On June 3 of last year a young Black man named Maynard Brumsey was killed at the Dalhart Unit in Texas due to excessive use of force. As a result of constant urging by comrades and their families calling for justice, several of the top officials were removed. It's more likely than not that they were just placed at other units in similar fashion to what the Catholics did in recent years with pedophiles within their ranks. Nor was their removal likely officially directly related to Brumsey's death. So, we are a far cry from exacting anything like justice upon the offender officers whose actions caused that man to die. Officers Hay, Verlardi, Marquez, Jackson, Crawford, and Gambriel killed this man through excessive force and in failing to take him to medical after they brutalized him, even as he complained of having trouble breathing. They need to answer for that. Those officials who failed to investigate this matter correctly and according to procedure and/or who covered this thing up need to face criminal sanctions. We don't let the Brumsey matter die until that happens.
This is the nature of our revolutionary struggle in the United States at present. What happens in prisons is just one aspect of it. We need to be vigilant in making the connections clear between prisons and hoods, especially the projects to prisons pipeline that uses public schools as a conduit. We need to understand the relationship between these phenomena and political disengagement and economic disempowerment. In clearly defining the nature of our social predicament, we are more competent in our struggles' strategic development.
Consistent and sustained vehicles of information and resource exchange are paramount. I recently received literature from MIM(Prisons) under the banner of our United Struggle from Within which outlined several procedural codes of compliance that can be used effectively against officers and administration. In our past three years of development we have reached nearly 5,000 men with our advocating for our "Triple C Core Concepts." Each of those men should have such material to fight with. So I praise MIM(Prisons) and the collective efforts of our USW comrades for that.
Enclosed is a notice that the Level 1 study group material you mailed to me has been forwarded to Publication Review Committee for disapproval. One of the reasons for disapproval is "material whose content could be detrimental to the offender rehabilitative efforts..." I must ask, What rehabilitative efforts? I'm serving a sentence of double-life plus 46 years. I've been incarcerated since June 1988. I'm not eligible for any school programs. I'm not enrolled in any treatment programs. Nor do I have a job inside the prison.
Further, the Virginia Department of Corruptions, um, Corrections (VADOC) is truly ignorant and incompetent in the realm of rehabilitative programs. In the 1990s the recidivism rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia ranked among the highest in the nation. VADOC's bungling efforts at rehabilitative programming proved so abysmal that the state legislature abolished both parole and early release good-time credits in July 1995. With the governor's blessing the prisoner population and VADOC's fiscal budget exploded. According to ABC news, prisoners in Virginia serve more time in prison now than any other jurisdiction except Florida.
This "Commonwealth of Virginia" is in truth a "colony" - a bastard child of the united snakes of amerikkka. Like father, like son this colony operates as a slave plantation of the kkkapitalist kkkrackers, with a major exception: no one is directly profiting from the labor of prisoners. But the labor aristocracy is profiting from our incarceration while giving us materials enough to simply keep us alive.
My friends, notice that these prison autocrats also say that the materials from MIM(Prisons) "...emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws..." Yet these same prison autocrats suck their livelihood from the tits of the United $tates whose founding fabricators once wrote that when people face a destructive government "...it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government..." What was Common Sense? Why were Crispus Attucks and four other men martyred? What was the volatile resolution of the First Kkkontinental Kkkongress?
On 1 May 2014, the united snakes of amerikkka warned that "global terrorism is on the rise." Since the kkkapitalist pigs refer to any threat to their hegemony as terrorism, then the revolutionary has reason to strengthen h resolve. The evidence reveals the pigs are in perpetual distress, and this is most fitting. If the U.$. truly is the "greatest nation on earth with the best form of government," then why does more than half of the world's population seek to destroy amerikkka and amerikkkans? Indeed, an ever growing number of so-called amerikkkan citizens wish only for the abolition of the current go-vermine-ment.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This censorship is a blatant example of the criminal injustice system's real goals in the United $tates. There is no rehabilitation in this system. It is merely a tool of social control. The MIM(Prisons) prisoner study group is one of the only educational opportunities for prisoners in Virginia, and education has been demonstrated to have significant positive effects on reducing recidivism of prisoners. So in denying prisoners this material VADOC proves its focus on maximizing incarceration and sentencing. The "detrimental" effects on rehabilitation can only refer to our positive impact on prisoners and their ability to get by on the streets without returning to prison.
