The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[National Oppression] [Theory] [Culture] [ULK Issue 35]
expand

Racism: A Product of National Oppression

big brother racist contestant

Much has been said recently about the overtly racist remarks made by one of the contestants on the "Big Brother" reality show. Viewers were shocked at the nerve of some of the show's participants, not only in the fact that they would say such things, but in the contestants' blatantly unapologetic attitude afterwards. After all, this is the 21st century, and according to some, we have moved beyond those inconsistencies in Amerika's past which had previously kept her from fulfilling the promise of its ethos. Most Amerikans (white people in particular) like to believe that although things like slavery and segregation are all a part of our nasty past we should all just forget and move on from this shameful hystory. Surely the United $tates has made great strides when it comes to "race relations," and Amerikans of all colors have never experienced a more collective prosperity than they do today, never mind the previously unthinkable: a Black man in the White House.

So why then does racism continue to exist? More importantly, how do we eradicate it? To properly answer these questions we must take it back to where it all began, and for this we'll have to revisit some ugly truths.

Origins of Racism: Connections to Capitalism

People forget that Amerika is a nation of settlers founded on genocide, slavery and annexation. This oppressive nation-building formula includes the more subtle forms of national oppression and the many different ways they are institutionalized and manifested in our society. One particularly malevolent form of national oppression, which most of us are all too familiar with, is of course racism and the more pernicious racial ideology from which it stems. But racism isn't simply some oppressive philosophical dogma utterly disconnected from the real world. Rather, racism and racial ideologies are direct products of national oppression, which is engendered by society based on property relations and the division of labor produced therein, which in turn has influenced how humyn beings have come to interact with each other in the struggle between the global "haves" and "have nots." In short, racism has not been around forever. As a matter of fact, the very concept of "race" didn't even exist prior to the 16th century. Racism and racial ideologies have only been around so long as capitalism itself has been around. The concept of "race" developed alongside the rise of modern society and not as usually believed as a remnant of the irrational and dark Middle Ages. What's more, the concept of "race" has been directly linked back to the primitive accumulation phase of capitalism, which is itself grounded in the first rape and plunder of Africa and the Americas. This primitive accumulation phase is clearly explained by radical eco-feminist and author Maria Mies when she stated that:

"Before the capitalist mode of production could establish and maintain itself as a process of extended reproduction of capital - driven by the motor of surplus value production - enough capital had to be accumulated to start this process. The capital was largely accumulated in the colonies between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of the capital was not accumulated by merchant capitalists but largely by way of brigandage, piracy, forced and slave labor."(1) And furthermore, "One could say that the first phase of the primitive accumulation was that of merchant and commercial capital ruthlessly plundering and exploiting the colonies' human and natural wealth..."(1)


U.$.  nazi war criminals

What should be kept in mind here is that as feudalism disintegrated and capitalism came on the scene the common people, the peasants and the soldiers, needed to be reassured that what they were doing to the people of the colonies was not only in the beneficiary population's interest but the interest of the colonized as well. The European masses also needed to be taught that the colonized were less than humyn so as to discourage any feelings of solidarity amongst the oppressed. Hence, the racial ideology was borne, which wasn't just about the innate ignorance and stupidity of the colonized, but of their innate treacherousness and savagery as well.

Examples of Racism in National Oppression, Yesterday and Today

Racism as a building block for the rise of the modern western world was as indispensable for that society as it is to the continuing subjugation of nations and the integrity of the First World today. Testimony to this is the way that the people of Islam have been demonized as "dark" and "backward" by the "civilized" west who sees itself as "exceptional." Thus the role that racism has played in gaining public support for the current wars of conquest is undeniable. One need only examine how Muslims, who were Amerikan citizens, were vilified and attacked by settler violence following the retaliatory attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon under the guise of "Amerikan Patriotism." The conscious connection of these actions to the collective white history of colonialism in Africa is manifested in the term "sand nigger." What this "Amerikan Patriotism" really translates into is a special brand of oppressor nation chauvinism, and a vehicle for white power in the 21st century. It is particularly popular and appealing to Latin@s and New Afrikans who think they can fully integrate into Amerika by becoming agents of imperialism and uniting with the oppressor against the people of the Third World.

Therefore the revolutionary character of militant Islam, seen when it is waging war for the independence of Muslims from U.$. imperialism, should be supported by the oppressed nation lumpen as it is objectively an anti-imperialist struggle despite the reactionary views of those leading the struggles, whether it's Al Qaeda or Bashar al-Assad and their associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism. The struggle of the West and their "democratic" running dogs in the region strengthen the victory of imperialism. Real communists know that there are only two sides to a battle, therefore it is our duty to unite all who can be united in the camp of the oppressed and build a United Front against the imperialists and their racist backers! In his day, Stalin had to combat those promoting a "third way" between the socialist camp and the imperialists, pointing out that those who broke away from the Soviet Union inherently joined the imperialist system, becoming victims of it. The lack of a socialist camp today does not change the bankruptcy of the third-way idealists. Revisionists today point to the forces waging war in the Middle East and call them the "Two Outmodeds" and are peddling a third way out for the oppressed. However, this third way out is itself reactionary and anti-revolutionary, and if upheld will in fact reinforce the very same imperialist structure it pretends to be against, by weakening national unity of the oppressed. This is one lesson we take from the theory and practice of United Front in the Chinese war of liberation against Japan.

Racism as Pseudo-Science and Glossing Over of the National Question

Purveyors of racial ideology fancy themselves as being backed by science, and indeed there is a "science" to racism, it's called eugenics and it stresses the genetic makeup of people as determinant of their "natural" abilities and inclinations. Eugenics was developed as justification for the oppression and enslavement of non-white people and outlaws alike. It was, however, thoroughly criticized and debunked by the wider scientific community for, among other things, not being an objective and quantifiable method of analysis of the humyn species. While most people today have hardly heard of eugenics it was certainly popular back when England had stretched the tentacles of the British empire (forerunner to U.$. imperialism) all over the Third World, while here in Amerika the slave owning south was likewise using it for the continuing oppression and enslavement of the New Afrikan nation.

