As imperialist crisis deepens, national liberation grows. The right for national self-determination is gaining mainstream discussion with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The imperialists are boycotting Russia to support Ukraine, when they punished those boycotting I$rael for denying the self-determination of Palestine. Meanwhile, here in occupied Aztlán comrades are engaging the Chican@ movement on this topic, which has forced the largest reformist parties to discuss national liberation in the current political climate.
Before the next issue of Under Lock & Key comes out we have two events that we are asking you to support. One is our second annual Fourth of You-Lie fund drive. Thanks to all who donated already this year, we are off to a good start rivaling last year’s steady increase in donations. If you haven’t donated yet this year, we’re asking every reader to send us 7 stamps or more by July 4th. We just received notice that, like most things, printing costs will be increasing this summer.
And more importantly, June 19th marks the boycott Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. The campaign is centered in Texas, where comrades are organizing a general strike in prisons across the state. Different custody levels will be organizing different forms of action leading up to and continuing after June 19th. We will be sending updates to USW comrades in Texas over the next month. Campaign demands include:
End Solitary Confinement!
End Restrictive Housing Units!
End Mass Incarceration!
Transform the prisons to cadre schools!
Transform ourselves into New People!
Speaking of transforming ourselves, we released the Revolutionary 12 Step program this winter as promised. USW leaders should have that in their hands already. The Power to New Afrika pamphlet is almost done, and should be out shortly after this ULK. The new The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons however, is not on schedule and we do not know when we will be able to complete that. For now our introductory study program will continue using the old version. We are also very behind on responding to comrades in the intro study program. As always, we need more outside supporters to help with basic tasks like transcribing, editing, lay out, and promoting prisoner-led campaigns. We just don’t have enough comrades out here to keep up with everything comrades need in there. Thank you to our newest supporters who helped with this issue, we hope to have a long and revolutionary relationship!
This is your newsletter, as evidenced from the vast majority of articles, reports, poetry and artwork coming from prisoners in every issue. In the last year comrades inside really came together to support our fund drive and our distribution drive as well, and we are making steady progress on both. 2021 was a good year for us overall and we hope to build greater things in 2022, some of which are outlined in this issue of ULK.
Our MIM(Prisons) annual review meeting in December was focused on re-prioritizing tasks in order to expand our outside support base, increase subscribers inside and support the growth of a broader Maoist movement. To increase subscribers inside we’ve been slowly increasing our list of ULK distributors who receive extra copies of ULK to distribute to others in their prison. We’ve reached the point where almost 10% of the newspapers we’re sending into prisons are going to distributors, but we want to see that number much higher in 2022. If you’d like to receive extra copies of ULK to distribute let us know how many you can use and send us reports on your distribution efforts each issue.
Because of the decrease in frequency of ULK and the decrease in subscribers, we are sending less than a fifth of the number of newspapers into prisons we were sending in some years ago. The main way we think we can improve our numbers is by increasing ULK back to every other month. However, we will need to recruit much more outside support to make this happen as we are barely pulling this together every 3 months. Issue ULK 76 was almost delayed, and much work was rushed together at the last minute because we don’t have enough steady supporters.
In spring 2021 we announced we would be doing an annual Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser drive among the readers of ULK. We told you that 7 stamps would cover the cost of your 4 issues for the year. Below we’ve graphed the contributions we received from our readers in prison for the whole year. In Q1 and Q2 we removed the contributions of one particularly generous comrade who contributed over $200 in Q1 because ey was skewing our results so much. By excluding em, we see a steady growth in contributions coming in, and more importantly a steady growth of individuals sending contributions. While we welcome our comrades to send in $200 that can, it is by increasing the number of donations that we know our mass base is growing. Looking at our numbers for the last quarter of 2021, we see about 8.5% of the people receiving ULK 75 sent a donation during that quarter. While we didn’t do the math to track this over time, we believe this is probably one of the higher contribution rates we’ve ever had!
The line on the graph above represents the number of people contributing funds over the four quarters of 2021. The bars represent the money coming in as donations or payments. (All numbers include prisoners only.) ‘Payments’ means people sending money for a specific book or document. In some cases the difference is not important. However, if we get 100 people ordering copies of the TX Pack next quarter, that would shoot up our contributions but none of that money would be going to ULK or other projects, it would just pay to print and mail TX Packs. So it’s better to see the donations portion increasing. If we look at just the donations on the graph, prisoners are covering 18% of the cost of printing ULK! This level of support will make it much easier for us to increase the frequency of ULK, but we still need outside comrades to help do the work.
We hope you will be a part of ULK’s success in the coming year by doing any of the following: donating 7 stamps or more, sharing/distributing ULK, sending in conditions reports, writing articles, creating anti-imperialist artwork and promoting MIM(Prisons) work with your contacts outside prison. Of course, ULK exists to serve the anti-imperialist prison movement, and anything you do to build that movement is why we are here.
TX Pack and book orders
For those of you who are sending payments (no checks/money orders) for books or resources, please expect about 2 months between the time you mail out your request and you receive your item. For TX Pack requests, you must pay 7 stamps or $3.50. We do not have anyone working on the TX Pack, so the 2020 edition is all we have.
In this article I-self will be building with ya’ll in unity, criticism, unity on the ongoing discussion on organizing strategy that’s been going on in the last 3 ULKs. But where my focus is going to be on are the questions that the comrade Wiawimawo stated at the end of Comrade S. Xanastas’ “An Ongoing Discussion Organizing Strategy Pt. 2” in ULK No. 74. Also, a little on the redefining words that are used to villianize WE from Comrade Triumphant’s article “Forever Protecting the Community: We Are Our Own Liberators” in ULK No. 75.
The questions posed by our comrade Wiawimawo are stated below:
"can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state?
“…Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or hide their use of long-term isolation? Or should we focus solely on the Third World neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling in Ethiopia, Cuba and Haiti?”
To answer the first question: can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state? I would have to say yes, and I also think that the Re-Lease on Life and the University of Maoist Thought Programs will aid and assist with the campaigns making demands from the state. Reason why is that the University of Maoist Thought programs and the Re-Lease on Life will give the de-imperialization study groups, programs, or classes, etc. Plus the most right and exact educational class WE can bring to the masses so WE can liberate ourselves. Which will in turn not just promote these campaigns, but these individuals who “over”take these classes will have a sense of duty to not just self, but the whole commune to start up campaigns that are making demands from the state. In turn, this will open the opportunity to capture the minds of more of the masses from the imperialist reigns of control to be re-directed to our de-imperialization study groups and/or classes, and then that situation repeats until the masses are overwhelmingly pushing S.O.P.s in these koncentration kamps and communism to the outside free world.
Next question is: Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or widen their use of long-term isolation? I knowledge that these campaigns that expose widespread use of torture and long-term isolation, with the many campaigns to teach the deaf, dumb, and blind of our First World lumpen class to see, be mindful, and more nationally, internationally, revolutionarily conscious, and be able to discern the difference from what is revolutionary and what is not. This will breed the revolutionary souljas which is needed to topple U.$. imperialism and imperialism as a whole. Souljas like those in the Ayiti (Haiti) revolution (Aug. 14, 1791 - Dec. 1803) the first and only successful revolution of Afrikans where General Francois Capois yelled this battle cry at the final battle:
“Grenadye, also! Sa Ki Mouri, Zafe a yo! Nan pwen manman. Nan pwen papa. Sa ki mouri, zafe a yo! Grenadye, aloso!”
Which translates to:
“Soldiers attack (or to the front and move forward)! Those who die, so what! There is no mom. There is no dad. Those who die, so what!”
WE have to come with this mindset while in this realm of revolution, and if WE are not there yet then WE better hop-scotch into a Usane Bolt sprint to it and lock it in for eternity. For this is the mindset which is going to get us to the transfer of power from imperialism to communism. WE gotta be expecting that the imperialists are going to try to hide their dirty laundry after WE show how filthy their ways are. So in saying that we ALL have to become counter-attack masters and specialists just as much as WE ALL ARE to be ready to become future leaders of the revolutionary struggle.
