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Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Political Repression]
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The Adaptation of Capitalistic Controls

"The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters."

This statement comes from the book titled, Understanding Power: The indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four, he discusses the safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt: control and manipulation began with the educational institutions.

In the United States those who control the information are those who hold power. Which is why the U.S. government is the largest and most efficient collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system of information. Why is that? It is elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say. If your opponent (read the proletariat) lacks the knowledge (read information and education), then your opponent is unable to employ it to your disadvantage. When I say 'your opponent' I mean the opponent of the u.s. government and capitalism.

This is accomplished through 1) popular control and, 2) the media effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When a person is isolated, it is a simple matter to control their reality and manipulate their actions to conform to your specific aims and objectives. On the other hand is the media. The media does much more than simply providing an outlet for the dissemination of information. It helps to, and actually is a main tool for, indoctrination and marginalization. Or the subjection-manipulation cycle as I have termed it, is continued in perpetuity. The formation of this specific control ('control', meaning measures and policies used to prevent substantive changes to and for the preservation of a system) is meant to create a sheepish or gullible populace. One easily manipulated and maneuvered.

In public life, the effectiveness of this control lies in the fact that, those who aren't indoctrinated, or, at least, able to behave as if they are, soon learn that they have no voice, no vote and lack the consideration of others. Even find that they may be shunned (socially ostracized) as if they had a contagious, fatal disease. The un-indoctrinated are thus isolated and made 'seemingly' impotent. This system has been adopted by the u.s. prison system and is strictly adhered to.

The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted to and by prisons because it provides a reliable and justifiable method of repressing subversive, disruptive, or 'negative' attitudes, behaviors and/or activities. Prisons present a sampling of society's range of individuals. Some prisoners become well-indoctrinated and follow prisons' policies and regulations. Other less indoctrinated follow some or most. And finally those who are self-determinants (prisoners who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions and conduct). It is these last that suffer the reprisals of the subjection-manipulation cycle.

Self-determinants are generally punished. While their counterparts, what I termed subjugated, they are rewarded. The reward/reprisal structure is even clearer in the prison adaptation of the subjection-manipulation cycle. As in public life, where dissidence earns social stigmatization. In prison, self-determinants are shunned and given a wide berth. In this way the system filters the population, in order to isolate self-determinants. Holding them up as examples of unacceptable behavior to the subjugated. Punishment in public is normally being unemployable, negative to one's status in society, or being labeled a liability. This ends with a dissident's social ostracization and impotency. The parallel found in prisons is self-determinants are housed in segregation, isolation units, their privileges curbed or stripped completely. Their associates treated harshly or harassed for continuing any association with the self-determinant. The picture is clear as in public, in prison the self-determinant is isolated, repressed in the hopes that they will become impotent.

The subjection - manipulation cycle is not only a system of rewards and reprisals. It also contains the essential element: information control. Prison authorities screen, examine and filter the information made available to prisoners. This is paralleled in the U.S. schooling system and structure. The only information allowed is that which concurs with the system agenda. By promoting, or discouraging (if not prohibiting), certain information the prisons, as schools in public life, can encourage and manipulate modes of thought and revolutionary, anti-imperialist, or anti-capitalist movement. Why else have overly complicated grievance procedures create obstacles and have banned/prohibited literature lists? Education leads to organization.

The goal is to create an unbearable reality for self-determinants. With the intention of creating a subjugated instead of self-determinant, through the psychological effects of isolation and ostracization As long as prisons can reinforce this cycle, the results will mirror those found in public life. Stigmatized, isolated and labeled an outcast among outcasts, society's outcasts. This is a particularly dire forecast for self-determinants. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline and unity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer offers some astute commentary on the role of information, education and media in social control under imperialism. And this underscores the importance of independent media of the oppressed as well as independent institutions for organizing and educating revolutionaries. The "self-determinants" as this author calls them, are people willing to think for themselves and perhaps take up organizing in the interests of the world's oppressed. These anti-imperialists need an organization to support them in the face of the challenges outlined by this author. This is why, behind bars, it is important to build United Struggle from Within, as a structure that can unify and support our prison comrades. Ultimately the independent media of the oppressed, along with our independent organizations, will unite those willing to think for themselves into a revolutionary force that can challenge the imperialist structures and fight for a future where self-determination is not repressed.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Winn Correctional Center] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 51]
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Private Prisons Exposed, and Same as Public

UFPP for all liberation

Recently an exposé of the private prison Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Lousiana, run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was published in Mother Jones.(1) The article explains conditions which are completely inhumane, and many of the atrocities are linked to the CCA's drive for profit.

In the section about the mailroom, the author Shane Bauer mentions Under Lock & Key:

"Around the mail room, there are bulletins posted of things to look out for: an anti-imperialist newsletter called Under Lock and Key, an issue of Forbes that comes with a miniature wireless internet router, a CD from a Chicano gangster rapper with a track titled 'Death on a CO.'"

Curiously, Winn mailroom staff consider political education just as dangerous to the prison environment as electronics and death threats. This blatant censorship is not unique to this facility, and is not unique to private prisons. There are many state-run facilities all across the country where we know our mail is censored in a similar manner. Unfortunately we don't have an investigative reporter inside, and, only being able to communicate with our comrades through the mail, we are not able to combat this censorship or expose it. We post known censorship incidents on our website, but the reality is that we will never know what happens to approximately two-thirds of the mail we send in.

In reading the exposé, one might start to believe this private prison is different from public prisons. That's one of the major downsides of this piece: it leaves the reader wondering, assuming that state-run facilities are inherently better. Yet we post many articles from our correspondents inside showing that state-run facilities can be just as bad as Winn Correctional Center: lack of appropriate medical care leading to long-term health problems, lack of programming, arbitrary lockdowns, excessive use of force, lack of discretion in hiring personnel, and the list goes on.

