The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out
[Organizing] [Theory] [Security] [Congress Resolutions]
expand

Reassessing Cell Structure 5 years out

[This is a belated resolution from the MIM(Prisons) 2010 Congress.]

Overall, MIM(Prisons) stands by the Resolutions on Cell Structure passed at the last MIM congress in 2005. After 5 years of putting that resolution into practice there is experience to sum up and questions that still need to be answered.

The theoretical basis for the cell structure is that the strength of a centralized party comes into play when vying for state power, whether by elections or otherwise. That is not in the cards for Maoists in the imperialist countries at this time. Maoism is a minority movement in the First World and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. This makes it even more important that we utilize our strengths and shore up our weaknesses.

One of the main lessons to take from the cell structure resolutions is that "[w]e oppose having geographic cells come into contact with each other face-to-face. Infiltration and spying are rampant when it comes to MIM. The whole strength of having a locality-based cell is that it is possible to do all the things traditional to a movement. The security advantages of culling people we know into a cell are lost the moment we slack off on security and start accepting strangers or meeting with strangers face-to-face." We find it frustrating that critics of what happened at etext.org as MIM faced repression are willing to ignore the lessons of those setbacks.

At the last MIM congress in 2005, they spoke of a "MIM Center" that put out the newspaper, among other tasks. Soon after, there was no MIM Notes newspaper, followed by the degeneration of the original MC cell and finally the shutting down of their last institution, the website at etext.org.

One of the challenges of small cells is developing and maintaining line. Much work has been done, and if every new group or every revolutionary had to start from scratch, we would never advance. That is why when etext.org was repressed, MIM(Prisons) posted an archive of the MIM site on our website. While we still do not have a regular newspaper for the movement as a whole, the website is a crucial reference for us all.

Fraternal organizations do not agree on everything; they agree on cardinal principles that are determined by the conditions of the time. The etext.org site is not something Maoists must agree with 100%, but there is no doubt that it is still the most comprehensive starting point for any Maoist organization in the First World.

Democratic centralism is important for security and for political line development. Yet until we are organizing on a countrywide basis, there is no need for democratic centralism at that level, not to mention internationally.

In guerilla warfare, the cell structure has been applied in a way that was hierarchical so that action cells were separate from each other, but each cell could be traced to the top of the organization. This relies on a centralized organization or center. While MIM mentions such a center being based around MIM Notes and etext.org in their 2005 resolutions, we do not see the need for this center given the current circumstances. As we have recognized before, certain ideological centers are bound to exist based on the law of uneven development. Yet such centers are not structural, but fluid, based on the type and amount of work done.

All that said, there is an inherent contradiction in the cell strategy. Since organizing strategy and security tactics are not dividing line questions, once the cell strategy is adopted and full decentralization has occurred, it is possible for cells to change their line on this question. Even the majority could do so and a new centralized party could push remaining cells to the periphery. Since we work to build a movement and not our individual organizations, and our work is already on the periphery, we should not be concerned about the impacts of such a move on our organization. It is, however, worrisome to the extent that we see our comrades opened up to attacks through faulty security.

Part of accepting cell strategy is distinguishing between cadre work and mass work. The self-described anarchist movement is able to mobilize large numbers in mass work while abhorring centralized organization. We should learn from their example, while not succumbing to liberalism in our security practices or abandoning scientific leadership.

Getting the correct balance of cadre work and mass work will be more challenging with a cell structure. There is no way to impose a balance on the movement as a whole without a center, but we can pay attention to what is going on around us and get in where we fit in. Leading cells should not be shy to point out where the movement needs more investment of resources.

One amendment we would make to the "Resolutions on Cell Structure" is to cut the suggestion that a one-persyn cell "in many ways... has the least worries security-wise!" Certainly, one-persyn cells should maintain high standards for admitting others. However, the value of criticism/self-criticism on the level of day-to-day work is something that is stressed within Maoism, and we've benefited from in our own practice in MIM(Prisons). We still need democratic centralism with the cell structure to provide crucial discipline and accountability. The criticisms we can give and get from other cells will be limited in nature if our security is correct. And we have seen how one-persyn cells can degrade or disappear quickly.

chain
[Organizing] [North Carolina]
expand

the Time to Act is Now

NAS told us "ghetto prisoners rise" and Bob Marley asked "How long shall they kill our prophets?" It's been going on for years, yet we have failed to grasp on to a sincere movement with righteous motives. When the Europeans landed here they drove off the inhabitants or enslaved them. Sounds familiar to the immigration issues of today. Then they enslaved over 10 million native Africans throughout the "new world." Sounds like the incarceration and slave laboring of the Black and Latino youth of today through prison industries.

