In the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the glaringly ugly nature of amerikkkan exceptionalism and arrogance has been on full display. The simple and non-threatening acts of staying home and/or wearing PPE (masks) have become rallying points for reactionary patriotic elements. For this reason, occupied Turtle Island has become the world leader in COVID cases even though the imperialist regime had ample time to prepare for the virus.
With this understanding, it is only logical that people cannot rely on parasites and pigs to secure their health. It, like all aspects of our lives, is most effectively met by the people ourselves.
In May, Republican governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem threatened to sue the Lakota Nation or rely on the U.$. government to use violence to take down the Lakota’s Emergency Health Points on their home lands.
Due in part to fear of the negative reaction from Republican constituents and their mass base, as well as fundamental capitalist-imperialist unbridled greed, Noem refused to issue stay-at-home orders. Such ineptitude placed all South Dakota residents at risk, but especially our First Nation siblings and comrades as they’re a marginalized people.
In light of this development, and understanding the hystory of bio-chemical warfare and its role in the genocide of indigenous nations, the Oglala Lakota Nation pro-actively insulated themselves on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Emergency Health Points ensured that outsiders couldn’t bring the new sickness (COVID-19) to their home.
The Emergency Health Points, allowed no one to come onto or leave Pine Ridge, unless it was an essential activity. Those going and coming were made to submit to a health questionnaire at the check points.
The Governor’s ultimatum was rightfully refused and the Lakota gave an official written statement, “you continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation.”
The oppressive nature of imperialism continues to undermine the self-determination of First Nation peoples and oppressed nations generally. For this reason, and to work towards the goal of tearing down the imperialist system, New Afrikans and all oppressed nationalities within the imperialist centers must unite in the spirit of collective growth and internationalism, around our shared mission of self-determination.
Let’s not forget, that it is this same Lakota Nation which has been a thorn in the side of our shared enemy for almost 200 years. It was the Lakota, led by Red Cloud, Chief of the Oglala Lakota, who dealt the United $tates its first military defeat in 1868. In retaliation and due to ongoing resistance, it was this same nation who the 7th cavalry massacred at Wounded Knee on 29 December 1890.
Fast forward to the early 1970s with the siege of Wounded Knee and the following COINTELPRO carried out against the American Indian Movement and its supporters on and around the Pine Ridge reservation. This operation led to the political imprisonment of Oglala warrior Leonard Peltier. (An in-depth study of these events and the imperialists’ war on the Lakota people can be read in the book Agents of Repression by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall available from MIM(Prisons) for $10 or work trade.)
With the understanding of the Lakota’s specific circumstances and their hystory of resistance against the occupying forces I call on all revolutionaries and people who respect the sovereignty of the First Nations of Turtle Island to raise your voices and shine a light on this issue. Being on reservations, our siblings and comrades are often hindered from garnering proper media attention or solidarity support. The mistake of past generations of oppressed nation fighters was that of failing to support each other’s causes in all aspects (militarily, economically, socially and politically). We end that practice now. In the spirit of true proletarian internationalism.
Clench fist salute to all the First Nation warriors who’ve not sold out the great War for freedom.
source: 1. The Five Percenter Newspaper, Volume 25.6, pg.10.
by MIM(Prisons) August 2020 permalink A Critique of Maoist Reason J. Moufawad-Paul Foreign Languages Press 2020
A Critique of Maoist Reason serves as a follow up to Continuity and Rupture, as a way to both sum up the different trends in Maoist thought within occupied Turtle Island and to respond to the critiques of the earlier book. As the latest book gives a more proper address to MIM Thought, we thought it important to read and respond.
Again on Maoism-Third Worldism
In a recent interview, JMP flippantly rejects our complaint that MIM Thought was referred to as “Maoist Third Worldism” in Continuity and Rupture. To reiterate from our last review, this is an ahistoric application of the term. As we said in one of our founding documents, Maoism Around Us, we opposed the term for two reasons. The first is fundamental to the arguments made in Continuity and Rupture as to the path of development of revolutionary science. We argued that there could be no new stage without new practice that supersedes the past. MIM has never suggested such a thing, and the term was coined after the original MIM dissolved.
The second reason, that recent works by JMP and the online journal Struggle Sessions seem to take advantage of, is that by calling our line something other than Marxism-Leninism-Maoism you can otherize it and make it seem more fringe. This new book from JMP serves to place the RIM strain of “Maoism” as the most legit one, and paints MIM as a “shadow Maoism.”
A Falsifiable Thesis
Other than making some of the common arguments made against MIM’s thesis on the labor aristocracy, JMP’s philosophical argument against our line is that it is not falsifiable. This appears to be a tautological argument based in some of the lines shared by JMP and Struggle Sessions. Yet, it would be easy to falsify our thesis by organizing petty bourgeois First Worlders (who they call proletariat) to overthrow imperialism; the very thing such projects claim to be working towards. We’ll gladly follow the leadership of anyone who does this.
“What ultimately disqualifies MTW [Maoism-Third Worldism] from correctly representing Maoist reason is that it has no logical basis upon which to develop its theoretical insights. If there is no proletariat in the imperialist metropoles, and thus no proletarian movement, the first world third worldist cannot make a correct assessment of anything since it cannot practice the mass line. With no revolutionary masses in which to embed a revolutionary movement (because these revolutionary masses are elsewhere) how can it test its ideas, struggle with the masses, and thus develop theory through practice? Considering that MTW disagrees with the assessments of the most significant third world Maoist movements regarding the first world proletariat, it is not as if it is learning from the revolutionary masses it claims to valorize, either. Thus, even if MTW is correct it has no way of knowing it is correct, or developing a theory regarding its correctness, since it has no means of testing these ideas in practice. That is, MTW is not falsifiable and thus not scientific. And if it is not scientific then it is disqualified from Maoist reason.”(p.91)
JMP is saying that since MIM(Prisons) asserts that the First World has no masses to do mass line with, we cannot come to the correct position to guide communist practice.
Our claims however, are far from this. Our claim is that the masses here are a minority force: they are oppressed nation, they are migrants, they are prisoners, etc. We have been saying this for many years, yet JMP ignores this line and claims that we do not believe that anyone is oppressed in the First World. We don’t claim that there is no masses here, we claim that the constantly dying imperialist system needs to fall in order for proletarianization of the labor aristocracy to happen.
To support our claims we look at history, not just abstract economic models as JMP implies. It’s been over a hundred years since the first successful revolution leading to a dictatorship of the proletariat. Of all the efforts since then, that reached different levels of success, how many occurred in an imperialist country where most people own homes that value 6 digits in U.$. dollars, automobiles, have access to any food from around the world, not to mention unlimited clean water and practically uninterrupted electricity? Zero. So let’s flip the challenge on our comrades who believe that there is a majority proletariat in the First World and ask them to falsify our thesis by waging a revolution from within these countries. Because from where we’re standing, the historical evidence seems to be on our side so far.
Second, as the prison ministry (the most public cell representing MIM line at this time), we can say that developing mass line is central to what we do. A typical MIM(Prisons) cadre will interact with 100s of imprisoned lumpen a month. And we synthesize the best ideas through our newsletter and other work, providing ideological leadership for a prison movement that is true to anti-imperialism and the international proletariat. Our practice quickly dispenses with the premise that we cannot develop mass line in the United $tates.
