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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Eastham Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 54]
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Eastham Unit Water is Poison!

Revolutionary greetings comrades, it has been a while since I reported from behind enemy lines. As Donald Trump enters the oval office I don't see any other choice than to partner with MIM(Prisons) in order to educate and organize the lumpen underclass. My comrades and I are actively engaged in a battle which seeks to abolish prison slavery as well as shed a discerning spotlight on toxic prisons.

I arrived on Eastham Unit located in Lovelady, Texas in November 2016. This was my second transfer since the September 9th national actions. I've been placed in long-term solitary confinement because of my organizing surrounding that and other campaigns.

Eastham Unit is one of the oldest prisons in Texas. The plumbing has deteriorated and corroded in such a way that dirt and sediment from the soil leaks into the water supply producing a foul stench in the water. The offensive smell of the water was the first thing I noticed. Officers here liken the smell to boiled eggs and burnt rubber. ULK 49 (March/April 2016) published an article on contaminated water at Eastham Unit and we know the contaminants to be copper and lead!

My application of historical dialectical materialism has taught me the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) misinforms the public about conditions inside its numerous slave kamps and gulags. But moreover, I have discovered a collusive and conspiratorial relationship between state agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and TDCJ.(1)

Wallace Pack Unit located in Navasota, Texas is the case in point. The arsenic levels in the water were at least double the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard and the TCEQ knew this for quite some time. But it wasn't until Panagioti Tsolkas of Prison Legal News exposed the contamination that conversations began. However, it took the actual prisoners at Wallace Pack Unit, with representatives from the NABPP-PC to take their destiny into their own hands and file complaints with the federal court.(2)

Already I see a shroud of secrecy and the overt signs of an elaborate cover-up concerning the water at Eastham Unit. Prison officials, who are easily identified as members of the labor aristocracy and bourgeoisie imperialist pig class, do not have a vested interest in the long-term health of prisoners.

Prisoners at Eastham Unit must fight back! The first thing we do is file a Step 1 (I-127) grievance form. Then simultaneously, those that have friends and family must request they file a formal public complaint online with the TDCJ Ombudsman office (e-mail address [email protected]). While these are marinating we start a letter campaign to the Prison Ecology Project, P.O. Box 1151, Lakeworth, Florida 33460.(3)

Behind enemy lines, I will be doing what I can do to attract media attention and free world help but without comrades actively filing grievances about the water I will be on the front line by myself and the oppressor will claim I am just creating lies. A favorite pig tactic.

Even if you've filed on this poison water in the past, please consider filing again. A huge support network is following our work as we combat toxic prisons. I had a discussion with one of the pigs who works here. The subject was the closing down of Eastham because of the poison water. Here is what he said: "You think you can get the state to shut this unit down on account of the water? They don't care about that – what they care about is those 800 acres of corn we got in the ground in them fields!"

Comrades, I couldn't say a damn word! Because it will be the lumpen prisoners who will be picking that damn corn! I must echo the words of the Free Alabama Movement - "Let the crops rot in the field." And what do you think would happen to that corn if the public knew those corn fields were being irrigated with poison water!? Knowledge is power isn't it?

A significant step in this struggle is getting prisoners recognized as environmental justice communities by the EPA, so that prison facilities can be forced into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.(6) However, the state of Texas has created laws and policies that keep the EPA out of its toxic prisons so we must create a public outcry in order to knock the doors down! Apply Pimp C's "Knockin Doorz Down" as needed! UGK for life!(7)

Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!

Notes:
1. Keith 'Malik' Washington, "Prison officials, ACA inspectors ignore contaminated water in Texas prisons," San Francisco Bay View (National Black newspaper), October 21, 2015. www.sfbayview.com
2. Panagioti Tsolkas, "Is Texas poisoning prisoners with contaminated water?" September 2015, Prison Legal News.
4. Prisonecology.org
5. Fighttoxicprisons.org
6. TCEQ fax# 936-437-7379. If you file a brief complaint it will help us!
7. Pimp C, "Knockin Doorz Down" music video, https://youtu.be/5sQxFsblruE . Contains themes of building peace and unity among Houston rappers in spite of the FBI's attempts to divide them.

