Recently AFW sponsored a handball tournament on C Facility at High Desert State Prison. I had the honor organizing this event, alongside of XYZ the founder of AFW. When my brother asked me to help him organize this event, I was more than willing to oblige. XYZ was willing to use his own money to pay for prizes for the winners of this tournament. It's unselfish acts like this that change the world. The fact that the brother had an idea to bring this facility together in a show of solidarity, unity & peace is what impressed me, and I had to be a part of it.
It's ideas like this that change the world. Wasn't it the great Martin Luther King that had an idea that blacks & whites could co-exist together in peace? I dare not compare the Civil Rights Movement to a handball tournament. However, peace was the goal in both of these ideas, and peace is a principle that we all should strive for.
You know, this isn't the first time XYZ asked me to perform an unselfish act. September 9th 2016, as a show of solidarity, I refrained from certain things, and went out of my way to do something I normally would not do. By doing this I learned something about myself. So I knew by helping with this tournament, a lesson about self lay in wake. I learned that I have a knack for organization and I also enjoy bringing people together on positivity. XYZ don't need pats on the back because he knows who he is. But I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Brotha because he is the example of how ideas can teach and reach people in profound ways.
Great Minds Talk About Ideas.
Small Minds Talk About Other People.
P.S. Congratulations to HBO & Mad Face for their Victory. And thanks to everybody who participated.
Abolitionists From Within
The Party remained a reform group, not a revolutionary organization (while in prison).
We will remain at peace while practicing humility and working for legislative solution (while in prison).
We shall advocate an obedience to the California Code of Regulations Title 15 (while in prison).
Denounced Black-on-Black crimes.
Struggling for a better community.
Struggling for racial equality (inside these walls).
We endorse nothing, but take the chances for everything in attempting to abolish the system (prison, SHU, penal code, etc.).
Raise the banner of liberty, equality and fraternity.
I come to talk to you of those who stand in the shadow of their own scaffolds. I come to you an avowed revolutionist. But I incite no one to rest. The convicts have no rights which the COs have to respect. The Constitution is a dead letter to the convicts of the United States.
We Need To Unite
MIM(Prisons) adds: Follow this comrade's example and write to us for our September 9 organizing pack and get ready for this year's Day of Peace and Solidarity.
The decentralization of the prison population in California has helped make the voices of the oppressed harder to get out, as county jails step up repression in face of growing prisoner populations. At the Martinez Detention Facility in the Bay Area gang enhancements are being trumped up as a form of national oppression against [email protected]:
"We here, at MDF, Contra Costa County Jail, that are of Latin descent and not southsiders, are being held in Ad-Seg status now since 2010. And now even more unjust treatment is being added to us, gang enhancements just for being housed on this module, even if we don't ask to be housed on this module at time of arrest/booking. Classification, Administration and the District Attorney's office is using this module as an apparatus to get harsher sentences from the courts." - April 2017
Meanwhile, resistance has grown down south at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. A hunger strike began on 13 April 2017. As we go to press updates are a couple weeks old, but we know that about 30 people participated in the strike and that some passed out and were sent to outside medical facilities. The prisoners list 13 demands, including the end of long-term solitary confinement, restrictions on phones/visits and dayroom access.
Within the CDCR we're still seeing the unfolding of contradictions being created by the release of many from the SHU, who were once influential but are now older and less known, into a population that is younger and often in disarray. The Agreement to End Hostilities came out of the SHU almost five years ago, and it remains in a state of uncertainty. Many are still working hard on it, but it has not been universally upheld in these last five years. As a comrade reported in March:
"There were two recent riots here. One on the 3A yard here at Corcoran, the other at SATF Corcoran, on 3C yard. No one severely hurt, but it's hard to organize with situations like that."
There were contradictions between many of the forces behind the original agreement and sectors of the prison population that still need to be addressed. USW comrades in California are still working on these contradictions to push for a more united peace. This should be a theme as we prepare educational campaigns for Black August and the Commemoration of the Plan de San Diego, which should both feed into this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. Send in your reports on these campaigns and the conditions for peace where you are.
Finally, we're getting a lot of requests for info about Prop 57 from readers in California. One comrade recommends contacting:
PO Box 4962
Oakland, CA 94605
The latest from CDCR is that if you are eligible you will be hearing from your counselor this summer.
