Salute fellow comrades, the fascist pigs have been in control for far too long, the fascist pigs have used prisoner against prisoner for far too long. It's time for us to hear the words of a great fallen comrade by the name of George Jackson who stated: settle your quarrels, come together. Understand the reality of our situation. Understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved. That generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives as we do now if you fail to act.
My fellow comrades, I humbly ask each and every one of you to please understand that if we want to successfully run a study group inside modern slavery, then we need to stand together in solidarity, because we out-number the fascist pigs. They just out-think us, because we are too busy fighting, raping, and killing one another, just to name a few things that we prisoners lend our hands to the pigs which stagnates us and keeps the pigs in control.
I am issuing a call to revolutionary change. Fellow comrades I know what I am asking of you won't be easy, but lets take baby step together and slowly put an end to all gang-related activities, so the fascist pigs cannot use it against us to justify putting us in control housing units or to censor our mail, etc.
Fellow comrades change first start with us, cause if we don't respect one another how can we demand respect from the fascist pigs.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's call for lumpen organizations to end the violence and come together in unity. In fact, when this writer calls for an end to "all gang-related activities" we would instead say let's turn these lumpen organizations into vehicles for activities that educate and liberate the oppressed.
There are many freedom fighters who have struggled throughout hystory in so many ways. Some used organizing, others the gun and many have used the power of words. Freedom fighters come from a variety of political ideologies and different nations, but what ties them all together is their decision to serve the people. They do this not just in their lives, but in their legacy and what they have accomplished in their lifetime.
This issue of Under Lock & Key is dedicated to freedom fighters of all types. The inspiration for this issue comes from a comrade who wrote in to suggest that everyone write an essay celebrating one freedom fighter who has influenced them. We are printing some of the responses we got in this ULK.
Who are some Freedom Fighters?
Looking at the [email protected] nation we have freedom fighters like Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, Corky Gonzalez and other [email protected] who fought for the liberation of Aztlán. They dedicated their lives to the nation and still serve as examples to those of us who struggle today.
The New Afrikan nation has freedom fighters like Malcolm X and Angela Davis and others who have set great examples and continue to do so for the oppressed. New Afrikan struggles continue to build on past struggles.
The First Nations have freedom fighters like Leonard Peltier who struggled against Amerikkka in many ways. Peltier today sits in a prison cell because of being a freedom fighter.
Boriqua has freedom fighters like Lolita Lebron and Oscar Lopez Rivera. Lolita went to prison for struggling against Amerikkka and Oscar still sits in a U.$. prison for his work to free Puerto Rico.
All of these people come from the oppressed internal semi-colonies here within U.$. borders. They have inspired people living under U.$. imperialism for decades. But there are many other freedom fighters around the world who have made an impact on all of our consciousness regardless of their political line. People like Leila Khalid, Che, Fanon, Giap, Zapata, Pancho Villa and so many others have showed us what people's fighters look like.
Are there Imprisoned Freedom Fighters?
For many amongst the oppressed nations these colonizer's kkkamps are where freedom fighters end up. Some imprisoned freedom fighters are prisoners of war (POWs), targeted because of their anti-imperialist work on the streets. These freedom fighters will always be found in U.$. prisons because the oppressed will always struggle in so many ways against the oppressor nation. This will continue as long as U.$. imperialism exists.
Other freedom fighters gained consciousness behind the bars and have risen up to lead the movement from within. Many of the freedom fighters in U.$. prisons today can be found in control units because the state targets imprisoned activists. Freedom fighters within prisons are often those who were amidst or leading such prison rebellions as the hunger/work strikes which swept the dungeons of Califas, Georgia, Ohio, etc. in the last few years like a hurricane of collective rage. These prisoners were craving freedom!
Freedom fighters within prisons are those who do not fear the enemy oppressor nation. They do not fear speaking up for prisoners even when they are being attacked by the state. A freedom fighter is anyone who makes a decision to struggle for a better environment within prisons.
How Do Freedom Fighters Awaken the People?
When we think of freedom fighters and our connection to them many conjure up people in hystory who inspire us to rise up. I know when I began to read up on people like Zapata or Pancho Villa it compelled me to read more about the Mexican Revolution. As a [email protected] it helped instill a national consciousness in me. It helped me to understand that it is good to resist Amerikkka and that colonization is bad, not good, despite the bribes.
But there are freedom fighters in the here and now. I would say that every reader of ULK is a budding freedom fighter, and those who contribute in any way to ULK are freedom fighters. We are freedom fighters because we work to free the people.
Reading the hystory of the Mexican Revolution and the freedom fighters who made it happen put me on the road to where I am today as a [email protected] revolutionary. The first time I was handed MIM literature was in a control unit. A New Afrikan handed me a MIM Notes newspaper and after reading it I was turned up! That persyn who introduced me to MIM was a freedom fighter. This is what freedom fighters do: they work tirelessly to build more freedom fighters.
Being a freedom fighter is not doing it for a come up. The people who become freedom fighters are not getting paid to do so. This is a voluntary act, a way of serving the people, often with everything we have.
The legacy of freedom fighters lives on long after we are no longer alive. We help build consciousness while we are alive through our actions. For future generations our actions, thought and struggles will serve as study material and inspiration. Everything we do should educate the people. This means our fellow prisoners on the tier, those on the yard, and our nations at large. Our lives should help develop as many people as we can, in prison or outside of prisons. Freedom fighters should make a difference in all who come to know them, even our outside supporters.
Why the State Fears Freedom Fighters
We should understand that freedom fighters are enemies of the state. It is the freedom fighter who is trying to get FREE from the state. The oppressor nation is what is preventing us from being free, so they would naturally see us as a threat. It's why they label us "security threat groups" and other such names, because our actions and goals threaten their power.
It is important to understand that our existence with the oppressor is not compatible. As long as we are alive we will continue to experience oppression in so many horrible ways. Many will become demoralized, especially when being a freedom fighter does not put you in the majority. Freedom fighters are a small minority within U.$. prisons and U.$. borders. But this should not discourage any one of you. Truth is grasped by a nucleus, a cadre, and not by the majority at first.
