I want to comment on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. This idea is the greatest, but fasting for the day is pointless. We have to focus on the name of the day: peace and solidarity. The best way to do this is to print a challenge to all who want a change in this hellish world. The challenge is for the change-seeker to go to an "enemy" and commit an act of kindness. No act is too big or too small. If you see someone in the struggle in need of some support, be that support. The number one reason for mistreatment in prison is lack of solidarity amongst prisoners. When pigs know they'll only have to deal with one race or a certain number of prisoners they feel comfortable committing the acts of mistreatment.
If prisoners moved as a unit against mistreatment and injustice these pigs wouldn't behave how they behave. I'm not saying, hey everybody, let's hold hands and sing Kumbayah, but we need to start supporting each other in order to have a livable life. The line has to be drawn so the pigs understand this is how things are going to be and we will no longer be divided on certain issues. When we fast, to me it shows strength and dedication, but to the pigs they couldn't care less. We have brothas dying while fasting to support their cause and the pigs couldn't be happier. Fasting has become ineffective.
On September 9 and beyond we have the opportunity to create our own peace. There was a movement called "pay it forward." In that movement you just did a good deed for someone with no expectation of a reward. You let the person know "I want nothing, just do for someone else what I've done for you." So we take from that and mold the peace and solidarity movement similar to it. On our end we'll call it the "peace and solidarity challenge." This can be big as, if not bigger than, the worldwide "ice bucket challenge." The Klansman pigs don't expect enemies to get along. Through our cause not only will we get along but we'll support each other when needed. All the world thinks about prisons and gangs is that we kill each other and inflict harm on one another. We can show our little brothers, sons, nephews, daughters, nieces, sisters, and cousins that the enemy is not each other. We're all going through the same struggle. "Peace and solidarity" is the only way out.
I found a copy of Under lock & Key 39 and saw that right here in Texas concentration camps there are likeminded brothers struggling in other facilities in the same predicaments. Resist! Resist! Don't get discouraged! I am among you and our numbers are slowly growing.
This very morning I got the various gangs to quit talking bullshit by speaking to my likeminded neighbor about what I've read and studied from ULK 39. These white gang members normally talk over me and try to drown me out, but my voice is loud and I want to be heard by all; Black, Brown, Red, and white. Everyone finally got quiet and me and my neighbor talked. For about 45 minutes we talked about organized prison protests in California, of the 30,000 prisoners hunger strike, and the fact that in Texas you can't get more than two to agree to do it and they give up after commissary.
Then a Mexican brother got into our conversation and told me about MIM and MIM(Prisons). I told him I had found ULK 39 in my cell. He said it was his and they move him around every two weeks because he's a "threat to security." He then shot me ULKs 38 and 37, several Prison Action News publications, and the Texas petition to have our grievances addressed! I've been doing something similar for several years. It's really helped a few people out. There is a right way and a wrong way to write step one and step two grievances. It's the most asinine case I've ever run across, but if you use their own game rules against them most times you prevail. There are small victories. They just circumvent new policies with bogus practice.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The Texas activist pack is available to anyone in Texas who wants guidance on fighting to get grievances heard, and it also includes information on how to fight the medical copay as well as the restriction on indigent mail supplies. Just write to us for a copy. It's a big packet of information so if you can send a donation to cover the cost of printing and mailing, that would help us send more lit to other prisoners in need!
I'm writing concerning the ad in Under Lock & Key I read for the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). It was baffling, as it had every concept, principle and law that is in my Family's code. I am the Father of the United Family Against all Oppression (UFAO) and we would like to support the UFPP.
About 150 of us are currently at Macon State Prison and 20 of the Family are in other camps. I'm currently in the hole for going to war with the officers and the Bloods for breaking a peace treaty. I extend my hand in assistance to stop imperialism and oppression through paperwork or blood.
When the officers see Bloods, Crips, GDs, Muslims, Vice Lords, Piru, coming together, they don't know what to do. One day we were in the rooms meeting and no one was hardly on the floor. They came in telling us to lock down for no reason, just because they had the authority.
