Comrades, there has been a collusive and concerted effort by the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice (TDCJ) to silence and censor the voices of politically active prisoners housed in many of their III units. United Strugle from Within (USW) has initiated a campaign to combat the oppressive indigent mail policy enacted October 1, 2013 which decreased the allotted amount of personal letters indigent Texas prisoners are able to mail out. Prisoners went from 5 per week to 5 per month! The prisoners who are effected the most by this new TDCJ policy are held captive in Texas' many control and isolation units. Just the very nature of their confinement makes these prisoners more vulnerable to abuse and attacks by sadistic correctional officers.
TDCJ has institutionalized a policy and practice of downplaying, minimizing, and covering up incidents and reports of serious abuse and violence aimed at prisoners. Their motive has always been to misinform the public as to the true nature of the largest state prison system in Amerika. However, limiting prisoners access to the media, clergy, and loved ones wasn't enough. Recently, on the Wynne Unit located in in Huntsville, Texas, prison administrators decided to discontinue the contract with the satellite radio company that was providing Wynne's 2,200 prisoners access to KPFT Radio 90.1 FM Houston. KPFT is a member of the Pacifica Network and on top of providing a diverse and well rounded schedule of politically conscious and highly educational programming, KPFT broadcasts The Prison Show! - every Friday between the hours of 9pm and 11pm. Huntsville, Texas is the home of Amerika's largest prison population and it fit well with TDCJ's strategy to cut prisoners completely off from one of the most prisoner friendly radio stations in the country!
As a result of deteriorating prison conditions, retaliation, and abuse, many Ad-Seg prisoners on Wynne Unit and surrounding units in Huntsville, including the infamous Estelle High Security Unit, reached out to Mr. Ray Hill the founder of KPFT's Prison Show. Mr. Hill has a reputation of being an outspoken critic of Texas' draconian prison system. In response to their peaceful and legal activism, the Assistant Warden in charge of Wynne's Ad-Seg unit forced his officers to write over 70 bogus and fabricated disciplinary cases against Ad-Seg prisoners housed on Wynne Unit. Assistant Warden Kevin F. Mayfield has established a pattern of this type of unethical behavior.
Prisoners responded by contacting Carole Seligman who is one of the editors of Socialist Viewpoint Magazine, Noelle Hanrahan the director of PrisonRadio.org, and Michael Novick of Turning The Tide newspaper. Weeks passed by and many of us were discouraged; being isolated and cut off from the public has a debilitating effect on a humyn being, and TDCJ exploits this dynamic to the fullest in order to break the revolutionary spirit of the most advanced and active comrades. In an unforeseen turn of events, we received word that comrades who are members of the Roots Action website, which has over 400,000 members, sent out 20,000 emails to Texas State authorities in order to spotlight abuses and mistreatment of prisoners on Wynne Unit and beyond!!!
A managing editor for a very reputable socialist journal contacted us and stated, "There can be follow-ups to this (email direct action) at various stages. Beyond a certain point, the atrocities may begin to trigger an unwanted level of public attention, which should begin to curb the worst of them, if we can keep the pressure on."
Comrades, we may have not yet reached the level of solidarity and commitment as our California counterparts (I am still highly impressed with 33,000 prisoners from all oppressed nation groups and lumpen organizations sending an emphatic message to the prisoncrats and oppressors of CDCR). Never the less, USW is slowly making proactive and positive strides in order to organize, educate, and motivate the lumpen trapped inside Texas' gulags. Once again, I exhort you to join USW, contact MIM(Prisons), and involve yourself with the most dynamic Maoist organization in the United $tates. I also encourage comrades to expand their horizons and attempt to correspond with free world comrades who support and add strength to our voice. We must continue to battle censorship in Texas. Our revolutionary thoughts and voices are dangerous to the oppressors.
I just read this article from a Nebraska 'rad about a failed protest (in Under Lock & Key). It seems I'm not the only one dealing with embarrassments in resistance.