  1. The lack of scientific relationship to biology since there is only the human race.
  2. The creation of categories of inferior and superior based on arbitrary characteristics and definitions.
  3. The creation and perpetuation of a system of oppression of the "inferior" group in all aspects.
  4. The re-enforcement of a relative differential in treatment - and it's ideological justification between those considered inferior and those considered superior.
  5. The use of race as a principal means for social control.
  6. Rendering irrelevant the experience and viewpoint of the subordinated population except and insofar as interpreted by dominant populations. This specifically has been applied to African descendants, Indigenous peoples, Asians, and Latinos, those usually referred to as "people of color."(2)

Author Bill Fletcher, to whom the above is attributed, explains: "Race is, then, not a state of mind, but a socio-political reality. Even though there is no scientific basis for race, it occupies a real space and the institutions of the racial-capitalist society reinforce this reality every day."(2)

We'd also add that the false concept of "race" is a social construct originally based on power struggles between humyns in the pre-capitalist era of slavery, and it has done much to gloss over the fact that the oppressed internal nations of Chican@s and New Afrikans are separate nations from the Amerikan nation (white settler-state), with separate hystories distinctly their own. Therefore we speak of nations and nationalities where most people speak of "race," in order to refer to a group of people who share a common language, culture, territory and economy. The concept of nations is thus more accountable to hystory and is firmly grounded in material reality. (See "Marxism and the National Question" by J.V. Stalin.)

Methods for Resolving the Principal Contradiction

Despite the fact that the concept of race has been repeatedly disproven, proponents of racial ideology and the national oppression it engenders (and vice versa) hold steady to their un-scientific beliefs. And to a certain extent this is fine. They have their beliefs and prejudices, but we have science! We know where they stand and we know that the oppressed people of the world will not sit idly by but will take up armed struggle against the imperialists to impose the will of the people on today's oppressor nations. What isn't fine however are the so-called allies of the oppressed nations within the Amerikan "Left" who mistakenly call themselves communist yet go about espousing the concept of "race." Whether they are speaking about the common cause of all the "races" that are equally oppressed by capitalism-imperialism, or whether they are agitating around the "race issue" here in Amerika, they're of no great help. They are immediately caught in the irrevocable trap of idealism, and that is no attitude for a communist to have. First, these idealists objectively hurt the revolutionary movement within U.$. borders by elevating the problem of "race" to that of principal contradiction when in fact there is no problem of race. There is a problem of imperialism and national oppression. Secondly, they deny that the principal contradiction is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations by emphatically denying that there are any other nations in the United $tates besides Amerika. Some have opportunistically come to acknowledge New Afrika, while denying other nations' existence, not because they are dialectical materialists, but because they're focused on pulling numbers to their side. Lastly, by denying the concept of nations and national liberation and instead focusing on multi-racial unity they deny the theories and practice of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, as well as the revolutionary movements they spearheaded and the many national liberation movements that followed in their traditions.

Racism in the United $tates or any other place in the world will not be wiped from the earth solely by educating it out of existence, but by getting rid of the many material conditions and relations from which it springs. Racism is a product of national oppression, hence we must focus on uniting the oppressed nations for their own liberation from this jailhouse of nations that is the United $tates. Only then will we seriously be able to talk about combatting racism as a backward idea from another period of history.


Notes:
1. Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale, Maria Mies
2. Race, the National Question, Empire, and Socialist Strategy, Bill Fletcher Jr.

chain
[Black Order Revolutionary Organization] [New Afrika] [Theory]
expand

On the term New Afrikan

New Afrikan Maoist Internationalist

MIM(Prisons) upholds the lines of Marx, Lenin, Mao and Newton and sees much value in the
works of Che Guevara. We have large disagreements with the line of Angela Davis who long
worked with the Communist Party (USA) and is now a public figure for Critical Resistance.

The Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), has been actively involved in the ideological struggle with regard to the national identity (nationality) of descendant people of Afrikan slaves since our founding. We take this opportunity to once again contribute to this critical debate.

Our struggle in this country has always had two major political tendencies - one for independence and the other for integration. The nationality debate has been part and partial of this struggle.

When people refer to their nationality, they are informing you of what nation they belong to. Some of the characteristics that define a nation are: a common historical experience, common language, culture, territory (land) and economic life. Our Afrikan ancestors landed on these shores as Ashanti, Ibo, Fula, Moors, etc. We didn’t have a collective identity, language, culture, tradition, etc. But thru our collective oppression and our collective resistance to that oppression, we developed a collective language, culture, and so on in the southern part of what is now known as the U$A. We had developed into a “new” Afrikan people. A people who are separate and distinct from all other people on planet Earth. Thus, we claim the national identity of New Afrikan and claim as our national territory the states Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Our national territory has been named the Republic of New Afrika.

BORO upholds the usage of New Afrikan as opposed to “Black” and “African-American.” “Black” implies the fictitious categorization of the term “race.” African-American implies that we have fully integrated into this country as full citizens.

We do not identify ourselves as “Amerikan” because “America” is the Euro-Amerikan (so-called white) nation. That is why we spell Amerika with a “K” instead of a “C,” to signify that “America” is an illegitimate nation of European settlers. We use the “K” instead of a “C” in spelling “Afrika,” to distinguish ourselves from the neo-colonial and petty-bourgeois elements within our own nation.

Nationalism is about ideology and politics, not “color” or “race.” BORO upholds the Huey P. Newton line that “there are two kinds of nationalism: revolutionary nationalism and reactionary nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism is first dependent upon a people’s revolution with the end result being the people in power. Therefore, to be a revolutionary nationalist you would by necessity have to be a socialist. If you are a reactionary nationalist you are not a socialist and your goal is the oppression of the people.”

BORO recognizes that what you say and what you do is a reflection of who you are. So when we see political elements using the terms “Black” and “African-American,” we see you as part of the reactionary-bourgeois elements within our nation. We see you as a wanna-be American who is misleading those of our people who have less political awareness and consciousness.

New Afrikan is a clear distinction from all other political trends within our nation, and must be upheld by all those who are a part of the struggle for land, independence and socialist development. Terminology is critical to identity. New Afrikan and the political ideology behind this term is revolutionary nationalist. Black and African-American is about integration and assimilation.

“Some people talk about a ‘nation’ but really don’t wanna be one (independent), as evidenced by their efforts to crawl back on the plantation. How can we tell? You can identify those trying to crawl onto the plantation by the way they identify themselves. i.e. Blacks, Afro-Amerikans, Afrikan-Amerikans, ethnic group, minority nationality, national minority, under class - anything and everything except New Afrikans, an oppressed nation. Amerikkka is the plantation, and continuing to identify yourself within the Amerikkkan context is evidence of the colonial (slave) mentality. Ain’t no two ways about it.”(1)

New Afrikan is our national identity. New Afrika is our national territory which is currently held in colonial bondage by the United $nakes of Amerikkka. Ours is a struggle to free our land, independence and socialism.