I had to use the scientific method in coming up with a peace treaty. I went around surveying the people of different parties about what makes them fight and kill each other. It's not the color no more, it's about different creeds stealing and tricking each other. So I came up with the antithesis to it, which was to give out prizes at chess and basketball tournaments. It had other things such as a poor box in each dorm where the UFAO is at, which is for everybody.
Nothing happened in the dorm I was in until the Bloods stole out of the box of the GDs and Muslims and they broke the treaty. So, me being the General didn't approve of it, so a war broke out. Because once you say you're revolutionary, your word and peace treaties mean a lot in my eyes.
I am also asking for guidance and support because people are getting free, going home, and I don't want the impression of a gang or drug lord. I'd rather finish what Assata Shakur, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and other great leaders left off on. I'm open for all political and friendly advice. My goal is to support all oppressed people no matter their affiliation, and under a treaty with people with affiliations in gangs.
We as a whole must unite and become one family to end the criminal label that the United $tates put on us, to disguise what their gang is doing. Because they have abandoned and malignant hearts when it comes to power and wealth. And I'm going to stop the real terrorists at all cost.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for pushing for peace on their unit, and for pointing out that the imperialists are the real enemy. It makes sense that in organizing the lumpen for peace, we will still see lumpen tendencies arise, like the one our comrade described above about stealing the poor box. Even though we're bringing people together for revolutionary reasons, we are still heavily influenced by our capitalist culture and indoctrination. We need to make it a priority to bring thorough revolutionary education to all the comrades we're working with, in order to combat this lumpen mentality of getting up on the backs of others, and undermining our struggles for peace.
Prisons are a volatile environment. And we're building for peace in prisons. It's somewhat ironic to enforce a peace treaty using physical violence. We should take this incident as a lesson that while we're discussing how to begin a peace treaty, we also need to discuss how we can hold others accountable to the peace treaty if they break it. Is a prison war the only possible method of accountability?
If anyone needs literature to help educate others about the role of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in our overall fight against our common oppressor, then write in for back issues of Under Lock & Key. If you've been able to develop a sound peace treaty and have experimented successfully with how to hold others accountable when they fall out of line of the treaty, then please send a report to ULK so we can grow stronger as a movement.
Your newsletter is very empowering but a little too hardcore for the Department of Corrections in Florida. We must not forget where the people you're trying to reach are at. Our vernacular is too straight forward such as using words like "hunger strike" or "organizing of any kind." You got to start making your newsletter more informative to political theory and education and building a community. Fasting has its time and place, and its reasons. But we must be mindful how we address certain issues. I look up to George Jackson and how he focused on building the Black Guerilla Family (BGF). I am a new generation Black Panther and I use your newsletters in my political education classes. We are all in the same struggle for liberation, but we must understand that real unity comes from sharing and mutual cooperation between the comrades of revolution.
I've been in prison for 14 years and only had to fast once. Yes, it did make the pigs do their job. However, from my observation and participation we need to all just come together and focus on building communities that can adjust to their social housing. Because it's not the pigs who do the raping, stealing, robbing, stabbing, killing, etc. If BGF had to put a worldwide ban on all gangbanging, what makes you think teaching them how to organize will make things any better? There are a lot of groups who you ain't gonna be able to unite and bring peace. I'm not knocking your work, but we got to put political differences aside and focus on building a commune that will protect and serve the people. It can't be just a prison thing. In order to get a strong hold in any state you must have dedicated troops on both sides (prison and turf) all working together under one banner. Yes ULK and United Struggle from Within are established but the people who claim that they are united under the banner of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) are the very same people oppressing the people with gang violence.
How can 3 Blood Kingdoms unite with the UFPP when the actual leader of these Blood sets are in opposition with the idea of peace and unity? Most of these dudes be renegades who try to get some type of support to continue their renegading. And not knowing any better we, out of unconditional love for revolution, tell them that it's okay. No! We must draw the line and be str8 forward with them! You can't be a liberator by day and an oppressor by night! Your newsletter is on the banned list becuz these renegaders are using you as a sponsor for their renegading, plus the vernacular in the newsletters is too flamboyant. Look at how fast these same dudes are requesting to be removed off your mailing list. Their loyalty is not in the UFPP, it's to their sets. Please don't let them be the demise of a powerful tool we need in here. I don't wish to be removed becuz I'm loyal to revolution.
