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[Economics] [Theory] [New Afrikan Maoist Party]
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NAMP response to MIM(Prisons) criticism

Resolution on Criticisms of NAMP's Line Related to UFD

This resolution is being passed by Our Party to publicly announce what Our line is on a few questions raised by MIM(Prisons) and members of their study group, and to address their criticisms on what they think Our line is. We challenge MIM(Prisons) to print this resolution in their Under Lock & Key newsletter to let the people decide for themselves what Our line really is, instead of blasting Us in a one-sided debate.

UFD is an outgrowth of various affiliated mass organizations Our Party has attempted to jump start. Initially, UFD was a subdivision of the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, as one will learn from reading the original edition of Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty. Since MIM(Prisons) abruptly withdrew their financial and administrative support of Our efforts to jump start UFD as a mass organization, the revised edition of Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty was unable to be completed on schedule. So, the public isn't aware that the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty has been absorbed by UFD, which now stands for the Ujamaa Fraternal Dynasty. UFD is now a New Afrikan nationalist fraternity and the vanguard of the Movement for Ujamaa Dynasty, and it's divided into a General Nduguship (primarily for progressive elements of the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie) and a Field Division (primarily for ex-lumpens who haven't necessarily reached a revolutionary phase in their political development, but have given up their criminal lifestyle).

"Without revolutionary practice, revolutionary theory means shit!" Our Party hasn't liquidated itself at all into UFD, nor have We watered down Our politics. We are Maoists. But We are New Afrikan Maoists. And We uphold the three cardinal questions of MIM(Prisons) [editor's note: NAMP was not aware of MIM(Prisons)'s new cardinal points adopted around the same time as this resolution], going so far as to recognizing that the New Afrikan worker is a labor aristocracy and that most New Afrikans, including the lumpen, are bourgeois. No, Our class analysis hasn't changed either. So, what's all this criticism about over Our line? Well, part of it is Our fault for not being very clear Ourselves to articulate what amounts to a new strategic positioning. We admit, We knew where We wanted to go but didn't really know how to get there. The vision was clear but painting it was murky. We wanted to remain true to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but the context We are operating in isn't compatible to what We know to be true. We can't force square pegs into round holes. Revolutionaries must make revolution, but We must do so within concrete, objective reality.

Marx provided Us with the theoretical foundation, but he didn't bring about revolution. Does this mean his theoretical work wasn't correct? Absolutely not. He advanced human knowledge in relations to Our theoretical understanding of the development of things, including human history in Our struggle for economic, social, and political freedom. Lenin came along and applied Marxism to formulate even more advanced revolutionary theory according to the concrete conditions he was faced with. So too did Mao. But each were in a unique position. They had Marxism and the lessons of failed revolutionary struggles to work from. And they grew to political maturity during a revolutionary period within their respective countries. So, the concrete conditions gave their theory basis to advance the concrete revolutionary struggle of the time to socialist victory.

What are the concrete conditions We are faced with? There's no question We have available to Us the most advanced theory of revolution paid for in the blood and failure of many hundreds of thousands of Marxist revolutionaries. Our problem is that imperialism is winning worldwide not only in terms of economic and political dominance, but also in the conversation of what is and what is not a valid economic and political paradigm. Currently, Islamic Fundamentalism, in all its warped ideas and distortions is, nevertheless, doing more against imperialism than the Maoist camp worldwide. To that extent, We applaud Islamic Fundamentalists for fighting the imperialist snake that cloaks itself in the rhetoric of democracy and freedom. But We prefer Marxism.

Yet the concrete conditions We face as New Afrikan Maoists in imperialist America — indeed, as Maoists period — gives Our theory very little basis to advance the concrete revolutionary struggle of the proletarian camp. We are surrounded by enemies. Even the lumpen, as MIM(Prisons) admits, are parasites. But they argue that the lumpen "benefit less from imperialism, and more importantly face extreme oppression under imperialism." Well, they would be repressed under socialism too if they refused to give up their criminal ways. Lumpens are outlaws antagonistic to any system. Granted, imperialism is less amicable to reforming the lumpen than socialism would be. Under socialism, the lumpen would be given greater opportunities to reform themselves. But We're not living under socialism but imperialism, so lumpenism, like bourgeois subjectivism among the petty bourgeoisie, will be a great impediment to advancing Maoism in this country. With the lumpen, however, lumpenism plus bourgeois subjectivism are a double wammy.

MIM(Prisons) and its study group members aren't seeing the forest through the trees. Taken as a whole, We must conclude that the lumpen is not only more reactionary than the petty bourgeoisie but are manifestly less able to contribute to concrete revolutionary struggle against real oppression. For one, they're either locked down or under some form of law enforcement supervisions. Most are under-educated and lack discipline, and the prison system under imperialism isn't conducive to their rehabilitation, much less their politicization. This is why 7 out of 10 lumpens released from prison come back, and that not one who is released, in Our experience, stays active in revolutionary work or can be effective doing so. The imperialists are too powerful, and We're trying to fight them through propaganda and theoretical work. Are We serious?!

No, this is NOT to say We can't win against them nor that all lumpens are worthless. Firstly, Our Party was founded by ex-lumpens who MIM helped reach political maturity. Secondly, no enemy is undefeatable when you have the power of truth on your side. But having truth on your side won't guarantee people will recognize it just because you say so.

MIM(Prisons) and its study group members are caught up in ultra-leftism of another brand. Wake up and smell the coffee. This isn't 1917 nor 1949 in underdeveloped countries with weak capitalist governments. This is 2010 and capitalism has reached its highest stage of imperialism, which has strong imperialist governments worldwide. We better do as Lenin and Mao, both of whom were sharply criticized for moving away from what was considered the 'right doctrine' by developing new, practical approaches to apply revolutionary theory to their unique circumstances.

One thing MIM(Prisons) ignores about New Afrikans is that 1) We are an oppressed domestic colony of the United States, and 2) Our benefit from the super-profits flowing into this country is incidental to Our domestic neo-colonial status (the operative word being "domestic"). Just being in this country gives Us incidental access to its stolen wealth. MIM(Prisons) acts like the Catholic Church which tries to make people feel guilty about being human with sexual urges. This may not be the best analogy, but the point is that MIM(Prisons) makes it seem like everything is gravy between white Americans and New Afrikans. This smacks of the mainstream conservative argument that race doesn't matter anymore or isn't such a big deal like before. See, this is an ultra-leftist position trying to fit the square peg of the New Afrikan labor aristocracy into the round hole of the white labor aristocracy. Because MIM(Prisons), in its dogmatic adherence to the now defunct MIM's line on the labor aristocracy as straight up enemies of the international proletariat, can't strategically cope with an oppressed New Afrikan labor aristocracy vis-a-vis a dominant white labor aristocracy. It's easier for MIM(Prisons), the only active Maoist cell We know of coming out of MIM, and which only concerns itself with the prison movement, to write off any possible struggle to mobilize the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie against U.S. imperialism.

It's really sad MIM(Prisons) would so shamelessly distort the fact that New Afrikan people in this country, from lumpen to national bourgeoisie, as a whole still must contend with white supremacy and racist discrimination, both institutionally and blatantly. Everything from housing, employment, health care, government assistance, mental health, incarceration, education, sports, entertainment, etc. New Afrikan people face white supremacist/ racial discriminatory factors. And We know this. Call this identity politics, if you like, but racism is still very real in this country and will lead, during an economic and political breakdown, to full blown fascism. Just look how Muslims and migrant workers are treated.

We never said the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie is a revolutionary class within the context of socialist revolution — We're not too sure We can say the lumpen is. What We did say, and repeat here publicly and clearly, We hold the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie to be the most revolutionary class within the context of the bourgeois nationalist phase of the New Afrikan revolution. And We think this bourgeois nationalist phase strategically will heighten the contradiction between white America and New Afrikans while negating Our bourgeoisification.

Let's be real here. New Afrikans as a whole, due to white supremacy and racist discrimination manifested in neo-colonial practices, are locked out of major control over their own economic wealth by white America — albeit a part of super-profits. The point is, there's no way for white America to increase the New Afrikan share of the "pie" without weakening their own economic and political hegemony. There can be no increased super-exploitation of the Third World to "include" New Afrikans fully into the labor aristocracy elite. For one, other imperialist countries won't allow it. And two, the Third World would hate America more. The inevitable consequence of any New Afrikan bourgeois nationalist revolution would be 1) the heightening of the contradiction between white America and New Afrikans (clearly this is in accord with the principal contradiction in the world today being between oppressor and oppressed nations, unless MIM(Prisons) can conclusively prove how New Afrikans are no longer an oppressed nationality); 2) negate the bourgeoisification of New Afrikans as they become more radicalized as a whole; and 3) give Our Party the concrete basis to advance Our revolutionary line among a more receptive, radicalized nation of New Afrikan people.

We want to make revolution, not sit around doing propaganda and theoretical work until somehow a revolutionary period suddenly occurs. We must realize the imperialists apply their own science in theory and in practice to prevent revolutionary crises and maintain their dominance. We can't counter this through propaganda and theoretical work alone. We must figure out concrete, practical ways to heighten the principal contradiction. In this day and age, the role of the vanguard isn't just to thrash out line questions, do political agitation, and develop cadres, because We're not faced with the same concrete conditions Lenin and Mao, even Marx, were faced with that justified and enhanced their need to do this type of work. Right now We're preaching to the choir. This isn't about pragmatism, right opportunism, nor revisionism. This is about making revolution and not allowing Our bigger enemy to keep dictating the terms of Our fight.

In conclusion, Our Party hasn't forgotten our duty. MIM(Prisons) and its study group members should refrain from ad hominem arguments and demagoguery, and trying to pigeonhole Us by misrepresenting Our position on the questions We've addressed. Our support of UFD has nothing to do with any bourgeois subjectivism. The size of Our cadre or the resources available to Us is only part of the equation. The biggest is whether We can do something like what We're doing with UFD to advance both the concrete and theoretical revolutionary struggle of New Afrikan Maoism without losing Our way. We see no manifest danger that Our Party will degenerate into revisionism, right opportunism, or pragmatism. UFD isn't under Our Party leadership, so We're very much able to promote Our line and to criticize UFD if it deviates from the path of challenging U.S. imperialism via New Afrikan bourgeois nationalist revolution without "scaring" people from it.

