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[Principal Contradiction] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 67]
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Weeding Out the Roots of Imperialism

We see now in these times a great number of mass movements springing up and struggling for particular causes. A new generation of activists forming and struggling against ever more specific issues. For almost any social issue affecting anyone in the United $tates today you will find some type of movement underway to combat it. From racism, sexism, religious intolerance, wages, to police brutality, prison reform and sentencing reform, etc.

These kinds of issues have more or less always existed here in the United $tates and mass movements have more or less always accompanied them. However, not much has been accomplished. Every one of these issues and forms of oppression continue to plague society, with some of them becoming even more acute. Of course, to many, much has appeared to have changed; with some reforms made and concessions given, the great tactic of pacification and distraction has been utilized. But after generations of struggle and "victories" (reforms) why is it that these problems continue to exist?

These things are like weeds: you can chop them down and it may appear as if they have been removed or cut so low that they are no longer perceived as problems, but they grow right back because the roots were not ripped out. This leaves one mowing the same patch of weeds week after week.

All social movements that aren't struggling to eliminate the root cause of these forms of oppression are only battling non-principal contradictions. This doesn't mean that these issues aren't important, it just means that they are merely effects of the principal contradictions, not their cause. They are by-products of the system that, like weeds, constantly reproduces itself so long as its base remains intact.

What is the base from which these non-principal contradictions originate? It is the mode of production: capitalism. It is the economic base that created and perpetuates these forms of oppression people continue to fight. What people continue to fight is the superstructure that protrudes from the base. But these types of struggles will be an eternal one if we continue to fight what appears to be the cause of oppression instead of its essence.

Karl Marx's scientific study of history, and sociology in particular, allowed him to demonstrate how our material conditions determine our social relations with each other. Let's hear Marx putting forth this concept:

"Assume a particular state of development in the productive faculties of man and you will get a particular form of commerce and consumption. Assume particular stages of development in production, commerce, and consumption and you will have a corresponding social constitution, a corresponding organization of the family, of orders or of classes, in a word, a corresponding civil society. Assume a particular civil society and you will get particular political conditions which are only the official expression of civil society."

So goes the materialist conception of history. But we don't have to take Marx's word for it. We can analyze history and see for ourselves how each different stage of development of the productive forces and the mode that these forces were subsumed produced its own social relations peculiar to that mode of production. And with that, its own contradictions, whether they be manifested in culture, class, gender, "race," etc. This demonstrates that our material relations have been the basis of our relations.

This is the concept of the base (mode of production) producing the superstructure (social relations, politics, laws, ideology, morality, desires, etc.). We use this concept to show that a lot of the forms of oppression that we struggle against are produced by the nature of the economic foundation that we are dominated by. It has produced and continues to reproduce these contradictions. Now it is systemic. If we are ever going to end racism, sexism, imperialism, mass imprisonment, poverty, hunger, etc., then we have to eliminate the thing that causes them.

Our movements must consolidate their efforts to attack the base. We have the valence, we just need to help the people make these connections. Everything is connected in some way to the economic base, its mode of production and distribution. Capitalism's system of "all against all" has created these contradictions we face. With colonialism, imperialism, and especially now with neo-colonialism, many new contradictions and forms of oppression have sprung up that can cloud our vision. But we can't continue to concentrate great amounts of our energy and resources in fighting the non-principal contradictions that don't target the system directly.

It is of course understood that at certain moments a nation's contradictions that were non-principal before, or perhaps even non-existent, can become principal contradictions. For example, in China before/during Mao's revolution Japanese imperialism was the principal contradiction, but afterward new contradictions became acute due to the ever-expanding nature of global capitalism.

In Vietnam before/during Ho Chi Minh's liberation movement against French colonialism, for the people of Vietnam colonialism was the principal contradiction. Then came the fight against U.$. imperialism which quickly became the principal contradiction. But these were particular contradictions, not general ones.

Imperialism is an appendage of capitalism. When the courageous and determined guerilla fighters of Vietnam defeated U.$. imperialism, they did not end imperialism. They only ended U.$.-Vietnam imperialism.