Now they don't have to kill our prophets like Martin, Malcolm, and Hampton. They just imprison them on anything they can to stop a movement. Education is the key to unlock the doors that block us and communication is the keyring that holds it together. Ghetto prisoners rise, rise, rise, united we stand and divided we fall. When the CIA killed Ernesto "Che" Guevera, he exclaimed "go ahead, what are you waiting for, you will only kill a man." Meaning his purpose, and meaning for which he fights will still live on. If we stand idle we are with the oppressor. Nelson Mandela said "If you fail to help the oppressed you become the oppressor." Don't be my oppressor. Revolution starts with the mistreatment of people, not a revolutionary.

Their objective is to keep you deaf, dumb and blind. Ignorance is suicide, they run their agenda through propaganda, spreading rumors and lies through their media. Zach de la Rocha said "fear is your only god" but don't let fear put you in check. The time to act is now, unite. "Penitentiaries is packed with promise makers, never realize the precious time these bitch niggas is wasting." - 2Pac

chain
[Security] [Organizing] [California]
expand

Criticism of SNY Prisoners

Dear MIM(Prisons),

I would like to say something about the article by the drop out skinhead who became an SNY. It is good that this person is involving himself in MIM because MIM can remedy some line questions concerning progress. This is i believe the underlying issue with the snitch question, and many other strategies.

Here's a valuable quote,

"Our public relations policy is based on anonymity, which is to say, attraction rather than promotion; we need to always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, internet, radio etc. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. Understanding these traditions comes slowly over time. We pick up information as we talk to members and visit various groups. By following these guidelines in our dealings with others, and society at large, we avoid problems. We still have to face difficulties as they arise; communication problems, differences of opinion, internal controversies, and troubles with individuals and groups outside the fellowship. However we apply these principles, we avoid some pitfalls. Many of our problems are like those that our predecessors had to face. Their hard won experiences gave birth to these traditions, and our own experience has shown that these principles are just as valid today as they were when these traditions were formulated. Our traditions protect us from the internal and external forces that could destroy us."
From where? Mao Zedong's red book? No, a narcotics anonymous pamphlet!! But does it really matter where it comes from, or the merit of the content?

This is my objection to going SNY. Only because these three letters mean, "you have told the police information". You have strengthened the hand of the police by information. You have dialed 911 and gave 411. For me, that's the foul. Now of course the gangs that these people walked away from have a different objection than this one. But it is very common for gangs to split, or have coups from within, or be taken over by other gangs... examples abound! John Gotti killed his own boss to become the boss, Lucky Luciano made peace treaties with the NY mafias and founded 'Murder Inc' - his own army.

Such putchism and naked self interest is not at all a new feature of gang activity and reality. Neither is martyrdom an estranged element of nazism or fascism. Both Mussolini and Hitler were killed in 1945. The drop out skinhead seems to have had a "disillusionment" about his experience with other skinheads. Can it be possible, that a group that espouses an ideology of national socialism, that claims to be not a gang but a "social movement", can surprise its own members with hidden tenants and protocols? This person talks as if he was conscripted or enslaved by his own group and liberated by SNY.

A motif that puts principle above inter-personalism and sentiment that does not connect to the concepts above about anonymity. Rather avoiding line issue progress, but material canteen, coffee pack type motivations. Disconnected from the imperatives of duty, social progress and revolution! Fascism claimed to be and was revolutionary! Marx explained that the bourgeois has historically played quite a revolutionary role in relation to the establishments that come before it. But also explained how these bourgeois revolutions did not benefit or literate the 3rd estate, the proletariat or the international proletariat. The 4th of July being such a type of bourgeois revolution... while they held others as slave.

SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) or PC (Protective Custody) is now very popular in prison. I think that many prisons have a majority of PC prisoners over mainline. Both of these concepts come from the cops! and many prisoners have let these concepts creep into their consciousness and thinking. As MIM theory 4 said, "many of these people use FBI reasoning in their politics. You hear the cops foster little comments. For example, The C/O's start calling our property shit. "Inventory this shit" , "get your shit", "here's your shit", and like monkeys, inmates picked it up."I'm waiting to get my shit" Stop thinking and talking like the pigs! The C/O's started calling a cell a house. " go back to your house", "is this your house?" inmate monkeys," in my house"...it's not a house! it's a coffin! "Gassing" is another coin they want to circulate. A little system of mnemonics that they propagate, which we swallow up!!! In effect letting pigs create culture for us.