I believe if you ease up on your newsletter and focus on educating the people about theory and what's going on in the free world the pigs will allow the newsletter to circulate. Communicating and educating is power, so when that is cut off proper growth and development is dead. You probably thinking why didn't I grieve it? Well how can I get round justifying my rights to have a newsletter that blatantly uses vernacular that gives the pigs every right to reject it according to Rule 33-501.401 FAC (3)(G) stating: "It is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, disruption of the institution, violation of department or institution rules." And (3)(m) stating: "It otherwise presents a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person."
The pigs read everything that comes in this slave plantation, so you can't put your comrades on the chopping block to get their heads cut off politically. If you’re going to coach then coach, but don't forget that you're out there in the free world and we are not. Every day we have to deal with these pigs' bullshit! And they use the gangs as their puppets to do hits for smokes and food. That's the real story in this place that the prisoners are brushing under the rug. It ain’t just the pigs who are oppressing our people, it's their puppets. So we got to build self-defense communities that are not afraid to establish new order in the land. It's too many chiefs and political debates about bullshit. Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!
MIM(Prisons) responds: It's always good to hear about serious organizers using MIM(Prisons) literature in political education classes and as organizing tools. And this comrade is writing from a state where most issues of Under Lock & Key are being censored systematically, so we do need to take seriously our challenge of getting political literature in to prisoners in Florida. This writer says we need to focus on educating people about theory, and we do have a lot of theory resources available to anyone who asks (just trade some work for lit if you can't pay). But ULK is an agitation and organizational publication, and our goal is to educate people through information and news about what's going on in prisons and in the world in general. We purposely maintain this focus instead of just putting out political theory because we need a tool that can organize people. If we only offer political theory we are missing the final step in helping people to connect the theory with practice. While we agree with this comrade that there are some things we do not need to say, we cannot sacrifice our political line to get our publication inside. And the fact is that the prisons use these "dangerously inflammatory" and "threat to security" claims for all sorts of literature we mail to prisoners, including reference materials, history books and theory.
Further, we do not agree with this comrade that ULK actually fits within those rules for censorship. Instead of presenting a threat to security and good order, ULK actually promotes security by promoting peace. The prisons, on the one hand, claim that prisoners fighting one another is one of the biggest problems they face and so they need more guards and more security weapons to deal with this problem, and then when a publication shows up promoting peace among prisoners they claim this is a threat to security as well. We need to fight this bogus claim. ULK does not encourage violation of rules, and in fact for events like the September 9 day of peace, we encourage prisoners to work within the rules of their institution to build peace. Even hunger strikes were developed as a form of non-violent protest, so we will continue to fight the censors who claim reporting on them somehow encourages "violence and insurrection." To them, prisoners in peaceful protest is a threat of violence and pigs beating prisoners is instituting security. To them newspapers calling for the bombing of other countries are cool, but newspapers exposing torture in U.$. prisons are dangerous. We cannot accept such double standards and hypocrisy.
As for the question of various lumpen organizations declaring their unity with the United Front for Peace in Prisons and then turning around and disrupting efforts to build peace, we recognize that this is a potential contradiction with lumpen organizations. It is a real challenge for groups that have historically promoted prisoner-on-prisoner violence to take up organizing for peace. We cannot expect this path to be smooth and easy. Nor can we expect all groups to join us on this path. But even the declaration of support for the UFPP is a step forward for LOs. And we must work to push them even further and confront their contradictions, rather than dismissing them as hopeless. For the record, we don't have lots of people asking to stop their subscription to ULK. In fact very few people write to be removed from our list once they get a copy of ULK. And our subscribers continue to increase, even in high censorship states like Florida and North Carolina, because people hear about our organizing to fight that censorship. When the pigs stop abusing and torturing people in U.$. prisons we will shift the content of our newsletter to focus on parts of the world where people are still being abused and tortured.
Prisoners day - September 9th - must be kept silent no more. This particular day, marking its ground breaking appearance on 9 September 1971, is making a slow steady trod towards mass movements and prisoner organizations from the east coast to the west.