The point is that while forms of oppression like imperialism can seem like the principal contradiction to certain nations at certain times, it can never truly be the principal contradiction overall. Even when China fought Japanese imperialism, and to them it was the principal contradiction, in the grand scheme of things it was not; it was the interests that caused imperialism.

Imperialism can not truly be defeated until the imperialist nations/empires undergo an internal revolution and the economic interests that drive imperialism cease to be. So long as global capitalism and the capitalist global market persists, imperialism will always exist in some form; it will only be shifted from one nation that defeats imperialism onto another, and that cycle will continue.

To rid all oppressed nations of imperialist aggression we've got to rid the imperialist nations of the mode of production (capitalism) that makes imperialism necessary.

Of course, we must always continue to demonstrate against the by-products of capitalism, the non-principal contradictions. But in doing so we have to consolidate these movements and establish a consensus of consciousness so that while we continue to fight everyday oppression we can also understand that the fight is really much bigger and we have to all know what the cause of these forms of oppression is.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great explanation of the nature of capitalism and why reformist and even individual anti-imperialist battles don’t result in the immediate end of oppression. To do that, it's important to define the principal contradiction within any struggle. The principal contradiction is the thing that will push forward a struggle the most. It is the highest priority contradiction, the one that revolutionaries must focus their energy on. It is the string we can pull to unravel the whole situation. And so it's the most important contradiction to focus on right now. As this author points out, in revolutionary war, as with the ones in Vietnam and China, the principal contradiction is between the imperialist occupying force and the oppressed masses. In the world today overall we see the principal contradiction as between the imperialist countries and the nations they oppress and exploit. In prison we can identify the principal contradiction in a particular situation. For instance when there is an ongoing battle between imprisoned lumpen orgs then the principal contradiction in that prison might be between two lumpen organizations. That doesn't mean it will be the principal contradiction forever. If we achieve peace between the warring lumpen groups, the new principal contradiction may be between the lumpen and the state.

We agree with this writer on the fundamental importance of the contradiction of capitalism. We say that the class contradiction, which under capitalism is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, is the fundamental contradiction. This means it underlies all other contradictions within class society. As this author points out, this is an important guiding principle because it helps us understand why one successful revolution in one country won't lead to the end of all oppression, even within that country. This doesn't, however, mean that class is always the principal contradiction. In fact, as noted above, the principal contradiction in the world today is between imperialist countries and the exploited countries. And even within U.$. borders we see the principal contradiction as between the oppressor and oppressed nations.

By evaluating every situation scientifically we can figure out what is the most important contradiction to focus our energy on. And in this way we can best push forward the revolutionary movement.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 68]
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First Nation Organizer Statement of Unity with UFPP

Peace: means to me and my organization that people have a right to be ok and have sanity and wellness in their lives and experience no harm to their persons or families, friends and so forth. I live in a behavioral health unit @ Pinta and see much suffering and I long to see reform and the end of senseless suffering.

Unity: I long to see the unification of all races and peoples in a harmonious and integrated diversity of embrace and brother/sisterhood and so forth. For too long the nations and people suffer because of bias and division and needless persecution. It's time to band together.

Growth: I long for a movement, which I believe MIM and USW are that movement that will spread like wildfire and join in true revolution and change.

Internationalism: I believe MIM/USW are a blaze waiting to happen and proposes a better cause than any I've seen in recent years. I believe it is a crown on the head of movements like NuIndian Uprising and American Indian Movement and also International/Foreign orgs like the mentioned. I feel that we, through this cause, can unite divided nations.

Independence: I believe that true independence is gained through communal occurrence. I am of Iroquoian descent and Marx and Engels described the Iroquois gens as communist in nature. I am Seneca-Cayneya Cherokee and Wyandotte (Wandat-Huron) and I believe once people join together under a true system and do away with genocidal imperialism, we will truly know freedom.

I make statement here to my pledge of unity with and to Maoist International Ministry of Prisons, the United Front and the United Struggle from Within.

I avow to uphold the 5 principles and contribute to cause and effect and the true struggle of this great and rising movement.

There is more to say for myself. But, that would be vain. This is not about me but aiding others and uniting people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons welcomes organizers like this comrade into the movement. The five principles of the UFPP underscore the basis for our unity and organizing work.

