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[Organizing] [Economics] [ULK Issue 81]

Revolutionaries Highjacked by Capitalism

“That is to instill a psychological sense of self-worth, without actually altering the material conditions that actually cause the lack of self-esteem in the first place, nor do they attempt to alter the conditions” - Power to New Afrika (1)

I agree with Comrade Triumphant. I would just like to add a little and ask a question. This quote – if I’m not mistaken – speaks to those Black bourgeoisie who led the masses to believe that pro-Black capitalism was progress. It is said that the achievements and rewards gained from jobs, hustles and labor wins the respect and dignity from their peers and society. That status in society is what the people seek and this is what instills that psychological sense of self-worth. But before they reached that status they had a lack of self-esteem because of their lack of material goods. They were comparing themselves to those that had and recognized that they themselves had not. So in comparison, they were less than because they had less than.

Once wealth and status is accomplished the conditions that created the “lack of” in the Black Nation remains, therefore continuing its destructive effect on the people of that nation. This destruction is both on the objective and subjective level: the people’s revolutionary spirit gets high-jacked by Black capitalism. Individualism gets promoted instead of unity because of the competition that comes along with it. We then see ourselves as enemies fighting over crumbs at the lower levels of this capitalist society. Now those that make it out of the poor communities ride high on their psychological sense of self-worth and disregard their communities. They get big-headed and become bourgeoisified. And the only time they reach back is either training the people to be entertainers, drug pushers, or funding politicians who favor reform – from which we all know are just tools of pacifying the people.

This is a major problem with trying to revolutionize the people. First because we must show that we can produce in a capitalist society. Nobody wants to hear from someone who has no money how to run their lives. So the revolutionary may start with intentions on gaining influence and persuading the masses to revolutionize, but if to do so they must participate in the same thing that extorts from the people – that’s a contradiction and a bit hypocritical. Not to mention it’s a slippery slope. That psychological sense of self-worth becomes a high, then the Black capitalist begins to chase that trying to stay relevant. And to do so – more money must be made, more material things must be bought, and more of our brothers/sisters/friends from our own nations and other oppressed nations of world imperialism will be exploited and manipulated as a result. So my question is how to do that without falling victim to embourgeoisfication: the desire to have, so once the proletariat has, how does he not become bourgeoisified?

Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: The premise presented here by Melo X is that nobody will listen to someone without money, so we must make money to succeed at revolution. Ey goes on to assert that to succeed at making money traps us in a life of chasing money. I would challenge both of these premises.

The first premise is one that i’ve heard many times. I’ve even received feedback from the masses that i was not presenting myself in a way that garners respect. There are countless organizations that use the dress up approach to get respect in the hood. The Black Panthers even did this to an extent with their uniforms and black leather jackets. Many thought this looked cool. But they did not present themselves as having wealth, they were mostly kids, often with no job, no hustle, living in cramped conditions. They merely presented themselves as being organized, disciplined, powerful.

The point that Triumphant was making in that article is that we can present and assert power in ways that are not how capitalism teaches us to do so. And in fact we must assert power in these ways in order to actually meet our real needs, as Melo X recognizes.

The second premise, that chasing money is a trap has a lot of truth to it. It is often a necessary evil. But not because we need to be rich for the masses to follow us, but because we must fund our projects. We must demonstrate to the masses how to be effective. A strong mass-based movement should have diversified sources of resources coming from the masses themselves because they see its effectiveness. Our mass base in prisons has been growing in the form of financial support over the last few years, which we see as a success. Yet most of our funding comes from comrades working at jobs outside.

Having to work is about survival and basic functioning in our society. If you don’t have stable housing and basic needs met, it is hard to be consistent in organizing work. For most of us at this time, working is a necessary evil. And it will eat up a lot of our time and energy. As such it will affect our consciousness as well. But it is not so addictive that we will become slaves to the dollar. We should all strive to find ways to get the money we need for our own sustenance and the sustenance of the movement in a way that best allows us to serve the people. In a high-cost, highly monetized society this is a challenge that we must approach strategically.

If you are an individual just trying to do good for your people in this society, yes you will most likely become bourgeoisified as you succeed in this society. It is by putting politics in command, using Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our guiding ideology, that can keep us from failing into that trap.

SunWukong of MIM(Prisons) adds: Another aspect of gaining respect from the masses is through mass line. We can learn from history on this aspect - namely the Black Panther Party’s (BPP) serve the people programs and the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) people’s war. Whenever the Chinese communists first entered a village and started setting up a base area, it surveyed the material needs and subjective wants of the local masses. Many of these problems included backward irrigation methods and agricultural practices that have been used in China for centuries, and because many of the Chinese communists came from an academic/intellectual backgrounds, they were able to gain knowledge of more “modern” and developed agricultural methods of the advanced imperialist countries. Once the mass line is set up, the peasants would even offer their sons and daughters to the People’s Liberation Army to fight for the revolutionary cause. Green fatigues and red stars didn’t have much cultural aesthetic clout in semi-feudal China, but it was the implementation of the mass line and building the proper relations with the masses that gained the CPC so much respect to where peasants were fine with their kids joining a guerrilla army.