In solidarity, I offer this suggestion: reduce your contribution to your imprisonment; instead contribute to your child's development. Advantages: the prison system has less funding; the companies that lobby for prisons lose money; you remain healthy to fight!
J. Paul Getty said, "If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you own the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem!"
The prison gets roughly $30,000/year for each general population prisoner, but receives an average of $70,000 for us in solitary confinement. Where does the money come from? Too much of it comes from us! Federal prisoners spend $300 million a year in commissary. It is estimated that prisoners contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration. We are allowing our money to be used as a weapon of war against us. "Playing by your enemy's rules is suicide." Growth and Development symbolizes growth of knowledge and development of new skills and tactics to be successful!
If you want to bring the CDCR director to the negotiation, make Keefe force him to the table. It is always about the money with capitalists. You have to give them something to lose!
We never shop during September out of respect for the sacrifice of my Attica brothers. Ask your family and friends to participate by not purchasing products from Keefe, Bob Barker, Golden Valley and any other company that profits from prisons. Eliminate the funding, and the problem is solved. Stop contributing to your own suffering!
Request the public records, budget and audit for the California prison system. It will show you how you are giving your money to your suffering.
Grow your knowledge Develop new skills and tactics Revolutionary strategy Intelligent sacrifice Stand United Economic pressure to obtain your goal
MIM(Prisons) adds:Every September 9 the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) promotes a solidarity demonstration in honor of the Attica uprising. This peaceful protest could easily expand to a month-long boycott of the parasitic industries from which prisoners are forced to make purchases. We welcome input from UFPP members and supporters leading up to this September's demonstration.
Expansion Cell Blocks (ECB) were designed to hold two prisoners in order to increase unit capacity. But Texas officials have labeled ECB as high security in an attempt to negate the facts and distort the actual security level of the ECB.
In order to justify this use of ECB, in spite of staff shortages and unlawful conditions, the authorities create a hostile environment which conforms to their false reality. Prisoners are agitated to commit acts of violence, create disturbances, or become aggressive, so that the ECB takes on an air of a high security prisoner housing area where sanctions and restrictions are necessary. Sanctions and restrictions enable the ECB to be operated even without the staff they are short. Constant lockdown cameras have been installed to document everything. This expense must be justified. The staff creates incidents for the technology to record. Restrictions begin. Policy becomes practice.
Lights are turned on every time count is taken, food is delivered, or staff feel it is necessary. Prisoners are required to regularly produce ID and are disturbed to the point they are deprived of REM sleep. Cell searches are performed irregularly during the day and throughout the night. A heightened state of anxiety and stress is created. People kept under high levels of stress are known to snap or break.
In addition to this high stress level, prisoners at ECB are provoked by staff. Most lack the capacity to respond to chaos in a rational manner thereby perpetrating the myth of high security and enabling the authorities to further control and empower themselves.
There is a systematic campaign of psychological warfare being waged against prisoners in control units. The evidence proves sensory deprivations experienced in isolation produces extreme states of mind, impulsiveness and irrational behaviors. Statistics show a decline in mental health in prisoners confined to solitary confinement for years. Without stimulation our minds and bodies begin to break down and decay.
Prisoners are conditioned through a system of punishments and indifference to view all forms of resistance as futile. Requests aren't answered. Responses are purposely vague or misleading. Policy is interpreted to undermine prisoner autonomy. The authorities use every tactic available to promote complete dependency of the prisoner and to ensure despondency is total.
All the while the public is being told prisoners are being provided with forms of rehabilitation and that support is given to those who desire to make modifications to their mentality.
Facilities designed to house 1200 prisoners are used to house 600. Prisoners in control units, Ad-Seg or high security do not receive good time, parole or work time. Their sentences are only discharged at their maximum release date. The result is requiring more money to provide for more prisoners and more staff to control them. The goal of the prison staff is achieved.
MIM(Prisons) adds: These long-term isolation cells are a common tool of oppression in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. And we have plenty of evidence of the detrimental effect of this isolation on humyns. Get involved in the campaign to shut down control units to resist this repression in Texas and across the country.
Since my arrival at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in July 2013 I've had to file numerous 602 appeals just to be able to utilize my two hour a week constitutional right to use the prison law library. At KVSP they like to run a very oppressive program, or I should say lack of program, and keep everybody on lockdown 24 hours a day, even on the general population and non-discipline yards. This was done all under the guise of "safety & security." Their stratagem is that we can't file any complaints on them if we don't have access to legal forms.