Any prisoner subscribing to Under Lock & Key, or the variety of political newsletters free to prisoners, can attest to the constant reminders of the one day that prisoners stood up in unity to get shot down, and lifted back up year after year. For many who are familiar with the Attica uprising, just hearing the name Attica reawakens the stories told about the protest back east, where a select few brothers of a mixture of lumpen organizations were put in a position to stand for something and not just fall for anything. A protest from which many political prisoners take inspiration today in their thirst for freedom. Attica became legendary.
Many prisoners were forced into the tombs of the beast, known as the control unit facilities, for their commitment to keeping alive the memory of the day that history was made by prisoners struggling for a common cause. These prisoners forced into the tombs of the beast, who spoke from the grave to the injustice of the system, became the silent force of an already nuclear-reactor-type vibration within U$ prisons.
As time went on so then did the minds and movements of the masses, its leaders, and the lumpen organizations charged with serving the interest of the prisoners. The lines of the parties involved with commemorating the anniversary of Attica were crossed and compromised. The dream of rehabilitation and reforms set many in backward positions compliant to the interest of the enemy of the prisoners, the state.
Details of the September 9 uprising and certain individuals involved began meaning less and less. The historical facts, leadership, and goals became gossip of he said she said, your homie got my father killed.
The state understood the importance of stemming the tide with the tactic of division, thus a line was drawn between the political prisoner and the prisoner just trying to do their time and get back to what they knew as freedom. The latter wanted nothing to do with the former, as these old timer political prisoners were viewed as extreme in their ideas and objectives. The former, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the latter, who at each turn of the age began to appear as a type of foreman, respecting the privileges and rewards for the good behavior of not upsetting the system. Even to this day these lines are the principal contradiction between the prisoner mass and the few political leaders.
Attica served as an example to both sides of the fence. Power is in people's unity. With the support of the people at Attica in 1971, time stood still long enough for prisoners to occupy the prison yard and a few dorms. In a stand off with state police, prisoners demanded to be afforded humyn decency.
The end result was the murders of many who knew they had nothing to lose but their chains. Attica's effect is on all prisoners. Attica's effect lives with prisoners even today. Let prisoners refresh their memories in as many uprisings as possible with peace as the objective.
It is not at this time that prisoners should be waging war with each other. Nor should we, in the United $tates, be taking up armed struggle. We must learn that prisoners must not prey on other prisoners with exploitative practices that result in the beefs that go beyond prison yards and effect more than just the local factions. But prisoners must consider the conditions of the entire class which it is rooted in and decide what direction it as a whole will move in.
Attica gave birth to many many great prisoner demonstrations and prison uprisings across the United $tates. More recently in Texas, California, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few.
The day of solidarity is rooted in a reality that prisoners must at some points and time, for a specific frame of time, put to the side their differences in order to pool the energy and resources for the causes that contribute to tearing down this system as they know it. And after that, if they want to go back to their state of parasitic lifestyles, then they can take it up with the people.
The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity is the prisoner's memorial day; the convict holiday. It is the one day that prisoners as a whole can safely cross the lines of divide that have been expanded over the ages of time. Prisoners at this time can become festive in their anticipation of the entertainment, education, application and advocation of a vocal prisoner mass speaking up and out to the injustice of the U.$. prison system.
USW invites all those who have committed to the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to participate in the coming September 9 celebrations. Submit high quality artwork to our Strugglen Artist Association to be printed and circulated within your prison, spreading the message of peace on September 9. Our comrades MIM(Prisons) offer political books free of charge that your group can study and write or draw your interpretations of the reading. You can even just write a statement describing the nature of your local September 9 celebration program.
It is now the age of speak up speak out for prisoners. If prisoners can build upon their shared experiences like the uprisings in the past, their voices can speak to their interests aligned with the internationally oppressed, and begin upsetting the system one state at a time.
Then and only then will the power be reinstated in the leadership who are most capable of representing the interests of the whole, without fear of retaliation or repression for their leadership roles. The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity prepares all prisoners for the day that all must make the decision of whether they'll stand up for something or fall for anything.