I'm at the largest joint in Oregon and have been in isolation for about 14 months. I've been a very reluctant participant in mess after mess of similar - if much weaker - attempts at goal driven resistance. I say "goal-driven", not "goal oriented" lest it give someone the impression that the kids here have some semblance of organization or some understanding of strategy and method. They don't. Further, I say "reluctant participant" because even though I realize the unquestionable futility of the motions carried out around here, I'll never be "that dude" who stood idle during any attempt at resistance to the swine.
The Nebraskan bloke mentioned the complaints the prisoners have against the swine, but didn't get much into the root of the disfunction of the prisoners during their upheaval. I'll assume that the problems in Nebraska are at least somewhat similar to Oregon's. Whether I'm right or not, I'll still say what I have to say for others looking at the same problems.
The fact of the matter is that we all face the same situation. We're oppressed on some level and want to relieve ourselves of that weight. Our ultimate goal and desire is to destroy our adversaries completely. This is all obvious. Each person's - or group's - particular complaints and level of victimization is largely irrelevant except for how it may affect the functionality of the revolt. In other words, the food quality and such, really shouldn't be occupying much space in one's mind or discussions when it comes to applying ourselves to revolt. It's universally understood that we're fed garbage and people seem to get hung up on these benign little details.
The goal is successful revolt. The problem is lack of proper organization. Here in Oregon we have too many gangs, none of which have been developed along a framework of functional organization. Not only does each gang act autonomously from the whole, but each individual acts autonomously from his own gang.
On the sporadic occasions that they all do decide on some undertaking together, there is never any defined, agreed-upon leadership. The usual formula is, 3 or 4 of the loudest gang members on a unit cook up some scheme to rail against the swine, then talk everyone else into jumping on board. The scheme is always something like "we're gonna refuse to do this or that until they give us this or that." And that's about as much planning and thought that goes into it. It may last a few days till people start dropping off, and a few more until it's abandoned completely.
Aside form lack of education in strategy and tactics, and aside from lack of education in proper modes of organization and the egotism that keeps us from filling certain necessary roles within the structure of organization, the big problem here is expecting some simple "cause and effect" in these fiascos. The idea that the swine will react how we wish or expect is absurd. The fact is, they have loads and loads of training, protocol and on-call specialists to deal with any situation we might launch against them.
Here we're never going in with anything close to a realistic understanding of the situation. We wage half-baked, disorganized, small-scope battles against an enemy that we're not taking fully into account. What we need to be doing is organizing a large-scale protracted war with the realization that we are facing a ridiculously superior adversary.
If we're still griping about food, TVs, phones and other luxuries, I dare say we have a very long way to go before we'll be of the right mentality to launch any kind of successful campaign. In fact, I'd say that if you're a revolutionary existing in the eye of the imperialist storm you really have no business looking at the fucking TV anyways.
In my situation, I've been struggling to come up with an organizational model that can transcend the divisiveness created by all the gangs to create one functional body of resistance. Once I've got everything put together, from the structure of board and body of the groups, down to individual roles and a clear and educated model of functionality complete with protocol for deciding direction and strategy, then I, along with a few of my cohorts here, will set out to put it into place. Once our machine is fully functional and each gear is spinning in unison with the others, only then will I be willing to make any sudden movements against my adversary.
As I said, if your mind is still on things like food, phones, programs, yard and so on, then I would suspect you haven't given yourself up to revolution as much as is necessary to achieve it. Maybe a lot of us don't have the fortitude of mind to reach the level of dedication that some of us have, but if you call yourself a revolutionary, it's not optional - you must sacrifice any desire for luxury for the sake of progress. Food only matters in so far as whether or not it keeps you alive and functional. Programs only matter in as much as the opportunities it affords you to communicate with each other to familiarize yourself with your environment.
