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[Theory] [China] [Culture] [Organizing]
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Book Review: Fanshen

Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village
William Hinton
University of California Press, 1966

The word "Fanshen" was coined during the Chinese Revolution. It means, literally,

"[T]o turn the body', or "to turn over." To China's hundreds of millions of landless and land-poor peasants it meant to stand up, to throw off the landlord yoke, to gain land, stock, implements, and houses. But it meant much more than this. It meant to throw off superstition and study science ... [to] learn to read, to cease considering women as chattels and establish equality between the sexes, to do away with appointed village magistrates and replace them with elected councils.(1)

And that is precisely what Fanshen chronicles. It is written from the personal experiences and extensive notes gathered by William Hinton himself while in the Liberated Area village of Changchuang (Long Bow), Lucheng County, Shanshi Province, China, during the spring and summer of 1948. Long Bow sat on the edge of an area surrounded but never conquered by the Japanese. It was one of the few villages which the Japanese invaders occupied and fortified. This Japanese occupation (1938-1945) ended when Long Bow was liberated by the Eighth Route Army and the Peoples Militia of Lucheng County on August 14, 1945.

Hinton wend to China as a tractor technician with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and was sent to the communist-led area of South Hopie to supervise a project there. When UNRRA closed down in the fall of 1947, Hinton accepted an invitation from Northern University to teach English in South Shansi. Hinton relates that Northern University was a guerrilla institution in Kao Settlement that moved according to the dictates of war and that life at the University was not much better than village life. As examples he states that the University only served boiled millet (a grass grown for its edible white seeds) and was never warmed by scarce firewood.

Fanshen is foremost about land reform in rural China. To fully appreciate the enormity of this land reform, Hinton provides plenty of background information on the revolutionary upheaval that led up to it, as well as the traditional society which brought on and was transformed by revolution. From the British-imposed First Opium War of 1840 and the Second Opium War of 1856-1860, to the 1899 imperial rescript granting Catholic bishops equal rank with provincial governors which led to the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, to the Amerikan backing of the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek, Fanshen supplies the reader with plenty of pertinent hystorical dialectic facts. No punches are pulled in the especially provcative documentation of Amerikan interloping. From General Marshall's mission in China to the lend-lease program that gave the Nationalist Government over $600 million between Victory over Japan Day and the end of July, I was left wondering who left the hystory books I had read in school incomplete. There are plenty of footnotes recalling Amerikan troop involvement in China well after the Japanese surrendered. Nuggets such as;

Of numerous attacks in Eastern Shantung the most widely known were the one by U.S. warships on Langnuankou and Hsiali Island, Mouping county, on August 28, 1947, and one by U.S. forces in conjunction with Kumintang troops on Wanglintao Village, north of Chino County, on December 25, 1947.(2)

left me scratching my head and hungry for more. I was not let down. It is interesting to note that this is the time period that Hinton joined Northern University.

Fanshen does not neglect the environmental conditions of so vast a country as China. Without knowing the violence and extremes of the seasons, the living conditions of such an agrarian society could not truly be put into context. Drought followed by famine, followed by peasant-dwelling-destroying monsoons are a way of life for the Chinese peasants, and Hinton documents these ordeals with great clarity, even experiencing a flash flood and violent localized hailstorm first-hand while in Long Bow.

Once the hystorical context is set, Hinton wastes no time in drawing you into the consciousness of Long Bow. He begins this phenomenal feat with the Japanese invasion of Long Bow in the summer of 1938. With great skill he documents what village life was like for the peasants through their own words. He continues this painstaking documentation of events, using thousands of interviews, from the period of liberation when the cadres took over until the arrival of the work teams (1945-1948).

The Draft Agrarian Law was announced to the world on December 28, 1947, three days after the joint U.$./Kuomintang military assault on Wanglintao Village. The Draft Law was to serve as a yardstick by which to measure theand movements, as well as to measure the political position and consciousness of everyone who opted for progress and a new democratic China. Many questions had to be answered, such as: Had the land been equally divided? Had the poor peasants and hired laborers taken control of village affairs? If not, why not? Politically, the main question was, on which side do you stand? I was so drawn in by Hinton's prose that I was just as shocked as the villagers to find that the majority of the cadres carrying out the reforms of the Communist Party, sometimes to extremes, were not even Party members. This was but one of many surprises to come.

So, in 1948 the Communist Party organized work teams made up of local and district cadres and students and intellectuals in all the Liberated Areas sending them to key representative villages throughout their respective regions to check on the status of the land reform movement. These work teams, made up of groups of 10 or 12 people each, then went out to survey the true conditions of the peasant population and carry the land reform through to completion.

It was during the assignment of Northern University students and intellectuals to work teams that Hinton requested of University President Fan Wen-lan to be allowed to "join one of the work teams, at least as an observer, and learn first hand what the land reform is all about." Three days later permission was granted to join the work team in Long Bow. He was assigned a young woman instructor, Ch'i Yun, to act as an interpreter. Long Bow was chosen because it was the nearest to Kao Settlement, approximately one mile to the south. This way Hinton and Ch'i Yun could return to the University each evening. On March 6, 1948, the two set off for the first of many trips into Long Bow to begin documenting the long process of getting to know its people, their hystory, their progress, their mistakes, and the complexity of their current problems. Then, in early May 1948, Northern University moved 300 miles away; however, Hinton and Ch'i Yun stayed in Long Bow to continue their work alongside the other work team cadres.