MIM(Prisons) responds: It is great to have clear steps in order for any tactical work to be successful, so we highlight this campaign as one with a clear path broken down into small steps, making it easy to get involved and mark progress. While we struggle on these reformist campaigns, we also know that they are unlikely to be successful. But that is all part of building public opinion for socialist revolution. In a socialist system, as in China under Mao, people's needs were valued above profits and prisoners were not poisoned via their water supply.

People should not be forced to get heavy metal poisoning just because they are in prison (or because they live in an oppressed nation community as what happened in Flint, Michigan). The EPA, one of those bandaid organizations of the United $tates government to give people something to focus on instead of straight up revolution, is unlikely to categorize prisoners as environmental justice communities, and also unlikely to enforce their policies in prisons in Texas. Even if they did, to enforce environmental policies on Texas prisons is a decades-long struggle, while hundreds of thousands of people will be forced to drink poisonous heavy metals in the meantime.

Still, we support this campaign and encourage our readers to get involved. It may win some improvements in water quality that will have a significant impact on the health of Texas prisoner. Even if the campaign fails, it is a good example of how futile petitioning the U.$. government agencies generally is. If the campaign succeeds, it will likely only be with caveats which undermine the overall campaign, which we can point to as an example of the futility of reformism. Either way, Texas prisoners come out better organized and better poised for the only struggle that has shown any success in valuing peoples' well-being, and that's the revolutionary struggle toward socialism and communism.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 54]
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By Any Means Necessary

My opinion on how we should decide what tactics to use in our present day struggle is simple. First off, we must educate one another about past struggles that have a lot of similarities with our present-day struggles. Then we must find strategic ways in resolving problems with international support throughout the masses. Also we must carry a "by any means necessary" persona at all times, and will not compromise until we've reached an agreement with the oppressor that settles in our favor.

The majority of our people in the struggle work on campaigns that they know isn't going to be successful because they probably look at that certain leadership through one point of view. Like, a so-called leader might bring forth a front that seems to be totally for people of poverty but in all actuality the plan puts even more money in the pockets of exploiters while the people will suffer more after the smoke clears. For example, before 1776 America was a British colony. The British government had certain laws and rules that the colonized Americans rejected as not being in their best interests. In spite of the British conviction that Americans had no right to establish their own laws to promote the general welfare of the people living here in America, the colonized immigrant felt he had no choice but to raise the gun to defend his welfare. Simultaneously, he made certain laws to ensure his protection from external and internal aggressions, from other governments, and his own agencies. One such form of protection was the Declaration of Independence, which states: "...whenever any government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its power in such forms as to them, shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct that we need to focus our work on uncompromising struggle in the interests of the oppressed. And we should not waste our time on campaigns that have no hope for success. Although we do see value in smaller battles that can be used to educate people about the struggle, even if the chances of success are minimal, such as with the grievance campaign. But this writer is focused on the larger battles, and on that question we firmly agree. In fact this is why we are clear that electoral politics within the corrupt and tyrannical system of imperialism are a waste of time. We will never “reach an agreement” with the oppressor that is in favor of the oppressed. We will only put an end to imperialism through force. Today we are at the stage of building public opinion and growing our organization, but we can't lose sight of the bigger picture and the need for revolution to liberate the oppressed.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 54]
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Coffee House Revolutionaries or Real Militants?

In response to a letter from MIM(Prisons) struggling over some apparent points of disagreement, we received this commentary on movement strategy and tactics.

We believe in having a political branch and a military branch. It's nothing wrong with being political, it is needed in the fight against imperialism and capitalism. So you doing public building of opinions and creating independent institutions is good. That's what nonviolent people do who are coffee house revolutionaries. It's nothing wrong with being coffee house revolutionaries. Everybody has a position to maintain. That's why I support you and a few other people we deal with support you. So do your prisoner support work and lumpen organizing. That's a good thing which I support. If me and others did not support it we would not contact you.

To my second point, I and others believe that MIMs and us can learn from each other. It's not about just what MIMs can share or teach us. It's about what we can share and teach MIMs also. It's about real uniting for a common purpose against a common enemy. We call this networking, sharing lines, etc. Not being forced to accept someone's line, but respecting it. We know war is fought using different strategy and tactics. We are not pushing anyone away who is trying to bring about revolution and establish socialism.