A prevalent concept i hear those going to SNY is "I want to back away from the politics"... Like Cuban refugees who ask for political asylum, but come to Miami and work with the CIA agents to overturn a political movement. Like the bay of pigs. That is not "Apolitical" like they say. Who cares what people say? Science is not about opinion and subjective narratives, but observation, strict non-fiction. The drop out skinhead relates that SNY's are more violent than mainline now, and i agree! Statistically SNY is one of the most violent of yards now. It wasn't always like that, and we can identify factor's as to how this came about. The DOC lowered its standard for letting people go to SNY. Before you had to snitch, nowadays all you have to do is ask!! This is because the DOC created a legal category of protected prisoners for its own administrative convenience, but when challenged in court became more of a burden than anything else. Opening up lawsuits and legal dilemmas... They just opened the doors.

I want to caution righteous activists who hate snitch logic, to not think of all PCs as weak cowards, some are, but know some PCs are very dangerous! They do exercise routines also, and many pack heat religiously as we do... Sammy "the rat" Grivano, was not a wimpy sissy at all! but a determined fierce weasel, who killed more than anyone he snitched on. Just like cops are not all fat pigs, some are committed murderers. Like Johannes Mehserle, straight executioner! You have to be like Karl Marx, who acknowledged the impressive violence of the bourgeoisie, but qualified this violence with a philosophical analysis of who it served, and what it meant for the workers of all nations, never denying the inextricable link between thought and action - Theory and Practice. Defining violence by its direction and and constitution.

MIM will help all of its students develop a deliberate super-structure, not insulate concepts like the pigs! The pigs use slight of hand mind control, MIM has criticism and demonstration instead of this. SNY's need to look hard at their own political line and ask whether or not they push revolution, and what kind of revolution, and not act like rag dolls caught in the currents of a river they chose to jump into. That's real politics not identity politics.

— a California Prisoner


D12 for MIM(prisons) responds:This comrade's understanding concerning the need to stay away from identity politics is good. It will guard the movement, and prevent revisionism. This comrades reason for seeing the SNY as only those who give 411 go to the SNY is not accurate. The CDC has long held the policy to segregate prisoners from the general population who have criminal records which would warrant their assault on the general population, or due to the identity of the prisoner, i.e pigs, k9s, and so forth. Due to the gang problem the CDC has had to change its policy to allow former gang members who would be assaulted, or killed if they remained on the general population, as well as prisoners who enter the prison and face a choice of being forced into a prison gang or to follow the underground rules set up by the prisoners.

The comrade states certain examples of cooperation between those engaged in the unlawful market and the state, lets not forget that Lucky Luciano aided the U.$. against fascist Italy. The main point that needs to be remembered is that while these lumpen organizations have the greatest potential for revolution in a parasitic imperialist country. They are still lumpen, and have not shed their lumpen skin to stand with the Third World proletariat as communists. The very nature of the lumpen is predatory, not to the degree of the big imperialists, but they have a lot of work to do. Many lumpen groups have revolutionary concepts as their teachings, yet you still see them killing each other or distributing drugs in to our neighborhood, robbing and stealing. It is not surprising that many people join these lumpen organizations and are let down, causing them to look for a way out.

History has shown that the revolutionary rhetoric espoused by the LOs where brought in by those in the 60's and 70's who were involved in the struggle for liberation. What we see is revolutionary nationalism within the oppressed nations that are engaged in capital enterprise. We have to recognize that it is the will of the state to play prisoner against prisoner; to disrupt the educating and organizing of prisoners for revolution. It's the state that is ready to welcome prisoners and offer them a "safe" place to do their time when the prisoner breaks a rule that would warrant his assault or death from a lumpen organization. Or to welcome those who no longer see any logic in participating in these LOs due to political difference even when they tried to stay and convince the others within their org. It is not MIM(Prisons) policy that a prisoner should risk his safety when the prisoner doesn't have to. You're more valuable alive, on the streets, and if in prison then you should be able to move around and do political work. Engaging in chauvinism and ultra-left behavior sets the movement back. While there is a point when one should not cooperate with the state, we will not encourage a persyn to stay in the SHU serving an indeterminate term, when that persyn is a communist revolutionary and the tide is on his or her shoulders. What matters is what one does as a communist revolutionary. The line that one has will prove them to be for or against the people. A friend or our enemy.