For the more creative prisoners, we've been able to bypass their little games and still file 602s and habeas corpus writs in our attempts to inform the outside world of the illegal practices here at the prison.
One of our writs must have struck a nerve because on 10 April at 4am, the prison's "Institutional Gang Investigators" AKA the goon squad, raided our building in full riot gear, and confiscated everyone's paperwork (books, family/legal letters, and writing materials) all in the name of "safety & security." It has been over two weeks now and the warden has given no word on exactly when we will be given access to our legal/personal documents.
Even though the majority of us have already bypassed their little blockade and have filed writs or found ways of informing our lawyers and family on the outside, these things take time. So here we sit on lockdown, with very limited access to the courts and family, awaiting relief or a full blown revolution to kick off. And although it is my personal belief that the latter will happen at some point, I also feel that it's going to take a whole lot more hard work in order to open up the eyes and ears of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world, before we all as a whole, can shout "stop!" and really have the means to add weight to our words.
Until then keep up the faith and hard work. Stay strong! This current system is at the breaking point. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that we have a lot of work to do to educate our brothers and sisters before we are ready to kick off the revolution. In the meantime we need to do what s/he is doing: the day to day work of exposing the abuse and brutality of the imperialist system and organizing others. We all have a responsibility to educate others however we can, whether that's by writing articles for ULK, talking to others on our block or yard, organizing a study group, teaching someone to read, or whatever else you can do to use your skills and talents to advance the struggle. Don't just sit back and read about it, get involved!
I want to first send an encouraging word to the brother who exposed a glimpse of our struggle here at Georgia State Prison. I can honestly say that the author of the stand up article in the March/April 2014 Under Lock & Key has inspired me to go harder.
As of this moment I am the head representative of the United Nation Against The Machine (UNATM) movement. The UNATM promotes unity, peace, and education amongst the various social groups within the system. The goal is to cease fire against one another and unite in our struggle against the oppressive pigs. We all have a common goal which should be freedom and we all have a common enemy which is the oppressive injustice system. There is no excuse for us to continue laying down when the bully approaches. We still have rights and we still are human beings who deserve better.
I want those in the segregation unit to know that you are not alone and as a fellow comrade/soulja in this struggle I pledge loyalty. I pledge to educate and decrease the illiteracy rate that confines our fellow brothers in an enslaved mind. I pledge to challenge the unchallenged. I pledge to finally put the pig head on the platter for all its wrong doing. We are our own machine that will stop at nothing to obtain true justice. I encourage all the souljas in this struggle to remain strong for we will see better days.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are encouraged to see the growing activism in Georgia and in particular the conscious comrades building unity and peace in that state. We have reached out to this comrade to suggest that UNATM consider joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) as their goals line up with this effort. Specifically, the first three UFPP principles are peace, unity and growth. Through this United Front we can bring together different groups and individuals to fight our common enemy in the criminal injustice system.
I'm writing in regards to an article that appeared in issue 37 of ULK titled [url=https://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/fighting-for-useful-legal-counsel-in-arizona/"Fighting for Useful Legal Counsel in Arizona." The author of this article outlined their legal strategy to help prisoners receive legal counsel in the very early stages of their cases. The writer stated that he had filed a Writ of Certiorari asking the court to resolve the issue of the constitutional question left open in Martinez V. Ryan, 623 F.3d 731, 132S.CT1309(1023) of
"whether a defendant in a state criminal case has a Federal Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel at initial review collateral proceedings specifically with respect to his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim."
The case that the writer cited in his article was from the district court, but this particular case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court (Martinez v. Ryan 132 S. Ct 1309), and was decided favorably.
There are two other cases that I know of that deal with this same issue after Martinez, both of which were decided favorably. One was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and the other by the 8th Circuit. Both cases expand upon the ruling in Martinez and may be useful to the Arizona comrade or anyone going through the motions of trying to get their case back in court on an ineffective assistance claim. The cases are Trevino v. Thaler 133 S.Ct.1911 and Sasser v. Hobbs Nos. 02-3103, 11-3346.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The state sets the rules and then doesn't allow those accused of breaking the rules to effectively defend themselves within the injustice system. This is all part of the system of national oppression in this country; it's no coincidence that effective legal counsel is denied to those accused of breaking Amerikkka's laws.