It is true that Marx and Engels argued that traditional indigenous hunter-gatherer communities were based on egalitarian social relationships and common ownership. They called this primitive communism. But they were clear that we can't go back in time. As history marches forward, new contradictions have developed. Class contradictions developed throughout the world, manifesting first in slave societies, then in feudalism, and most recently in capitalism.

We now need to overthrow capitalism in order to establish a new form of communism around the globe. And unfortunately we can't just get to communism overnight. Capitalism has corrupted the thinking of many people with a lifetime of reactionary culture and drive for individual profit, so we will need a period of dictatorship of the proletariat under the transitional phase to communism that we call socialism. This dictatorship will forcibly keep the minority who support exploitation of the majority out of power.

It will take many years to work through the period of socialism to establish a true communist society where no group has power over any other group. As we work to get there, we should take inspiration from the egalitarian nature of historical humyn societies. Anyone who says that humyns are just inherently selfish and incapable of creating a communist system should study this history.

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[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [ULK Issue 68]
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Challenges Building Lumpen Unity

If we were to take the key differences as outlined by Willie Lynch such as age, skin tone, gender, etc. and replace them with more viable, up-to-date ones pertaining to the lumpen organization class i.e. nation, tribe, flag color, hood, set, block, race, etc., we get a slightly different blueprint but the exact same end results. Results that Lynch prophesized would be self-generating for generations to come. This blueprint was the same one implemented by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI COINTELPRO which saw the dismantling of our Black Power era vanguard. It is the same blueprint later utilized by law enforcement agencies such as L.A.'s crash unit, gang detail, gang surveillance unit and prison guards: divide and control!

An 11 October 2018 riot at Taylor C.I. saw 15 lumpens, including myself, from different orgs and tribes, beaten, rounded up, beaten some more and emergency shipped to Florida State Prison's (FSP) Control Management Unit. Arriving here and hearing the lumpen-on-lumpen disrespect and set-tripping on the tiers and back-windows was defiling to the sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears that we had made. We had taken one small step against oppression but it was only one small step in one institution. Elsewhere, however, nothing had changed. At Taylor it was Bloods, Crips, Folk, a Stone, a local tribesman and a civilian standing together in solidarity, at FSP it was only business as usual.

Organizing unity at FSP is and has always been a challenge. Although it is not impossible, it hasn't happened much. Some of the main setbacks spawn from accessibility to each other as well as study material due to censorship. Group building is possible but slow as thoughts would have to be put on paper and kited from cell to cell risking being knocked off by C.O.s. Building on the back windows puts you in direct competition with nihilists, agent provocateurs and otherwise anti-revolutionaries, but it also puts you at risk of being placed on strip, written up, or worse for "disorderly conduct" if caught. Censorship is an ongoing problem for many revolutionary publications because it is said to be "inflammatory" and "poses a threat to security." I am not anti-C.O. I believe that C.O.s have a vital role to play in keeping order in a potentially hostile environment. I am anti-oppression. My prophecies arise when certain C.O.s (not all) abuse their authority, overstepping boundaries. Words written on paper do not incite. Oppressive C.O.s incite.

Another setback is leadership. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right. Just because it is right. If nobody starts, then nobody can follow. As leaders it is our duty to guide the hand of young and less experienced brothers, especially when one misstep can weaken our chance of success as a whole. Water has always trickled down-hill so it is the leaders who must unite in solidarity in order to educate the rest of our tribes. Unfortunately, while we never lack those who wish to lead, we do lack those who are qualified to lead leaving room for avarice and chaos where none were meant to exist. Leaders have to step up and step out of their comfort zones and their needs to be liked. If something is wrong, it matters not how many are for it, leaders must stand against it. If a thing is righteous, it matters not how many don't like it, leaders must stand firm in its righteousness. This leads to the biggest setback of all: history.