Which is also answering the following question: or should we focus soley on the third world neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling on Ethiopia, Cuba, and Haiti? Now just stating that WE ALL have to become counter-attack specialists and be ready to become future leaders, the comrade with the most knowledge gets to speak on either of the three. If WE don’t have any of the comrades or leaders who have that knowledge, then WE gone get into that study hall classroom and get some knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and elect a cadre to each country.
So the focus that is needed to build campaigns that will undermine the imperialists here in the U.$. and the world abroad, will be there in full discretion. WE gotta become the monsters that the beast is scared to death of. Since everybody has or had a monster that they was afraid of, why not BE the monster(s) the imperialists shit and piss in their pants every time they think of WE. Then die of heart attack when WE manifest in the flesh.
Because WE as revolutionaries and FW lumpen have been villainized by the imperialists already right? It’s either now that WE redefine these words or abandon words like “monster,” “demons,” “gang,” “criminal”, and etc. Just how the comrade Triumphant stated in their article “Forever Protecting the Community: We Are Our Own Liberators,” I see and knowledge that this task is going to be a difficult one. First, redefining these words to the point it’s worldwide spread that even our opps – the imperialists – knows the redefinition of word that they use to villainize WE and use the new definition their damn selfs. Example: How many knows Tupac Amaru Shakur’s redefinition of the word ‘NIGGA’? Which is “Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished” or does the first thing a persyn think about is a New Afrikan individual? And this leads into part two: WE have to remember our leaders and souljas locked away like Larry Hoover Sr., Iman Jalil Amin, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Bomani Shakur, and many others’ lives are dependent on WE and if WE fail to redefine correctly and get it worldwide recognition; WE’ll do more harm to WE then forward progression of the movement. This will push us back like Gang injunctions and R.I.C.O. acts. Just something WE should keep in mind as we progress forward in these stages of organizing strategy.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2021 permalink
On 15 September 2021 twenty four prisoners declared hunger strike at Foothills Correctional Institution in North Carolina. By 2PM the administration locked up 3 comrades. Me and another comrade stayed fasting.
They only give us phone once a week; no yard in a month; and less than 2 hours of recreation per day. Basically we’re in segregation for no reason. I reflect on these b.s. measures, then I asked myself why and how does this opre$$ion end?!
“Why are the battles endless?! Why the Us vs. them?! Why is the Earth CRYING ?!”
When my brother first articulated the vision for the new venture, Forever Protecting the Community, and his general desire to uplift Our people, We were in a supermax prison, in the middle of nowhere. He himself had just days prior been released from a similar prison and had come to visit me. It was Our first time seeing each other in six years, since my trial, in which i was unjustly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Thick, shatter proof glass separated Us in the visitation booth. i expressed through the phone, between static, my approval and tipped my head in acknowledgment of the self-development and maturation process that i knew had led up to this point in his life. i knew the process intimately, as i myself have undergone it as well in my own way. It is a process of social and mental growth that many before us have gone through. It is a process that sees one evolve from a state of self and socially induced ignorance, towards a state of a more completely functional humyn being, one who is engaged with the community and world around them, being productive therein. It is this way which We were meant to live among each other, but through the process of social-economic development, from a communal economy, into a hyper capitalistic society, We’ve become a mutation of Our true selves. Individualism dominates collectivism, greed has taken the place of contentment. Being as We are born and bred in such a world it takes a process of re-education and re-commitment in order to shun these counter-productive characteristics and act in the furtherance of productivity and communal upliftment.
Sometime later after Our visit, Prisoner A asked me to make a contribution to a collection of short stories that he wished to publish under the banner of Forever Protecting the Community. He stated that his vision was to correct those of Our homeboys behind enemy lines with the movement that was/is in process in the streets. As it is, when Our people are held captive by the state they’re often forgotten about, or merely become just another hashtag, as the world moves on. Additionally he figured, and i agreed, that brothers such as myself who are living the effects of social alienation, political disengagement/dependence, and economic insecurities, the combination of which has led to lives tarnished by and through captivity, should have much to express in regards to the direction of Our communities and Our nation (that is the nation of Black people in Amerika which i refer to as New Afrikans).
In responses to my brother’s request i consciously refused to contribute a ‘short story’. Reason being, short stories are fictional, while the subject matter surrounding the necessity of Forever Protecting the Community is far from fiction. It is real life that drugs and STD’s have ravished Our communities. It is real life that millions of New Afrikans – Black children, wimmin, and men are currently in captivity or under the ‘supervision’ of the state. It is real life that the public school system is failing Our youth, not providing the necessary tools to live a self-sufficient life but only to enter the ranks of the wage slaves. It is real life that in areas which We call ‘Our community’, property ownership among New Afrikan people is less than 5%, this number includes homes, commercial real estate, and ‘essential infrastructure’. These property relations are significant, as it is this factor which creates ‘social alienation, political dis-engagement/dependence, and economic insecurities’, so it is real, very real, that many of us live and die without having owned Our living spaces, and under the rules of Amerikan settler-colonialism and imperialism, it is increasingly difficult to own Our very identities, both collectively and individually.
So because this is Our real life, and has been for sometime, i felt what was/is needed more than mere entertainment is some ‘real talk’ as it pertains to ‘us’. Therefore i’ve offered up this place to shed light and open much needed communal discussion.
The word ‘protect’ means ‘to guard’; ‘to secure’; ‘to hold in safe keeping’; all these definitions imply that there is a force, or forces which seek to bring destruction, in whole or in part, to whatever entity needs guarding, security, safekeeping, or protecting. In Our context We are alluding to the need to secure Our ‘communities’, which are essentially semi-colonized territories dependent upon and occupied by outside forces.
It follows that if and when there is an entity that seeks the destruction of Our territory, Our community, Our nation, Our family, Our people, and Our self, that said entity is an avowed enemy to Our cause and Our interests. So therefore i pose the question, ‘who are Our enemies and who are Our friends?’ 402 years ago with the advent of the Maafa (African slave trade; tragedy) an unresolved contradiction arose. This contradiction has been characterized by the colonization of New Afrikan Black people, first as slaves, a nation of slaves, and oppressed and exploited free people, until now, where Our colonization is characterized by the forced dependence upon the United States, settler-imperialist neo-colonial empire, for the basic functions of modern nationhood. That is free development of independent political, social, and economic production and advancement.
During the last 402 years, what it means to be a New Afrikan in Amerika has been tied to Our ongoing collective struggle to express Ourselves in the full extent of Our humynity, to cast off the old forced colonial relationship, which saw us as completely dependent pawns in the ‘game’ of world affairs, and to exercise a role and position which has been guaranteed to almost all other peoples of the world, that is to determine for Ourselves who We are, what We are (a colonized nation), and how We wish to organize Ourselves for the daily survival of Our people.
For the settler-empire’s part in this contradiction they’ve sought to undermine Our natural, independent, development at every turn. All the empire’s actions towards Our people, whether they be in the field of military intimidation (police terrorism), propaganda, political policies, and all other matters, they have all been to further the relation of dependence upon their governance and economic structure.
Due to these simple truths and the multitude of ramifications that they produce, it shouldn’t be lost on the reader that the enemy of New Afrikan–Black people is the system of economic and political power that has been FORCED upon us. This system is called capitalism-imperialism, and the u.s. government at both federal and local levels is the world leader of this system which is the cause of not only Our collective misery, but that of the majority of the world’s people.
We, as a people, must come to understand that, ‘yes’, ‘protection’ is needed and it is needed from the forces of power. Our enemies are not those of another block, set, or turf who not only look like us, but more importantly, are victims of the same systemic oppression and alienation as us, which has fostered Our like conditions. Our enemies are not those whom the real enemy has told us are the ‘gangs’ and ‘criminals’. These We must begin to see as Ourselves, Our siblings, Our allies, in this struggle. Allies whom have not yet been awakened to their place and position within the ranks of Our New Afrikan Independence Movement.