Con respecto a la pregunta de las alianzas del frente unido con grupos nacionalistas blancos, hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos. Ya voy escribiendo a MIM(Prisiones) por unos años y disfruto leer el ULK. Soy prácticamente mi propia armada con un solo hombre. No les pido a otras personas que hagan cosas que yo no haría por mismo.
Me encuentro en una Penitenciaría Federal en Tuscon, Arizona. Este es un pabellón para agresores sexuales, desertores de pandillas, Custodia Preventiva. No me encuentro aquí por elección propia. Soy un agresor sexual registrado por exposición indebida en un bar. Incluso aún cuando se retiraron los cargos, me obligaron a registrarme y ahora me encuentro todavía peleando el caso en el estado. Me encuentro en una prisión federal por cargos que no se relacionan con el cargo estatal. Este pabellón no tiene las mismas políticas que otros pabellones tienen. Sí tenemos políticas, pero no al extremo. El salón chow se encuentra divido por razas, pero te puedes sentar donde se te dé la gana. Lo que estoy tratando de decir es que, yo podría dejar este pabellón e ir probablemente a un pabellón activo, y que me asesinen por ser un agresor sexual registrado, aún cuando se retiraron los cargos. Esa es la política. Ahora, hay un montón de agresores sexuales y homosexuales, ratas y desertores. Todos tienen una razón para estar aquí. He estado en pabellones activos y muchas veces, en realidad la mayoría de veces, una persona pone su vida en riesgo por alguien que no es más que una mierda o un drogadicto. Ya no uso drogas y no me drogo en prisión.
Crecí en el oeste, desde Montana a Arizona, en el corazón de la nación Aria, un ejecutor de la Hermandad Aria con el viejo refrán, si no es blanco no está bien. Fui un niño ciego pero un buen soldado. A los 41 años soy ahora mi propio hombre. Nunca he abandonado a mis hermanos pero ya no peleo más esa batalla de odio. Hay sus pros y sus contras al trabajar con otros grupos.
Tengo una pregunta: ¿No hay Maoístas que sean agresores sexuales o soplones? ¿Los Maoístas escogen trabajar con otros grupos o intentan convertir a otros grupos al maoísmo? Es algo diferente el trabajar con un grupo distinto para lograr la misma meta. Soy un individuo en un grupo y mis metas como individuo no son siempre las mismas que las del grupo. Mi meta es la libertad de un gobierno opresivo y corrupto, y no importa si es EUA o Rusia, opresión es opresión, corrupción es corrupción y esto debería detenerse. Todos pertenecemos a grupos diferentes, incluso a los grupos que sienten la necesidad de oprimir a otros.
El enemigo de mi enemigo es mi aliado. ¡El Frente Unido por la Paz!
Esto no se trata más de política o a qué grupo pertenece una persona. Yo soy un Hermano Ario independiente y apoyo al Ministerio Internacionalista Maoista de Prisiones y a la lucha de personas encarceladas. (No me gusta usar la palabra preso o convicto o cualquier otra palabra para prisionero que se usa para tomar el poder personal de una persona. Estas palabras hacen que las personas se sientan sin poder, sin esperanza, y eso no es verdad). Somos personas, humanos. Tenemos familias, amigos, al igual que el resto de personas.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: Esta es una carta interesante sobre los frentes unidos porque viene de alguien que representa a dos de los grupos con quienes, a menudo nos dicen, nunca deberíamos aliarnos, lo cual levanta preguntas de la otra parte. Primero, con respecto a la pregunta de agresores sexuales, este escritor demuestra porqué el confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “agresor sexual” es tan malo como confiar en la etiqueta estatal de “criminal”. Debemos decidir por nosotros mismos cuales individuos son aliados y cuales son enemigos.
