Psychological Warfare Promotes Divisions Over Subjectivism
I wanted to respond to the document On Cardinal Principles from ULK 54.
The situation where a group was supporting imprisoned white power by promoting the 23 via events outside prisons was left-opportunism. It was a situation where the activists felt it was necessary to cater to imprisoned white supremacists in order to "move the movement forward."
During World War II Stalin made temporary alliances with Hitler, but this was only because Russia had to build up its military, and millions of lives were at stake. Here, had the activists chose not to promote imprisoned white power the movement and its united front would have survived.
Looking back at the response/decision to split with MIM(Prisons) over them not issuing a statement on the matter, I must now say it was wrong. I believe now that I should have criticized MIM(Prisons) on this, but I should not have supported a split. It was an over-reaction, which I feel was brought on by a combination of things. One being the extreme repression and pressure I was under in the concentration kamp. It did affect me in ways I am still dealing with. I was in a situation where death by the state was perpetual, solitary was a mountain of pressure and white supremacy was the assassin ever-present. I felt at the time, betrayal for those who would not issue a response. This of course was an incorrect response.
Being released from the kkkamps has allowed me to look at my thoughts on this with new eyes. It is true that MIM(Prisons) had served prisoners including myself for many years. I should not have responded as if I just met them. This was a result of many years of solitary, and the psychological turmoil that the state put me through. This kind of turmoil often has prisoners turn on each other, here I turned on comrades politically, comrades who had been my instructors for years. I was wrong for this.
I accept the criticism from MIM(Prisons) and for the historical record I stand in unity with MIM(Prisons).
I hope with this self-criticism that our imprisoned comrades can learn from it. It's important to know that to split with comrades over tactics, whether it is over something you feel you may be correct on, is a very big move. Prisons, and particularly solitary confinement, at times obscures our ability to respond in a materialist way. One way to avoid these challenges from escalating is to take a break when you start to think these thoughts. Write the organization/persyn and let them know that you are taking a break so as not to exacerbate the conflict.
I should note that the tactic of activists to promote the 23 has now been overturned. So in that aspect I was proven correct, it was my response that was incorrect. But this was a very important lesson.
The movement cannot move forward with subjective decisions. I allowed subjectivism to determine my decisions on this issue and that was an error. MIM(Prisons)'s line never changed so my affiliation with them should not have changed either.In Struggle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We whole-heartedly accept this self-criticism from Pili based on this statement and eir principled work with the Republic of Aztlán.
It is not unusual for us to encounter anger and frustration from our comrades inside. Our relationship is tenuous through the mail. Often comrades will question us because of this. We generally know more about them then they know about us. That is an imbalance that can encourage doubts. This is a good example of the psychological warfare that solitary confinement wages on the oppressed. It is not just about isolating individuals from others, it has broad and lasting impacts on the oppressed's ability to organize effectively.
For all the reasons mentioned by Pili, we try to be patient and understanding when there is the occasional riff with a comrade we have worked closely with for some time. But we always to looking at practice — look at our work, look at what we say. Is it consistent? Is it correct? And we will take the same approach with you. Sometimes comrades/organizations do change their line and practice to a degree that warrants splitting with them.
Advanced comrades should think about what a dividing line question is for them. This can help orientate you, and avoid subjectivism, when you find yourself questioning whether another group is an ally or not. See the article cited by Pili above for a discussion of cardinal principles and what we believe Maoists should and shouldn't divide over.