tácticas sobre qué lenguaje e imágenes utilizar para presentar nuestro mensaje a las masas de manera que puedan identificarse con él. Llevar uniformes, asociar buena música con nuestro movimiento o que personas famosas recomienden nuestro trabajo son todo tácticas que atraen al subjetivismo de la gente sin manipular al individu@ y, por tanto, sin poner en peligro el movimiento.
Como mínimo, la mitad de nuestr@s lectoræs están en prisión e, incluso en la universidad o en cualquier comunidad más pequeña, verás a menudo que gente con la que ya tenías amistad está comenzando a interesarse por la política. Entonces, se trata de tener la habilidad de separar el trabajo del placer. Los desacuerdos políticos no deben decidir las amistades y viceversa. Una táctica útil para esta situación, si sientes que podría haber un conflicto de intereses o confusión, es pasar un@ amig@ a otr@ camarada para que estæ sea su contacto principal y reclutador@. Esto da más independencia a dicho amig@ para explorar la política en sus propios términos con menos presión por las implicaciones de que este acuerdo político contigo sea un requisito para dicha amistad.
Un@ nuev@ camarada al que le ha convencido nuestra causa informó cómo otr@
prisioner@ le lanzó una publicación de ULK a su regazo de camino a una audiencia y dijo: "mira, esto te va a gustar." Much@s de nuestr@s suscriptoræs afirmaron haber descubierto ULK en las zonas comunes. Ambos son ejemplos del “dejar caer”, una técnica para difundir nuestras ideas tanto como sea posible para garantizar que tod@s l@s interesad@s tienen la oportunidad de estar expuest@s a ellas.
Encontrar el equilibrio correcto entre lanzar una amplia red, como la técnica de “dejar caer”, y desarrollar un nuevo cuadro uno a uno es una cuestión táctica complicada. MIM siempre ha errado en el lanzamiento de una amplia red. Esto se basa en la decisión estratégica de que, en nuestras condiciones, es más importante crear opinión pública contra el imperialismo que crear organizaciones de cuadros. No obstante, necesitamos que la gente haga más que leer ULK y nuestro sitio web. No importa si están apoyando o no los proyectos de MIM(Prisons), nosotr@s necesitamos que la gente dé un paso adelante por el antiimperialismo para amplificar esa voz antiimperialista y construir instituciones independientes de l@s oprimid@s. L@s oprimid@s nos contactan todos los días en busca de ayuda. Necesitamos que más camaradas den un paso adelante y creen el poder necesario para proporcionar soluciones reales a sus problemas.
"Is there ever a time when we should unite with reactionary oppressor nation lumpen orgs in a United Front for Peace in Prisons?" Absolutely! You want to win, don't you? For anyone to refuse to work with a potentially valuable ally against this Juggernaut Force that both groups are up against, due to a few minor differences in excess views and opinions just sounds like folly. Wars are won by alliances, not the practice of alienation.
History is full of these kinds of examples. The German Nazis were undisputed white nationalist, white supremacy, white racist and everything else white group that there has ever been. The Japanese were anything but Aryan or white, yet despite that obvious fact, the two groups were able to put those differences aside long enough in order to wage war against the rest of the world.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Now that's sound logic! If you decide not to join forces with what you refer to as "white nationals," either because they are "white" or maybe even a little too proud of it, then wouldn't that sort of put you in the same boat as them, guilty of the same things? Are you perhaps then a little bit racist too?
Are there so many of you that you can afford to be so picky about the skin color, or differences in ideologies of those that we allow to align themselves with you in this fight? Black communist and white nationalist alike, neither can afford to turn away the aid of the other at a time like this — especially in prison.
White nationalists are seasoned and often times expert resistance fighters that come complete with a deep-seated hatred of our most potent enemy, that any group in this fight would be lucky to have on their side, once the real fighting starts. The Federal Government fears them and has always feared them for those very reasons. These members of the White Resistance Movement would bring their own unique skill sets to the struggle, that you might otherwise be lacking in, such as military strategy, connections — in parts of the underground that you've never had access to before — military tactics and weapons knowledge, etc.
Now I'm only suggesting cooperation with certain white nationalists and/or separatist individuals here and there, that might want to help, not necessarily white nationalist "groups" per say. This is because these types of groups attract a lot of attention from all the current law enforcement agencies and especially the Federal Government and because of that, each group is already heavily infiltrated by under cover agents. So by uniting with such groups and organizations, you would just be inviting those same numerous agents into the folds of your own group.
There are lots of single disenfranchised ex-members of these groups though, who are solid soldiers and have a lot to offer their next group and I think that it would be a mistake to let them get away, if they are willing to help.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises some good points about uniting with all who oppose the same enemy, but perhaps goes too far with the pragmatism of allying for the sake of size and skills. We believe there needs to be some clear political unity in order to build a united front. We don't all have to agree that we want a communist system in the end, but we must have at least one concrete goal that we can unite around in practice. And we also need to agree that political independence is acceptable, as we will not give up our principles just for the sake of convincing someone who disagrees with us to work with us anyway.
Under a bourgeois democracy, militant white nationalists are both tools of and enemies of the state. As imperialism moves closer to fascism the government's fear lessens as they begin to utilize these groups more directly. We're not sure if we can say this is happening unter Trump yet though, although ey as already been giving these groups many passes.
Lastly, we want to comment on the idea that it is racist to refuse to unite with white nationalists. It would be incorrect to turn away white allies just for the color of their skin, but it is not incorrect to identify groups of people's political and economic interests and to identify potential allies based on this. If someone is promoting white nationalism, that is fundamentally opposed to the liberation of oppressed nations: white nationalism is, by definition, a belief in the superiority of the white nation which already has the power and wealth. This sort of nationalism is reactionary and opposing it is not the same thing as being racist. We can unite with these people on specific tasks, while also struggling with them over their line on white nationalism.