When the Bolsheviks first rose up they had a little over a hundred cadre. The Chinese cadre also started out as a handful. But as Tani and Sera put it: "Only those who refuse to see revolution as it actually is, can fail to see the connection between the breakthrough of world socialism and the rebellion of a very small, oppressed nation."(1) Here it is highlighted that a small oppressed nation has the ability to affect world revolution. A minority can affect the majority. The state understands this and it is for this reason that they fear our freedom fighters.
As I was writing this article on freedom fighters I heard on the radio that Hugo "Yogi" Pinell has been killed! Yogi was a real freedom fighter. Rest in power Yogi.
To the comrade who submitted the article "Texas Hides Grievance Manual" on a memo by Access to Courts Supervisor Frank Hoke, take these words of wisdom.
The grievance procedure was certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and Southern District of Texas in 1989. In 1999 the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) and Agency officials approved the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) and screening criteria. Pursuant to Board Policy (BP) 03.77,
"The resolution support manager shall establish and maintain the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) to provide guidance to employees regarding the offender grievance procedure. ... Instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be established separately from the OGOM for distribution to offenders and employees. Provisions for training, education, and implementation of the offender grievance procedure shall be established in AD-03.82, 'Management of Offender Grievances' and the OGOM." Signed by Oliver J. Bell, Chairman TBCJ
Note the last part in BP-03.77 "shall be established in AD-03.82." In AD-03.82, the Resolution Support Manager is responsible for oversight of access to courts, offender grievance and Ombudsman. Section I of AD-03.82 establishes the set criterion of emergency and specialty grievance. Furthermore, AD-03.82 Section IV A states: "Copies of BP-03.77 ... and this directive, as well as instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be available at each unit, to include copies in the law library." AD-03.82 Section VI A states: "The resolution support manager shall direct, administer, supervise, and manage the implementation and operation of the offender grievance procedure without interference by any employee."
The memo you described was not issued by Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ). So it is null and void, being it amends AD-03.82 and BP-03.77. On Page 1 Chapter II of the OGOM titled "Authority" it states: "AD-03.82 'Management of Offender Grievances'. Establishes agency expectations and the fundamental groundwork for the effective operation of the Offender Grievance Program. The administrative directive is more specific than board policy and supports the grievance process by providing a basis for the offender grievance operations manual."
Notice that the Access to Courts is not the agency that is responsible or authorized to make policy or amendments to policy or revisions. The Access to Courts is violating the Liberty Interest Protections in AD-03.82, being that Frank Hoke is not authorized to amend oversight policy or the OGOM. These revisions unauthorized by Oliver J. Bell have not been tested for constitutionality and changes AD-03.82 in violation of Texas law and Texas constitution articles 1, 13, and 17. Please read the article titled "Right to Assist others with Legal Work" in ULK 42 and you will see why they are doing this. Law library staff violate privacy rights, copying letters, which they send to Access to Courts for review. An Access to Courts violation has occurred which impedes, hinders or denies these rights. There has been no change in AD-03.82 or BP-03.77. Hoke's memo will only go in effect if we allow it. This is an unauthorized confiscation of OGOM without reason of safety or security justification. See Corby v. Conboy, 457 F2d 251 (1972). Always keep the pigs within the "pen," or they will eat up your rights and liberty and defecate corruption, that will abolish the smell of peace, and make the path of unity impossible to walk.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The knowledge of the invalidity of this practice within Texas prisons is certainly something we can use in our fight to remedy this repression. Prisoners in Texas should take the information above and apply it to their struggle to get the grievance manual put back into facility law libraries across the state. If someone puts together a sample grievance, petition, or other organizing tool then we can distribute it as part of our Texas Activist Pack.
But we also know that just because something is illegal or invalid doesn't mean that the state will ever actually be held accountable, or be made to follow law. This is evidenced in prisons all across the country, and on a broader scale by the illegal settlement of Palestine by I$rael and the many illegal atrocities committed by the United $tates and imperialist corporations all across the world. Those with power will do whatever suits their interests. A grievance campaign might help us win small victories. But we can't be deluded into thinking that if we just point out to them that they are breaking the law they will change their behavior.
Mumia Abu-Jamal explains this well in the book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. In the Preface, Mumia hammers home the point that law is what a judge decides in the moment; that they make it up as they go along. In a discussion about what makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, Delbert Africa explains to Mumia,
"It drives they ass crazy 'cuz they cain't handle the fact that the System just make and break they laws as it see fit! How many treaties they done signed with the Indians? Ain't a one of 'em they done kept! Some of 'em broke 'em befo' the ink was dry on 'em old treaties! Them the same folks who run this System today! If they couldn't keep a treaty with Indians when they first got here, what make you think they gonna keep they so-called law today, especially when it come to me and you, man?"
Mumia pushed Africa to explain further why this makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, and Africa responded,
"They go crazy becuz, Mu, they really believe in the System, and this System always betray those that believe in it! That's what drive them out of they minds, man. They cain't handle that. It literally drives them out they mind. I see 'em around here, walkin' 'round here dazed, crazy as a bedbug!"
Mumia follows this conversation with an anecdote about a jailhouse lawyer he knew from death row who insisted his appeal would be granted because his argument was so "black and white" that the judge "gotta" go for it. But as Mumia explained to this brother,
"They do what they wanna do, man! Just 'cuz it says something in one case, they don't have to go by that case, man. I agree with you, that you got a damn good argument — and you should prevail — but I don't go for that 'gotta' rap!"
While we want to hold our oppressors publicly accountable as much as we can, these struggles are more about highlighting inadequacies of the injustice system and agitating for others to join our struggle against capitalism and imperialism. When we do win a legal battle, we take it as an opportunity to build space for more revolutionary organizing. We ultimately need to wage a protracted, long-term struggle (that eventually will be an armed struggle) against this oppressive legal and economic system under which we attempt to live. In the meantime, we agree with Mumia that "the law ain't nothing but whatta judge say the law is."