That's what I and some others think MIMs do when they criticize people who are socialist or revolutionaries but belong to other orgs. MIMs see their way is the only right way. Not everybody believes that. That's what Christians and Muslims believe and do and look at them, they fight each other over who is right but they have some things in common with slight differences. If you seek unity, stop criticizing other socialist revolutionaries and unite on common grounds. If something is expressed different than what you believe, you can state how you view something then leave it up to the people to decide what strategy and tactics they want to follow.

Everybody is not political, some people are militant and are about militarism. We accept MIMs being political. We want to share militarism spirit or values. For we are truly on the battlefield with weapons. People are dying and getting locked up. We come from the battlefield from street orgs, etc. We risk and sacrifice our lives every day. While some are scared to die or get out on the front lines, that's where we are at on the battlefield or on these plantations. We are not nonviolent, we are violent. We contact MIMs so we can work together not apart. We are about unity for real, not about if you believe as me I unite with you.

There are white nationalist groups called the 3% who believe that 3% of the population went to war and won the revolutionary war in 1776. These white groups form militias and are militarized. They train for war. They building a militarized institution while MIMs are being political. All we're saying is how you claim to be a vanguard and you're not training and educating people to form militarized units instead of just spreading public opinion on socialism. If y'all just going to spread public opinion okay do that. I and others think at least work with those who are working on building militarized units who fight instead of just talk and read. Everybody don't have to do the same thing.

So just so there be no misunderstanding, I and others respect your line and strategy. Keep up the good work. You're just not militant from what we can tell. People who are militant are willing to support you, why don't you support them and show some real unity? Then you can say you're a vanguard and are real revolutionaries. What's the point in being political if you have no military to enforce your laws, beliefs, etc. So that is why I write you to support you. The question is do you support militant revolutionaries or are you just a big study group who act elitist? Are you for the people or just people who are under your line and strategy?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is particularly relevant to this issue of ULK focused on movement tactics. The writer raises some good points about unity that we want to address.

First, to clarify, MIM(Prisons) does not claim to be a vanguard party at this time, which is implied by this comrade saying we need an army to enforce our laws, beliefs, etc. We recognize the need for a vanguard party for the defeat of imperialism by the communists, but the strategic defeats of the movement over the recent decades have led us to conclude that cell organizing is more effective and appropriate to rebuild the movement. However, we would not split with anyone who disagrees on this point, it is a relatively short term strategic question. We do aim to be part of the vanguard movement, with the most advanced and correct line and practice.

With that said, we agree with this writer that it is important to build unity across revolutionary organizations that are working on different anti-imperialist strategies and tactics. The question of when to take up armed struggle, and even when to build an army for that battle, is also a strategic one. This is something that is relatively longer term, i.e. you don't build an army today and disband it tomorrow. But it's definitely not a disagreement over political line: we agree that the only way to overthrow imperialism is through armed struggle. The bourgeoisie won't give up their wealth and power peacefully. We are also not nonviolent. The disagreement is one of strategic timing, not method.

So are we just coffee house revolutionaries afraid of or refusing to see the importance of armed struggle? Our analysis of recent history in the United $tates reveals the murder or imprisonment of revolutionary groups that have attempted any form of armed struggle, or even just the collecting of weapons for self-defense, even when this is done completely within U.$. laws. This study of history has led us to conclude that we are at the stage of building and educating right now. We know this will change, but we can't say when, we just need to be ready and willing to change when conditions require it.

We do not agree that militarism is to be contrasted with being political. Rather than see MIM(Prisons) as political and this comrade's organization as militarist, we call both groups political. We are both focused on fighting imperialism. The decision to militarize today or hold off until conditions are more favorable is a political decision. And it's something we should struggle over, because through political struggle we all learn and grow.

And this brings us to the point of unity. Those who disagree with us on the appropriate timing of militarizing are well within the anti-imperialist united front. And we certainly don't believe that we are the only holders of truth and cannot learn from others. Quite the contrary, we learn from our readers, other organizations that we work with, and even from our enemies. We are regularly publishing in Under Lock & Key articles explaining changes to our political line and/or strategy based on things we have learned through practice. And to be a viable political organization that survives we must always be open to learning more. But that doesn't mean we will just accept what other people tell us without struggling over the facts and interpretations if we believe they are wrong. Political struggle is not about egos, it is about learning. We look forward to learning and building with this comrade and eir organization for many years to come.