To campaign against private prisons is to assert that state-run prisons are acceptable. It legitimizes the United $tates government as an impartial arbiter. It says that it isn't the prison that's bad, but instead just the aspect of private ownership. Yet MIM(Prisons) sees the prison struggle in the United $tates as one against social control generally — whether private or state-run.

We thank Shane Bauer for writing this horrific piece for the benefit of our fight against inhumane prison conditions. And we must look at the bigger picture, how state-run facilities fit in, and how the prison reform movement interacts with the struggle for self-determination of the internal semi-colonies and the liberation of the Third World from imperialism's death grip. Certainly imprisonment for profit must be abolished. But this phenomena could only develop inside a capitalist economy. If not this atrocity of capitalism, then there will be another one, and there certainly are. If our struggle is limited to simply abolishing private ownership of prisons, we will have wasted much time and energy that could have been spent on a broader struggle.(2)

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[Theory] [Political Repression]
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Book Review: Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition

Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition
By Griffin Fariello
Avon Books, 1995

Red Scare is set in the time when there were open communist witch hunts across Amerika. Younger people may not remember or even have heard of the time when it was a crime to be a revolutionary in the United $tates. Although the laws have made it "legal" today to be a communist, it really isn't as legal as many think. The state's old methods have only been fine tuned and made more subtle, but the repression still exists and may even be more dangerous today than in years past.

Senator Joe McCarthy, elected in 1946, started off as any other Senator and then took a real fascist turn in 1950 when he began his anti-communist terror. His political life did not last too long as McCarthy died in 1957 but his ideals lived on and took on even more deadly ways in the years after, especially for oppressed nations in Amerika.

The 1950s was a tougher time for communists in Amerika. There were many laws that were anti-communist in nature. In the state of Texas for instance, membership in the Communist Party would get you twenty years in prison. In the state of Michigan to just write or speak subversive words would get you life in prison! No wonder Michigan today has some of the largest white supremacist militias in Amerika. The state of Tennessee would give you the death penalty for what it called "unlawful advocacy" that was aimed at communists.

This was a time when buying a house came with having to sign a "loyalty oath" denouncing communism. A student receiving a diploma had to first sign an oath, people living in the projects had to sign it for the landlord at rent time. This was the "war on terror" on steroids. Think of the round ups and harassment of Muslims in Amerika post-9/11 and triple that!

By 1956 Hoover's FBI spread its slimy tentacles so much that in the CP-USA, whose membership at that time was less than 5,000, one out of three members was an FBI informant. This may help explain CP-USA's passivity on many issues at that time. It was a time when the feds had three informants in a three-persyn CP unit, so entire units were comprised of informants, which also helped to ensure who was supplying reliable information and who wasn't as the informants were not aware the others were informants.

The information on surveillance and what one ex-FBI agent called "bag jobs" was enlightening. It was a look on how the feds really teach their agents about those of us who want to free the people from oppression. An ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen is interviewed about his targeting of a communist group in COINTELPRO-like methods, defends his self-described "hundreds" of bag jobs by saying

"none of us worried too much about the illegality, because most of us were veterans from World War II. Gee, all you had to do is wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things. And after the indoctrination we got in training school about communism and the communist party and how they were trying to overthrow us, it was like war all over again, just that no one was shooting at anybody yet..."(p. 86)

Like in the 1950s, the FBI enjoys recruiting its agents from police or military. Like Swearingen noted above, all you have to do is "wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things." And so when people want to stop genocide, exploitation and other madness, the state is meanwhile teaching its agents that it's war, only no one is getting shot yet. It's war because poor people don't want to live in land contaminated by toxic waste, because poor people are protesting the corporate greed, the war on the Third World, etc. For objecting to this monstrous behavior it's like "a war all over again."

The "bag job" involved breaking into a home of a suspect, and if the suspect was a communist or member of the CP the agents would search for any pieces of paper with anyone's names. It could be the paper boy's name but agents would gather these names and add them to the "security index" which was a list kept by the FBI of those "subversives" (communists) who, in case of "national emergency," would be rounded up in concentration kamps. This was awfully similar to how in California prisons the state deals with the validation process: during all searches any names found in a supposed gang member's cell are added to a database as a gang associate for future targeting and possible round up into SHU (concentration kamp). The similarities are uncanny, if you simply substitute "communist party" with "prison gang" you would think a lot of this was written about California's validation program.

For example, the ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen goes on to say

"During the Church Committee hearings one of the Senators asked James Adams, who was the associate director of the FBI, how long a person would stay on the security index. I think they were talking about one individual who had been on there something like twenty or twenty-five years. And the senator said 'Did you have any information that he was still a member of the communist party?' and Adam's response was 'we didn't have any information that he was not a member of the communist party, then we'd keep him in there and we'd keep him on the security index.' Sometimes we would get information that someone did drop out of the communist party, but we wouldn't believe it anyway. Bill Sennett stayed on the security index almost ten years after he quit the party because no one would believe it."(p. 95)

The chapter titled "Five minutes to midnight" discussed the underground. In the late '50s CP-USA began discussing the inevitability of war between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was decided that the United States was on the verge of repression and so to survive the coming fascism the party would need an underground organization.

The underground apparatus was organized in three different levels. The first level was called "deep freeze" which were top leadership who jumped bail for conviction on the Smith Act which basically criminalized the act of being a communist, along with those who it was assumed would be in the next sweep of arrests. The second level was called the "deep deep freeze." These were trusted members who would be a source of leadership should all the other leaders be arrested. Many of these people were sent abroad to Mexico, Canada or Europe, kind of like sleeper cells, to lead normal lives and not engage in any political activity. The third level was called "operative but unavailable" who traveled state to state in disguise working as liaison between the aboveground party and the deep freeze.

According to the author, millions of dollars were spent on the underground apparatus with lodgings, transportation, and the courier system that kept the hundreds of men and wimmin underground. This took its toll with almost everyone abandoning the party within five years. The writer states "seasoned communists realized the impossibility of carrying a political movement in this fashion." A couple of decades later, activists would probably beg to differ with this because of the targeting, murder, and imprisonment that followed being above ground.