As of right now the konvicts here at U.S. Penetentiary (USP) Big Sandy are on lockdown due to a racial riot. This is what the pigs want. I blame the pigs for setting up this atmosphere by creating tension amongst the konvicts by applying oppression along with repressive tactics. Instead of the konvicts challenging the pigs, they attack each other. But I also blame us komrades here at Big Sandy for not agitating and mobilizing the masses.
Those of us who are conscious with revolutionary theory should be educating others. Teach the konvicts why they exist in the condition that they are in. Help them to understand that they are victims of an economic system. All crimes can be traced to socio-economic conditions. We are at war politically, socially, economically and culturally. We must educate the prisoners so that they will understand the true function of the prison system and know why are we here. This is especially true for the New Afrikans.
Black men comprise over 40% of death row inmates. There are at least 2.5 million people in Amerika's institutions and over 50% are New Afrikans. 24.7% of New Afrikans live below poverty while only 11.4% of whites live below poverty. New Afrikans serve 20% more of their sentences with crimes similar to whites. Amerika is number one when it comes to the world's prison population, but is number forty-three when it comes to the world's education. Why is this?
We must figure out a way to reach the konvicts here so that we can begin to challenge the injustices that are being inflicted upon us. I've met komrades who use the excuse of getting sent to isolation if they take the initiative. The revolution is not a dinner party. It's supposed to be suffering. We are at war with a vicious paper tiger. This is why we call it a struggle. I understanding the meaning of a clandestine army but damn! We can't keep using this clandestine strategy as an excuse to action. That's some coward shit.
I understand being clandestine if you're doing the people's work, but sitting around playing chess, smoking weed, drinking, and just being idle and doing nothing isn't clandestine. Jumping on other konvicts isn't the peoples work. That's a form of individualism as well as being reactionary, unless it's in self-defense. That's why the Black Panther Party was first started: to defend themselves and the community. This prison is our community and it's our job as vanguards to defend the community. We cannot forget the legacy of George Jackson and the other komrades who fought and died for the people. Their spirit is in us and we must carry on the torch. The dragon has awaken. Can't stop! Won't stop!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides some important facts about the reality of national oppression within U.$. borders. The disproportionate lockup of oppressed nations is part of the system of imperialism that continues to oppress internal colonies within U.$. borders. And we echo this writer's call for the oppressed to stand up and take action. Even if it's just forming a study group, or sharing your Under Lock & Key with others. There is much education and organizing work to be done. MIM(Prisons) can support your work, write to us to get involved and put your time behind bars to good use.
MIM(Prisons)'s 2015 congress was marked by some major successes and growth in our work over the past year. We reached our goal from 2013 of doubling Under Lock & Key subscribers; helped write and edit [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán; and we took up the Strugglen Artists Association project and collected and distributed some great art both behind bars and on the streets. We have continued to support and build prisoner education, running both beginner and advanced correspondence study groups, sending in many political magazines and books, and supporting more than 30 prisoner-led study groups. Our focus in the coming year will be in building on these successes: printing and distributing the [email protected] Power book, expanding prisoner-led study groups, and building more United Struggle from Within (USW)-led campaigns.
All of this project-based work remains focused on our primary goal: serving the oppressed in prisons within the United $tates, while working from the vantage point of the Third World proletariat. We recognize that imperialism is the number one enemy of the majority of the world's people, and we are fighting from within the belly of the beast in the advanced stage of imperialism, where the majority of the people living within U.$. borders have been bought off with the spoils of capitalist profits. This petty-bourgeois population does not support our revolutionary organizing, and we cannot rely on them for the finances or labor needed to keep this struggle moving forward. So we focus our public opinion building on prisoners, who have a lot to gain from an end to Amerikkkan imperialism.
Growth and Finances
Over the past year we have seen a 70% growth in our Under Lock & Key (ULK) subscribers. But with this success comes the new challenge of paying for the increased printing and mailing costs. The overall cost to send out ULK is up 60% in July 2015 compared with July 2014. Subscriber funding of ULK increased by 64% over the same period, a very good trend, but all of that money went towards the cost of the 4 extra pages we printed in issues 39, 42, and the forthcoming ULK 46.
While we were able to print three issues of ULK with 4 extra pages of content, thanks to the funding from comrades behind bars, we will no longer be able to use donations for that purpose. Instead we need to focus all donations on the costs of printing and mailing to our greatly expanded distribution list. We want to see ULK expanded to 20 pages every issue, and we know readers are hungry for these additional pages, but first we will need to greatly expand funding for the publication. To answer the immediate need for more reading material, we offer activists behind bars lots of extra revolutionary lit to study in exchange for any sort of work they can contribute to the struggle. Ultimately this shift is necessary to continue to expand the reach of ULK as our subscriber list continues to grow. It was a difficult decision to stop printing the extra content, but we are doing it to prevent cutting down ULK content even more in the long term.
We need your help to keep up with new subscriptions! At the current rate of donations, prisoner funding for ULK covers only 4% of costs (printing a 16 page publication). In addition to spreading the word, sharing your ULK with others, and encouraging everyone to get their own subscription, we need donations of stamps and checks. We are setting a goal of funding 10% of each issue from subscriber donations. This is an aggressive goal based on our history, but we are confident that it is possible. To put it in perspective, we would meet the 10% funding goal if 1 in 5 subscribers sent in just one stamp a year! (Tell us if you want to send a check so we can send you instructions.)
"One important piece of our strategic orientation is the strategic confidence we have from our global class analysis. Basically, our analysis says that the vast majority of the world's people, a solid 80%, will benefit materially from an end to imperialism. This is why we believe anti-imperialism is destined for success. Subjectively, this can be important to keep in mind in an environment surrounded by class enemies or by those with bourgeois consciousness. ... One way i plan to expand the international connections we make is to have a section in each issue to print news snippets on events from the Third World that demonstrate determined resistance and a broad class consciousness that is opposed to imperialism. We hope that our readers find inspiration in this information that you probably aren't getting from other news sources."