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 53]
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California November Updates: Stamp restrictions, Santa Clara strike success and Ashker settlement update

In our last update letter to United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades in California, we announced that the California USW Coordinator would be working with the California USW Council to provide better, more regular updates in ULK to coordinate our campaign efforts in the state. This will also reduce the need to send out separate letters except in time-sensitive instances. This issue of ULK is the first with such a CA-focused section.

One issue that came up among CA USW recently is restrictions on mailing stamp donations. This was happening at CSP-Sacramento, and more recently reported from West Valley Detention Center. In ULK 36 (3 years ago), we printed a report from San Quentin where they successfully campaigned against the same issue through a combination of 602 appeals and letters to the press exposing these restrictions on freedom of expression.

Appeal #CSQ-J-13-03205 was submitted October 27, explaining exactly how operational procedure 608 article 7 was being illegally circumvented. This appeal was rejected by appeals coordinator puppet M.L. Davis on November 1. Davis offered to process the appeal if appellant directed a CDCR 22 to the mailroom. Davis also demanded appellant remove copies of Article 7 and OP0212 which are in fact the official rules/directives regarding "items enclosed in incoming first-class mail."

If readers have other examples of successful tactics around this issue, or rules to cite, send them to MIM(Prisons) for the next issue.

Santa Clara County Strike a Success

In "Broad Participation in September 9 FAM Prison Strike" we refer to the challenge of organizing in California with more comrades in county jails not under CDCR control. Perhaps this will be a temporary setback though, as prisoners organized a recent strike in Santa Clara County. On 17 October 2016, over 300 people went on hunger strike, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. The demands were around ending solitary confinement, inadequate clothing, a faulty appeals/grievance process and the overcharging at commissary. The strike was suspended after less than a week, when the sheriff's department agreed to the demands. Comrades will maintain the strike in suspension until the changes are actually made. MIM(Prisons) commends the organizing efforts of these comrades and the focus on key campaign issues of solitary confinement and the grievance process.

Ashker Settlement Hearings Done, SHU Victims Decrease

The number of people being held in SHU has dropped sharply since the Ashker settlement (see "Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners" in ULK 46 for more background). The review process has been completed, and 1,512 of the 1,557 people covered by the settlement have been released from SHU according to CDCR, with the remaining given dates for release. The number in SHU cells in California is about 1/6 of what it was before the settlement, with less than 500 SHU prisoners as of August 2016 (according to CDCR statistics). But we know a number of our readers are still in SHU, and many more are in other forms of long-term isolation in California, which is not covered by the settlement.

We must remain vigilant now to continue the fight against solitary confinement in California. As we've always pointed out, these reforms with such narrow focus only make it harder for those who remain in these torture cells to get out. SHU cells represented less than a quarter of the prisoners in California in long-term isolation according to our last count prior to the recent decrease in SHU (see www.abolishcontrolunits.org/research). But as the comrades in Santa Clara have demonstrated, this battle is still alive in the hearts of prisoners.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 53]
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September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity 2016 - part 2

September 9, 2016 marked the 5th annual United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Day of Peace and Solidarity. We shared some initial reports on events in prisons in the last issue of Under Lock & Key and here we include additional reports we've received since that publication.

The road to building unity and united action against the criminal injustice system is not easy. We regularly hear from new comrades about the uphill battle involved in educating and organizing folks in states across the country. Sometimes the best we can do initially is engage in actions ourselves, while educating others about why we are doing these actions. In Kentucky we heard from one comrade who is just starting to build:

"During the Sept 9th demo I went on a food strike. I didn't eat from Sept 6th thru Sept 10th. I am trying to collect all accurate, fact-based materials on Attica and other prison uprisings in Kentucky and the world."

As we start to build unity it's important to keep educating ourselves, and then sharing that education with others. A comrade in Arkansas wrote about eir work in this regard: "I'm writing in hopes to receive material to help myself and a fellow prisoner join the movement and fight back against these pigs! My political level is low and I don't want to keep falling victim because of my lack of knowledge. Please send me information to start on. I tried to get people to unite on Sept 9th but most everyone is content to stay slaves. I know as I grow in knowledge I'll be able to use my skills to motivate people to see through this fog they have us in."