Notes: 1. Vita wa watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book #12. Owusu Yaki Yakubu, Spear and Shield Publications.
chain
[New Afrika] [Theory] [ULK Issue 35]
expand

Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan

africans xcape prison oppression

The African continent has long been a symbol of Black nationalism in the United $tates.
However, New Afrika is named such because it is a new nation with its own territory
within the United $tates. We must combat cultural nationalism, which does not address the
need to liberate this new nation here and now.
MIM(Prisons) took up the debate over the use of the term "New Afrikan" at our January congress this year. We have historically used the term "Black" interchangeably with "New Afrikan," but had received a proposal from a comrade to use the term "New Afrikan" to the exclusion of "Black," only using "Black" like we would "Hispanic," when context requires.

MIM took up this question of the terms "Black" and "New African" back in 2001 in MIM Theory 14 when it published a letter from a RAIL comrade (RC) proposing use of "New African." In that letter, the RC proposed that "Use of the term New African is waging ideological struggle to establish a national identity." S/he goes on to explain that "New African implies the identity of a national territory - the Republic of New Africa" while the term "Black" "cannot and will not be distinguished from integrationist, assimilationist, and other petty bourgeois reactionary agendas." MIM responded to this pointing out that the term "African-American" has emerged to distinguish the petty bourgeois integrationists. MIM's main complaint with the term "New African" was cultural nationalism:

"What makes including the word 'African' in the term relevant? Culture. That is, it is not the land in Africa that makes Blacks in North America a nation, nor the economy, language, and so on. It is the cultural history that survived the genocidal purges of the Middle Passage and slavery that links Blacks to a historical African culture. This is completely true, and this connection is obviously important. However, for the definition of the nation it plays into cultural nationalism to give this aspect too prominent a role. In fact, as MIM has argued, this term has been used most often by people with cultural nationalist tendencies. All the arguments for stressing the African link are cultural, and therefore the tendency of this term is toward cultural nationalism, which is a serious danger from the petty bourgeoisie and comprador bourgeoisie as well."(2)

MIM(Prisons) has researched the use of the term "New Afrikan" and concluded that while there may be cultural nationalism associated historically with some who use the term, overall today it is being used by the most progressive elements of the revolutionary nationalist movement within the United $tates. While we have some reservations about the ties to Africa promoted by some, we have concluded that "New Afrikan" is a better term to represent the Black nation than "Black," which has strong racial connotations and is generally not associated with a nation. "New Afrikan" is a term specific to the historical context of African-descended people in North America and so better represents our line on this oppressed nation within U.$. borders.

Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP), New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP), New Afrikan Collective Think Tank (NCTT) and the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) all use the term "New Afrikan." Except for NAIM, these are all prison-based organizations. NAIM was the progenitor of the term "New Afrikan."

NAIM has written: "to call oneself New Afrikan, at this early stage, is to be, by and large, about what We in the NAIM are about: Land, Independence and Socialism." They lay claim to the term: "We are the ones who led the ideological struggle for the usage of New Afrikan as our national identity (nationality) over 'black' as a racial identity."(1)

One argument NAIM uses for the term New Afrikan is: "...colonized Afrikans, who evolved into New Afrikans here, were stolen to be used as a permanent proletariat. The New Afrikan nation was born as a working-class nation of permanent proletarians. The fact that We weren't paid does not preclude the fact that We were workers. What do they think so-called 'slavery' (colonialism) entails if not work?"(1)

On this last point, MIM(Prisons) disagrees that New Afrikans are a permanent proletariat. As MIM laid out and we continue to expand on, the vast majority of U.$. citizens are part of the labor aristocracy, not the proletariat. This does not necessarily negate the use of the term "New Afrikan," but we want to be clear where we differ with NAIM on the class makeup of the nation today.

The NABPP promotes Pan-Afrikanism, promoting the common interests of the various oppressed nations of Africa and extending it to the so-called African diaspora of New Afrikans in the United $tates and other imperialist countries. This is one of the pitfalls of the term New Afrikan: it can lead people to associate imperialist-country Blacks with the oppressed nations of Africa. While most Blacks were originally brought over as slaves and certainly were strongly connected to their home continent at first, we see a very distinct oppressed nation that has developed within U.$. borders in the hundreds of years since the slaves were first forced to North America.

We do not use the term "New Afrikan" to promote pan-Africanism among U.$.-resident peoples. New Afrikans have historical ties to Africa, but today New Afrikans have far more in common with, and are more strongly connected to, other nations within U.$. borders. New Afrikans are closer to Amerikans in economic interests and national identity than they are to Egyptians or Somalis, and will certainly lead any pan-African movement astray and likely sell out the African oppressed nations.

We have not seen a clear rationale for the distinction between "New African" and "New Afrikan," but some use the letter "k" in "Afrika" to distinguish themselves from the colonial spelling. According to a writer in MIM Theory 14, the term "New Afrikan" originated in 1968 when the First New Afrikan government conference was held by the PGRNA (Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika).(3) We have adopted this spelling, as it is used by the progressive elements of the nation, but welcome input on the relevance of this spelling distinction.

Notes:
1. Get up for the downstroke: a response to "Black Liberation in the 21st Century, a revolutionary reassessment of Black nationalism," Sanyika Shakur, NAIM, August 20, 2012.
2. MIM Theory 14, 2001, p10-11
3. MIM Theory 14, 2001, p12-13

chain
[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Theory] [ULK Issue 35]
expand

A Message to Street Organizations: Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!

urban lock & key

There are two wars waging in oppressed communities throughout the United $nakes: a war by the imperialist-oppressor nation to keep poor and oppressed communities in semi-colonial bondage, and a war between lumpen street organizations. The battlefields are the reservations, barrios, ghetto cities and prison plantations. Many of you have defined the war between us and the dominant nation incorrectly as "racism," but what is really going on is national oppression. And, in order to defeat and destroy national oppression a "nation" must engage in a national liberation struggle with the end result being national independence. But this is getting ahead of myself.

Many of you who belong to a street organization, misnomered a gang, know the history of your group and can trace yourselves back to when your organization fought against injustices being perpetrated against some segment of your community. And you know that many have deviated from your origins and laws. At the same time, a lot of you are struggling to re-define and re-direct your organization back to their original purposes — serving the needs of the people.

Conversely, we all recognize or should recognize that the conditions of our communities and nations are a direct result of our colonization by those who settled this country. The poverty, misery and suffering, the drug addiction and violence are all because you are not in control of your own development and destiny. Those who don't rule, get ruled.

My question to you is 1) who ultimately bears the responsibility to see that peace exists in our communities? 2) who bears responsibility to see that we have adequate housing, medical care, education, etc? 3) who benefits most from our communities being saturated with drugs? 4) who benefits most from all of the violence in our communities? 5) who benefits the most from all of us being incarcerated?