Forever Protecting the Community, as many of you reading this already know, has grown out of the legacy of the Forum Park Crips, in particular, and that of New Afrikan-Black street organizations in general. Modern street organizations within Our colonies (communities) have for a long time possessed the tendency to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders.
Prior to the creation of the original Crips of Los Angeles in 1971, there were other street organizations. During the mid-1960’s as Our nation was on a collective march to determine for Ourselves Our own destiny, several Black Power organizations began to recruit effectively within the class of people in Our colonies that were or would likely become members of street organizations. These Black Power revolutionaries impressed upon the sisters and brothers that the most effective way to combat the mistreatment they all faced was to unite on the basis of nationhood, and the shared quest for self-determination.
On the West Coast, the main Black Power groups leading the shift in social philosophy and participation among the ‘street class’, were the Black Panther Party, and the US organization. The former would succeed in consolidating ALL of the New Afrikan Black street organizations on the West Side of South Central into one mass body. This effort was led by Panther deputy chairman Alprentice Bunchy Carter: a former leader of the ‘Slausons’ street organization, and convict, turned political revolutionary while in California’s San Quentin Concentration Camp. Bunchy Carter would help politicize most of his former ‘gang’ buddies, recruiting them into the Panther organization and more importantly, re-install the sense of common-unity (community) among the working class of the surrounding area, with the former ‘destroyers’, the ‘gang’ element. This was only possible once the people could see that the 5,000 strong Slausons had made themselves a vehicle for productivity in opposition to the people’s REAL enemies instead of assisting the enemies of the people in the destruction of the people and Our areas of residence. Forever Protecting the Community, if it lives up to its calling, will follow down this same path of self-liberation, utilizing the examples set by the Slausons and others to build upon the advancement of Our nation in Our quest for self-determination and independence.
"The time is NOW for a total refocusing of Our efforts, away from non-productive distractions and other elements of temptations, and focus towards those disciplines that will make us real [contributors] in Our communities. We must stop the gangbanging and drive-bys. Our [nation] is being destroyed by the killing [drugging and imprisonment] of Our own youth. We must stop hating one another because of the block, hood, turf, and color We represent, these actions only continue the cycle of self-destruction.
“And finally, in my sincere appeal for peace and unity: Those of us that have experienced being Our brother’s keeper – We must educate Our members around Us. Education brings about awareness. Awareness generates the ability to think. Our youth must know the end result of crime is shame, disgrace, and imprisonment to themselves, as well as the community. We must come to the point of outlawing those who willfully disrupt Our communities and Our call [to Forever Protect the Community]. Crime must not be accepted as the normal way of doing things.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993 ‘Call For Peace’
As articulated previously, there has been a tendency among New Afrikan-Black street organizations to re-imagine their identities and the role in which they play, or intend to play in the development of Our people, that of destroyers or builders. Larry Hoover leading the transition of his organization from ‘Gangster Disciples’ to ‘Growth and Development’ is one of the most noteworthy and informative examples that We can/should take lessons from. Yet before We delve more into the lessons We can take from this grouping, it is important that We illustrate the hands of the enemy in regards to the growth and expansion of today’s street organizations and the sanctioned culture of gangsterism.
Going back to the mid-60’s, as the Slausons and other similarly situated groups began to cast off the self-destructive, and counter-productive behaviors, they consequently began engaging in the socio-political battles Our people faced at the local, ‘national’, and global levels. Once it became clear to the masses that Our oppression was/is political and economic and that the political reinforced the economic, it became evident that the interests of Our people had to be represented, by Our people, in the political sphere, and subsequently political bodies were formulated. The Black Panther Party, along with the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, were two of the foremost leaders among these such groups. On a national level, the ‘street class’ began to be involved in the development of themselves, and their people on an objective basis, as such naturally their priorities began to shift, instead of clubbing, slanging and banging, this class of people, many of Our predecessors, began to initiate community political education classes, free health clinics, community ‘face lifts’, and clean up programs, free busing to prison for visits, and a host of other ‘survival programs’.
It was during this time, because Our people had clearly drawn a line of demarcation between themselves and the enemies of the people, furthermore the same elements of the New Afrikan-Black Nation which had, by force of circumstance, been most dependent upon the u.s. federal and local governments couldn’t and/or wouldn’t. Such a development signaled to the people that they themselves had the necessary power to liberate themselves, hence the popularity of the phrase, ‘Power to the People’.
Much of the oppressors continued rule depends upon the people’s belief that they’re utterly helpless without the structure of the settler-colonial imperialists. Once this illusion is unmasked and the essence of the establishment is exposed, the oppressive state apparatus must solely rely on brute force to maintain its illegitimate rule upon the people, Our people. The establishment seeks to bypass such a reality. Overt violence for the sake of political repression usually swells the ranks of those in opposition to the illegitimate governmental authorities.
It was this exact situation which saw the federal government intensify the contradiction which began in Black August 1619 to the level of a domestic war between two opposed and contradictory entities, through the FBI’s declared war on the various organizations and people within the Black Liberation Movement, by way of the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
The u.s. government’s carrying out of COINTELPRO in order to prevent the self-developed expression of the New Afrikan-Black experience as a colonized nation held captive for centuries by the u.s. government, resulted in numerous political assassinations of New Afrikan-Black liberation combatants, the political/false imprisonment of various souljahs and activists of Our cause, and the subsequent obliteration of what has been up until this point the most progressive era of Our collective struggle in 402 years (the Black Liberation Movement).
The defeat of the movement is important to this discourse on FPC, because it was in the wake of the defeat of the movement that the Crips, Bloods, Folks and Peoples established themselves. The establishment of these street groups was facilitated by the war initiated on the movement, and the subsequent elimination of progressive, productive, and revolutionary leadership in the colonies which We call communities. Ajamu Niamke Kamara (Stanley Tookie Williams), co-founder of the Crips, said the following:
"i’m convinced that had the Black Panther Party still been recruiting - uninterrupted by the duplicitous COINTELPRO… Huey Newton and Bobby Seale would have salivated over the untapped youthful potential We represented.
“Throughout this state and country, We embodied only a small divided body within a multitude of reckless, energetic, fearless, and explosive young Black warriors. Though we were often seen as social dynamite, i believe We were the perfect entity to be indoctrinated in cultural awareness and trained as disciplined soldiers for the Black struggle.”
Unfortunately for the original Crips and Bloods, and the many multitudes who have since followed in their foot steps, in 1971 while Tookie Williams and Raymond Washington were establishing the teenage clique that would become an international menace, the Black Panther Party was enduring a major split within its ranks, which was caused, partially, by the assault(s) of COINTELPRO, that would be the beginning of the end for the Party and the movement.
In the wake of the defeat, the establishment initiated a wide variety of methods to ensure that the widely dispersed wave of righteous rebellion and the desire of an internal colony to free itself from the forced yoke of imperialism and neo-colonialism, would never happen again. To insure that Our people would remain collectively divided and conquered, and sleep, the enemies invented and distributed crack cocaine, and military grade weapons throughout the mid 1980’s and into the 1990’s, allowed for the AIDS/HIV epidemic, created laws and policies that would hold millions of Our youthful and vibrant siblings in captivity based on fabricated and over-exaggerated portrayals of Our colonized territories and peoples, and Our responses to Our colonial oppression.
While the movement for self-determination was brutally crushed by the u.s. government, that same government, wherever it could, assisted the growth and expansion of the street organizations. The very industry that was factually created by the CIA (the Crack Trade) was the vehicle which drove Crips, Bloods, Folk, and Peoples factions in their growth across the u.s. empire. This subsequent growth and expansion led directly to the formation of the street organization, Forum Park Crips, an independent Crip faction in Houston, Texas, along with countless other similar factions and groups. What could have been the u.s. establishment’s motive in instigating the growth of parasitic groups, while murdering and torturing the productive organized bodies? The answer can only possibly be the intended destruction of Our nation and people.
With this realization that We have been manipulated, on a large scale, to act against Our own interests and that of Our nation, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community, though not the solution within itself, surely takes a step in the correct direction.