The Smith Act created some real anti-communist ways of thinking. The city of Birmingham, Alabama for instance passed a law in the 1950s mandating that all communists had forty-eight hours to leave town or face imprisonment. This was looked at as normal treatment for political ideas by many. This continues to sound like the witch hunts progressive prisoners face today in Amerika where you are locked in control units, not for acts, but ideas, beliefs or assumed beliefs and yet it's not for 2 or 3 years like when the Smith Act was enforced but decades and sometimes for life!

Red Scare falls short in not analyzing the politics of this era, not discussing the political line of revolutionary groups of the 1950s. The Jim Crowism was not even really talked about much. The author does discuss events like the Rosenberg trial/execution, children of the persecuted and what ey calls "redactors" who were the teachers who were persecuted under McCarthyism. But ey does not get into the oppressed nations of that time. The author gives one example of the CP-USA going to New Mexico to work in the Chicano barrios, briefly mentions the Black Panthers, and does not even mention the First Nations.

One will not learn anything of the different ideologies of that time yet this book is worth reading if you seek to understand the birth of COINTELPRO which really decimated the oppressed nations' struggles in the '60s and '70s. Although this book was written in the 1990s it reads as if it was written in the 1950s with its oppressor-nation outlook on struggles during the McCarthy period, a little too vanilla and boring, but worth plowing through the 500+ pages only for its content on early COINTELPRO.

Red Scare speaks volumes about the success of the Soviet Union in building socialism, a more popular alternative to capitalism. While it is easy to laugh at the extreme paranoia expressed by the state in this period, there was a real fear starting in the 1930s when the Soviet Union was developing in leaps while the capitalist world crumbled under the great depression. Coming out of World War II, during which the Soviet Union demonstrated its technological and ideological strength, the Red Scare of the 1950s reflected this.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression]
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Always Salute the Comrades

I always express how important it is to salute the comrades to the young prisoners and the unconscious prisoners. For them to always assist in some way in the struggle. Here in [the facility where I am] it's a whole different world. It's like the twilight zone, you have to see it to believe it. But it's our duty to still push to get the fire burning and to keep the fire burning.

These oppressors, the pigs, have domesticated and brainwashed so many of these prisoners, to where they think that comradism is nutty. So I give my all to try to enlighten the ones whose ears I can catch. Explain to them that if it wasn't for this comradism, some of these small opportunities that we do have as rights (to see your lawyers, phone calls, rec time, keeping your legal work, law library), some of these battles have been won on the back of some hell of men. Even cost some of them their lives, and they was willing to die for something. We must be grateful and love these warriors.

I try to make an example about how much these oppressors fear and hate these warriors. I try to tell them to look at yourself and some of the other brothers that we say put work in. These prisoners can stab another prisoner numerous times and get one year or six months hole time. But the warriors don't have to touch a soul and be in the hole, for ten, twenty, thirty years, and never put a knife or nothing else in another prisoner. I tell them that they're more afraid of the knowledge they possess, they know who the true enemy is. So these warriors is some of the most feared prisoners and go through a lot of torture, for the cause that all prisoners benefit from. So I salute the comrades - THANKS AND KEEP THE FIRE BURNING.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [California] [ULK Issue 49]
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Seeking USW's Help to Build Peace in Pelican Bay

I am a true soldier for the cause of change and the fight it takes to accomplish it. I have been housed at Pelican Bay State Prison since 2013, after being released for a sticking. My prior dealings with this place dates back to 1996 when I did my first bid. Currently I have chosen to embrace change and growth as well as a United Front for Peace at Pelican Bay State Prison.

I am currently involved in "P.E.A.C.E.", Prisoners Embracing Anti-hostilities and Cultural Evolution. We have been going strong for over 8 months. Our cause is based on embracing anti-hostilities and cultural evolution amongst Africans, Hispanics, Whites, Asians, Islanders, and Native Americans by way of partaking in tournaments of basketball, handball, volleyball and having made a conscious choice for change.

These efforts are not being taken lightly by this prison, and every effort is being made to stomp our push for change. The oppressor has refused to follow any of their own set rules and regulations as far as Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups (ILTAGs) are concerned and assisting our approved ILTAG from running said tournaments without any hassle or fear of our sponsor being prevented from performing his duties without constant nickel and dime harassment tactics.

Pelican Bay State Prison is not open for change. I have been placed in Ad-Seg due to what staff here refer to as "causing ripples." I did 9 months with no charges or a finding of guilt as to that 115 [Disciplinary Report]. A comrade took on the Men's Advisory Council chairman job and raised many concerns of the general population, only to find their house searched by squad numerous times, and constantly given urine tests, though none of these tactics ended with any findings of guilt.

I have so much to share with you all including the atmosphere on these main lines and the new tactics being used to incite violence, chaos and riots. I am on the front line as are so many other brethren here, but we need that voice and the way shared with us on how to proceed in the correct way.

I wish to further educate the masses here at Pelican Bay State Prison as do others, but we seriously need a support system from the outside. Just like the distance of this place from civilization, this is what it feels like to seek rehabilitation, peace, and change at a place that specializes in oppressing. Prisoners' mail is not going out or coming in, and there is no way to prove either way, the 602 [prisoner grievance] process is in shambles; even when you win in this prison you still lose. Every action causes a reaction and Pelican Bay is notorious for their continued nit picking until they get the reaction they are seeking: chaos, violence, riots and disunity amongst prisoners.