Know that the state and federal government have been discussing changing federal laws that would declare gangs and gang nmembers to be domestic terrorists. Why would they do that? Because those in power know that you have the actual and potential power to change this society, that you have the actual and potential power to liberate your nation. You can put an end to police brutality, homelessness, hunger, war, etc. Yea, you have that power!

"The police, and those that they truly serve and protect, do not want us to respect the actual and potential power of our young people, they do not want us to glimpse, through our youth, the power that lies within each of us. If the crips and bloods can bring peace to our communities, and the police can't or won't, then why do we need the police? If the Disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings and other street organizations can serve and protect our children and elders, and the state demonstrates that it can't or won't, then why should we continue to depend upon it and profess loyalty to it? If the power to end violence exists within our own communities, then we should be looking for ways to increase our power, and we should be looking for ways to exercise it."(1)

Ain't nothing wrong with being in a street organization, because after all, a "gang" is a group of people with close social relations that work together. The problem is that most street organizations are moving in the wrong direction. They're engaging in the wrong social practices which are retarding the growth and development of our people.

Through the media and other outlets, the negative images of gangs are filtered (like that bullshit Gangland), so that our people will see street organizations as the main problem existing in our hoods, and they'll ask for more police presence and harsher prison sentences for those identified as gang members. But gangs didn't create the current problems. The state fears that you'll become conscious and active and solve the problems.

Dig this: "One of the main reasons for the rampant crime that occurs in the colonies is national oppression. The colonized live in areas where there is unemployment or underemployment, crummy housing with high rent and poor education. The colonized kill and fight over the money that secures necessities... this reality afflicts the nationally oppressed in the most harmful ways. The nationally oppressed do not hold state power nor the economic power to compete with the oppressors... so the rampant crime in the colonies is not due to self-hatred but national oppression and capitalist culture and policy."(2)

So you see, "Our problem is not that there are gangs in our communities — our problem is that our communities are colonized territories that suffer from arrested development caused by the U.S. settler-imperialist state. Thus, we have no need to attack gangs — that is, ideally, we have no need to attack any organized group of our people that work to free the process of our collective development. [my emphasis] What we must do is make sure that all organized groups in our communities have this as their goal — and so long as we deal with members of our communities (i.e. members of our families), the means that we use should be education and persuasion, rather than physical force. However, even if stronger means are called for, they should be means created and employed by forces within our own communities and not those of U.S., local, state and federal governments. The transformation of gangs into progressive groups within our communities is part of the process of acquiring group power that will enable us to control every aspect of our lives. Our problem is that too many people in our communities — old and young — lack the identity, purpose and direction required of us if we are to acquire the kind of power that we need to truly free ourselves and begin to pursue the development of our ideal social order."(1)

The betterment of our conditions must begin with self, with you making a conscious and disciplined commitment to transforming yourselves and your organizations. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of legitimacy? This is an aspect of the "criminal" and the "colonial" (slave) mentality: continued recognition and acceptance of the legitimacy of the colonial rule, to continue to feel that the colonial state has a right to rule over the colonized.

If we take control of our communities and the power to control every aspect of our lives, then we can ensure that the lynchings end. You can put an end to there ever being another Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Trayvon Martin lynching.

Soldiers, Riders, Gangstaz — protect your community, clean it up, build it up, feed it, educate it, and let no one do it any harm. That's gangsta, but revolutionary!

Ride or Die!
Unite or Perish!
July 2013

Notes:
1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki Yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)
2. Essay: Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, by a New York Prisoner, MIM Theory 9, 1995. Available from MIM(Prisons)

MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from BORO is a good explanation of why the United Front for Peace work is important, and is demanded by the people. While we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons we must also work towards a United Front on the streets, where the lumpen organizations come together to fight our common enemy: imperialism. We have seen examples of strong unity and educational advancement in many street organizations. The UFPP works to set an example in prisons that can be taken to the streets.

chain
[Organizing] [Theory] [United Front] [ULK Issue 34]
expand

Subscribers Declining Because of Too Much Criticism?

I was discussing the issue of declining membership with a well known organizational leader with tens of thousands of followers. He stated that you only want to write if it is behind your philosophy, and that you criticize anyone who does not agree with your strategy. He specifically mentioned the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. So your criticism, well intended or not, is doing more dividing than uniting.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is responding to the article in ULK 33 summarizing our annual congress which reported that our number of subscribers has dropped in the past year. First, we want to be clear that subscribers are not the same thing as members. We reported in the same article that the number of active United Struggle from Within members has increased over the past year. But still, we want to see an increase in ULK readers as well and so this is a bad trend.

It is true that MIM(Prisons) is critical of other organizations. This is because we see political struggle and education as fundamental to building an effective revolutionary movement. The MXGM is a good example of an organization that we have reported favorably about in the past. But we need to be honest about where we see faults in the political lines or strategies of other organizations. We hope others will do the same for us. We cannot build real unity if we just ignore significant disagreements over political line and strategy.

Further, we work towards a United Front with all organizations who can unite with us on basic goals. This is an important Maoist strategy that allows different organizations to come together for common goals without sacrificing their independence or brushing real political differences under the rug.

We see these practices as principled. It may lead some individuals to dismiss MIM(Prisons) as too divisive, but we see the real divisiveness in those groups that refuse to publicly acknowledge political differences while privately gossiping or positioning themselves into power. We are willing to lose a few supporters who can't take open political discussion and disagreements to maintain clarity of political line.

chain
[New Afrikan Black Panther Party] [Economics] [Theory] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 34]
expand

Rashid's Empty Rhetoric on the Labor Aristocracy

The Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) recently stepped in(1) to defend Turning the Tide against our USW comrade's critiques.(2) We can appreciate the greater clarity and honesty in Rashid's piece compared to Michael Novick's, but still cannot forgive him for getting the first question of importance to communists wrong: who are our friends and who are our enemies? Like Jose Maria Sison and Bob Avakian, Rashid has long been exposed to MIM line and writing, and many attempts to struggle with him have been made. It does great damage to the International Communist Movement when these people become icons of "Maoism" in many peoples' eyes, while promoting chauvinistic lines on the role of the oppressor nations under imperialism.

Rashid opens his piece with the most common strawpersyn argument of the revisionists, that the MIM line is wrong because Marx and Lenin never abandoned organizing among Europeans and Amerikans. Rashid needs to be more specific if he's claiming there are groups that are refusing to work with white people or moving to the Third World to organize. While our work mostly targets prisoners, we target prisoners of all nationalities, and similarly our street work is not very nation-specific. The question we would ask instead of "should we organize Amerikans?", is, "what is going to achieve communism faster, organizing rich people around demands for more money, or organizing them around ideas of collective responsibility for equal distribution of humyn needs and ecological sustainability?"