Assuming that our critics cannot achieve a successful First World proletarian revolution, the question then becomes how will socialism come to countries like the United $tates? How will proletarianization of the labor aristocracy happen? Our movement has offered some theories on how that might transpire. And the future will either validate or falsify those theories. If there is a significant delinking of the exploited countries from the imperialist system before any revolutions happen in the core countries, then we must conclude that their thesis has been falsified. If revolutions in the core countries requires military support from the existing socialist countries to install a dictatorship of the proletariat in those core countries, then certainly we will have falsified their thesis.
These are some examples of how our line will either be validated or falsified in the future. It is a dogmatic position to put some universal model for how revolution must occur onto all countries.
It is circular logic to say that there must be a majority proletariat for revolutionary science to be applied, and revolutionary science is universal, therefore there must be a majority proletariat everywhere. It’s hard to see how JMP’s point can stand without this circular logic.
Drawing Class Lines
Unlike the other strands of “Maoism” criticized in the book, JMP is careful to recognize that MIM made real theoretical contributions and goes so far to say that it would be revisionism to deny that imperialism transfers wealth from some nations to others.
The question here is how do we draw lines between friends and enemies? Relatedly, we might ask when does quantitative change in the distribution of surplus value result in a qualitative change in class?
Mathematically, the switch from an exploited group to a net exploiter group is a qualitative change. However, the labor aristocracy is not generally defined as being net exploiters per se. And the workers are not conscious of when this theoretical point has been reached (as evidenced by JMP’s statement that workers in the United $tates are conscious of the belief that they are exploited, when in reality they are not). As we have argued elsewhere, while there are workers who are paid more than the value of their labor power in any country, it is a very different phenomenon in the Third World than in the First. And this is because class is colored by nation under imperialism. We see nation as the principal contradiction, representing the identity that is imperialism. So we find arguments against our global class analysis that do not address the national question to be lacking.
Let’s be clear, MIM’s third cardinal principle (MIM has long used 3 cardinal principles to distinguish its line from others calling themselves “communists”) is that “imperialism extracts super-profits from the Third World and in part uses this wealth to buy off whole populations of oppressor nation so-called workers. These so-called workers bought off by imperialism form a new petty-bourgeoisie called the labor aristocracy. These classes are not the principal vehicles to advance Maoism within those countries because their standard of living depend on imperialism.”
It is within imperialism that we find the qualitative difference that this labor aristocracy has with workers outside the imperialist core countries. It is not because First World people fought harder for higher wages, or First World companies are more democratic and offer higher wages, it’s not because white people are evil; it is the system of imperialism that puts some nations in a position of receiving surplus value and others of losing. Those who gain tend to support the system and those who lose tend to oppose it.
As an aside, settler-colonialism is one form of this, which defines occupied Turtle Island. While we welcome the surge in interest in dismantling settler-colonialism, we must recognize it as one form of imperialism. We find many who want to “de-colonize” without recognizing the global class structure for what it is. We also have those like JMP who acknowledge the economic structure of imperialism, but for some reason don’t think it changes who are our friends and who are our enemies.
While the academic economic models of Marxism may not inform the class consciousness of the labor aristocracy, relative deprivation does. And there is nothing that symbolizes that divide in relative wealth more than the imperialist country borders. Closing core country borders happens to be an issue that has garnered much support from the labor aristocracies of the United $tates and United Kingdom, as well as in France and Germany in recent years. Do Brexit and “Build the Wall” not symbolize enemy ideologies? Are the labor aristocracies of these countries wrong that open borders would prevent them from hoarding wealth in those countries? How does JMP reconcile this political reality with his dogmatic thesis of a revolutionary proletariat in the First World?
JMP asks, “is it implicitly”first worldist" to argue that there is a proletariat at the centres of capitalism and go out to organize, for example, miners around a communist ideology that is also anti-imperialist?"
Organizing miners in the First World against imperialism sounds great. But if you are arguing that they are the exploited proletariat who deserve more money, when they are actually benefiting from imperialist exploitation of the Third World, then you are not organizing against imperialism, are you? It just doesn’t follow that JMP sees the transfer of value in favor of a group from a system and then argues that that group is going to be opposed to that system. The question here isn’t primarily about who to organize, though certainly focusing on the right groups will get us further faster, but rather what to organize around that will push anti-imperialism forward. Perhaps the miners are allied with anti-imperialism for reasons external to income and raw value transfer, such as carbon emissions. To organize them around a radical transformation of our energy system being led by the international proletariat could be a form united front work, but not organizing the proletariat itself.
A Global Anti-Imperialist United Front
One thing we learn from this book is some of the differences between JMP and those who use the term “principally Maoism,” specifically the blog Struggle Sessions. Obviously one should read the latter’s writings to get their real views. However, one difference addressed is that the former sees the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) as the historical event that solidified Maoism, while the latter sees the Peruvian Communist Party as having done so alone and the RIM as a rightest deviation.
Our counter-history of Maoism was presented in our last response to JMP, where we get into the RIM in more depth and our arguments against the practice of forming a Communist International. While Struggle Sessions has some significant agreement with our critiques of the RIM and its role, they actively promote the formation of a new International, as does JMP. In this latest book, JMP concedes that the RCP=U$A sought to and to an extent did control the RIM. To be clear, we did not argue that other parties in the RIM did not have any independence or basis outside of the RIM, we specifically said not all members were revisionists. But those calling for U.$. intervention in Iran certainly were, and such a position should not be up for debate or tolerated among communists.
On page 86, JMP implies that MIM blames the RIM for the failure of the People’s War in Peru. That is not a position that we recall from MIM’s work at the time. Certainly they harshly criticized the RIM for its role in endangering the People’s War after the capture of Gonzalo. This was perhaps one of the most horrific actions in the RCP’s long history of anti-proletarian work, but JMP has nothing to say about it.
Our general complaint with the International model is that it tends to subsume one party under another. Mao fleshed out the theory and practice around the united front within China and learned through hard experience in relating to the Soviet Union, principles that we take to be universal, including the need for the leaders of each liberation movement to interpret their own conditions. To the extent that RIM was a think tank that allowed communists from around the world to come together and agree to the basic principles that defined the latest stage of revolutionary science, we would support such a project. MIM participated in such forums in its original form.
It was in the work of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that we saw the theory of the united front from Mao summed up and reproven in practice in their rectification campaign. This struggle waged in 1992 stressed the importance of the independence and leadership role of the proletarian party in the national liberation struggle. The decision of the CPP to not join the RIM reflects the recognition of the need for independence of each national struggle. This is a line point where we agree with the CPP against others in the international communist movement (ICM) who did join.
At the same time, MIM harshly criticized CPP complacency in pushing a revisionist class analysis within the United $tates. JMP argues that the global class analysis of MIM is rejected by all Third World communists of significance and this is evidence against our position. Yet, we have yet to see any analysis from any of these parties substantiating claims against MIM line; amounting to an argument from authority.
Because the Third World communist parties rightfully have more cred, many will presume they are right about this and follow their lead when they call for uniting the “working class” in North America and denying the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies. The open and conscious rejection of MIP-Amerika’s analysis of its own country by certain Third World leaders, followed by their promotion of the integrationist line, was behind MIM’s decision to say that the global class analysis must be a dividing line question within the Maoist movement globally.