Even experienced organizers will face setbacks. We heard from a Nation of Gods and Earths (NOGE) organizer in California about eir struggles to build unity around the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) at Kern Valley this September 9:

"Organizing and forming the rightly guided alliances on SNY [Special Needs Yard] facilities is extremely difficult to do when lumpen organizations as well as potential comrades are into putting individual works in. Papers are submitted to be put on a grade scale. The fact that Legion is a single-celled organism shows and proves that the LO and proletariat are not studying the material given. Control, sanity and awareness is a matter of vantage when looking at the goals. Some comrades aren't ready to move beyond milk from the breast.

"Prime example last year the Gods did AEH to build the builders strong at Kern Valley State Penitentiary. The 2nd year with more bodies was thwarted by personal ambitions of a group of parasites who don't understand UFPP or USW [United Struggle from Within] goals. Organizing is painstaking and the devil is in the details. As God Body we have to start from square one all the way right. Then and only then can one do what's left."

Fortunately, with all the hard work put in we also hear some inspiring stories of success like this one from Tehachapi in California:

"I'm writing you this brief report on what i've done during the month of 9 September 2016. To commemorate the 5th annual Day of Peace and Solidarity here I put together a few articles on Weusi Agosti (Black August), regarding significant events on how and why Weusi Agosti came into being.

"So, this 5th annual Day of Peace and Solidarity, we work to build unity in these prisons to ensure no more violence that has consumed so many lives. And also, we commemorate those who stood up against those violent forces and sacrificed their very lives.

"I am more than happy to report that there was no prisoner-on-prisoner violence whatsoever the whole month. And continuing the prisoner unity and peace here came out of organizing these articles and the conversations I held with these youths. They overstand."

Further successes were reported in California and Michigan in the last issue of ULK and in South Carolina and Virginia in the two articles on this page. It's a long road to fight the divisions set up by the criminal injustice system and build unity between populations that Amerikan imperialism does its best to keep divided. But all change takes place in small quantitative ways at first, leading to big qualitative changes as conditions develop and all that history of building really pays off. Our strategic confidence comes from organizing around what we know is in the interests of the oppressed. At some point the subjective forces against imperialism, including the vast U.$. prison system, will rise to be the dominant force. It is our job to study, build and get organized so that we are ready to seize the time.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Political Repression] [Ely State Prison] [Nevada]
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Retaliation for Fighting the NDOC and Political Beliefs

I am writing to inform you of the most recent form of retaliation. As I have written in the past, I have been fighting the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) over a number of issues. Two issues are now in the courts, but one deals specifically with the racist, homophobic, sexist and all around disrespectful actions of two pigs here at Ely State Priosn (ESP). SCO Mullins, and CO Wheeler. In February these officers searched my cell for four hours. They broke all my appliances, tore and threw away almost all of my books and other materials relating to communist thought. They have repeatedly gotten on my intercom and talked down to me, have called me a "commie pig," a "red", and nicknamed me "USSR." I doubt they know what communist thought is, more their ignorance allows them to utilize it as a tool of harassment.

ESP started allowing porters on 1 October 2016, the first since 2003 I believe. (ESP is locked down). Well my cellie and I got the porter job. We worked for 17 days. The first time we worked with SCO Mullins, we were fired and written up for making threats towards officers. Which did not happen.

My cellie and I were moved from our cell, but to another room in the same unit! Despite our many claims of harassment. All the harassment has been a direct result of our fighting the NDOC in relation to its use of racial segregation in housing, its use of the paging system for the law library, and the grievance process.

As a result of these false allegations, my cellie and I are now removed from the transfer list. I am looking at up to two years in the hole. My cellie will lose up to 3 years of good time (I have life without) so he will have to do 10 more years, instead of 7 more, and neither of us may ever be able to leave ESP.

This officer thinks he has won. However, all he has done is strengthened my resolve to fight harder. I would appreciate any information regarding case law dealing with retaliation that you or incarcerated comrades may have.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud this writer's resolve to continue the fight in the face of very real consequences to eir work. Additional years in prison and long-term isolation are serious outcomes that will cause many to give up the fight. Even more, this comrade is doing the right thing by writing about eir experiences to expose the injustice, and reaching out to others for support and help. This sort of oppression can be an opportunity to organize and educate others. But the resulting isolation of course means limited ability to organize people. We invite our readers to share suggestions for this comrade.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Arkansas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Arkansas