And so that it is clear, We encourage Our cadre to join the ranks of UFD on its terms, not to secretly radicalize it. Again, We support its aim and purpose to the extent it challenges U.S. imperialism and can more effectively build independent institutions that serve the oppressed. Being that membership in Our Party is anonymous for security reasons, We see very little conflict in Our cadre joining the ranks of UFD. This is a strategic question, not a line question. There are practical benefits to Our cadre joining UFD as there are in them getting a job working for a bourgeois business. Besides being devoted to advocating New Afrikan nationalism and struggling against gang violence, drugs, sexism, criminality, poor education, unfair criminal justice practices, lack of prison reform, etc., UFD is devoted to building a financial and business network by which 1) business minded members of UFD can receive financial, technical, and marketing support from every other member of UFD who benefit from their investments; and 2) these businesses and investors can partner up, using their collective leveraging power to set up larger, corporate ventures on a distributive and productive scale to compete for hundreds of billions of dollars. Our cadre who are members of UFD will benefit from UFD's economic success, thereby allowing them to contribute more to the work of Our full-time Party workers. Everyone in Our Party has a purpose, and WE all can fulfill Our vanguard role, too.

For the record, We support MIM(Prisons)'s work and believe We were wrong to expect them to neglect their work to support Our strategy. That was right opportunism. And We no longer seek their aid in anything other than debating with Us publicly and privately to help Us further thrash out Our own line. We must develop Our own self-sufficiency, which We are slowly doing. MIM(Prisons)'s withdrawal of their support wasn't necessarily a set back, but rather a needed lesson. You can't hold a child's hand forever and expect them to blossom on their own. We owe MIM(Prisons) much and publicly pledge to repay them. And We encourage Our incarcerated cadre and supporters to participate in MIM(Prisons)'s study groups.

Let this not be Our final word on the matters discussed herein. We invite further criticisms, questions, comments and suggestions. But let Us all be objective here.

NAMP Central Committee
September 2010


MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome the response from NAMP on our criticisms, as we don't like one-sided debates either. As we pointed out, we had no official documents from NAMP to refer to in regard to their political line as it has developed in recent years. The fact that this is the first public document we've seen from NAMP in years we'll leave as evidence of our position that NAMP liquidated the vanguard to develop a petty bourgeois mass organization.

For the most part, this response substantiates the points made in our original self-criticism. While accepting the labor aristocracy thesis, NAMP attacks the lumpen from a petty bourgeois position, then turns around and supports outright organizing on behalf of the economic interests of an exploiter nation. Organizing New Afrika around economic nationalism certainly offers historical advantages to organizing a European nation against U.$. imperialism, as MIM opposed in their opening piece in MIM Theory 14: United Front. Still, we would rather organize New Afrika as an oppressed nation around issues of oppression that are very real, life and death questions for the New Afrikan lumpen, or those facing even worse conditions in Africa.

In their discussion of racism, NAMP argues vehemently that the New Afrikan nation has interests opposed to imperialism because it is oppressed. Yet, when it comes to the lumpen, NAMP gives us the tautology that could be summarized as, "the lumpen can't be effective revolutionaries because they face oppression" such as high recidivism rates, poor educational opportunities, state supervision and prison. Of course, that very oppression is behind our position that the lumpen are potential allies of the proletariat.

To better demonstrate our differences, let's first understand what the lumpen class is. They are an excess population, something that Marx said was unique to the capitalist mode of production. They have no role to play in reproducing society; they are forbidden from playing a productive role in society. To talk about the lumpen as being criminal-minded first, rather than recognizing the origins of their class and therefore their class consciousness is backwards. The lumpen were not born as anti-social individuals, they were attacked first, usually because of national oppression from the white power structure. They turn around and fight the system in self-defense. So it's not just that the lumpen will be given more opportunities under socialism, the lumpen will cease to exist once the mode of production changes to meet humyn need. Those individuals who refuse to reform of course will be repressed.

We agree that the lumpen are bourgeoisified in the United $tates, just like everyone else is. And in China it was the lumpen who were often the hardest to reform, because their whole attitude is based on blatant parasitism — getting something for nothing. It is important to note that the lumpen in imperialist countries are not the same as the lumpen Marx, Lenin and Mao talked about. We can't just mechanically apply definitions about the lumpen, just like we can't mechanically assume that the workers in imperialist countries are the same proletariat they were back in Marx's day. For Marx, the lumpen were living among the proletariat, but were not of the proletariat class. That led to a different consciousness that made them tough allies, and they were a small minority. In the U$ we're talking about whole communities, ghettos, that are lumpen/petty bourgeois. There is a group consciousness there that is tied to national oppression. In imperialist countries there are many other attitudes among the lumpen in addition to parasitism, most importantly among the oppressed nations, that differentiate them from the petty bourgeoisie in progressive ways. We disagree with NAMP's assertion that lumpenism compounds bourgeois subjectivism, and say that in imperialist countries it actually plays a role in combating it.

One result of their exclusion and oppression is that the lumpen exists on the periphery of bourgeois society. It is on the periphery where there is room to move. We see advantages in freedom and security among the lumpen that don't exist among the petty bourgeoisie. Yes, prisoners are under extreme state control, limiting their ability to organize. But so are the proletariat of the Third World. In fact, this argument from NAMP is nothing new. "The oppressed are too uneducated and face too much repression to rise up in arms," has been the petty bourgeois line since Marx's day.

The strength of the state, in a country where spies far outnumber communists, is a daunting barrier that we acknowledge as much as anyone. But the Amerikkkan prison system has laid the ground work for building schools for developing revolutionary theory. The intelligentsia among the lumpen, which is concentrated behind steel and concrete, is one unique aspect of the lumpen in the United $tates that is in our favor. It is this group that is the basis of MIM(Prisons)'s existence and work.

It is curious that NAMP claims we ignore that New Afrikans are an oppressed domestic colony, as we have always pushed that line regarding all internal semi-colonies to the point of being accused of racism by many white prisoners. We counter NAMP's economic organizing strategy, with a strategy of organizing against oppression. On their second point in that paragraph we do think there is a difference in positions. In our minds it is highly debatable to claim that New Afrikans benefit from super-profits only incidentally to their oppression. Our general line is that integration was about 50% successful since the time of the Black Power movement. We hope to refine this analysis in future publications and welcome any contributions to this research from NAMP. We recognize the neo-colonial significance of Barack Obama to New Afrikans, and criticized those who thought this was somehow changing things for oppressed people inside or outside the United $tates.

We have never argued that the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie cannot be an ally in the anti-imperialist struggle, and here we challenge NAMP for misrepresenting our line. We do make two criticisms of them on this issue, one is regarding what points we should organize New Afrikans around, and the second is the relationship of the proletarian vanguard to other classes in the New Afrikan nationalist movement. NAMP's mistakes lie in organizing the petty bourgeoisie in an imperialist country around their economic interests, and doing so in the name of a supposed proletarian party, or its mass organization.

NAMP praises the anti-imperialism of the national bourgeoisie in the Muslim world, but would do well to compare the situation here to there. New Afrika has no land, nor natural resources, nor influence over currency markets. And despite having over 1 million citizens who are legally slaves, there is little exploitation of New Afrika to fight over. In other words, economically speaking, New Afrika has little to lose and much to gain from imperialism. Imperialism provides the petty bourgeoisie in the United $tates with their current income levels and living standards far above most of the world. We fail to see any bubbling of a revolutionary situation there. And certainly, if there was, it would not be based on economism, but on questions like voting rights, state repression and mass imprisonment.

In the original self-criticism we clarified our position on New Democracy for the internal semi-colonies. When NAMP actually addresses the question of New Afrika as an exploiter nation, the crux of their argument in favor of organizing the petty bourgeoisie is that the United $tates cannot buy off New Afrikans. As was demonstrated in our Case Study on the U.$. Housing Market Decline, more than half of New Afrikans are already bought off (at least materially speaking) with super-profits. What NAMP needs to address to be consistent is how New Afrika went from proletarian to petty bourgeois in recent generations, and their line that now it is impossible for the economic gap between New Afrikan and white Amerika to be closed.

If we assume for a minute that NAMP's economics are correct though, then we ask what application of United Front theory calls for the abandonment of proletarian politics to organize other classes? NAMP wants to claim that they still exist as a vanguard upholding Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and that there is no danger of revisionism in their strategy. They propose that it is okay to secretly join mass organizations and hide one's politics. Yet for all their stress on the importance of practice, where is NAMP's practice as a vanguard? Where is NAMP's practice independent of their organizing of the petty bourgeoisie to build economic independence? How is this not liquidationism?

NAMP's "we're preaching to the choir" line is typical of liquidationists and those who put numbers in command. They think we need to reach as many people as we can and get them on the streets first, then we can work out the details of what it is that we're doing. Reaching new people is great, but as MIM often said, "Revolutionary practice without the right theory is worse than shit." It should be clear to anyone reading this debate that not even the choir is clearly on the side of the preacher in either of our cases and there is much ideological struggle and development to be done before there will be any question of making revolution in the United $tates.

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[Theory] [Organizing] [New Afrikan Maoist Party] [ULK Issue 16]
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Self-Criticism on Relations with New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty

[Editor's Note: Before the public version of this self-criticism was published, the NAMP comrade mentioned below denied most of the political lines attributed to h herein. Since NAMP has made no official political statements either way on these issues, the question of NAMP's real line is a mystery for now. We hope that they will print documents that clarify their positions for future struggle.]

This self-criticism comes following the rectification of the relations between MIM(Prisons) and the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) and its associated organizations. After being assigned the role as the primary contact for relations between MIM(Prisons) and other organizations, i failed to correctly apply the Maoist theory of United Front in this position. Here i will outline my mistakes and demonstrate why they should not have happened.

Historical Background

NAMP predates MIM(Prisons), and both organizations came out of circles working closely with the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika before its disintegration. We were both focused on lumpen organizing within a Maoist framework. Soon after forming, MIM(Prisons) took over "MIM Distributors" and continued this institution by distributing MIM literature through the Free Political Books to Prisoners Program that MIM had led for many years. At the same time that we were developing this transition of responsibilities, our comrades were in dialogue with NAMP to help with the distribution of their journal that had been launched earlier that year.

MIM Distributors became the main source of the NAMP's Party Bulletin. MIM(Prisons) dedicated its own resources to producing and distributing these materials as a fraternal Maoist organization with NAMP. On the whole, we uphold the Party Bulletin as correct and an excellent starting point for a New Afrikan vanguard party. The Party Bulletin even premiered some new political line on the lumpen in the United $tates that MIM(Prisons) and others also uphold to this day.