Without a communist international, comrades in the United $tates are free to combat incorrect lines being promoted from other countries and prove our line in practice. Despite whatever great accomplishments certain members of the RIM may have had, we think joining an international was a mistake, proven in practice once again, with the RCP=U$A-run CoRIM promoting revisionism at a crucial point in the history of People’s War in Peru.
MIM Thought also provides insights here beyond the general point of the need for independent development on the national level. An application of MIM Thought to parties in the Third World is that there’s more enemies than friends in the imperialist countries, and people from those countries should be treated as potential spies. PCP practice in expelling Non-Governmental Organizations from territories they controlled was in line with this.
Going back to the theoretical miner example above, we apply the theory of united front to unite all who can be united. And we can frame the global anti-imperialist united front within our global class analysis. We can look to the internal semi-colonies and the Third World diaspora as the most likely allies in the First World, without calling them proletariat. And we can win over sectors of the oppressor nation as well, just as in everything, 1 divides into 2. So we disagree with the implied criticism of our line that there is no real proletariat in the First World to mean there is no organizing against imperialism that can be done here. Certainly staying on the correct path will require an active eye on the Third World proletariat, which our movement has always stressed.
MIM(Prisons) continues to develop the mass line here in the belly of the beast. We continue to promote organizing against imperialism in a principled way that puts the interests of the exploited and oppressed at the forefront. And we challenge JMP, the supporters of eir line, Struggle Sessions or anyone else who thinks they can apply Maoism to occupied Turtle Island while ignoring that the vast majority of people here have a material interest in imperialism, to prove us wrong. Please, just don’t awaken the fascists in your attempt to do so, with your cries about the exploited Amerikan.
We see now in these times a great number of mass movements springing up and struggling for particular causes. A new generation of activists forming and struggling against ever more specific issues. For almost any social issue affecting anyone in the United $tates today you will find some type of movement underway to combat it. From racism, sexism, religious intolerance, wages, to police brutality, prison reform and sentencing reform, etc.
These kinds of issues have more or less always existed here in the United $tates and mass movements have more or less always accompanied them. However, not much has been accomplished. Every one of these issues and forms of oppression continue to plague society, with some of them becoming even more acute. Of course, to many, much has appeared to have changed; with some reforms made and concessions given, the great tactic of pacification and distraction has been utilized. But after generations of struggle and "victories" (reforms) why is it that these problems continue to exist?
These things are like weeds: you can chop them down and it may appear as if they have been removed or cut so low that they are no longer perceived as problems, but they grow right back because the roots were not ripped out. This leaves one mowing the same patch of weeds week after week.
All social movements that aren't struggling to eliminate the root cause of these forms of oppression are only battling non-principal contradictions. This doesn't mean that these issues aren't important, it just means that they are merely effects of the principal contradictions, not their cause. They are by-products of the system that, like weeds, constantly reproduces itself so long as its base remains intact.
What is the base from which these non-principal contradictions originate? It is the mode of production: capitalism. It is the economic base that created and perpetuates these forms of oppression people continue to fight. What people continue to fight is the superstructure that protrudes from the base. But these types of struggles will be an eternal one if we continue to fight what appears to be the cause of oppression instead of its essence.
Karl Marx's scientific study of history, and sociology in particular, allowed him to demonstrate how our material conditions determine our social relations with each other. Let's hear Marx putting forth this concept:
"Assume a particular state of development in the productive faculties of man and you will get a particular form of commerce and consumption. Assume particular stages of development in production, commerce, and consumption and you will have a corresponding social constitution, a corresponding organization of the family, of orders or of classes, in a word, a corresponding civil society. Assume a particular civil society and you will get particular political conditions which are only the official expression of civil society."
So goes the materialist conception of history. But we don't have to take Marx's word for it. We can analyze history and see for ourselves how each different stage of development of the productive forces and the mode that these forces were subsumed produced its own social relations peculiar to that mode of production. And with that, its own contradictions, whether they be manifested in culture, class, gender, "race," etc. This demonstrates that our material relations have been the basis of our relations.
This is the concept of the base (mode of production) producing the superstructure (social relations, politics, laws, ideology, morality, desires, etc.). We use this concept to show that a lot of the forms of oppression that we struggle against are produced by the nature of the economic foundation that we are dominated by. It has produced and continues to reproduce these contradictions. Now it is systemic. If we are ever going to end racism, sexism, imperialism, mass imprisonment, poverty, hunger, etc., then we have to eliminate the thing that causes them.
Our movements must consolidate their efforts to attack the base. We have the valence, we just need to help the people make these connections. Everything is connected in some way to the economic base, its mode of production and distribution. Capitalism's system of "all against all" has created these contradictions we face. With colonialism, imperialism, and especially now with neo-colonialism, many new contradictions and forms of oppression have sprung up that can cloud our vision. But we can't continue to concentrate great amounts of our energy and resources in fighting the non-principal contradictions that don't target the system directly.
It is of course understood that at certain moments a nation's contradictions that were non-principal before, or perhaps even non-existent, can become principal contradictions. For example, in China before/during Mao's revolution Japanese imperialism was the principal contradiction, but afterward new contradictions became acute due to the ever-expanding nature of global capitalism.
In Vietnam before/during Ho Chi Minh's liberation movement against French colonialism, for the people of Vietnam colonialism was the principal contradiction. Then came the fight against U.$. imperialism which quickly became the principal contradiction. But these were particular contradictions, not general ones.
Imperialism is an appendage of capitalism. When the courageous and determined guerilla fighters of Vietnam defeated U.$. imperialism, they did not end imperialism. They only ended U.$.-Vietnam imperialism.
The point is that while forms of oppression like imperialism can seem like the principal contradiction to certain nations at certain times, it can never truly be the principal contradiction overall. Even when China fought Japanese imperialism, and to them it was the principal contradiction, in the grand scheme of things it was not; it was the interests that caused imperialism.
Imperialism can not truly be defeated until the imperialist nations/empires undergo an internal revolution and the economic interests that drive imperialism cease to be. So long as global capitalism and the capitalist global market persists, imperialism will always exist in some form; it will only be shifted from one nation that defeats imperialism onto another, and that cycle will continue.
To rid all oppressed nations of imperialist aggression we've got to rid the imperialist nations of the mode of production (capitalism) that makes imperialism necessary.
Of course, we must always continue to demonstrate against the by-products of capitalism, the non-principal contradictions. But in doing so we have to consolidate these movements and establish a consensus of consciousness so that while we continue to fight everyday oppression we can also understand that the fight is really much bigger and we have to all know what the cause of these forms of oppression is.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great explanation of the nature of capitalism and why reformist and even individual anti-imperialist battles don’t result in the immediate end of oppression. To do that, it's important to define the principal contradiction within any struggle. The principal contradiction is the thing that will push forward a struggle the most. It is the highest priority contradiction, the one that revolutionaries must focus their energy on. It is the string we can pull to unravel the whole situation. And so it's the most important contradiction to focus on right now.
