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[Organizing] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 31]
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Protest Breaks Out in North Carolina

On December 3, 2012 a small peaceful demonstration started. Here on supermax, prisoners refused to go inside their cells because they were tired of being oppressed. The pigs oppress us by not giving what's needed and intimidating prisoners. It started when a prisoner put his hands out to be cuffed. As soon as his hands came out of the small port door these cowardly pigs pulled his arm out of the trap and tried to break his arm. Luckily he had the strength to pull his arm away from the 4 pigs. After all was done the prisoners went back in their cells.

This is why the pigs think they can run us over with their oppressive ways and tactics. We as a group need to stand up and put these pigs in their place. These pigs know they got fellow pigs that have their backs, snitch ass prisoners I call rats, also the prisoners who are all about material things that these wanna-be hustler pigs can provide. These same prisoners are being oppressed with Security Threat Group (Gang Task Force) loss of jobs and privileges. But they don't want to unite. They'd rather use the pigs to get at a fellow prisoner. Slowly these prisoners are becoming part of the oppressor. All that I can say about these prisoners is "it's time to quit trying to be super gangsta and be a man. If you wanna ride, ride on these oppressive pigs. These pigs are the ones disrespecting you as a man with your neck under his boot."


MIM(Prisons) responds: Outbreaks of spontaneous protest like this one are a start to raising prisoners' consciousness about the need for unity against the criminal injustice system. This unity won't come overnight; we need to build it through education and discussion. Those who have been taught that they can benefit by snitching or turning their backs or hustling can be won over to the revolutionary cause, but we must put in the time to educate them. Sharing Under Lock & Key, starting study groups, talking to people, are all essential day-to-day organizing activities if we are going to build unity. Often we hear complaints about lack of unity, or lack of revolutionary consciousness. And we know this is a big problem in the prisons, but this is why our principal task right now is education. Incidents like this show us that the material interest is there, and we must build on that.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 30]
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ULK30: Consolidating Forces for a New Year

Consolidating our forces becomes an important task when we must prepare for a struggle. Right now in California prisoners are gearing up for a second round of struggle against the SHU and related issues prisoners face there. Since 2011, USW leaders have been doing what they can to consolidate the prisoner rights movement there, under torturous conditions of isolation and targeted censorship and repression.

Recently it was brought to our attention that Michael Novick of Anti-Racist Action addressed MIM in an issue of Turning the Tide focused on a consolidation around a new group in alliance with the Black Riders Liberation Party. Drawing out our line differences is part of consolidating progressive forces around one line or another. Before getting to that, let me address an effort to consolidate our support base for Under Lock & Key.

Become a ULK Sustainer

Having passed our five year anniversary of publishing Under Lock & Key we recognize the importance of revolutionary institutions that are reliable and sustainable. In those five years we have never missed a deadline, and ULK currently comes out like clockwork every 2 months, representing the voice of the anti-imperialist movement in U.$. prisons. A small minority of you have been right there with us providing regular reports, articles, poetry, art and finances for Under Lock & Key. Without your support we could not be that voice.

While we have a writers group, a poetry group and an artist group that prisoners can join to become regular contributors, we have not had a funders group. Well, that has changed. And we encourage all readers who think ULK is important to join the funders group. As we all know, prisoners are a unique group of people in this country who sometimes don't have access to any money. But everyone should be able to find a way to contribute to Under Lock & Key, and sending regular funds is one way to do so. Like our other groups, those who are regular contributors will get priority for free books and other support.

Here's how the funder group will work. To join, write to us and make your pledge, and whether you will pay it in stamps or in checks. A pledge should be the amount you will contribute to each issue of ULK, which comes out every 2 months. It costs us approximately $1 to get each prisoner a copy of ULK. Therefore to just cover your own issue you should pledge $1 per issue or $0.50 per month.

So when should you send your donation in? For those who pay in stamps you can send them in any time that works for you, but at least once every 2 months to be an active sustainer. For those who pay by check or money order, please remember that WE CANNOT ACCEPT CHECKS MADE OUT TO MIM. We will send you information on how to donate once you pledge. If you have the option, send stamps as they can be applied most directly to our work. Of course, outside supporters can also become financial sustainers. Email [email protected] to make your pledge.

We will record what you pay and track whether we meet our pledge goals for 2013. We'll also be able to see whether we can increase our pledges over the years to come, which we will include in our annual reports that come out each summer.

Battle for Humyn Rights in California Regrouping

Cipactli gives us a breakdown of the latest in the battle for humyn rights in California prisons on in h article in this issue. Leading up to July 8, 2013, the call was made for comrades in different sectors of the California prison system to draft up their own list of demands. MIM(Prisons) has been working with the USW California Council to develop a list of demands that embody what we feel are minimal requirements to meet basic humyn rights for prisoners in California. Fundamental to that is abolishing the use of long-term isolation as well as punishment of people for their national, cultural and political associations.

As one comrade in SHU wrote,

Although I support the original five demands and will continue to do so along with any future demands for justice. I felt the need to add to the dialogue... What I noticed from the five demands and many other proposals being kicked around is the absence of the very core of our oppression - the SHU itself. What we have learned since the initial strike was that many civil rights groups and people around the world see the SHU itself as torture. All or most of what is being asked for i.e. contact visits, phone calls, cellies etc. can be granted were it not for SHU. Even things like validation and debriefing become easier to combat when the SHU is out of the picture. So it is the SHU itself that becomes the kernel of our oppression in regards to the prison movement in general and the current struggle we are facing in Pelican Bay. This is why any proposals should have at the forefront the demand to close the SHUs!