Fanshen thoroughly documents the individual stepwise movements, e.g., the Anti-Traitor Movement (ending 1945), the Settling Accounts Movement (January 1946 - February 1946), the Hide-the-Grain movement (fall of 1946), and the Wash-the-Face movement (spring 1947) that were necessary for the land reform in Long Bow. The mistakes made by the cadres and peasants alike during these movements are laid bare and analyzed. By doing this the reader gains a richer appreciation of the struggle for a true democracy. One of the largest myths of Maoism is that Chairman Mao, via the Chinese Communist Party, ruled China as a totalitarian. Hinton thoroughly debunks this myth as he documents his first-hand experiences of the true democratic election process in Long Bow.

The writing style of Hinton's Fanshen is transcendental. It puts the reader into the mind, i.e. the political consciousness, of the cadres and peasants themselves. My political consciousness developed right along with theirs. Hinton's documentation of the self- and mutual criticism done during village meetings had me identifying with those being criticized. I found myself connecting with them, at times thinking that I would have done the same in those circumstances. Nothing is held back from the reader during these sessions; the selling of female children, the indifference to starvation during the famine years, the beatings, and the violent oppression. At times I rooted for the peasants as they beat a landlord to death during a Settling-of-Accounts, only to be corrected in this error of thinking by Mao's own words a few chapters later.

Fanshen ends by Hinton summing up the progress as of 1949:


Land reform, by creating basic equality among rural producers, only presented the producers with a choice of roads: private enterprise on the land leading to capitalism, or collective enterprise on the land leading to socialism...

Land reform had broken the patriarchal rigidity of the family by granting property rights to women. With property of their own they [are] able to struggle effectively for equal rights...

One had only to think of such problems as illiteracy, the almost complete absence of medical care, and the primitive methods of cultivation still in use, to realize what a long road lay ahead for the village and its people before they could claim full citizenship in the twentieth century.(3)


This is a fitting ending as it is also a new beginning. Once a people organize and gain a political consciousness they can then unite in struggle to break the chains of oppression and write their own future.

Fanshen is a work of literary genius. Hinton does not just write about events as a passive observer, he vicariously brings the reader into the time and space of rural China, circa 1948, to live them. By the time you finish reading Fanshen your own hystorical views and political consciousness will be impacted. Through the various movements, some correct and some incorrect, you will pick up on the subtleties of how and why communism can work, the mistakes that doom it, and the consciousness of the people needed to support it. I have been greatly moved by Hinton's work and feel the Western world owes Hinton a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice in documenting land reform in Long Bow Village and bringing us his first-hand account.


Notes:
1.p. vii
2. p. 98
3. p. 603

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Militarism] [Colorado]
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Building Unity Against Militarized Guards

Picture a 6-man goon squad, in full riot gear with a gun, a barrel of tear gas, and an electric riot shield. And now realize that this tactic is used on us prisoners any time we get out of line for any reason. This particular incident happened over a flooded cell, broken state TV, and covered window. Not only was a comrade gassed, the pigs shot him two times with 30mm rubber bullets at close range.

What we're seeing first hand is the militarization of prison guards, but it's also an attack upon our psyche. The gas, the riot gear, and the shock shield are all visual reminders of the pigs' control and what is supposed to result in our subservience. This action can take place at any time the pigs feel a threat to the order of the prison. What threats could we possibly cause behind a steel door in the presence of 6 fully armored and armed guards? When these situations happen the pigs turn off the vents so when they get gassed we taste it too.

I often spend long hours thinking about why such an awful use of force is ued for something so benign. In MIM Theory 5 it is said that one can't go on increasingly repressed by fascism forever. And while premature armed struggle is a hindrance, doing nothing at all is even more detrimental.

We spend more time fighting over small and insignificant bullshit, and we let the pigs take advantage of our disorganization. We fill our time checking our paperwork or fighting petty beefs, and the more we do this, the more important it becomes, until eventually it becomes a belief system that causes our own subservience. We need to look past what the DAs tell us and pay attention to what is happening right now.

There are many prisoners who love the United $tates, those who do not understand the evil it causes abroad, nor domestic slavery it's done here. For those who are struggling, keep engaged. It's our duty to fight injustice and racism, and unite. Unity is a deep concept. It's a constant struggle to help someone who's not from your own and it means reaching out being the first one to overlook what keeps us at one another and lets the pigs run all over our rights. If you're not doing something you're feeding the problem. Educate, teach, unite, fight back.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade underscores some important points that are part of the United Front for Peace in Prison. First there is the principle of Peace; we fight for peace while the prison guards stir up and perpetuate violence. "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

Second there is the principle of unity; we must build unity even when it means taking the first step to overlook differences. "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."

We call on all individuals and organizations to study the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles, join the UFPP, and build unity in your prison.

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[Organizing] [California]
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"Crash Dummies" Used to Foment Disunity

There are plenty of mentally challenged prisoners in this system who exhibit immature coping skills, poor impulse control, and difficulty in managing their behavior. Many of those who harbor personal biases and prejudices, but have a higher intellectual understanding, often will turn these unwitted souls into their own personal "crash dummies" to amuse themselves as well as do their dirty work. When I see or become aware of such abuses I typically will let my view about such be known, and sometimes it may help the situation. But when people are bored due to lack of reading material or other constructive activities, they tend to look for other ways to garner entertainment resulting in the fabrication of "crash dummies."