In the course of writing these articles we realized that including information highlighting struggles in other parts of the world without going into details and analysis of the situation leads us towards opportunism. It is easy to put out information about people taking actions against their government, but if we fail to investigate the underlying situation in those countries we can end up supporting imperialism rather than national liberation. A good example of this is our article on Burkina Faso printed in ULK 41.(1) While we uphold the people's protests against exploitation and oppression, we can't superficially uphold their President's push into exile only to be replaced by a military leader. The situation is too complex to be summed up in a couple sentences, as it was in our Strategic Confidence feature as we prepared to go to print. Fortunately we caught this error and expanded the article before publication.
To correct this error we are re-orienting the international content in ULK to include at least one internationally-focused article in each issue, which includes more depth of analysis about the situation/region. In these international articles we will favor topics that lend themselves to strategic confidence by highlighting resistance struggles against imperialism. It should also be noted that the international content in ULK was of higher quantity and quality over the previous year largely thanks to a number of United Struggle from Within writers. So we call on their continued efforts to help us meet this goal.
United Struggle from Within
This year we saw tremendous growth in our Texas subscribers, many of whom learned about MIM(Prisons) through the Texas Activist Pack that was created by comrades behind bars. The Texas Activist Pack was put together to help prisoners in that state fight a variety of abuses including the medical co-pay, the indigent mail restrictions and the baseless denials of grievances. This shows us that concretely addressing prisoners' day-to-day struggles is an important way to expand our audience while getting vital organizing tools into the hands of folks who need them. People who get in touch for these resources are staying active with MIM(Prisons) at almost the same rate as those who write directly to get ULK or otherwise get involved in our work.
We want to take this lesson from Texas and apply it to other states by working with USW comrades to build activism packs specific to the needs of prisoners in each state. This will require knowledge about the local struggles and challenges, and work to create resources to help address these problems. In some states like Florida this might be focused on censorship as one of the biggest problems we are fighting there, while in Georgia we know the tier system is a problem that overshadows the lives of everyone locked up in that state. However, we want to be careful not to assume that the biggest problem in a state is the one that we can target with activism packs. These should be potentially winnable battles, around which, through education and distribution of resources, we can have a real impact on the lives of our comrades. Get in touch with us if you have ideas about or can help create a campaign for your state.
I went back to ULK issue 42 to sort out some disputes with the other prisoners and gangs housed in this institution. The problem is that we can't seem to get it together. Mainly those claiming to be a part of an organized entity. Some members say they are for the cause to unite and fight against oppression (within the prison). What drew me back to this issue was the topic of the issue Building Peace with the United Front which speaks about the base of bringing the misled and disorganized together. Yet, in my situation, it's a constant contradiction. Nobody wants to play their part or abide by the agenda and constitutions set out for them. So I am asking you: as a current member of the contradictory organization, do I stay, proclaiming my loyalty, or do I move on? Please help me with this issue. The only thing that I can see me staying for is the true comrades, but I didn't become what I am for the few individuals. I chose my way of life because of the movement. Now I am stuck deciding what is best for me. Well it's been nice sharing my issues with you. I just ask that you give me your best opinion from what you have read.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an important question that many folks who are part of lumpen organizations raise as their political consciousness grows. There is often the possibility of educating and building from within an organization, helping to bring the level of political knowledge and organizing work up for the whole group. But sometimes this is not possible, and you find yourself inside an organization that refuses to advance whether this is because of mis-leadership or the conflicting goals of the members. When this happens it may be time to leave the organization and start something new. We should not hold on to blind loyalty when this binds us to reactionary organizations.
This is the difference between scientific leadership and cult leadership. A cult demands blind loyalty and creates a situation that allows for abuse and oppression within the group. In contrast, MIM(Prisons) would tell people they should leave our organization if they believe it has taken a reactionary path. Of course, one should only do so after struggling within the organization to correct its errors. In other words, push the contradictions within the organization to conclusion before just giving up. And while doing so you might study Mao's "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People."
This comrade asks "what is best for me?" But we would instead ask "what is best for the oppressed people of the world?" If you are in an organization that is not fighting on the side of the oppressed, and is not willing to listen to you when you push them in this direction, then you are wasting your time with this group. If you take action and break with the organization in order to take up the revolutionary struggle, any other progressive individuals inside of this group might be inspired to join you. It's important that you be clear that is it not lack of loyalty that causes you to break with the group, but rather the importance of your goals to serve the people.
I first became exposed to revolutionary theory in prison, although I had been a reader my whole life. Prison has become my classroom for revolutionary knowledge, not because the state ensures this, but because I came in contact with politically conscious prisoners who helped instill a consciousness in me. Groups like MIM helped to fuel my early cultivation through liberatory literature and I was able to engage in study groups throughout my prison journey, facility to facility and yard to yard. Study groups were the key to my own development.
It is a fact that U.S. prisons are used for social control of prisoners, who are mostly from the internal semi-colonies. Colonized people have always been subjected to brutal prison conditions but dialectical materialism teaches us that we can transform our environment, including prisons. In order to revolutionize these modern day slave kamps we need to study to revolutionize ourselves.
How Study Groups Help People
People are social beings, and as strong-minded and determined as we think we are, the truth is we learn best through interacting with our environment and especially other people. We learn best by discussion and debate. Asking questions helps us get answers, and when we are having trouble grasping a concept, studying with others allows us to learn. Teaching others also helps the teacher to learn themselves. The study group facilitates all of this.
In my own experience with study groups within U.$. prisons I have found that besides developing one's own political thought, study groups also teach one how to interact with others and what are the best ways to translate or explain our social reality to the people. We should understand that in many ways those of us who study political science and engage in study groups within prisons operate like political organizations out in society that do outreach to the masses, only our fellow prisoners are the masses.