We humbly ask for your assistance in bringing change to Pelican Bay State Prison, and the followers you possess in how to proceed. Please include all information and knowledge needed to proceed. Contact myself, and all will be shared with the men concerned. P.E.A.C.E.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 49]
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Prison Scares off Subscribers of ULK

I request that you stop writing or sending me any of your publications. I am not involved in promoting, recruiting, security threat groups of Latin Kings, promoting hunger strikes, or any other disruption of the institution. I received a notice of rejection or impoundment of publication on 1/7/16. Also on 1/7/16 I was placed in confinement under investigation that I believe your publication caused. Therefore, I wish not to have any involvement with this publication or MIM Distributors.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have removed this writer from our subscription list but we print this letter to show people just how far the prisons will go to try to intimidate people and stop them from learning from anti-imperialist literature. Unfortunately this persyn never even saw a copy of ULK and so does not know just how far off the claims are. There are no prison policies or laws that legitimately allow for the isolation of a prisoner due to receipt of educational material, nor can literature like ULK identify a prisoner as a security threat. However, we know that the prisons see revolutionary education as a threat to security because of the consciousness this brings. A conscious prisoner is more likely to fight for eir legal rights, and to advocate for the rights of others. A conscious prisoner is more likely to educate others and organize them to fight for their rights. And so, the prisons consider this a "threat to security." What we really threaten is the security of their system of social control. We respect that there are some who are not ready to suffer for this struggle, but for all those who stand strong and maintain their right to receive ULK, in spite of reprisals, we know that sometimes even this is a revolutionary act.

This article referenced in:
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[Political Repression] [Okeechobee Correctional Institution] [Florida] [ULK Issue 50]
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BPP Classified as Gang Related

On November 16 I received a disciplinary report (DR) for possession of gang related paraphernalia from notes from the Black Panther Party 10 point program, "What We Want and What We Believe", and a quote from comrade Stokeley Charmichael: "The only way we are gonna stop them white men from whuppin' us is to take over, what we are gonna start saying now is Black Power."

So now I gotta fight this DR, written not only in retaliation, but in an attack against my first amendment protected political belief. Not only that, the Sergeant claims they confiscated the notebook during a search of my cell. Camera evidence will show that this pig did not show up until called, when I refused to re-enter the cell without due process (my confiscation receipt). In fact it wasn't really a cell search, they knew what they were coming for.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade has been active in the fight against censorship and to ensure access to political material in Florida, so it is no surprise that ey is the target of this repression campaign. We hope eir undying dedication to the fight, even when it brings down more repression, is an inspiration to others to learn their legal rights, and never give up demanding those rights be properly recognized by the injustice system.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 48]
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The Lumpen's Religion


written with Ndugu Nyota of RSF

Let's talk about religion. Specifically, let's address the question of whether religion is or is not useful in the struggle against prisons and against imperialism.

Many of today's prison groups and lumpen organizations (LOs) are well rooted in religious ideas, theories and practices. For example, the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Rastafarians are both very influential among New Afrikan LOs. The LOs in prison have had experience in the areas of adopting certain religious values for the sake of defending themselves against total annihilation. Whether using religion, spirituality or faith as a conventional method to serve this goal for prisoners will bring about liberation faster than any other method will be determined by prisoners and prisoner-led efforts. [History has already proven dialectical materialism as an ideology to be far more effective at bringing about liberation than religion and faith, but we agree with testing it as a tactic in certain conditions as discussed below. - ULK Editor]

Prisons are a political effect of the bourgeois imperialist oppressive structure, which is determined to take more of the world's wealth and riches than it gives. Therefore prisons are political and produce political prisoners, as MIM(Prisons) holds: "...all prisoners are political prisoners because under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, all imprisonment is substantively political."

Prisoners begin to develop a consciousness of their environment by evaluating the material conditions they are in. Through a process of unity-criticism-unity they often transform themselves into the change they wish to see. This transformation often begins to manifest in individual decision-making skills. One begins to evaluate the pros and cons of indirect and direct action, to spread solutions to fellow prisoners' conflicts, and eventually one becomes sought out by the masses as a leader.

While the reality is that all prisoners are political, as we begin to develop our political consciousness we find that we are prohibited from being directly involved in the politics that we are subject to. When U.$. prisoners take that conscious state of mind to the level of organizing, campaigning and agitating, they become victims of laws criminalizing politicking in prisons. Many prisoners and LOs are well aware of this weapon of the snakes. Prisoners have little to no legal standing in the U.$. bourgeois injustice system to defend against the assaults on their humyn right to politically advocate and demonstrate their class interest as lumpen in the United $tates.

By law, according to the U.$. Constitutional standard, prisoners have a right to grieve conditions relative to the prison environment. They have the right to correspond with members of society, including the press. But when those of the prison population begin organizing the locals into group actions, they are labeled as security threat group leaders. Prisoners are incapable of putting forth a defense to these charges because by state standards their groups are un-sanctioned. Without a license we are prohibited from driving forward the people to a state of consciousness from where they may liberate themselves.

LOs don't register their groups with the state, they don't report their activities to the state, and the majority of LOs don't pay taxes on any income of the organization; all behaviors criminalized by the state. Essentially, prisoners being involved in a public manner in/with prison politics are whooped from the jump start.

It is therefore no coincidence that religious/spirituality groups that focus on the lumpen have become quite popular within U.$. prisons. They provide a more free outlet for expression and camaraderie. Of course, this has been a role played by religious organizations since the days of the Roman empire, when the church recruited the labor of those who had no legal warrant to sell their labor. This can lead to these religious bodies being a voice in service of the oppressed or to the religious body suppressing the desires of the oppressed to the benefit of the oppressor.

At different times religion has played different roles ideologically and politically. Many New Afrikan lumpen read in Dr. Suzar's Blacked Out Through Whitewash that:

"'Jesus, was the Panther? An original name for Jesus was... son of the Panther!' (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine).

"Even the Bible refers to him as 'the Lion of the tribe Juda.' (Rv. 5:5) 'Jesus in fact, was a Black nationalist freedom fighter... whose goals were to free the Black people of that day from the oppressive... White Roman power structure... and to build a Black nation.' (I Barashango)

"Schoenfield reports in The Passover Plot p 194: 'Galilee, were[sic] Jesus had lived... which was home of the Jewish resistance movement, suffered particularly. The Romans never ceased night and day to devastate... pillage [and kill].'