As NAMP had established itself as a fraternal organization with a correct line and practice, the responsibility of coordinating our work together on behalf of MIM(Prisons) was put into my hands. By the time the last issue of the Party Bulletin (issue 6) was put out, NAMP had already launched a new mass organization called the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty. This organization was explicitly less radical than other groups NAMP had attempted to launch under its umbrella, with a focus on their strategy of developing ujamaa or "cooperative economics." While we had already struggled with NAMP over this strategy in the past, i did not see this difference as a dividing line question.

The Party Bulletin ceased and after a period of "reorganization" NAMP's leadership came back to MIM(Prisons) with the Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty asking for help with production and distribution. This was part of a plan to expand and fund the work of NAMP and the New Afrikan Liberation Movement in general. But it was more than a fund-raising tactic, it was a strategic orientation that saw pushing the contradictions between the New Afrikan national bourgeoisie and the imperialists as principal. It is at this point where my practice began to violate the Maoist line on United Front, not to mention our line on the cell structure.

Fundraising: Strategy or Tactics?

Throughout our relationship with NAMP, i expressed disagreements with their strategy based on building New Afrikan-owned businesses, but did not want to impose unrealistic fundraising techniques on a fraternal organization struggling to get going.

In 2002, MIM's PIRAO Chief had already dismissed the strategy of developing bourgeois businesses with proletarian politics, using lumpen and labor aristocrats from the imperialist countries, as being an ultra-left strategy. A counter argument would apply if comrades are unemployable. Having one's own business would be a good way to employ comrades with prison records, for example. Generally though, we should be opportunistic in our fundraising and not get sucked into life projects nor into risky get-rich-with-little-work schemes. The Amerikan dream is an easy resource that we can tap for the movement with minimal work and preparation.

Most New Afrikans are legally employed and are therefore labor aristocracy/petty bourgeoisie. Compared to starting their own businesses, they could do more for the struggle by being part-time cogs in the imperialist country mall economy to raise funds for anti-imperialist work. Ironically, NAMP lost the hypothetical unemployable argument for building businesses when they more recently switched their recruitment focus from the lumpen to the petty bourgeoisie.

Strategy should stem from one's political line. Therefore, when NAMP and i (as representative of MIM(Prisons) ) agreed that we should not split over strategic orientation i should have been pushing some of those disagreements harder. To an extent they were correct to say we should not split on strategy, particularly in a stage when we do not have a centralized party as is currently the case. Different cells and organizations will vary in their tasks and therefore in the strategies to achieve those tasks. So the question should have been, do we agree that the tasks that each other is taking on are worthwhile? Now it is clear that we do not. If we had dug into these issues deeper at the time, we could have avoided the confusion we have now created and the setbacks we have caused both organizations.

No Neo-Colonialism

Part of this self-criticism is a criticism of the NAMP leader putting forth a liquidationist line. In short, NAMP abandoned their focus on the lumpen in favor of the petty bourgeoisie, who they said had the most revolutionary potential. This was justified by an inappropriate application of aspects of the theory of New Democracy to New Afrika. While Mao used his theory of New Democracy to demonstrate the impotence of the bourgeoisie as a revolutionary force in a semi-feudal exploited country and the need for proletarian and peasant organizing, NAMP used it to justify organizing primarily the petty/national bourgeoisie for their own economic interests as a necessary precursor to a socialist revolution. This is backwards, because even the impotent Chinese bourgeoisie were economically hampered and oppressed to a degree that New Afrika has not seen for at least 50 years, and Mao showed that they could not be depended on as a progressive force due to imperialism's influence.

NAMP's New Democracy line is an example of something that i didn't investigate enough and struggle with thoroughly. Others in MIM(Prisons) have also been self-critical for not thoroughly investigating the line of this material we distributed to the masses, due to laziness. To approve these items for distribution by MIM Distributors, we should have been as thorough as we are with an issue of Under Lock & Key. Ultimately, it is not practical for one of us to serve as the distributor for the other because NAMP and MIM(Prisons) are not in democratic centralism with each other. With the movement decentralized in a cell structure, we must each study and understand each others' work before distributing it. Being forced to do this, and the subsequent learning process for all leaders that will occur, is a benefit of the cell structure in a period where theory is a big focus.

At MIM's 1998 Congress they defined the "No Neo-Colonialism" point of their United Front policy by saying, "Always keep the perspective of the international proletariat and do not use the United Front as an occasion to cut 'a special deal' for one oppressed nation." Siphoning resources from MIM(Prisons) to NAMP effectively cut short the internationalist struggle in favor of one nation's struggle under a leadership that was openly organizing for the economic interests of those benefiting from the super-profits from Third World nations around the world! The open focus on the petty bourgeoisie happened late in the game, but it was the logical conclusion of the "cooperative economics" strategy and "New Democratic" struggle with no proletarian leadership.

The limited size and influence of our organizations makes the claim of neo-colonialism seem a little disproportionate to reality. But that just shows how narrow my view was to take resources for the internationalist struggle and funnel them into this very small operation, on the premise that it represented the New Afrikan struggle for self-determination.

No Pimping

"The most backward masses should be able to see what the difference is between us and our allies, except for fraternal parties on issues that are not the third cardinal [the labor aristocracy question —ed.]." - MIM's 1998 Congress resolution on policy for building the United Front

One thing that NAMP's work demonstrated was the appeal of nation-based organizing. While NAMP was pushing essentially the same political line in the Party Bulletin as MIM had put forth, often printing MIM articles, they attracted recruits that MIM did not. This small confirmation of the correctness of single-nation parties reinforced the importance of building NAMP to me.

It was a combination of attempting non-interference and of trusting a long-time comrade that led me to support Ujamaa as we had supported NAMP. While MIM(Prisons) did not officially run the Ujamaa, it was associated with MIM(Prisons) in a way that i saw as validating our correctness to the masses. Here was another mass organization coming from the lumpen that was part of the MIM camp. Like NAMP, the Ujamaa recruited people who then read MIM literature, which was also a material benefit of keeping the Ujamaa around. This was opportunism, linked to sectarianism, or putting the organization first as opposed to the struggle and the correct line to push the struggle further. As a result we confused the masses about what the best line and practice was.

For a Maoist organization to provide resources for a mass organization that it leads, particularly in its early stages, is completely legitimate according to Maoist theory. For NAMP to fund Ujamaa work is one thing, since NAMP controlled Ujamaa. For MIM(Prisons) to provide labor, supplies and funds to promote the Ujamaa was incorrect.

A correct practice was to print an interview with the Ujamaa in Under Lock & Key, i.e. within the context of our own Maoist newsletter. To co-publish materials with other mass organizations is completely within the realm of United Front work as long as we are able to assert our political line and criticize our comrades when necessary.

Hard Bargains

Another lesson to take from this is that any material/financial exchange for work should be strictly accounted for between the parties as well as with the central leadership. It is ultra-left to assume relationships under capitalism can exist in an amorphous mutually beneficial way. Acquiring material wealth is THE goal under capitalism, and it will take many generations of socialism before this will cease to be true. That's not to say that people can't act outside their material interests under capitalism, but instead to put a realistic standard on how relationships should be structured at this time to avoid problems.

As NAMP effectively liquidated itself into the Ujamaa, they went as far as to imply that MIM(Prisons) should do the same. But it was only after MIM(Prisons) work continued to expand and a long period of conflict between my efforts to support the Ujamaa and our own work that i seriously considered breaking our relationship with NAMP. Harder bargaining wouldn't have corrected the situation, but it would have reduced the setbacks to MIM(Prisons) work and the false expectations developed within the Ujamaa of our relationship.

It was a liberal approach that led me to continue siphoning MIM(Prisons)'s resources to NAMP/Ujamaa for so long. I saw our relationship as a binding contract, and i saw breaking it as going back on my word. This was an incorrect view of the situation, since MIM Distributors agreed to distribute NAMP material only by virtue of it being fraternal, Maoist literature. Because NAMP was leading the Ujamaa work does not mean that we should honor that relationship; that is a bourgeois approach. This was my biggest error: that i didn't say 'no' to working on the Ujamaa because it is not a Maoist organization.

Another way i looked at it is that NAMP was working hard and in the middle of a lot of things that i could sabotage if i just cut the rug from under them. But again, neither of us should have gotten in this position in the first place. NAMP cannot be an independent organization if MIM(Prisons) has the ability to do that to them. This is important to realize in a time when the movement is made of many small, independent groups who are trying to figure out how we can support each others' work.

No Liquidationism

When the Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty came out, a couple of comrades within MIM(Prisons) brought significant criticisms of the line presented in it and asked why we were distributing it. I justified it by saying it was only a mass organization and need not be held to the same standards. While i was privately criticizing and debating NAMP, i essentially silenced the Maoist critiques of the Ujamaa with my line that these criticisms were too harsh for a mass organization that we were effectively bankrolling.

There is one simple rule that should have prevented my errors and it is not new to me. That rule is that Maoists do not distribute materials that we do not agree with without criticizing it or providing our own line in conjunction with it. Reading MIM Theory 14 on United Front helped me fully realize the mistakes that i made, and i recommend that it be studied thoroughly by all revolutionaries as a crucial component of building an effective anti-imperialist movement. I don't think i will make the same mistake again, but there is no excuse for making it this time, when i had already studied United Front theory.

In the end, both MIM(Prisons) and NAMP have suffered from my mistakes and the mistakes of others in both organizations. The masses have suffered because an organization they look to for leadership has confused things for them. This is not to condemn mass organizations like the Ujamaa, or even the Ujamaa itself, which has taken aim at many of the pressing problems of New Afrikans. But we are seriously criticizing its leadership to the extent that it overlaps with NAMP. For those who see the system for what it is and hold no illusions or attachments to it, we should expect much more than petty bourgeois business development built on super-profits from the Third World. For me to treat work for Ujamaa as equal to work for MIM(Prisons) was a disservice to the pushing forward of the struggle and promoting the most correct line needed to do that. This is the same error that NAMP has made (to a greater degree) by liquidating itself into the Ujamaa.

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[Theory] [California]
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To kill the individual

To kill the individual is the first objective of the potential revolutionary. To become a revolutionary one must first become human. When we become revolutionized we step into the conscious of our/all humanity. Once we become conscious of our/all humanity we see that it is a struggle to liberate all oppressed people (free & caged) of the atrocities of the capitalist imperialist system. The revolutionary makes the mental adjustments that must take place to evolve from LO member to revolutionary socialist/communist and takes up the fight to liberate all of humanity.