As this author points out, in revolutionary war, as with the ones in Vietnam and China, the principal contradiction is between the imperialist occupying force and the oppressed masses. In the world today overall we see the principal contradiction as between the imperialist countries and the nations they oppress and exploit. In prison we can identify the principal contradiction in a particular situation. For instance when there is an ongoing battle between imprisoned lumpen orgs then the principal contradiction in that prison might be between two lumpen organizations. That doesn't mean it will be the principal contradiction forever. If we achieve peace between the warring lumpen groups, the new principal contradiction may be between the lumpen and the state.
We agree with this writer on the fundamental importance of the contradiction of capitalism. We say that the class contradiction, which under capitalism is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, is the fundamental contradiction. This means it underlies all other contradictions within class society. As this author points out, this is an important guiding principle because it helps us understand why one successful revolution in one country won't lead to the end of all oppression, even within that country. This doesn't, however, mean that class is always the principal contradiction. In fact, as noted above, the principal contradiction in the world today is between imperialist countries and the exploited countries. And even within U.$. borders we see the principal contradiction as between the oppressor and oppressed nations.
By evaluating every situation scientifically we can figure out what is the most important contradiction to focus our energy on. And in this way we can best push forward the revolutionary movement.
While we frequently discuss gender oppression in the pages of Under Lock & Key, most readers will notice a primary focus on national oppression. This is intentional, as we see the resolution of the national contradiction as the most successful path to ending all oppression at this stage. But for any of our readers who like our focus on nationalism, and have not taken the time to read MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, i recommend you take a look. It is in MT2/3 that MIM really dissected the difference between class, nation and gender and justified its focus on nation. Don't just focus on nation because it's more important to you subjectively, understand why it is the top priority by reading MT 2/3.
All USW comrades should be working their way to the level 2 introductory study program offered by MIM(Prisons). We start level 1 studying the basics of scientific thinking. In level 2, we move on to study Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, which gives a good overview of the 3 strands of oppression: class, nation and gender, and how they interact. This issue of Under Lock & Key is intended to supplement that theoretical material with some application to prison organizing and contemporary current events. (Let us know if you want to sign up for the study group.)
Academic Individualism vs. Revolutionary Science
Bourgeois individualism looks at race, class and gender as identities, which are seen as natural categories that exist within each individual. While proponents of identity politics generally recognize these concepts have evolved over time, they generally do not explain how or why. Dialectical materialists understand nation, class and gender as dualities that evolved as humyn society developed. Under capitalism, the class structure is defined by bourgeoisie exploiting proletarians. Class looked different under feudalism or primitive communist societies. One of the things Marx spent a lot of time doing is explaining how and why class evolved the way it did. Engels also gave us an analysis of the evolution of gender in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
One self-described "Marxist-Feminist critique of Intersectionality Theory" points out that "theories of an 'interlocking matrix of oppressions,' simply create a list of naturalized identities, abstracted from their material and historical context."(1) They do not provide a framework for understanding how to overthrow the systems that are imposing oppression on people, because they do not explain their causes. This "Marxist" critic, however, falls into the class reductionist camp that believes all oppression is rooted in class.
The MIM line is not class reductionist, rather we reduce oppression to three main strands: nation, gender and class. This is still too limited for the identity politics crowd. But when we dive into other types of oppression that might be separate from nation, class and gender, we find that they always come back to one of those categories. And this clarity on the main strands of oppression allows us to develop a path to success, by building on the historical experience of others who have paved the way for our model.
While MIM is often associated with the class analysis of the First World labor aristocracy, this was nothing really new. What MIM did that still sets it apart from others, that we know of, is develop the first revolutionary theory on sexual privilege. The class-reductionism of the writer cited above is demonstrated in eir statement, "to be a 'woman' means to produce and reproduce a set of social relations through our labor, or self-activity."(2) MIM said that is class, but there is still something separate called gender. While class is how humyns relate in the production process, gender is how humyns relate in non-productive/leisure time. And while biological reproductive ability has historically shaped the divide between oppressor and oppressed in the realm of gender, we put the material basis today in health status.(3) This understanding is what allows us to see that things like age, disability, sexual preference and trans/cis gender status all fall in the gender strand of oppression.
Using "Feminism" to Bomb Nations
Militarism and imperialist invasion are antithetical to feminism. Yet the imperialists successfully use propaganda that they wrap in pseudo-feminism to promote the invasion of Third World countries again and again. Sorting out the strands of oppression is key to consistent anti-imperialism.
In MT 2/3, MIM condemned the pseudo-feminists by saying that "supporting women who go to the courts with rape charges is white supremacy."(4) A recent Human Rights Watch report discussing alleged widespread rape in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) is getting lots of traction in the Amerikkkan/Briti$h press.(5) This campaign to demonize the DPRK is just like the campaign to imprison New Afrikans, with potentially nuclear consequences. We have two leading imperialist nations who committed genocide against an oppressed nation touting information that is effectively pro-war propaganda for another invasion and mass slaughter of that oppressed nation.
If it is true that rape is as widespread in the DPRK as in the United $tates and Great Britain, then we also must ask what the situation of wimmin would have been in the DPRK today if it were not for the imperialist war and blockade on that country. In the 1950s, Korea was on a very similar path as China. Socialism in China did more for wimmin's liberation than bourgeois feminists ever have. They increased wimmin's participation in government, surpassing the United $tates, rapidly improved infant mortality rates, with Shanghai surpassing the rate of New York, and eliminated the use of wimmin's bodies in advertising and pornography.(6)
An activist who is focused solely on ending rape will not see this. Of course, a healthy dose of white nationalism helps one ignore the mass slaughter of men, wimmin and children in the name of wimmin's liberation. So the strands do interact.
Distracted Senate Hearings
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a hearing before his appointment to assess accusations of sexual assault from his past. This was a spectacle, with the sexual content making it tantalizing to the public, rather than political content. Yes, the debate is about a lifetime appointment to a very high-powered position, that will affect the path of U.$. law. But there was no question of U.$. law favoring an end to war, oppression or the exploitation of the world's majority. Those who rallied against Kavanaugh were mostly caught up in Democratic Party politics, not actual feminism.
A quarter century ago, MIM was also disgusted by the hearings for Clarence Thomas to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice, that were dominated by questions about his sexual harassment of Anita Hill. Yet, this was an event that became quite divisive within MIM and eventually led to a consolidation of our movement's materialist gender line.(7) It was the intersection of nation with this display of gender oppression that made that case different from the Kavanaugh one, because Thomas and Hill are both New Afrikan. The minority line in this struggle was deemed the "pro-paternialism position."
The minority position was that MIM should stand with Anita Hill because she was the victim/oppressed. The line that won out was that Anita Hill was a petty-bourgeois cis-female in the First World, and was not helpless or at risk of starvation if she did not work for Clarence Thomas. While all MIM members would quickly jump on revisionists and pork-chop nationalists, paternalism led those holding the minority position to accept pseudo-feminism as something communists should stand by, because they pitied the female who faced situations like this.
Similarly today, with the Kavanaugh appointment, we should not let our subjective feelings about his treatment of wimmin confuse us into thinking those rallying against him represent feminism overall.
Bourgeois theories and identity politics
The paternalistic line brings us back to identity politics. A politic that says right and wrong can be determined by one's gender, "race" or other identity. The paternalist line will say things like only wimmin can be raped or New Afrikans can't "racially" oppress other people. In its extreme forms it justifies any action of members of the oppressed group.
