First we must begin with asking why do we have a gangster mentality? It is because we know we are under attack, and the form of warfare is oppression and prejudice. We act in a way of gangster mentality because we know we must defend ourselves, and our minds from such attacks. Therefore, we are defensive. That is where the mind frame stimulates from.
We are active in battle on these streets because we are no fools, we know survival is at stake. Although street and hoodlum affairs keep every gangster blind to which war we should really be fighting; our focus should not be going against a gangster’s mind, our focus should remain on ending all attacks so that a gangster no longer has to pay any mind.
The best way to begin re-defining toughness, is through understanding; by first accepting every man for who he is, as he is. It isn’t the gangster that needs to change, what needs to change are the threats against us that have made us what we are.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the system of oppression that breeds the gangster mentality. Understanding where people's mindset comes from is a good first step to changing that mindset. And as this writer reminds us, we shouldn't blame people for the culture that created them. The next step is transforming this lumpen outlook into a revolutionary outlook. And that's the long-term struggle that we're taking on in prisons right now. Conscious comrades behind bars can step up and build by educating others. We can focus on building peace between lumpen organizations through the United Front for Peace in Prisons. And through this peace we can turn our warfare on the real enemy, the criminal injustice system.
Here in California, the Agreement to End Hostilities has ushered in a new era for all of us behind bars and on the streets. Prison yards in California are a laboratory for society at large. If we can do it here then so goes the rest of the country. It's not easy to undo racial antipathy, but we are doing it here in California. Every time we forge a new friendship or business association with those of other races it is one more bridge across what divides all of us.
"The pig system" has tactics to separate us so we are weak without unity. But those of us with an open eye toward the future work to minimize what can be used against us. I myself am nearly 50 years old and have spent over 30 years as a serious hater as part of a well-known street/prison gang. The 21st century will be one of great change for us all. The best advice I can give my fellow humans is to let go of the dogmatic ideology of the 20th century and evolve in a constructive manner. Our fight is not between one another but between the "haves" and "have nots." We are the "have nots," no one will give anything to us; we will have to take what we need for our people.
Educate yourself in history, politics and economics. The United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Statement of Principles is a good place to start. Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, Independence is a sound formula for success. If you are reading this it is not by accident. Mankind, in order to survive, will have to reach for the stars at some point. But first we must refine ourselves in the furnace of evolution. If we humans as a species can cooperate with each other, in time we will cross the threshold. It starts with the man in the cell next to you or across the way. Peace.
A reformed Nazi
MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this as a testament to the strength of the AEH, the UFPP, and especially the anti-imperialist prison movement that inspires those who've held all sorts of backwards lumpen mentalities to become arbiters of revolutionary unity and change.
However, it is easier to win over those who have matured and learned the errors of their ways over time. To be successful we need the 20-somethings, the youngsters, the up-and-comers to take the revolutionary road. We must develop tactics to accelerate the education and maturation of the young lumpen leaders and would-be leaders in our midst.
The u.$. economy has succeeded in stabilizing itself, at least for the near future. As reported previously (1,2), the majority of amerikans are prospering; their pockets lined with the bribes of imperialism, the labor aristocrats of the united $nakes are unlikely to support genuine
socialism any time soon.
In 2007, amerika faced an economic downturn. Excessive lending allowing amerikans to buy overvalued houses, which led banks to the point of collapse when debts could not be repaid. As the effects of the crisis spread, stocks fell, jobs were lost and the economy began to contract. The financial crisis has been rightly recognized as the worst to affect the First World since the Great Depression. However, it has also been rightly recognized as being of lesser severity, earning it the moniker the Great Recession.
And since then? The state of the amerikan economy has been not that of crisis but of recovery. Unemployment peaked in October 2009 at 10.0%. After that, it steadily declined. In early 2019, almost a decade later, unemployment now sits at 4.0%. In fact, by this measure the u.$. economy is doing better than ever. Monthly unemployment figures in 2006, before the crisis, were around 4.5%, 4.4% at the lowest. In 2018, they were around 4.0%, with the highest being 4.1% in the beginning of the year.(3) Labor force participation has decreased 2% since October 2009, but is at an average value over the last 65 years.(4) Another indicator of economic prosperity, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has grown over the past five years, surpassing 25,000 points and setting 15 all-time record highs in 2018.(5) The bull market does not just enrich a few bourgeoisie: with 55% of amerikans owning stocks, the majority of the u.$. population is petty-bourgeois and benefits from rising stock market. (6)
In 2017, Amerikans spent, on average, more than five hours a day pursuing leisure, a number essentially constant over the preceding decade.(7) Between 2009 and 2018, average wages increased by 23%, faster than the rate of inflation.(8,9) As 2018 drew to a close, the average hourly wage in amerika was $27.53 (median hourly wages have seen similar steady increases to just over $23).