The Lynch-like mindsets that have been indoctrinated through our histories of tribal genocide is a hard, hot bullet to bite when trying to establish peace with rival tribes with whom we have played live ammunition tag. This is what makes our hatreds towards each other perpetual, spanning generations – loved ones lost. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; and in understanding of the facts of the problem is the first step to its solution. Understanding, as well as communication, can go a long way. Unfortunately, they are luxury not often experienced or allowed in our lifestyles, making way for petty, ignorant issues that often result in violence. We have to start somewhere. The breaking down of our walls and barriers is tantamount to the building up of peace and unity. Even if the peace process begins 1-on-1, 1-by-1, it is a beginning to something bigger than us as individuals, separated, the majority of us were created to override the oppression of our communities and our peoples. But only together can we begin to turn that ideology into a reality.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Transfers and control units are two useful tools of the state to prevent positive movements among the prison population. So we should not blame the masses too much and recognize that we need leaders to step forward as this comrade does. Each one teach one.

While transfers are effective to stifle momentum, we must use them as an opportunity to spread positive ideas to new people. Control units are also effective tools of repression, and we must continue to focus on the campaign to end this torturous practice by the United $nakes.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 67]
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Many Angles to Work On

26 December 2018 — A lot of situations have been happening since my last letter. As you can see my location has changed once again. Reason being is because at the last/previous slave-pen that held me many prisoners, including myself, filed informational complaints and grievances on a situation that occurred with two pig-officers. To make a long story short, these two pigs taunted and encouraged a mentally-ill prisoner to cut his wrist with a razor-blade. While this mentally-ill prisoner is in the shower or even in his cell, he is not allowed to be in possession of a razor. This is a rule laid by River North Correctional Center (RNCC), and of course this incident happened in the Restrictive Housing Unit (segregation). Knowing this prisoner came from the SCORE unit, which is a unit that houses mentally-ill prisoners, these two officers was excited to attempt to get this prisoner to slice his wrist. Well, the prisoner did cut his wrists.

Now, this is where everything begins to hit the fan. These two pig-officers (C.O. Devine and the C.O. Denton) began to panic. The prisoner is bleeding out and now has to be rushed to the medical unit. Both pigs are immediately questioned by their superiors as to how the prisoner got hold of an open razor. They lied and tried to stage the whole incident as a self-motivated suicidal attempt.

Their superior, Sgt. May, tells two things: 1) to search the prisoner's cell and see if they could find anything that could assist their claim, and 2) if they're unsuccessful, find other prisoners on the tier to open as many razor casings as they can to support the pigs' cause. How I know all this? Well for one I'm on the tier it occurred, two, C.O. Devine came and practically begged me to help him get out of that situation. I felt disgusted, angry and disrespected!!!

Right then and there, I began to organize the unit to act in assistance with the mentally-ill prisoner and to expose the corruption and wickedness of RNCC's pig-staff. We filed paperwork, wrote out to ACLU, the DOC, the media, and got our lawyers involved with our family. At this time, the pigs were harassing each prisoner who was in the movement. We continued to push with agitation and exposure. More repression came down. Still we continued and are continuing. Then, the pig-admin started to separate us and transfer us to different prisons but the movement continues!

As of right now, I've been transferred from RNCC to another Maximum Security prison in Virginia. However, the movement is still at full swing. Two other participants have been shipped here along with me. We still remain in contact with the others also.

Well, that's the mini-story of what happened, and the struggle against repression followed us at this site. Mind you, that situation happened on 5 November 2018, I was removed from the prison shortly after, and today I'm just receiving my property. In addition to that, pig-officers here will cut off my commode for long periods so that I'm unable to flush my toilet. When I try to file Emergency Grievance, they either don't take it up or take it and don't give me a receipt. Who knows what they'll do next. I'm up for the fight!

On another note, I am still active in my teaching mode. I have organized political education classes on the tier and one of the two subjects I started with was teaching dialectical materialism and the whole dialectical transformation process. I felt good starting that class because I have enough information regarding dialectical materialism. However, the other class on what New Afrika was and New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism. I struggled because my knowledge of it is low! But I tried given the circumstances.