Another form of identity politics is overdeterminism. The overdeterministic position is defined in our glossary as, "The idea that social processes are all connected and that all of the aspects of society cause each other, with none as the most important."(8) The overdeterminist will say "all oppressions are important so just work on your own. A parallel in anti-racism is that white people should get in touch with themselves first and work on their own racism."(9) Again this is all working from the framework of bourgeois individualism, which disempowers people from transforming the system.
There is a paralyzing effect of the bourgeois theories that try to persynalize struggles, and frame them in the question of "what's in it for me?" Communists have little concern for self when it comes to political questions. To be a communist is to give oneself to the people, and to struggle for that which will bring about a better future for all people the fastest. While humyn knowledge can never be purely objective, it is by applying the scientific method that we can be most objective and reach our goals the quickest.(10)
Who goes there? Calling on the keepers of the last grey stone. There has never been a time more appropriate for the gathering of the lost tribes of the dark world. However, is it real when we chant out "Black Lives Matter"? New Afrikans are launching the building bridges initiative of United Struggle from Within (USW) with the objective of reviving the Afrikan tradition of 'each one teach one'/'go a mile to reach one'. The most relevant topic that one comrade raises is to question "Does Black Lives Matter (BLM) when it is at the expense of the Afrikan identity?"
This subject will be covered by the New Afrikan anti-imperialist Political Prisoners over a period of time. In short revolutionary tracks, this New Afrikan leader, alongside of all those who support him, will go in on the issues that face the BLM movement and what is to be done in order to paint a more clear picture for New Afrikans. This will be done in using language geared towards reaching prisoners, former prisoners and the righteous supporters of the anti-imperialist prison abolishment movement. We who are most affected by this principal contradiction within the United $tates; Oppressor Nation Integration (ONI) vs. Proletarian Nationalist Independence (PNI).
Jumping off the porch from the perspective of #If Black Lives Matter (#BLM) FREE LARRY HOOVER, FREE SHY C, FREE EUGENIE HARISON, FREE JEFF FORT, etc. FREE THE LUMPEN organizations and their leaders who for far too long bit the bullet for being the cause of the destruction of the inner city semi-colonies of the oppressor nation known as amerikkka. We who are truly the last hired and the first fired, we step to the plate speaking in plain language, asking the right questions. Like, if the CIA is responsible for all the drugs and firearms being circulated in the hood, why are we the ones who sit in prison since Black Lives Matter!?
We read publications, like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, that goes to describe the racial caste system of imperialist nations as the pit of class divides in the amerikkkas, but we go to the root issue of this class divide misinformation with the question of how could there be a class divide within an exploiter nation?
The whole matter is that really, we just want a bigger slice of the pie, but at whose expense? If Black Lives Matter, why settle for being black? Why not consider oneself to be in solidarity with a nation of its own, separate and unequal to that of its previous slave masters (oppressors), when we in all actuality just want to replace the slave masters only so that we may become them; Police bullies, gossip columnists, fake doctors, tax agents and bill collectors. We ain't doing nothing but reforming the beast (exploiter nation) that we love to hate. So in essence, the same crackers we claim is at the root of our suffering, the same bleach we claim to be destroying our skin, we're putting it on. We have become the beast. So why do Black Lives really Matter? Not until Black Lives become Afrikan, they don't.
This is the objective of this build, to destroy the misinformation spread throughout the prison yards, and the New Afrikan neighborhoods, done so to keep those of us who really suffer as a result of the oppressor nation's strategy to keep them (the so-called criminals, gang members and terrorists) uneducated about national liberation, un-united with those who share a similar national hardship/oppression, and dependent on the bourgeoisie exploitation systems of anti-socialism.
It is most imperative for those who hold most dear to the identity of Black Lives Matter to go to the root of this idea and relay the foundation of the identity of ancestral reality. Fighting over class positions that translate into a bigger slice of the pie, stolen from us in the first place, will get us no closer to the national identity determination and independence we so rightfully hope for. Only, that hope is false if we fall into the trap trick that selling our soul by becoming integrationist with the pig state that we will achieve national liberation. Remember, the pie (the systems like welfare, social security, income taxes) the exploiters created off the backs of we the People and our natural resources. If Black Lives Matter, why is it a crime for Blacks to consider themselves Original People (True/Native Ameriqans) or Asiatic Africans? Moors or Maroons & Caribbs?
Why do those who proclaim leadership or stewardship for the Black empowerment identity find themselves enemies of the state, that their own so-called people work hard with to maintain their Black Wall Street? Since we're on the topic, what happened to Black Wall Street? Did it really disappear, or did it turn up in Chicago with Oprah Winfrey, Louis Farrakhan and the 'Occupy Wall Street Movement'? A lot of groups ain't gonna like how we are connecting the dots to expose those who are most in need of the truth, that is the root reason for voices of the truly oppressed not being heard by the international supporters of anti-imperialism. But, we don't have nothing to lose because we never sold out, so it doesn't matter who don't like us.
We speak the People's & Kinsfolk's language (Block talk) because we are amongst them that are traveling in the murky waters, struggling with an objective solely rooted in delivering the message of Maoist culture in a way the People and Folks will comprehend it.
Knowing that we cannot free our people of their psychological enslavement without first addressing the national identity of WE as a socialist people. USW works from a bottom up vantage. We build from the inside out. Concentrating on the communities around us to develop independent systems of education, communication, economics and control.
In my last article on China I rehashed the 40-year old argument that China abandoned the socialist road, with some updated facts and figures.(1) The article started as a review of the book Is China an Imperialist Country? by N.B. Turner, but left most of that question to be answered by Turner's book.
We did not publish that article to push some kind of struggle against Chinese imperialism. Rather, as we explained, it was an attack on the promotion of revisionism within the forum www.reddit.com/r/communism, and beyond. The forum's most-enforced rule is that only Marxists are allowed to post and participate in discussion there. Yet almost daily, posts building a persynality cult around Chinese President Xi Jinping, or promoting some supposed achievement of the Chinese government, are allowed and generally receive quick upvotes.
The title of our previous article asking is China in 2017 Socialist or Imperialist may be misunderstood to mean that China must be one or the other. This is not the case. Many countries are not socialist but are also not imperialist. In the case of China, however, it is still important (so many years after it abandoned socialism) to clarify that it is a capitalist country. And so our positive review of a book discussing Chinese imperialism, became a polemic against those arguing it is socialist.
One of the major contradictions in the imperialist era is the inter-imperialist contradiction. The United $tates is the dominant aspect of this contradiction as the main imperialist power in the world today. And currently Russia and China are growing imperialist powers on the other side of this inter-imperialist contradiction. Reading this contradiction as somehow representative of the class contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat or of the principal contradiction between oppressed nations and oppressor nations would be an error.
We have continued to uphold that China is a majority exploited country, and an oppressed nation.(2) But China is a big place. Its size is very much related to its position today as a rising imperialist power. And its size is what allows it to have this dual character of both a rising imperialist class and a majority proletariat and peasantry. Finally, its size is part of what has allowed an imperialist class to rise over a period of decades while insulating itself from conflict with the outside world — both with exploiter and exploited nations.