A "crash dummy" is a person who, as a result of their developmental impediments, tends to look to others to tell them what to do, and it never ceases to amaze me how easily cats who are craven will dupe a "crash dummy" into doing their dirty work for amusement or other nefarious purposes. Typically you will find that it is the gutless ones who will espouse to the high heavens that they are guileless and courageous. But when it comes to a chickenshit prison job that only provides an extra sack lunch, or the fear of losing visiting, canteen or other punk privileges, he will recruit a "crash dummy" to do his bidding.

I recently noted a sad example of this phenomenon, where the target of one character's biases and prejudices was a Cuban comrade who is of African ethnicity. He speaks fluent Spanish and has a knack for practicing his footwork with a soccer ball, and would typically play soccer with the B-Dog's when they opted to play a game. Well this one African son had a problem with that.

So this agent provocateur saw the Cuban addressing a matter to the pigs. This had nothing to do with a couple youngsters who thought the Cuban talked funny, because of his Spanish accent, but they said to the Cuban "take your ass into your cell" laughing and clowning as kids sometimes do. However the issue the Cuban was trying to address with the pigs was important to him and he said to the youngsters "mind your own business you black mutha-fuc's." This statement with a pronounced Spanish accent was what the agent provocateur was looking for, and he took those few words and twisted them into "disrespecting the Black race." The story kept getting blown out of proportion with each retelling. Well, with just a slight goading, all of a sudden the Cuban is deemed a pariah now by the petty tribalist who initially tried to convince another Cuban to act on such drivel, claiming that otherwise "we" will do it!

Sensible minds, your commentator's included, did verbally interject. However the monotony of the environment somehow won out and while it was believed that the matter was squashed, I later came to find out that the agent provocateur had somehow reignited the matter and this particular morning. While I was discussing some legal issues and procedures with a comrade the agitator all of a sudden came and sat at the table with a Cheshire cat's toothy smirk on his face saying "those two youngsters are going to get him watch" and lo and behold it went down close to the table where I, a comrade, and the provocateur had been seated.

The booth pig pointed the block gun in our general vicinity and the provocateur dove 15 feet away under a staircase against the wall displaying his cowardliness for all who had paid attention. The provocateur got the results he desired and has subsequently bragged to me that he has not had a CDC-115 disciplinary in years. He just gets a dimwit to do his dirty work for him.

I personally have spent too much time in segregation for being true to the way I was taught to jail decades ago, being a true stand-up resistor activist. Experience has consistently demonstrated that those quickest to suggest a violent solution will be the first to duck dodge run and hide leaving others to deal with their mess.

I simply hope that the youngsters are not permanently mentally challenged and that the penalties that they suffer are not criminal proceedings that add to their confinement, but instead simply a sad learning experience that will open their eyes to the actual motivations of some of those they mistakenly try to emulate and befriend. I am simply disappointed in myself and those who know better.

The cat that started the nonsense basically was not willing to do something to the Cuban, for he did not want to get in trouble himself. When I think about it, it's like he was leading fools from the rear in such a way that guaranteed his personal safety. In many cases in prison leadership is only a facade that is full of contradictions. One must recognize that those who claim to be leaders but will not get their hands dirty are simply manipulators.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This story about prisoners using others for petty attacks and retaliation is a good example of the importance of building true unity, across national lines, among prisoners. Our common enemy, the criminal injustice system, should be the focus of our energies. And for this purpose we call on all individuals and organizations to join with the United Front for Peace in Prisons, in particular promoting the UFPP principle of unity: "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 42]
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Building Unity Fighting National Divisions in Texas

On a daily basis, we here at the McConnell Unit experience backlash for any and every thing we do to stand up for ourselves. I have been at a receiving end for some time. I have now been confined as a "security threat group (STG) member or leader" and am constantly being watched by the pigs. I am a considered a confirmed gang member despite ten years without any major disciplinary cases, gang involvement/activity, or fights.

Now, because of that my mail has gone missing, and has been denied without my knowledge. The mailroom staff has to notify and give you a pink paper to let you know your mail was denied and for what reason. My family has received two of their letters returned to them as "denied" yet I have never been called to the mailroom as per policy to be advised that I am being denied a letter. Plus the last thing I received from MIM(prisons) was the three past issues of ULK. As you can see I am targeted. I am used to it.

I spoke with the Gang Investigator two weeks ago. I told him that I am not gang related, have never been, and his response was plainly "we can start the process to get you off file, but it will take a year." This is after I have already gone through the process twice in ten years.

I have been pushing hard on our section for unity and peace amongst Latinos and Afrikan Amerikans. There is a lot of racial hatred on this unit, and no one seems to want to get along. Since 2007 I have tried and tried to make peace between two races who are always at each others' throats. I put up articles from ULK on a common area bulletin board so all these brothers can open their eyes to what they are too blind to see. I speak individually to different people and tell them they have the power to change the minds of these new "inmates" coming in and teach them that they are not inmates, they are human beings! Furthermore color is not a factor. All the pigs see is white uniform. All we see is skin color. And that is wrong, brothers.

We need to realize that together as one solid voice we can move mountains. We can be heard! We can achieve. Stop looking at each other with malice and hate. The pigs will take all your property, destroy your pictures, confiscate your commissary, and lock you up under false pretenses, yet some will overlook that only to fight the next brother because he owes a soup (25 cents) or changed the TV channel. Open your eyes! All of us!