When young Trayvon Martin was killed, people held candles and prayed to "God." And George Zimmerman walked away free. Then we heard of the young brother in Missouri, unarmed yet gunned down by a pig — an amerikkkan kolonial thug. The people held candles and quoted fables from the book of "God." The pig went free.
Cleveland, Ohio — Black child of twelve. Yes, Black not because of his dark skin color, but Black because of the gaping wound to human dignity because he was gunned down by another enforcer of white amerikkkan privilege. The people wept and prayed while the assassin slithered away quite free.
Then Wisconsin and another brother of African descent. Unarmed yet shot and killed by scum who are sworn to "protect and serve." The killer pig was not even charged with a crime while the people sing and pray and dance and wave candles to their "God." But suddenly — Baltimore.
Freddy Gray killed by pigs. This time people overturn vehicles; break into businesses; loot them; set fires; throw rocks and bottles at pigs. And six pigs are indicted.
Perhaps "God" merely honors large candles of burning buildings and burning cars? Or perhaps white amerikkkans only care about dead people of color when the financial losses come to Whitey? Like when the oppressed say, "Get your pigs under control or we will burn your fucking city to the ground."
Do we want social and economic justice that requires people held accountable? Or do we want merely to whine and pray and bemoan the injustice of the amerikkkan grand jury that failed to indict a pig who killed a brother selling loose cigarettes? Facts reveal observable actions leading to desired outcomes. Fables reveal actions of pointless futility.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer is spot on about the failure of prayer and kind requests to change systemic violence. It is only with force that the imperialists will give up their guns. Yet we don't mean to say that we should just take up arms and act without planning and organizing.
The righteous anger of the masses in Baltimore is a power that must be harnessed by a revolutionary vanguard party. The oppressed can coordinate their actions and ensure these actions are taken only when victory is possible through strong and centralized leadership. We are still at the stage of educating and building for revolution. Part of this work involves spreading anti-imperialist theory to all who know from personal oppression and experience that they must fight back, helping them to see the bigger picture and take up leadership in the struggle.
We must remember that in Oakland, California, cars were lit on fire and businesses were looted in response to the murder of 22-year-old New Afrikan Oscar Grant. Grant's murderer, a transit cop, was indicted, charged, and imprisoned. In the end, it was a slap on the wrist for this blatant murder. For a period of time the state will respond to people protesting in the streets. They may go through some motions or formalities to appease people and quell their anger. But ultimately there will just be more names to add to the list of oppressed nation people killed — a list that has been growing for centuries. It should be obvious that we need more fundamental changes to our daily life than body cameras and reliance on our present injustice system.
En realidad, la celebración de Agosto Negro debería ser todo el año. Solo nosotros(as) podemos hacer que esto cambie. Carter G. Woodson es el creador de la semana de historia Afro-Americana (Black history week), y 50 años después tenemos mes de historial Afro-Americana (Black history month). Para los(as) que no tienen conocimiento de Agosto Negro, este mes se celebran a los(as) "luchadores(as) de libertad." El color de la piel es irrelevante. Te amo hermana Marilyn Buck (descansa en poder), Lolita Lebron (descansa en poder), y Silvia Berrideni, entre otras que no eran de color negro. Pero ellas eran negras. Porque para el(a) oprimido(a) de cualquier nacionalidad, negro no es un color.
Negro es un establecimiento creado para proteger los derechos civiles de uno(a). Negro es valentía. Negro es motivación propia para ganar. Negro es visión. Negro es respeto. Negro es amor. Negro es lealtad. Negro es unidad. Negro es orgullo. Negro(a) eres tu! Además y más importante, negra soy yo!
Colectivamente, estas expresiones de cariño negras somos nosotros(as) (por ejemplo, soldados unidos y soldadas unidas). Por esto creo que Agosto Negro, la celebración de luchadores(as) de libertad, debería ser todo el año.