“… Our women and children are suffering greatly at the hands of an oppressive, dominant, racist political system… We can no longer afford the forced luxury of non-involvement or non-participation. The question remains: How can We contribute within Our limited capacities? .. i say to you: If We accept a partial responsibility for the plight of Our own people, then We must take an active role in the game of POLITICS.” – Larry Hoover’s 1993, “Call to Action”
Where Do We Go From Here? As stated above, the formation of Forever Protecting the Community is not a solution in and of itself, and it remains to be seen whether or not this formation will live out its full potential. What has already taken place however is the necessary act of determining for ones self what your identity and purpose will be. There will be naysayers who will point to all sorts of negative aspects of those who are or become active with the new FPC movement. They will, if hystory is any indicator, deter the general public from supporting and identifying with the movement of Our people and colonies.
In order to get out in front of this foreseeable roadblock to Our progress, We must do one of two things. 1) Abandon the words and personification of ‘gang’, and ‘criminal’, to those who have defined them (Our enemies) so that now they will have purely negative connotations; 2) redefine those words/personifications - or create a new word or phrase to describe organized groups within Our oppressed colonies (communities).
Whichever choice is made, NEW concepts must be developed that reinforce NEW forms of activity that should begin to appear on the basis of the NEW concept. Forever Protecting the Community is the NEW concept, and now what the leaders of this organization must act towards is organizing a wide variety of people of the community to work collectively to transform the ‘gang’ into a progressive organization of New Afrikan people, which struggles and works in the interests of Our people. The problem within Our colonies (communities) isn’t that there are ‘gangs’, but it is the real problems which all peoples under capitalist domination face, it is capitalism itself, and the social, economic and political alienation it creates, which indirectly gives birth to ‘gangs’ and ‘crime’.
Forever Protecting the Community has taken one step towards empowerment – one critical step closer to a new sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – by using the power that We already have, to define Ourselves, name Ourselves and speak for Ourselves – instead of being defined and spoken for by others. The next step consists of leading all the people of the community to share in the responsibility for providing a NEW broader sense of collective identity, purpose, and direction – for Our children and Ourselves. It is time now to promote NEW ideas about the life We wanna live and the society We wanna live in. Its time to promote NEW definitions of Our problems (e.g. ‘racism’ or capitalism/colonialism) and the real solutions to Our problems (e.g. ‘empowerment’ or genuine independence). We must begin to promote among Our people the idea that Our purpose isn’t to simply own a nice car, jewelry, a house, or even to quasi control a few city blocks, but to share in Our control of entire cities, entire states, and eventually, to share in the control of Our independent nation.
The task is to begin to formulate a community coalition behind the idea/motto/slogan of Forever Protecting the Community. By a coalition i mean connecting with a variety of people who identify with and support the cause of the organization. Particularly, the following elements within the community should be sought out for support and assistance:
“What We have to do is get together the conscientious progressive thinkers within these [street] organizations that know that they have to make a change in order to survive… We have to put together a concerted effort by all segments of Our community– clergy, business, activists, and progressive thinkers within street organizations [local elected officials, educators, health care providers]. You have to go within these organizations to change them… You can’t just write off a generation… It is time for [New Afrikans] from all over the country to realize what has happened to Our people, and that while much of it can be attributed to outside forces We have to begin to take responsibility for Ourselves.” – Larry Hoover
As a politicized prisoner, and activist, co-founder of the prison activist organization Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., i extend my hand, and that of my comrades and supporters on both side of the walls, in support and solidarity of the Forever Protecting the Community organization, and more importantly i look forward to workin with my brothers, the 10’zzz, on concrete actions both FPC and Team One can collab on that will suit both Our missions.
We of TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. believe the current United Struggle from Within movement which We support, along with the general prison resistance/abolition movements, align perfectly with Forever Protecting the Community’s mission. As such, We humbly ask that if you are a part of or support the mission to FOREVER PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY, that you also contact and actively support the souljahs behind enemy lines within the TX Team One formation fighting against legal slavery in Texas prisons, and the inhumane use of indefinite, and long term solitary confinement, as a toll of social and political repression.
Dare 2 Struggle Dare 2 Win; 1 Love 1 Struggle for LAND AND INDEPENDENCE
“Look you a Blood, i’ma Crip, but i figure we can get back to that Black shit, instead of killin and bangin for crack shit, is n****z too stuck in they ways? i know We long overdue, but is We ready for change? Stand under one flag like an ARMY brigade. Time to put the deuce-deuce down and pick a ‘K’, and if We bangin on sum Black shit. Let’s ride for the dead homies and get the burners for Malcolm and Nat Turner. Talkin’ to them other n*****z, my so called enemies We don’t own one block but We live and die for these city streets. Even though the pain runs deep, REAL n*****z know its time to make PEACE so We can FOCUS ON THE PAYCHECK.” – Nipsey Hussle
“Now if We wanna live the THUG LIFE and the gangsta life and all that, okay, so stop being cowards and let’s have a REVOLUTION. But We don’t wanna do that, dudes just wanna live a character. They wanna be cartoons, but if they really wanted to do something, if they was tough alright, lets start Our OWN COUNTRY, lets start a REVOLUTION, let’s get out of here [prison], let’s do something.” – Tupac Amaru Shakur
Triumphant TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E Co-founder New Afrikan Independence Movement
“From an organizers perspective, [struggling for quality-of-life reforms such as increased phone access] are not battles which we can effectively push anti-imperialism forward, much less MLM…”
The author cites a failure to apply the materialist dialectic, or the ‘science’ behind scientific socialism, to the situation at hand. When viewed in isolation and out of its proper context, the conclusion that they have reached would certainly be a commonsense position to take. And as they write a little further on:
“How can we then deem that prison struggles aren’t aligned with anti-imperialism?”
Yet if the quote being critiqued were analyzed in its totality, we can begin to see more nuance and why such a statement was made in the first place. So to continue where the partial quote left off:
“…without veering into reformist practices of little tactical or strategic value. I am aware that arguments of principle can be mounted to the contrary, but absent a practicable, totalizing strategy for revolution domestically being put forward by an MLM organization that is actionable in the here-and-now, we cannot effectively utilize many of these prison struggles as a proper springboard to corresponding actions in other areas, actions which do not translate into long-term pacification which benefits their prison administration in an objective, cost-to-us, benefit-to-them analysis. If we cannot muster the resources and external manpower to mount a facility or state-specific campaign for a tactical reform to push our agenda and continually imprint firmly in the minds of all incarcerated that we have their best interests in mind, it may be advisable to abstain from participation lest credit for the reforms go elsewhere and become politically-neutered, or, worse yet, the system co-opts the struggle as its own and touts its successes (ie. The First-Step Act). Otherwise, we are gaining no more than sporadic traction amongst those we are attempting to revolutionize, and then only of a transient nature.” (emphasis added)
As mentioned earlier, there is a nuance to the position I have taken that is obscured in comrade Triumphant’s approach to mounting an argument on principle, and that in itself constitutes an incorrect and unscientific approach to proper discourse. Quoting someone out of context may buttress a particular argument or agenda, however arguments begin to lose their strength when quotations are re-situated in their proper place. You ask, ‘how can we then deem that prison struggles aren’t aligned with anti-imperialism?’, but who has or where has such a view been advocated in the first place for this allegation to be made? As you can see, the position put forth in the original commentary advocated not an abandonment of revolutionary struggle within prisons but rather its placement within a more explicitly revolutionary framework. Refining our approach does not imply an abandonment of all struggle just to focus on study.
It is agreed that the materialist dialectic can be applied in all manner of social phenomena, and the Amerikan injustice system and the struggle between prison staff and the captive population are no exception. But the real question is, should it be applied in this particular instance in the manner which the Team One Formation, K.A.G.E. Universal and others have done thus far – that is, pushing for minor reforms largely divorced from a wider revolutionary anti-imperialist agenda resulting in pacification once concessions are made? I would argue that advocating for these various minor reforms to address the prison masses immediate needs can be classified as (presupposing these formations desire revolution or claim communism as their goal) right opportunist deviations.