We recently came off of a 30-day semi-annual lockdown. B-side on the unit is all lifers and medium custody prisoners. We had not been to store a week before lockdown, and after lockdown (on the 16th of July) we still have not been to commissary. Today is the 26th. So that's 47 days more or less. On the 21st we staged a sit in. We agreed that we in solidarity would go to lunch and all of us would sit down in the hallway until the majors and wardens came to speak to us. Fifty of us inside and out of the chowhalls, all in unity, sat down requesting the wardens to come speak. Sure enough all the lieutenants, captains, majors and wardens came to speak to us.

I told them (at all times) that it was a peaceful demonstration about our mistreatment on many issues but also concerning commissary being denied to B-Side while A side had gone twice to commissary and were fixing to go for a third time. Despite cameras to record us "initiating riots," and threats about being locked up and given disciplinary cases, we stood our ground. (Although some ran away at the first sign of the wardens coming and some did not actually attend the sit-in.)

The main warden speaking told us he would work on getting us commissary. He gave us his word and we in unity and unison got up and went back to our building. Our commissary schedule was dated as us not going to store until the 29th. But thanks to our actions we started going sooner, on the 24th.

We have 3 pods on our building and when we told the other 2 pods to help us they refused. We did it alone. Yet thanks to us they are going to store. Ironic that they believed our actions would be in vain yet enjoy the victory we achieved.

Basically we need to stand together. Not in violence. That only gives them the excuse that we belong in prison. Instead we all need to unite in solidarity. I would rather fight 5 years to live my next 15 peacefully and not mistreated rather than live all 20 under mistreatment and torture! And to all the brothers in here that sit back and take it: Why talk about war stories of you being this big bad "gangsta" out there who takes nothing from no one and give a story of "don't disrespect me" only to sit back and be compliant with the pigs?

Recently a Federal lawsuit against Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was filed regarding the inhumane heat in the prisons. TDCJ responded that it's not an issue because they employ huge fans, air blowers and cold water as preventive measures to ensure safety. What they didn't state was that only one of those fans works in every section (one sits idle) and the air blowers do not work either. And cold water is hard to get because the pigs don't let us fill the coolers up until they feel like it. So that excuse isn't even true! Open your eyes brothers in Texas. Enough is enough! The fight continues. Don't give up or give in. Never let race be a factor! Power to all people!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's call for unity across all groups of prisoners so that we can join together in the fight against the criminal injustice system.

Rather than define people by "race" however, we talk about nations. Racism is the idea that there are different biological differences between people. The anti-racists still claim people are separated into different "races" even though they acknowledge that there is no biological or material basis to this claim. The concept of racial differences between people is a product of national oppression that was invented as an ideological justification for colonialism and slavery of the "lesser" races.

We recognize that there are distinct nations within U.$. borders with common language, culture, economics and geography, which face subjugation as a group. So there are different groups within U.$. borders, but we advance beyond the anti-racists by defining those groups materially. The oppressed nations within U.$. borders include at least the [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations. Rather than trying to integrate these peoples into the oppressor Amerikan nation, like the anti-racists are doing, we work to liberate them from imperialism to take control of their own national territories and form their own independent states, free from imperialism and oppression.

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[Organizing] [Ironwood State Prison] [California]
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Pigs Endanger Safety and Security of Institution, Put Lives of Prisoners at Risk

"Everyone should know by now that prison is politics, it is part of the imperialistic policy of exploitation, oppression and domination over the internal colonies." From "Who are the Political Prisoners?," MIM Theory 11: Amerikkan Prisons On Trial

The pigs at Ironwood State Prison are at it again. Bored with the apparent lack of excitement and disturbances at this relatively peaceful and quiet yard, they have decided to manufacture their own entertainment to the detriment of the imprisoned. Within the span of two short days the pigs here have decided to raid people's houses without any kind of factual proof but only unfounded allegations from "anonymous" sources and supposed "snitches." To understand the actions of the past week however I must first recount the actions of a couple months ago.

It all began when pigs from Ironwood's Special Investigative Unit raided the cell of a born-again Christian in the early hours before breakfast because they'd supposedly received an anonymous kite stating that the Christian was going to stab a Corrections Officer. The Christian was taken to the hole pending investigation and everyone here was left somewhat surprised at this news, as everyone who knew this guy knew that he'd long since left the lumpen lifestyle behind and was only concerned with helping people out. Anyways, after finally getting out of the hole because the investigation turned up nothing, he confided in a couple people that on the day he went to the hole the pigs showed him a picture of another prisoner and asked him if he knew who this persyn was. He lied and told them he didn't, to which they responded, "that's the person who told on you."

Fast-forward to last week when two pigs unexpectedly ran to a cell and ordered the two cellmates to step out. When they asked the pigs what for, they were told not to worry about it and just step out. When the prisoners refused, the pigs immediately pulled out their batons and ordered them a third time to step out. Feeling threatened the prisoners complied. Once in restraints and out of their cell the prisoners were taken to the pigs' local command post on the yard, A-Facility program office. Once there the prisoners were stripped naked and put into holding cages where they were accused of making wine and subsequently treated to verbal assaults. Both prisoners denied the allegations, which proved to be false as the pigs searched and tossed up their cell and found nothing.