We appreciate this comrade sharing h legal knowledge with others via the pages of ULK, and a lot of times this is the only way prisoners expand their legal arsenal. The author of the original article in ULK 37 said it took h eleven years to exhaust the remedies within Arizona state courts. Undoubtedly much of this time was spent translating legalese, and trying to figure out which motions to file when and where, with much trial and error along the way. With the assistance of a competent lawyer these speedbumps would be easily leveled.
While we know eventually we need to take up arms to liberate ourselves from national oppression in this country, at this stage in our struggle we are only advocating legally permitted campaigns. Like this comrade is attempting to do, setting valuable legal precedent that makes space for revolutionary organizing and defense of the humynity of the most oppressed Amerikan prisoners would be one step in the direction to overthrow the imperialist state. We can facilitate this work by sharing information the most effective approaches with each other.
Comrades who want to contribute to our collective legal knowledge should work with the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC). One of the primary tasks of the PLC is to compile legal knowledge into help guides which MIM(Prisons) then distributes to prison-based activists and jailhouse lawyers. The PLC only focuses on battles that will push our revolutionary struggle forward. Whether it be our efforts to put a complete end to solitary confinement, or simply to have our grievances not thrown in the trash upon receipt, the PLC is for jailhouse lawyers with a strong left lean! Write to MIM(Prisons) for more information.
I recently wrote to you inquiring about how I can contribute to the struggle within, possibly by joining forces with USW. A few solid brothers and myself are in accordance with the 5 basic key principles/ideas that the United Front for Peace in Prisons represents. However, at Perry Correctional Institution (where I am currently confined), the consciousness is low amongst the masses due to the oppressor's effective psychological warfare tactics being enforced at all angles (fear, divide & conquer, rewards, isolation, etc.). This specific prison is designed to be the "breaking camp" for prisoners, where they train prisoners to be more "obedient" to further assist the oppressor's aim for control and financial advancement.
There are a lot of prisoner violations that occur at this plantation, but one in particular is the grievance system. South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) has recently implemented a procedure where you must first submit a request form to the appropriate officer/supervisor attempting to informally resolve your issue. The officer is then provided 45 days to respond to your request, which most officers refuse to do. If you are lucky enough to receive a response, then you are given only 5 days, including weekends, to submit your grievance after your request form has been answered. Then to add insult to injury, many grievances are never returned and the grievance officials feign ignorance as to what happened to it.
The grievance process/system within South Carolina Department of Corruption is substandard and blatantly violates prisoners' constitutional rights. I am unsure whether South Carolina is covered by the grievance campaign or not, but we are definitely experiencing similar issues in our grievance process and I would like to join this campaign. Please keep me updated in the decisions or proposals for combatting the grievance system and let me know what is needed of me and my comrades here.
Also, please provide any material available which may assist me in awakening the masses of how to fight against the oppressor and how to unite on a common ground with individuals in different groups. I will strive to become a ULK Field Corespondent for South Carolina in the future, whatever I can do to assist the struggle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend these comrades in South Carolina for coming together around the United Front for Peace principals and doing the work to identify the critical campaign needs in their prison. The grievance campaign is not yet active in South Carolina but we look forward to working with these folks to customize the grievance petition for that state and get the struggle moving forward there. To work on this campaign in your state, write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the petition, and if one does not exist for your state you can help by modifying the petition for use there.
This movie is a must-see for any left-leaning persyn looking to kick start a revolution or join a movement for the purpose of societal change. The East is about a subversive underground movement which can best be described as a loose collection of anarchist cells focused on giving the heads of corporations that are responsible for ecological destruction a taste of their own medicine. One reference in the movie describes them as radical cells that started with Earth First! They attack big business, who they see as responsible for much of today's problems in the United $tates. Indeed, they see the principal contradiction in the United $tates as between greedy corporations that will stop at nothing to make a quick buck and the life on planet Earth that they threaten. The ideas portrayed in their propaganda videos are hard-hitting in a way that is true to the First World radical ecology movement in real life.