AR grievance petition
Click here to download a PDF
of the Arkansas grievance petition
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Director Wendy Kelley
Arkansas Department of Corrections
PO Box 8707
Pine Bluff, AR 71611-8707

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
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[Organizing] [Colorado]
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Much Work Still to be Done in Colorado

This is in response to ULK 52, page 18, "Building Peace and Unity in CO." This is an untrue statement. There might be individuals on peace. But that is all, the majority is still the same. Colorado lacks a gang structure to call a treaty like that. Let alone a revolutionary mindset. Colorado/the man, learned from other states how to repress gang structure. And how to ultimately control the gangs and the entire system. Through divide and conquer strategies within the gangs, the same gangs, not just different gangs against different gangs.

This is accomplished by privileges and by conforming to their standards. A lack of discipline for a group's goals. And the way they breed juveniles' minds in their juvenile facilities to show who the authority is, and snitch programs to confront one another. Brainwashing. With the exception of few, but not enough to enact any kind of movement for gang or revolution. I heard a quote "the most common way a people loses their power is by thinking they have none at all." That is the majority mindset out here in every aspect.

I became conscious recently. I have been educating myself as much as I can to politics, history and different cultures. Empires are the power through history in every culture. As a conscious man it was not my choice to be born oppressed but it is my choice to struggle against it. Knowledge is power, to change yourself and your surroundings. That is what needs to be attained and given to the people. Especially the children. So that generation changes the situation. So it becomes not a choice but the way of life, while always knowing that there will always be forces to try to destroy that life, but no matter what to continue on. I educate who I can and always will now. I find it hard to change a man's way of thought but I try. Knowing that thought was created for his destruction.

I am stuck in some of my ways also. Change takes time. Being stuck in prison is also a hindrance. Something that destroys life and choice. Always a created struggle. That is what I figured out in these studies. You need a pure mind to enact a change. And that is our children, they are pure. A sponge to gain all the knowledge needed to ultimately find the true meaning of life watch as peace of mind, happiness, love, family. To teach them what needs to be done so they can have that, along with their family and people.

I hope one day to become one of a million instead of one in a million. Ho Chi Minh said "when the prison doors are open the real dragons will fly out." I am a dragon full of rage for the oppressor, love for my people, knowledge to be spread and flames to be unleashed on our enemies. The day my wings will open to fly out and accomplish all these things. I have love for all oppressed people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade starts off disagreeing with what someone else wrote about building unity in Colorado, but in the end argues that change is possible and that we need to educate and build for unity. We agree there is much work to be done, but we must build and educate in whatever situation we can. In the case of our comrades behind bars, this means doing the work that is often hard and slow to overcome the brainwashing of a lifetime of education and build unity against the criminal injustice system. For those who have become conscious, it is our duty to share this with others. It is not enough to just understand oppression ourselves. One good way to get started is by forming a study group where you're at. We can supply some information on how to do this along with study materials. Write to us to get started.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 53]
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Who Says the Masses Can't Lead?

For those of us who have received a political education and are locked away in Amerikkka's prisons, the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity should be a call to action. As many people as have been involved in MIM and MIM(Prisons)-led study groups over the years, comrades should be more than clear on what their duties and responsibilities are to the prison struggle as well as to the International Communist Movement (ICM). The fact that September 9 events are still few and far between is therefore continuing indicative proof of a variety of contradictions still plaguing the prison movement. This essay attempts to address and give special attention to the development of the mass line.

Some people who have shown interest in taking up revolutionary politics incorrectly believe that they must spend years on end learning political theory before they are ready to take up revolutionary struggle, especially when it comes to applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. However, this type of thinking is incorrect, not only because it has the potential to slow down revolution, but because it can be used to purposely derail the revolutionary movement. Just think — where would any revolutionary movement be if everyone always sought to first become an expert in any particular field before they did anything? This is what Maoists criticized as the "experts in command" approach to education, production and revolution in communist China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) (1966-1976), the furthest advance towards communism in humyn hystory!

The experts in command political line was initially related to the intellectual belief during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), that only experts with years of training (usually within the confines of a classroom or a controlled environment) were worthy enough to lead or teach. This same line was later used by traitors and the bourgeoisie in the Chinese Communist Party itself as a way to disempower the revolutionary masses and consolidate their grip on power.