As a result the pigs had no choice but to let them go, but not before showing them the pictures of a couple other prisoners. The pigs then asked them if they knew who those two people were, and they said they didn't and were then cut loose. However, after returning to their building they started telling everyone what had happened and that the two prisoners who were in their building had snitched. Tension began to rise and it looked as if people were beginning to take sides preparing for the worst. In the end however, cooler heads prevailed and crisis was averted between the New Afrikan and [email protected] population, as these were the two nations being pitted against each other by the pigs' actions. And even though I started out this story by saying that this is something of a peaceful yard, at the end of the day it's still a prison and things happen.

The very next day almost the same scenario played out when ten or fifteen pigs rushed another person's cell and forced him out the same way they done to those other prisoners the night before. Again, just as the previous night the pigs said they were looking for wine, and just like the night before they found nothing. As the pigs were exiting this person's cell however they told him to thank the prisoners who'd gotten their cell searched the night before for their visit, thereby implying that those prisoners were somehow responsible.

These events from last week caused me to think deeper about the pigs' actions, as well as the prisoners' response to them and I'd like to discuss it here. Now, before jumping to conclusions because you took a pig at his/her word like most who are confronted with this scenario often do, why don't we first stop and actually think about what's really going on? The real issue in the examples given above aren't about who supposedly snitched on who, but about the motivation that the pigs have in exposing their supposed informants to us. Let us hypothesize that in all the examples given above the pigs were actually telling the truth and the people identified by them in their pictures were really snitching, what then? Should we handle our business in keeping with prison etiquette or do we conduct our own investigation in an effort to get to the truth?

Instead of just smashing on the alleged rat because a pig told us to, why not at least confront this person with the information given to us by the pigs and ask him if it's true before smutting him up? As a matter of fact, since when is a pig's word even worth anything?

You can even go further than this and tell this person exactly what the pigs told you and if he denies it then we can offer to file some kind of paperwork together against that very same pig. Whether it be thru your local grievance procedure or thru the courts, put it on paper and put the pigs on blast. This way there will be documentation which shows how these pigs are putting the lives of prisoners at risk; either because you mistakenly assaulted another prisoner due to a pig manipulating you or because the person in question was really a snitch - it doesn't matter!

Stop blindly taking the pigs at their word and doing their bidding, otherwise you're just a sucker who'll believe anything, as well as a tool of the establishment. We should strive to create unity out of the pigs' attempts to divide us. Turn their divide-and-conquer tactics against them and UNITE! These actions on our part could potentially have a two-fold outcome beneficial to us. First, if the pigs see that we're no longer biting into their little games they might stop baiting us, and secondly, if the rats know the pigs are giving them up and you're gonna confront them then they might think twice about telling, thereby reducing any additional oppression of all prisoners concerned. This way bad things can be turned into good.

I know that many reading this are probably laughing and thinking it's a joke, and yes to a certain degree what I'm proposing is somewhat ideal, but the harm we keep inflicting on each other is not. The possibility of creating a United Front becomes less viable without finding ways to settle contradictions amongst ourselves without resorting to violence, and we must begin somewhere.

As such, within the prison realm there are generally two different types of social contradictions: those between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves. The two are totally different in nature, and since they are different in nature the contradictions between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves should be resolved thru different methods. In order to resolve the very many contradictions that inevitably arise among ourselves we should look to the methods of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not the methods of coercion or repression, i.e. violence. This way we can arrive at a new unity with these unstable prison elements on a new basis and against the real enemy.

Now, for those of you still reading this and still wondering if the people pointed out by the pigs were really snitches, that I don't know. What I do know however is that one of the supposed "rats" is constantly pushing paperwork against the pigs on a variety of issues which concern the prisoner population. While one of the other prisoners involved recently go this life sentence commuted to a lesser term after serving almost twenty years; the pigs knew this and didn't like it.

These pigs don't care about us and it doesn't matter to them what inmates are "snitches" and what inmates are "solid". To them we're all just prisoners and the same. Perhaps we should take that as a lesson and start looking at each other as one.

To all those people who are really snitching, start showing some self-respect and stop harming the people you should be working with to unite against the pigs. If you can't stop telling them, at least tell on a pig and not another prisoner. For everyone else, stop being a pawn to these pigs and at least conduct your own investigation before erroneously labeling someone a snitch, smutting him up and getting him or yourself hurt. You never know, next time the pigs might flash your picture to someone and call YOU the snitch.

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[Organizing] [Gang Validation] [ULK Issue 41]
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MIM Prison Activism Labeled "Contamination"

I recently came across something that may be of interest to you. I was doing some research into this reactionary pro-prison propagandist organization known as the National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC). It's run by an adamant apologist for this pernicious system named Dr. George W. Knox. Dr. Knox and the swine that work for NGCRC routinely conduct surveys for the gulag system to help them identify and neutralize any potential "threats." I was able to get my hands on one of these surveys and preliminary finding reports that was conducted within 148 gulags in the U$A, representing 48 states, and nearly 150,000 prisoners. Now, the part of the survey that I thought may be of some interest to MIM(Prisons) is the following:


Low Level of Contamination from the MIM

Some types of political extremist groups try to recruit inmates and prisoners in America, they can do this through the U.S. Postal Service. These groups often have sophisticated websites as well. The Maoist International Movement (MIM) exists to spread communist ideology among inmates incarcerated in American jails and prisons. It seeks to radicalize prison inmates and give them a platform for organizing resistance against the American government. If your inmates are corresponding with MIM, you might have a problem brewing.