Just as our counterparts outside prison walls constantly attempt to learn from the masses in order to better help the masses, we should do the same with our study groups. As prisoners, those of us who are conscious must revolutionize these dungeons. We have boots on the ground, and study groups within prisons should develop programs which help educate all of the prison masses, not just those involved in a study group. In this sense a study group can serve as the vanguard in their facility.
Study groups have helped me understand my oppression and the oppression of Aztlán, and through them I have become a better persyn. Understanding politics and theory has given me purpose and has helped me to help other prisoners to better their existence. In short I have not just learned about hystory, as when I study alone, but I have learned different methods of using the lessons of hystory to revolutionize the future.
How do study groups operate?
Depending on one's facility, study groups take on various formations. I have experienced many, from formal groups studying political science while on the mainline where one can meet face to face on the yard and discuss different aspects of society, to yelling through an air vent to people I couldn't see.
I was in one spot where every few days someone picked a different country and we discussed all of the uprisings in that country. People would search old magazines, books or newspapers to find anything on that country.
Another study group I participated in was in a facility that was highly restrictive with revolutionary literature. Since none of us was too politically educated we got whatever newspapers or progressive magazines we could, and we would discuss the articles, and attempt to apply them to other aspects of society.
Prison Study Groups in Maoist China
If we look to Mao's China, and specifically to the time of the Cultural Revolution, we will see that every level of society was touched by Maoism, even the prisons. When I read about prisons in Mao's China I learn why it is that Maoism is considered the highest stage that socialism has developed so far.
Though frequently badmouthed in the imperialist media for their re-education practice, these prisons focused on the political education of inmates. Most people behind bars had committed serious crimes against the people (landlords who murdered peasants, people who spied for Amerika, government officials who abused their power), and so this education helped prisoners understand how their actions affected others and why they should want to work towards a society where people do not have the power to oppress and exploit others.(1)
The study groups developed by prisoners during the Cultural Revolution involved thought reform. This means understanding why one has particular thoughts and finding ways of correcting incorrect ideas. This was reforming one's errors on levels that many of us cannot even imagine. It was a process of dialectics where prisoners would study the essence of their actions and behaviors. They would also engage in criticism-self-criticism where they would look into their own errors or the errors of others so that they all learned and evolved as a group.
The prison study groups in Maoist China did not conduct criticism-self-criticisms in order to ridicule or bully people; instead it was done to really point out the error and get the persyn to understand their error. One cannot change a behavior if one does not know or truly believe that they are committing an error in the first place. What we must understand is every prison in Mao's China had these daily study groups, which were fully supported by the people's government. In this way prisoners learned and became better people because of the study groups. They became people who went on to help build the revolution.
In contrast to Mao's China, here in U.$. prisons we are simply warehoused. We are placed in a cell where we are taught nothing, and this is done for years and decades. If we are lucky we are released and come out the same or worse than we went in. We don't learn from the state because under capitalism they don't have any use for us other than filling a cell. And when we try to form study groups we are punished and our studies are falsely labeled as gang activity or security threat activities. This is the difference between a Maoist society and a capitalist society; one heals people, the other destroys people.
All of this was part of the political line of China under Mao which put into practice the theory that people can learn from their mistakes and become productive members of society if they take study and self-criticism seriously. In Amerika's prisons today we find the oppressed rather than the oppressors, but there is still an important role for self-criticism in the anti-people actions of many lumpen. And the study of political theory is especially criticial to the oppressed as we hone our understanding of how to fight back against the oppressors.
When speaking about education Mao stressed: "Our educational policy must enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture."(2)
Mao reminds us that education is to make us better people. In the above quote he describes education being used to help people become workers. Although we are lumpen, education can help us become lumpen with socialist consciousness and culture.
What are the difficulties?
Forming or participating in study groups is not easy. There are many obstructions we have to deal with. As most know, U.$. prisons unleash political repression in the guise of upholding their laws. They criminalize political organizing and revolutionary activity of the imprisoned captives by labeling it "gang activity" or "security threat group activity."
There were times when I would get a good group of people together and we would have a good study group going and then the prison, out of nowhere, would move people out of the building or section, scrambling the housing population and dismantling the study group. The study group is disrupted, but this only means that we need to start over.
Sometimes I would be somewhere and gather lots of notes on political articles or uprisings and I would use these for groups, only to have my cell searched and all of my notes trashed, with a guard noting "gang notes." Likewise I would acquire a good selection of revolutionary books only to be transferred to another prison and in the process all of my political books would be "lost."
Once I was in a control unit where the prison put me and a New Afrikan next to each other and everyone else in the unit was juiced up on psyche meds kicking their door all day. The prison did this to further isolate us from our nations. So we formed a study group together and discussed ULK and other books. When things get repressive we need to keep studying and educating each other, no matter how hard it is.
Study groups can also be done through the mail. MIM(prisons) facilitates some of the best study groups I have encountered. But this invites censorship and sometimes harassment from the prison staff. We have to understand that learning about our own repression and about communist theory is something the state seeks to prevent. Prisoners learning about revolutionary theory scares the state because it means we will learn and turn theory into practice, against them.
What's it all for?
We should understand that repression will happen regularly. This is why studying is so important, so that when our mail is censored we have books and literature to fuel our study groups. And when our lit and books are "lost" we can remember our lessons and teach others key concepts like dialectical and historical materialism. We can help other prisoners understand why we need a united front or how the oppressed within U.$. borders developed as nations. We will know all of this and what kind of program we will need to liberate the people because of what we learned in our study groups.
What we do today and how we spend our time in these dungeons will determine what the future of these dungeons will look like. At the same time study groups should produce theory and theory should produce practice. We are not studying to be armchair revolutionaries, we are studying in order to ultimately join the oppressed of the world in smashing imperialism.
El movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos ha llegado a estar a la cabeza en la lista del FBI como grupo domestico-terrorista en los Estados Unidos por rehusarse a cooperar con el gobierno. Las personas de este movimiento adoptan una independencia artificial como una nación y se rehusan a presentar impuestos, llevar cualquier tipo de licencia, o tener una tarjeta del seguro social. La pregunta es, ¿Donde coloca el movimiento anti-imperialista a estos individuos y como se compara su planteamiento de liberación a el del Marxismo-Leninismo-Maoismo?
Esta reportado que más de 300,000 personas se declaran ciudadanos soberanos en los Estados Unidos, y está pronosticado a ser uno de los movimientos con más rápido crecimiento en la historia de E.E.U.U. (1) Así que esta es una cuestión razonable el preguntar si estas personas se dirigen a algo o no.
Parece que el movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos es actualmente una mezcla de grupos oprimidos de la nación, burgueses nacionalistas, y mezquinas organizaciones burguesas a través de los Estados Unidos. Por ejemplo, las organizaciones que afirman ser ciudadanos soberanos están los grupos New Afrika, como la nación Moro, la nación Mawshakh de Nuurs, y la nación Washitaw, ambas Islámicas y Hebraicas. Luego están allí los Blancos nacionalistas, responsables por publicaciones y transmisiones de programas para el movimiento: desde la Embajada del Heaven, el Grupo Aware, La Republica de Texas, Rightway Law, Freedom Bound International, Y Amen-Ra BTO Inc.; y personalidades como David W. Miller, Charles Weisman, Alfred Adask, George Gordon, y Brent Johnson.
La Clase Torpe en Búsqueda de Respuestas
El rumor de ciudadanos soberanos en prisión fue escuchado primero por el autor en el 2009, promovida por una variedad de torpes prisioneros pretendiendo ser poseedores de carnet y miembros de abogados encarcelados y del Gremio Nacional de Abogados. Ellos afirman poseer el misterioso conocimiento, el cuál utilizado en cortes de E.E.U.U. resultaría en riquezas de acuerdos financieros, también como el potencial de una salida prematura para prisioneros quienes hayan aprendido el oficio para descifrar el código descrito como redención.
Los torpes en los Estados Unidos, por lo general siempre están buscando un surgimiento, pero raramente consideran a que costo resurgirán. Éllos, en general creen que si pueden aumentar su economía clandestina pueden liberarse a si mismos. Este punto de vista es producto de la relación del capitalismo de los torpes perteneciendo a semicolonias internas. Los torpes están excluidos de la próspera economía imperialista global, dando todavía pruebas de esa riqueza por estas economías clandestinas que además proporcionan una ilusión actuando afuera del sistema. Parece que la popularidad del movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos en las prisiones pueden ser explicadas de esta manera; con la diferencia de que esta, actualmente pretende estar basada en la ley.
Con estas promesas de riquezas, estatus, independencia y dominio de sí mismo, torpes prisioneros no son culpados por ponerse en fila para recibir lo que ellos han sido mentalizados a saber, así siendo liberados. Sin embargo, ellos son advertidos que no todo lo que brilla es oro. Lo que vemos en juego, es la principal contradicción que define la clase torpe en nuestra sociedad: las tendencias individualistas surgen a costas de otros que son requeridos de una clase excluida dentro de una economía capitalista, y la necesidad de una acción colectiva para vencer estas condiciones y alcanzar una libertad verdadera. Aún vemos organizaciones como New Afrika promoviendo las ideas de ciudadanía soberana apropiandose de las ideas de movimientos de liberación nacional también. Pero en vez de que peleen por liberación nacional de New Afrika, ellos definen su nación en maneras oportunistas como si una nación es algo que cualquier grupo de gente puede crear solo de aire ligero. Reconocemos naciones como fenómeno científico, que existe en el mundo real y son definidos como un grupo de personas con una cultura, territorio, lenguaje y economía común.
Es importante que torpes prisioneros empiecen a escoger las cosas correctas, las cuáles ellos personalmente hayan analizado examinado, investigado, y reverenciado en realidad en el método de materialismo dialéctico. Torpes prisioneros tienen una problema en las áreas de estas ultimas cuatro palabras claves: analizado, examinado, investigado y reverenciado. Este fracaso es la causa principal de las circunstancias materiales que lleva a las divisiones entre torpes prisioneros individualistas contra comunidades de prisioneros auto suficientes luchando por liberación dentro del movimiento a la independencia nacional. Además, con frecuencia los torpes prisioneros consiguen algo, o se enteran de algo por otro prisionero y ellos solo corren esto propagando algo que ellos desconocen y mal informan a otros. El movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos se ha beneficiado de esta tendencia.
¿De qué se trata ciudadanos soberanos?
Torpes prisioneros en la nación opresora de origen blanco, probablemente pueden describir una historia más clara de este movimiento, comenzando en algún lugar en los años 60s para desafiar la legitimidad de las leyes de impuestos y del mismo gobierno de E.E.U.U. Esto es incierto si la mayoría de prisioneros oprimidos en la nación pueden describir los grupos fundados de Oregon y California, como el Posee Comitatus, el cuál esta basado en una rigurosa y absurda supremacía blanca.
La filosofía del movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos está basada en la teoría de que el gobierno de E.E.U.U. está operando una fraudulenta entidad comercial que esta insolentada y endeudada con naciones extranjeras. Muchos grupos del movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos están de acuerdo con esta idea en que el gobierno original de E.E.U.U. de la America Colonial estaba basado en la ley común Británica como un gobierno de ley. Después de la Guerra Civil supuestamente se desarrollo un gobierno de facto secundario a estos gobiernos anteriores de colonizadores, comunes en el estado.