In laymens terms a revolutionary is a "force" for change. So to become a revolutionary simply means "we must change". Change the way we think and change the way we treat each other. As a revolutionary political force we must recognize and understand that individualism means death. The "I just do me" mentality must be defeated for a revolutionary to come into full consciousness. I read somewhere once that "a revolutionary like a snake sheds his old skin and regrows the new skin of the people." We have to start living in accordance with the laws of humanity with a socialist politic. As we learn through study, through observation, through actual experience and as we live dialectic materialism we strengthen our commitment to the socialist/communist cause/struggle.

Revolutionaries realize the reality of the U.S. is one of historic and continued exploitation, injustice and racism. It is our obligation to end forever this fascism, because that is what we're currently liven under here! Individualism must disappear, want for the apolitical brotha what you want for your/our comrade. The ability to determine the world we inhabit is just a world where grown ass racist pigs in Seattle can punch out a young black teenage girl and get away with it, a world where racist trigger happy pigs in Detroit can murder a little black girl and get away with it, a world where a capitalist system allows oil to just continue to spew into the ocean destroying the ecological system. All this shit can be stopped if we kill the individual and step into consciousness.

The people can't wait they need the enforcers of change to lead them to freedom and justice, to a world where we all work and live according to our principles of socialist humanity. Revolutionaries adhere to a cause/struggle greater than themselves, humanity needs those who are ready and willing to fight for the liberation of the oppressed, those who are ready and willing to, if necessary, sacrifice the individual for the many. Franz Fanon said "where individuals are concerned, a positive negation of common sense is evident. While the settler or the policeman has the right the livelong day to strike the native, to insult him and to make him crawl to him, you will see the native reaching for his knife at the slightest hostile or aggressive glance cast on him by another native; for the last resort of the native is to defend his personality vis-a-vis his brother." Obviously the "native" is us "the convict" and the "settler" is "the oppressor pigs". When we become revolutionized we no longer accept the oppressors not respecting our humanity.

There is no such thing as an unconscious revolutionary. A revolutionary sees the plight of the masses and seeks through armed struggle and resistance to relieve the masses of their injustice. The question is how does the revolutionary socialist/communist navigate the individualistic attitudes of the typical convict? How does a conscious revolutionary convict reach the potential revolutionary in this cesspool of apolitical, self-hating individualistic brothers? As a revolutionary socialist who is quite limited in his movement due to 6 years in the hellish existence of the California SHU at Corcoran how do we get them to realize, recognize and understand as individuals we are lost and conquered but as a force of united revolutionaries under one politic, one ideology, one banner and one color?! Long live the revolutionary. Power to the people who don't fear freedom. As long as we continue to think in terms of "me & I" we will never unite and amass the power to defeat capitalist imperialism and fascism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade makes a strong point about the need to fight individualism as a part of the revolutionary struggle. This is a particularly big challenge in the belly of the beast, where it is all about doin' me and mines, even among those who face extreme repression under imperialism. On that note, we agree with the MIM line on fascism: "even though the imperialists have not implemented fascist measures against the exploiter majority in First World countries, the imperialists are the principal prop of fascism in the oppressed nations." Within U$ prisons there is an argument to be made that fascist conditions exist, just as they do in many parts of the Third World, funded by the United $tates. But internally, Amerikan imperialism remains a bourgeois democracy.

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[Theory] [Economics] [United Front] [ULK Issue 17]
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Building United Front, Surrounded by Enemies: Case Study of the U.$. Housing Market Decline

foreclosed McMansion
Typical Amerikan homes provide luxury most people can only dream of, while home values far above the actual cost of materials and labor lace the owners' pockets with super-profits.

United Front is the theory of uniting different groups across class lines for a common goal or interest, while maintaining independence where those groups disagree. The application of united front theory is about recognizing different contradictions in society and utilizing them in the interests of the international proletariat. The primary united front is the Anti-Imperialist United Front, which is made up of the majority of the world's people whose material interests lie in defeating imperialism. This is a strategic united front based on the principal contradiction.

In this article we will address a couple of contemporary issues in the United $tates and analyze their potential for united front work. We'll see that many of the big conflicts in a First World country are between the enemy classes, but that does not always mean we sit on the sidelines. Some forms of united front are tactical and require fast action based on thorough knowledge. To successfully navigate the potential for united front in the First World that serves the interests of the Third World proletariat we must first have a correct analysis of our conditions. The first section of this article provides a quick background to get us started.

Land, Housing and the Settler Nation

One of the arguments made against the labor aristocracy thesis is that corporations have no interest in sacrificing profit to pay First World workers more, and there is no corporate conspiracy to enforce such a policy. This is based in the theory of free market capitalism, or only reading the beginning chapters of Marx's Capital and treating that as an accurate model of reality in all places for all time. As a class, capitalists do depend on the labor aristocracy, not just politically, but economically as consumers and cogs in their growing pyramid scheme of finance capital. And there is at least one place where the U.$. imperialists can exert their will as a class (more and more these days) - it's called the U.$. government. The promotion of home ownership by the feds is one of the biggest examples of the imperialists consciously building a labor aristocracy within the heart of the empire.

Home ownership has been a staple of Amerikan wealth since the settlers stole this land from the First Nations and built their homesteads on it. The net worth of Amerikan families compared to First Nations and those descended from slaves in the U.$. is one legacy of this form of primitive accumulation. While land ownership among the earliest European invaders was 100% (that's why they came to the Americas), by the 1775 War of Independence, land ownership was still at 70% for the Euro-Amerikan nation.(1) Arghiri Emmanuel pointed out that Amerikan wages were able to stay so high in this early period of capitalist development, even as land ownership ceased to be universal, because the abundant "free" land stolen from the First Nations provided a fallback plan for European settlers.(2) This primitive accumulation through genocide was the basis for wealth that the Amerikan labor aristocracy enjoyed as industrialization transformed more of the settlers into wage laborers.

Following the inter-imperialist struggles of WWI, the United $tates became the dominant imperialist power. The influx of wealth that came with this allowed for the integration of southern and eastern European immigrants into the white nation leading up to the Great Depression.(1) From 1900 to 1950, home ownership rates in the United $tates averaged about 45%, with the lowest rates in the Black Belt South and the highest in European dominated northwest states.(3) After the economic recovery that came with the spoils of WWII, the United $tates embarked on the suburbanization of Amerika with numerous incentives from the federal government to bring home ownership above 60% again.

Since 1960, home ownership has stayed above 60% for U.$. citizens as a whole.(4) This rate was above 70% for white Amerikans in recent years, but the census does not have comparable statistics by race going back very far. Blacks and Latinos are just under 50% for rates of home ownership, even though national oppression has ensured that they currently face foreclosure disproportionately.

Emmanuel's theories in Unequal Exchange demonstrate how the significantly higher incomes of people in the First World actually transfer wealth to the imperialist countries from the Third World, reinforcing their economic advantage. Similarly, the oppressor nation has equity and is able to increase wealth in ways that the internal semi-colonies have not been able to do despite access to exploiter level jobs. All of this fits with the general trend of capitalism, which is the accumulation of capital. The more you have, the more you tend to get.

Collapse of the U.$. Housing Market

The left wing of white nationalism (whether self-described anarchists, socialists, Maoists or Democrats) has been saying that the increase in home foreclosures is an indication of the heightening contradictions between the Amerikan proletariat and the capitalists. These people defend the stolen land that was the foundation of wealth for settler Amerika, and the modern home ownership pyramid scheme that is the foundation of the Amerikan dream today.

Not only have millions of people lost their homes to foreclosure in recent years, but fear-mongers point out that the “2008 sub-prime mortgage market resulted in the disappearance of $13 trillion in American household wealth between mid-2007 and March 2009... on average, U.S. households lost one quarter of their wealth in that period."(5) Such alarmists ignore that Amerikans gained $10 trillion from 2006 to 2007 to reach an all-time high, and that net worth of the country's citizens has generally gone up at increasing rates since WWII.(6) The bigger ups and downs in all financial markets are certainly signs of crisis, but to act like Amerikans are being sunk to Third World conditions in 2010 is ludicrous. If only these activists would cry so loud for those who really have had to live in Third World conditions for their whole lives and for generations!

Most, if not all, of the loss in Amerikans' net worth is accounted for by stock portfolios and values of homes (which are bought and sold like stocks these days); in other words losses in finance capital. Traditionally, the petty bourgeoisie in Marxism was not exploited, nor did it significantly exploit others. To claim that those who reap profits from investments of finance capital are anything less than petty bourgeoisie is a rejection of Marxist definitions. With home ownership around 68% in recent years, that is a solid two thirds of people in the United $tates who fall squarely into the category of petty bourgeoisie or higher, including 50% of Blacks and Latinos (minimum). This group is 210 million people, or only 3% of the world's population in 2010, yet they hold more net wealth than the total market capitalization of all publicly traded companies in the world.(7)

Our critics point to the great wealth inequalities within the United $tates as reason to organize Amerikans for revolution. So let's just look at the bottom 80% of Amerikans, who owned 15% (a mere scrap from the table if you will) of the net wealth in the United $tates in 2007 (and this was a 15-year low for them).(8) While their share has decreased a few percentage points since 1983, total net worth in the United $tates has increased by almost 5 times. Therefore the lowest 80% of Amerikans went from about $2.2 trillion in net worth in 1983 to almost $10 trillion in 2007. (Two trillion dollars could eliminate world hunger for the next 66 years, until 2076.(9)) "Middle class" Amerika has assets that are greater than the GDP of China,(10) the world's industrial powerhouse representing about 20% of the world's population. That's comparing just the Amerikan "middle class" and "poor" to the whole nation of China, including its well-developed capitalist class.

Since the proletariat, by definition, has negligible net worth in the form of assets, let's look at their income.(11) Income generally increases proportionately with net worth across the globe.(12) Almost half of the world's population lives on less than $1000 per year. That is 3.14 billion people living on less than $3 trillion in a year.(13) Now before we condemn Amerikans' huge assets, let's make sure that they just aren't better at saving and investing their money than the proletariat. In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifty percent accounted for only 7.2% of consumption.(13) A conservative estimate leaves us with Amerikans, on average, consuming at least 27 times the average persyn in the poorest half of the world.(14) So money management skills cannot explain Amerika's huge net worth.

A just, sustainable humyn society requires the Amerikan labor aristocracy to be brought down to consumer levels much closer to the Third World. But this little exercise demonstrates that this is far from happening, despite the alarmists' cries.