The survey included the question "have any of the inmates in your facility corresponded with the Maoist International Movement (MIM)"? Only 4.6 percent of the respondents indicated that their inmates have been in contact with MIM. Thus, it would appear that MIM is not effectively reaching out to the vast majority of American inmates. Not yet at least. Alternatively, maybe such contact with MIM is going under the radar of prison and jail officials.



MIM(Prisons) responds: This report on "Gangs and Security Threat Groups" does not include mention of any other communist groups, so we could see our inclusion as an indication of MIM(Prisons)'s success in reaching oppressed nation activists and the correctness of our political line in threatening imperialism and Amerikkkan rule. Communism is our goal: a society where no group has power over another group. This threatens the imperialist criminal injustice system for sure. In reality, as the study admits, they cannot really judge our reach based on survey of prison administrators alone. We would love to reach the vast majority of prisoners, but in practice we are focused on those who are interested in anti-imperialist politics and/or open-minded and looking to learn. Nonetheless, we take this as a call to action for Under Lock & Key readers: we need to increase the percentage of people in contact with MIM(Prisons)!

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[Organizing] [Theory] [MIM(Prisons)] [ULK Issue 39]
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MIM(Prisons) July 2014 Congress Report

MIM Logo Burn Flag

MIM(Prisons) conducted our annual congress in July to sum up our work for the year, learn from our mistakes and build on our successes. We affirmed our strategic direction and came away with some shifts in our tactical work based on experiences over the past year and proposals from our comrades. This report sums up the decisions of interest that can be shared publicly.

Under Lock & Key (ULK) is our primary educational and organizing tool, and the main way that we retain contact with our readers behind bars. We will continue to lead theoretically through this publication with expanded analysis of economic issues and international content. This is important because we understand the value of prison-based reporting and organizing information, but must not lose sight of our role as a Maoist organization. Keeping the internationalist orientation of our work, and providing analysis based in communist theory, is critical to the goal of MIM(Prisons). We are working to develop more writers behind bars who can also contribute at this level, and we still value our field correspondents who report on what's going on in their prison or state.

In our focus to lead theoretically we have set a goal of finishing the upcoming book on the [email protected] nation by the end of this year. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztl├ín is a collaborative writing effort representing several emerging Maoist voices in the [email protected] movement. There is a need for Maoist literature and leadership in the hotly contested struggle of [email protected] and migrants against Amerikan repression, especially in the new context of multiculturalism and widespread wealth throughout the United $tates. We aim to get the ball rolling on that contemporary theory development with the release of this book. Prisoners interested in receiving a copy should write now to request one.

Because we are a prison-focused cell, anti-censorship is a very important battle for MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). Censorship is a primary and effective tool used by the criminal injustice system to cut prisoners off from the broader anti-imperialist struggle, and it is implemented illegally and arbitrarily against our literature. Censorship can stop folks from receiving important educational materials and in the extreme case it completely shuts down our communication in states where all of our mail is stopped.

Last congress we decided to target certain states for anti-censorship campaigning, and we had success with this tactic, especially in North Carolina, California and Missouri. In the censorship chart you can see what states had victories, bans in particular facilities, and overall statewide bans. The chart may appear misleading in that a ban might only directly impact a handful of subscribers. But still, even those few subscribers could multiply into a movement if given half a chance. On the flip side, there may be no censorship reported in a state that actually does have censorship or a ban; we just don't know about it yet. Facilities where our mail was banned over the past year were Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton, FCI Talladega, U.S. Penitentiary Atwater, Rutledge State Prison in Georgia, Sheridan Correctional Center in Illinois, Ely State Prison in Nevada, Riverview Correctional Facility in New York, State Correctional Institution (SCI) Fayette and SCI Waymart in Pennsylvania, and Central Utah Correctional Facility. This is SCI Waymart's second year banning MIM material, and Central Utah Correctional Facility's third!

2014 Censor Chart Full

This year we made a number of commitments around censorship battles that should improve our ability to respond quickly and resolve them from the outside. We do not have the resources to fight every censorship incident, so we prioritize assisting subscribers who are also engaging in this battle from behind bars. You can request our guide to fighting censorship if you don't have it already. The basic advice is to appeal all censorship, and appeal it to the highest level. Send us copies of censorship notifications and inform us when any mail we've sent has been rejected. Censorship battles are sometimes won on just the first appeal, but others require much paperwork and persistence. Also tell us all the mail you receive from us, whether it was censored initially or not.

We decided to push our anti-censorship work in support of the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP), based out of Pelican Bay State Prison in California. This mentorship program is committed to providing one-on-one guidance to people on the outside who are interested in New Afrikan liberation and fighting injustice. A comrade in MIM(Prisons) attempted to participate in this program hself, but h participation was squashed at the outset. Pelican Bay officials claim the WLNMP is a Security Threat Group, related to the Black Guerilla Family. Since we're prevented from participating in the mentorship program directly, we've decided to instead help fight censorship of the program. We will continue reporting on the development of this program in ULK and on our website.

United Struggle from Within (USW) is the MIM(Prisons)-led organization for prisoners. This is the group through which we build campaigns and educational programs behind bars. California and Texas are usually heavily represented in USW membership, and this year we had an influx in the Southeast and Midwest United $tates. In the coming year we will expand our focus on states where we have active comrades, and help those comrades build new campaigns relevant to their local conditions. In practice this means that we have identified the most active states and will be focusing our work there to bring together individuals from different prisons with the goal of building unified campaigns and a broader state-wide movement.