The potential for the radical ecology movement to be a real force for change in the First World is one reason this movie is powerful. The movie is also aesthetically pleasing on many levels (which means it's fun to watch!) and filled with political content. It has a couple big Hollywood names; none more notable than Ellen Page of Juno fame. This movie speaks mainly to the worries of today's white petty-bourgeois youth growing up in the shadows of climate change, oil spills and other mass pollution, toxic food and medicine and a consumerist society that doesn't seem to care. The characters touch on struggles with their wealth, but ultimately use their privilege to attack their enemies. They criticize Amerikans for their complacency, but see the imperialists as the ones deserving severe criticism. Similar to many radical environmental movements in the real world, there is no explicit class analysis in the movie, but The East seems potentially friendly to both a Third Worldist and a First Worldist perspective. The real positive lessons of this movie however come from its emphasis on security and organization, or lack thereof, within supposed revolutionary groups.
The East focuses on an ex-FBI agent named Jane who goes undercover for Hiller-Brood, a fictional "intelligence firm" that specializes in protecting the interests of imperialist corporations thru espionage. Jane's mission is to attempt to infiltrate The East, a so-called eco-terrorist organization that has been a thorn in the side of McCabe-Grey, a fictional corporation that specializes in producing cutting edge pharmaceuticals. Jane's assignment is to go undercover using the name Sarah, to meet and gain the trust of potential East members that Hiller-Brood has been tailing.
After a night of partying and getting to know some counter-culture types who Sarah thinks might know The East, she decides they are relatively harmless and then sneaks away in the early morning hours to pursue other potential targets, but not before snapping all their pictures and sending them back to Hiller-Brood for file building. From here on out Sarah sets out to meet some other potential targets who are older, more mysterious and hence more promising. After meeting the possible East members and train hopping with their friends, Sarah gets her first taste of pig oppression when they are forced off the train by railroad security and subsequently beaten. It is in the midst of the commotion that Sarah sees the persyn she's been following flash a badge at security - the persyn she's been following is a fed! After being left cuffed to a train Sarah makes a narrow escape from police and is rescued by one of the train-hoppers whose van she jumps into. Once inside of the van Sarah recognizes one of the symbols of The East. Convinced she is now on the right track, Sarah slices her wrist in the hopes that this guy whose van she's in will take her to The East. Her plan works, but not before he runs a quick make on her by dialing the number on her phone marked "mom."
After speaking to another Hiller-Brood agent posing as Sarah's mom, he destroys her phone, blindfolds her and takes her to a secret location in the woods; a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere. As they arrive, Sarah is introduced to "Doc" the group's resident doctor, much to the chagrin of Thumbs the group's only New Afrikan. As she is being treated Sarah discovers that Doc was once a med student. She is then drugged and put to sleep. After waking, Sarah meets Izzy, Ellen Page's character, who views Sarah with a skeptical eye. Izzy gives Sarah a straight-jacket and tells her to wear it if she wants to come down for dinner. Feeling she is now a hostage, and partly out of curiosity, Sarah reluctantly agrees to put on the jacket. Once they enter the dining room, Sarah is surprised to find the rest of the group already assembled at the table and all wearing straight jackets. At the head of the table is Benji, a bearded and eccentric looking man who reveals to Sarah that they know everything about her, her last job as a bank-teller, where she grew up, everything. All aspects of her cover identity unfortunately.
Benji then tells Sarah that she can begin eating whenever she's ready. Not knowing how to eat if she's in a straight jacket Sarah tells Benji that she's a guest and would not feel right if she started before them. To which Benji responds; "You can do what you please, but we prefer to eat after you begin." Confused and uneasy Sarah attempts to eat by slurping the soup directly from the bowl. Everyone stares at Sarah with a look of condemnation. What happens next is a "zen" moment in which everyone takes to eating by having the persyn next to them pick up the spoon with their mouth and feed them. Feeling played, Sarah storms out of the house and into the woods where Benji and company follow her and ask her to come back. Sarah responds, "For what? So you can continue to make fun of me to your followers?" Benji then explains that he doesn't have any followers. He tells her that if she'd only relied on the group, instead of selfishly trying to feed herself then she wouldn't be feeling stupid. Sarah then retorts "Why is it that self-righteousness and resistance movements always go hand in hand?" Yet it is the bourgeois and the Christians who are the most self-righteous of all, imposing their ways on others, forcing the majority to suffer for their own benefit. They criticize the masses with a false sense of superiority, while it is the job of revolutionaries to criticize the oppressor with the basic facts of their oppression. Throughout the movie, it is stressed that everything members of The East do is their own choice, and when they do do things it is organized in collective ways that challenge bourgeois individualism, such as the eating example.