A major sign that a country is an exploiting country is the rise and subsequent dominance of a non-productive consumer class. At first, the Chinese capitalists depended on Western consumers to grease the wheels of their circulation of capital. While far from the majority, as in the United $tates and Europe, China has more recently begun intentionally developing a domestic consumer class.(3) This not only helps secure the circulation of capital, but begins to lay the groundwork for unequal exchange that would further favor China in its trade with other countries. Unequal exchange is a mechanism that benefits the rich First World nations, and marks a more advanced stage of imperialism than the initial stages of exporting capital to relieve the limitations of the nation-state on monopoly capitalism. As we stated in the article cited above, China's size here becomes a hindrance in that it cannot become a majority exploiter country, having 20% of the world's population, without first displacing the existing exploiter countries from that role. Of course, this will not stop them from trying and this will be a contradiction that plays out in China's interactions with the rest of the world and internally. At the same time with an existing "middle class" that is 12-15% of China's population, they are well on their way to building a consumer class that is equal in size to that of Amerika's.(3)
In our last article, we hint at emerging conflicts between China and some African nations. But the conflict that is more pressing is the fight for markets and trade dominance that it faces with the United $tates in the Pacific region and beyond. China remains, by far, the underdog in this contradiction, or the rising aspect. But again, its size is part of what gives it the ability to take positions independent of U.$. imperialism.
As we stated in our most recent article, this contradiction offers both danger and opportunity. We expect it to lead to more support for anti-imperialist forces as the imperialists try to undercut each other by backing their enemies. Then, as anti-imperialism strengthens, the imperialists will face more global public opinion problems in pursuing their goals of exploitation and domination. In other words, a rising imperialist China bodes well for the international proletariat. Not because China is a proletarian state, but because the era of U.$. hegemony must end for a new era of socialism to rise. We should be clear with people about the definitions of imperialism and socialism to make this point.
China's potential to play a progressive role in the world in coming years does not change the fact that the counter-revolution led by Deng Xiaoping dismantled the greatest achievement towards reaching communism so far in history. If we do not learn from that very painful setback, then we are not applying the scientific method and we will not even know what it is that we are fighting for. How and when socialism ended in China is a question that is fundamental to Maoism.
I was going over some points about integrationalism from a magnificent work by RADS called [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. What I read talked about the rise in the percentage of Chicanos joining the military. (Between 2000 and 2004, Latinos went from 10.4% of new military recruits to 13.0%, pg. 132.) It goes on to talk about the key of the struggle of the oppressed nation is: "National liberation!" Not an integrationist approach into an entity with the whites who make up the majority of military troops. (My emphasis)
I believe that the "civil rights" theory of sharing what whites are privileged at or enjoy, tho' may equal some form of equality, will not equal liberation from oppression of the people.
The overall goal is to overthrow imperialism and their exploitation of the proletariat and their oppression of mankind, not to have a "civil right" to also be able to exploit and oppress and have a piece of the imperialist pie. In the end game we must obtain communism through socialism.
I think many get lost in the sauce of "civil rights" stimuli and become confused about how we should end oppression and genocide of our folks.
Not only is it our duty to refrain from getting caught up in the "civil rights hype" and use the materialist method, but also what comes with the territory of staying true to our politics is that we must also correct those of the stock who do fall for the civil rights approach when trying to escape or put an end to imperialist madness. This same stock I speak of are some of the same folks who could also make up some of the potential to join the ranks of the people's army.
I would like to address the question if there should be a united front alliance with white nationalist groups.
I am all for aligning with other groups who face oppression and who share the same goals. When it comes to white nationalist groups first a few things must be clarified. First question is who and what is "white." White is scientifically not a racial group. Also do whites in prison and the world face the same systematic oppression as people of color? Lastly looking at history how has interactions between whites and people of color effected the non-white groups in a positive way?
The question on "who and what is white?" has an elusive answer especially right here in the United $tates. Since 1790, the United $tates has allowed only "free white persons" to become citizens; in the twentieth century as non-European immigrants applied for citizenship it became the responsibility of the courts to set limits upon whiteness. George Dow, a Syrian immigrant, was denied eligibility for citizenship on the basis that geography defined race; to be white was to be European. Dow eventually won on appeal, showing that Syrians were indeed Europeans based on geography and thus members of the white race. In 1922, a Japanese immigrant named Takao Ozawa argued that he should be considered a white person because his skin was literally white, asserting that many Japanese people were "whiter than the average Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese." His case would go all the way to the Supreme Court, which rejected his claim to citizenship and the idea that race could be determined by skin tone: "To adopt the color test alone would result in a confused overlapping of races and a gradual merging of one into the other, without any practical line of separation," claimed one judge.
Using the science of the day, the court ruled that "the words 'white person' are synonymous with the words 'a person of the Caucasian race'." Since Ozawa was not a Caucasion, he could not be white. In only a short time later, in the case of an Indian immigrant named Bhagat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court betrayed its Ozawa ruling and declared that while all whites are Caucasian, not all Caucasians were white. Even scientists classified Thind as undeniably Caucasian, but the court insisted that "White" must mean something more. "It may be true that the blond Scandinavian and the brown Hindu have a common ancestor in the dim reaches of antiquity, but the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences between them today." To prove his purity, Thind invoked the Aryanist myth of ancient white conquerors setting up the caste system to preserve their race. "The high-class Hindu" he argued, "regards the aboriginal Indian mongoloid in the same manner as the American regards the negro." With all that Thind was denied citizenship. Within the category of "Caucasian," the court noted one could find a wide range of peoples including South Asians, Polynesians, and even the Hamites of Africa based upon their Caucasian cast of features, though in color they range from brown to black. For reasons not articulated the court decided Thind was not white, and therefore not granted privileges of the white empire.
That the Supreme Court could reject a white-skinned Japanese because he was not Caucasian and a brown-skinned Caucasian because he was not white reveals that white people have made race what it has always been: an unscientific and inconsistent means of enforcing social inequality that further rules the machines of global white supremacy. This machine is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions. So basically whiteness is whatever white people say it is. So by white nationalist groups even identifying themselves as white places them in a privileged position in the global white supremacy machine. It is no secret why someone would want to identify as "white," especially in the United $tates where there is undeniably a caste system based on skin color. With whiteness comes privilege and a sense of entitlement. Yes, I know there are white comrades who are being oppressed also but it is not solely based on their skin color or ethnic group. They are basically collateral damage of the capitalistic and imperialistic system that comes from global white supremacy. White people make up around 11% of the world's population yet at least 82% of the world's population is in some fashion being oppressed by the global white supremacy machine. Are white nationalist groups really ready to give up their whiteness to stand for true revolution even if that means in the process whiteness will no longer exist?