Right opportunism is an error in practice that occurs when an organization attempts to embed itself in the masses and in doing so gives up a clear revolutionary program in the interest of fighting for immediate demands. This leads to economism/workerism (or in this case ‘prisonerism’), which is the purview of reformism: solely focusing on economic demands (economism), or the demands of prisoners.
You write that “quality-of-life reforms are connected to the strategy of cadre development.” Now can experience be gained in how to train cadre and organize people while doing this? Sure, but similar things can be argued about improving one’s marksmanship and related skills acquired while employed as a cop too. While a rather extreme analogy, what I am getting at is that productive skills can technically be derived from incorrect practice. Yet the question for both scenarios remains the same: Is there a better methodological approach to training cadre?
It is a laudable desire to want to avoid being all ‘study’ and no struggle, but if ‘struggle’ leads a group to avoiding, obscuring or watering down their politics in order to attain their demands, then that is not getting us any closer to our desired results. As MIM(Prisons) notes:
“We can also say that only focusing on the reformist campaigns, without the larger goals, is not going to change anything in regards to ending oppression and injustice.”
It is encouraging to see that in consequence of previous organizing experience comrade Triumphant has pledged to focus on “reorganizing of the TX Team One under a clearer program and a better understanding of what our strategic and tactical goals are.” This statement also aligns with what this comrade wrote in the November 2020 USW organizing update in reference to the reformist practice of the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM):
“unless anti-imperialist, revolutionary nationalist and/or communists take hold of this movement and see it as a tactical operation instead of a be-all end-all and thereby re-center the movement, it may only further ‘Amerikanize’ the (only) vastly-proletarian revolutionary sector of society we have (lumpen in prison). That could occur if cats become pacified with all these tokens and reforms that have been struggled for.”
But just because we re-center a movement along these lines and dress future demands to the state in sufficiently ‘revolutionary’ language to avoid the perception of reformism does not mean that we are actually avoiding these same pitfalls.
Here I will argue that even with an explicitly revolutionary program guiding us in the struggle for tactical reforms, we can still be susceptible to a sort of unwitting crypto-reformism if our struggles are not chosen very carefully and with the correct tactical, strategic and narrative approach. In the original commentary I wrote that
“we should not be trying to ‘improve’ Amerikan prisons, much like we should not be attempting to cut a bigger portion of imperialist profits from Third World super-exploitation for the lower class, yet still relatively privileged, citizens of empire.”
This statement meshes with your desire not to have strictly-reformist campaigns “further ‘Amerikanize’ the (only) vastly-proletarian revolutionary sector of society we have.” Of course our current approach differs strategically from the reformists but, noble intentions aside, it is still having the same overall effect in practice: we are inadvertently pacifying individuals, making them complacent sleepwalkers again. You may probably think: ‘Bullshit. We are teaching the masses not to fall for any old reform, that these are ’tactical maneuvers’,etc. And you may very well be able to indoctrinate a core of cadre to hold strong to a political line which promotes this view. However, if we view matters through a historical lens, when concessions from the state were achieved via a revolutionary stage of struggle these victories largely blunted the sympathetic masses desire to seek further redress by way of revolutionary means. Whether that be (to cite a non-Maoist, yet anti-capitalist example) during the peak of IWW organizing a century ago, the transient successes of the anti-revisionist New Communist Movement era or our current campaigns to ‘Abolish the SHU’ and ‘Release the Kids in Kages.’ Our ‘successes’ end up serving as a pressure-release for many and creating a ‘kinder, gentler machine-gun hand’ for our opponents to use against us, akin to replacing the arrogance and political incorrectness of Trump for the soothing reassurances of Biden.
From the commentary of the same USW organizing update from November 2020, you write that
“from an anti-imperialist perspective, the PHRM is only a tactic, a means to an end. That end being, sharpening the contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations, and advancing the oppressed aspect of that contradiction.”
But how do we really expect to sharpen the contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations and advance the oppressed aspect of that contradiction if we are actively participating in the lowering or resolution of the contradictions which heightened tensions in the first place? There is a periodic ebb and flow of the revolutionary tide in this country; why do we by way of our current tactical, strategic and narrative approach inadvertently help turn an upswing into a downturn? Of course the inherent contradiction in (note:their) Amerikan society will never truly go away absent revolution, but we are in the meantime attempting to apply balm to their societal problems and in effect delay its arrival.
Circling back to the arguments put forth in ‘An Ongoing Discussion on Organizing Strategy’, you bring up a good question when you write that
“the real crux of the issue, as it pertains to linking a totalizing revolutionary strategy, lies in practical experience gained by the masses in asserting their collective power. For, how will we seize state power if the people lack the strategic confidence to assert their power?”
As my position does not advocate pushing for more quality-of-life reforms even if there happens to be some positive by-product in cadre development, my reply to this question is that we should re-orient our tactics, strategy and narrative approach to the masses by over-emphasizing self-reliance and independence-mastery on the road to communist revolution. Therefore we should largely abstain from trying to prevent erosions of their bourgeois legal rights such as affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, abortion access, etc. and, if we are to engage in any tactical reforms to begin with, instead focus on opposition to proposals to place limits on magazine capacity, bans on assault rifles and other perceived or actual threats to their 2nd Amendment and other measures which will aid in our ability to maneuver and take them down when the time comes. This of course does not mean that we don’t support LGBTQ rights or abortion access, but fighting for their (re:Amerika’s) civil liberties and other bourgeois rights keeps many, including some well-meaning comrades, from seeing the bigger picture: Let their country go to hell. The Amerikan government will not become any less imperialist by advocating for more rights for more people within U.S. borders and it is debatable that we are contributing to anything more than a temporary weakening of imperialism domestically. If anything we are contributing to its further consolidation under the guise of new exploiters with more varied genders, orientations and skin tones.
Our cadre and the masses will gain practical experience and strategic confidence in their power by continuing to focus on construction of independent institutions, not making demands of an illegitimate government to provide redress. In the prison context, I repeat: “if we are to engage in any prison organizing, then censorship battles concerning our political ideology, the UFPP and the Re-Lease on Life programs should take center stage… As for our comrades who do not have the luxury of a release date, or have sentences which essentially translate into the same, their best hope for release lies not in reforms but with an all-sided MLM revolutionary organization planning their release through eventual People’s War.”
Bypass the reforms which do not help us either strengthen our party/cell formations, build independent institutions for the people or hasten People’s War.
Say ‘NO’ to negotiations; focus on revolutionary-separation and self-determination.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: I want to thank Triumphant and S. Xanastas for their thoughtful articulations on this topic. And i hope that printing these in ULK are helpful to others in thinking about how to organize effectively under the United Struggle from Within banner or on the streets.
In my many years of working on this project i would say this two-line struggle is really at the heart of what we do. Of course, how we walk the line between ultra-left and rightism is always at the heart of those deciding strategy for a communist movement. But these comrades address this question in our context today in the United $tates and in the context of organizing the First World lumpen and engaging in prison-based organizing.
In all contexts, going too far left means isolating ourselves from the masses and going too far right means tailing the masses and following them into dead ends. Therefore finding the correct path also requires determining who are the masses in our conditions. If we did not agree on who the masses are then we could not have this discussion in a meaningful way. Since we do agree, this is a two line struggle within our movement. With that frame I want to quickly address a couple points brought up here.
First, I think the strength in Triumphant’s argument is not in the skill-building of the individual cadre leaders as organizers, which arguably could be found elsewhere, but rather “in practical experience gained by the masses in asserting their collective power.” Triumphant also talks about the importance of the tactical battles in “increas[ing] the collective practical experience of contesting the state as a united body.”
S. Xanastas’ suggested program echoes closely to what Narobi Äntari’s calls for comrades to do upon release. And they echo much of MIM(Prisons) focus, especially in more recent years. Yet, i pose the question: can building the Re-Lease on Life and University of Maoist Thought programs mobilize and reach the masses in the same way as the campaigns making demands from the state?