In addition to our focus on more active states, MIM(Prisons) is working to improve the ways we engage people to make sure no lone comrades fall through the cracks due to censorship or just from being locked up in a relatively inactive state. We are going to pay special attention to those who stay in touch and do work.

Alongside our commitment to develop prisoner leaders and activists, we recognize the need to continue supporting our comrades once they are released from prison. The MIM(Prisons) Re-Lease on Life program will be focused on this year, in an effort to address some issues our released comrades have struggled with. In the coming year we are going to research the possibility of setting up a more intensive release program. This is something that will take significant time and resources, and we will only be able to offer it to those committed to a life of political activism. As we develop the program we will reach out to eligible individuals to work out a release plan. In the meantime, make sure we know when you have a release date coming up in the next few years so we can start planning now.

We considered a proposal from a USW comrade to use prisoner-created revolutionary art for fundraising, and to spread revolutionary culture in prisons and on the street. We are going to take up parts of the proposal that are within our means at this time. In the coming months we are going to initiate a project to create revolutionary greeting cards for sale on the streets and for use behind bars. The proceeds of this project will be used to fund the creation of a revolutionary prisoner art zine, which we will distribute on the streets. Any profits from that zine will be used to fund a culture project to be selected by the contributing prisoner artists. Anyone can donate art to this project by sending in your submissions to the address on page 1! Even if you aren't an artist yourself, you can help spread and build this cultural project in your facility. Write in for more information.

We are pleased to report that our work has expanded in many ways over the last year, and we expect additional expansion based on the plans and resources we have in place for the coming year. In solidarity with all genuine anti-imperialist forces world-wide, we continue moving forward!

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [United Front] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Segregation is Torture, Unite to Fight Common Enemies

I've been relocated to Ad-Seg which is, of course, the hole. Life in here is as bad as it's ever been. It's been a while since last I was in Ad-Seg and the sad reality is that not too much has changed. A lot has gotten worse. We're kept in our cells for twenty four hours a day. We're given "yard," that is in 10 feet by 10 feet cages which are known as dog kennels, every third day for two hours. It fluctuates but that's pretty much the program. We're given showers every third day as well.

The worst part about being locked in confinement is the overwhelming oppression. The lack of sunlight and movement really does a number on one's mental state. Which is why they monitor us so closely here. We're counted every half hour and they have a crew of psych doctors constantly making circuits around the tiers. From what I understand the suicide rate is pretty high here. So they keep a close eye on us. I've been locked up back here since early May and I'll be here until later this month (June) or early next month. The sad part is that even though I'll be getting out there are a lot of brothers back here who won't be getting released for a long time. A lot of them are youngsters too.

It makes me feel so bad seeing all of these good young brothers in here sacrificing themselves for no reason. The LO violence here at Calipatria is back in full swing. There was a riot recently between the Mexican/Chicanos and the Blacks. The foolishness here in Cali continues. It's time we wake up and get our shit together and stop fighting against each other and start working with each other. Only then can we make progress. The sad truth in Cali is that racial divisions are deeply embedded in us. It's been this way since the eighties and who knows when we'll overcome it. But overcome it we must. So I call on all those LOs with any influence to reexamine the big picture. We are all in the same boat and it's in all our best interest to unite. As the saying goes united we stand divided we fall.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade reminds us why we have a campaign to shut down prison control units. Short term isolation is enough to dramatically harm people's mental and physical health, and in the United $tates prison system many prisoners are locked up for years in isolation units like this prisoner's describes. The call for unity is well placed as we agree with this comrade that oppressed groups coming together is the best chance to fight against the oppressor. This principle of unity is particularly important to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We encourage all our readers to organize for unity and peace for the September 9 solidarity demonstration this year, when our peaceful unity and protest can be a starting point for future united actions and peace agreements among organizations and individuals.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
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From Unity to Collective Liberation; Learning to Unite Against Gender Oppression

Just recently I finished studying a book from PM Press by Chris Crass titled Towards Collective Liberation. This was one of the best political/activist books I've read, and it has been vital in helping me clarify my political vision and goal for creating liberating and transformative change within myself and the world.

I was not aware how this system of divide-and-control creates and utilizes divisions along the lines of gender (sexism), sexuality (homophobia), ability (elder discrimination), and nationality (anti-immigrant rights) to maintain its ruling-class dominance. This lack of awareness of these systems of oppression along the lines of gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality caused me to be completely numb to and disinterested in any struggles for justice and equality as it relates to gender equality and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, elder rights, and immigrant rights.

Prior to reading Toward Collective Liberation, I would not have come close to embracing any struggles remotely dealing with feminism or LGBT rights, partly out of fear of being viewed by my heterosexual male peers as weak, feminine, or even gay. I now see how such a concern is in and of itself sexist and homophobic in nature and is indicative of my own internalized values of sexist/heterosexist male superiority. All women and LGBT people are human beings deserving of our respect and collective support as they too struggle for equality, basic human rights, and the right to live their lives freely, without hindrance, slander, ridicule or discrimination.