Contrast this state of affairs with China, where the hourly wage in 2016, adjusted for purchasing power parity, was $6.39. Or India where it is $3.10.(10) In China, hourly pay is less than a quarter of that in the u.$. In India, it is less than an eighth. It is clear that this wage disparity can only exist because amerikans benefit from the exploited surplus value of Third World labor.(11) So-called socialist groups in amerika "fight for 15," ignoring both the low wages paid in other parts of the world and the fact that many workers inside u.$. borders are, by virtue of nationalist immigration policies designed to preserve amerikkkan wealth, considered "illegal" and unable to benefit from a higher minimum wage.
Despite the fact that the numbers above have been adjusted for inflation and geographical differences in purchasing power let's entertain the supposition that some aspect of the cost of living has not been accounted for and that amerikan workers are still being exploited. If amerikans were truly being exploited, then they would have little to no property or wealth of their own. However, 64% of amerikans own a home, about the same as in the mid 1990s.(12) This number is fairly stable; since the 1960s, homeownership rates have fluctuated in a fairly narrow range, peaking close to 70% in 2004 and never falling below 62.9% since 1964.(13) In 2018, the average u.$. home had an asking price of over $200,000.(14) Many amerikans own their homes outright, while others may have a mortgage and look forward to outright ownership in the
future. An amerikan with a 30-year mortgage, for example, expects that they will pay off their home in 30 years and enjoy a comfortable retirement in it. Ignoring issues of credit, interest and down payment that would automatically exclude Third World workers, a Chinese worker attempting to buy the same house with a quarter of the income would need to spread out payments over 120 years, while an Indian worker would need to labor for literal centuries. The average amerikan dwelling, leaving out furniture, cars and other luxuries, already represents a greater accumulation of wealth than the typical Third World worker could make in eir lifetime.
And it is not a question of a vast economic divide within the U.$. Even among amerikans with an income below the national median, over half owned a home in 2018.(15) The majority of amerikans are therefore in possession of considerable wealth, which they invest in assets and spend on plush accommodations. The typical amerikan acts more like a member of the bourgeoisie than of the proletariat.
There remain significant economic differences between the wealth of whites and the wealth of New Afrikans and [email protected] within U.$. borders. But even with that disparity, the vast majority of U.$. citizens are profiting from the exploitation of the Third World, giving them a solid economic interest in imperialism. In a future article we will provide an update on the economic status of oppressed nations within U.$. borders.
A Boom in False Consciousness
In the bourgeois media we've seen a recent uptick in pieces examining the growing generational divide. Older commentators bemoan the laziness and entitlement of millennial (born in 1981-1996), while younger commentators decry the indulgence and thoughtlessness of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) who have depleted the Earth's resources and left no economic opportunities for future generations. The former is the typical "kids these days" grousing. Disproving the latter: homeownership among people aged 35 and under has gone from 64.0% in 1994 to 64.4% in 2018.(16) In other words, economic opportunity has actually increased for younger amerikans. Millennial wealth has more than doubled since 2007, with the other generations seeing either a net increase in wealth or a partial recovery in the value of their sizable assets since the
Any discussion of a generational gap in economic opportunity is false consciousness. Nothing could underscore this point further than the fact that any generational disparity in wealth will be rendered moot when the millennial children of bourgeois boomers receive their inheritances. In fact, it will not even take that long. Just as aristocratic scions of yore could remain resident in the family manor, or plantation, and not have to worry about actually working for a living, young "professionals" (i.e. those tasked with administrating the parasitic U.$. economy) can buy large homes in expensive metropolitan areas because they receive financial assistance from their parents.(18)
Amerikans, as a whole, enjoy high wages and a comfortable lifestyle not available in the Third World. The majority of amerikans possess considerable wealth in the form of houses and are closer to the petty-bourgeois than the proletariat in their economic position. Because of this economic interest, the Amerikan populace is unlikely to support a genuine communist revolution. Without a solid internationalist perspective, any talk of socialism within amerika will be a phony national "socialism," at best redistributing from one tier of the labor aristocracy to another and at worst heightening the violence inherent to international superexploitation.
I am personally connected to this topic, being an active high-ranking individual of an organization. I have struggled trying to make the transition to become a better man. 22 years young, growing up I was never exposed to positive black New Afrikan role models, or anyone older I could look up to who defined what it meant to be a man. Everyone I hung around was in a 5 years span older or younger and everyone who was successful was either an athlete, entertainer or criminal.
So when basketball or rapping didn't work out I turned to the street where toughness was defined by aggression and fearlessness. Fighting and shooting. I turned to my organization for the loyalty and love and the brotherhood. Being a gangster to me was being heartless to anybody who was not with you, and if they cross you, deal with them like an enemy.