En preparación para esta celebración, estoy llamando a todos los(as) camaradas que escojan a un(a) luchador(a) de libertad de su preferencia y sometan una redacción de 250 palabras de su escogido(a) luchador(a) de libertad, escribe porque lo(a) selecionaste y el impacto que éste(a) luchador(a) de libertad tuvo en tí. En solidaridad con Bajo Llave y Candado (BLC), (Under Lock & Key en inglés) estoy llamando a todos(as) los(as) leyentes de BLC que participen. Aunque cada artículo no sea publicado por limitaciones financieras y por espacio, su participación no será ignorada. Fortalezcamos a la voz de BLC. Porque si somos considerados la voz de BLC y no la fortalecemos, ¿quién lo hará?
La unidad es una herramienta poderosa cuando es aplicada adecuadamente. Unámosnos en vez de destruirnos.
El MIM(Prisiones) añade: Decidimos aceptar la llamada de este camarada para la presentación de redacciones de luchadores(as) de libertad todo el año, anunciandola durante Agosto Negro y siguiendo con la publicación de redacciones sometidas por leyentes de BLC en futuros ejemplares. De importancia particular en esta llamada, es el entendimiento que todos(as) los(as) prisioneros(as) son prisioneros(as) políticos(as) y por eso no solo identificamos a luchadores(as) de libertad como personas que fueron famosas por su activismo político antes de que fueron puestos(as) bajo llave y candado. En cambio, sugerimos que piensen de prisioneros(as) que te han influido en una manera positiva, incluyendo esos(as) que no han escrito libros o recibido atención por la prensa. Celebremos a todos(as) los(as) luchadores(as) de libertad y esforcemosnos en ser luchadores(as) de libertad nosotros(as) mismos(as).
It's a beautiful thing when I read about the struggle for social justice and liberation of the oppressed, especially when it is prisoners who are developing politically or ex-prisoners who are released and get involved in activism of various sorts. The lumpen have a hystory of rising up in struggle against injustice. We see this when reading about Attica, the San Quentin six, and the California hunger strikes, as well as in the many revolutionary groups which developed within prisons. This is great, of course, but our development, actions, and theory should be based in science.
Science keeps us grounded in reality; it helps us proceed and understand the way things are. The opposite of science would be faith, a hunch, or metaphysical concepts in general. As revolutionaries we use the scientific method to make decisions on how we interact with the world we live in. The scientific method relies on observation and experimentation with the world that we live in so that we fully understand it and thus transform it.
Science, then, is a tool which helps us make the proper decisions and enables scientific leadership, focused on truth and reality. Scientific leadership allows for one to percieve truth because one studies hystorical events which have been tested and experimented with. Learning from all of this allows scientific leadership to make real power moves which advance the people, as opposed to decisions based on idealism or lofty visions.
What Does Scientific Leadership Look Like?
How much leadership can accomplish depends on whether it is scientific leadership or not. For example, scientific leadership in a political movement must study the world's hystorical movements to see what in hystory has worked, which social experiments have been successful and which have not.
By studying movements and revolutions one would know better than to invest time and programs on Trotskyism because one would quickly see that it has yet to liberate a people anywhere in the world. Science shows that Maoism was most successful because, among other things, it teaches that even after a nation is liberated class struggle continues — even after socialist revolution. Understanding this will reveal why nations such as Vietnam flip-flopped back to capitalism after liberation; it's because the leadership were not Maoists and did not accept that class struggle continues. In short they did not have scientific leadership.
Within prisons it becomes easy to stray off the path of science because in so many ways our methods for surviving in these dungeons and the ways we cope with an unbearable existence may not be anchored in our best interests. Because we are placed in survival mode by the state the minute we are imprisoned it becomes easy to try to come up at another prisoner's expense, but this method is incorrect and parasitic.
When we study hystory we learn that people around the world did not liberate themselves and their people by preying on other similarly situated or oppressed people. They did so by struggling together for their collective interests. One cannot at the same time exploit their own people and free them. Attempting to advance one's own people in order to better exploit them amounts to bourgeois nationalism. This is not scientific leadership because it means the leadership did not learn from hystorical cases of bourgeois revolutions.