History shows that those of us who fight for revolution have aligned ourselves with white groups and white individuals who claim they seek change too. In the midst of this, problems usually occurred. Most notably is with William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison, a white man, can be labeled as a true revolutionist of his time. As an abolitionist he spoke out against slavery and demanded full racial equality even before the Civil War. He also publicly burned the U.$. constitution, calling it an "agreement with hell." Garrison seemed like the white nationalist who wanted to join the fight but he still couldn't escape his sense of privilege and superiority. This moment came when Frederick Douglass, Garrison's protégé, told Garrison that he wanted to start a newspaper. Garrison, fearful that Douglass would draw black readers away from his own paper and hurt that Douglass would even think of competing against him, discouraged the plan. Another white abolitionist in Garrison's camp, Maria Weston Chapman, even doubted Douglass could have the mental capacity for such a task. Douglass went ahead and started his newspaper which ended his friendship with Garrison. Garrison, though he wanted to help, could not see that the revolution was not about him but about the millions of people being oppressed. He still had to be a white guy about the whole situation. He took his sense of privilege and entitlement and wanted to discourage another in his attempt to add to the cause. So can white nationalist groups align themselves with the United Front without trying to make the fight solely about their ego? Can the United Front hold the fight when aligned with white nationalist groups without having fear of offending white people when truths are spoken against capitalism, imperialism and global white supremacy when it puts the collective of white people in a negative light?
Lastly how have groups who are predominately non-white benefited in the past when coming into contact with whites? Historically the relationship between non-whites and whites has been one of colonization, genocide, slavery, imperialism, and destruction. Though all non-white groups and cultures did not live in idyllic golden ages before the coming of white people, these elements weren't consistent, nor were they typical, until the advent of white culture domination. This has been the consistent relationship of white people with the world. So history shows the consistent nature of white people when coming in contact of non-white people has been one of predatory and exploitative relationships.
Now some will say I'm being racist by stating these facts but consider the fact that people of "hue" hence humans have been the most tolerant and accepting people you'll ever encounter (sometimes to our detriment) and this premise of exclusion came from white people themselves. It is only us who are confused about where they stand. Now yes there are those white individuals and groups who attempt to confront and resist these norms. Those who have attempted to do so in earnest have learned these lessons the hard way. White people who actively resist whiteness (and all of its norms) are out-casted, disowned, and reviled by other members of their own groups. This is what defines the community and collective identity and not the individuals who know that "treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity."
So can white nationalist groups abandon their whiteness and sense of privilege? If so then yes United Front can align with them in some fashion. Based on historic events it should be controlled and constantly evaluated. Also whites need not to hold hands with us and smile but reach in their own communities and take the fight to their own who actively and by default participate in the global white supremacy machine which governs capitalism and imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that to identify with whiteness is to identify with an oppressor nation, and we therefore say that Amerikans must commit nation (as well as class and gender) suicide through their actions, in order to join the side of humynity.
The example given of Garrison and Douglass is a fine anecdote, but it is just an example of a couple of people. So we would caution our readers to not draw broad conclusions from isolated examples. And there are books out there, like Settlers: The Mythology of a White Proletariat by J. Sakai and False Nationalism, False Internationalism by Sera and Tani that do broader historical analysis of the relationships between the oppressed nations in the United $tates and various groups of "revolutionary" or "progressive" whites.
Both of those books are looking at imperialism, or at least its emergence in the United $tates. Imperialism's identity is found in the conflict between the oppressor nations and the oppressed nations that resist them. While ideas of superiority based on phenotypical characteristics (appearance) certainly did not originate with imperialism, it is with imperialism that nation becomes principal. Therefore, we would reverse the author's premise that the "[machine of global white supremacy] is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions." Marx and Lenin explained the evolution of imperialism on economic terms, while the culture and ideas that came with it were a reflection of those economic changes. In other words, which came first, racism or capitalism? There were seeds of racism before imperialism, but national oppression (the material manifestation of racism) solidified as a system under the economic conditions of imperialism. The ideas of racism, so central to our society, are a product of this system of national oppression that evolved with imperialism, not the cause of it.
In the struggle against white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism, a united front does not require agreement on every position, or even for all parties to "stand for true revolution." In the context of the prison movement, white nationalists might be serious about the struggle against long-term isolation because their leaders are very likely to face this torture. In this case, we'd suggest we should unite with these groups to work on that campaign. In this issue of ULK we have some examples in which such temporary alliances for common interests as prisoners have succeeded.
The question of how oppressor nation and oppressed nation revolutionaries should relate in this country is a whole other question brought up by this comrade. We will only address it briefly to bring up some general points for further analysis. The urge to unite with white people in the United $tates is a recurring theme due to the fact that the white nation has been a majority population by design since the founding of this country, and it's hard to fight battles as the minority. As we know, those numbers are projected to change in the not-so-distant future. But even when euro-Amerikans become the minority, will most oppressed nation people be anti-imperialist? In current conditions they are not, though great potential remains. As we are currently in a non-revolutionary situation, we think it is a reasonable organizing strategy to avoid white people and white organizations altogether. There are plenty of oppressed nation people yet to be organized, and single-nation organizations have proven most effective in U.$. history at building revolutionary movements.
As conditions become more revolutionary, if forces in favor of revolution remain the minority in all nations in the United $tates, those who avoided whites before may be tempted to address this issue again. The Panthers organized with euro-Amerikans from a position of strength, so that they largely avoided those euro-Amerikans harming their movement, especially in the early years. Yet, Huey Newton found New Afrikans in a position of weakness due to their minority status that led to his proposal of the theory of intercommunalism. Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition and Huey Newton's Intercommunalism demonstrate a strong tendency in the Panther leadership to approach euro-Amerikans as potential allies in the anti-imperialist united front similar to how they approached other nations.
From Malcolm X to Stokely Carmichael to the Panthers, New Afrikan revolutionaries have pushed whites to organize their own. But how do they do that? Some white organizations tried to mimic the Panthers, but this was only viable in small pockets of lumpenized whites. Other groups have provided support structures to oppressed nations, where the focus is on organizing whites to serve other nations. But we need something in between, where white people can be leaders, applying and learning from the scientific method of building a revolutionary movement, but at the same time serving other nations in ways that are against the interest of their own. We don't think whites can organize on the same basis as the Panthers, because they are on the opposite side of the principal contradiction. But we also don't think relegating whites to the kitchen is allowing them to develop politically, and is therefore setting back progress. This could be done on the basis of accountability and self-criticism. It could also incorporate shared self-interest in opposing environmental destruction and war. But a truly revolutionary current among euro-Amerikans will likely not gain much traction until the oppressed nations have progressed the struggle to a stage that is more advanced than it is today.
In an article titled "Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American Student," published in January 1965, Max Stanford argued that Black students of the "warbaby" generation embodied several contradictions at once – contradictions that could lead them to embrace capitalism and white values, check out altogether, or join the revolutionary movement. What I like about this idea from Max Stanford is many of us Black lumpens scream and protest about oppression and unjustice. But as soon as we're pacified with promises of more jobs and wage growth we tend to get amnesia on how capitalism is creating the oppression and injustices.
Sometimes I question organizations that scream that we need to be free and equal but still want to hold on to petit-bourgeois ideas. I can agree with Max Stanford about the warbaby generation that wants oppression to end but will embrace capitalism as if that system will truly liberate them from oppression. I see this happening today; what we should be protesting about is bringing in a new economic system which can give us control of the means of production. Rather than riot and protest and beg these imperialists for more oppression and injustice in order to satisfy our material desires.