Ultimately, the contradiction we're describing is between the labor aristocracy and the imperialists. The imperialists, in particular finance capital, are a dynamic, opportunist class. In contrast, the labor aristocracy benefits from stability of the status quo. The finance capitalists were able to make quick profits by selling the labor aristocracy short, so Amerikans are pissed. While perhaps pushing the labor aristocracy towards fascism, the finance capitalists are also undercutting the consumerism of Amerikans that their system depends on so much. What we are witnessing is an internal contradiction in the imperialist system playing out. Both groups control trillions of dollars in super-profits from the Third World, and the Anti-Imperialist United Front has no interest in one of them getting more than the other. We need to keep sitting this one out.

Migration to the United $tates

As discussed above, high wages and ballooning housing values reinforce themselves in our current economic system, making the rich richer. However, neither could be maintained without erecting a border outside of which these two things cannot flow. Therefore, keeping wages and housing values high is directly linked to the battle over increasing repression of migrant laborers within U.$. borders. The contradiction in this struggle is between oppressed nations who are trying to gain access to jobs in the United $tates and the oppressor nation that is trying to keep them out. This challenge to imperialist country privilege indicates that the battle for migrant rights is part of the anti-imperialist struggle.

While Third World people and some Amerikan youth faced Amerikan labor aristocrats on the streets, it was the U.$. District Court that put in place an injunction on most of the provisions of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 (SB1070), in light of a lawsuit filed by the U.$. Department of Justice (DOJ) against the state of Arizona. The DOJ held that immigration was under federal jurisdiction, and that they had a plan for the whole country to balance its various interests related to immigration that Arizona would not be allowed to mess up.

The interest of the bourgeois internationalists is in having free access to markets and labor, not to mention international relations. This camp includes the federal government and their finance capitalist backers as well as smaller businesses that only operate in the United $tates, but depend on migrant labor. Their conflict is with other bourgeois interests and the bourgeoisified majority of Amerikans whose position of privilege stems from the elitism of who is allowed to enter their fortress of jewels.

There is effectively a united front between the internationalism of the mass resistance to SB1070 on both sides of the Mexican border and the U.$. government acting on behalf of bourgeois internationalism. And for now, it is the imperialists who are really throwing a wrench in the works for Amerikans, even though the contradiction at its base is between oppressed nations and the oppressor nation.

A majority of Amerikans in a number of polls supported SB1070 or a similar law. The highest percentage listed in one article, 79%, did not agree that "illegal aliens are entitled to the same rights and basic freedoms as U.S. citizens."(15) This is the definition of Amerikan chauvinism. At best, one fifth of U.$. citizens don't think they deserve more than other humyn beings by virtue of being born in the United $tates. This is why we even keep an eye on the imperialists for glimmers of internationalism in the First World.

With Latinos, we can see how quickly this consciousness develops by tracking the percentage of coconuts in the population over time. A Latino Decisions poll found that 12% of second-generation Latino voters in Arizona supported SB1070. By the fourth generation it had increased to 30% supporting the coconut position.(16) Amerikanism is an insidious disease that has claimed significant portions of the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates.

Unite All Who Can Be United

While many dogmatists still criticize Mao for allying the Chinese Communists with the national bourgeoisie, we can take united front theory even further and come up with examples of progressive forces allying with the government of the imperialist superpower of the world against an oppressor nation. This goes to show that we cannot let ultra-left ideas of purity prevent us from allying with those who might help our cause.

The rightist errors in applying united front theory happen when we have incorrect lines elsewhere. Not recognizing a united front as working with an enemy class, or becoming convinced that other contradictions have been resolved, and not just pushed to a secondary position, are the main forms of rightism to guard against. Mao had to fight much rightism from other communists who thought the communists and national bourgeois forces should merge into one, where inevitably the reactionary bourgeoisie would lead because of their relative power. Rightism in the United $tates looks like people getting caught up with legislative battles over migrant rights. Without national liberation, there is no freedom for oppressed nations under imperialism. The imperialists will always oppose that, just as the Nationalists fought the Communists in civil war once the Japanese were forced out.

We do not seek unity for the sake of unity. We seek unity that utilizes all the forces possible to tackle the principal contradiction, or battles that push the principal contradiction forward. When we find strategic unity with others, the united front also provides a basis for unity-criticism-unity, which advances the struggle and deepens the unity of revolutionaries and all oppressed people for a better future.

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[Theory] [Medical Care] [Gender] [ULK Issue 15]
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Mental Health: a Maoist Perspective

What is Mental Health?

Starting with the basics: what is often referred to as the "mind" is a complex collection of biochemical reactions that occur in the humyn brain, a physical object. To take a materialist approach to mental health, we must not talk about the "mind" as a separate entity from the physical body. The belief that there is a mind or spirit separate from the physical being is a concept called dualism and is at the basis of most idealist philosophies in the world today.

Applying a basic concept of probability to genetics and biology we can accept that there are going to be humyns that are born with brains that have physical characteristics that lead them to function different than normal, and in some cases that will mean these individuals are less capable of basic humyn functions. That said, the complex biochemistry of the brain is susceptible to all sorts of outside influences from even before an animal is born. These include chemicals in the form of food, medicine and environmental pollutants, as well as physical conditions that induce biochemical responses within the body, such as stress, isolation, and irregular daylight cycles. Therefore, most discussions of inborn psychological disorders lack a scientific basis, as scientists cannot control the myriad of outside factors that influence the brain throughout an animal's lifespan.

A sociological approach shows that mental health has strong connections to gender oppression. In, Getting Clarity on what Gender Oppression is, MC5 defined gender as being found in leisure-time, related to pleasure. Therefore depression, an extreme lack of pleasure, and the alienation that leads to it is largely shaped in the realm of gender. In MIM Theory 9, there is a focus on the disproportionate mental health struggles of wimmin and youth. As we laid out in more detail in Gender Oppression in U.$. Prisons (ULK 1), lumpen youth are gender oppressed by Amerikan biowimmin, and are some of the most gender oppressed within U.$. borders. We suspect prisoners suffer more from mental health problems than wimmin and youth in the United $tates.

The Scientific Method

The bourgeois approach to conflict and problem solving is individualistic. When problems are dealt with on the individual level, only a few problems are solved and then held up as examples that "anyone" can achieve, but most problems are either not solved in the first place, or recur soon after they are solved. Communists, on the other hand, work in the interests of the vast majority in the world today who are oppressed by the powerful. Our strategy is to solve problems at the group level, and mental health is no exception.

While dialectical materialists often refer to themselves as scientists, this does not mean that all scientific work is for the benefit of the people. A more pointed attack would be asking questions like, "what type of science spends millions of dollars studying the effects of long-term isolation on brain waves?" Maoists abolished isolation as a form of psychological treatment in the 1950s. Prior to that time, psychological work in socialist China was criticized by the people because it consisted largely of scientists in labs doing studies isolated from the real world. For a discipline that is supposedly about the mental state of people, which is very dependent on society, this is a very backwards approach. As a result of criticisms, the Chinese practice evolved to focus on improving people's understanding and engagement with the real world. But today, under imperialism, we are still stuck in these archaic forms of mental health research.(1)

As the 1st Crown of BORO describes in h article on psychology, scientific theories are often wrong and often guided by the interests of the group to which the scientist belongs. The theories that subspecies of humyns existed were developed by nations that were in the process of expanding their domination over other peoples. Prior to the development of genetic testing it was harder to argue that theories about different races or subspecies of humyns were incorrect as we can today. Criminology today is similarly tainted by the interests of the oppressors.

Who is Mentally Ill?

In MIM Theory 9, MCB52's review of psychological practice in revolutionary China gives an excellent overview of the subject.(1) S/he prefaces h article by pointing out that those who are diagnosed with mental health problems are mostly "pissed off people rationally resisting the hegemonic culture one way or another. This especially affects youth and women, and rather than trying to 'cure' it — we celebrate it!" However, many people struggle to function as a result. And therefore, there is a great overlap of people struggling with mental health and interested in communist politics, both inside and outside prisons.

In imperialist prisons, the ambiguity of diagnosing people as mentally ill becomes very pronounced. Part of the problem is that imprisonment causes mental health problems, so people who may not have had symptoms that would lead to a diagnosis often develop them. Yet it is not in the oppressor's interests to recognize this problem, so staff feel that they must draw a line between the truly ill and the "fakers." Rather than seeing the prisons as causing mental illness, they see people acting out for attention in contrast to those who were born with "real" mental illness. Such silly exercises allow them to keep some prisoners sedated while pushing others to suicide.(2)

Short-term Solutions

As with most problems we face, we can find answers to mental health problems through dialectical materialism and in having the correct political line. In the 1950s the Chinese eliminated the more backwards psychological practices in their society and replaced them with ones focused on getting individuals to connect with and help shape the material world through applying dialectical materialism. Mental health care, like much of Chinese society under Mao, emphasized the importance of both self-reliance and collective help, with the understanding that patients can fight their diseases and lead productive lives in the new society. This required the participation of the patient's family, doctors, and revolutionary committee at their place of employment.(3) Unfortunately, today we don't have that kind of support in our society, and prisoners as a group are even worse off. So keeping your political line right to stay sane requires even more effort.

One article in this issue of ULK gives an example of sleep deprivation being used as a means of social control. While some have claimed to have trained themselves over time to require very little sleep, such as George Jackson, medical research has demonstrated the importance of regular sleep. Ultra-leftism leads one to take the weight of the world on one's shoulders, and push the purist and extreme line without recognition of one's conditions of struggle. While we encourage comrades to strive to improve their efficiency, we should also take an approach that promotes our health and longevity, as we have a long struggle ahead of us.

We often get letters from comrades in isolation, who are clearly well-read and want to change the system, but their articles are mostly confused and hard to decipher. These comrades have been lost to the system, and at this point there's not much we can do to bring them back. So we must work together with those who aren't lost, to keep them sane and on point. Ultra-leftism can feed into one's isolation, which can be a very bad combo for someone who is already in a prison cell. Develop routines, set goals, and track your progress. All of these things can help you stay sharp mentally when you are physically isolated. But do not let the lack of control you have over your conditions lead you to take up extreme behaviors that threaten your physical or mental health.