"In the Black Messiah p91, Rev. A.B. Cleage Jr. writes that Jesus was a revolutionary 'who was leading a [Black] nation into conflict against a [white] oppressor... It was necessary that he be crucified because he taught revolution.' Jesus stated, 'I have not come to send peace, but a sword.' (The Holy Bible - Mathew 101.34 - King James Version)"(1)

Depending on the leadership of the religious institutions and the cleverness of the lumpen, religion and politics can go hand-in-hand with one another. Devout members of the left will disagree and dogmatic rightists will call for a lynch mob. But at the end of the discussion the outcome is to be decided by those directly related to and at the source of the phenomenon.

It is the position held by MIM(Prisons) that i admire most:

"In some ways communism is the best way for religious people to uphold their beliefs and put an end to the evils of murder, rape, hunger and other miseries of humyns. Some argue that Jesus Christ must have been a communist because he gave to the poor."(2)

Many prisoners utilize liberation theology as a means to merge their political strengths with the legal warrant of the First Amendment right to freedom of religious exercise as the defense against political attacks from the police state.

The lumpen's religion is the exception to the world's norm of religion as representing the status quo. There are many prisoners who fall into the wash of all faiths, but there is a powerful source of prisoner liberation theologists at the forefront of the anti-imperialist prison movement too. It is possible that this very source is the face of the prison struggle for the age we are entering. Working smarter is working harder within the belly of the beast.

Prisoners should struggle to have their political interest respected by the state, but they should not concentrate more on convincing the police state that prisons are inappropriate, and the greatest crimes are being committed by themselves. They know this good and well already. LOs must concentrate on tactics that will forge united fronts capable of pushing the forces of history forward faster.

We conclude with a quote from Russian leader V.I. Lenin:

"We must not only admit workers who preserve their belief in God into the Social-Democratic Party, but must deliberately set out to recruit them; we are absolutely opposed to giving the slightest offense to their religious convictions, but we recruit in order to educate them in the spirit of our programme, and not in order to permit an active struggle against it."(3)

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[Turkey] [Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [International Connections] [Political Repression] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 47]
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Lessons from the Hunger Strike 2000-2007 in Turkey

by Informacioni Sekretarijat of Revolutionary People's Party-Front
Reprinted from http://en.rnp-f.org

Although the Marxist-Leninist theory advocates the validity of all methods of struggle for the sake of the revolution, one particular method is often ignored or frowned upon: hunger strikes. Western worker’s movement is proud of the acts of self-sacrifice by its militants as it's the basis of the most important historical victories, yet hunger strike is often seen as a waste of human lives with little or no value for the class struggle.

Such is the general opinion of the hunger strike led and organised by Party-Front of Turkey (DHKP-C) in the period of 2000-2007, also called "Death Fast". Seven years long, Death Fast has claimed lives of 122 revolutionaries and it was considered to [be] a victory. Something that fellow communist parties very often criticise and questioning the effectiveness of such methods of struggle.

However, to entirely understand and properly evaluate the Death Fast, it would be incorrect to limit ourselves to the superficial manifestations of the whole process. Given a perspective of over a decade since its beginning, we are in a good position to see its effects and give more clarity to the historical circumstances in which it took place. Let us consider it from the historical perspective, the perspective of the class contradictions and the state the revolutionary movement in Turkey was in during that period.

Historical Background

The years between 1999 and 2001 were politically very interesting years. There were a couple of reasons for this:

  • Turkish state was in a state of permanent crisis. Since almost 10 years there were nothing but impotent coalition governments that failed to win the consent of the people. They were forced to resort to violence but this quickly made them unpopular, which, in the long run, undermined their legitimacy.
  • In February 1999, Kurdish leader Ocalan was captured and delivered to Turkey by CIA. During his trials in 1999 he made a surprisingly submissive defence and offered collaboration to the state. This made a serious negative impact on the Kurdish movement and the other left-wing movements that are tailing the PKK. What had been experienced and felt after the collapse of Soviet Union inside the European communist parties, was now being experienced in Turkey after 10 years. Since 1990, apart from a couple of movements, majority of the radical left were reduced to legal, weak social democratic parties. And the imprisonment of Ocalan meant to deliver the finishing blow:
  • "Everything was in vain, state was too powerful to beat, armed struggle brought nothing but pain, the only solution was to be a member of EU, so that the country might be democratized." This was the general mood among the wide reformist circles.
  • In August 1999, a huge earthquake hit the Marmara Region which was the most industrialized, most populated part of Turkey. It killed approximately 50,000 people. Three months later another earthquake with the same severity hit the same region for the second time. The state was incapable of bringing any aid. They just swept the rubble of the buildings off towards the sea with the dead bodies of the people inside. It was soon revealed that the corrupt businessmen who were then backed by the state built the collapsed buildings. People were angry, but the revolutionary alternative was weak, stuck in prisons and some revolutionary neighbourhoods with some armed cells here and there.
  • In September 1999, the state forces launched a violent attack against Ulucanlar Prison. This turned into a massacre as the military forces killed 10 revolutionary prisoners from 4-5 different organizations and wounded hundreds of prisoners with real bullets. This was done to send a message to the revolutionary movements: "It is your turn."

By the end of 1999, the balance of the class forces was like this:

  1. There were the weak, scattered and ideologically low self-esteemed reformists, begging for EU involvement.
  2. There was the demoralized Kurdish movement, with its leader in prison, openly talking about disarming and disbanding the organization.
  3. There were the ruling classes with their strong military and police forces, but with a withering hegemony over the desperate population who has been looking for an alternative. And after the earthquakes not only the political crisis but also the economic crisis was at their doorstep.