Cuando ellos dicen de ley, ellos quieren decir legales y por lo tanto legítimos. En contraste, de facto significa que existe, pero este no es oficial. Esto es común, referirse a un gobierno de facto después de una guerra civil para implicar que las cosas no han sido solucionadas, ni el orden ha sido restaurado. Lo que esa orden es por supuesto, es una cuestión política en símisma. La dictadura sobre los capitalistas en el sur, por los capitalistas de los estados norteños después de la guerra civil fue una era progresiva que marcó el fin de la esclavitud y forzó la integración de colonizadores blancos, aunque mucho del progreso en integración fue más tarde regresada al pasado por la fuerzas reaccionarias y demostró un total fracaso. Por lo tanto, la cuestión de legitimidad del gobierno de la post-guerra civil en los Estados Unidos tenía una clara conexión a este movimiento reaccionario en desarrollo por la supremacía blanca en Norteamérica. Mientras estas fuerzas ven los derechos de independencia y estado como un medio para mantener su privilegio nacional, las semi-colonías internas son atraídas a luchas de liberación nacional (y por lo tanto otras políticas de control local) como medio para terminar la opresión nacional que es el otro lado de la moneda dialéctica. Para tener una nación opresora, tu tienes que tener al menos una nación oprimida.
Muchos soberanos proponentes, como los Whitten Printers, violan la Decimocuarta Enmienda hasta el más mínimo común denominador. Ellos argumentan que ésta fue creada por el gobierno de facto en orden para nacionalizar esclavos negros con derechos comparables a los derechos constitucionales inalienables de colonizadores blancos y ciudadanos del estado, llevándonos a la pregunta de que si ellos están leyendo los mismos libros de historia como el resto de nosotros, luchando por autodeterminación. Estos ciudadanos soberanos afirman que ellos no están sujetos al proceso de nacionalización para llegar a ser ciudadanos federales bajo le Decimocuarta Enmienda del gobierno de facto, porque ellos no fueron esclavos, ellos no son negros y ellos nunca firmaron algún acuerdo o contrato con el gobierno de facto. Básicamente, ellos son reales ciudadanos sujetándose a los tiempos pasados de las colonias Británicas. Eso no es inteligente!
Críticos de la teoría de ciudadanos soberanos afirman que esto fracasa suficientemente para examinar el contexto de la jurisprudencia de la cual ellos citan e ignoran la desfavorable evidencia, tal como la Federalista #15, donde Alexander Hamilton expresó la opinión de que la constitución puso a cada uno personalmente bajo la autoridad federal. Y como la Decimocuarta Enmienda misma dice, en parte:
"Todas las personas nacidas o naturalizadas en los Estados Unidos, y sujetas a su jurisdicción, serán ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, y sujetas a su jurisdicción, serán ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos y del estado en que residan. Ningún estado aprobará o hará cumplir la ley que restrinja los privilegios o inmunidades de los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos; ni ningún estado privará a persona alguna de su vida, de sus libertades o de su propiedad sin el debido procedimiento de ley; ni negará a alguna persona dentro de su jurisdicción, la igual protección de las leyes.(2)"
La validez de la deuda publica de los Estados Unidos, autorizada por la ley, incluyendo deudas contraídas por el pago de pensiones y recompensas por servicios prestados para sofocar insurrecciones o rebeliones, no serán cuestionadas.(3)
Todos los prisioneros oprimidos en la nación tienen que estar enterados de estos hechos antes de que ellos mismos permitan ser reunidos en apoyo para un movimiento como el de ciudadanos soberanos. El movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos es un movimiento de la nación blanca opresora cuyo interés esta directamente en conflicto con ellos mismos. Ellos quieren preservar el imperialismo a costa de tu independencia y tu autonomía. Liberación nacional de los estados imperialistas esta en el interés de todos los torpes prisioneros, y la mejor manera de llevar a cabo este objetivo es el que todas la semi-colonias de los Estados Unidos apoyen las luchas de liberación nacional de los oprimidos.
Tenemos además que recordar camaradas, que el movimiento fascista en Italia y el movimiento Nazi en Alemania estaban atrayendo principalmente la mezquina burguesía como también a grupos y parte proletaria con retórica contra el estado, los banqueros y grandes negocios y a la vez con algunas absurdas ideas religiosas que son mezcladas y confundidas con mucho patriotería. En el evento de más crisis imperialista, si los imperialistas son presionadas a tomar un enfoque fascista para dirigir a la gente y a la economía, los ciudadanos soberanos y movimientos similares estarán listos para hacer masivos movimientos que suministra soldados de pie para tal proyecto. Las personas oprimidas del mundo tienen que combatir esto con internacionalismo proletario y materialismo dialéctico y salir libre de la ignorancia que nos permite ser absorbidos por las falsas pretensiones de tales grupos.
MIM(Prisons) agrega: Queremos dar a Loco1, apoyo por trabajar en esta critica del movimiento de ciudadanos soberanos (El o Ella) fue uno de un número de compañeros quienes nos han escrito acerca de esto. Y como un líder muy activo en USW le pedimos al principio por falta de información y conocimiento por donde empezar.
Aunque limitando el acceso a información ayuda a prevenir unidad ideológica a través de grupos encarcelados, este articulo va a mostrar gran importancia en el sistema. Loco1 fue capaz de encabezar esta critica recursos limitados al alcance de sus dedos, pero usando un enfoque analítico.
Algunos de los recursos de los ciudadanos soberanos y movimientos similares de anti-gobiernos derechistas están basados en un recurso de autoridad, donde ellos citan un montón de casos de ley en un esfuerzo para convencerte de que ellos saben de lo que están hablando. Pero esta dependencia en jurisprudencia misma es idealismo. Esto es similar a quienes buscan respuestas en antiguas religiones, como si hay un secreto allí que justo necesita ser encontrado y que resolverá todos nuestros problemas. Esto es tentador, es un tema que vende muchas películas y libros, pero esto no es realidad, las contradicciones que hacen esto y como las cosas están en movimiento, es así como podemos entender la realidad. Ninguno ha sido liberado por el papeleo de los ciudadanos soberanos, porque esto son solo palabras sobre el papel, y palabras en papel no pueden liberarte mágicamente de un sistema real que esta hecho de millones de personas.