chain
[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [Limon Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
expand

Organizing Strikes for Lasting Change

I read with a smile the article in ULK 16 titled Mass Hunger Strike in California and it reminded me of a similar event in Colorado at the Limon Correctional Facility(LCF) facility in June 2002, when close to 850 of the 975 POWs refused to go to the chow hall for three full days. The first morning a few people ate but were quickly shown the error of that. The only ones who had our blessings were the diabetics and sick who needed to eat. Word came down from the Warden, put your complaints and issues in writing and I will personally address them.

That was done and a "few" minor things actually changed for the better. Over the next several days and even months the line staff flat-out told us that what shook up the LCF management team administration was the fact that 850 plus "inmates" stood together for three days. That was an act of defiance and passive aggressive rebellion almost unheard of in the Colorado DOC for almost 20 years. This is a system where the "inmates" regularly laid down rather than even contemplate doing without their TVs, coffee and ramen soups for a few weeks, or months. This is a prison system where about 30% or so are lifers doing life without parole or 40 calendar years before their first parole date.

The Colorado DOC has mimicked other states with the total removal or severe restriction of use of free weights, out door and indoor recreation time, and demolition of programs that actually help the prisoners. And once the administration saw there was no resistance, then the pay was cut by 50 to 80%, depending on what type of assignment you had. In June 2003 the CDOC not only cut the pay they raised canteen prices, and the indigent level. So although there is on paper, such a thing as being "indigent" and showing the DOCs obligation to provide a minimum of hygiene and writing material, the DOC "paid" everyone, every month, at least a few cents more than the indigent amount. So, even though the DOC most often debited this entire amount immediately after posting it on your prison account, under their interpretation of their rules, no one can actually be indigent. Therefore the DOC does not have to supply hygiene items or writing material.

The purpose of the above is to point out that sporadic and specific acts of organized non-violent protest are well and good to get momentary attention for a few minor particular issues or complaints, but in order for POWs across the U$ to truly become men and women worthy of what you seek and deserve, each of you have to educate yourself! Make that your number one goal.

We as POWs can have all the outside help, but we need to develop the inside help and come to grips with the reality we as a group will probably have to suffer through some very lean and mean times due to long term work strikes, but it is in these work strikes that we have our power! A few weeks won't hurt the bank roll of the profiteers, but several months of no product and the prison officials will be told by the politicians (who are controlled by those with $$) to give us what we need, deserve, and want, to get production back on line at all costs.

Sure we will be subjected to the strip cells and frequent strip searches and mishandling and/or destruction of our property, but you can prepare for some of that. Send out photos and documents that are important, stock up on certain items. Only order bare hygiene items and writing material for 6 to 8 months, leave the junk food alone. Maybe no phone calls unless an emergency.

Hit them where they harm us, in their pocketbooks. Above all, do not resort to violence or destruction tactics. Although this gets media and outside attention, it does not engender the type of serious attention we, as POWs, want or need because we need to retain legitimacy for our cause.

As was plainly pointed out by an old convict back in the 70s in Texas: "Them guards can only do to us what we let em do."

chain
[Organizing] [Western Correctional Institution] [Maryland]
expand

Need for Revolutionary Organizing

I'm in a very unique position in that I am part of a dinosaur breed of prisoners in the state of Maryland, and Western Correctional Institution(WCI) in particular, who gears towards Revolutionary Suicide. Now, it's sad to see that the people I'm surrounded by are worse than reactionaries. Equally unfortunate is the fact that after all the bloodshed and mayhem endured by our predecessors (e.g. Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, and George Lester Jackson), that instead of an increase in Revolutionary Suicide, there is an ever-growing decrease.

This plantation went on lockdown for the week of September 20, 2010 due to a fist fight between two gang members. Although I am not (nor ever been) a member of a gang, I understand lockdowns are a part of prison life. What I am not able to accept is that the same people who are members of the gangs openly embrace known rats and sellouts, yet hurt each other over nothing more than a temporary loss of temper over a word play.