Being incarcerated I learned that leaders and high ranking members need to revolutionize our organizations and get back to the original principles that we were founded on. Having influence is great power, we need to use this influence for education and fighting oppression. It is easy to talk about, it’s a learning process. I can't define toughness or what it means to be a man, but I can explain personally why I am the way I am and what it takes to prevent another from falling victim. Unity is key. Changing your values so you cannot be controlled by privileges and understanding if you are not part of the solution, then you contribute to the problem. Most people care what people think so they let that stop them from acting on what they really feel. But you can’t be for the revolution in mind but not in action.
Education and unity! Use the "negative" organizations as a vehicle for positive influence and change. It starts from the top O.G.s teach the Y.G.s. Teach them how and they will fall in line.
Part 2: What is a man? What defines a gangster?
A lot of New Afrikan brothas like myself have no idea because no example was taught by any positive New Afrikan role models. All we know is what the white-washed media portrays to us. We listen to rap music that glorifies violence and objectifies our women. Our role models being dope dealers and our definition of gangster is Scarface, Larry Hoover, Pistol Pete...
Being fearless and cold, making money by any means makes you a man, not tolerating disrespect, toting guns and how many women you had sex with all define your manhood. I sit here explaining that mentality and see the flaws in it.
Now let's talk about the cycle. Every parents' purpose should be to make the world a better place for the generation coming next. Speaking from my mind, the older generation kills me complaining about the younger generation and in order to solve a problem, first things first, you must start at the root. I will not deflect or place blame but this older generation, our own fathers, uncles, brothers start the cycle by failing to educate and expose their children to something different, something positive. They allow their children to be influenced by white imagery of what a Black man is: violent, or supernaturally talented, only good for white man's entertainment.
I won't sit here and talk about it with no solution, so how do we fix it? Everything starts with the children and what we teach them and what they are exposed to. New Afrikan men must learn the most important part of parenting is presence. Just being available is so important for a child growing up. We need to expose our children to successful business leaders and entrepreneurs that look like us, not only athletes and movie stars or entertainers. Teach them to be financially literate. Teach them about this racist society and how to be prosperous in it. Only way to break the mentality is to replace it. A man is responsible, reliable, self-sufficient, wise, a man does not make mistakes. A man takes care of his children and family. Now that's Gangsta!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Everyone makes mistakes, and they are our source of empirical knowledge. So we should not fear them. What we think this comrade means here is that we should not keep making mistakes and not learn. We shouldn't live a lifetime of mistakes. If we listen to what society tells young New Afrikan men, not living a lifetime of mistakes means going against the grain.
Each One, Teach One! Whether a child or an adult. We all have things to teach. And only by learning from each other does our collective knowledge grow. While we can learn from our mistakes, most knowledge is history. So we don't need to make all the same mistakes the people of the past did to learn the lesson ourselves, empirically. We can leap frog ahead by building on the lessons from the past. It is this collective, historical knowledge that gives humynity the power to reach much greater heights.
Growth is key. We all go through many different stages of the learning process at different times. As long as we are moving in the same general direction, of liberation, then we can unite in our growth.
The article we printed in Under Lock & Key No. 65 on the forced integration and its relation to the Agreement to End Hostilities continues to elicit responses. However, reports are still sparse, so we reiterate our request to readers in California to continue to send in updates on the progress of the integration. One comrade was won over by the article:
"I've never thought about the SNY situation, as written in your No. 65 issue, page 9, about the AEH agreement as I would pertain to a group of konvicts that usually leave a bad taste in most dudes' mouths. I have a cousin in SNY that I've written off for like 5 years. After reading your past few issues, I think I'll get at him this week."
There was concern coming from Valley State Prison, where a comrade wrote on 18 December 2018:
"I am writing to let you know I did receive ULK Nov/Dec 2018, No. 65, and I enjoyed reading about G.P.'s mixing with SNY, it's crazy. There will be people filing lawsuits. The G.P.s are expected here at Valley State around 15 January 2019. I can imagine things will get bad."
Yet we received a positive report from another comrade at Valley State Prison from 17 February 2019:
"I have a new 'bunky' who is a GP prisoner who came here to VSP as part of the integration of SNY & GP. There have been no problems with him and I am using this as an opportunity to learn more about how all of us can build unity using the UFPP Statement of Principles as a guide. We here appreciate all the material support of MIM(Prisons) and the valuable organizational guidance. The ULK No. 66 article "Ongoing Discussion of Recruiting Best Practices" was damn good and quite helpful as well."
The above victories are small, and do not necessarily give us a picture of what is happening across CDCr. But they do speak to the possibilities of the positive leadership of USW and the efforts to build a United Front for Peace in Prisons. However, negative reports are coming from concerned family members. One womyn campaigning for support for her loved one in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility reports that he has been repeatedly brutalized after refusing to give information to guards. The guards are setting up scenarios reminiscent to the Corcoran SHU gladiator fights, except this time with many-on-one, to punish those that don't cooperate with their manipulations.