The topic that triggered the call for an issue focused on mental health was suicide, which can be associated with a political line of defeatism. We've been getting a number of responses and stories on the topic after a mention in Ra'd's obituary a few months back. One prison censored Under Lock & Key for talking about suicide. While the motivation was not clear, the numerous stories we receive show that these institutions encourage people who are locked up to commit suicide. Censoring open discussions on preventing suicide is just one more way to do this. Yet, at another prison the psychological services staff are giving out our address as a resource for people with suicidal tendencies. This is good news, but probably not common across the country where prisoners are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.(4) Overall, suicide rates are higher in the United $tates than many other countries, and comparisons to socialist China in the 1970s showed suicide and schizophrenia to be hundreds of times more common in the United $tates.(5)

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, write to MIM(Prisons) to get a copy of our struggle with a comrade printed in ULK 13, as well as the self-criticism by a suicidal comrade printed in MIM Theory 9. These are good starting points for re-evaluating your own life in relation to the struggle.(6) In general, we prescribe study and political work. Come up with ways to contribute more to the struggle, while doing any little things you can to improve your immediate situation such as exercise, eating better, meditating, writing people on the outside, forming local discussion groups and staying away from negative influences.

And remember, the purpose of these prisons is to control certain populations. Getting you to end your own life is the ultimate form of control. Therefore, suicide and mental health are closely linked to other forms of control including beating people into submission, drugging them, denying them due process and sexually assaulting them. Exposing and struggling against these abuses is part of the struggle against suicide in U.$. prisons.

Notes:
(1) MCB52. "Psychological Practice in the Chinese Revolution," MIM Theory 9: Psychology and Imperialism, MIM Distributors: 1995. p.34.
(2) U.S. Prisons Prove Maddening: review of Terry Kuper's book Prison Madness by MIM
(3) Sidel, Victor & Ruth. Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People's Republic of China, Beacon Press: 1973. p. 156.
(4) Kupers, Terry. Prison Madness: the Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About it, Jossey-Bass Publishers: 1999. p.175.
(5) HC116. The Imperialist-Patriarchy's phony Anti-Stigma, 22 April 2005.
(6) For more testimonies and strategies from control unit survivors see: Survivors Manual compiled by Bonnie Kerness Coordinator AFSC Prison Watch Program 89 Market Street, 6th Floor Newark, NJ 07102

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[Theory] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 14]
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On strategy: breaking thru defenses

[In ULK 13, we printed some definitions that came from studying MIM Theory 5: Diet for a Small Red Planet, which focuses on line, strategy and tactics. In this article, we summarize some of the ways we applied those concepts to real world examples while discussing the rest of the articles in MIM Theory 5.]

There are basically two ways we can make errors in our political work. We can make rightist errors or ultra-left errors. How we avoid these errors depends on our ability to assess our material conditions, because what is left and what is right changes as conditions change. For example, we spent time discussing focoism and opposing it as ultra-leftist because it calls for armed struggle in the First World. Yet, we recognize that armed struggle is a necessity to overthrow imperialism when we reach that stage.

Looking left

While focoism was the main example, we tried to define ultra-leftism in a more broad sense. Ultra-leftism in general means giving the appearance of being to the left of the political spectrum to the point of moral purity. In practice, however, it's really so far to the left that it's useless to real revolutionaries because it makes us seek unrealistic goals. Ultra-leftism denies our material reality and replaces it with idealism. A second example of ultra-leftism might be spending all one's time attacking other revolutionaries for not being perfect.

Ultra-leftists hurt the Third World because every time a comrade has to pull one of these cats over and pull their coats, they take away time, energy and resources that can be used for the development of the Third World nations. Take the approach that one prisoner wrote in to ULK on commissary for example. S/he writes that instead of everybody buying store and keeping our stomachs from touching our backs when our oppressors are feeding us like we're children, we should send all our money home. Not to our brothas and sistas in the Third World, or the institutions established by comradz in the U.$. that truthfully provide for them. But send all the money home. And then what?

This is an example of ultra-leftism because, to some, this may seem revolutionary and rebellious but in reality it is irrational thinking. The idea is based in purity rather than a strategy with the objective goal of overthrowing imperialism. You can tell that the motivation is purity because the question is how do we not contribute to the system rather than how do we contribute to something that will change or end the system. This ignores material reality because you can't take the food from prisoners; then we'll really underdevelop our situation.

Looking right

When looking at rightism, the main problem we face is "revolutionaries" that want to organize the majority of the people in the United $tates. By catering to the majority in a First World country a party's politics are inevitably watered down - because the majority (in a First World country) are not oppressed. They put out a right opportunist line and get just whoever comes along. Basically, if you're an organization in the First World and have a large following you stand for bourgeois ideals. Once a person understands this you can pretty much place your bets on the small underdog movement for the correct line/vanguard status.

While we must defend against right opportunism within our ranks, we might ally with those who are openly reformist and therefore to the right of us. Revolutionaries work on reforms because some do improve the lives of people on a small scale, but ultimately we do it to show the people that reforms do not work in the end and what they really need is full-scale revolution. Trying to get some resources that will help advance the revolutionary's goals is a winnable battle worth fighting.

An example of a reform that can help a small percentage of the oppressed and could be used as a tactic in a larger strategy is limiting the number of people going into these torturous control units. Doing that work exposes the United $tates' cruelty, disregard for international law, brutality, etc. Hence it may help to work on SMUs, IMU, MCC, Ad-MAX, etc. struggles and inhumanities because as Mao said about public opinion. "The task of communists is to expose the fallacies of the reactionaries. . . and so accelerate the transformation of things and achieve the goal of revolution."

While we may unite with and lead reformist battles, revolutionaries should not join liberal mass organizations because they will eventually be forced to water down their politics for the sake of the single issue organization or risk alienation. Also, by working within a single issue organization, revolutionaries may inadvertently be holding it back by disempowering potential recruits, thereby disempowering the group. One way they do this is by alienating potential new recruits with their more worked out politics, leaving the potential recruits feeling as if they have nothing to offer.

Mass organizations and single issue work are good ways for the middle class to contribute to the anti-imperialist cause. We need to be looking to build alliances with them when it genuinely serves the international proletariat. In addition, we need to pay close attention to mass organizations because a lot of people are brought into politics through them. And we need to be there to challenge them to struggle for the real solution of humyn beings, communism.

Find the opening

In addition to reading MIM Theory 5, we studied two articles from the Black Panther newspaper entitled "In Defense of Self-Defense" and "The Correct Handling of a Revolution." In the latter article, Huey P. Newton wrote that, "the party must engage in activities that will teach the people." In our discussion of how to do this, one comrade discussed what s/he coined "MIM(Prisons) University of Thought," which includes the various study and discussion groups MIM(Prisons) facilitates. Through this institution, individuals have the opportunity to learn through study: the Party, its line and its history. Individuals can study the organization of movements through out our struggle for communist leadership by the proletariat and learn not only its victories and successes, but also its stagnation and failures.

Another related activity would be a campaign for the creation of giving (books, postal stamps, money, art, music, etc) by comrades that have to give. And everyone has something to give. An institution should be established that allows prisoners to send donated books to the cause, as well as funds. MIM(Prisons) has the lit project to distribute literature. This same institution can be used for prisoners who either have to send their books home due to excessiveness, or going to a control unit, or who want to just contribute to the cause. Some might wonder why not recycle them on the yards? But only at small levels can this be effective activity in educating the prison mass. If we want to become internationally unified, we must then think internationally.

Such a project not only progresses our efforts to receive the favor of the masses, but it also gives us an institution to counter the bourgeois-imperialist propaganda that is spread throughout this U.$. capitalist imperialist society.

Part of Huey's point was to teach through action. So not only are people learning from the books, but they are learning from the sharing and coordinating of materials as a collective group outside of a for-profit/business structure. Even an illiterate comrade could learn from the example of the program. Other activities mentioned that can teach the people were breakfast programs, community rehab on parks and other resources and lawsuits to fight censorship.

In addition to this summary, our study and discussions are reflected in a number of articles composed by comrades that appear in this issue and will appear in the future. We also added to and further developed the study guide for this topic (Strategy & Tactics), which we encourage all serious comrades to study when they get the chance.

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[Theory] [California]
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On Paper Tigers

Not long after the end of World War II, Comrade Mao Zedong put forward his famous thesis, "All reactionaries are paper tigers."(1) This thesis armed the people of China ideologically, strengthened their confidence in victory and played an exceedingly great role in the People's War of Liberation. This thesis is still relevant today and we would be wise to heed its message.

Comrade Mao Zedong regarded imperialism and all reactionaries as paper tigers. This thesis is a fundamental strategic concept for the revolutionary people. Since the Second Revolutionary War, Mao Zedong repeatedly pointed out: "Strategically, with regard to the whole, revolutionaries must despise the enemy, dare to struggle against him and dare to seize victory, at the same time tactically with regard to each part, each specific struggle, they must take the enemy seriously, be prudent, carefully study and perfect the art of struggle and adopt forms of struggle suited to different times, places and conditions in order to isolate and wipe out the enemy, step-by-step."(1)

Year's later, comrade Mao stated that: "Just as there is not a single thing in the world without a dual nature (this is the law of the unity of opposites), so imperialism and all reactionaries have a dual nature - they are real tigers and paper tigers at the same time. In past history, before they won state power and for some time afterwards, the slave owning class the feudal landlord class and the bourgeoisie were vigorous, revolutionary and progressive, they were real tigers. But with the lapse of time, because their opposites - the slave class, the peasant class and the proletariat - grew in strength step-by-step struggled against them more and more fiercely these ruling classes changed step-by-step into the reverse, changed into reactionaries, changed into backward people, changed into paper tigers. And eventually they were overthrown or will be overthrown by the people. Even in the face of the last decisive struggles waged by the people, the reactionary, backward, decaying classes retained this dual nature. On the one hand they were real tigers, they devoured people by the millions and tens of millions. The cause of the peoples struggle went thru a period of difficulties and hardships and along the path there were many twists and turns. To destroy the rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism in China took the Chinese people more than a hundred years and cost them tens of millions of lives before the victory of 1949. Look! Were these not living tigers, iron tigers, real tigers? But in the end they changed into paper tigers, dead tigers, bean curd tigers. These are historical facts."(2)

So there you have it. Comrade Mao all those many years ago held that the Chinese people would be victorious in their war of liberation. This wasn't hopeful idealism on Mao's behalf, it wasn't that the Chinese people and Mao really, really, really wanted liberation for themselves, that they just knew if only they kept on struggling they'd someday achieve liberation. No! It was through the correct practice of dialectical materialism that the Chinese people were able to finally cast the yoke of imperialism off into the sea. This is something that many bourgeois scholars just can't grasp. Dialectical materialism is something the bourgeoisie either doesn't correctly understand or they don't want to understand exactly how Mao and the CCP were able to lead the Chinese people to victory against insurmountable odds or how comrade Mao was able to become such a brilliant military strategist.