And another,

We can't afford for prisoners to sacrifice their lives [on a path that lacks philosophical/scientific understanding]. We're pursuing what is essentially a tactical issue of reforming the validation process as if it were a strategic resolution to abolishing social-extermination of indefinite isolation. This is not a complex issue to understand, and it requires a minimal amount of study at most to understand that the validation process is secondary and is a policy external to the existence of the isolation facilities. It's not difficult to comprehend that external influences create the conditions for change but real qualitative change comes from within, and to render the validation process, program failure, the new step down program, etc., obsolete, and end indefinite isolation, requires an internal transformation of the isolation facilities (SHU and Ad-Seg) themselves. Otherwise, in practice, social extermination retains continuity under a new external label.

For decades now, MIM, and now MIM(Prisons), and many other groups have agitated around a campaign to Shut Down the Control Units in the U.$. As forces regroup around this struggle in California following the intense struggles in 2011, we are working to consolidate around a clear position on these issues for those who are in alliance with the movements for national liberation and against imperialism, and not interested in just playing games of back and forth with the various Departments of Corrections.

The broader group of USW comrades in California will have a chance to review and comment on the our draft list of demands soon. Once finalized, we will be enlisting you to promote and agitate around these demands.

Ideological Struggle

We didn't have time or space to address Novick in full here. But many of you have seen his article in the latest Turning the Tide, so we want to address it briefly. First let's make some factual corrections. 1) MIM Thought has always put youth as the progressive force in the gender contradiction in the imperialist countries, not wimmin. 2) While exploitation does only occur at the point of commodity production according to Marx, MIM Thought draws lines of class primarily along access to wealth not what sector one works in. Novick's statement is confusing the explanation that certain nations must be exploiters to be dominated by service workers with our definition of the proletariat. 3) Later he accuses MIM of supporting neo-colonialism in South Africa, when ironically, MIM was on the front line of the movement in the U.$. in the 1980s supporting the revolutionary forces in South Africa that opposed the neo-colonial solution. He does so to take a stab at Mao's United Front theory.

As to the line offered in that article, we are proven correct in drawing a parallel between Novick and the RCP=U$A line on class and nation in a critique written by the Black Order Revolutionary Organization in 2011. Comrades can read the commentary on the murder of Sunando Sen in this issue, and our recent review of Bromma's Exodus and Reconstruction (which has not been published in ULK) to get our line on nation in a neo-colonial world. Novick's position is presented as the line of inter-communalism "in an era when the nation-state... has become obsolete." MIM(Prisons) has long been skeptical of inter-communalism (originally proposed by Huey P. Newton in the early 1970s). This presentation by Novick shows how "inter-communalist" ideology can lead to class collaborationism by ignoring the principal contradiction between oppressor nations and exploited nations. We expect to address these issues more in the future.

In this issue, the broader topic of ideological struggle as part of consolidating our forces is expanded on in Ehecatl's article on the importance of study in this stage as the movement is beginning to grow.

As editor, I lament the lack of international news in this issue of ULK. But we did not want another one to go by without printing our review of Zak Cope's new book on the labor aristocracy. This review does provide us with an outline of a theoretical framework for understanding global imperialism. It is also relevant to this issue of ULK in that it directly addresses the question of consolidating our forces ideologically, with what is the most important dividing line question of our time and place.

While we still struggle to push the MIM line on the labor aristocracy, MIM(Prisons) is going deeper to look at the oppressed nations in the United $tates to have a better analysis for our work. Soso's article on affirmative action is a piece of our developing line on this analysis that we will be releasing for peer review next month, and to the public in the not too distant future.

MIM(Prisons) is also delving into a new project this month that we hope will expand our abilities to promote education and theoretical development among the prison masses. And this is the heart of our consolidation work. Consolidate means to bring together, but it also means to discard the unwanted as well as to strengthen. We like this word because it embodies the Maoist principles of one divides into two as well as unity-struggle-unity. In both cases we advance by pushing political struggle forward, rather than being Liberal in an attempt to preserve unity. Even at the level of the United Front, where unity is less tight than at the level of the cadre organization, we must hold to certain principles for the United Front to be meaningful and strong.

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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 30]
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Maintaining Our Strategical Advantage: Study Maoism Seriously

hammer and sickle red
"MIM had come to the conclusion from the degeneration of numerous genuine forces like the Progressive Labor Party in the United States that such especially difficult ideological struggle is a permanent fixture in the imperialist countries where the material basis for degeneration is much greater than in the oppressed countries..."

"Since it is unlikely that imperialism will be able to come up with too many more entirely new tricks, there will come a time in MIM's development where our principal task will be to unite those who can be united around our very confrontational line. Right now we are emerging principally from struggle against revisionism, imperialist economism and pseudo-feminism. When we have finished going into detail on our differences with others on the above questions we will focus on unity as the principal way to advance the overall struggle. We will prepare for a strategic length of time to do battle with imperialist economism, revisionism, pseudo-feminism, Trotskyism, anarchism and so on in a distinctive way. However, even in seeking unity, MIM will find itself in struggle much more often than many parties in communist history for a variety of reasons what MIM has said is rare to non-existent in the imperialist countries. So even as the labor aristocracy thesis becomes clear as day to us and 'old hat' it will seem fresh to many for some time to come." - The Journey Back to Maoism. MIM Theory 5, Diet for a Small Red Planet

So what do these passages mean? We're so bought off it's ridiculous! Worse still, as a result of our being bought off we're that much more susceptible to bourgeois manipulation a la ideological trickery. Therefore we cannot obtain a proletarian mindset without some hard study.

We in the imperialist countries have the distinct strategical advantage of not having to be in armed struggle at this time. And in connection to this fact we have a responsibility not only to the international proletariat but to our own oppressed that when conditions do begin to change and armed struggle actually becomes a possibility we'll be ready to not only lead, but lead right! We have the advantage of learning from and building on all the rational and empirical knowledge left to us by our predecessors, both the good and the bad; especially the bad! We have to learn from past mistakes so that we don't commit future ones, or worse still, repeat the old ones. It's too late in the anti-imperialist game for us to be messing up the way some of our leaders did before us. Have we learned nothing?! What part of "ideological struggle in the imperialist countries is a permanent fixture" are we not understanding? It's almost as if the revolution really is dead.