Later that night Sarah is caught spying by Eve, an East member. Sarah is then forced to reveal herself to Eve, but she tells her that she is an active FBI agent, and that The East house is currently under surveillance, and that if she exposes her she'll go to jail. Eve agrees to stay quiet but flees the next day without telling anyone what she knows. The next day The East discovers that Eve has left. This throws the group's next mission into limbo. Sarah explains that she can easily fill Eve's shoes. The group takes a vote and decides to let Sarah in on the "jam" so long as her knowledge of the mission is relegated to her role. Sarah agrees.
The group's mission is to infiltrate a business party hosted by McCabe-Grey. Once inside the party their plan is to slip a supposed anti-malarial drug "Denoxin" into the drinks of some of Amerika's elites who have gathered to celebrate a contract between McCabe-Grey and the U.$. military which will make Denoxin available to Amerikan soldiers serving abroad. Denoxin's side-effects have been linked to various mental and nervous disorders as demonstrated by Doc, who took the drug after his prescription killed his sister. During the celebration the vice president of McCabe-Grey gives a speech in which she touts Denoxin as a miracle drug that will protect men and wimmin in uniform in the mission to protect Third World people from evil dictators and oppressive governments; thereby allowing them to bring "freedom and democracy" to the oppressed masses.
Sarah finds out what The East is up to and attempts to stop it, but it is too late. The East completes their mission and returns to their hideout in the woods. Back at the safe-house Sarah takes to snooping and discovers the real identities of The East members. However, her spying is cut short when they see breaking news that McCabe-Grey's vice president has begun to succumb to Denoxin's side-effects, her life in possible danger. The East panics and decides to disperse and flee back into the relative safety of the city. They all agree that should members decide to continue with the movement they should all return to the safe house in a couple weeks.
Now, back in society, undercover agent Sarah seems uncomfortable in the real world, she is no longer used to the amenities of living in a First World country. She has become accustomed to living in the woods with The East and their communal social values; she is conflicted. Though she feels troubled she returns to Hiller-Brood for debriefing. She gives up the identities of The East and expresses her concerns that another attack will occur. She pleads to have The East house raided before they disappear, but they refuse and send Sarah back for more intelligence gathering.
Sarah re-connects with The East as they are planning the next action. This time around, the mission is to get Hawkstone Energy executives (yet another fictional imperialist corporation) to admit their illegal pollution practices on camera; illegal practices that have contaminated a small town's drinking water. Benji's plan is to rationalize with the bourgeois leaders of Hawkstone into giving up their dangerous exploitation of the earth (kidnapping them and forcing them to listen), but Thumbs disagrees. Thumbs doesn't want to talk with the enemy, he wants action now. He says that these rich types don't ever respond to "intellectual bullshit, they respond to firepower!" After some heated discussion they agree to Benji's original plan where Izzy ends up dead, shot by Hawkstone security.
We cannot afford to make the focoist error of taking up armed struggle when the conditions aren't right, as the character of Thumbs attempts to do. Focoism has a long history of failure, getting good revolutionaries killed or locked up in jail. To think that armed actions will always inspire the masses towards revolutionary activity is an ultra-left and deadly, idealist mistake that has left many anti-imperialists either dead or in prison. In this sense The East has a better strategy in that they are primarily trying to stop the most powerful people from doing the damage their corporations are doing, rather than engaging in focoist actions aimed at convincing Amerikans that the corporations need to be stopped. The East may actually end up stopping some corporations, and the individuals leading them, from some of their more destructive practices. But in the end this strategy, like focoism, lacks the big picture perspective that will enable us to put an end to the environmental destruction that is inherent to capitalism. What their strategy lacks is the building of independent institutions of the oppressed that have the power to implement environmentally-friendly production methods while meeting the people's needs. While the movie shows The East building alternative culture within their collective, we must figure out how to go bigger than that to really counter the powerful corporations that are now calling the shots.