However, for us to really get the full understanding of the "paper tiger" thesis put forward by Mao, and in order to see how it is still relevant today, we must dive head first into the subject of dialectical materialism.

When comrade Mao stated "just as there is not a single thing in the world without a dual nature,"(3) he was referring to the law of the unity of opposites. The law of the unity of opposites, that is the law of contradiction in things, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects. Dialectical materialists hold that a thing is made up of its being and of its opposite, this means that no contradictory aspect can exist in isolation. The basic meaning of this would be, for example, that from its very inception and all through its existence where there is light there is also darkness, because without the darkness there can be no light, because they are both mutually dependent, and in order for one to exist its opposite must also be.

So the persyn who is "good" or who does what is morally right can also be "bad" and do what is considered morally wrong. This is another example of the unity of opposites, nothing in this world is immutable.

So now that we know what the basic meaning of the law of the unity of opposites is we know exactly what Mao was talking about when he said, "Just as there is not a single thing in the world without a dual nature, so imperialism and all reactionaries have a dual nature." What he meant by this is that even though the imperialists, and the reactionaries were strong and terrible looking at one point in hystory, they were also weak and vacillated in another point in hystory, and furthermore it was our job (the people's) by our will and our struggle to form the correct strategic point of view to see the imperialists and reactionaries as paper tigers and know that we can defeat them in the end. However, because of this paper tiger's dual nature, we must also be aware that this tiger can also be a real tiger and can defeat us if we don't respect him tactically.

Now some of you who are familiar and experienced with materialist dialectics will right away say, "wait a minute, the law of contradiction says that the motive force of a thing is internal and not external." Yes, this certainly is true. The condition of change is internal and not external, however the law of contradiction also shows us that there is antagonism inherent in things, which basically means that from its very inception antagonism exists as the struggle of opposites, as contradiction, but not until the contradiction develops into open antagonism in a thing does it push development forward and resolve itself. So first however we must find the principal contradiction, and only by finding the fundamental contradiction can we find the principal contradiction and get along with the business of resolving it.

We already know that the fundamental contradiction on a global scale is the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat, and that the principal contradiction on the international level is imperialism vs. the Third World. In Amerika the principal contradiction is the oppressor vs. oppressed nations. So how do we resolve the principal contradiction in the united $tates? Once again, this is possible by a things dual nature (society), and if society has a dual nature then it has to have two opposing, yet equally dependent, aspects. In this case it would be the oppressor nation (euro-Amerikkkans) vs. the oppressed nations (Brown, Black, etc). So how do we resolve the principal contradictions in the united $tates? Just as the imperialists and the oppressor nation has their tiger, we too can have a tiger and defeat theirs. However, this is once again only possible when the struggle of opposites reaches its point of open antagonism, and to know when this happens we must take careful watch of the situation and always keep the concrete analysis of concrete conditions acutely in mind.

At this point in hystory our so-called "tiger" is non-existent — it is neither a real tiger nor a paper tiger. It is a dead tiger. What is meant by this is that we as a collective (Brown, Black, etc.) have been continuously colonized and oppressed by capitalism/imperialism and we are almost helpless to stop it from destroying us and our cultures. Yet, hystory teaches us that imperialism and the ruling classes have never been able to completely wipe out all traces of a nation or its people, even though it has come pretty damn close and continues to advance.

Therefore our only choice, if we are to survive the anarchy and destruction of capitalist construction, is to get to constructing ourselves. We must build this "People's Tiger", and the first step to building this internal force which will push development forward will be in the unification of the people. This means building a united front for a united struggle against the oppressors.

Unity evolves from the inside out. This begins with the revolutionization of our consciousness, our minds. First we change the way we think, then we apply this to our material conditions and in the way we interact with others, this is how we change our surroundings. This applies to all peoples of all societies, especially that society within a society, that society separated by the rest of the people, separated by concrete and steel - This is unity from the inside out in all its glory.

Power to the People!
Long live the Maoist Internationalist Movement!
Long live the United Soldiers from Within!

Notes:
1. "Talk with the American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong" August, 1946, Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung, Foreign Language Press: Peking, 1971, p.345.
2. Ibid. p. 346.
3. Mao Zedong. On Contradiction.

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[Theory] [ULK Issue 13]
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Strategy & Tactics in the Belly of the Beast

strategy & tactics in the belly of the beast chess board

Comrades in MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW) have been studying diligently to solidify and advance the line, strategy and tactics of the anti-imperialist prison movement. This issue of Under Lock & Key will introduce this discussion, while focusing on strategies utilizing the bourgeois legal system. In the imperialist countries we face a strategic period where our battles are legal ones as we build our organization and infrastructure.

In March 2010, MIM(Prisons) recorded its 1000th incident of censorship in the u.$. prison system. And this is just a small sample of the repression that goes on in the belly of the beast. The strategy behind our legal battles is two pronged: 1) when we win we create more space to do the organizing work that is much needed in the movement, and 2) when we lose we build public opinion about the reality that there are no rights, only power struggles, and what real power looks like. Therefore, if done well, every battle moves us forward.

Organizationally, we stand at a juncture where MIM(Prisons) has established itself with a consistent practice, while upholding the political line developed by the Maoist Internationalist Movement. Meanwhile, our allies stand ready to do more to organize the movement. This includes our comrades in the anti-imperialist prisoner organization, United Struggle from Within, which is led by MIM(Prisons), as well as other lumpen organizations at various levels of political development.

As a result, we are focusing on the need to build an anti-imperialist United Front through our work in the prison movement. We are making a call to all lumpen and prison-based organizations who believe in the need for self-determination of all nations to join us in developing this United Front on the basis of some key principles. MIM(Prisons), USW and others are already hashing out these principles, and we want to make sure that it is as agreeable yet powerful as it can be.

Theoretically, we stand on the legacy of decades of struggle and political line development led by MIM. By studying their work, we are able to leap forward theoretically, as each generation must do by learning from the previous. There are some theoretical questions we will be developing further in future months, both in the pages of Under Lock & Key and in larger publications we plan to publish.

We will continue to explore important aspects of strategy for months to come. We begin here with some definitions to help our readers grasp and participate in this discussion.

Definitions

Imperialism: the global economic system that exists today. First World corporations have expanded to the point where they must invest money overseas to continue to grow, so they export their capital to the Third World. These foreign investments in Third World economies, safeguarded by military force, stifle the growth of the local bourgeois classes. With no national bourgeoisie, or a weak one at best, a national economy is unable to grow. Imperialist investment then ensures its own dominance by paying dirt wages to workers who have no options, and enjoying the freedom to escape local taxes and environmental restrictions.

Anti-Imperialism: the belief that nations have the right to struggle for liberation when faced with oppression by other nations. Opposing imperialism means opposing the system where some nations use their power to exploit other nations’ wealth. Imperialism stifles all indigenous economic and political activity. Anti-imperialists work to release local development forces to better meet the needs of the people.

Nation: a group of people on one connected piece of land with a common economy, language, and national psychology.

Principal Contradiction: the highest priority contradiction that communists must focus their energy on for a long period of time - a strategic period. The concept of the principal contradiction comes from dialectical materialism, which says that everything can be divided into two opposing forces. These contradictions are the basis for any changes that thing goes through. Defining the principal contradiction is a crucial step to developing ones political line.

The principal contradiction in the world today is between the imperialist countries and the countries they oppress and exploit. Based on this fact, we say the principal task is to build public opinion against imperialism and to build institutions of the oppressed that are independent of imperialism, in order to seize power from the imperialists.

Anti-Imperialist United Front: the loose alliance of classes and parties that work to undermine imperialist domination. To achieve our principal task, we must unite all who can be united on the side of the oppressed against imperialism. Developing an anti-imperialist united front, is facilitating the growth of the winning side of the principal contradiction in the world today.

Internationalism: ethical belief or scientific approach in which peoples of different nations are held to be or assumed to be equal.

Line: Line is generally a belief, but line can also be a goal. For instance, our belief is that only through communism can we abolish the oppression of groups of people over other people. At the same time it is our goal to abolish the oppression of people over other people.

Strategy: our long-term plans to get to various goals on the way to communism. For every stage in the revolutionary struggle, there is a strategy.

Strategic Confidence: the belief that the proletarian forces will win based on a concrete analysis of society. Our strategic confidence comes from an analysis of the contradictions within imperialism, which are bringing about its own decay and destruction. As a minority within the united $tates, the oppressed and progressive forces have a hard time developing strategic confidence when focused narrowly on local events and struggles. Therefore, internationalism is a must for the oppressed nations in the united $tates to obtain liberation from imperialism, which threatens to further immiserate and oppress a growing segment of society as crisis ensues and fascism knocks on the door.

Tactics: Short-term plans, some of which may be used again and again in slightly different circumstances. Tactics are short term and flexible based on day-to-day changes in the situation.

Rightism: In general, rightists tend to be too conservative. A rightist is someone who tends to make everything a matter of tactics. Rightists don't care about long-term goals or plans.

Ultra-leftism: Ultra-leftists will tend to judge real-world revolutionaries in the light of principles that only Jesus/Moses/Muhammad-type figures could implement. Ultra-leftism thus smacks of religion/idealism. The ultra-left also tends to go to extremes to achieve their objectives.

(note: Rightism and Ultra-leftism are both errors WITHIN the revolutionary movement. We are not talking about the "right" and "left" wings of the amerikan government commonly referred to in the bourgeois press.)

Proletarian Morality: Proletarian morality is based in the basic concept of doing no wrong in the masses' eyes, but it also goes further than this. It means implementing certain codes of conduct within the party to which all party members must strictly adhere to. This means that we cannot do anything which the masses could see as morally wrong, such as accepting gratuities in exchange for favors, or stealing from the masses. Proletarian morality is not idealist, but recognizes what needs to be done to create a more just world. Pacifists apply an idealist form of morality by saying that violence is never justified. Similarly, anarchists denounce hierarchy and oppression in the hands of the oppressed, even if used as tools to destroy hierarchy and oppression in the bigger picture.

Pragmatism: a philosophy of going forth without theory or line, utilizing wishy washy strategies, and pushing tactics from that thinking. Instead of seeing the whole they see the part. Pragmatists react to a situation, rather than analyze it and address the real problem.

Empiricism: the belief that knowledge is derived from experience through direct observation of phenomena. In contrast, we recognize that 99% of practice is now history and not things that we will experience directly.