The fact that more and more of the oppressed nation imprisoned lumpen are beginning to finally wake up to the reality of imperialism is a good thing - a very good thing! However, the fact that most of these new lumpen organizations aren't taking the time to study and learn from the concrete lessons of history and movements passed speaks volumes for the dire need of these new groups to formally hook up with MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). It indicates the need for individuals to remain within USW much longer to develop theoretically before forming new single-nation revolutionary cells or parties. USW should serve as a place for the most advanced to sharpen their swords together until conditions do change within the prison population in general and within the prison movement in particular, before calling for the building of new organizations.

Comrades behind bars have all the time in the world to study and hence develop themselves and others theoretically. Therefore, those of us who are serious about revolution have no excuse for such low levels of theoretical development within our ranks, especially those of us working directly with MIM(Prisons).

A big part of the problem is the failure of some of us within USW to correctly grasp the philosophy of dialectical materialism, which results in a failure to apply it to the prison movement, and as a result we have paralysis within the prison movement. The need for us to seriously study dialectical materialism is directly linked to our ability to put it to use; without a concrete understanding of dialectical materialism all will be lost. Is this an over-exaggeration? Of course not; it's a hard truth. Within our conditions MIM(Prisons) makes up part of our external causes and therefore is a part of the conditions of change with us being the basis of change. Based on what I'm seeing, or rather not seeing, there hasn't been any real change thus far. Are my words too harsh? If they are, then that's too bad. What is MIM(Prisons) here for if not to help us develop politically?

Related to this point is a prisyner's letter I just read in the revisionist Revolution newspaper of the Crypto-Trotskyists RCP=U$A. This article was filled with the usual, flowery verbiage of "much love to y'all beautiful people at the RCP..." and "Bob Afakean is my daddy" type nonsense, typical of their articles. Half the articles in Revolution don't really say anything, while the other half are filled with imperialist country oppressor nation chauvinist politics. Anyways, there was a California prisyner's letter featured that was speaking on the Pelican Bay Short Corridor new directive. This prisyner was writing in to basically agree that it was about time that the prisyners put a stop to the fighting and come together for change. However, towards the end of the letter this prisyner made a call for the Pelican Bay Short Corridor to separate themselves from the lumpen if they were to really have a shot at victory in their struggle.

Yup, leave it to the RCP=U$A to spread division in the guise of unity to the prison masses at such a critical time. But how, pray tell, is the Short Corridor to achieve its goals in their struggle (which is all our struggle) if they separate themselves from the prison masses? Not only does this prisyner's line attempt to separate the Corridor leaders from the wider prisyn movement, but it essentially makes the petty bourgeois argument that only individual groups of prisyners should be designated as political prisyners, and not the entire U.$. prisyn population. As if the Short Corridor prisyners were on a different plane than the rest of the population, or as if the short corridor weren't lumpen-based themselves. That RCP=U$A article makes it seem as if the mass of California prisyners were holding the movement back. Quite the contrary: without the prisyner masses the Short Corridor prisyners are like generals with no soldiers, or a gun with no bullets. Instead it is the prisyner masses that will push the prisyn movement forward.

My point here is that the RCP=U$A prints this garbage, and lots of prisyners just eat it up. And we at USW know where "new synthesis" (old revisionist hat) leads the movement to: oblivion.

Now assuming that a prisyner actually wrote that letter (and not just another revisionist weed, we all remember agent Quispe and the attempt to derail the Sendero Luminoso: strategical equilibrium) what does that say about the theoretical development of politically-conscious and class-conscious prisyners? And these are the leaders?!

We need real proletarian-based political development if we are to succeed in the years to come, and the only place prisyners are gonna find that is by working directly with MIM(Prisons). Our liberation as oppressed nations and as a class is inextricably bound with Maoism, not "new synthesis" politics. Don't believe me? Go ask the klan in the RCP=U$A where they stand with respect to the liberation of Aztlán, New Afrika, and the various First Nations. Watch how they dance and shuffle, deflect the question, and fake left in order to go right.

Still too busy to study theory seriously? Busier than the New People's Army in 1970? Good question: who or what is the New People's Army? Who was the Tupac Amaru for that matter? And what's the difference between lumpen and lumpen-proletariat? How is this question relevant to our own conditions? And what about Kautsky — who's his contemporary, and why should we care?

The tenet that the revolutionary vanguard be made up of professional revolutionaries is a Leninist tenet. Anything less than putting revolutionary politics in command means watering down correct political line. And correct political lines could only be put forward if there was an organization consisting chiefly of people professionally engaged in revolutionary activity that would devote their entire lives to the movement subsuming the persynal for the good of the cause. We don't need no weekend revolutionaries and we don't need those just in it for the remainder of their imprisonment; we need better than that. "Better, fewer, but better." It's not enough to simply read an article in Under Lock & Key. The bulk of our imprisonment should be spent developing the mind.

Take the sample of the prison artists. How did they get so good? By drawing here and there, or only when there was something in it for them? No, they developed their skills via a passion for the arts, and as a result they're now pretty damn good. We now come to them whenever we need to send something home.

What about the legal-beagles? How did they get so good? They too developed their skills with a passion, a passion to make it back home. And as a result of that, some of them actually make it back home despite having the deck stacked against them. Unfortunately some of them don't make it out. But through the skills they've developed some of them make it their mission in life to file grievances, lawsuits, etc., in the name of the prisyner population. And who do we go to when we need legal advice or something filed?