Nevertheless, my class on dialectical materialism was successful in bringing an understanding of its definition and its operation to my students. I used the information you provided me in the "Introduction to the Materialist method by MIM(Prisons), October 2017" and "Choosing One Ideology over Another: The Materialist Method" by MC5 of the Maoist Internationalist Movement. I explained how dialectical meanings of material things, people, and ideas transform in a struggle for liberation. I explained how the dialectical transformation moves in a perpetual sequence from without to within to without back within, and just keep going on and on. I gave examples on how it works in a way they could better understand, and tried my best at breaking it down and building it back up.

I want to ask you if you can send me anything that I could use in our P.E. classes to help educate us in what New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism is and how did it originate, and just the whole concept of the New Afrikan nation. If I have to pay for it let me know, but it'll be a while before I can purchase it because I'm suffering from economic hardships as of right now but eventually I could scrabble something up. Just let me know.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are happy to send study materials to people who are running study groups and organizing locally. We have two articles that discuss the concept of New Afrika that were printed in ULK that we can send you. The New Afrikan Subcommittee of the USW Council is interested in commissioning someone to turn the content of these articles into a flier (with art) if that is something your study group (or anyone) is interested in. For more in depth reading on the theory and history of Black/New Afrikan nationalism we have a study pack on the legacy of the BPP($6) and one on revolutionary feminist proletarian nationalism($8). Send in a donation to the address on p. 1, or equivalent work-trade (e.g. a report on the organizing and political education you're doing, like this article!).

We also print this letter as an excellent example of organizing in spite of conditions of repression. This writer is working with others to fight the criminal injustice system from multiple angles. First there is the fight against the pigs who pushed the prisoner to cut eir wrist, and tried to get others to help them cover it up. Then there is the repression that followed, with the transfers and keeping up contact with other activists. And finally there is the study group, pushing forward both learning and practice at the same time.

This comrade is setting an example of perseverance in defending revolutionary principles, and building and maintaining unity with others.

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[Organizing] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 67]
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Spreading ULK = Spreading Consciousness

The Amerikkkan government views our power of enlightenment as immeasurably more dangerous than their wars, and will stop at nothing to try and suppress it. Just a point to ponder as I kick off this letter and something most of us already know but can never be overstated enough.

Back in the horrific segregation unit (that I was housed in for almost 6 months) I had the pleasure of witnessing this: I ended the year by composing a 30-page letter to you and also by putting every copy of ULK in my possession into circulation. Overnight the other captives' conversation transformed from mostly useless chatter into inspired pro-active resistance-fueled talk. They would approach my cell door, timidly, in hopes of receiving more. I'll never forget the hungry look in their eyes and the lesson I learned in this.

Perhaps I've overextended my assumption of the-ones-inside's awareness of the inner-workings to the Prison Industrial Complex. It baffles me how blind so many remain to it even while stationed in the very center of it. So I understand better now the need, in most cases, of beginning at square one, then perhaps setting a slower pace than I've practiced in the past in the goal of enlightenment. Although the combined effort of my methods and your printed words did seem to move things along rather quickly.

Maybe you recall how, as I was composing the year-end letter to you, I had the pleasure to overhear prisoners discussing if it's realistic and possible to succeed in fighting back against the system. With 2-against-1 deciding that it is. Then the one who didn't believe so shouting for grievance forms. While the sadistic and beyond-lazy unit manager looked on and listened in with a pained and disappointed look on his face. This was only days after I'd passed ULK 65 along.

After this I quickly distributed everything anti-establishment in my possession. By New Years Day everything I had was passed along. Throwing shit on prisoners by other prisoners was a common and daily occurrence, but by the 3rd a loud-mouthed and worthless nurse was covered and the next day a C.O. While I don't endorse the act of propelling excrement missiles, if it must be done then at least let pigs roll in it!

That same day I received a note from a prisoner terrified he would suffer a seizure and die while in the seg unit due to the criminally inadequate medical staff and the deliberate indifference displayed by the C.O.s. While writing my response to him, a mail clerk delivered to me a brand new Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook so I sent him my used one along with my response and of course your address. The next morning a prisoner in seg is found dead. A month to the day of my relaunch of medical grievances which had been postponed by my having to document 6 months worth of obvious retaliation from the pigs.