When Izzy dies, The East becomes spooked and are thrown into disarray. One member talks of abandoning the movement and Benji tries to get him to stay. Benji tells him that "a revolution is never easy, but that doesn't make it any less important," to which the deserter states, "I would betray the revolution for Izzy, that's the difference between you and me." This is an inherent weakness in petty bourgeois radical movements. When those they care about are threatened they see the comforts of petty bourgeois life as preferable to struggle. This is why the deserter is able to succumb to such individualist ways of thinking. For the proletariat, oppression is a daily reality, and death of a comrade will tend to justify further what they are doing rather than discourage. What we must fully understand however is that the success or failure of any movement does not hinge on the importance of one individual, one man, one womyn or one child; but on the stated aims of that movement and the completion of that goal, and if we stray from those principles then we are just as guilty of betraying the revolution as the deserter in the movie did.
At this point, this cell of The East splits up yet again. Back at Hiller-Brood Sarah discloses the day's events, she reports Izzy's death and claims that The East is in shambles, a perfect time to move in and arrest them all. Her advice is again ignored. She is ordered to go back. She meets with Benji, but this time pleads with him to give up the movement; partly out of her wish to prevent another attack or death, and partly because she has developed romantic feelings for him. Benji refuses and instead convinces her to take part in one last mission. She agrees because she has feelings for him and because she has now been won over to The East's cause.
On the way to the next mission Benji exposes his hand and tells Sarah that he knows she's a spy. He tells her that if she was ever down with the movement or truly had feelings for him, then she'd complete the mission and run away with him. She agrees to help. The mission is to retrieve a flash drive from the offices of Hiller-Brood that contains the names of fifty agents embedded in underground movements all across the world. Benji convinces Sarah that he only wants the list to spy on the spies; but what he really wants is to expose the agents to their organizations. She carries out the mission but when she finds out Benji's true intention she denies having stolen the flash drive. She tries to convince Benji that if they were to obtain the list it'd be better to talk the agents into giving up their careers as spies for the greater good. She argues if they only knew what they were really doing, they'd all turn just as she had. Benji refuses and they part ways. He, back to the underground, and she onto a one womyn awareness campaign.
The movie ends with clips of her talking to what appear to be other Hiller-Brood agents outside of oil refineries and power plants. The take away? Don't work outside the system in order to change it, work alongside it in order to change minds one persyn at a time.
Now let us examine this film from a Maoist perspective: "In the world today, all culture, all literature and all art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached or independent of politics." (MIM Theory 13)
This should be our attitude and guiding line when viewing or reviewing art i.e, film, literature, music, etc. Only with this attitude will we be able to see thru the bourgeoisie obfuscation of art. Furthermore; "works of literature and art, as ideological forms are products of the life of a given society." Which means that what we as a society deem to be art can only be pulled from the consciousness of society itself. Art expresses not only individual, but society's wishes, its desires, its anxieties and its perceived problems.
Now we began this review by stating that this movie was aesthetically pleasing and filled with political content. Comrade Mao taught us that the most reactionary art in class society is both high in artistic value and filled with political content. And who's political views was this movie putting forward? The bourgeoisie's of course. But even though it is a bourgeoisie product with bourgeois aims we can still learn something from it that we can apply to our own movement. Hence, we should not totally discard it.
Overall, The East is painted in a very positive light in this film, highlighting the liberatory and egalitarian aspects of the anarchist sub-culture. What we are to take away from this is Sarah benefitted and learned from that experience, but goes on to have her real impact by working among the agents of the imperialists to convince them what they are doing is wrong. The whole premise assumes that people just don't know the destruction that these corporations are doing. While the details are certainly masked from Amerikans, the information is still readily available, and a historical analysis of this country will reveal much deeper roots to reactionary politics of the Amerikan consumer nation. A more damaging storyline that would be justified by this movie, which we see time and time again in real life, is the activist who participates in radical organizing to learn and build cred and then goes on to work within the system as Sarah does when they "grow up." This movie will play well with the radical-curious, who find their life's work in NGOs, non-profits and even government agencies. The good side of this film is that it could lead people to be sympathetic to the cause of radical ecology, despite its praise of reformism. There are also some good practical lessons in this movie.
The first lesson to take away from this film is that any movement that is truly working against the interests of the imperialists will simply not be tolerated. The agents of repression are always looking to smash movements of dissent and are constantly working vigorously to infiltrate and spy on us.