During the lockdown, the pigs shut off the power to the televisions in our cells and our water. Would you believe that some of these clowns played with the pigs about our situation?! Others openly faulted gangs to anyone who would listen! These same people who are always quick to go against one another said nothing to the pigs, especially once the pigs turned off the power to our cells, including toilet. General George Jackson spoke clearly when he said how these feeble and pusillanimous clowns work openly with the pigs and against one another. They will "swallow a camel but gag on a nut. They accept a certain condition and [mis]treatment with apparent ease, but balk at the suggestion of returning the same."

No one complains when the prison goes on lockdown so that the pigs can all attend "Officer Appreciation Day" in the gymnasium.

As an attorney, I would like to think that out of over sixteen hundred prisoners in this prison at all times, that the ratio would be far greater than me only getting five people released within almost six years of being here. This is because everyone is playing the game with catcher's mitts on, without a thought of pitching out to help someone. I reach outside of this plantation to other plantations, with the hope of reaching out and relating to others. In order for you to grasp the irony of the sickness of the mindset of the fools I'm surrounded by you must understand that none of the so-called tough killers in these mountains defy the pigs here. The same pigs openly disrespect these clowns too many times to count each day.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We hear complaints from a lot of comrades behind bars about the lack of resistance to prison repression. Rather than complain, we call on activists to do something about this situation. Prisoners have an objective interest in fighting their abuse but many have been frightened into silence and inaction. Still others don't have an understanding of the system and so are easily used as pawns by the guards. We need to expand our education efforts and show the strength that comes from being organized. This is how we will develop more revolutionaries.

chain
[Religious Repression] [Prison Labor] [Organizing] [LA State Penitentiary] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 17]
expand

Political Activism Killed by Religion in Louisiana

I have begun to receive ULK and I have not had any problems with censorship. There are not very many politically active people/groups here now, such as in California, so the mailroom is not hyperaware of radical political publications.

This was not always the case. Louisiana State Prison (Angola) in the 60s, 70s and 80s was a hotbed of political activism, primarily with the Black Panther Party. It was also considered one of the bloodiest prisons in America. Since the 90s it seems political activism/education has evaporated. This is mostly due (in my opinion) to the prison becoming admittedly more safe, the aging and death of the older inmate population (as the 60s and 70s were a universally more politically active time across America), and the current Warden. Warden Burl Cain has quite effectively turned the prison into a church, with even a 5-year seminary college funded by the Southern Baptists of America.

This has had an enormously detrimental impact on the prison population. There is no longer any prisoner solidarity (beyond the individual self-serving prison clubs and organizations) or any real political movement. Most (though not all) prisoners now play the religion game as a ticket to move up within the prison society and garner favor with the administration. In fact, to essentially get in any position of prisoner power - such as a club president or to work for the prison magazine The Angolite (which came to prominence under Wilbert Rideau) - you must be an active professed Christian.

The true harm in all of this is that there is no real rehabilitation or education within the prison now. Louisiana does not have parole for people sentenced to life and 90% of the 5000+ prisoners here at Angola will die in prison. This is a proven statistical fact even admitted by Louisiana DOC. The only option for lifers in Louisiana is the possibility for a sentence reduction by the pardon board. This is not a legitimate option though. It is extremely rare (once every 10-15 years) that they recommend a lifer for a sentence reduction and the governor signs it.

In the farce of this hopelessness, the warden has pushed the panacea of religion both to fight hopelessness, as well as the idea that if you garner enough favor and play the religion game well enough, you will be lucky when you go before the pardon board. The warden has made moves to place himself as an "advisor" to the pardon board to give recommendations as to who should be given a pardon (sentence reduction) and who not. This means you either toe the warden's line - be Christian, not exercise your rights, make no waves, become an informant to show you are "reformed" - or you essentially have no hope whatsoever of ever being granted relief by the pardon board. This includes those prisoners with lesser sentences who go before the parole board. The pardon and parole boards are one and the same.

All of this is a preamble to my real reason for writing this letter to you. I am attempting to re-energize a political base among the prisoner population. The most possible form this may take is by labor unionizing. Angola is one of the last great prison farms (18,000 acres for crops and cattle), along with places like Parchman in Mississippi. A good many of the prisoners here still perform agricultural labor. This food is primarily sold for private profit, not fed to us. This prisoner labor saves the state (and earns it) million of dollars, while prisoners receive little or no "incentive pay" or wages. Field workers earn 4 cents an hour or less, half of which (up to $250) must go into a "savings account" the prisoners may not use (except for a few narrow reasons) even if the prisoner is a lifer and will never get out to use his "savings." This money sits instead, in perpetuity, earning interest in DOC bank accounts for the state.