Studying revolutionary nationalism reveals what scientific leadership looked like for oppressed nations. Mao's China gave us the greatest example of this so far. But Mao used science to continuously break ground and lead the social forces out of the woods of ignorance and dead-end politics. As he put it:
"Natural science is one of man's weapons in his fight for freedom. For the purpose of attaining freedom in society, man must use social science to understand and change society and carry out social revolution. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature."(1)
As Mao explains above, people seeking to push a movement forward must harness natural science and learn from our reality. Prisoners in our microcosm must do the same. Our "freedom" within U.$. prisons does not translate to seizing state power today, but the beauty of Maoism is that we can apply these teachings to our own environment, even the prison environment. Our freedom in U.$. prisons should be freedom from torture, freedom from abuse and other forms of oppression. We should seek freedom in the realm of ideas where we can read and write without censorship. We should be free to socialize and form study groups and politically educate our fellow prisoners without fear of being brutalized by the state or stuffed in a control unit.
The scientific leadership within U.$. prisons is a minority and is most reflective in the pages of Under Lock & Key. If Maoism is the highest or most scientific ideology today, then Maoist prisoners are the scientific leadership in U.$. prisons, even if we are not yet currently "in power" within U.$. prisons.
A scientific leadership should ensure that its people are a politically educated people. To monopolize on knowledge and hoard education within a chosen few means that should these leaders get slammed down in the hole or control unit the masses become lost. This is why educating the people is something that should be constantly focused on. Building cadre is investing in a movement's future.
Can the People be Led Without Science?
Prison can be a brutal environment. In the old days it was the most brutal who rose to the top of the heap and led, although it may have been down a dead-end road. Without understanding who is oppressing you, the oppressor will not only continue to oppress you, but you'll end up focusing on those who are not oppressing you. You consequently never dig yourself out of the hole that you don't even realize you are in.
Unfortunately the people can be, and in many cases are, led by unscientific leadership. The prison rebellion in Santa Fe, New Mexico was a concrete example of what happens when leadership is not based in the scientific method. Violence and parasitism are promoted rather than steering the people toward liberation. Lumpen organizations (LOs) that are not scientific will more often than not be swayed to lumpen-on-lumpen crime. They are not looking at their social reality from political lenses and instead they will look more to immediate needs and self-gratification. This is the breeding ground for escapism and individualism. This does nothing to combat the oppressor and almost always reinforces national oppression.
Unscientific leadership is not a revolutionary leadership. It is not for the people's real interest and will never get past making a little money here and there and gaining some recognition from those in prisons and other lumpen, while never rebuilding their nation or contributing to freeing their nation.
This means that people will be led, but it will be down a path which leads nowhere productive. If anything, it is a path which helps destroy their own people. Their goals will remain in self-destructive behavior which works alongside the state in many ways. The un-scientific approach ends up being an enabler to the state and one's very own national oppression. One essentially ends up tying the knots for our oppressor which binds us, helpless and vulnerable.
So What is Scientific Leadership For?
Ultimately people are led towards a goal. Scientific leadership is communist and working toward liberating oppressed people. Prisoners within U.$. borders are mostly from the internal semi-colonies, so for us scientific leadership works toward independence from Amerikkka. All of our decisions as a scientific leadership should be with the intent of inching closer to our goal of liberating our nation(s) and obtaining complete independence.
Emancipation will take work, but prisoners can contribute in many ways. Scientific leaders within U.$. prisons should first identify their political hystory and who they are as a nation. This means guiding one's flock to also understand who they are and to become politically educated. Independent institutions need to be created, which includes revolutionary publications. Those who are already politically conscious need to be harnessed so that they can be political instructors for those who do not yet grasp their political reality. Liberation schools need to be created, and better relations with others who are similarly situated and oppressed need to be coordinated.
Outside political institutions also need to be created which help link people outside prison walls with our imprisoned struggles for justice in these concentration camps. We can still hustle in prisons, but our hustles should not oppress others and our hustles should not be for our own come up, but for building our revolutionary movement.
At the end of the day the role of the imprisoned scientific leadership is to transform prisons, to revolutionize the prisons. Our aim is freedom. We cannot shy away from the very real contradictions that exist within the lumpen population. There is a lot of work to do, but things are changing and the imprisoned lumpen are becoming more and more conscious. This is reflected in many things, from more frequent prison uprisings, more imprisoned revolutionary organizations springing up, more prison theoreticians developing ideology, and most importantly more lumpen unity behind prison walls. All of this and more points to the imprisoned lumpen acquiring more scientific leadership. Imprisoned revolutionaries should help accelerate these developments because this is what all LOs originated for in the beginning, for their people to be free from oppression behind prison walls.