And there were the radical/armed/revolutionary movements:

  1. Some of them, like Maoists, were still obsessed with the old strategy of storming the cities from the countryside, whereas the 70-80 percent of the population had now started to live in metropolitan cities rather than villages. They were also in a state of crisis and getting divided into smaller organizations because of disputes on strategy. Some other organizations were opportunists with a not-so-clear ideology about how to make a revolution: Now you see them heavily criticising the Kurdish movement, and now you see them tailing the PKK. Gradually sinking into legalism, reconciliation, hesitation.
  2. Finally there was the Party-Front (P-C). Although not as physically strong as the Kurdish movement, P-C had a kind of ideological hegemony over the other radical/revolutionary organizations and was constantly pushing them to take a solid attitude against the establishment. This was the case in 1996 Hunger Strikes and in the other prison resistances after it. When the other political parties stepped back or showed some signs of hesitation, militants of P-C encouraged them, criticised them in the prisons. And exposed them in its publications when they stepped back, which would harm their prestige among their own people.

In the year 2000 the crisis was deepening, the ruling classes knew that they had to take the necessary precautions. They were done with the reformists, they thought that they were done with the Kurdish movement and now, if these revolutionary/radical movements could not be bowed down, they would become an alternative for the desperate Kurdish and Turkish masses in case of a crisis. And if you wanted to destroy them, you had to start from their ideological hegemons, the P-C, that still continued to preach revolution, armed struggle and anti-imperialism.

Thus, the state prepared a plan to destroy the revolutionary discipline in the prisons: It decided to transform the existing prison system into a high-security prison system where the political prisoners would be isolated from each other in small cells. In this way, the ruling classes were hoping to destroy the organizational ties among the prisons, turning the political prisoners into isolated individuals.

Then came December 19, 2000. 20 prisons were simultaneously raided for three days with nearly 9000 soldiers. They used more than 20,000 gas bombs, thousands of real bullets against the unarmed prisoners. As a result 28 prisoners were killed, nearly 600 prisoners became permanently disabled in 3 days. The rest of the prisoners were forcedly sent to high-security prison cells.

It was not an issue of physical destruction alone. Compared to 60 million population at that time, there were only approximately 10 thousands of political prisoners in total. But still the prisons were like the headquarters of ideological production. Prisoners were writing [a] majority of the articles and books, composing songs, heavily training the future militants. Imprisoning stopped being a punishment and the militants knew that if they were sent to the prison, near to their comrades, they would undergo an extensive Marxist-Leninist training and continue their revolutionary activity.

On the other hand, the ruling classes at that time were trying to spread the ideology of desperation as opposed to revolution. "Nothing is worth to sacrifice yourselves" they were saying, "especially for socialism and revolution which has already collapsed". It was the end of history. The entire world was giving up. IRA in Ireland, ANC in South Africa, FMLN in El Salvador, Palestinian Liberation Organization, PKK in Turkey. The dream was over.

And one year after the Hunger Strikes began, 9/11 happened in US. Bush has declared the New World Order and clearly put that [b"“you are either with us, or against us".

What would it mean if the prisoners had submissively accepted this menace? Since 1980s it was one of the main tenets of the revolutionaries that if you are left in a position where you don’t have any weapons to fight, you should better die than to surrender.

P-C knew that from past experience: Those who surrendered to the impositions of the 1980 Military Junta were destroyed. They either became reformist, legal organizations or their militants were transformed into liberal, even right-wing intellectuals. Yes, they physically continued to live, but they had had a brain death. They had become the extensions of ruling class ideology.

They were the best propaganda materials for the ruling classes: "Look at these so called leaders of proletariat! They are telling you to fight until the end, but they do not want to make even a smaller sacrifice for their own cause. Is this what you are going to die for? Don’t be stupid young people."

However, when people resisted and died (either in hunger strike or an armed action) it made a huge impact, firstly among its comrades and among the people. It was the same in Kizildere in 1972 when Mahir Çayan and his comrades were massacred. The entire organization had been destroyed with them. But in just 2 years, hundreds of young militants swore to take their revenge. It was the same in 1984 and 1996 hunger strikes.

That was the basic thinking behind the hunger strikes: If you make the necessary sacrifice, you may die but at least it can make an impact that deeply influences the others to carry on.

Death Fast Logic

Two main causes can be emphasised over the others to explain the logic behind the death fasts:

  1. Death or permanent injuries were the risks of the hunger strike. But the same risk is carried by any other revolutionary activity, especially the armed one. On the contrast, the submission to the government and accepting high security prisons would result in what the government really aimed at: to destroy the organisation from within and incite the ideological crisis. The revolutionaries in prison that preached heroic self-sacrifice and struggle would be discredited in the eyes of the people outside of the prison and in the eyes of the guerillas and militants who risk their lives on daily basis.
  2. By design, these prisons were intended to interrupt the communication between the revolutionaries and isolate them from their comrades, from the external world, so that their thinking and behavioural habits would change and they will give up the idea of revolution later on. They are meant to destroy the revolutionary fervour and discipline, something which the organisation could not submit to. In such a case, giving up would mean willingly destroying the tradition of resistance inside the prisons, for the inexperienced, incompetent young militants would sink into depression and despair. What should they do, even when their "leaders", "wise comrades" surrender? The high security prisons would be seen as "hell [on] earth", as the horrible factories that produce tamed, subdued ordinary people out of the fervent, audacious revolutionaries once you go in. You can force the people to do everything, once you instil this "fear of imprisonment" in their minds.

The hunger strikes started [on] 20th of October 1999, after the state openly declared its new prison policy, and went on until 2007, when the state agreed to show some flexibility in its isolation policy.