The only practical political force prisoners here may exert is by unionizing. Not only to work towards better living/working conditions in prison, but towards more just sentencing laws. Unionization as well creates a solidarity movement younger prisoners may never have experienced before which can prove fertile grounds for Marxist/Maoist education. It would be fitting to see such an agrarian Maoist movement take hold and grow here. Unionization and the educational benefits of a labor movement create the grounds for producing politically aware cadres, some who will remain in prison, but many who may return to their communities to expand the movement.

Consequently, it is my hope to recruit and develop a dedicated cadre of individuals here to research the possibility of a prisoner labor movement and further that idea by education and activism.

I have already circulated the introductory letter you sent to me describing MIM(Prisons)'s platform, as well as the first issue of ULK I have received. I further plan to enroll in your Maoist study cell. I have read and studied Marxism-Leninism for many years but am not as familiar with Maoism or how such Maoist principles may differ in form or function from Marxism. As I have always generally understood, Marxism-Leninism applied to an industrialized (to a large degree) proletariat, where as Maoism was an agrarian movement. I'm sure this may be a huge oversimplification. For that reason, I wish to educate myself more, with your help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this comrade's efforts to organize prison workers. Rather than a proletariat or peasantry, the U.$. prison population's relationship to production puts it squarely in the lumpen class, as we explained in a report on the U.$. prison economy. Prison labor is used to save the state money, as this comrade points out, in its excessively expensive project of imprisoning this class of people that capitalism has no use for. Therefore organizing prisoners to heighten the contradictions of the state in fiscal crisis is of great value. And there is no doubt that this organizing serves an excellent educational purpose as well.

Maoism is an advance on Marxism-Leninism that still bases itself in the revolutionary class of the proletariat but also sees the peasantry as a key ally to the proletariat in countries like China where the system is semi-feudal and the population is so dispersed in the agrarian countryside. While we can't just take this theory and apply it to farming in the U.$. where conditions are very different, the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) is still very relevant today. The dialectical materialist method teaches us to learn from the best that history has to offer (MLM) and apply it to our conditions today just as groups like the Black Panthers and Young Lords did with the lumpen before us.

The history of prison labor organizing at Angola pre-dates the Panthers, and according to one blog, during a strike in 1951, 31 prisoners cut their Achilles tendons so that they could not be made to work on the farm. Acts like these distinguish those who really have "nothing to lose but their chains" - one definition of the proletariat. Religious brainwashing can be effective at diffusing such resistance, especially when there are bribes involved, but the oppressed will gravitate towards Maoism as it represents their interests as a people and not just short-term individual interests.

chain
[Organizing] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
expand

Half a Bar of Soap

Approximately 30-45 days ago all 46 SHU prisoners at CCI (California Correctional Institution) Tehachapi received an institution wide memo from the Associate Warden, in response to a complaint from a prisoner in regards to soap allotment. The main contention being that we had not received soap for an entire week. Now this would seem a legitimate endeavor on the surface - with one problem. This comrade apparently fired off some half-cocked letter with no proactive action to support it. The end result, of course, being very ineffective and worsening the situation.

The typical administration response we got was that we are only allotted 1/2 a bar of soap per week. Until that point we were receiving an entire bar of soap. The justification for the cut was the current excuse of 'budget cuts'. Of course this was a punitive response.

There's one very important thing that I would like to stress to all comrades: the major difference between bitching and complaining legitimately. To simply bitch is to make an issue out of current circumstances/conditions with no intention of following through to the court system or gathering outside pressure with support. A complaint is supported by affirmative action with planning, forethought, and distinct political goals. In our case, causing a blow to the imperialist system of incarceration.

chain
[Organizing] [Hoke Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 17]
expand

Fighting Back Works

I would like to comment on the story written by a Pennsylvania prisoner titled "Stand Up For Real Causes," printed in ULK 16. First let me say the situation you describe is all too common. Unfortunately, I'm currently a ward of the North Carolina department of corruptions and housed at Hoke Correctional Institution (aka Toke Correctional). My point is this, these cats here are the most passive dudes I ever jailed with. I'm from Jersey and unfortunately I spent 9 years and 9 months in prison in NJDOC and the shit I see go on here in NCDOC would not go down there. Like you, I've tried to get these so-called convicts to stand up for change and correct some of the unjust B.S. here at Hope Correctional.