I would strongly suggest that anyone who's interested in truly shedding the weight of these forces that are crushing you to stop focusing on those lame inconveniences and start studying more practical concepts. And until you have a full grasp of what your looking at, and until you have a full grasp of what needs to be done to destroy it, and until you have what you need in place, keep your head low, keep your mouth shut, keep your face in the books, and good luck!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is relatively new to working with MIM(Prisons), a fact that we mention because we have a lot of unity and we hope that s/he, like many others behind bars, will come to look on United Struggle from Within as the structure that fits with what's needed to elevate our strategy and tactics in the prisons. The organizational model that this prisoner discusses, to elevate above divisiveness, is exactly what we too are striving to build, and is one of the main goals of the USW-initiated United Front for Peace in Prisons. We look forward to building with this comrade, through the pages of Under Lock & Key and other independent institutions. Our Free Books to Prisoners Program offers study packs on strategy, as well as organizational structures, and many other important topics. Comrades who are interested in this type of study should join a MIM(Prisons)-led study group today.
As of 27 December 2013 we have received reader surveys back from 7.6% of our subscribers over the last 11 months. We began running the survey in Under Lock & Key requesting some basic persynal information and feedback on the content of ULK. Our goal was to assess who is reading ULK and what we can do to improve the content. The survey respondents overall represent a distribution of prisoners in line with the general prison population, with a few exceptions consistent with the focus of our work. In particular, we have significant over-representation from Texas, California and Pennsylvania among our readers. This means prisoners in those states are getting more input into the content of ULK. While we are no longer collecting survey responses, we welcome readers to send us your feedback on what you like and what you think could be improved as we are constantly looking to improve ULK.
Assuming that respondants to our reader survey represent the general readership of ULK, we evaluated the information on their demographics to see how this compares to the prison population overall in the United $tates. Below we discuss some differences between ULK readers and the general prison population.
Our average surveyed age is 40, but in 2011 only 40% of the prison population was over 40. This is not a surprising fact: people who are older and more educated behind the bars are turning to revolutionary politics. We could conclude that a longer time in prison leads people to become more politically advanced.
Relative to the U.$. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on "race" of prisoners, our survey respondents include a slight over-representation of New Afrikans and a significant underrepresentation of Latinos (16% compared to a 23% "Hispanic" population in 2011 overall). We are not surprised to have an undercount of Spanish-speaking folks responding to an english language survey, especially as Spanish-only migrants have been the fastest growing segment of the U.$. prison population in recent years. In addition, there was a significant percentage (8.3%) of people who identify as indigenous in our survey (including those who identified as half indigenous and half white). The BJS does not collect statistics on First Nations, so we must assume they are included in the remaining 5% that they do not class as Black, white or Hispanic. This indicates 8.3% is a relatively high percentage compared to the general prison population. As an organization fighting for the national liberation of oppressed nations, both internationally and within U.$. borders, we are not surprised that our readership in prison is even more skewed away from whites than the general prison population which is already only 34% white.
The latest study we found (2006) reports that 52% of prisoners are re-incarcerated. 61% of our respondents were incarcerated at least once before. This may be because those with a prison record get longer sentences and so are more likely to come into contact with ULK. They are also more likely to be older and active in prison, if our theory about age of prisoners is correct.
A very high percent (48%) of survey respondents are locked up in some form of solitary confinement (RHU, SHU, Control Units, Administrative Segregation, etc.). This is consistent with our experience that politically aware and active prisoners are targeted for isolation as punishment for their activism, and to try to isolate them from other prisoners to reduce their influence. Our research on control units indicates that less than 5% of prisoners are in long-term isolation in the United $tates.
In response to our question about what people like best about ULK, the most popular response (22%) was "all of it!" We appreciate the enthusiasm of our readers. More specific responses that were popular included a lot of support for the unity demonstrated by ULK articles (11%) and the stories about other prisoner's work and organizing (20%). There was also a lot of appreciation for state-specific and legal reporting (6%). Five percent of survey respondents liked best the core mission of ULK (which people described as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, internationalism, reporting the truth, or just "the mission"). In addition, we saw responses in support of book reviews, culture, Spanish, country-wide and world news reporting, and general education.
In response to the question about what our readers would like to see more of in ULK, aside from the third of the respondents who thought it was just perfect as is or just requested more of ULK, one of the popular responses (9.5%) was a request for more theory, including information on the history of revolutionary movements and revolutionary heroes, quotes from communists, Maoist theory in general, and more in depth analysis from MIM(Prisons). Related to the request for theory, because strategy is developed from theory, and tactics come from strategic direction, we also had a lot of people asking for strategic direction in general (5.5%), and many asking for more campaigns and tactical campaign work they can do in their prisons (5%). This is a good reminder for our USW leaders as well as our ULK writers and editors that we should tie general prison news to campaign work when possible, and we should be looking for opportunities to initiate new campaigns that will be both educational and lead to potential tactical victories for the revolutionary movement.