And one final point, is that MIM always said the principal task was not just to build independent institutions of the oppressed, but also to build public opinion against imperialism. Isn’t a campaign exposing the widespread use of torture in U.$. prisons an undermining of U.$. imperialism regardless of the maneuvers the various states make to cut back on or hide their use of long-term isolation? Or should we focus solely on the Third World neo-colonies and expose U.$. meddling in Ethiopia, Cuba and Haiti?
The American reformers who first devised the penitentiary believed that criminals could be ‘reformed’ through solitary confinement, labor and religious indoctrination. The use of solitary confinement and isolation/sensory deprivation began at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1820’s. But what was actually discovered was that conditions of sensory deprivation caused mental deterioration and psychosis. Leading writers such as Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin, upon touring the penitentiary, spoke out against its conditions of mental torture. As Dickens observed: ‘I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.’ The Supreme Court ultimately ruled such solitary confinement ‘mentally destructive’ and outlawed it. It stated,
“A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to remove them, and others became violently insane; others still committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal better were generally not reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of sufficient service to the community.” See: In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 168 (1890)
Since that time, however, solitary hasn’t ceased. This is even after courts and legislators in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have outlawed even the new and more scientifically designed forms of solitary confinement.
TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. was founded by persyns who have endured years and decades of solitary confinement in the forms of SHU and Ad-Seg (now called ‘restrictive housing’).
Many modern courts have found the same conditions and injuries to prisoners from confinement in modern control units as did the high court of 1890 in the Medley case (see: e.g. Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146 (N.D. Cal. 1995) )
“Many, if not most inmates in SHU experience some degree of psychological trauma in relation to their extreme social isolation and the severely restricted environmental stimulation in SHU.” This court concluded that confinement under such conditions may press the outer boundaries of what humans can psychologically tolerate. The psychological consequences of living in these units for long periods of time are predictably destructive, and the potential for these psychological stressors to precipitate various forms of psychopathology is clear cut. "Another court found that isolating human beings year after year or even month after month can cause substantial psychological damage, even if the isolation is not total. Davenport v. DeRoberts, 844F,2d 1310, 1316 (1999)
As a study on sensory deprivation by a team of 4 Harvard psychologists conducted for the CIA revealed:
The deprivation of sensory stimuli induces stress;
The stress becomes unbearable for most subjects;
The subject has a growing need for physical and social stimuli, and;
Some subjects progressively lose touch with reality, focus inwardly, and produce delusions, hallucinations and other psychological effects.
“Segregation is the modern form of solitary confinement. Segregation inmates are almost completely deprived of the commonplace incidents and routines of prison life. In theory [RHU] is not punitive. In practice, it can only be described as punishing.”
It is with the preceding information that TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. has been inspired to put Our lives on the line in the most literal sense, by refusing the necessary nutrients for survival, and good health. This coming Black August 21st, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of George L. Jackson, TX T.E.A.M.O.N.E. will be leading the masses on TDCJ’s Allred Unit in a hunger strike to protest and bring attention to the fundamental injustice that is embodied in the mere use of isolation solitary confinement. We ask the inside community to join us in struggle, as We already have a case in the courts challenging TDCJ’s use of the RHU. We ask the outside community to join us in solidarity (solidarity actions will be listed at the end of this pamphlet).
What is BP – 3.91?
Board policy 3.91 has recently been revised and is set to take effect on August 1st. These revisions seek to create an asexual environment in prison. If the penal system has its way, all publications, pictures which may possibly cause arousal will be considered contraband.
While We, T.E.A.M.O.N.E., recognize the needs of some to rehabilitate themselves from what may be considered perverse sexual behavior, the same cannot be said for all, nor even most, prison captives. For factually speaking, each individual has individual needs to the realm of recovery and redemption.
TDCJ, when it benefits their agenda, seems to agree. For, in recent years they have mandated that each captive complete an ‘individualized treatment plan.’ All captive persyns must complete the plan prior to their release on parole, or risk remaining in prison.
What Penological Reason Does BP – 3.91 Serve?
At the date of this writing TDCJ has refused to state any reasoning for this policy amendment. This refusal in itself is unlawful, by the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Turner case.
That aside, since they’ve left the reasoning up to interpretation, let’s interpret it:
Why on earth would anyone want an asexual environment? One where in theory only sexual desire doesn’t exist? We say in theory only because factually speaking, no matter the variations of sexual expression, desire and arousal are as natural as breathing. What then happens when large masses of people are warehoused, cut off from ALL social stimuli, as We are in RHU? Frankly, this act falls in line with historical missions of the american establishment, in terms of genocide, a slow and deliberate de-population of outcasted sectors.
REMEMBER EUGENICS? The selective breeding of persyns in order to weed out unwanted social characteristics that were thought to be found in ones genetics. REMEMBER FORCED STERILIATION of both wimmin and men who were largely held captive, were mentally unequipped, or otherwise considered a liability to the social order. This BP – 3.91 is aligned with this grim history.
But that’s not all! BP – 3.91 will ban any material which depicts a persyn with their face covered! Still in the middle of a pandemic! Enough said!?
Phone-zap: Those outside persyns who’re not local should call the TX Board of Criminal Justice on August 1st (512-475-3250) demanding BP 3.91 be annulled as it has been revised, as it is an unlawful use of prison censorship.
On August 24th, supporters should call the executive director of TDCJ (936-437-2101). On the 24th We will have been on strike for 3 days, which makes it official. Demand that TDCJ begin to rectify its inhumane confining of RHU inmates indefinitely and without meaningful review. Express your support for the hunger strikers on Allred.
Those who are local to this region, We ask to come out in droves to support Our cause via an outside noise demonstration at the grounds of the Allred prison colony. We need and appreciate your support.
USW 27 in California reports: Abolitionists From Within(AFW) is back on the move. Building, can’t stop, won’t stop. We put forth United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. The work on the ground is coming together. About a month ago, one of the comrades pulled me to the side and had a novel idea about bringing the community together for Juneteenth. What do you know, they made Juneteenth a national holiday. And we had a day of peace and unity here in our facility.
The young Afrikan and older comrades smiled that day. You know me, I told them to get ready for Black August. But it was nice to see our community ask questions about Juneteenth, the end of slavery. However, for us it was a day to learn and come together. Unity, Peace. A day that I can’t be lied to anymore. Thank you to the comrade who hit me up with the idea.
Now I need that same energy come Black August. Now to all you New Afrikans who participated in Juneteenth Day, thank you. You are free Black men.
Da Struggle Continue
a USW leader in TX reports: For Juneteenth, the ‘Black Unity group’, which is called Black Independence Taking Root(BITR), initiated a peace treaty among Black lumpen street organizations. A community meal was shared after sundown as the daytime was reserved for fasting as a show of appreciation to New Afrikan ancestors, and activists of various stripes who’ve pushed the cause of New Afrikan liberation forward. During that time, this cell provided the brothas here with largely unknown New Afrikan revolutionary contributions of the past, both recent and not so recent. The masses responded to the initiative very well.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The New Afrikan holiday, Juneteenth, was made a federal holiday just prior to 19 June 2021. While Amerikans celebrate 4 July 1776 as their independence day, 19 June 1865 has been celebrated by many as “Black Independence Day.” Though the New Afrikan nation was not liberated from the emerging U.$. empire on that day, it marked the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was announced and enforced in Texas, the last state it reached. It took two and a half years after the proclamation for the northern troops to make it to Texas and enforce the law. While the proclamation made on 22 September 1862 by President Lincoln was not originally a permanent law, the Thirteenth Amendment making slavery illegal, except for the convicted felon, was passed in January 1865, prior to the freeing of the slaves in Texas.
With the Thirteenth Amendment, former slaves were made citizens of the United $tates by mandate, and with no say in the matter. This new people had evolved from 100s of years of African slaves working together in a common economic situation, developing its own culture and investing in developing the land they found themselves on. After 100s of years of being denied any rights by the slavemasters who brought them there, suddenly they were told they must join the nation of their slavemasters.