On Feb 2, 2010 this unit changed custody levels from medium to minimum custody and to a medical institution with little modification. Unfortunately, I was one of the few prisoners who were allowed to witness the transition from medium to minimum custody, and I believed all the lies the administration told us. The first thing they told us was that we would be given transfers to other facilities which would grant us custody level promotions with the privileges of work release and home passes if we stayed and trained the new incoming prisoners on how to run the kitchen and occupied certain jobs until they could be filled. Well, lo and behold, we were tricked and suffer daily. Prior to the custody level change this facility held 260 prisoners and now they have us packed in like animals. Single cells were made to house two men in quarters designed for one. 24-men units are now 48-men units with only four shower heads and we are only allowed to shower from 3 pm to 9 pm.

I tried to get a few dudes to come together to file grievances on this issue but only three of us actually filed. The admin simply used an old memo by a former governor about a water drought which ended two years ago. We lost on that issue.

Since we changed over, the food service can't seem to order or cook enough food to feed the whole population. Every day the kitchen runs out of food. Every single day! Everyone complains and cries to each other but no one is willing to stand up for change. I went to the operation office and asked for 200 grievance forms and they gave me 300 without a question. I put myself out there once again and went to each block to hand out grievance forms about the food. When it was all said and done, only 8 grievances were filed and once again they counted on us not to unify.

There are many other examples I could express, but like I said, these prisoners are so passive, all they care about is being able to watch lame ass weekly TV shows. If they took the TVs in every day room these clowns would write the Governor.

What really gets me is I witnessed what unity can do in NJ state prison. I've seen tyrant Sergeants get reassigned. I've seen change come when we stand up and unite without violence.

Just a few months ago I wrote ULK about the pigs here waking us up every 30 minutes to assure we were alive, and not only did I write to MIM(Prisons), I also filed a grievance on this issue. My story was published in ULK July/Aug story titled "Sleep Deprivation to Control Oppressed. My efforts were not fruitless. As a result of my grievance and persistence this policy was changed and they no longer deprive us of sleep in GP or the lock up unit (H-Block). When this injustice occurred I advised everyone on the lockup block to join me to change this policy, but once again I was the only one who raised hell and even then the result was change, so I know it works.

chain
[Organizing] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 17]
expand

Independent Leaders

After reading the article from our comrade in Pennsylvania under the title "Stand Up for Real Causes" in the Sept/Oct 2010 Under Lock & Key, I felt obligated to respond in hopes of giving some practical direction in seeking to revolutionize the prison's slave order of operation. When we examine the history of all those who organized and took action for a real cause we will learn that it was always initiated by the few, never the majority. Numbers help, but courage, loyalty, and discipline are much more important than numbers and must be without compromise the foundation in order for any unified resistance to exist, and most importantly be effective. Trust me soulja, I know first hand how frustrating and sick it can be when we see others around us willingly accept being oppressed, used up and abused. Most of them usually accept such humiliation with a big ol' Chicken George grin, in which you can almost hear "yeas sir boss!" squeezing through their teeth.

The prison's kitchen is in my opinion the easiest operation to boycott and the fastest way to bring about attention from the administration. You don't have to chase the mentally dead prisoners, they can go to work all they want but when half, or more, of the population is not going to the kitchen to eat, the administration is going to want to know why.

In 2007 I was involved in a kitchen boycott in one of Pennsylvania's state prisons and it was successful. Over half of the population didn't go to the kitchen to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner for a week straight. The administration started going around on each block talking with so-called block reps as to why and what. The boycott was initiated due to kitchen sanitation and food preparation concerns, and the prison administration made changes ASAP from our demands. However, the prisoners became comfortable and in the process things slowly but surely went back to the same poor conditions.