Rashid's third paragraph includes some numbers and math and at first glance i thought it might have some concrete analysis. But alas, the numbers appear just for show as they are a) made up numbers, and b) reflecting the most simple calculation that Marx teaches us to define surplus value. To counter Rashid's empty numbers, let us repeat our most basic math example here. If Amerikans are exploited, then to end exploitation would mean they need to get paid more money. Dividing the global GDP by the number of full-time laborers gives an equitable distribution of income of around $10,000 per persyn per year.(3) To be fair, in Rashid's article he addresses this and quotes Marx to say that we cannot have an equitable distribution of income. In that quote from Wages, Price and Profit Marx was writing about capitalism, which is inherently exploitative. Our goal is communism, or "from each according to her ability, to each according to her need." But we're not there yet, Rashid might argue. OK fine, let's take Rashid's hypothetical McDonald's worker making $58 per 8 hour workday. If we assume 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year we get $14,500 per year. According to the World Bank, half of the world's people make less than $1,225 per year.(4) That report also showed that about 10% of Amerikans are in the world's richest 1% and that almost half of the richest 1% are Amerikans. So Rashid wants to argue that under capitalism it is just that the lowest paid Amerikans earn over 10 times more than half of the world's population because their labor is worth that much more? How is that? What Marx was talking about in Wages, Price and Profit was scientific: a strong persyn might be twice as productive as a weak one, or a specially trained persyn might add more value than an unskilled persyn. So Rashid wants to use this to justify paying anyone who was birthed as a U.$. citizen 10 to 25 times, or more, the average global rate of pay? We have no idea how Rashid justifies this disparity except through crass Amerikan chauvinism.

This empty rhetoric is not Marxism. It is ironic how today people will use this basic formulation for surplus value from Marx to claim people of such vastly different living conditions are in the same class. No one else in the world looks at the conditions in the United $tates and Haiti and thinks, "these countries should really unite to address their common plight." It is only pseudo-Marxists and anarchists who read a little Marx who can come up with such crap.

Rashid later establishes commonality across nations with the definition, "The proletariat simply is one who must sell her labor power to survive, which is as true for the Amerikan worker as it is for one in Haiti." We prefer Marx's definition that the proletariat are those who have nothing to lose but their chains. According to Rashid, we should determine whether someone is exploited based on different measuring sticks depending on what country they live in. Apparently, in the United $tates you must have a $20,000 car, a $200,000 home and hand-held computers for every family member over 5 in order "to survive." Whereas in other countries electricity and clean water are optional. More chauvinism.

Rashid continues discussing class definitions,

"For instance, if there's no [Euro-Amerikan] ('white') proletariat in the US, then there's also no New Afrikan/Black one. If a EA working in McDonalds isn't a proletarian, then neither is one of color. If there's no New Afrikan proletariat, then there's no New Afrikan lumpen proletariat either ("lumpen" literally means "broken"—if they were never of the proletariat, they could not become a 'broken' proletariat)."

Lumpen is usually translated as "rag." Even in the United $tates we have a population of people who live in rags, who have very little to lose. However, we completely agree with Rashid's logic here. And that is why MIM(Prisons) started using the term "First World lumpen" to distinguish from "lumpenproletariat." There is little connection between the lumpen in this country and a real proletariat, with the exceptions being within migrant populations and some second generation youth who form a bridge between Third World proletariat, First World semi-proletariat and First World lumpen classes. Rashid continues,

"Yet the VLA [vulgar labor aristocracy] proponents recognize New Afrikan prisoners as 'lumpen' who are potentially revolutionary. Which begs the question, why aren't they doing work within the oppressed New Afrikan communities where they're less apt to be censored, if indeed they compose a lumpen sector?"

This is directed at us, so we will answer: historical experience and limited resources. As our readers should know, we struggle to do the things we do to support prisoner education programs and organizing work. We do not have the resources right now to do any serious organizing outside of prisons. And we made the conscious decision of how we can best use our resources in no small part due to historical experience of our movement. In other words we go where there is interest in revolutionary politics. The margins, the weakest links in the system, that is where you focus your energy. Within the lumpen class, the imprisoned lumpen have a unique relationship to the system that results in a strong contradiction with that system. The imprisoned population could also be considered 100% lumpen, whereas less than 20% of the New Afrikan nation is lumpen, the rest being among various bourgeois classes, including the labor aristocracy.

"And if the lumpen can be redeemed, why not EA [Euro-Amerikan] workers?"

Again, look at history. Read J. Sakai's Settlers and read about the Black Panther Party. Today, look at the growing prison system and the regular murder of New Afrikan and other oppressed nation youth by the pigs. Look at where the contradictions and oppression are.

We can quote Marx, Engels and Lenin on the labor aristocracy to boost our position as well. But Rashid takes an ahistorical and dogmatic reading of these authors. Engels was on the cutting edge recognizing this question in the late 1800s. Lenin witnessed the rise of the labor aristocracy in the early 1900s, and it was the Comintern under Stalin's leadership that settled the two-line struggle over this class during WWII.(5) Meanwhile, MIM has already addressed the fact that anyone who turns to Mao to determine their class analysis of the United $tates, when Mao never did his own class analysis of the United $tates, doesn't really understand what Mao taught us.(6)

The only really interesting thing about this piece is that Rashid has further drawn a line between the MIM camp and the slew of anarchist and crypto-Trotskyist organizations who are still confused about where wealth comes from. They think people sitting at computers typing keys are exploited, and Rashid accuses our line of requiring "surplus value falling from the sky!" We already told you where the high wages in the imperialist countries came from, Rashid, the Third World proletariat! That is why the average Amerikan makes 25 times the average humyn, and why all Amerikans are in the top 13% in income globally. As the revisionists like to remind us, wealth disparity just keeps getting greater and greater under capitalism. The labor aristocracy today is like nothing that V.I. Lenin ever could have witnessed. We must learn from the methods of Marx and Lenin, not dogmatically repeat their analysis from previous eras to appease Amerikans.

chain
[Economics] [Theory]
expand

Opposing Turning the Tide Attacks on MIM(Prisons)

I want to express that Under Lock & Key did well in the response to Turning The Tide's (TTT) improper misrepresentation of MIM(Prisons). TTT has no true political line and those who think differently should debate on this issue.

The petit-bourgeoisie is not only the white nation people. Anyone who posses the ideological and social behaviors or the political views that are influenced by private property interests are in fact part of the petit-bourgeoisie. In Amerikkka those whose ideological principles are on this level are part of the oppressor nation. Many TTT constituents fail under these principles.