From this perspective, we can say that hunger strike was a political victory. Because:

  1. Revolutionary movement and its militants managed to protect the tradition of resistance inside the prisons. Now in every single high security prison there is a very strong network of revolutionary prisoners who wake up, do exercise, study, write, and paint – according to one single schedule, although they may not see each other for years. They developed innovative and complex networks of communication inside the prison. In the former prison system, it is said that 60% of the revolutionary prisoners resumed the struggle when they were released, whereas this rate is now 80% according to some sources. The massacre and the new prison system created the opposite results for the ruling classes thanks to this resistance.
  2. Outside, the memories and sacrifices of resistance continued to live and both ideologically and emotionally strengthened the cadres, militants and sympathisers of the revolutionary movement. It was clearly shown that socialism is a cause that is still worth to die for and the revolutionaries in Turkey were ready to do this, while the Islamists and patriots who always talked about "making sacrifices for Allah or for the homeland" became part of the establishment.
  3. Regarding the other radical/revolutionary movements: 15 years later after the prison massacre and 8 years after the end of the hunger strike, now there is a huge ideological gap between the other left and the revolutionary movement, the P-C. Some of these organizations that refused to take part in the resistance splintered into pieces. Some of them went through an ideological crisis and legalised themselves, liquidated their illegal organizations. Many of them started to tail the Kurdish movement and became part of HDP as the Greek reformists did with Syriza in Greece. Revolution stopped being the main purpose, whereas imperialism stopped being their main enemy; they started to look for some excuses when the Kurdish movement initiated an open collaboration with US in Syria. For years they have not carried out a single legal democratic, mass campaign apart from their campaigns for the corrupt elections. Marxism-Leninism was thrashed. Their mass base waned.

When the hunger strike was ended 2007, none of the initial demands of the revolutionaries were accepted. A revised version of the demands, which involved the freedom to see other people for 10 hours a week, was agreed on. Compared to the main aim of the ruling classes to isolate the revolutionaries, to bow them into complete submission, it this was an important achievement too.

Conclusion

As to the question: "did it worth to sacrifice more than a hundred people just for this?" while ignoring the political and ideological victories of the Great Resistance. The purpose was to put an end to the revolutionary ideology in Turkey and they failed in doing this. Turkey did not become the next Guatemala, Palestine or South Africa as they wanted it to be.

Hope survived and although the revolutionary movement came out weakened, it did survive and grew stronger over the years. Now there are pro-Party-Front groups emerging in different fields of the struggle. There is a music band called Grup Yorum that organizes public concerts all around Turkey where they sing their revolutionary songs with hundreds of thousands people. An institution called Engineers and Architects of the People started to organize inside the revolutionary neighbourhoods, trying to put forward an alternative way of living with popular assemblies, public gardens, wind turbines to allow the community to produce their own electricity. There are attempts to organize the shopkeepers within a cooperative so that they can resist against the monopoly of the shopping malls and big supermarkets. In the last couple of years, a series of successful worker resistances were supported by the Revolutionary Worker Movement, which declares itself to be pro-Party-Front.
On the other hand, Party-Front itself continued its armed activities, some of which are widely publicized in the international media. It has militia bands in the main revolutionary quarters of Istanbul which fight against gangs, drug dealers and the state forces. These activities must have attracted the attention of the imperialists, so that some analysts started to speak of Party-Front as an "emerging threat" in Turkey. The US State Department issued a warrant of arrest for whom they think to be the top leaders of Party-Front. Imperialism declared that "up to 3 million dollars" will be rewarded to those who assist in capturing these people, whom the US considers to be the "most wanted people in Europe".

We will see what will come up in the following years.

With Solidarity.

Bahtiyar Safak

MIM(Prisons) adds: We are reprinting this analysis from http://en.rnp-f.org because of the relevance to conditions and struggles within Amerikan prisons. Our comrades behind bars sometimes find themselves in a position where a hunger strike is one of only a few potential avenues of protest against conditions that are brutal and often deadly. This article demonstrates the potential successes that can be gained from long-term hunger strikes.

However, it MUST be noted that these strikes in Turkey were in a very different political context than the one faced by prisoners in the United $tates. In Turkey in 1999 there were relatively large networks of revolutionary organizing in the prisons and a solid (and armed) network of support outside. Without those conditions the sacrfices made would not have had the same impact. In our current conditions in prisons in the United $tates we are not anywhere close to this level of organization. Hunger strikes in U.$. prisons are not focused on protecting such advanced political activity and organization behind bars, rather they are used to gain reprieve from conditions of torture and create opportunities for some organizing. Because of these differences we can not simply apply this analysis directly to our situation.

Our knowledge of the RNP-F is limited. We applaud what little we have seen of their work and look forward to learning more about their political line and practice.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [Racism] [Political Repression] [United Front] [Folsom State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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CDCR Lackeys Assassinate Leader of Prison Movement

Hugo Yogi Bear Pinell
On 12 August 2015, Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell was murdered on the yard at California State Prison — Sacramento in Represa, also known as New Folsom Prison. Yogi was in solitary confinement a week prior to his murder, having spent 46 years in solitary confinement. Yet somehow someone on the yard had enough beef with him to murder the 71-year-old man in cold blood? Not possible. Yogi's blood is on the hands of the state officials in charge of CSP-Sacramento.

Memorializing Yogi, his comrade David Johnson called him an "educator" and the "spirit of the prison movement."(1) Former Black Panther and long-term friend Kiilu Nyasha said the word that came to her mind was "love."(2) Most of the information in this article comes from Kiilu as well as Yogi's fellow San Quentin 6 comrades David Johnson and Sundiata Tate.(3) All recounted stories of his immense love, his prominent leadership, his indomitable spirit, his dedication to creating and becoming the "new man" and his role in educating others.