What happened in the south following the civil war was a plan for a bourgeois democratic program for Black people, to incorporate them as full citizens, within the confines of capitalism. This plan was called Reconstruction. It was short-lived (1863-1877), as the whites charged with enforcing it soon gave in to the resistance by the whites who opposed it. We learned that the white nation was not willing to see through the struggle for bourgeois democracy for the New Afrikan nation. That is why today we say real independence, full rights and self-determination for New Afrikans, requires New Democracy. A New Democracy is a proletarian-led democratic revolution, different in class leadership from the bourgeois Amerikan Revolution.
The history of Reconstruction followed by Jim Crow is the most culturally relevant example for us in the United $tates of why a dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary to end oppression. No oppressor class, nation or gender in history has yet to give up its power without a fight. The all around dictatorship of the proletariat is what communists have used to revolutionize societies at all levels to undermine class and gender distinctions.
Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation remained in effect until 1965. During the 1960s there was a significant movement for true liberation of the New Afrikan nation centered around the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. As we enter Black August later this summer, we commemorate those who were murdered by the state in the righteous struggle against oppression. A struggle that was recognized as necessary thanks to the lessons of Juneteenth.
Last year, President Donald Trump made a point by scheduling a rally speech on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma where whites waged an all-out-war against New Afrikans in 1921. This year was the 100th anniversary of the battle of Tulsa, where the communist African Blood Brotherhood(ABB) led the brave defense of “Black Wall Street” from marauding whites, who shot up and bombed the Greenwood district of the city from planes. The ABB was a secret society in Jim Crow Tulsa and many other southern cities, because to be a communist outright would have meant a death sentence from whites. The battle began when the ABB organized a resistance to the lynch mob coming for a young New Afrikan falsely accused of raping a white girl. While this battle led to many deaths on both sides and the burning of both white and Black-owned properties, it put an end to lynchings in Tulsa for a long time.
A year after Trump’s Tulsa debacle, President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday. This symbolizes the conflict within the Amerikan ruling class, and the white nation as well, in how to deal with the oppressed internal semi-colonies today. While the Republican and Democratic parties have switched positions, with the Republican Party now being the one trying to disenfranchise New Afrikans, the disagreement over the national contradiction is very similar to the days of Republican Abraham Lincoln.
As communists we strive for the resolution of this national contradiction by freeing all oppressed nations once and for all, not waiting and hoping for one slightly friendlier sector of the oppressor to win out. The ongoing struggle for New Afrikan liberation is tied to the struggle of all oppressed people for liberation. It is not surprising that the nation that ultimately worked so hard to keep the Black nation down in the 1800s is now the primary force keeping oppressed people down around the world. We have seen the limits of the euro-Amerikan revolution.
Karl Marx was writing at a time when bourgeois democracy had triumphed, and political parties ruled the day. These political parties represented the various oppressive classes, primarily the bourgeoisie itself. A radical idea at the time was to form a party that was for and by the proletariat.
V.I. Lenin led the first successful project to build a proletarian party, a Communist Party, and take power from the hands of the oppressors and put it in the hands of the oppressed. Lenin left us with many lessons on how to do this, how such a party should be organized and how it should operate. The Party as the vehicle for the transfer of power from the oppressor to the oppressed has been a foundation of revolutionary science ever since.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement began in 1983. In 1990 the first MIM party, MIP-Amerika, was formalized. In 2006, the Party dissolved and put out a plan for a new cell structure for the MIM. In 2007, MIM(Prisons) formed as a cell. There remains no functioning parties within the MIM today.(see Continuity and Rupture: A Counter-Narrative to JMP’s History of Maoism for more on MIM timeline)
A CA USW comrade: “[The journal] Kites hit it square on the head though as MIM has said we really don’t have a vanguard. But I thought Kites’ pointing out a squandered opportunity in 2020 on point. This is our job, to seize opportunity out of the objective situations and especially the crisis amongst the enemy itself. The only thing missing regarding the external factors (we can’t control) is 3rd world revolutionary revolts. But we have no mass support but 2020 should’ve been a god-send for that. And it wasn’t.”
Actually, MIM has never said we don’t have a vanguard. MIM has always said the vanguard is the most advanced political line, which could be held by a tiny organization or even one individual when conditions are very undeveloped. What this comrade gets right is our situation remains very undeveloped.
We won’t get into a deep analysis of revolutionary forces here. We do think 2020 was an opportunity to expand our influence that we could have done more with if we were stronger. But the essential character of the U.$. population did not, and has not changed from 2019 or from 2001. The vast majority in this country benefit from the current imperialist order.
MIM(Prisons) has argued that the cell structure makes sense at this strategic stage, even within a Leninist model, because we are not vowing for state power at this time, or tomorrow. Another USW comrade in Federal prison contends that the lack of a party:
“complicates the task of implementing a totalizing strategy for revolution and building the mass base to carry it forward.”
This comrade argues that we need a united leadership to guide us down the correct road now. We touched on the inherent contradiction of the cell structure in our Reassessing Cell Structure 5 Years Out where we pointed out that it allows for one cell to decide its time to form a party, while others disagree. If only that were the main problem we were facing today.
The question is, do we need a party for a united strategy? And what are the downsides of moving too quickly into a Party formation to try to achieve that? We actually have a question about the weaknesses of the a party structure in our introductory study course. Here are some recent answers:
"B.D.S.: Bad leadership could cause death of the movement
Ocelotl: Easier to target and infiltrate
Iashstiem: Security is more easily compromised
Adonis Salvo: More difficult to control and keep organized and focused
The Sober Souljah: Slacking in security by accepting strangers
F.L.A.V.A. 1: It will bring more of a spotlight on the party depending on its action in the revolution
Anarchy in VA: Prioritizing actions to take
Jups: Snitches/spying break down organization"
The primary answer, and the primary reason given by MIM for adopting the cell structure, was security. The second reason offered by comrades here is a fear of putting all your eggs in one basket type of argument. If we can allow for a diversity of approaches, we have more possibilities for success. This could be especially important in the early phases of our development as a movement. If five people come together and form a “Party” all we have is five self-appointed leaders. MIM(Prisons) often mentions the development of leadership that occurs through the forced self-reliance within small cells. It is when we have cells around the country who can elect leaders to represent them in a Party that such a project becomes viable.
A CA prisoner comments: "I was very impressed with ULK’s answer to the Potash book on Tupac. Until now I did not know that anyone other than myself was aware of the extent the intelligence community is involved in eliminating dissidents of their empire and the psychological warfare against civilians in the U.S. thru COINTELPRO and other intel ops against civilians. I was astonished to have my innermost suspicions confirmed by ULK. With the elimination of our leaders, we can not succeed thru unity, We must adopt independent cells as a model as you are obviously aware, every time a potential leader arises that can restore basic human rights and dignity and even freedom itself, the U.S. government is quick to eliminate our leader.
“And so you are correct in educating the People… Thru mass education, hopefully the People will awaken and do the work independent of any one leader, as a duty to the idea of freedom, not as a part of a bid for acceptance… True freedom can only come from socialism… We face a giant and to truly succeed we must be very wise. We cannot win by force yet so let us educate ourselves and know that against our common enemy we all must fight our own battle.”
This comrade touches on security, our strategic stage and the strategy of People’s War as opposed to great man theory. Education is always important, but at this stage it is principal over the use of force. This comrade’s approach to mass education as the best hedge against losing the leaders we depend on is in line with the Maoist strategy of People’s War. This strategy involves building a People’s Army that is embedded in the people, engaging in productive work and educational campaigns side-by-side with the people as we work towards developing base areas. Ultimately, as this comrade points out, Mao’s emphasis on how the people must learn to wage war through waging war rings true.
In our culture, social media reinforces practices that put individuals in the spotlight. We must develop ways to utilize the reach of the internet, without promoting ideas of great man theory or revealing persynal information of our leaders.
Security practices is one area where we must do more education. The only people MIM(Prisons) has interacted with that have good security practice seem to be individuals working alone. The state of basic security practice among revolutionaries is horrible. There is no way to succeed in a serious struggle with such practices. Yet, we must move beyond isolated individuals posting anonymous content to actually do real organizing.
