In the article "Pennsylvania Digitizing Prisoner Mail" in ULK 65(1) Soso points out that PA's new policy will restrict prisoners to purchasing books directly (after the publication is first approved by the DOC). By enforcing this policy the PA DOC is implementing a state-run monopoly on reading material within its prisons. The obvious reason for this imperialist act is to further censor prisoners' reading material.
Illinois comrades have heard our brothers' cries for help. This policy can be fought, but it will take time and dedication to prevail. Crofton v. Roe, 170 F. 3d 957, 961 (9th Cir. 1999) is a case finding that a regulation that only allowed a prisoner to receive publications he ordered and paid for directly bore no relationship to the interest of screening for contraband. You'll need to Shepardize this case to find cases from your Circuit that support this judgment.
What does this mean? It means that you can combat the current policy denying third parties to order you books. That might seem like a small victory compared to the digitization of your mail and pictures, but any victory against the state is a victory for the people. Unfortunately, due to the security concerns regarding drugs being smuggled into the prisons through the mail, it is unlikely that this policy will be overturned by any court. The only method left for this issue is direct action in protest of the policy which garnishes public attention and support (i.e. the mass hunger strikes in California in protest of the SHU which resulted in the abolishment of indefinite placement in the SHU). In Solidarity!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We hope that this PA mail policy will be challenged in the courts. Although MIM(Prisons) does not have the resources (or lawyers) to do this from the streets, we print this letter to support our jailhouse lawyers who are working on this battle. At the same time, this writer makes a good point that we are unlikely to win these legal battles entirely. We can sometimes gain some small victories, that allow us things like greater access to educational materials in prison. But we need to keep in mind that political power only comes to those who take it. The imperialists and their courts will not give up this power without a fight.
I'm writing about a problem that I've been dealing with for the last two years of my incarceration. If you all have any information that will help me, please send it or put me in touch with someone who can help.
Basically I had a normal life before I was incarcerated. Meaning I had bills. Due to my incarceration I fell behind on all my bills, ruining my credit.
I've found information in the library to run my credit report and contact my debtors. But the mail room here will not allow me to send out anything that has to do with finances. They advise me to appoint a power of attorney.
My problem is this, how does DOC expect us to be "rehabilitated" while incarcerated, but won't allow us to do for ourselves? I'm going to be released to society with terrible credit, no money and no means (legally) to provide for myself. And I'm certainly not the only one. This system is creating a cycle that turns DOC into a revolving door. And does nothing but add to the paychecks for the state.
Everybody doesn't have family out there to provide for them. So I thought I could try to handle my own business but I'm being held back. I read the policy and it basically states that as a prisoner we are not allowed to sign financial contracts or start/conduct business via mail or phone.
So I'm reaching out to see if any other prisoners are having this problem. If so has there been a solution? Because I have several ideas on how we can help ourselves to have the funds to start over once released. But how do I implement them with the restrictions applied by DOC? Hell I don't even know if they'll let me send this out asking for help.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade describes just one of many problems releasees will face as soon as they hit the streets. Usually thinking about your credit is not the first order of business for a released prisoner. But this can have a big impact on your ability to find housing and set up basic services (which require credit cards). There are ways to rebuild your credit rating, but it's slow and one more problem to add to the difficulties of life on the streets with a prison record. And as this writer points out, all this adds up to a revolving door of recidivism.
We don't have any easy ways to help fix this credit problem, or the bigger question of how to set up businesses from behind bars. However, we hope that our comrades with release dates or finite sentences will start thinking about this well in advance. If you have someone on the outside who can help square up your delinquent bills, it's never too early to ask for help. And if your prison allows you to send mail out to those billers directly, you might be able to work something out with them to defer the debt.
If anyone else has ideas to help folks hitting the streets to deal with these sorts of financial challenges, write in to share them. We want to help our comrades hitting the streets to ease their transition as much as possible. This is critical to making it possible for releasees to continue their political work on the streets. We need an army of former prisoners building independent institutions of the oppressed, to support new releasees.
Gangster mentality can mean different things to many. A gang is a group of people with a common goal. I must emphasize that all words/concepts are subject to connotations that don't necessarily have good intentions. Gang/gangster therefore carry negative and positive connotations, like other words like socialism, anarchism, communism, etc. It has been MIM(Prisons)'s aim to educate us about these ideas through the proper usage of science.
With this in mind, I consider myself a gangster. Since I believe in the idea of working with others towards a common goal, to me it is not about "defeating this gangster mentality," it's about embracing it and re-directing it towards the "Shining Path." We have a common enemy, and resolving our minor contradictions doesn't necessarily mean that we have to defeat our gangster mentality. This kind of language is what causes rejection from the lumpen organizations(L.O.s) in many cases. This is the language that is used by state-financed organizations and Christian groups/org.
I understand that MIM's direction is different, but those who pick up ULK and glance at it may see this language and will put ULK down. My approach has, and will continue to be, one that politicizes the gangster mentality. This is where you will find the most dedicated comrades, and, because they are respected they find themselves in a position to make real changes that erase that divide among different gangs and further our struggle in the right direction. It is about learning and teaching about our minor contradictions and working to overcome these minor obstacles.
In ULK 67, USW 11 wrote about how the state of Washington is doing whatever it can to depoliticize prisoners, and how among those places where you find the gangster mentality is where you find the most resistance against the state.(1) When L.O.s understand the power they have working collectively, things begin to change and form. After all, gangs are in contrast with the individualistic mentality in the United $tates, and are a response to the socio-economic conditions we face in and out of prison. It's a way to survive, in a place where the capitalist and oppressive system emphasizes individualism.
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.
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 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.
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.