One comrade had a more mixed report from Chuckwalla Valley State Prison, 22 February 2019:
Yesterday we received our first group of general population "active" prisoners and the whole event quickly turned into a spectacle. Over a hundred prisoners flooded the yard last night in anticipation of these "active" prisoners. Their purpose was to physically assault these general population prisoners if they attempted to assault any SNY prisoner. While I myself did not go outside, I am guilty of looking out my window in anticipation of seeing some violence. Once I saw how these G.P. prisoners were virtually swarmed, however, and once I heard and saw how some prisoners became giddy with excitement at the possibility of seeing someone get hurt my mood changed from one of an expectant spectator to one of repulsion, anger and empathy.
Most disturbing of all however was how officers literally abandoned these incoming prisoners to their fate. Officers (some in riot gear) simply waited on the sidelines for something to happen while packs of SNY prisoners taunted, intimidated and pushed up on these prisoners asking them if they were here to program or get stupid, waiting for the wrong answer. All of the prisoners who came to this yard stayed. However, about an hour prior to this other G.P. prisoners were taken to another yard where we know something happened because we saw everyone proned out on the ground. And a few days prior some other G.P. prisoners were taken to A yard where one of them got jumped as soon as he set foot on the yard. We know this cause plenty of people in another building were able to see this from their windows and they all corroborated each others' stories.
On the one hand it's understandable that these SNY prisoners are chomping at the bit after some of them have been victims of gen. pop. prison gang violence. Others are merely interested in defending themselves against possible sneak attacks from G.P. prisoners that may be lying in wait. While many others unfortunately just wanna f___ somebody up.
It also doesn't help that we keep hearing stories of how other SNY prisoners are viciously attacked upon setting foot on a G.P. turned NDPF yard. Most SNY prisoners have never been victimized anywhere on G.P. or snitched on anyone. They're just not into the stupid prison politics and so they opt to go SNY when given the chance. For example, most of the prisoners here are just a bunch of youngsters who ain't never been nowhere. They just wanna do their time and go home. And if people want to say that most people here are sex offenders, well that too is a myth. And yeah, there are some sex offenders here, but there are many on the mainline as well, they just don't got that "R" suffix on their jackets.
At this point I firmly believe that the only way there can be peace on these NDPFs is if the G.P. shot callers initiate a truce and prohibit the G.P. from assaulting SNY prisoners arriving to their yards. Once SNY's hear that SNY prisoners are being left alone on their side of the fence then they will begin to respond in kind, as SNY prisoners are only reacting to what's going on on G.P. As it is, one of these G.P. prisoners here claims to still be G.P. but just wants to do his time and go home. No one is bothering him, while other prisoners have actually extended olive branches to some of these guys and given them some basic necessities.
Anyone who represents prisoners on either side of the integration, who needs help reaching out to the other side with messages of peace should contact MIM(Prisons). We will help facilitate any efforts at developing such a truce as suggested above.
I am writing on the behalf of the UBN/BBA of North Karolina. The movement is going downhill due to this new wave of beloveds. This new generation of Damus (especially the Emus) are konfused. We are breeding pliable brothers and placing them in strong positions as leaders of the movement. All these new komrades know is violence and gossip because time and patience is not being donated anymore. History is not being properly taught anymore, so they don’t know where we come from as Damus! Everybody want to be leaders nowadays. They say you must stand on your own first before you kan stand with a group. Katz just want to make a name for themselves.
I'm in tune with komrades in society as well as behind these enemy lines. It's getting a little bit better in some prisons in North Karolina but in most kounty jails such as the one I'm housed in the kommunication is shot to hell and it forces others to gossip and spread rumors. With those actions bring acts of violence and the gangster mentality. Which goes back to what I was touching base on at an earlier portion of this where I stated people are "pliable." They want to fit in or feel like they're important.
We need to go back to the original teachings. Go back to mandating the study of our history, our founding fathers, our true purpose, etc. We also need to create a better form of maintaining better communication behind these enemy lines as well as the blakktop. We are weakening our ownselves with all this bullshit we are doing as an entity! We forgetting that Damu is about "Positive over Negative." We are about killing oppression with a positive impression. All this Damu on Damu shit is a double oh banga.
Before we can expect to make a difference behind these enemy lines we must first make a difference within our own movements due to the fact we are who make up the prisons and in unity, we will be the ones to make a difference. We must first unify though! This system don't give a fukk about us beloveds. Fukk the pig$, and stop all of this snitching shit B! WTF is going on? The oppressors know more about us and our shit than we do. Tighten up komrades we gotta do better.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade echoes the USW slogan of "Unity from the inside out." Lumpen organizations must build unity internally first, before solid unity can be built with other organizations. And building this unity inside prisons can also transfer to life outside of prisons. So this is an important call to be made. We look forward to hearing more from this comrade's efforts, successes and failures, and how they can be applied by others facing the same situation.