A lot of people (9%) want to see more state-specific information (every prisoner wants more information on their own state). We can only increase the content about your state if you take action and write about what's going on there. We rely on our readers for all of the state-specific reporting in ULK. And to really make good news, people need to be organizing so that we have campaigns, successes and failures to report on. So this is a response we hope comes from comrades who are sitting down now to write about their organizing efforts for the next issue.
There were also a lot of requests for resource lists (14.5%) or connections to other resources, and requests for legal information (12%). This is not part of our core mission for Under Lock & Key. We do run the Prisoners' Legal Clinic to help fight key legal battles, such as the censorship of political material. But MIM(Prisons)'s core mission is to build the anti-imperialist prison movement, and so we prioritize communist political organizing. We do not have the labor or funding to provide general resource lists and legal assistance in addition to our core work. We know there are not many groups out there doing this, but resource lists and legal assistance will ultimately only provide band-aids to a fundamentally broken system of imperialism. And anti-imperialist organizing is even more scarce in prisons than legal and resource work.
Additional suggestions from readers for specific areas of expansion included: art, control units, current events, international news, poetry, security, Spanish, U.$. government reporting, and issues faced by the elderly, wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners. There were a wide range of topics suggested and the ULK staff will be discussing all of them as we strive to improve Under Lock & Key.
A few prisoners responded to some of the survey questions requesting that ULK be "less racial", and "stop generalizing whites as oppressors" while one respondent liked "your hate against white people." These responses represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the MIM(Prisons) political line around nation. We do not hate white people; we hate the imperialist system which kills, tortures and oppresses the majority of the world's people for the wealth and enjoyment of the minority. We are scientists and we see clearly that in the United $tates the white nation is part of the minority of imperialist allies leading global oppression. But we also can see that the majority of the people in Russia before the revolution in 1917 who were oppressed were "white." It is not skin color that determines people's status as oppressor or oppressed. However, because of national oppression in the world today, we do see whole nations of people oppressed as a group by other nations. The white nation in the United $tates is an oppressor group, and there are many oppressed nations in the Third World. From an economic perspective, the other nations within U.$. borders are also part of the oppressors (New Afrikans, [email protected], etc.), but these groups also face national oppression and so have some interest in anti-imperialism. It's a complex system, that requires careful analysis and cannot be boiled down to race or hate against white people. We hope these readers will engage with us further for study to understand our position.
In this issue of Under Lock & Key we are featuring an extra four pages of content, which we hope our readers find to be educational and helpful in their organizing work. These four pages were funded by donators and the ULK Sustainers group, a group of United Struggle from Within members and supporters in prison who send in donations to expand ULK. To help fulfill the requests for more that was loud and clear in the survey results, join the ULK Sustainers group today.
I recently received the level 2 study group. One question it asks is "Does MIM(Prisons) recruit members from prison? Why or why not? Do you agree? Explain." My answer, in part, was "As prisoners we need MIM(Prisons) to not be subjected to our oppression, which helps to protect the integrity and Third World viewpoint of the MIM." I realized that what I was referring to was resistance to what I once read a comrade call "bourgeois brainwashing." I then set about to understand the psycho-social dynamics of this bourgeois brainwashing and how we must form resistance from within. I also examined the role played by MIM(Prisons) and the tie to how we view the Third World.
Bourgeois brainwashing uses the psychological phenomenon of dehumanization to facilitate the deconstruction of our value systems. Used as a defense against painful or overwhelming emotions, dehumanization entails a decrease in a person's sense of his own individuality and in his perception of the humanness of others. This dehumanization of others allows for their maltreatment to be acquiesced in with relative freedom from the restraints of conscience or feelings of comradeship.