And as for the individual claiming to have been dropped by MIM(Prisons), it sounds like that person never was attempting to build. For those who want to attack an organization that has been staunch in true struggle and who's line is correct in many ways, needs to, as the komrade who address this issue said, investigate before hs/she has the right to speak. Komrade Soso did well in the response and TTT should engage in "righteous" criticism not some back door attack on MIM(Prisons).

MIM(Prisons) must keep their energy on educating those who want to learn. Let's not waste energy on fictitious attacks. MIM(Prisons) has been doing revolutionary work for many many years and has proven results. As said, history will tell.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that TTT demonstrates a petit-bourgeois political line, though we must be careful with our definitions of this term. We define the petit-bourgeoisie by their relations to the means of production, as an economic status, not just ideological principles. The fundamental point of debate with TTT is around the MIM(Prisons) scientific analysis of classes in imperialist countries, concluding that the vast majority of people in these countries are part of the petit-bourgeoisie. This is not because they have political views aligning with private property interests, but rather these views stem from their economic interests.

chain
[Organizing] [Theory]
expand

Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

Reading the June issue of "The Rock," a recurring theme kept on popping up. That theme was the raising up of prisoners' consciousness. This is a very good thing as the majority of prisoners lack the consciousness and ideology of a revolutionary.

The demands being put out are good, but as a 23-year old prisoner I can't help but shout that the same demands we are asking for we already had, and more so, they shouldn't be privileges but rights! Fighting for positive reforms is good in itself, but one shouldn't miss the forest for the trees. It's said best by Lenin:

"People always were and always would be the foolish victims of deceit and self deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interest of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society that surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle, the forces which can, and owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new."(1)

I quote this in length because it screams at me. "Owing to their social position", and what is our social position? Second, third class citizens? What's to keep prison 'gangs' form forming into political parties? Swapping our old ideas for new ones? To dismantle our old selves and transform into a force of change not only in prison but society at large?

We have the 'fuck you attitude,' we have brass, now the question is do we have the will to organize, agitate, analyze and act? To learn something you don't know is a difficult task, I could attest to that. Putting a burden on us (prisoners) more so is the culture we cultivate and the ideology that we act out. That is the coming up on people; robbing, selling drugs and trying to conquer every female we come across. The majority of the time when we do this we do it to people who are in our same "social position." They're in the pit just like us.

Good thing for us there's the ability in humans to change, whether it be consciously, mentally, spiritually or ideologically. The main thing though is to bring it into practice. Karl Marx observed that "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness."(2) Again what is our "social being?" Bluntly, it's shit! We need only to look at the environment we grew up around. Liquor stores are in overstock, drugs are roaming freely, homes have no foundation or stability. most have grown accustomed to this way of life. With this deadly (literally) way of thinking, it ain't no surprise our consciousness is lacking in many areas of life.

There's a striking notion that says prisoners now-a-days lack the backbone their predecessors have. Sad to say this statement is slightly true. I have numerous books, but urban novels and novels period got a strong hold on my brethren. Many feel that there is no oppression, genocide or killing of our people and other acts of aggression from the government, but just as one sees a movie or TV show and can't see the camera, that doesn't mean it's not there.

Taking a passive or neutral stance is taking a stance on the side of the oppressor, it seems that you're OK with the status quo. Activity and agitation is taking the side of history as Marx viewed, "...freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it's not understood."(3) As history shows times always change. We could look at it as it passes by, we could hop on board or we could go even further and build the vehicle of change, start it up and drive it. Closing my humble thoughts, I'll let Karl Marx do it, as he said it well: "There is no royal road to science [or learning] and only those who don't dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."(4)


Notes:
1. V.I. Lenin, On Marx and Engels (foreign language press Peking. 1975) First addition pg 68
2. Ibid, pg14
3. Ibid pg10
4. Capital. Vol 1 (International publishers, NY 1967) Preface to the French edition. pg 21.

chain
[Aztlan/Chicano] [Economics] [Theory] [ULK Issue 33]
expand

Latino Patriot or Fascist?

It should be very disturbing when young Latinos from so-called "War Zones", and Texas urban centers — infested with drugs, gangs, prostitutes, pimps, young men from broken homes, raised by the State, in foster care, or juvenile prisons — can look you in the face and speak with prestige about U.$. political systems and social institutions, giving the impression of "legitimacy" when referring to U.$. democracy, freedom, justice, and "social mobility".

This past week the local news station for the San Antonio area aired a special report about a strengthening Mexican economy. The report talked about Mexican consumption reaching levels unprecedented in history, Mexican buying power, and this consumption being fed by U.$. products and production. It included images of bourgeoisified Mexicans holding up a sign with an image of a U.$. flag that said "Made In The USA". This report aired as President Obama visited Mexico and Centro America. One Latino patriot started singing "I'm proud to be an American, Where at least I know I'm free," sparking heated debate across the viewing area.

Another moment of patriotic sentiment was recently expressed when an article was published in the San Antonio Express Newspaper. Ex-State Representative, and self-proclaimed "Hispanic," Henry Cisneros (D) revealed a "philanthropic and humanitarian aid" initiative for the State of Chiapas in Mexico, backed by U.$. financiers. The article stressed the extreme poverty and economic woes of the region. Mr. Cisneros was quick to exaggerate a connection between his own ethnic roots and the City of San Antonio, Texas, as a backdrop for the plan expected to build "international bridges" and raise the living standards of Mexico's "wretched." These "Mexican-Americans" I'm surrounded by were quick to point out the article as an indicator of U.$. international efforts at "nation building," and how our political system here in the States allowed a "Mexican-American" to become a representative not only for the "raza" in Texas, but all the way in Chiapas. What the article didn't mention, and nobody seemed to notice, is that Chiapas is partly under "rebel control." The EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and the Mexican Federal Government are engaged in low-intensity warfare for the land, hearts, and loyalty of the citizens of Chiapas and most of Southern Mexico. Could it be that Mr. Cisneros is being used as a Brown face for U.$. imperialism? Could the U.$. humanitarian aid be a cover for undermining the insurgents' efforts to gain legitimacy by building infrastructure inside the barricaded "rebel zones" in Chiapas? Wake up people!!!

The strongest argument these Patriots have is: if our living standards are raised, buying capacity strengthened, and struggles of life eased, what's the problem? If a "Mexican-American" can be elected into office, representing Latinos locally and internationally, what is so wrong with our political and economic systems? They say we need more Latin@s in office, and that we need to exercise our rights to vote, and take advantage of every opportunity available, before we point the finger hollering "oppression!" That's the attitude of these fools.