The study group that I started and lead is a very small one — only three of us. The most challenging aspect I have encountered thus far is attracting members. In Florida conditions are somewhat different from what I have read about in other states. First, our prisons are highly integrated, but as prisoners we are not, with like nations hanging out with each other. However, there is virtually no gang activity and any activity there is is highly localized and disorganized. Secondly, I am at a "re-entry" camp where 80% of the population has less than five years left to serve and the bourgeois brainwashing is in overdrive. And lastly, I am euro-Amerikan (which necessitates class suicide).
I found that by openly acknowledging that I am a Marxist/Communist, dialogue is opened with others. I have been branded "that godless Marxist bastard," an epithet I wear as a badge of honor. As a White revolutionary I must be especially fearless in this regard. The majority of prisoners that open dialog about Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) with me are so conditioned with misinformation and myth that they eventually give up rather than consider that what they have been told all their life is a distortion or outright wrong. Once they are able to consider what I say and/or the MIM literature I show them, then comes their metaphysical ideology.
In my experience gaining a study group member comes down to a three-step process. I make myself known as a MLMist. Then I must be able to overcome the hystorical myths and mysteries of communism — particularly as they concern Stalin and Chairman Mao. To this end the article "Myths About Maoism" published in Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons) (pp. 20-28) is a good start. If they are willing to consider this different view of hystory then the third step is to move into an understanding of materialist dialectics (Marxism) to counter any metaphysical ideology.
MIM Distributors supplied me with the books Fanshen and Settlers. For my study group a new member reads Fanshen first. This is to give a sense of the meaning and power of political consciousness as opposed to simple "unity," and to further dispel hystorical myths about the role of the Communist Party in China under Mao. Next they read Settlers. This puts Amerikkkan hystory in a materialist dialectical perspective and demonstrates what is meant by a settler nation. It is an extremely powerful text for euro-Amerikans who have come this far in the study group.
Our group meets three times a week to discuss any questions on a topic that a member might have. We like to take current world events and discuss them from a MLM/Third World viewpoint. For us, the ULK Writers Group supplemental reading is very helpful. For example, the rise and gains of Maoism and the People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) in India has been a current focus.
If I had to name the major hurdle I face in educating a study group then it would be what MIM has called lumpen metaphysics — that conditioned ideology that continually rears its ugly head in debates, discussions, etc. In leading a study group one must be wary as that is a subtle path that leads to many wrong and irrational conclusions. As a project we are currently working on an essay for the ULK Writers Group on how to identify a lumpen metaphysical argument when it is posed so that its irrationality can be exposed via materialist dialectics. I only hope that all comrades will take an active role and critique it, helping to push its development further.
"Theory without practice ain't shit" and that practice starts with an action. My most fearless action, the action that started my practice of forming a study group, was to proclaim myself a communist and believer in Maoism as a better way of democracy. From that point forward I had joined the Struggle.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Everyone should keep in mind that the tactics used by a comrade in one facility might not be what's appropriate for the conditions where you're at. While it seems useful for this author to be very public about their political views, for many other subscribers to ULK, that same act can easily get them validated as a member of a "security threat group" or otherwise harassed by prison administration.
We appreciate how this author laid out how they structure their initial recruiting, and how they are making use of materials we've sent to them. The "supplemental reading" they refer to is a packet of articles from the web on various news and theory topics, which is sent regularly to participants in our advanced correspondence study group, the ULK Writing Group. In order to join the ULK Writing Group, you must complete both levels of our introductory study group, have a high level of political unity with MIM(Prisons), and be a regular contributor to ULK. We encourage everyone who can't set up a study group wherever they're at to join our introductory study group — or do both!
Revolutionary greetings to all kaptives inside the gulags of the united snakes of a-murder (U$A). Because of the constant oppression we face by the fact that imperialism won't let up as long as capitalism exists, we must continue to create effective ways of fighting capitalism, ultimately bringing an end to all forms of oppression and the system (capitalism/imperialism) in its entirety.
Prisons and prison guards (pigs) are mere extensions of the system and operate as a form of social control against the upward mobility of oppressed nations. However, kaptives here, in the past, have done quite a bit in the way of agitation and resistance to some of the injustices carried out by these pigs. I have personally been surprised at what even the slightest bit of unity amongst kaptives can/has gained in the form of concessions from the pigs. But i have also been dismayed at how quickly unity can dissolve back into parasitism and apathy, when not nurtured, and followed up by those kommitted and dedicated to educate and uplift.
Again, September 9 is soon upon us. Three years ago a lumpen organization (LO) that was a part of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) initiated the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. This is to coincide with 9 September 1971, when pigs and their overseers stormed Attica and slaughtered 32 kaptives (and 10 of their own pigs). Kaptives had besieged the prison after demands to improve living conditions had not been met, and the murder of comrade George Jackson at San Quentin on 21 August 1971. Comrade George was a formidable force in pushing the anti-imperialist movement amongst kaptives, all the way up until the moment he was slaughtered.
Organizers call on kaptives to take this day to promote the UFPP by building unity with fellow kaptives, and to demonstrate resistance to the criminal injustice system by fasting, refraining from work, engaging only in solidarity actions, and ending kaptive-on-kaptive violence/hostilities.
MIM(Prisons) said the number of reports were down in 2014 compared to the previous years, where they'd seen a growing interest and more involvement by kaptives on this day of protest. It is due both to the significance of the work put in by our comrades at Attica (and elsewhere), and the fact that imperialism is still krushing the upward mobility of the lumpen and oppressed nations, that we can not slack off on our duties organizing, agitating, campaigning, educating and building our own independent institutions to remedy our problems.
We are 44 years and many kaptive uprisings later, but the oppressive conditions remain the same. And, as back then, Maoist study groups are being formed; calls to unite kaptives are being heard; and of course oppressors are still oppressing. So let us both memorialize this day and use it as a catalyst to push leaders forward — as we "seize the time" because we have had E-NUF.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Write to request a September 9 study pack to help understand the history of this day of struggle and build for Peace and Solidarity in your prison.