Just as those people are great examples within their field and are derived directly from the prisyner population, so should USW and our allies aspire to become great examples within the revolutionary prisyn movement so that when the time comes we can be damn well sure we don't lead the prisyn masses into oblivion.

Comrades breaking away from USW in order to prematurely form their own organizations when their revolutionary skills are not yet developed are perfect examples of being ultra-left in matters of "one divides into two" dialectics and a form of adventurism as well.

Once again, are my words too harsh? Hell no! We're not yet in the stage where we should be seeking to unite all who can be united. We're still in the ideological struggle. The fact that I have to write this to say as much should prove it.

Revolutionaries in the prison movement should have a concrete understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and not a fragmentary one. We should be well versed in political economics and revolutionary theory. Indeed, this is our own strategical equilibrium. "Better, fewer, but better." There is no other way.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have laid out the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) to unite all who can be united at the mass level in U.$. prisons. We do this alongside the tasks Ehecatl describes for building ideological unity within USW. And this is a different practice than MIM had when writing the article quoted in the beginning of this letter. We find ourselves in a position similar to the Communist Party of the Philippines at the time (discussed in that article) who were also trying to lead a broad united front and a vanguard party at the same time. We learn from their mistakes and rectification campaign in order to maintain the independence and leadership of the vanguard within the UFPP, and separate party work from united front work.

Comrades in MIM(Prisons) and USW work hard to facilitate study groups for prisoners who are interested in developing ideologically and not just reading ULK. A new introductory course starts every few months, so write us to get on the list. For more on the question of forming new organizations, see MIM(Prisons)'s 2011 Congress resolution on "Building New Groups vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons)", published in ULK 21. And if you want to know more about the history of Ehecatl's criticisms of the RCP=U$A, check out our study pack on the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA). If we don't study, we will lose.

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[United Front] [Organizing]
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Comrades, Maintain your Commitment to the Movement

Huey Newton Unity Fist
At the heart of the triple C Creed it is about practicing exemplary science. Don't just talk about it, be about it. We've had too much talking. Too many jack-leg preachers. Too many fakers and haters acting like they know it all. Meanwhile, we keep losing young Black lives at alarming rates. We keep losing family to drugs. Our men keep vanishing from our communities to feed this insatiable carceral beast.

Here is the fundamental science: when we act we achieve! Over the past year we have acted in unity to exemplify our collective strength. We joined a nationwide grievance petition. We campaigned for a non-violent resolution. We organized with the Islamic community and an on point social network. We conducted round table discussions. Many brothers enjoyed our track and field events, and we conducted a mass rec grievance campaign so that we could hold these events. We ended with a unit wide collective fellowship meal.

In 2013 we are refocusing our efforts on our primary function of sharing information. If you look back over the trajectory of the African history in this land you will see that every time we gained knowledge and acted on it we advanced. This must always be the comrade's conscious focus. Acquiring and distributing intelligence. We understand that roughly 95% of prisoners won't put in the effort to do this, and it may well be true that 4% of the ones who do will only seek to acquire certain knowledge for personal profit and gain. OneLife intends to focus its developmental efforts on that critical 1% who will both actively seek to inform themselves as a part of their daily routine and exercise due vigilance in passing that intelligence along to others in a sustained, structured way.

Our vanguard development understands the importance of knowing what is going on in Syria, Mali, or Nigeria. Understanding our u.s. economy, how it impacts other world peoples, and what is our place and power of potential in determining the greater scheme of things. We want to learn about specific political actors, the actual function of their office, and how specific policies impact our lives and the lives of our families and communities. Then we want to learn how to affect these processes. The 1% must lead such struggle. This is what is meant by movement. Any single campaign or event is pointless without solid comrades who are committed to sustained struggle.

As I've said before, you don't have to be with OneLife to be serious about this movement, but you do have to be consistent. If your word ain't shit, neither are you. Comrades preach what they practice, knowing it's not about them. It's about the people. Real lives are at stake based on what we do or don't do.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this leaflet as an example of what organizations that join the United Front for Peace in Prison are doing on the ground in their prisons. This group has declared its agreement with the UFPP five points of unity, and is striving to implement them by organizing and educating others, and fighting winnable battles for change. As they point out, you don't have to be with their organization to be in the movement, but you need to be doing something.

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[Theory] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 31]
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Expanding the Debate over the Political Prisoner Label

I'm responding to ULK 29, "Less Complaints, More Agitation and Perspective." While most of the position is on point, I believe that important considerations were left out by both this comrade and MIM(Prisons)'s response.

I agree with the broad definition of political prisoners as announced in MIM Theory 11: Amerikan Prisons on Trial (article "Political Prisoners Revisited") precisely because courts are maintained as a tool of political oppression and inseparable from political oppression. Thus the political component is inseparable from those who become further oppressed by imprisonment. The hierarchy of society, cops, courts and state is one of a functioning cadre in this country.

I also understand the distinctions this comrade makes between inmates, convicts and the rest — an inmate is the prison version of the "sleeping masses," but whether or not these people recognize their oppression does not determine whether they are oppressed. And we can't forget that distinctions such as inmate, convict, POW, PPOW, PP, PS, GP are meaningless outside of the prison context, rendering these issues inapplicable to society.

In terms of the bigger fight for prison revolutionaries, these labels are also somewhat moot outside of a strategic context as well; everyone will get the benefits brought about by revolutionary action or they will simply be "washed away when the dam breaks."

What was missed is part of a larger problem (largely analytical). Whether one is or is not a political prisoner speaks directly to the conditions which led to one becoming a member of their class (under the broad definition), but not the class perception and what it means, nor what to do as a member of that class. The political conditions of our confinement being a given, our focus, especially insofar as making revolution is concerned, should not be on whether or not one is a political prisoner, but rather if one, as a prisoner, is political (i.e. moved to political action). If we must distinguish between members of the same class (i.e. prisoners), and to a certain extent we must in order to accurately assess conditions on the ground, then let it be a functional distinction which advances the revolution as a whole.