A NY USW comrade asks: “Is the cell ideology productive? As a single unit I have not been able to grow. I do not believe it is me. Is there more I can do somehow else?”
The original MIM resolution on cell structure pointed out that a one-persyn cell is the most secure. But is it effective? MIM(Prisons) critiqued the idea of a one-persyn cell in general in its lack of ability to develop knowledge dialecticaly with just one mind. Some may be able to do it, but we don’t think it is a path that will move us forward fastest.
So what of the single-persyn cell trying to grow that can’t seem to recruit? In prison this problem is distinct in that you have no control over who and how many people you have access to. That is a separate problem. And we’d say you can reach others and recruit outside your prison by writing and producing artwork for Under Lock & Key, for example.
Whether in prison or not, the question becomes what can the party or larger organization give you as an individual to increase your success? We might think of things like a newspaper, mass campaigns, sharing experiences around what works and what doesn’t, connecting people and projects to make our work more efficient, imposing rules and discipline on cadre. It is not clear to us that we need a party for any of these things. We propose that technology today allows us to do all of these things in an anonymous and efficient manner.
MIP-Amerika was known to have better security practices than most self-declared communist parties in the United $tates, and yet they saw security as a weakness that led to their demise. We should take this lesson to heart. It will be premature to launch a party before cadre have come to understand security practices and power struggle. Our conditions include a level of surveillance and Liberalism that other revolutionary movements did not face. We must have real strategies for addressing these problems before we embark on the Party-building project.
The problem with the cell structure as it exists in our movement is that there is no centralized strategy for layering our security practices. The problem faced by small organizations concerned about security is how to separate out roles and tasks when your cadre is limited. The cell structure can force this situation onto us. The advantage of the Party is being able to do this bigger-scale and longer-term strategic construction. But we argue that we are not at this stage yet.
The cell structure is pointless without good security practices. That would play to our weaknesses by needlessly dividing our limited forces. It is only by developing security practices that would allow for a successful bid for state power that the cell structure really becomes operational. In the early stages of Party formation we should aim to maintain some of the policies of cell structure as a fail-safe. As our position becomes stronger, the security problems of a centralized party become less of a concern.
As always, politics must stay in command. This type of strategic thinking must come after an ideological consolidation. We seem to be in the stage of “letting 100 flowers bloom” as different interpretations and applications of Maoism in occupied Turtle Island are doing their things, watching and criticizing each other. While we have criticized a number of these trends as revisionists of Maoism, the diversity of people we see studying Maoism is a step forward. We will need many more cells organizing around the MIM cardinal principles, with demonstrated practices, before the question of party building becomes concrete for us.
As we move to the next step of ideological consolidation, we must address this strategic question: when is it time to build a Party? This is a question of utmost importance as we have no successful revolutionary strategy in conditions like ours to learn from. We must not rush to form a Party in a way that suddenly reveals all of our fiercest leaders to the state. As the state will move to kill, imprison, bad-jacket and pit these leaders against each other. Perhaps we can achieve ideological unity and strategic unity prior to forming a party. At this time we believe we should strive to preserve the benefits of cell structure without promoting isolation.
What’s up comrades, friends, and supporters? i wanted to provide a response both to USW Comrade N’s and MIM(Prisons)’s commentary that was published in ULK 72: “Orientating USW Organizing Strategy in Light of TX Victory.” Really, my comments are more general rather than a direct disagreement with either Comrade N or MIM(Prisons).
First, ‘N’ asserts that “from an organizers perspective, these are not battles in which we can effectively push anti-imperialism forward, much less MLM.” The comrade mentioned phone access as an example of a battle ey was speaking of.
i’ll argue that the above assertion is incorrect and unscientific. MLM, dialectical materialism, is universal, meaning it can be applied to all phenomena. Further, dialectics shows us the true interconnected nature of social phenomena and if we acknowledge that is true, than how can we then deem that prison struggles aren’t aligned with anti-imperialism? Like MIM(Prisons) added, “with the correct leadership, and keeping our eyes on bigger goals like the UFPP, and uniting others around a list of more impactful demands, reformist campaigns like phone access could be productive.”
As organizers, we are focused on inspiring commitment within the masses. Looking at the psychology of the masses under imperialism, we’ll observe that the most effective way to capture the masses attention is to organize around their immediate interests. The more mature and in-depth communist outlook will develop in stages as study and struggle continue. However, the first hurdle is to establish principled unity in furtherance of an objective/program.
Our most pressing strategic goal as anti-imperialist/Maoist organizers behind enemy lines, is developing cadres to re-enter society with the ability to be impactful in the “free world” anti-imperialist struggle. This is our link to a totalizing revolutionary strategy outside the walls. The quality-of-life reforms are connected to the strategy of cadre development because PE (political education) is made up of 3 parts. Those 3 parts are 1) organizing, 2) educating and 3) mobilizing. So in undergoing/providing proper PE we must study and practice organizing, educating, mobilizing. We must observe the knowledge-practice-knowledge method in all aspects of our development to ensure we achieve our highest potential. So there’s an identity between study and struggle, they go hand-in-hand and because we’re not in a ‘revolutionary situation’ our struggle, or practice, will undoubtedly include (some) reforms.
However, it must be noted and articulated to the masses involved in that struggle that whatever particular battle is being waged at the moment isn’t the end-all be-all, but is only a tactical maneuver that was set in motion with the strategy in mind of advancing the organizational, educational and mobilizing capabilities for all involved. The real crux of the issue is never the demands in the prison setting. The real crux of the issue, as it pertains to linking a totalizing revolutionary strategy, lies in the practical experience gained by the masses in asserting their collective power. For, how will we seize state power if the people lack the strategic confidence to assert their power? We have to increase the collective practical experience of contesting the state as a united body. From a lead organizer’s perspective, putting campaigns into motion, communicating internally, advancing understanding of self and the people, practicing discipline, teaching discipline etc., all this does what? It prepares you for your return to the semi-colonies and general public with experience in organizing, educating, mobilizing people to assert their collective power. The differences in context have little effect on the objective advancement of a comrade’s development.
Additionally, we must also account for other aspects of the fundamental contradiction within prisons, which is badge versus captive. In our efforts to organize, educate and mobilize, the badge is not gonna remain still or unmoved. The badge, like the bourgeoisie on the outs, is gonna utilize both coercive and brutal methods to maintain complacency with the social order among the social classes, or in this case the captives. Also, we must acknowledge that the lumpen is a vacillating class anyway and in prison the masses of lumpen will vacillate between escapism, complacency, underground capitalism, etc. anyways. Therefore, acknowledging that these currents will continue with or without our efforts of revolutionary organizing because we still operate under imperialist, bourgeois dictatorship, it is imperative that we exercise every opportunity to advance our aspect of the fundamental contradiction in prison. In doing so, we work towards manufacturing conditions within prison that will be more conducive to our anti-imperialist goals.
While organizing around more impactful demands, the badge is still gonna utilize its double-pronged strategy of coercing or abusing. When the latter won’t work, the former will come in the form of cosmetic reforms. Those cosmetic reforms, even when they’re not demanded by organizers, still hold the possibility of pacifying individuals, making them complacent sleep walkers again. My point is that, at present, we can’t escape these tendencies from either side or the results they may or may not render, but we can’t allow these tendencies to keep us on the sideline, all “study” no struggle.
Lastly, i wanna clarify that none of the above is to assert that we should chase after any old reform or ‘change.’ As MIM(Prisons) states, leaders must make that determination, and furthermore, should educate the masses on why we will or will not seek certain reforms or campaigns.
In this process, i’ve learned the necessity of adequate communication with the masses and unity-struggle-unity internally among cadres, as a tool in struggling against a tendency towards tailism. What has come of this is a re-organizing of the TX Team One under a clearer program and a better understanding (a collective understanding) of what our strategic and tactical goals are, uniting the most committed partisans around those goals, and developing these partisan’s PE. We’ve downsized, what one may call ‘purging,’ but i like to call ‘cutting the fat’ and we are working on our next courses of action.