Dogmatism: the belief in, or promotion of ideas without basis in fact or without depth. Dogmatists are stubborn, and view things arrogantly and narrow-mindedly.

notes: most of the definitions above came from study and discussion of MIM Theory 5: Diet for a Small Red Planet, download pdf

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[Theory] [Organizing] [Security] [ULK Issue 13]
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Security in the prison movement

In a system where the threat of torture by long-term isolation and other forms of repression constantly hangs above the heads of those who hold political views different from their captors, security is a vital question. Of course, the threat is different when working outside anonymously with MIM(Prisons) than working inside, face-to-face. Repression inside prisons is much more imminent than it is for our comrades on the streets. In prison, conditions are different and freedoms are limited, leaving comrades with much different tactics to choose from.

Strategically, however, the question of security behind bars is more the same than it is different from on the streets. Semi-underground organizing is an example of a universal strategy for operating behind enemy lines. The practice of semi-underground organizing recognizes that just because you didn't break any laws doesn't mean you will not face repression for your actions or beliefs, and there is more cost than benefit of putting all your cards on the table. On the organizational scale, semi-underground can be applied by layering your organization with different levels of openness. This makes it harder for the pigs to pinpoint leaders and isolate an organization.

Another strategical question is, how do we deal with potential infiltrators who join our ranks in order to gather information and create disruption, or bad-jacket the organization? Many comrades have provided suggestions for how to address this issue. There is a bourgeois approach to security and there is a proletarian approach. The difference between the two is still generally applicable even in different organizing conditions, and is discussed below.

A key issue that is being raised in California is, why work with prisoners who are on Special Needs Yards (SNY)? This is a good question since a lot of potential comrades, as well as comrades already in the struggle, have contempt for individuals who collaborate with the state. It is important that we understand that not everyone on SNY is there because they debriefed or snitched. Some people are on SNY because they are victimized on mainline, or don't want to participate in the typical bullshit that comes with mainline for whatever reason. So not everyone on SNY is there because of piggish behavior, but the rest of this article is a discussion of those comrades who are.

MIM(Prisons) is a prison ministry that seeks to organize and educate prisoners not just to see the inhumane conditions that they find themselves in, but also to see the bigger picture of imperialism. When you read what MIM has put out regarding our security practices then one should be able to gain a perspective as to why MIM(Prisons) operates the way it does. What good would it do for MIM(Prisons) to only work with people based on the fact that they haven't snitched yet? Everyone is a possible cop or agent working for the imperialists. In fact, in this country, someone is more likely to be a cop or spy than to be a revolutionary of some sort. Even within the communist movement itself there exists a capitalist arm in the form of cops, agents, snitches, and collaborators with the imperialists.

We see this as a line struggle. Anyone can pretend to be USW inside, just like anyone can pretend to represent MIM(Prisons) or Maoism. If they uphold the line set forth by the vanguard organization and/or movement, then they're out there working to advance the struggle. If they are upholding a bourgeois line, and people cling to it, then the people didn't understand the vanguard line in the first place. We should work with a comrade because they have the correct line, not because they are on mainline.

Why should they be barred from being a communist if they have snitched in the past? Why should anyone not have the right to see the liberation of their people, nation, the oppressed? What matters most is what one does after they have discovered themselves as a communist revolutionary. It's not just the lumpen who are reforming criminals, they mostly did small-time stuff. All amerikans are reforming criminals who have robbed from and victimized the majority of the world. If we are recruiting in the united $tates, we are attempting to reform criminals into communists, and this is the revolutionizing of humyns that must take place in conjunction with the revolutionizing of the economy and all the institutions that serve it.

The other side of this is that even if one is a cop, gathering info, there's really not that much they will find if information is given out on an as-needed basis. When the movement is organized into isolated cells, they may be able to take down one or two people, but the struggle goes on. In the meantime, the cop had to put in a lot of genuine work in order to get the little information they got. Particularly where communists are the minority, the cop ends up doing more work for us than against us. This structure is part of what being a semi-underground organization means.

Of course, the fact that the state has taken the time to infiltrate and try to eliminate a group says a lot about the group's politics. As Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, we put forth revolutionary science, or dialectical materialism. A concrete historical analysis shows that it is not WE but THEY, the imperialists, who are on the wrong side of history. They will lose eventually. Our struggle is a protracted (scientific) one, to put forth the correct line, so even if MIM(Prisons) goes down there will still be others with the tools to continue forward.

With regards to the prison movement, it's understandable that these criticisms arise due to the fact that SHU placement falls on those who organize for better or for worse. So why does MIM(Prisons) support prisoners who walk away from their lumpen organizations? The lumpen class, by definition, is a parasitic class. Both the lumpen and the imperialists are capitalists whose material wealth comes from others' work. One has the power to exploit by making the laws, while the other makes money outside the law in an underground economy with a law unto itself. Saying, “I understand the LOs need work, but why work with those who walk away?” is just like the bourgeoisie saying “I know we need work, but why give opportunities to prisoners or criminals to help out, they broke our law?” Just like people who walked away and are now on SNY, they too broke the law.

Divide and conquer is a tactic used by the administration to bring down revolutionary groups and to keep revolutionary groups from forming. Evidence suggests that LOs are purposefully put up against each other in order to bring each other down. This basically means that if you're in an LO that's victimizing other oppressed people, then you are unwittingly an agent of the state's oppressive apparatus. Even if you say “fuck the k9s” or “fuck the administration,” your actions are counter-revolutionary.

A serious revolutionary will not determine to not work with someone who's never had revolutionary politics or training just because when that person was in a LO they engaged in the debriefing process. A “revolutionary” that snitches is very different from someone who is put between a rock and a hard place of working with one of two organizations that are both engaged in anti-people activity. Plus, you never know who could be dropping kites on you. Just because someone exposes themselves to you doesn't mean they're the only threat on the mainline.

For the LOs to put an end to snitching among their membership, they will have to stop engaging in activities that might cause someone with love for their people to break ranks. When your practice does not coincide with the line you put out, discipline will fail, no matter how brutal it might be. The vanguard cannot water down its politics just to let everyone know we're cool. Watering down politics is engaging in opportunism and will ultimately destroy the vanguard.

Another suggestion that has come up is that we look at people's histories, where they've been locked up and why they were sent there, as part of our intelligence gathering. This amounts to trusting the lumpen as long as the imperialists (or their petty-bourgeois bureaucrats) can vouch for them. This is a backwards and dangerous approach to security. The bourgeois approach to security is based on intelligence gathering and psychologizing individuals, while the proletariat must look to political line and consistent practice.


Notes:
see MIM's 2005 Congress: Resolutions on Cell Organization for more discussion of the cell structure, why persynal histories are irrelevant and security theory in general.

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[Theory] [ULK Issue 13]
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On the Importance of Political Line

A California comrade who has long thought we should do an issue criticizing the rcp=u$a writes:

I disagree with MIM however on one fine point in the article where you state that "many still see the rcp=u$a as representing Maoism because their populist politics gives them a greater public face in many areas (inside u$ prisons is one exception to this)." Do you mean to imply that the rcp doesn't hold much sway in u$ prisyns because the masses here know better? If this is the case then I would say no, they do appear to at the very least to have some kind of foothold in CA prisyns.

I've noticed more people than there used to be are familiar with the rcp's rag, but not many. Some even spew their distractionist rhetoric. Of course I debate them but there's only so much that can be said to those who already believe avakian to be the "great man of hystory."

Since the upcoming ULK will be centered on strategies & tactics, the exposing of the rcp's counterrevolutionary activities might be able to play some kind of role. They must be beat back to the hole from which they came! I hypothesize that the rcp is siphoning off many potential revolutionaries from inside the prisyns. Might this be MIM's assessment as well? The deadly rcp strategy of substituting eclecticism for dialectics is I believe at the heart of their strength and success. Would you agree?

A Missouri comrade also responded:


I wanted to briefly respond to something that comrade Wiawimawo said in the article Revisiting RCP Revisionism in ULK 12. The comrade said many of the readers of ULK are not grappling with the questions facing Maoism today. And those that cannot distinguish Maoism from right opportunism of groups like the rcp=u$a have not yet grasped it.

I am not refuting what this comrade said, I just want to say that a lot of the readers lack the information and some have never been involved in revolutionary activity. We would hope that comrades would become inspired from reading ULK to go on to study harder and learn faster. But again, there is a lack of authentic material. I have quite a bit of material and none from the rcp=u$a, so even I can't really argue against their line when I haven't read shit they've wrote. I haven't seen a Revolutionary Worker or Worker's World in years. The same for the Burning Spear.

At the same time, it is on us to teach those who will listen and I believe that ULK is doing a tremendous job and the Book to Prisoners Program is also a great resource.

In the last couple years, MIM(Prisons) has stepped in to re-establish the prevalence of Maoist literature available to the prison movement. This came after years of inconsistency as the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika degenerated. The need for this literature is clear from this discussion. So supporters who can provide money or other resources to expand this work should reach out to us.

We agree with our CA comrade about the importance of combating revisionism as part of building a strong movement. While the author of that article was lamenting the need to spend time on such work, it would be idealist to expect otherwise. However, as our MO comrade points out, most of our readers are not familiar with the rcp=u$a anyway. To focus an issue of our newsletter on them would give undo attention to the topic. An issue reviewing many different political lines would be more useful, as most readers will find lines that they have come across.

We do not believe that the prison masses know better than to follow the rcp=u$a, that is why we thought it important to print that review. We do believe that MIM has had much more influence on the prison movement, despite its weak points. So MIM Thought is more likely to be identified with Maoism inside prisons than on the streets in the united $tates where rcp=u$a will be.

And yes, we agree that rcp=u$a eclecticism serves its popularity. Even among prisoners, the hard line of MIM loses us many friends. But we aren't looking for friends, we're looking for real allies who will stand strong for the revolutionary road.

The point made by Wiawimawo was not to say that you must understand the difference between MIM(Prisons) and rcp=u$a in particular, but rather that you must understand why the MIM line is correct in general. If you don't you will fall for the eclecticism of rcp=u$a or any other snake oil salesman that comes along.

Certainly, rcp=u$a is recruiting people who might have otherwise worked with the Maoist movement. That could be said about a number of groups out there. But we aren't too worried about that. We are confident in our political line, which makes us strong. Other groups will come and go, or if they have state funding they will stay and stagnate. But only the correct ideological line can build a new prison movement that has real power.

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