Subcategories of class must be used in such a way that it produces knowledge, not conjecture. Even an "inmate" can be turned to use. Further, people change and there's no way to know the moment of awakening of political consciousness in others without objective observation. By assigning static labels and categories, we limit our objectivity.

I wholeheartedly agree with this comrade: there are many tactics which can be tailored to circumstance but the labor of these tactics is necessarily dispersed to many people of differing skill sets and levels of political awareness; some are dupes, others are not, some are soldiers, others are tacticians and printers.

Finally, I believe a common mistake we all make as revolutionaries is to become solipsistic. We forget that not everyone wants change or revolution; some are satisfied with their condition. In prison or out, this distinguishes one as counter-revolutionary. This distinction is functional and applies to society without getting bogged down in specific labels. It is part of the equation we must, as revolutionaries, deal with, but in the end, revolution depends on maximizing our resources, exploiting the weaknesses of our enemy and most important, unification of the people.

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[Organizing] [Religious Repression] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 30]
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Indigenous Group Takes Up Revolutionary Organizing on Death Row

I write this missive from the bowels of California's Death Row (DR), at San Quentin. Just wanted to give an update at what is going on and the progress we are making in regards to a wide area of issues which the condemned population has been experiencing.

Being an Indigenous person, we have been in a long struggle with the San Quentin administration and California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr) in regards to DR captives being afforded access to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Our rights are grossly violated by denying the access of Indigenous persons to the right to practice their religion/culture. In the administration's eyes, to have sweat ceremonies available to the DR population creates a serious "security risk." Each time the CDCr screams "security risk," the United Snakes courts fall into stride with the department's assumptions, allowing refusal of Sweat ceremonies, Pipe ceremonies, and access to smudging with sacred Native American medicines. "Safety & security" is an honored mantra here at San Quentin. Stripping us of our culture, religion, and traditions has been the norm for centuries for ALL oppressed nation peoples. It is obvious that no matter what we fight for, the CDCr views it as "Gang Activity/Disruptive." There are comrades that have been stuck in the infamous Adjustment Center (the Control Units) for over a life time simply because they decided to speak up and push back for what they feel they deserve and what they have a right to actually have.

In this situation, the administration dangles privileges in front of the captive, in order to make them do as they say, not as they do. Comrades are being forced to remain in cages away from other DR captives, being denied any sunlight or room to stretch their legs, because the administration feels that they are "too violent" to be placed on a programmed group yard where they can have fellowship with others, get some sunlight, and take a hot shower. This treatment is barbaric and uncalled for.

The institutional appeals office is no help. They are refusing to process any of these prisoners' 602s (grievances) by simply throwing their appeals away, or "losing" them until the time constraints to file on a certain issue have run out, preventing them from going any further with their grievances. Captives with a full program label are being subjected to disciplinary conditions, because the administration can do whatever they want. These comrades are pushing for the same fair treatment as any other DR captive who has privileges.

Due to the budget cuts, programs here have been cut in half. Education is almost non-existent, and yard days have been cut. Visits are being supervised by sergeants who violate Title 15 guidelines, and the captives as well as our families suffer. Medical is suppose to be monitored, but even that has failed to meet its mark. The treatment of DR captives is going from bad to worse.

After the Hunger Strikes here in California, the CDCr implemented a new rule, that anybody that participates in any type of strike will be placed in the SHU (Security Housing Units) for good. Those who participate will be "validated" as a member of a disruptive group, even if one is not gang related. The DR administration went crazy with that new rule. They ignore the fact that the last actual murder that took place here was almost 12 years ago. They have made comments to media that they have succeeded in finally having full control of the condemned population, and call this place "The Safest Prison in the State."

They use tactics of mental torture. They take and give back, then take and give again. It is a mental game and it has driven many good brothers to snap and completely lose their minds. I do not find that to be a weakness in them, nor is it their fault. It is the fault of the pigs here for the games they play. I fault the captives for allowing their minds to be stretched so far without assisting one another instead of sleeping with the enemy and snitching on each other. There are more snitches than crickets at midnight here, and sadly they are blind to the fact that when it is time for the needle to hit the vein, it will be done by the very pigs they blindly befriended while they were here.

So, with that said, a few other solid comrades and myself have decided to up the ante and are holding study groups. We struggle on a daily basis like the rest of our comrades around the U.$., and decided that the only way to begin to break this chain of ignorance is to teach and guide the ones who have the desire to overcome this oppression "by any means necessary." Along with the education we are receiving from MIM(Prisons)/ULK, we have formed a small movement that we hope will reach beyond the walls of this shit hole. We are the IPLF.

The IPLF (Indigenous Peoples Liberation Front) is composed of comrades from all walks of life, willing to stand firm on the front lines and fight as warriors against the (in)justice system. We are a selected few, pushing to break the chains of systematic oppression of any and all kinds. We are human beings, not animals, and not terrorists. We are a movement choosing to follow MIM theory, and assist our comrades in any way possible.

The IPLF will take part in the Day of Solidarity & Peace on September 9, 2013, and will take that day to focus on what needs to be done here on the row that will have a positive outcome. And if we end up in the hole, then fuck it! We ride or die for the cause! To all my comrades out there, to all our sisters out there - A-HO!

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[Organizing] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 30]
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Unity Can Win Battles for Prisoners Rights, and More

Recently we faced two situations that showed short and immediate results, which to a certain extent were good. The first was the united resistance to guards in regards to trying to "handle" the prisoners and deny us our restriction showers. Restriction showers are separate showers for those on restriction from dayroom time, recreation, commissary, etc. We won those participants their showers once the captain was called to settle the dispute.