I was looking for a purpose in my life. I have been in prison over 10 years. What can I do in this place, I wonder. I hear so many people with dreams, or talents they would like to pursue. What is it that I like or have passion for. Politics is a love of mine, always has been. Also since being locked down, I want to help my people.
I started talking to these conscious brothers on the status of black men in America. One thing led to another and I was given information to contact ULK. Then the issue at hand was facing me. In ULK 64, I read the article written by a New York prisoner about voting and the mid-term.(1) This article and your reply sparked something in me. I'm not a writer, but I think this issue at hand may be the most important one for us as people.
I understand the writer's views, but also yours as well. I believe the worst thing we can do is decide that we can't change the political landscape. We are in America, and if we like it or not, the system is money and politics. Look, maybe we made a mistake yesteryear, when the leaders in the black community chose to fight for integration instead of us being a sovereign community. That's up for debate, and can be spoken about later. But back to the issue at hand, we didn't fight for sovereignty as a whole, so we must play the hand we have. I heard the same guys who told me about ULK, on the walk talking about how we don't need to vote. I also hear that displayed in the African-American Community so much. What difference does it make if we vote Republican or Democratic, they are both the same. Sorta like your reply to the article was stating. I get it, but this is why that thinking leads to the status quo. We can't win not fighting, right? We are not the majority, right? We hold no power in the political sense. We don't make the rules. The only way for us to win is to make the rules work for us.
I would not call myself a communist, but I do agree with a lot of the platform. I also know it's 2 major political parties. You can either work in one of those, or take your ball and go home. You can put resources behind third party candidates, and lose, that's an option. Or you can hijack one of the major parties. That is the best and only option for us to get our platform to the mainstream. Look, the Tea Party (say what you will) started the hijacking of the Republican Party, crack after crack. They mobilized people who shared their worldview, forcing candidates to take up their issues or face a primary. This led to a more forthright party, and house of representatives. That allowed them to block President Obama's agenda, and force in their movement. It all led to this racist, bigoted, homophobic, anti-American nationalist, treasonist person who occupies what is supposed to be the people's house. Now it is no longer a Republican Party, it's his followers. They all have bowed down to "Dear Leader".
So we have the blueprint. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and others are pushing a socialistic platform. We need to mobilize our people to get out and hijack the Democratic Party; that's our only way. We need to force all Democratic politicians to take up more of our platform, or be primaried. We need to start at the grassroots level. Start getting our people or people who share our worldview on board and winning local elections. Then we repeat the playbook of the other side. Before we know it, we will have a party and a president who share our worldview.
I know it's hard work, but that is how we change the game. Other demographics are forcing their issues onto the main stage, besides us. By us saying "what difference does it make" we are not hurting anyone but ourselves. Like it or not, the game goes on if we participate or not. The other side prefers we don't take part. Isn't it funny the other side always are the ones who try to take our voting rights? Wonder why? Now the Democratic Party has not been friends to us, they have hoodwinked and bamboozled us. I get it, we don't trust them, but we must use them as our vessel for change.
I hope to be out soon. I can't wait to start my mission to fight against the status quo. I may not make it out before the next fight, but I hope you take my suggestions up for thought. Please take the fight up, mobilize our base, our future depends on it. He has declared war, it's up to us to fight back.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The author is saying that we must work within the capitalist electoral system if we want to make change. "The only way for us to win, is to make the rules work for us." If that's true, eir strategy of trying to take over the Democratic party might make sense. But what if that's not true? What if there's another way?
We aren't limited to just studying and learning from the history of the United $tates. We can also learn from the history of other countries. This includes countries that have had successful socialist revolutions. The Soviet Union, China, Albania, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba: all places where they won by forcibly overthrowing the government. None of these victories came through elections.
On the other hand, we can look at a few countries where socialist candidates did win elections. Chile, with the election of Salvador Allende in 1970 is a good example here. Allende tried to implement policies in the interests of the oppressed while in office, and the imperialists saw him as such a threat that they sponsored a coup which ended in Allende's death and the fascist government of Agusto Pinochet taking over in 1973. Implementing socialism in bits and pieces proved impossible in the face of imperialist opposition.
From the many lessons of historical struggles of the oppressed we conclude that the bourgeoisie will never give up power peacefully. For this reason, we know we can't vote them out of power. We have to take power and force them out. A socialist government in the United $tates would work against the interests of the bourgeoisie, so of course they would oppose it. This includes the bourgeoisie in the Republican and the Democratic parties.
So why were the Trump folks so successful in taking over the Republican party if we can't take over the Democratic party? Well Trump is an imperialist. This is just another brand of imperialism. Variations in imperialism will come and go, and the bourgeoisie will get behind various factions. That's not counter to their interests.
There will also be some local initiatives and candidates where the impact of victory will have a net positive effect on the oppressed. This could be part of strategic organizing locally. But that's very different from working to groom candidates in a long term strategy of changing Amerikan society via the electoral process as this writer is advocating.