I owe my political development to MIM(Prisons), but I'm just not advanced enough in my understanding of capitalism and imperialism to effectively challenge these views raised when I criticize U.$. domestic and foreign relations. When i speak about communism as an alternative, the programming is reflected by smart remarks about oppressive regimes that sprang up after communists seized power in countries like Cuba, Korea, and Vietnam. China is referenced as a communist system in their minds. The word communism raises so many fears and scares folks away. I don't know how to raise arguments to fight all the negative stigma surrounding communism. I don't know how to effectively strike at the image of legitimacy and prestige seated deep in the consciousness of these herd-minded sheeple (sheep-people). Lumpen prisoners need to understand where their real long-term interests are at. It's not with the maintenance of the Empire, or replacing the conservative white politician with a liberal Latin@. Please help!


MIM(Prisons) responds: First let us quickly address the title to this comrade's essay, as many throw around the term fascist in their letters to us, but we print it here in line with our very specific definition of the term (see our Fascism and Contemporary Economics study pack for more background info).(1) As we will explore more deeply in our forthcoming book on the First World lumpen class, the combination of wealth in this country and the precariousness of the lumpen class makes for a potentially radical, but potentially pro-capitalist, pro-exploitation political base that would team up with the most brutal imperialists. It is for this reason that we take seriously the task of reconnecting the lower class of the oppressed nations with their radical anti-imperialist histories and interests.

Ultimately communists are educators. Some who read Marx mechanically will say that communism is inevitable, period. However, Marx's theory that communism would replace capitalism was based in the idea that the masses of people would, for the first time in hystory, gain a scientific understanding of society and how to guide it to meet their needs. This requires a conscious effort of people to study, understand and teach others. Without that we remain trapped at the whims of social forces beyond our control, determined by a powerful elite who only teach us to be good consumers.

In the imperialist countries this is not just a question of "waking up" or educating people, as there is an economic interest in maintaining the system that gives us all the material wealth that we enjoy at the expense of the Third World. So we are focused on building minority movements while splitting the unity of those who would oppose a transformation of society to a more just and sustainable mode of production. When we have people sitting in prison so twisted in the head that they are singing patriotic songs about Amerika "where at least I know I'm free," we know we have room to expand our influence.

The question of how to reach these potential allies is of utmost importance to us. One piece to addressing this is training our existing allies theoretically. The forthcoming book, Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, will give comrades an example of how to push Maoism in the context of Aztlán. This will be especially helpful for those narrow nationalists who won't listen to you tell them how great China was under socialism. However, we must also study Chinese socialism, because they accomplished things no other society has to date; Chinese socialism led the way up until 1976. A new bourgeoisie rose to power within the "Communist Party," which remains the name of the capitalist leaders who have led China down a disastrous road for the last 37 years. We have many good books on China and MIM Theory 4: A Spiral Trajectory, which takes a look at some of the other socialist experiments of the past.

Of course, most will not jump right into theoretical study, which is why our education work requires agitational work. It is up to those of us with the theoretical knowledge and understanding to translate the most pressing contradictions in our society into simple, stand-alone ideas that can be repeated over and over to the masses in a way that will resonate, build understanding and support. The mission of Under Lock & Key is to be an agitational tool among the prison masses. This is where we try to put forth our theory in short pieces that will make people think critically and act.

While the majority of the world has a clear interest in ending imperialism, in the United $tates we have to be more creative. We focus on prisons and other state repression that seriously threatens a minority of people in this country. For the oppressed nations we can also draw connections to their people's histories and how imperialism impacts those places as this comrade did with Chiapas. And for the majority of Amerikans who aren't affected by those things, we still have the destruction of the environment and the never-ending threat of war that are inherent contradictions within capitalism, easily remedied by ending the profit motive. As long as we are guided by the correct theory, we can try all sorts of agitational tactics and test them in the real world. It is through this practice, and sharing our experiences with each other, that we can learn what works best.

Note: Fascism is "a movement of mixed elements, dominantly petit-bourgeois, but also slum-proletarian and demoralized working class, financed and directed by finance-capital, by the big industrialists, landlords and financiers, to defeat the working-class revolution and smash the working-class organizations." R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution: How and Why Fascism Came to Power in Europe

chain
[Theory] [Economics] [International Communist Movement] [ULK Issue 32]
expand

An Open Letter to Maoist and Revolutionary Organizations

communist unity through struggle
The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (MIM(Prisons)), a communist organization in the United $tates which formed out of the legacy of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), announces support for and echoes the urgency of the main ideas in the below statement from the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM). In particular, we recognize the importance of fighting First Worldism, which incorrectly identifies the petty bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries as a part of the international proletariat. First Worldism has played an important role in undermining the building of socialism worldwide. A correct class analysis is critical to all successful revolutionary movements.

MIM(Prisons) refrains from being an outright signatory of this statement because of what it leaves out. In this dialogue within the International Communist Movement (ICM), we would add that we do not see the legacy of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) as a positive one. As the original MIM pointed out over the many years since the formation of the RIM, it was always a force for revisionism rather than a force for revolution. Revolutionary parties seeking to re-establish the RIM should take heed of the mistakes that were inherent in the RIM design and political line from the start. There is no value in resurrecting a revisionist organization.

Further, we challenge our comrades in Maoist organizations around the world to examine closely what Mao wrote back in 1943 on the question of dissolving the International. We do not believe that conditions have changed since that time so that a new International will be a positive development. Instead we uphold the original MIM position that "The world's communist parties should compare notes and sign joint declarations, but there are no situations where a party should submit to international discipline through a world party. Where various Maoist parties from different nationalities have the same goal, they will then coordinate their actions in joint struggle. This will occur in the case of the united states when several nationalities come to exert joint dictatorship over it. Of course there will be some form of temporary organizational discipline at international conferences, but such discipline should not extend to what gets done in the various countries by the various Maoist parties."("Resolutions on Vanguard Organizing." 1995 MIM Congress.)


From the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement
[This letter has been co-signed by the Turkish group, İştirakî, and the pan-Indigenous web-project, Onkwehón:we Rising. To co-sign this important international document, email raim-d@hush.com]

A Letter to Maoist and Revolutionary Organizations

Recently the Communist Party of Italy (Maoist) called for the convening of an international meeting of Maoist organizations. This call comes some years after the RIM collapsed following the development of evident revisionism within two of its leading organizations, the RCP-USA and the UCPN.