What made that boycott so effective was that the administration couldn't pinpoint any specific organizers because there wasn't any to pinpoint. Prisoners can't be given misconducts or lose his/her prison job, parole, outside clearance or any other privilege that they may have gained for not going to the kitchen to eat; that's our choice. There was a buzz put in the air as to why a boycott was going to happen and when it was going to happen, but trying to pinpoint where the buzz originated is like trying to pinpoint the very first piece of rice that was poured from a big sack bag into a pot of boiling hot water. You don't need to run around and give orders and instructions as to boycotting a prison operation, that type of thing will get you and others locked down under prison policy. The buzz itself will create a certain energy. And when that day comes and the cell doors open, people will not be looking for confirmation from each other. At that very moment a boycott will be born or aborted.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this letter, because we get more letters than we can print from comrades saying "things here aren't like they are in that state or this prison." These letters come from all sorts of places in every state. Of course there will be uneven development, and some places will advance quicker than others, but leaders are by definition a small minority. Leaders will recognize the self-interest prisoners have as a group in organizing themselves, but we cannot expect a spontaneous mass consciousness to take hold. This takes time to develop through education and participation. It is the job of the leaders to recognize when local conditions are changing and to push them to develop.


Related Articles:
chain
[Organizing] [Security] [California] [ULK Issue 17]
expand

Lumpen Loyalty Dividing the Struggle

My question to MIM(Prisons) is this: how could you consciously and intently continue to give known rats a forum or conduit to speak and voice an opinion as if he was an honorable or principled man? When has it been right in history to accept traitors? Never!

Let's keep shit non-fiction. Everybody who betrays their own can never be trusted. MIM(P), you're setting a dangerous precedent that should not be emulated in any regard. Those that will compromise all their beliefs and yet find a voice to be heard shows the weakness of the cadre. Real folks see them for who they really are: parrots, poison and cancerous cells. When one practices deceit long enough they begin to believe it. The truth and lies reverse roles. A coward dies a thousand deaths, a real one only once.

What separates the best from the rest is the loyalty, honor and dignity one has for self as well as those of like stature.


MIM(Prisons) responds:

"It is scandalous to Christians to think of a world without timeless moral values such as loyalty, honor and integrity — characteristics that God supposedly places in each of us once and for all time, especially in the more hard-line Protestant religions upholding predetermination. These moral characteristics are then referred to by the Christians as our 'moral character.' The Stalinists' opposition to such an ideology leaves the Christians aghast and hence we 'Stalinists' appear as 'amoral' to those who claim timeless values."
—MC5. Anna Larina. MIM Theory 6: The Stalin Issue, p.53.

Ironically, this quote comes from an article that defends Stalin for overseeing the killing of innocent people in an effort to eliminate spies and infiltrators during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Today we are in much different conditions in our discussion of spies and snitches, but "honor" and "loyalty" are still used to attack us. We would say that even the concept of being "principled" is dangerous. Principled is too often viewed as picking a position and sticking to it no matter what, right or wrong. But Stalin only stuck to one principle, and that was to serve the people by building socialism. Everything else is determined by a scientific analysis of conditions.

In Stalin's conditions, the principal contradiction was the fascists versus the first socialist state in modern history. Spies could have brought the destruction of the Soviet Union. In the U.$. prison movement, the principal contradiction we face is the conflicts between the lumpen themselves. Without resolving these conflicts and building unity around the mutual interests of the imprisoned population, there is no prison movement to speak of. So we must combat ultra-leftism that prevents broader unity.

We know Special Needs Yards (SNYs) are not full of scientific revolutionaries, because that's not true anywhere in the U.$. prison system today. We know that many prisoners use snitching as a way out to get more for themselves. Yet as more and more people go to SNY to opt out of the bullshit warring that the pigs have promoted, the pariah status given to SNY prisoners is playing right into the hands of the state's divide and conquer strategies. As long as general population insists on playing by the pigs' rules, SNY will continue to be an outlet for those who don't want to be pawns in the game.

Despite the rhetoric of honor and loyalty, it is a minority who really live by these ideals. Perhaps that minority are more reliable comrades in the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, we are trying to mobilize the prison population as a whole on behalf of the interests of the oppressed, and we believe that through education people can change their character.

Of course, there is a reason why not working with the pigs is a common principle among certain populations, while most Amerikans turn to them whenever they need help. No good can come for the oppressed from working with the pigs, but we must apply this principle in a way that best pushes struggle forward.

The lumpen have an ideology of self-sacrifice and dedication that comes from their experience as oppressed people. While we often print articles that reinforce this lumpen morality when it reinforces the unity of the oppressed against the oppressor, we must also address its weaknesses. When the idealism of the masses holds back progress, we must push hard for the acceptance of scientific truth.

chain