I received your response to my article on the wonderful achievements of the Black Panther Party.(1) In this article, I articulated how fascism has taken possession of this country, and what should be seen as its most advanced form. This is the form that comrade George L. Jackson spoke of in Blood in My Eye, “the third face” in power and secure. I also share this opinion, and it is rooted in my philosophy about the obvious place to start and end the colonial war, which will result in the independence of not only our brothers and sisters in the third world, but also the sleeping giant right here in Amerika.
The fact that Amerika has never entered a revolutionary situation is amazing to say the least. However, it does not mitigate the arrival of fascism. This country is indeed a police state wherein the political ascendancy is tied into and protects the interest of the upper class. It is very much characterized by militarism, imperialism, and racism. By those very definitions it would be silly for intellectuals to continue to ponder on the presence of fascism and its shock troops.
Our new “pigs are beautiful” President Donald Trump is trying to reverse the constitution in order to make Amerikkka an all-white nation as the “Founding Fathers” intended for it to be. But in determining this birthright claim, does this not automatically push out the European colonial master? This would seem to be a true statement, but if we look at fascist predatory culture, it shows that anything of any great value that ever traded hands between the Europeans was taken by a force of arms. History in itself is indeed economically-motivated class struggle. We also have the situation of Mexico being seen as a villain of white Amerikkka to glean from. This is the same stance that the earlier Europeans used to justify the extermination of the Indians and the racist attacks against black brothers and sisters who had already suffered the worst form of slavery in history.
There is much truth in your analysis. However, some truths have been mitigated or omitted to fit your contention. The earlier vanguard party’s insistence to only beg for tokens, or to beg for an expansion of the system to include all of us, even after numerous failed attempts, clearly shows their ignorance of the capitalist masters. In a capitalistic society, there must always be an upper, middle, and especially lower class. Asking the government to make certain areas better is the equivalent of making other segments of society a ghetto (poor whites, Asians Amerikans, etc.). This environment is all about winners and losers, which furthers the individualism that destroys trust.
The fact that the vanguard parties rallied around such issues as women’s rights, prisoners’ rights, etc. should not be ignored. However, those rights are still virtually ignored. Women still do not enjoy the same rights as men (i.e. #MeToo), and the prison industrial complex is still part of the imperialist plan to use our bodies as sources of cheap raw materials to build and expand capital. The 13th Amendment even legalizes slavery in the event that one commits a crime. So yes, Amerika is a fascist country. They use the argument of being “humane imperialists, enlightened fascists.” The vanguard parties, instead of pushing for judicial redress which once again failed, should have ushered the populace to go to war against the capitalist masters. Anything less than that is reform.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It’s unclear if this author is arguing that the United $tates has been fascist from the start. Or if there is a change we are seeing recently that marks a new fascist government. The former is an interesting argument. This comrade agrees that imperialism and militarism are part of fascism. And from that basis, one could argue that the genocidal foundations of Amerika look at lot like “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital” as Dutt defined fascism. [See intro article]
But we make a distinction between the repression of imperialism against oppressed nations, a feature of the brutality of imperialism, and the terroristic dictatorship of fascist imperialism. This is important because of the strategic implications. If the United $tates has been fascist from foundation, during World War II we would have to argue that the United $tates was not a potential ally in the fight against Hitler’s Germany. History does not support this interpretation.
If the author is arguing that there has been some change in the United $tates since World War II, and it is only more recently fascist, then we want to respond to the definitions ey offers more directly. Defining fascism as “militarism, imperialism, and racism” raises the question of how to distinguish that from good ’ole bourgeois democratic imperialism? Imperialism is characterized by militarism and national oppression (and by association, racism). And imperialism is all about protecting the interests of the ruling class. As we discussed in “Fascism, Imperialism, and Amerika in 2019”, white nation supremacy is an inherent part of Amerikan imperialism. So that too is not, in and of itself, a good way for us to distinguish fascist imperialism from bourgeois democratic imperialism. In fact, the author is correct that the “founding fathers” of this country intended for it to be a white nation. Unless we want to argue that the United $tates was fascist from the start, throwbacks to previous policies are not inherently signs of a new fascist government.
Before we speak on fascism in Amerika and its awesome powers in centralizing authority over all lower disenfranchised segments of the population, we must first see how it developed and evolved as an international movement intended for the ruling classes. Fascism is a form of totalitarian dictatorship that flourished between World War I and World War II. Similar governments, some modeled after the Italian system, were established later in countries of Europe, Asia and South Amerika.
Fascism as a world political movement is said to have ended with the close of World War II, which ended in the defeat of fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany. However it is my opinion that after the close of WWII, fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advanced form in Amerika. There are also other fascist countries still in existence, that are in open opposition to the instituted government, and in others as an underground movement fighting the government by employing guerilla tactics.