Another point I want to express is the embracing of white values. When we hear the term white values what is Max Stanford getting at? Well he must mean how Blacks will adopt lifestyles and ideology that most capitalist whites have. Now I assume Max Stanford was envisioning a future in which New Afrikans would sell out the revolution for material wealth in supporting a system which creates class divisions in Amerikkka and abroad. A lot of revolutionaries of the past used self-censorship in order to support capitalism and gave up on the struggle for the fear of being isolated targets of the imperialist masters. We have even gone so far as denying self-determination. So I agree with Max Stanford's statement that Black revolutionaries would embrace white values.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a very relevant point about the potential for oppressed nation people to be pacified with material wealth. We have seen a movement towards integration and buying off oppressed nations within U.$. borders, as a part of a dual-pronged strategy from the government since the revolutionary movements of the 60s and 70s: dramatic incarceration rates combined with significant movement towards integration. We still see sufficient national oppression that we continue to have distinct nations within U.$. borders, but as with other nations in the past, Amerika could decide to fully integrate its oppressed nations to focus its energy on the exploitation of the Third World. Already superprofits are being shared with the [email protected] and New Afrikan nations so that even while facing national oppression they are enjoying an economic benefit from their Amerikan citizenship. And this promise of material benefit does lead revolutionaries to give up the struggle, as this author points out.
So we have to ask, what should revolutionaries do with these material conditions? This issue of ULK is about movement tactics, and it is an analysis of our conditions that should lead us to determine what are appropriate tactics and strategy for our organizing work. At this point in time we still believe that the principal contradiction within U.$. borders is between the oppressor nation and oppressed nations. It's even possible we will see this contradiction heighten as the white supremacists gain a stronger foothold in open roles in the government. So for now it is our job to educate and organize the revolutionaries, with a focus on the oppressed nations. But we are not fighting for the economic advancement of oppressed nation workers, who are already benefiting from imperialism. Our message must be clear: we are internationalists, fighting to end all national oppression, not just gain a bigger piece of the pie for internal oppressed nations while the pie is baked with the labor of exploited Third World workers.
Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
Available for $20 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
As anti-imperialists and prison activists, we can recommend Ed Mead's recent autobiography as a useful read. There are a couple inconsistencies with the form and the line promoted in the book, however. While Mead critiques anarchism and reformism in the book, at the end is a list of a number of organizations that struggle for prisoners' rights, and they are all reformist/mass organizations with a couple anarchist groups thrown in. Mead stresses that he does not believe communists should hide their beliefs. Yet it is odd that he finds no communist prison support groups to be worthy of mention. Moreso, it seems that for much of Mead's life ey couldn't find a communist organization to be a part of and support.
We also must question the form of an autobiography. Our culture promotes the idea of writing one's own story. While this author has been told to write an autobiography multiple times, having lived much less of my life than Ed Mead, i don't plan to ever do so. I hope that if i do live as long as Mead i'm too busy fulfilling my tasks in a communist cadre org (or hopefully state by then) to spend a bunch of time writing about myself. Certainly there is some value in terms of the building of humyn knowledge of documenting the conditions of the time and places that Mead experienced. But it does not seem a high priority for communists. It was probably for this reason that i found the first chapters of the book tiring to read. I didn't really need to know all about Mead's family growing up to learn some lessons about how to organize with prisoners effectively. But perhaps that was my own problem as that was never a stated purpose of this book.
The foremost stated purpose of the book by Mead is to "extend an invitation to sections of the lumpenproletariat to join the international working class." While not a bad goal, it does hint at differences we have with Mead and other communists within California Prison Focus (CPF) regarding whether nation or class is the principal contradiction. This has led to divisions in our work to shut down Security Housing Units in California. In the 2000s, MIM was part of the United Front to Abolish the SHU, which was dominated by parties and organizations struggling for national liberation. While CPF was nominally a member, their difference on this issue led to a lack of working together. This was despite the fact that the United Front explicitly allowed for organizational independence in terms of political line outside of our agreement on shutting down the SHU. In the 2010s, CPF was part of the leadership that created the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Mead was perhaps the only one who tried to include MIM(Prisons) in that effort. But the coalition structure forced us to the outside this time as MIM(Prisons) refused to subsume our politics to the coalition.
While recognizing whites as obviously having advantages over others, Mead does believe there is a significant white nation working class in this country. While citing Mao favorably multiple times, Mead points out Mao's failure to put class first as a point of disagreement.(p. 164) Mead's line is also reflected in an off-hand comment saying Stalin was wrong to condemn the German social-democrats as social-fascists. We think Stalin and the Comintern correctly saw the class nature and interest of the social democrats as being labor aristocracy and petty bourgeois, who wavered towards fascism, paving its way to power.(1)
Mead talks about "white skin privilege" and uses it as an agitational point to push people to join the class war while discussing eir participation in the militant George Jackson Brigade. Mead admits that eir decision to use revolutionary violence was a direct result of the lack of mass support for abused prisoners.(p. 181) At the same time ey mentions other groups at the time doing similar things and believing that small bands carrying out armed struggle would spread across the country. Mead does not conclude anywhere in the book that it was a mistake to take up this line even though comrades died, while the rest spent the prime of their lives in prison. As we discussed in a recent article on the Black Panthers, it was both common and understandable to conclude that armed struggle would become a reality in the United $tates at that time.(2) Yet, not only are conditions less advanced today, history also proved that armed struggle in the United $tates was premature in the conditions of 1966-72.
From what we know about Mead in real life and from reading the book, it is clear that ey was good at and focused on uniting all who could be united. And while we say it is better for communists to work within cadre organizations than mass organizations, as Mead did much of eir life, ey certainly did so in a principled way according to the book. And most of those principles are ones that we too support.
As mentioned, i came to this book in search of some lessons on anti-imperialist organizing in prisons. And while some of the stories are very abbreviated, the book is not short on examples of Mead's efforts, pitfalls and successes. Mead talks about the importance of determining the principal contradiction at each prison ey organized in. While in most cases ey sait it was related to nation, ey said it was related to sexism in Walla Walla, which led to the formation of Men Against Sexism.(3) Interestingly, Mead takes the position that while nation is principal inside prisons, it does not make sense to build a Black-only prison movement (at least on a large scale).(p. 280) We are sympathetic to this view and spend a lot of time calling for unity between nationalities in prison, while promoting national liberation as a strategy for the oppressed nations overall. A couple of good lessons are well-put in Mead's own words:
"...if the immediate demands address prisoners' rights and living conditions, then the backwards elements will either be won over or neutralized by the growing consciousness of the rest of the population."(p. 305) This was one of the most inspiring parts of Mead's story. In a situation where the prison system was dominated by one lumpen organization (LO) that was guided by self-interest, Mead had the revolutionary fearlessness to organize those victimized by the LO to build a mass movement that the whole population came to identify with.
"An organization that depends upon one person for direction is doomed to fail; each level of cadre should be able to take the place of a fallen or transferred comrade, even if that person occupies a leadership position."(p. 306) Mead learned this from experience, both in situations where ey was that sole leader and others where ey was surrounded by a dedicated cadre. Inspiring stories include the first strike ever at McNeil Island, which had 100% participation.(p. 139) While many of the challenges of prison organizing are still the same decades later, you'll find many other inspiring stories in this book as well. It demonstrates both the importance of the prison movement as part of the overall movement for liberation and against imperialism, while showing the limitations of a prison movement that is not complemented by strong movements on the outside. As the current struggle focused on police murders continues to ferment, we work to build a prison movement, and they will feed each other as we move towards the next revolutionary period in history.