Dehumanization has two interrelated processes: self-directed dehumanization, which relates to self-image and denotes the deterioration of an individual's sense of his own humanness, and object-directed dehumanization, which refers to one's perceiving others as lacking in those attributes that are considered to be most human. These two forms of dehumanization are mutually reinforcing: reduction in the fullness of one's feelings for other human beings diminishes one's own sense of self; any reduction of the humanness of one's self-image limits that person's capacity for relating to others.
You see, the first step is for the pigs to beat down our self-worth and self-respect. Once we lose sight of our own humanness, we cannot see it in others. We then have complacence, even to the point of being helpful, while the U.$. empire oppresses, occupies and exploits the Third World nations. Why should I care? The Third World proletariat are less than human anyway. I didn't put them in the situation they are in, they put themselves there, therefore, they deserve it!
Thus, oppression necessarily rests upon dehumanization, which diminishes and morphs our value system. We can resist dehumanization by holding on to our self-worth and self-respect, and our communistic value system that brought us to participate in the MIM. This takes resistance from within; from within the prison and from within our own selves.
There is a process of resistance called counter-socialization. To keep our values insulated from the conformist bourgeois values shoved down our throats while incarcerated is no easy task. It requires a stabilizing point of reference and behavior patterns that harmonize, to some degree, with our own values. These are two distinct aspects: a supportive reference system or group, and behavior patterns that offer protection against dehumanization of self and others. Our values or attitudes may not be consistent with the behavior expected or even forced upon us, which makes us vulnerable to a deep psychological discord with accompanying stress and pull toward equilibrium to reduce this mental discord and stress. Unless we are careful, our values may subtly change to match our behavior, and the brainwashing has begun.
For us to keep our communistic values from dying or fading away, it helps (it may even be essential) to have value sharers to whom we can refer for guidance and support. This reference group or individual can be other persons within the prison — a formal or informal counter-group. Such a reference system has the advantage of being accessible, relevant (everyone in the same location), and standing out in its interpretive scheme. Our counter-values can also be sustained through contact with or reference to people outside of the prison system. This support has the advantage of not being caught up in the same dehumanizing process as us and, therefore, may be more objective. Furthermore, their existence does not depend on the prison system — a very important point if the going gets rough and the pigs set about to silence our dissension.
To stay on guard, we should occasionally test the limits of the pigs' tolerance for deviant behavior. If we have too much fear of disciplinary action or retaliation we may too narrowly define the boundaries of freedom and may mentally discard alternatives of action that could be advantageously pursued. We can be guided by the experience of others, but more can be gained from personal testing. Personal testing reaffirms a commitment to resistance and nudges us out of complacency. It also gives us a sense of freedom of action, thereby revitalizing our self-determination. To keep from absorbing a new dehumanized value system, we may find it useful from time to time to gut-react with automatic responses. If we always think about consequences before we express our true feelings, the feelings themselves may imperceptibly change. Just as the pigs limit what they will tolerate by way of opposition, we must also limit what we will tolerate by way of co-optation.
One of the most intriguing questions from both a theoretical and practical standpoint is: how long and under what conditions can a person maintain dehumanizing conditions and discordant values without support of any kind from others? Can internal fortitude based on some seemingly distant reference system keep one's brain from being washed, and if so, how? One important aspect of value preservation under conditions of deprivation and debasement is a sense of self-worth. We must hold on to self-respect by preserving some fragment of the truth about ourselves that we respect. Maintaining our integrity under repressive conditions may also require some mental separation of the self from the conditions the pigs force upon us. When we invoke the scientific stance of the observer, in effect, we refuse to be co-opted into the machinery of self-debasement. The preservation of the psyche is also facilitated by exercising freedom of action, however restrictive the limits. This may be as simple as the exercise of anticipating what is going to happen and having predictions validated by future events. Pro-action, as opposed to reaction, also gives us back some sense of control.
MIM(Prisons) offers the supportive reference system outside of the prison system and strongly encourages us to start our own localized study groups to support each other. They also offer support through the formal group United Struggle from Within. This support is imperative in combating the bourgeois brainwashing by allowing us to keep our communistic values front and center by giving us a criticism/self-criticism forum and correcting us when our values begin to morph. MIM(Prisons) also supports us in action. They give us support in testing the limits, in the grievance process, in organizing, and in letting our voices be heard.