By January 7, previously apathetic prisoners are demanding grievances and statement forms while I'm circulating the grievance petition and the next morning I transfer to my current location. An extremely cushy prison set up which I'm thankful to be at. But at the same time I'm overwhelmed with feelings of survival guilt for the ones left behind there, and all of the fucked up prisons. I am rather stoked about how I'm not completely cut off from current events any longer since I'm free from the sensory deprivation torture chamber and will be able to prepare essays about recent news now. Like this border wall nonsense with the true purpose to provide a physical manifestation for the racial resentment found inside many of those in Trump's base. I'd advise the idiot in chief to remember the humpty dumpty nursery rhyme.

In the lengthy year-end letter I'd written how I planned to share my history with the grievance process to demonstrate how the petition arrived right on time and almost seemed pre-planned. It's definitely a game changer and I can never thank you enough. If you are interested in viewing that, I'll be more than glad to send it in the future. Right now I want to go over my history with ULK so far and also request any extra issues available to learn from and circulate.

This time last year I had the good fortune of coming across ULK 60. I signed up for a subscription and received 61. I got 62 and after fucking up the audit the next day an angered and cowardly unit manager removed it from my back pocket and destroyed it before placing me outdoors until medical had to treat me for dehydration. The next issue was covered in shit thrown by prisoners who were weak-minded enough to be enticed by the pigs in hopes of thwarting the continuation of my 1983 Civil Action claim. Fuck, the interruptions won't stop — it sure is easier to write in seg! I will come up with a way to remain better focused in the next one comrades. In the meantime I will continue on to service to others, defending the oppressed, and self-sacrifice geared towards meeting the goals towards greater good.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks for sharing this great example of the potential impact of sharing political literature with others. Not only was this comrade engaged by coming across Under Lock & Key but then ey went on to engage others by sharing ULK. It's always inspiring when we get to see the positive results of our organizing work. Spreading around ULK is a great way to have an impact. If you want to get extra copies for distribution write in to let us know.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 67]
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Learning Through Punk Rock

I'm excited for the upcoming issue about successful recruiting techniques. I can contribute 2 ideas concerning this. What's been useful for me is to always make it obvious I don't seek to impose my personal belief or philosophies upon others. I only offer them for examination, evaluation, and possible use! Which is something I've noticed you all practice. Also, since you continually point out how you are open to and accepting of criticism.

The second is more rare, I think, and perhaps not a method to be used by everyone, but I know it does work for some! There's a documentary called "Punks Not Dead" and in it Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day is discussing how everything he knows about politics was learned through punk rock, not boring school teachers. How in order for something to commit to his memory it's better if it's in some kind of offensive fashion. A little twisted or demented, humorous in a "sick" sort of way, and I can relate to that!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Culture, including music from punk to rap and even some country, helps make politics relatable and is a great approach for educating folks. We publish art and poetry in part to reach different groups of people and offer another way for people to pick up revolutionary ideas. And we aspire to include more infographics in ULK, and also eventually run video channels and radio shows. Ideally there should be musicians making revolutionary music, film makers producing revolutionary films, and many other genres of contributors. If you've got skills in these areas, step up and get involved, we need your contributions!

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 68]
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Beaten Down But Never Broken

You can put me in the jailhouse
But I'll look at it as a clubhouse
You can give me a violent shove
But in the end I'll rise above

You can call me an inmate
But I still won't show you hate
You can make me wear this ugly green
But when my bid is done and over I'll burn it with kerosene

You can show me disrespect
But I'll laugh and still show you respect
You can show me your rage
But I will not engage

You can violate my mail
But I'll remember I'm in jail
You can restrain me with your chain
But I will stay sane

I may be beaten down
But I'll never be broken

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[Organizing] [MIM(Prisons)] [ULK Issue 68]
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First Impressions of a Potential Recruit

By a bit of serendipity, I recently ran across the contact info for MIM(Prisons) and on a whim subscribed to the newsletter without fully understanding what I was to receive. After reading ULK 66 (the first response to my initial request) I feel inspired to offer my first thoughts of the movement in hopes it may aid in future recruiting.