The second situation was today, 14 December 2012, when 8 cells holding 16 prisoners became flooded with sewer water that was being pushed back out of the drains and into our cells. This triggered a united front from most of those in these cells who represent a mixture of different organizations. This was fruitful because we got maintenance to come and unclog the problem in the drainage system after several on one roll started to flood our cells and push this water out of our cells, causing the dayroom to overflow.

That was one segment to this situation, the next part came when we were allowed to exit to chow minutes after the drains were unclogged. Upon our return from chow we refused to go back into our cells due to the unsanitary milieu that remained. The second shift officer refused to distribute chemicals to clean our cells. This triggered another united resistance until the lieutenant was dispatched to quiet the situation by compensating us with the required chemicals. Every prisoner who participated had a chance to shower afterwards, which was a minor success.

These two situations I speak about not to romanticize but to bring attention to a winnable battle that must be clearly and carefully examined by those who think about doing the same. Not all outcomes garner the same results, so be careful. Remember, they can kill the revolutionary but not the revolution.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good demonstration of the principle of Unity that the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) promotes as its second principle: "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."

"Unity" in itself can be a weak and meaningless term, or even a bad thing depending on who it is that is uniting and why. However, MIM(Prisons) sees unity among prisoners as progressive, because of the oppression prisoners face as a subclass and as (overwhelmingly) representatives of oppressed nations. Without unity of the oppressed we cannot end oppression and create a better world. So we echo this comrade in celebrating these small acts as examples of growing UFPP and setting the stage for greater change.

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[Organizing] [Security] [ULK Issue 29]
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Making Prisons Safer with Revolutionary Education

safe zone in prisons
Let's face it, most people coming to prison don't arrive with people's safety at the top of their priority list. Most come to prison with their homies' or comrades' safety in mind, but that is about it. Most come from an existence where, if you are not sharp-witted, treacherous or a cold hustler, you don't eat or you don't survive.

Being raised in this mind frame is not easily forgotten, so the economic hurdle is key in a prisoner's mindset. Many grew up in an environment where other nationalities are frowned upon or there are open hostilities between different nations. Then there are the mentally ill prisoners who may kick off some shit over nonsense and others follow suit. There are so many factors that make prisons unsafe that one can write a book on them rather easily. Each factor has many ways in which to approach it and combat it as well. But at the end of the day safe prisons anywhere in Amerika will only come from the hands of prisoners ourselves.

In a capitalist society prisons are not created to rehabilitate prisoners or teach us, they are designed to warehouse and neutralize us. So the first step in attempting to create safer prisons is understanding this. There is one key that unlocks the door to getting safer prisons and that key is education! I am not talking about Amerikan education, I am talking about revolutionary education. Rev Ed transforms people and betters people in all areas, including interacting with one's fellow prisoners. Take away Rev Ed and one is left with backwards thinking, reactionary behavior, abuse, set tripping, predatory behavior, religious nonsense, drug and alcohol addiction — all the tore up tradition that has self-destructed entire generations.

Ignorance of who you are will always bring out the worst in you. Knowing where one comes from, the deep tradition of resistance and legacy of struggle will always propel one in a positive path, a peaceful path, because when we learn who the real oppressor is we no longer look at another prisoner as the bad guy. Rev Ed teaches us that prisoners in general are an oppressed class and when we really grasp this there's no way can we walk around trying to pick fights with our fellow prisoners. Even the thought of this becomes absurd. Instead we are walking around trying to share revolutionary ideas and exchange revolutionary literature in our quest to revolutionize these hell holes. This must be our focus if we want to have the greatest impact that we can to make prisons safer.

I won't sugar coat it: this is hard work. When I read about shit popping off in what amounts to lumpen-on-lumpen crime I feel your pain because I been there and I still experience bullshit that clings to many of those who continue to hold on to nonsense or reactionary views. So I know how it is when violence ensues around you, especially if you have been working to educate people for a period of time.

These challenges don't change the fact that if you want a safe environment in prison you need to educate your fellow prisoners. The best way to do this is to start with yourself and your cellmate if you have one. I have always had long exchanges of ideas with a cellie. Whatever revolutionary publication I had I would read it, or my cellie would, and we would discuss what we agreed with or disagreed with. Once me and my cellmate were on the same page we would begin to educate our neighbors on either side regardless of who it was, passing publications and eventually books, and eventually involving the whole tier or pod. Many times this process would begin by just passing a publication to someone or telling one persyn to read it and pass it down the line. After a while the questions will begin. This is one way I have experienced creating more educated prisoners and thus safer conditions.

I have also found prisoners who could not read or write, and the state usually does not have material or classes for these people, so I would tell these prisoners I'll spend the time and effort to teach them to read on the condition that they must in turn teach someone else once they are able. One time I taught a prisoner to read out on the mainline and when I saw he had not found someone to tutor I went around and found someone for him. I would go to the law library when I was on the mainline and see someone trying to maneuver in the law and I'd reach out to help this persyn. These people were all different nationalities but in order to create "peaceful prisons" I have learned that you can't limit yourself to your own nation; someone has to build that bridge of relations. If I get to a yard where there is no bridge, I will fill the vacuum because someone has to.

What I have experienced in doing time (and I have spent more time of my life incarcerated than out in society) is that the majority of violence that occurs is over a business deal gone bad, either drugs or gambling debts. So if we have enough discipline to cut this out of the picture would reduce a lot of the violence. The next issue is predatory behavior which is just one persyn or group oppressing or attempting to oppress another, either because of ones nationality or what geographic location one grew up in. If you refrain from this behavior safer prisons become even more of a reality.