In general, fascism was the effort to create, by authoritarian means, a viable national society in which competing interests were to be adjusted by being entirely subordinated to the service of the nation. The following features have been characteristic of fascism in its various manifestations:
An origin at a time of serious economic disruption and of rapid and bewildering social change
A philosophy that rejected democratic and humanitarian ideals, however glorifying the absolute sovereignty of the state, the unity and destiny of the people, and the unquestioning loyalty and obedience to the dictator
An aggressive nationalism, which called for the mobilization and regimentation of every aspect of national life and made open use of violence and intimidation
The simulation of mass popular support, accomplished by outlawing all but a single political party and by using suppression, censorship, and propaganda
A program of vigorous action including economic reconstruction, industrialization, pursuit of economic self-sufficiency, territorial expansion, and of course war, which was dramatized as bold, adventurous, and promising a glorious future
Although fascist movements often grew out of socialist origins (for example, in Italy), fascism always declared itself the uncompromising enemy of communism, with which, however, fascists’ actions have less in common. The propertied interests, fearful of revolution, often gave their support to fascism on the basis of promises by the fascist leaders to maintain the status quo and safeguard property. Once established, fascist regimes ruthlessly crushed communist and socialist parties as well as democratic opposition, regimented the propertied interests, and won the potentially-revolutionary masses to the fascist programs.
Thus, fascism may be regarded as an extreme defensive expedience adopted by a nation faced with the, sometimes illusory, threat of communist subversion or revolution. In 1922 Benito Mussolini set up the first successful fascist regime which initially had about 320,000 members. The party was supported at this stage of its development principally by a number of large landowners and industrialists, high-ranking army officers, subordinate government officials, and the bulk of the police. Oppressed to the fascist party were liberals, and democrats who were impotent to cope with it.
Toward the end of 1922 the fascists occupied police headquarters, railway stations, telegraph offices, and other public buildings in the northern cities of Italy. Although the constitutionally-installed government requested Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, to proclaim martial law in order to crush the fascists, the King decided to collaborate with Mussolini and invited him to come to Rome to form a government. Mussolini arrived in Rome 29 October 1922. This was known as the fascists’ March on Rome.
After Mussolini’s elevation to power, fascism became totalitarian. Expansion was the keynote of Mussolin’s foreign policy. Among the specific aims of Italian fascist foreign policy were control of the Adriatic Sea, increase of the European area of Italy, enlargement of Italy’s Afrikan empire, and domination of the Mediterranean Sea, which Mussolini called “mare nostrum.”
Although highly suspicious and jealous of the German dictator Adolf Hitler, Mussolini found himself pushed into an alliance with Germany in the so-called Rome-Berlin Axis. The alliance led to Italy’s entry into World War II on the side of Germany, which proved to be a fateful mistake. Throughout the war the fascist regime was dependent for survival on the superior military and economic resources of Germany. As a result, the German influence became predominant, and in effect, Italy became a vassal of Germany. When the Allies invaded Italy in 1944, the Italian population turned against the fascist regime and its German overlord. The people rose in revolt in 1944-45, abolished the monarchy, and established a republic.
Amerika has established itself as the mortal enemy of all socialist activity on earth. Remember that fascism allows no genuine opposition to its rule. It is a geopolitical arrangement where only one political party is allowed to exist aboveground, and no oppositional political activity is allowed. Despite the presence of political parties, there is only one legal politics in the U.S. – the politics of corporatism. The hierarchy commands all state power.
Donald Trump’s documented congratulatory messages to Putin are not simply diplomatic gestures. Trump is a fascist. Trump, like FDR, was born and bred in a ruling class of families. His role is to form a new fascist regime, much like the “new deal,” to merge the economic, political and labor elites. Extreme nationalism has prompted a national emergency to fund a wall to keep Mexicans out. This is much like the violence that was geared at the Indians and against us as blacks.
In my view, worrying who to elect will do us no good. With people like Trump in office the lower class should become more aware of their class enemies. In my view our only recourse is a highly orgnanized class war and then we go on to the restructuring of society. That is the answer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This author takes a scientific approach to defining fascism. Ey offers five points which define fascism which include economic expansionism and domestic repression along nationalist lines. The first point is of great interest to us: does fascism require a time of serious economic disruption? If so, what does this look like? We didn’t see serious economic disruption with the election of Trump, but this author implies that Amerika has been fascist for longer than the Trump administration. So we ask the question: when did this disruption happen and when did Amerika become fascist?
While we find this author’s history of fascism on point, we wouldn’t say that “fascist movements often grew out of socialist origins” but instead acknowledge that some fascist leaders started off in socialist movements before changing political direction and becoming fascist. This is not surprising as the mass base for fascism is a group communists will also be recruiting from, and we need to be careful that our messages to these people don’t push them in the wrong direction of reactionary national self-interest.