Comrades, we must not fall prey to the pigs' dehumanization efforts, communistic value diminishment, and subsequent bourgeois brainwashing. It takes more than passively reading an article or book and agreeing with the content — it takes action! When we start to think that our oppression is our own fault, then we start to justify the oppression of the Third World nations, by the U.$. empire, with some backward bourgeois thought process. We must resist, and this must be resistance from within!
Just recently we had an incident here at the prison. There was a boycott from eating and a refusal to lockdown, leave the yard, or go to our bunks. There were a few fires started and prisoners made it hard for officers to do count.
As good as it might have felt to buck the system, this "two day" short lived revolution seemed to be useless because there was no bottom line or demands, and they ended up putting us on more restriction than we were on before. They feed us 2 cold bag lunches for breakfast and dinner, no visits, no church, no club activities, no yard, no one works, no phones (now restored), no outgoing mail (now restored), no library or law library, and officers give you disciplinary reports for every minor thing you do (passing food, sharing books, talking after 10pm, etc.).
The outcome of this "lost cause" shows the importance of studying MIM's concepts and ideology. One thing it did do is show the oppressor that the oppressed do have the will and intent to stand up. But a revolution that's lead by emotions will never win.
Another issue at hand here is the refusal to let prisoners out on parole because one person who was let out murdered 4 people (he did his full time, no parole, and he asked for mental health help before he was let out but they refused him.) Now the system wants to make us do more time on our sentence (80% instead of 50%), and make it a longer wait to go to work centers. They haven't taken into consideration all the successful parolees and how broken the system is in preparing prisoners for society.
One thing we must keep in mind is that "a man who stands upon the corners of the paths and points the way, but does not go, is just a pointer and a block of wood can do the same."
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade raises a very important point about how we must learn from our failures as well as our successes. And in the case of this protest, as well as many other spontaneous acts of resistance in prisons across the country, the lesson is often that we need to do more to build our level of political knowledge and study theory and strategy so that we can formulate the best approach to our local situation. There is an organizing strategy called focoism that attempts to promote and utilize the spontaneity of the masses to launch a revolution. There is a long history of spontaneous attempts at protest and the focoist strategy of revolution around the world that show us this approach generally leads to more repression, not to victory for the oppressed. We have a responsibility, as revolutionary leaders (and this extends to all readers of Under Lock & Key) to learn from this history and apply these lessons to our work today. MIM(Prisons) has a lot of literature on spontaneity, focoism and organizing strategy. Write to us to request study materials on this topic.
In considering the art of warfare and conflict resolution, many miss the significance of how much an effect of one's party winning on the battlefield of propaganda has on that party's victory in the war. Throughout history, effective information distribution has been a major factor in a nation or group gaining/obtaining power. It is essential in the United $tate's retention of its global position today. So one cannot stress enough the importance of the efforts at educating people about injustice.
One of the main ways in which the U.$.government, and the various governments under its jurisdiction, are able to brazenly contradict their stated laws, purpose, and principles, is by ensuring the effectiveness of its personal propaganda machine - the corporate media. For instance, it is well documented and basically established that the CIA is responsible for the introduction of crack cocaine into the streets of South Central Los Angeles, with knowledge and possible complicity from the Executive Branch. Yet in this "war on drugs" none of those mid-to-top level responsible CIA/Executive Branch officials were ever made to face "justice."
On the other side of that, the average Tyrone, in any hood U$A, is given decades to life in prison for selling a minuscule fraction of what the CIA introduced into his community. And by the media, Tyrone is portrayed as the violent dangerous criminal, while George H.W. Bush, and the Clintons are labeled as heroes. It's an irreconcilable contradiction, yet it is accepted as reasonable by the general public, which is mainly due to its well-documented public opinion manipulation tactics.