The state of California attacked Hugo Pinell for 50 years, from the time of his imprisonment on a phony charge of raping and kidnapping a white womyn, through to his death this week. He was one of a number of comrades involved in an incident on 21 August 1971, in which George Jackson was killed along with three prison guards and two prisoner trustees. Hugo Pinell was charged and convicted with slashing the throats of two prison guards during this incident, though neither was killed. One of these guards was known to have murdered a New Afrikan prisoner in Soledad and had gone unpunished. Those prisoners charged with crimes for the events of 21 August 1971 became known as the San Quentin 6. It was this incident, and the murder of George Jackson in particular, that triggered the takeover of the Attica Correctional Facility in New York by prisoners of all nationalities in response to the oppressive conditions they had faced there for years. Beginning on 9 September 1971, the prisoners controlled the prison for four days, setting up kitchens, medical support, and communications via collective organizing. Prison guards were treated with respect and given proper food and medical care like everyone else. It all ended on 13 September 1971 when the National Guard invaded the yard, killed 29 prisoners and 9 staff, and tortured hundreds after they regained control. It is the collective organizing for positive change that occurred during those four days that we celebrate on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates.

The prisoners in Attica acted in the ideals of men like George Jackson and Hugo Pinell who were well-respected leaders of the first wave of the prison movement. Jackson, Pinell and their comrades, many who are still alive and mourning and commemorating Yogi's death(1, 3), always promoted unity and the interests of all prisoners as a group. The Attica brothers took this same philosophy to a more spectacular level, where they flipped the power structure so that the oppressed were in control. Not long afterward, prisoners at Walpole in Massachusetts won control of that facility as a result of the events at Attica. In both cases prisoners worked together collectively to meet the needs of all, peace prevailed, and spirits rose. Like a dictatorship of the proletariat on a smaller scale, these prisoners proved that when the oppressed are in power conditions for all improve. And it is historicaly examples like these that lead us to believe that is the way to end oppression.

Following the incidents of August and September 1971, the Black Panther Party printed a feature article on Hugo Pinell, who they upheld as "a member in good standing of the Black Panther Party." It read in part:

"[Prisoners across the United States] began to realize as Comrade George Jackson would say, that they were all a part of the prisoner class. They began to realize that there was no way to survive that special brand of fascism particular to California prison camps, except by beginning to work and struggle together. Divisions, such as this one, like family feuds, often take time to resolve. The common goal of liberation and the desire for freedom helps to make the division itself disappear, and the reason for its existence become clearer and clearer. The prisoner class, especially in California, began to understand the age-old fascist principle: if you can divide, you can conquer.

"There are two men who were chiefly responsible for bringing this idea to the forefront. They helped other comrade inmates to transform the ideas of self-hatred and division into unity and love common to all people fighting to survive and retain dignity. These two Brothers not only set this example in words, but in practice. Comrade George Jackson and Comrade Hugo Pinell, one Black and one Latino, were the living examples of the unity that can and must exist among the prisoner class. These two men were well-known to other inmates as strong defenders of their people. Everyone knew of their love for the people; a love that astounded especially the prison officials of the State. It astounded them so thoroughly that these pigs had to try and portray them as animals, perverts, madmen and criminals, in order to justify their plans to eventually get rid of such men. For when Comrades George and Hugo walked and talked together, the prisoners began to get the message too well."(4)

Today the prison movement is in another phase of coming together, realizing their common class interests. It is amazing that it is in this new era of coming together that the pigs finally murder Yogi, on the three year anniversary of the announcement of the plans to end all hostilities across the California prisons system to unite for common interests. This timing should be lost on no one.

As a Nicaraguan, Yogi became hated by certain influential Mexicans in the prison system for ignoring their orders not to hang with New Afrikans. While the prison movement over the last half-century has chipped away at such racism, we also know that racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. Until we eliminate the oppression of nations by other nations, we will not eliminate racism completely. But we work hard to fight it within the oppressed and in particular among prisoners, as Yogi, George and others did 50 years ago.

In the 1950s and 1960s the racism was brutal, with nazis openly working with correctional staff. The state used poor, uneducated whites as the foot soldiers of their brutal system of oppression that is the U.$. injustice system. Tate and Johnson tell stories of being terrorized with the chants of "nigger, nigger, nigger" all night long when they first entered the California prison system as youth.(1, 3) While we don't agree with George Jackson's use of the term "fascist" to describe the United $tates in his day, we do see a kernel of truth in that description in the prison system, and the white prisoners were often lining up on the side of the state. But the efforts of courageous leaders broke down that alliance, and leaders of white lumpen organizations joined with the oppressed nation prisoners for their common interests as prisoners at the height of the prison movement in California.

We recognize the national contradiction, between the historically and predominantly white Amerikan nation and the oppressed internal semi-colonies, to be the principal contradiction in the United $tates today. Yet, this is often dampened and more nuanced in the prison system. Our white readership is proportional to the white population in prisons, and we have many strong white supporters. So while we give particular attention to the struggles of prisoners as it relates to national liberation movements, we support the prison movement as a whole to the extent that it aligns itself with the oppressed people of the world against imperialism.

The biggest complaint among would-be prison organizers is usually the "lack of unity." Any potential unity is deliberately broken down through means of threats, torture and even murder by the state. Control Units exist to keep people like Yogi locked down for four and a half decades. Yet another wave of the prison movement is here. It is embodied in the 30,000 prisoners who acted together on 8 July 2013, and in the 3 years of no hostilities between lumpen organizations in the California prison system. Right now there is nothing more important in California than pushing the continuation of this unity. In the face of threats by individuals to create cracks in that unity, in the face of the murder of an elder of the movement, in order to follow through on the campaign to end the torture of long-term isolation, in order to protect the lives of prisoners throughout the state and end unnecessary killings, there is nothing more important to be doing in California prisons right now than expanding the Agreement to End Hostilities to realize the visions of our elders like Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell.

Notes:
1. Interview with David Johnson, Block Report Radio, 14 August 2015.
2. Interview with Kiilu Nyasha, Hardknock Radio, 13 August 2015.
3. Interview with Sundiata Tate, Block Report Radio, 17 August 2015.
4. "The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell," The Black Panther, 29 November 1971 .

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