The celebration of Black August really should be all year round. Only we can make this change. For those who lack knowledge of Black August, it's considered the "celebration of freedom fighters." Every individual who stands against oppression on any level is a freedom fighter. The color of one's skin is irrelevant. I love you sister Marilyn Buck (rest in power), Lolita Lebron (rest in power), and Silvia Baraldini, among others who weren't the color of black. Yet, they were black. Because, to the oppressed of any nationality, Black isn't a color.
Black is an establishment created to protect one's civil rights. Black is courage. Black is self-motivation to win. Black is vision. Black is respect. Black is love. Black is loyalty. Black is unity. Black is pride. Black is you! Furthermore and more importantly, Black is me!
Collectively, these Black endearments are us (i.e. united souljahs and united souljahettes). This is why I believe Black August, the celebration of freedom fighters, should be year round.
In preparation of such a celebration I am calling on all comrades to pick a freedom fighter of their choice and submit a 250 word essay on your chosen freedom fighter describing why you've made such a selection and the impact this freedom fighter had on you. I am asking in solidarity with Under Lock & Key for all readers of ULK to participate. Although every article may not be printed due to space and financial hurdles, your participation will not be ignored. Let's strengthen the voice of ULK. Because if we're considered the voice of ULK and we don't strengthen it, then who will?
Unity is a powerful device when applied suitably. Let's unify ourselves rather than destroy ourselves.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We decided to take up this comrade's call for submissions about freedom fighters year round by printing it during Black August and then following up by printing submissions from ULK readers in a future issue. Of particular importance in this call is understanding that all prisoners are political prisoners. And so we do not just identify freedom fighters as people who were famous for their political activism before being locked up. Instead we encourage you to think about the prisoners who have affected you in a positive way, including those who haven't written books or received media attention. Let's celebrate all freedom fighters and strive to be freedom fighters ourselves.
The basic logic behind the United Front for Peace in Prisons is simple, but genius. The concept is self-explanatory. How else do circumstances get resolved without the five principles?
Individualism and evasion counters liberation. Regardless, whether we are into politics or not, believe that politics are into us. All aspects of life have an element of control that dictate our lives, and if we don't seek unity and ultimate internationalism, chaos will always follow. Sharing information about ourselves to each other in collective formats is the first step. Guarding ourselves is natural; it is something we do to protect ourselves from opposing forces. However, through self-discipline and some simple confidence and motivation, progress is possible.
Our biological nature is to be selfish. It is primal instinct to seek ultimate survival and power, and without a balance or some consciousness, humyns want to oppress each other. The ones who have blindfolds on have the idea that oppression = peace, and perhaps they have been programmed to think and view life in such a manner. However am I the only one, or does that logic sound irrational to you too?
In my opinion (and I could be wrong) I believe a better approach is to educate as many people as you can to obtain growth and progress. There will always be contradictions, of course (no matter what). But to give up is to give up on your people and yourself.
I like Mao's quote from "Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership":
"[T]ake the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge."
Educate to liberate!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have a lot of unity with this writer's call to action around the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). But we do disagree that there is a biologically inherent trait of selfishness in humyns. While there is certainly an instinct to survive in all living things, this does not mean there must be an instinct to take power and oppress other people. We can see that this is what many people do today, but the culture of capitalism teaches us that's how to get ahead, from the time we are born. So how can we separate out instinct from culture in this situation?
As Maoists we believe in the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat after the revolution, where the formerly oppressed majority take control of the government and run it in their own interests while dictating to the minority (who promoted exploitation) how society will be run. During this period of socialism we will need cultural revolutions to challenge the ingrained mentality of capitalism that has taught everyone to look out for themselves first and to get ahead at the expense of others. We know it will take many generations of cultural revolution and re-education of humynity but we do not think the reality of capitalist culture determines what humyns are capable of under communism.