In California, prisoners in Pelican Bay recently issued a statement to end hostilities between all nationalities in California prisons, county jails and streets. This is unprecedented in California where lumpen-on-lumpen crime has gone on with deadly consequences for many years. This is only a step, but it is a necessary step in building any type of serious change or any transformation in each nation. The days when the state would pit prisoners on prisoners in California and use us as gladiators for their amusement are over. Prisoners have finally identified the real problem we face, i.e. the real oppressor. And if California can do this and if those in Pelican Bay SHU, who the state claims control all California "gangs," can do this then there is no reason why every prison in Amerika can't do the same and call for an end to all hostilities in all prisons, jails and streets! This is a necessary step if prisoners ever hope to create real safe zones in prisons.

We are seeing history play out in California where our future is in our own hands. If we want to have prisons where we can really rehabilitate ourselves then we must make it happen and the only way for this to happen is if we do so collectively and by ending the hostilities between all nationalities. This knocks down barricades that would otherwise slow down this process. This is not saying we don't have differences, there are many differences, but once you identify your oppressor you realize that lumpen-on-lumpen crime is not helping to reduce our oppression. It's very simple and all groups of all nationalities here in Pelican Bay SHU have agreed to this agreement. If we can do it so can you!

The real safe prisons will come when prisoners can exercise forms of people's power in these concentration camps. People's power exists when contradictions are resolved without having to rely on the state. Like the example I gave of helping my fellow prisoners to read and write or do legal work. Most prisons do not have programs for this, so rather than sit around and complain about it I started my own program on the mainline.

People's power can also be solving problems and preventing violence through mediation which does not involve the state. In Pelican Bay SHU there is the "Short Corridor Collective" which is a representative from each group Chicano, Black, white and sub groups, which seeks peaceful mutual resolutions to problems affecting prisoners. They even have come out with certain demands to the state. If Pelican Bay SHU can do it why can't other prisons across the United $tates form collectives that seek peaceful resolutions to issues affecting prisoners? The answer is they can, and they must, if real peace and progress are to be achieved within prisons.

Political education is the key. Once someone learns real history and understands the class contradictions in the United $tates, and how our oppression can actually be traced directly to capitalism, there is no way they will want to waste time on nonsense. Instead of sitting around gossiping about other poor people who are locked up and plotting on how to hurt other poor people, these educated people will instead study, educate others, form study groups, share progressive literature and books, and create independent institutions behind prison walls in order to advance the prison movement as well as the movement, for humyn rights more broadly.

The only thing I see in the way of us not having safer prisons is us not making these prisons safer!

People's power siempre!

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
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California Hunger Strike Representatives Promote Peace Agreement

On October 10 a peace accord went into place across the California prison system to end hostilities between different racial groups. The Pelican Bay State Prison - Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU) Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives issued a statement in August, and hundreds responded on October 10 with hunger strikes to continue the struggle against so-called gang validation and the SHU. The original statement calls on lumpen organizations to turn to “causes beneficial to all” instead of infighting among the oppressed. Recently leaders in Pelican Bay State Prison reasserted that this applies to all lumpen organizations in CDCR, down to the youth authority.

The campaign to launch a peace treaty by influential leaders in Pelican Bay is not new. In 2000 prisoners worked with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to organize peace talks, but those efforts were sabotaged by the CDCR whose class and national interests conflicted with those of the prisoners. It is inspiring that comrades find now to be an opportune time to initiate the process without the state, which is in line with the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons initiated by MIM(Prisons) and USW in 2011.

We share the PBSP-SHU Collective’s view that peace is key to building unity against the criminal injustice system. Prison organizations and individual prisoners across the country have pledged themselves to the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principles and are building this United Front in their prisons, communities and organizations.

We know this won’t be easy, but there is a basis for this unity and peace. As was written in the original announcement of the UFPP:

“We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already ‘united’ – in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know ‘we need unity’ – but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.”

The ending of hostilities between large lumpen organizations has sweeping implications for the possibilities for prisoner organizing. USW comrades in California should work to seize this opportunity however possible, to translate the peace agreement into meaningful organizing in the interests of all prisoners.

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[Gender] [Organizing] [Washington State Penitentiary] [Washington] [ULK Issue 29]
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Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism

men against sexism by ed mead
“The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism”
Ed Mead
Revolutionary Rumors PRESS
[email protected]

This pamphlet is an historical account of the organization Men Against Sexism (MAS). It is written in an informal, story-telling style, from the perspective of Ed Mead, one of MAS’s primary organizers. “Anti-Exploits” spans the development of MAS, from Mead’s first encounter with the near-rape of a fellow prisoner on his tier in the mid-1970s, to the successful height of the organization and the eradication of prisoner rape in Washington State Prison. This success impacted facilities all across the state.

Men Against Sexism was created to bring prisoners together to fight against their common oppression. Mead recognized that homophobia, sexism, rape, and pimping were causing unnecessary divisions within the prisoner population. “Only by rooting out internalized sexism would men treat one another with respect.”(p. 5) He brought together politically-minded prisoners, queers, and even some former sexual predators, to change the culture of what was acceptable and not on the tier.

We should take the example of MAS as inspiration to identify our own collective divisive behaviors on our unit, and attempt to build bridges to overcome these barriers. Mead’s reputation of being a revolutionary, stand-up guy in defense of prisoners’ rights preceded him across the facility, and helped him win allies in unlikely places.

In the mid-1970s, prison conditions were much different than they are today, and organizing MAS seems to have been relatively easy according to the account given. Of course there were challenges amongst the prisoner population itself (for example, MAS defending a convicted pedophile from being gang raped and sold as a sex slave put many people off) but the administration didn’t play a significant role in thwarting the mission of MAS. The primary organizers were allowed to cell together, and several different prisoner organizations were mentioned which had their own meeting spaces.