Finally, we’re unsure about what this “new fascist regime” is that the author suggests Trump is building. It doesn’t fit into the five defining points the author offers above, if this is a change from democratic capitalism. In fact, as the author points out, the building of a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United $tates isn’t particularly different from the historic violence against indigenous people or the enslavement of Africans and more recently the oppression of New Afrikans. So we are not seeing the change in Amerikan society that would merit now calling it fascist under Trump.
In response to "Mid-Term Elections, Do we Need to Vote?" in ULK 64, I wholeheartedly agree that we should be talking about elections.(1) I believe anyone wanting to see society progress would desire their voice be heard in the electoral process.
Here are two issues we can fight for. Both issues bring an opportunity to work with others for the collective good of all.
1. Voting rights for prisoners. We are all part of society, whether living in Freeworld or Behind The Wall. As part of society, our voices deserve to be heard. The time has come for disenfranchisement of the incarcerated masses to end! Any organization or individual working toward improving inmates' lives and living conditions should be well-equipped to lobby for voting rights for prisoners.
2. Ballot access for third parties. Ballot access laws vary from state to state. For many states, it's a case of the foxes guarding the hen house. Both Democrats and Republicans have a vested interest in keeping very restrictive access laws in place. Regardless of political affiliation: Communist, Socialist, Libertarian, Constitutional, Green, or Independent, all have an interest in less restrictive ballot access laws.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Voting is considered a fundamental right in capitalist society. One that is required for democracy to function. The fact that this right can be taken away from 6.1 million people because of a felony conviction illustrates who is and is not included in Amerikan bourgeois democracy.
And it's not just that prisoners and those convicted of a felony can't vote. What about all the workers in this country who don't have citizenship? They contribute essential labor to the economy, and money in taxes, but will never be eligible to have a say in elections.
And further, it's true that ballot access laws are very restrictive. And these restrictions are in place to help keep the established power structure in place.
These are problems with Amerikan "democracy" that we should expose. They help underscore the truth that this is not a democracy at all; it is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This particular dictatorship happens to serve the majority of the people living within Amerikan borders. Amerikan citizens get some really valuable benefits from living in such a wealthy country. This includes being paid wages higher than the value of their labor. They are basically being bought off to keep the country peaceful so the bourgeoisie can continue to plunder the Third World.
So far, we're totally in line with the writer's position. But where we diverge is on the question of what to do about voting rights and access. Beyond exposing this situation to expose the hypocrisy of capitalism, should we also put our time and resources into the campaign to fight for these rights? This is where we argue that there is something fundamentally wrong with Amerikan "democracy" that can't be fixed by getting access to the ballot for more people. Even if those who gain access are primarily the oppressed within U.$. borders, this will not fix Amerikan "democracy."
Fighting for voting rights implies there is value in voting in imperialist elections. If all the disenfranchised former prisoners had voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, would that improve the conditions for the oppressed in the world? How about if Bernie Sanders wasn't suppressed by the Democrats and all former prisoners voted for em? Sanders, who supports U.$. military intervention and protectionist economic policies, including closed borders, was excluded by the Democrats. Perhaps expanding beyond a two-party system would have allowed Sanders to compete in the election. But we still have only imperialist candidates. And no anti-imperialist candidate can be elected as president of the dominant imperialist power in the world. We can't take down imperialism through the ballot, we can only do that through armed struggle.
With that said, there can be value to fighting electoral battles on a local scale. In these cases it's possible to win some victories that will set up better conditions for revolutionary organizing. For instance Chokwe Lumumba was elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississipi.(2) Lumumba was Vice President of the Republic of New Afrika. This is a situation where the oppressed have an opportunity to build independent power and used local elections to further this work. Under suspicious circumstances, Lumumba died eight months after taking office.(2)
Single-issue organizers who don't see the opportunity available to us in building toward revolution should definitely focus on the two campaigns this author suggests. People who are building dual power, like in Jackson, and have electoral politics as a specific piece of their overall strategy, should go for it if that's what they determine is the way to move forward in their conditions at this time. And bringing in people who support electoral politics generally to support a campaign for a specific candidate like Lumumba is an agreeable tactic.
As revolutionaries, we know better than to expect liberation from elections, and we need to be clear about that. The recent mayoral election in Oakland, California holds an example of playing up both sides of this contradiction. When Cat Brooks, an admired New Afrikan nationalist and radio persynality, ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2018, ey was clear that ey was running for the position because that's what the community ey organizes with asked of em. When introducing eir campaign over the radio waves, ey was clear that eir campaign was about issues, organizing, and mobilization — not a government office. And ey rallied support among many sectors of society, not just the revolutionaries and anti-capitalists. In the context of a campaign like this, revolutionaries can use elections to build the movement. We always need to be clear with people that we won’t be winning, as a movement, through the ballot box. We hold up these two examples (Jackson and Oakland) as models of how to incorporate electoral politics into revolutionary organizing in a way that pushes our struggle forward rather than subsuming the revolution into Amerikan "democracy."