Secondly, we must be cautious of who we decide to work with and who we reveal ourselves to. Simply because we meet people who seem to share our political views does not mean they are comrades and thereby privy to our organization's actions or methods of work. Within sub-cultures, having the right look and lifestyle can lead to people putting their guards down for superficial reasons. Sarah demonstrates this, and there are many real-world Sarahs whose stories have been exposed. This essentially breaks down to "better, fewer, but better." And even good comrades can be turned, which we should keep in mind as well. The bourgeoisie and their spies are highly organized and we should be too. A good way of keeping security tight within our organizations is by keeping politics in command. No one who isn't putting in work should know anything about our organizations other than what is published in the pages of Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prisons) website. Our work should always be geared along the lines of what will be the most effective and will get us the furthest fastest. As such, security within our movement shouldn't be something we study in addition to theory, but should stem directly from it.
Thirdly, we shouldn't necessarily have to like our comrades on a persynal level. Just because we like certain people or have relative unity with them on certain issues doesn't mean we recruit based on popularity. We recruit based on the correctness of one's political line and the type of work done over a period of time. When they were around, the original Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika was the vanguard of the communist movement in the North American continent exactly because they were composed of the communist elite. They didn't get to those positions overnight due to social networking, but because they put in the correct type of work over a sustained period. This is something else we should remember when building and re-building our movements. Thus, if we are serious about taking the socialist road then we must study and work assiduously to learn Marxist philosophy, scientific socialism and Marxist political economy so that we may integrate it into our work and apply the most correct political lines.
In conclusion, we must take art seriously and not cede the cultural wars to the bourgeoisie but must engage them on that level as well. For the bourgeoisie this movie was a hit due to its successful combination of aesthetics and politics. Therefore we must also seek to fuse the political with the artistic. Under Lock & Key already does this to a certain degree as the ULK writers struggle to make it the trenchant arm of the revolution. Right now however, what ULK lacks in artistic value it makes up in political worth, though there is much room for improvement.
Don't work alongside imperialism to change it one persyn at a time. Rather, work directly against it in order to smash it and revolutionize the world.
Here in the Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU, the psych version of SHU), the inmate-patients are somewhat pacified. In exchange for participating in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) re-education program through "group therapy," inmate-patients, if indigent, are given a loaner TV or radio once they reach the highest level (IV) of program participation. After 12 months at this level, we are eligible to have the remainder of our SHU term suspended.
But, of course, it is blackmail in its baldest form. If you refuse very many groups, they take the TV or radio, refuse to issue your annual package, and you certainly will not be having your SHU term suspended early.
To address something MIM(Prisons) said in the March/April newsletter, it is remarkable to me, at times, exactly how important and influential the american dollar has become in all aspects of global life. I grew up in a conservative Christian and Republican household. Obviously a very capitalist one as well. I've had to re-educate myself politically and economically.
It's true that whether you're talking about CDCR or the state department, the government uses the american dollar and the resultant economy that it creates for the purposes of what I call its "Blackmail propaganda." That is, the using of the dollar and the global american economy to coerce First and Third World nations into behaving as closely in line with the american political, military and economic agendas as they can get away with, particularly when it comes to the military industrial complex.
To bring this closer to home, the prison industrial complex attempts to use commissary, vendor packages, and prison wages as a means to control the behavior of the prison population much the same as the centralized government does with the oppressed majority of the world.
The continued expansion of the exploitative capitalist system requires an ideological prop for the ideology that supports such a system in the superstructure. Our weapon? Our own ideology. How to spread it from here? Work the bourgeois job. Just don't get too attached to it. Take a percentage of the funds that remain after your needs have been met and combat the capitalist and imperialist monster through education. First educate yourself, then through your donations to MIM(Prisons), educate your comrades.
It's easy to rant and rave and call "the man" the pig that he is. But let's not forget who the real pig is: that bloated capitalist machine that goes by the name of "The United States Government." The only way to slaughter that particular pig is through education. Educate the proletariat closest to you. In this situation, your fellow comrades are first. Then your family, friends, and their neighbors.
Comrades, we must be patient. Even the Bolshevik revolution took time.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is right on about the importance of taking money from our bourgeois work and turning it to good use for the revolution. Even prisoners have access to some funds, or can acquire stamps or other resources. And with the opportunity to directly fund expanded education through four additional pages of ULK, the impact of even a small amount of money can be quite significant.
One small point on this letter: we have written previously about why we do not use the term "Prison Industrial Complex" as it implies a financial profit to the prison system that does not exist. Prisons exist as a tool for social control, and are not a key pillar of the decadent U.$. economy, as military production has been for many decades.