And with the Amerikan public being so bombarded with pro-establishment garbage, some people don't have any exposure to any info other than what the corporate media presents, and the U.$. establishment's response to the rise of Wikileaks shows that this is by design. Anyone who stands against corruption, repression, oppression, social imbalance, and the other vile things that this nation's ruling class works to promote, must put much focus on a counter-propaganda campaign to show the people precisely what the effects of their support for the antisocial U.$. establishment's policies and actions are in real life circumstances.
This used to be an uphill battle due to the Establishment's exclusive hold on the corporate media, coupled with there being no real alternative means of info distribution. But one of the advantages to this information age is social media, which can give one access to a whole world of people. Now people don't have to rely on the corporate media as their sole means of obtaining info on current events. The establishment has lost its grip on info control and the opportunity for you and most anyone else to be heard is at hand.
And with the daily displays of official lawlessness recently transpiring, and with the corruption adversely affecting more and more people, that's more people with an ear open to your message. Knowledge is power and education is essential to knowledge.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree on the value of alternative news and the need to have media around which to build a movement. This is the reason MIM(Prisons) prioritizes Under Lock & Key, both in print and on the web, as a key responsibility of our organization. However, we do not think, as this writer implies, that the Amerikan people are so mis-educated that they only go along with the government corruption because they don't know otherwise. In reality the Wikileaks exposure has not led to any new uprisings by Amerikan citizens. The government fear about information release is mostly related to international exposure. Within this country they do have to worry about the youth in prisons and universities where there is much broader political consciousness and interest in the real news about what's going on. Amerikans overall are complacent because they are bought off by their government, paid to enjoy a petty bourgeois life at the expense of the international proletariat. And so Amerikans generally are happy to believe the lies fed to them by their government. With Under Lock & Key we hope to reach those at the margins who do not enjoy the Amerikan dream, or who have not yet bought into it. Having a materialist understanding of the social forces in this country will allow us to have a greater impact with our limited resources.
Everyday I sit back and listen to numerous captives blab on and on about how "business aggressive" they are. The thing that boggles my mind is that when the swine do something to them they bitch and cry but accept the oppression. When another captive, however, commits the smallest infraction only then does the aggression come out, but even that is limited to cell warrioring and threats of violence. These displays of traitorous behavior make it frustrating not just for myself but for other revolutionary educators trying to show fellow captives a brighter path.
I admit I have little patience for those who constantly complain and antagonize the swine but leave their actions to just that while the swine continue to oppress the captive collective. I have heard a couple of captives talk on the run about plausible actions to address the oppression, but just as soon as such revolutionary thought is introduced it is struck down by another captive and this brings the end of the conversation. It is extremely disheartening to hear such things as that. It is also disheartening to hear captives say that we have no choice but to accept the oppression. I don't understand this at all because these are the same individuals that spout off about old school hip hop like NWA and Public Enemy who urged the masses to fight the power and say fuck the police.
What are we getting out of fighting amongst ourselves? Nothing but reverse progression that plays in the swine's favor, thus opening the doors for more oppression and lessening the value of revolutionary thought. Why can't we use this so-called aggression to fight the real enemy, the grey suit swine? Even more so, why do so many speak out against squaring off against the enemy? It's not just backwards aggression that is a hindrance to revolution, there is also selfishness, greed, disdain for learning, gambling, and narco addictions, all playing a part to hinder revolution. I say gambling and narco addictions for the fact that a majority of captive-on-captive violence is due to gambling in some shape or form, and narco addictions cloud the mind from being open to revolutionary education and thought.
In my work concerning capitalism as applied to gulag functioning I urged captives to strike against commissary and I will reiterate my stance as commissary also provides captives fuel for conflict against other captives. When the swine denies a captive commissary nine times out of ten the captive will hang his head and slink off in defeat. But if a captive doesn't make commissary and is in debt to another captive, the owed captive spouts off in aggression and violent temperament. Thus commissary is swine approved extortion and needs to be boycotted as it is a detriment to captive unity and education.