First and foremost, I tend to be distrustful of any organization, especially those with strong viewpoints. However, this fear was greatly abated by the statement that members need not agree with all points of the group so long as they do not actively oppose them. I feel this is an incredible strength of USW, and inclusion in any individual organization is a powerful tool for recruitment. It projects confidence by saying "we don’t have to control your views" and encourages those who are close to, but not in, alignment with said views to sit and listen to what you have to say.

Secondly, I was impressed by the article/response format and self-criticisms. As an extension of the first point, it shows that USW practices what it preaches by allowing uncensored articles to be published, and independently it shows that no one, party leaders included, is above reproof. In my opinion, any organization willing to hold its members/leaders responsible for their actions is a cut above. We are all human, and prone to human error. To pretend otherwise is a discouragement.

My one word of criticism would be the use of jargon which made some articles obfuscated. I've written this article to mirror the way I normally speak, without regard to what my readers may understand, to help illustrate this point. While I have no doubt many readers will understand all my words, I'm sure there will be many who are put off by my use of uncommon terms. The same is true of any specialized language. While most words can be looked up in a dictionary (although lumpen still puzzles me), I think it is best to use simple language in recruitment material, or be sure to include a quick definition hear the beginning.

I hope these observations will prove helpful to others. May your words match your deeds, your deeds match your values, and your values match your beliefs.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good reminder to all writers for ULK that we should try to write in language that is accessible to our readers. Sometimes it will be necessary to use a word like "lumpen" because it is the only word that describes what we are talking about. But even then we can try to define our words in context. Sometimes we receive article submissions that are clearly written by well educated folks, but which seem to be showing off their vocabulary, and making it much harder to read than necessary. So we agree that writing as you would speak is a good general guideline.

With that said, we welcome everyone to submit articles to ULK regardless of your writing skill and political education level. We often get letters from folks who are hesitant to submit articles until they get more education. We suggest instead to just write about something you know. If you see some abuses at your prison, write about that. If you see some good organizing going on where you're housed, write about that. Start from what you know based on your real world observation, and add political analysis to that as you are comfortable. We can always help with the analysis, and we are happy to help with your writing too. But if you write like you talk, chances are it will come across as readable and make for a good article.

Let us know if you need a copy of our writers guide which gives you some helpful tips on language and format and topics.

And here's a definition of First World lumpen, the term we most commonly use: The class of people in the First World who are excluded from the productive process. By virtue of living in the First World this class, on average, receives more material benefits from imperialism than the global proletariat. As such their interests are not the same as the exploited classes and we do not include them in the "lumpen-proletariat." But their conditions in many ways parallel those of the lumpen-proletariat standing in stark contrast to the majority of the First World populations.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 68]
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Gangster Actions Don't Match Words

This is the first article I have written for ULK. I was especially interested in writing about the topic above because, all too often, I have witnessed how the 'gangster' type are eager to dictate to others how their mission is to bring unity, yet their actions and attitudes are completely misplaced. For instance, if we are to fight oppression within the prison system, how is extorting other prisoners, assaulting others, et cetera, a means to that end?

I am not, nor would I ever become, gang-affiliated. In my opinion, if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves. Prison has become a daycare. Whites sell out whites, blacks team up with whites and babies have babies. What the hell? I've met pedophiles who are ranking gang officials, and snitches are free to roam as they please. Nothing makes any sense anymore and, just for the record, any gang which encourages a prisoner to extend their sentences or which demand that parents of children perform acts which result in them not being able to see them, that crap is no better than the lowest of the lowly.

The things gangs in Missouri do and continue to do are stupid and their actions bring upon us all the oppression. Gang members in Missouri, though they continuously spout the B.S. about solidarity, unity and integrity are, in turn, the cause and continuing justification for our being oppressed.

Instead of fighting for our right to not be abused by 'the system,' Missouri gangs are the tinder with which the fire under oppression is fueled. For every instance of stupidity by Missouri gang members, we, as a whole, lose an integral part of the overall voice with which we need to be able to defend ourselves from the wrongs of the system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This author asserts that "if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves." We ask in return: why is it wrong to seek out others to help you defend yourself? Lumpen organizations arose, on the streets and in prisons, in response to very real threats to the safety of oppressed nation people. It is not realistic to think that, in the face of institutional violence and attacks, or organized violence from other groups of people, one should stand alone. And seeking this help and unity is not a sign of weakness.