Notes: (1) Triumphant, August 2022, Power to New Afrika, MIM Distributors.

[Theory] [Idealism/Religion] [Education] [ULK Issue 79]

Are Ideas in a Book Materialist?

learning from experience
This drawing is a response to one of the questions from our intro study program on the materialist method of knowledge
[Responding to “What did you disagree with?” when studying “Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?”]

I disagreed with the basis of idealism not being action. To think is action. Thought can be provoked by stimuli collected by the body’s sensors, which is more reactionary. Or you can create a thought or an idea, but this is action. Mental action nonetheless but action all-in-all. And it must be understood physical action comes from mental action. As I write this I understand the materialist method is physical action. Well I guess I don’t have a disagreement but rather a question, is ideas placed on paper in book format considered materialism?

Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: As comrade Melo X explains, we can have thoughts that are reactions to physical stimuli, or we can create thoughts. But this “creation” of thoughts is also a response to the physical world. What we might call reason, abstracts concepts based on our experience with real phenomena, or physical things we can interact with.

“the faculty of understanding is not a ‘thing in and of itself,’ because it becomes real only in contact with some object.”(1)

Dietzgen explained how the idealists see the mind as separate from the sense perceptions of the material world. So Melo X is correct to see the unity between them. The comrade also distinguishes creating thoughts from more passive perception. This realization demonstrates the role of reason in developing scientific understanding from our perception of the physical world around us.

We also agree that our thoughts impact our actions. Hence we stress class consciousness as an educational process that is a product of our interactions with the class system.

So, are ideas in a book part of the materialist method? Well, it depends on what ideas. A book can promote contemplative reasoning. Bourgeois books will promote bourgeois thinking that harbors much idealistic reasoning in order to deny the contradictions inherent to the capitalist system. All that said, 99% of our materialist understanding of the world is based in history, and therefore must come from books (or other historical record). If we discarded books in our scientific pursuits we could not continue to build on the knowledge of the past, but would be stuck relearning the same things with each generation.

It is a crass form of materialism that says everything must come from persynal experience and direct interaction with the physical world. Rather we must learn from the actions of the people who came before us, and as we develop new theories they must be tested by us in practice through action and not just tested in our contemplative, subjective minds. Another way to look at this is that books are recorded practice and direct experiences of other people. Frederick Douglas’ writings are from eir practice with chattel slavery, and Lenin’s writings are from eir practice with the first proletarian revolution. When we say that all knowledge is 99% history, we’re not saying we should spend all our time learning using books but to see it as a starting point so we can make new practice in the future.

1. Joseph Dietzgen, The Nature of Human Brain Work: An Introduction to Dialectics, PM Press, 2010, p.58.

[Drugs] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 78]

Wine-Sniffing Dogs a Scam in Maryland, Drugs Benefit State

This is my first issue of ULK (#77) and I am writing in regards to the Suboxone and drug use within the prison system here in Maryland. K2 and Suboxone are in high demand. They are the most popular of all of the drugs here. I would say Suboxone is the most popular because of the “trips” that come with the K2. It is my belief that they allow drugs to come in for the money. They get the money for the urine test, for the search task forces and the intelligence agents they use to combat the contraband problem. And when they get the money, it’s misappropriated.

A recent example of this was the wine sniffing dogs. It was a big deal, it was all on the news. They played it up as alcohol was such a big problem so they needed these dogs. But the crazy part is that I have never seen a dog come through sniffing for wine. So where did that money go? Honestly if a prisoner is making wine, he doesn’t have a lot of places to stash it anyways. So there’s really no use for the dogs in the first place. It’s all for the money. The prison staff are just making shit up so that they can steal the money.

Now speaking on the statement made by the person from Allred’s RHU, with the increase of contraband came a decrease in unity. That is one of the major effects of capitalism; division. Not only will debts drive a wedge between debtor and supplier, but the competition between the peddlers will create a divide because each dealer wants to monopolize the sections. This will create beefs between gangs and organizations. Then the increase in violence will only justify the prison’s request for more money from the state. It’s the same way on the streets, the prison system is just a microcosm of the streets.

Now let’s talk about the drain of ambition as an effect of the drug. No longer will the prisoner seek self-developmental programs, nor will he choose to blow the whistle on the prison system’s injustices. He becomes content on doing dead time, with his Xbox, T.V., and tablet. There are many issues that spawn from drugs. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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