In opposition to experts in command, Mao Zedong and others began popularizing Lenin's slogan of "fewer, but better" by pointing out that it wasn't necessary for comrades to have years of experience in political struggle before they were able to take up leadership roles. Instead Mao stressed comrades' dedication to serving the people as more important than this "expertise." Furthermore, Mao encouraged cadre to not separate themselves from the revolutionary masses, but to work amongst them and help them develop the mass line. To develop and carry out the mass line is simply to help the masses develop and carry the revolutionary programs that will best help them accomplish the task of developing revolution and achieving self-determination. Without the mass line revolution is impossible; the masses will sink ever deeper into despair, while the leaders lead the revolutionary movement astray and the oppressors will rein. Mao Zedong's instructions for cadre to develop the mass line are thus:

"In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge." - Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership

Mao also said it would be enough for comrades to first put an emphasis on being "red" with an aim towards becoming experts through continued participation in revolutionary struggle.

There is also the problem of intellectuals in the prison movement. But does this mean that all intellectuals in the prison movement are a problem? No, of course not. There are revolutionary intellectuals and there are bourgeoisie intellectuals. Revolutionary intellectuals hate oppression, they value knowledge as power and the collective accomplishments of many people, and they are dedicated to using their knowledge to serve the people. Bourgeois intellectuals on the other hand don't much care if people are oppressed, they are apathetic, they value knowledge for the sake of knowledge and they view the accumulation of knowledge as the accomplishment of great individuals. Some of these people may sometimes cheerlead for anti-imperialism and revolutionary struggles, but thru their inaction they actually hold up imperialism. Such people often excel in MIM(Prisons)-led study groups. These types of people take up revolutionary politics for the sole purpose of study and discussion without application, which is to say that they get off on talking about revolution but very rarely do they go further. These types of people give lip service to communist ideology and the topic of national liberation. When pressed on putting their knowledge to use they'll suddenly come up with excuses. "Now is not a good time for me," "The masses aren't ready," "The movement isn't ready," etc, etc. In fact it is they who are not ready!

Real revolutionary intellectuals don't study revolutionary theory for the sake of knowledge, but to make revolution. Theory without practice ain't shit! Mao addressed this in his essay "On Practice":

"What Marxist philosophy regards as the most important problem does not lie in understanding the laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world."

Maoism teaches us that there is no great difference between politically conscious leaders and mere followers, between leaders and led. The only difference is practice, for practice alone is the criterion of truth for knowledge, as it is through practice that the masses can come to power and exert influence over their destiny.

Notes: Third Draft of Criticism of the RCP by MIM.
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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 55]
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Maintain the Trust in the United Front

I have had a revolutionary mindstate since I was 16 (I am 30 now), when I realized our current government structure was corrupt and I started searching for a new philosophy. I came into Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Ever since then I have been a sort of pariah in society for my views. I caught my first bid at 18 and have been in and out of the prison system repeatedly. Mind you these prison bids were my own fault but the length of the sentences were always to the extreme. I was never given a second chance. Now I am in a Level 4 work release and finally about to go home in a few weeks and felt it necessary to share my views.

For starters oppressor-nation lumpen organizations should not ever be trusted. Joining with their factions they will try to incorporate their bigoted views into our cause and give true freedom a sour taste in our mouths. That is why we should avoid this situation. A united front is exactly how it sounds, united at all fronts no matter your race, sex, creed, or class. Hatred should not be tolerated within our ranks.

The same goes for pariahs such as snitches, child molesters, and rapists. These are things we should not tolerate. In order for the revolution to succeed we cannot have people looking at our organizations as a threat to house and home. Unity is built on trust. Would you trust a convicted and known child molester to be around your children, or a convicted rapist to be around our wimmin? I know I wouldn't. Amerikkka would love for us to have dissension within our ranks and we cannot afford to have this.

As for snitches, they work for the government! This cannot be allowed to infiltrate our ranks. If you would tell on a case so you don't go to jail, how can we trust you with political treason? Our revolutionary leaders are already being killed and incarcerated, we cannot let in anyone who will jeopardize more of our leaders. Take for instance, one of us was in contact with Edward Snowden (a true patriot, also this is all hypothetical) if a snitch caught wind and set him up to be arrested a leader will be lost.