Having been in prison for 20 consecutive years, I bear witness on a daily basis to how these same divide-and-rule tactics manifest themselves even behind these prison walls. The penal system uses behavior modification and psychology against us, especially those politically active prisoners engaged in a protracted struggle against all forms of oppression. Such psychological tactics are inflaming/instigating hatred and violence amongst the different "races"; the use of prisoners who covertly collaborate with the penal administration; treating prisoners who are willing to collaborate with the penal administration in far more lenient/favorable ways than those who are not; using collaborating/informing prisoners to spread rumors detrimental to the character and reputation of natural leaders so they will not be trusted; and most noticeably, the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) as tools of repression to isolate all prisoners deemed to be influential.

Of course, there are many divisions amongst prisoners that can clearly be seen in these modern-day gulags:

  1. Division between much older and experienced captives who view younger, less experienced prisoners as reckless, lacking a "code" of ethics, and not willing to listen to instruction; and the younger, less experienced prisoners who view the older captives as washed up, institutionalized, and behind in the times
  2. Division between those who classify themselves as gay/bi-sexual who are resentful towards those classified as heterosexual who openly alienate them; and those classified as heterosexual who look down upon prisoners classified as gay/bi-sexual with disgust and hostility
  3. Divisions between those who are part of religious/cultural organizations such as Christians, Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Gods and Earths, Atheists, etc.
  4. Divisions between nationalities and even within nationalities
  5. Division between lumpen street organizations who are convinced that it is more "gangsta" to fight each other rather than fight for change in the circumstance or environment, against oppression and exploitation, inhumane living conditions, extortion, substandard food, etc.

And many more.

The "Agreement to End Hostilities" initiated by those courageous brothers of the Pelican Bay State Prison - SHU Short Corridor Collective and the "United Front for Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles" developed by MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, and other types of progressive collective moves taking place in various prisons across this Empire, are just glimpses of the type of unity and leverage we can achieve with a multi-national, inter-organizational, cross-gender alliance if we develop a multi-dimentional analysis of how the penal administration utilizes our differences to keep us divided and at each others' throats instead of working together for our own common good.

What the penal authorities hate most is that after decades of oppressive and inhumane living conditions, the arbitrary use of SHUs, AdSeg, and this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality, the progressive, revolutionary elements within the various penal colonies will always raise their head. They see within the progressive, revolutionary elements that which will expose and defeat them: the commitment, determination and resolve to oppose and ultimately abolish the criminal injustice system.

At the same time, they can see and feel their own powerlessness, for their power ends at the point when we all come together to lift our heads, take the reigns of our lives into our own hands, throw off the old guard, and collectively struggle to provide new guards for our future security.

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[Organizing] [Boycott] [Civil Liberties] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 39]
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Virginia Prisoner Punished for Organizing

I am in receipt of your introductory letter to the Prisoners' Legal Clinic and a copy of my edited article that's published on your website. Since the publication of the article, the prisoner who had previously been denied schooling is now enrolled. Your efforts and exposure had a positive impact!

Unfortunately, the other materials you have sent, Under Lock & Key, the study group materials, etc., continue to be censored. I'm awaiting the final decision of the Publication Review Committee, so I may send you their notice should you choose to file a lawsuit challenging the censorship.

With the appeal of my conviction for Encouraging a Group Demonstration being decided against me, I am not permitted a prison job. While I did not expect a favorable decision, I was stunned that the final arbiter explicitly admitted that I am punished, "Not for what you did, but for why you did it."

Of course the U.$. Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and speech. And the United Snakes Supreme Clout whose "justices" are the final interpreters of the constitution of the United Snakes have repeatedly ruled "[N]o citizen may be punished for his beliefs but only for his actions."

My point is, I was "convicted" inside the gulag for "encouraging prisoners to refrain from commissary purchases." This action is not a violation of the rules because no prisoner is required to purchase commissary. So the reasons that I encouraged prisoners not to purchase commissary - or my beliefs - are supposed to be immune from punishment. Yet the Virginia Department of Corruptions explicitly stated I was punished not for what I did but for why I did it.

I'm having the decision of the Virginia Department of Corruptions reviewed by some associates for consideration of filing a lawsuit. But to be frank, it has been my experience that for a prisoner in the gulag, the Constitution of the United States is most useful only when my roll of toilet paper is empty.

A paper document has no power. Ask the crime victims who've been beaten by the perpetrators who stepped across the boundaries of the "protective orders." Ask the black and brown people of the south who were beaten for voting even when a piece of paper stated this harassment was unlawful. The Constitution of the United Snakes says we have protected liberties, but the festered minds of the so-called "justices" are filled with pus, and they repeatedly ooze phrases telling us prisoners that the Constitution really does not say what is written therein. These pus-filled minds are fond of saying, in the prison context these god-given rights for humanity are subjugated to the objectives of the go-vermine-ment.

Think about that, my friends. Supposedly, the Constitution of the United States grants the God-given liberties that are basic and essential to human life, but those liberties are permitted in prison only as long as they are not contrary to a legitimate government objective. (read Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989)). By implication, this means the government has objectives that are contrary to what is basic and essential to human life.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner's report comes in as we are building for the September 9 Solidarity Demonstration this year. This day of peaceful unity and protest, commemorating the date of the Attica uprising has resulted in punishment of participants in past years. We cannot let them frighten us into inaction, but organizers need to take account of local conditions when deciding what actions to take on September 9. Prisoners can write to us for the September 9 organizing materials, which includes some background on the Attica uprising.

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