Today it seems we are lucky if more than two prisoners can get together to do anything besides watch TV. This is a testament to the dialectical relationship between the prisoner movement and the forces of the state. During the time of MAS, the prisoner movement was relatively strong compared to where it’s at today. After the booming prisoner rights movement of the 1970s, the state figured out that to undermine those movements they needed to develop methods to keep prisoners isolated from each other. Not the least significant of which is the proliferation of the control unit, where prisoners are housed for 23 or more hours per day with very little contact with the world outside their cell, let alone their facility.

MAS recognized that there is power in numbers. They collected donations from allies outside prison to purchase access to cells from other prisoners and designated them as “safe cells.” MAS would identify newcomers to the facility who looked vulnerable and offer them protection in these group safe cells. This is in stark contrast to how the state offers so-called protection to victims of prisoner rape, which is generally to isolate them in control units.(1) Bonnie Kerness of the American Friends Service Committee writes of this practice being used with transgender prisoners, and the concept applies to all prisoners who are gender oppressed in prison no matter their gender identity,

"In some cases this can be a safe place to avoid the violence of other prisoners. More often this isolation of transgender prisoners places them at greater risk of violence at the hands of correctional officers…

“Regardless of whether or not it provides some level of protection or safety, isolation is a poor alternative to general population. The physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological impacts of solitary confinement are tantamount to torture for many.”(2)

As late as 2009, data was compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) stating “Approximately 2.1% of prison inmates and 1.5% of jail inmates reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, whereas approximately 2.8% of prison inmates and 2.0% of jail inmates reported staff sexual misconduct.”(3) Certainly much of this staff-on-prisoner sexual assault occurs in general population, but isolating victims makes them that much more accessible.

Isolation as the best option for protection is the most obvious example of individualizing struggles of prisoners. What is more individualized than one persyn in a room alone all day? Individualizing prisoners’ struggles is also carried out by the rejection of group grievances in many states. All across the country our comrades meet difficulty when attempting to file grievances on behalf of a group of prisoners. In California, a comrade attempted to simply cite a Director’s Level Appeal Decision stating MIM is not a banned distributor in the state on h censorship appeal, but it was rejected because that Director’s Level Decision “belongs to another inmate.”(4) We must identify the state’s attempts to divide us from our potential comrades in all forms, and actively work against it.

MAS worked to abolish prisoner-on-prisoner sexual slavery and rape, where the pigs were consenting to this gender oppression by noninterference. But the state paid for this hands-off approach when the autonomy of the movement actually united prisoners against oppression.

What about gender oppression in prisons today?

In 2003, under strong pressure from a broad range of activists and lobbyists, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and in May 2012 the final rules were completed. With the initiation of the PREA, statistics on prison rape are becoming more available. But comprehensive, sweeping data on the frequency of prison rape does not exist and so we can not detect trends from 1975 to the present, or even from 2003 to present. Despite high hopes for the PREA from anti-rape activists, we can’t yet determine if there has been any benefit, and in some cases the rates of prison rape seem to be increasing.

When MAS was picking out newcomers to recruit into their safe cells, they were identifying people who they saw as obviously queer, or in some way likely to be a target. MAS was using their intuition and persynal experience to identify people who are more likely to be victimized. According to the BJS, in their 2009 study, prisoners who are “white or multi-racial, have a college education, have a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, and experienced sexual victimization prior to coming to the facility” … had “significantly higher” rates of inmate-on-inmate victimization.(1) Human Rights Watch similarly reported in 2001,

“Specifically, prisoners fitting any part of the following description are more likely to be targeted: young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing ‘feminine’ characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or ‘passive’; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. Prisoners with any one of these characteristics typically face an increased risk of sexual abuse, while prisoners with several overlapping characteristics are much more likely than other prisoners to be targeted for abuse.”(5)


fuck patriarchy

The descriptions above of who’s more subject to prison rape are bourgeois definitions of what MIM called gender. Bullying, rape, sexual identity, and sexual orientation are phenomena that exist in the realm of leisure-time activity. Oppression that exists in leisure-time can generally be categorized as gender oppression. Gender oppression also rests clearly on health status and physical ability, which, in work-time also affects class status.(6) Since prisoners on the whole spend very little time engaged in productive labor, their time behind bars can be categorized as a twisted form of leisure-time. Prisons are primarily a form of national oppression, and gender is used as a means to this end.

Consider this statistic from BJS, “Significantly, most perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct were female and most victims were male: among male victims of staff sexual misconduct, 69% of prisoners and 64% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with female staff.”(3) An oversimplified analysis of this one statistic says the biologically-female staff are gendered men, and the prisoners are gendered wimmin, no matter their biology. But in the United $tates, where all citizens enjoy gender privilege over the Third World, this oversimplification ignores the international scope of imperialism and the benefits reaped by Amerikans and the internal semi-colonies alike. While there is an argument to be made that the United $tates tortures more people in its prisons than any other country, this is balanced out with a nice juicy carrot (video games, tv, drugs, porn) for many prisoners. This carrot limits the need to use the more obvious forms of repression that are more widespread in the Third World. Some of our most prominent USW leaders determine that conditions where they’re at are too comfortable and prevent people from devoting their lives to revolution, even though these people are actually on the receiving end of much oppression.

On a similar level, MIM(Prisons) advocates for the end of oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But we are not jumping on the bandwagon to legalize gay marriage.(7) We also don’t campaign for sex reassignment surgery and hormones for prisoners.(8) This is because we see these as examples of gender privilege, and any privileges obtained by people in the United $tates inherently come on the backs of the Third World. Whereas in the time Men Against Sexism was formed the gay rights movement was militant and engaging in street wars against police, they are now overall placated by the class privilege they receive as members of the petty-bourgeoisie.

We encourage everyone facing oppression to recognize its true roots – capitalism and imperialism – and use their privileges to undermine the United $tates’ world domination. Without an internationalist perspective, we will inevitably end up on the wrong side of history.

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