I'll close this with my main point, we are all captives no matter race, creed, gender, inside affiliations, outside affiliations, etc. Oppression and exploitation do not discriminate, we are political prisoners who have no hope as long as we remain ignorant to truth and embracing of the poison the authoritarian elitist swine continually feed us. Captives are not supposed to be enemies to other captives, aggression is supposed to be used to counter elitist oppression, but the elitists use our own aggression against us to fulfill their agenda to neglect and oppress. To fight this we must truly gain revolutionary insight and educate fellow captives in revolutionary politics.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The first point in the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles is Peace: "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." This comrade highlights some of the ways that the system turns prisoners against each other, wasting their energy on counter-revolutionary fights that could be put into organizing against the criminal injustice system.
Since the July 8, 2013 hunger strike/work stoppage was suspended (5 September 2013) we've faced extreme retaliation ranging from multiple large scale cell searches to very small portions of food, etc. In Pelican Bay State Prison comrades have reported losing some of the granted supplemental demands (I told 'em so). Updates from October on the negotiations are basically saying CDCR is are not willing to break/compromise any further on the 5 core demands.
A few COs allegedly got attacked, isolated incidents for whatever reasons. In all, we hope to remain a peaceful protest, at least until a final resolve. We remain committed in supporting the New Afrikan and/or prisoner class regardless of the torturous/inhumane conditions to which we're currently enduring. "Knowledge is power, information is freedom, and education is our mandate." Long live Comrades George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, VI Lenin, and Karl Marx. We will endure.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This report on the California prisoner strike is unfortunately just the news we expected from negotiations with the state over improvements in conditions. Promises to address prisoner concerns are easy to make in the face of massive protests and media attention, and quick to be broken as soon as the attention dies down and prisoners stop their protest. We know there are thousands of prisoners in California committed to this cause and ready to take up action again. Leaders must take this opportunity to once again build the support of California prisoners as a whole, and work out a strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome for those in this fight. In a previous article we discussed the possibility that tactical changes are needed, including the possibility of demands being formulated locally in each prison, while trying to achieve as much unity as possible across the state. Regardless of the tactics, we must be building revolutionary education and creating a cadre of solid activists in every prison so that we are prepared for whatever the state throws at us.
I was about to begin litigating matters regarding the ventilation system here when I came up with one last ditch effort to try and handle this issue on a diplomatic level. I managed to acquire about 60 CDCR Form 22s [informal grievances], and I was able to find 30 fellow comrades who were willing to sign their name to them after I typed up all the formal complaints. Well, all of those Form 22s were sent to the Plant Operations Engineer's Department, and we sent another 30 to the Plant Operations Supervisor. At the same time I had a good friend of mine and some relatives mail in a series of Citizen's Complaints on the same subject. Plus, the Ombudsman for R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF), Gabriel Vela came here in response to a letter I had sent to him over the ventilation problem. In other words, Plant Operations got bombed on from all sides, and they responded accordingly. They were up on the housing units today replacing the twenty plus exhaust vents that were not working on our building. Due to that equipment failure we were experiencing extremely high temperatures, humidity, and poor air quality.
My whole point for telling you this story is to show you and your readers that things can be accomplished if you hit 'em with overwhelming force. They knew that those 60 Form 22s would more than likely translate into the same amount of 602 appeals [formal grievances], which in case you don't know translates into about $1,500 a piece in man hours to process each one of them. I'll let you do the math. So, things can be done in numbers, "Yes We Can."
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been actively pushing the campaign to have grievances heard in California, which may also have contributed to these particular grievances getting such a direct response. H work to mobilize comrades there is commendable. Of course, this is just one small battle and just one piece of the work that USW leaders need to be doing. It doesn't cost them $1,500 to throw your grievance in the trash can. These types of campaigns need to be pushed with a healthy dose of political education to develop comrades politically, so that this type of unity can reach higher levels and address the real systematic problems. MIM(Prisons) runs correspondence study groups and offers materials to help USW comrades run their own study groups inside.
by a South Carolina prisoner November 2013 permalink
We recently had a blow to morale here in my dorm. A refusal to accept cold food went wrong as only a quarter of us refused. Since we were locked down, and only eat twice a day on weekends, most just took it. That left a few saying they would never participate again. However, you would be a good morale boost (Under Lock & Key) because it shows that the struggle is being fought everywhere. Maybe it will help them focus on the real issues. All I can do is keep trying.