Comrades! Let us carry out and celebrate the firm break with the revisionism emanating from the leadership of the RCP-USA and the UCPN. In doing so, let us reaffirm our defining points of unity based on the experience of class struggle and distilled into Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

These include:

  1. All of history is the result of the development of the means of production and the struggle between classes over their ownership and use.
  2. Under capitalism, labor is utilized for the sake of profit. Capital is accumulated surplus labor turned against the masses of workers.
  3. That capitalist-imperialism entails the indirect and direct exploitation of the majority of people by dominant monopoly capital and reveals widening contradictions inherent in capitalism.
  4. The only alternative to the continued barbarism of imperialism is the struggle for socialism and communism. Broadly speaking, people's wars and united fronts are the most immediate, reliable means to struggle for communism.
  5. Socialism entails the forceful seizure of power by the proletariat. However, socialism is not the end of the struggle. Under socialism, the conditions exist for the development of a 'new bourgeoisie' which will seek to establish itself as a new ruling class. In order to counter this tendency, class struggle must be waged relentlessly under socialism through the development of communism.

These are points all Maoists can agree on. Yet these do not capture all significant features of today's world.

Comrades! A discourse and struggle over the nature of class under imperialism is sorely needed.

The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement puts forward a line that includes the understanding that a majority section of the populations of imperialist countries are embourgeoisfied.

This embourgeoification often contours around national oppression cast in the history of colonialism and settler-colonialism. It is most wholly construed, however, as an ongoing global distinction between parasitic workers in imperialist core economies and exploited workers in the vast Third World periphery.

Though understandings of this split in the working class was popularized as the 'labor-aristocracy' by Lenin, the phenomenon itself was first noted by Friedrich Engels in a letter to Karl Marx:

"[T]he English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent."

With some exceptions, Marxists have focused and debated primarily on the ideological effects of the controversial 'theory of the labor aristocracy.' Unfortunately, less attention has been paid to the economic dimensions of the 'labor aristocracy.'

Within the imperialist world-economy, First World workers (a minority of workers in the world) receive compensation which exceeds the monetary rate of the full value of labor. In effect, First World workers are a section of the petty-bourgeoisie due to the fact that they consume a greater portion of social labor than they concretely expend. This difference is made up with the super-exploitation of Third World workers. Because prices (including those of labor power) deviate from values, this allows First World firms to obtain profits at equivalent rates while still paying 'their' workers a wage above the full monetary rate of labor value. The First World workers' compensation above the monetary rate of the full labor value is also an investment, i.e., a structural means of by which surplus value is saturated and concentrated in the core at the expense of the periphery.

The structural elevation of First World workers also has strong implications for the struggle for communism.

One of the most dangerous and devastatingly popular misconceptions is that social and political reforms can raise the material standard of living for Third World workers up to the level enjoyed by First World workers.

The illusion that Third World peoples can 'catch up' with imperialist countries through various reforms is objectively aided by the common yet false First Worldist belief that First World workers are exploited as a class.

If, as the First Worldist line states, First Worlder workers have attained high wages through reformist class struggle and advanced technology, then Third World workers should be able to follow a similar route towards a capitalism modeled after 'advanced capitalist countries.' By claiming that a majority of First Worlders are exploited proletarians, First Worldism creates the illusion that all workers could create a similar deal for themselves without overturning capitalism. By obscuring the fundamental relationship between imperialist exploitation of Third World workers and embourgeoisfication of First World workers, First Worldism actually serves to hinder the tide of proletarian revolution internationally.

Another long-term implication of the global division of workers is the ecological consequences of the inflated petty-bourgeois lifestyles enjoyed by the world's richest 15-20%. First World workers currently consume and generate waste at a far greater rate than is ecologically sustainable. The First Worldist line, which effectively states First World workers should have even greater capacity to consume under a future socialism (that is, First Worldists believe First Worlders are entitled to an even greater share of social product than they currently receive), has obvious utopian qualities which can only misguide the proletariat over the long term.

It is safe to say that First Worldism is the root cause of the problems associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA (RCP-USA) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN).

The RCP-USA, desiring some positive significance to offset its terminal failure to organize what it sees as a U.S. proletariat, chose to intervene in various international issues. This typically occurred to the disservice of the proletarian struggle. Now the RCP-USA heavily promotes Bob Avakian and his 'New Synthesis.' This 'New Synthesis' is better described as an old bag of revisionisms. Today, the RCP-USA, Bob Avakian, and his revisionist 'New Synthesis' is a distraction from many of the important issues facing the international proletariat.

The UCPN has given up the path of global socialism and communism. It has instead sought to conciliate and collude with imperialism in hopes of achieving conditions for class-neutral development. It foolishly assumes monopoly capital will allow it [to] be anything but 'red' compradors or that Nepal will become anything other than a source of super-exploited labor. The UCPN has abrogated the task of constructing an independent economic base and socialist foreign policy. It has instead embarked hand-in-hand with monopoly capital on a path they wrongly believe will lead to progressive capitalist development.

Through the examples set forth by both the RCP-USA and the UCPN, it is evident how First Worldism corrupts even nominal Maoists into becoming promulgators of the most backwards revisionisms. The RCP-USA is deceptive and wrong in its claim that it is organizing a U.S. proletariat. In reality it wrecks the international communist movement for the sake of the U.S. petty-bourgeois masses. The UCPN, whose leadership falsely believes capitalist development will bring positive material effects for the masses of Nepal, has abandoned the struggle for socialism and communism. The RCP-USA claims to represent what it wrongly describes as an exploited U.S. proletariat. The UCPN takes great inspiration in the level of material wealth attained by what it wrongly assumes to be an exploited First World proletariat.

Comrades! Our analysis must start with the questions, "Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?" These questions must be answered foremost in the structural sense (i.e., how do groups fundamentally relate to the process of capital accumulation), secondly in the historical sense (i.e., what can history tell us about such class divisions and their implications for today), and lastly in a political sense, (i.e., given what we know about the complex nature of class structures of modern imperialism, how can we best organize class alliances so as to advance the revolutionary interests of the proletariat at large).

First Worldism is a fatal flaw. It is both a hegemonic narrative within the 'left' and a trademark of reformism, revisionism, and chauvinism. Unfortunately, First Worldism is all-too-common within international Maoism.

Comrades! The consistent struggle against First Worldism is an extension of the communist struggle against both social chauvinism and the theory of the productive forces. As such, it is the duty of all genuine Communists to struggle against First Worldism.

Comrades! First Worldism has already done enough damage to our forces internationally. Now is the time to struggle against First Worldism and decisively break with the errors of the past.

The importance of knowing "who are our enemies" and "who are our friends" never goes away. Instead, those who fail in these understandings are prone to wider deviations. Gone unchecked, First Worldism sets back the struggle for communism.

Comrades! We hope the topics of class under imperialism and the necessity of the struggle against First Worldism come up as specific points of future discussion within and between Maoist organizations. The raising of these questions and the firm refutation of First Worldism will mark a qualitative advance for international communism.

Death to imperialism!

Long live the victories of people's wars!

Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement

(Available in other languages)

chain