Comrades I encourage you to think about the implications of letting these kinds of people into our rank and file. Long live the revolution.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about who we can organize with. A comrade in Virginia wrote in with similar concerns:

"Individuals lose sight that to these bigotry-minded organizations we are stupid. They feel as tho we need them to survive. I don't agree with that at all, ULK and all the brothers and sisters make it work and it means so much to me that we have this movement. If these oppressors know our lessons and remedies for the oppression we hope to stop it will be so much harder for us to stand against this imperialist movement they run daily.

"Just because they say they want to help does not mean that's their goal. See when they start sentencing whites to harsh treatment as they do our people daily and blanket the way we are oppressed then I can say their actions show they want to help us. It's not the case of wanting to help us it's about them gaining intel on our movement, so for that I disagree with any movement of this struggle joining forces with oppressive white groups."

Both these writers express concerns that undermine our position against coalition-based organizing in favor of building united fronts. Below we explain the difference between united front and coalition organizing, and we encourage our readers to write in with your thoughts if you think this distinction would resolve the concerns presented above. Below we make generalizations about the two modes of collaboration, but of course there may be some coalitions that operate more similar to a united front and vice versa.

In united front organizing, various organizations come together to work on a specific goal or project. All the organizations maintain their independence, which is a very important distinction from coalition building. So in a united front, white supremacist groups could maintain their bigoted views and their ultimate goal to undermine our self-determination. At the same time, liberatory organizations maintain our politics of anti-imperialism, anti-amerikkkanism, equality for all, etc.

On the other hand, in the coalition model, the groups are supposed to agree on and uphold the ideology of the coalition, which usually forces the more progressive grous to water down their line on the issue. Talking points are chosen and orgs in the coalition are supposed to stick to the talking points.

For example, if we enter into a united front with a prison reformist group which has a goal of reforming the prison system within capitalism, we will not tell them that they must agree with the need to overthrow capitalism in order to resolve the problems they are trying to fix. They also can't force us to advertise that a series of reforms, while keeping capitalism and U.$.A. intact, is what we need to end oppression within prisons. Each organization is able to push the agenda of the united front (in this case, that Amerikan prisons are terrible) while putting our own analysis on the issue. In a coalition on the same topic, there is usually a greater unity of political line, which often means the line of the most progressive orgs are put on the back back back burner. All the groups don't agree we need revolution, so revolution is not allowed in the campaign.

To the writer in Virginia's concerns, about the security of our movement if we allow oppressor-nation lumpen organizations to gain intel on our inner-functions, we believe that first an accurate assessment must be made to figure out if these groups actually do have a genuine interest in the goals of the collaboration. If that assessment is accurate, then working together in a united front, focused specifically on a particular goal or task, should help protect us from these attacks because the information that needs to be shared is much more limited. The level of unity required is much more limited. The conversation is focused on "what will we do about this one particular problem?" and each group's practical contribution to the campaign is left to itself to carry out.

So we disagree with the Delaware comrade's definition of a united front as being united on all points. Instead we see it as united against a specific enemy or to achieve a specific goal. But let's disregard semantics for a moment, and ask if these comrades believe we should still not work with opppressor-nation lumpen orgs, even if we use an independence-based united front model? Why or why not, and what examples can we look to to help us make this analysis? Would we be able to achieve our goals even if we have a policy to never have tactical unity with oppressor-nation groups?

More on security. Obviously snitches are dangerous to revolutionaries. However, people can be reformed. It is possible someone in prison got a reduced sentence for ratting out someone else. But once in prison they might come into contact with revolutionaries who educate them on the importance of unity amongst the oppressed and they are self-critical about their actions and resolve to never act against the oppressed again. We should not shun this persyn forever, but instead encourage their transformation and embrace genuine change.

We also call out the question of "convicted and known" rapists. Who is doing the convicting? Why do we trust the criminal injustice system to tell us who is a rapist? New Afrikan men accused of raping white wimmin are likely to be convicted, regardless of the facts. Accepting conviction as truth is something every prisoner knows to be dangerous. And so we ask why this conviction is an acceptable measure for rape? Of course anyone who advocates gender oppression or believes it is their right to sexually assault others will have fundamental disagreements with us. But we can't just trust the state to tell us who are our friends and who are our enemies.

It is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the oppressed to build a United Front against a principal enemy, overcoming the divisions put on us by the imperialists, and identifying allies even in the face of significant and fundamental disagreements over certain important issues.

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