However, we do agree with this writer that organizations that require their members to engage in anti-people activity, or which engage in actions that harm the general prisoner population, are not friends of the fight against the criminal injustice system. There are many different types of lumpen organizations and conditions vary in different areas. In some situations staying away from L.O.s might be the best practice for anti-imperialists. But at this stage, to organize the lumpen masses, we need to be building unity between lumpen organizations where possible, not perpetuating the fighting that the prison administration encourages. We regularly print articles in ULK from comrades in lumpen orgs doing just this sort of building behind bars. This is the leadership we need to highlight and learn from as most of our readers in prison are in or have been in lumpen organizations..

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[Economics] [First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 68]
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Whites Can Be Lumpen Too

I strongly disagree with the exclusion of whites from the ranks of the lumpen within the United $tates. (see the tenth paragraph of Wiawimawo's article "Sakai's Investigation of the Lumpen in Revolution" in ULK 64) Although most whites in the United $tates. enjoy "white privilege" there are also whole communities of disenfranchised, impoverished whites. These communities are heavily reliant on government support systems to survive (i.e. food stamps, SSI, welfare, section 8 housing, etc.) They are also rife with crime, drugs, and street gangs.

For example, take the lumpen organizations (L.O.s) from Chicago (i.e. the Gaylords and the Simon City Royals). Both of these organizations were started by disenfranchised, impoverished communities consisting of mostly whites. They were originally founded to protect their communities from outside forces.

By stating that only oppressed "minorities" can be considered lumpen, Wiawimawo is engaging in paternalist politics that causes divisions within the movement. The truth is that any people that fit the political, social, and economic profile are lumpen. Disenfranchisement is not unique, nor immune, to any nationality. In solidarity!


Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: We are sending you a copy of "Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates?" so you can better understand our position on this question. First let's look at the quote from my article that you are responding to:

"This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model."

Note i say that we know "many white lumpen individuals who are comrades," meaning we agree with you that there are white lumpen, we just excluded them from the model presented in the paper cited. So why did we do this? Well, it is mostly based in our assessment of the principal contradiction in the United $tates being between the white oppressor nation and the oppressed nations. In the paper we do write:

"White men [who are currently/formerly incarcerated lumpen] number about 1.3 million, but are much more likely to find employment and join the labor aristocracy after release from prison. While in prison white men do fall into the lumpen class but lack the oppressed nation outlook and so often join white supremacist groups rather than supporting revolutionary organizing. This is just one factor contributing to a national outlook that leads us to exclude whites overall when discussing the revolutionary potential of the First World lumpen."

We also point out that historically the settler nation made up of Europeans has always been a petty bourgeois nation, while the oppressed nations have histories that are largely proletarian, but also lumpen-proletarian. History affects our national and class consciousness, so we can't just look at a snapshot in time. But the point of the paper was to show the size of the First World lumpen in the oppressed nations of the United $tates and a snapshot of how their conditions differ significantly from the white nation.

We'd say the examples you provide are exceptions that prove the rule. It takes some digging to come up with them, but certainly they exist. And in the context of the topic of this issue of Under Lock & Key we can certainly agree with you that they should not be ignored.

Most often, in U.$. prisons, when we talk about white L.O.s we are talking about white nationalist groups of some type. In our study, white supremacist organizations that are promoting fascism in this country today are made up of three main groups: former military, members of lumpen organizations/prisoners, and alienated petty bourgeois youth gathering around racist subcultures on the internet. The first two are the more dangerous groups, though the third gives the movement more of a feeling of a mass base of popularity. In our work it is with the second group that we can have the most impact. And we've had a number of former hardcore white supremacists become leaders within United Struggle from Within, and many more have participated in progressive battles for prisoner rights. It is in such alliances with the oppressed nations around the common interests of the imprisoned lumpen that we can really win over potential recruits who were initially drawn to fascism.

We welcome reports on examples of white lumpen organizing in the interests of ending oppression, and further analysis of the white lumpen as a base for progressive organizing.

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