Sobre la pregunta de nacionalistas blancos y aliados, este escritor todavía se encuentra en su grupo pero al parecer, tiene desacuerdos considerables con ellos si apoyan a ULK y MIM (Prisiones). Este es un ejemplo excelente de unir a todos los que se puedan unir contra el sistema de injusticia criminal. Sabemos que la hermandad Aria se encuentra básicamente en oposición a la liberación de naciones oprimidas. Al igual que el Partido Comunista de China sabía que el Kuomindang se encontraba esencialmente en oposición al comunismo. Pero en China antes de que la revolución fuera un éxito, hubo la oportunidad de construir una alianza contra el imperialismo Japonés, la contradicción principal en su momento. Y nosotros tenemos una oportunidad parecida de construir una alianza contra el sistema de injusticia criminal dentro de las prisiones. Ciertamente, que a una escala menor que la del frente unido en China, nuestro enemigo común en las prisiones ofrece la oportunidad de alianzas con grupos que serán nuestros enemigos, en otras batallas. Además es posible que ganemos algunos de estos tipos de estos grupos que, como este escritor, piensan que “la opresión es opresión…y debería detenerse”.
Este camarada menciona Rusia, tal vez como un ejemplo aleatorio. Pero hablando de Rusia y la opresión, es algo que se está convirtiendo en un asunto delicado en los Estados Unidos actualmente. Este fervor anti Rusia, como siempre, se encuentra ligado al nacionalismo americano. Se usa para atacar el régimen actual de Trump de forma que amenace al mundo con un inter imperialismo e incluso una guerra nuclear. Rusia fue alguna vez parte de la Unión Soviética, que bajo Lenin y Stalin fue socialista. Pero después de que murió Stalin en 1952, el país adoptó rápidamente el capitalismo estatal. Y el capitalismo es un sistema que crece con la opresión y corrupción. Pero el renacimiento anti Rusia en los EE UU no se debería confundir con anti imperialismo, sino más bien es nacionalismo que se mueve alrededor del poder imperialista más grande y peligroso en el mundo – los E$tados Unido$.
I believe that having alliances with lines that are military minded is somewhat dangerous to the united front. First and foremost, I do believe in armed struggle, but building public opinion on imperialism and moving toward communism as the ultimate goal to end all oppression is key. Some lumpen orgs or nationalists might criticize MIM(Prisons) on their line. But truth be told we must study the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, which gives us the best way to move toward socialism, ending in communism. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Amerikkka targets lumpen orgs, and nationalist groups. So alliance with a militia group might jeopardize the united front. And once the imperialist policies place everyone in one basket who they feel are a threat, they will place them in prisons or worse eliminate them as what happened to many BPP members in the late 1960s. So, I must say comrades, that MIM(Prisons)'s approach with study groups and challenging all comrades to study history and dialectical materialism prepares us to use public opinion to change the minds of the lumpens and all those who are oppressed.
What good is guns if you don't know who the enemy truly is? By enemy I mean, just going up against amerikkka's army is not enough. The enemy is the system which must be changed. Guns with no vision or discipline is suicide to the united front. The best weapon in the struggle is unity, and armed struggle is also important. But each one teach one is the method to awakening the masses on how capitalism destroys lives.
Once the American people become self-reliant and help their fellow man and stop supporting this economic monster (capitalism-imperialism) then hopefully through public opinion and democratic centralism we can achieve the goal we all want which is communism.
As for snitches, there are different levels of snitching. But I will not allow a person in my circle who I know has the tendencies to crack under pressure. I mean those individuals who work for the prison administration, receiving goods in order to cause chaos. They would go so far as telling prison officials that you are sharing revolutionary material and having your books confiscated.
Even on the outside you have to be careful aligning with rats who will jeopardize the united front in order to demoralize and cause dissociation. But as long as those who represent the militant side of fighting oppression can agree that we must use strategy and wait for the right time to strike the imperialist monsters, I'm all for it. But if militants feel as though focoism is their aim, I'm all out. Educate the poor and oppressed first, to show them the real enemy. And there needs to be a change in habits and consciousness so that we will not allow materialistic ideology to control us.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the risks of allying with those who are engaging in military actions now. We agree with em that focoism is not the right strategy. But the value of a united front is that we can disagree on this point of strategy in terms of the right time for armed struggle, but still unite in our fight against imperialism. We can work with these organizations while struggling with them over these points if such struggle seems fruitful. We do not need to have complete agreement on points of strategy in order to work together in a united front. We would also want to keep these groups at arms' length for the simple fact that advocating armed struggle now is a known tactic cops use to wreck a movement from within.
But beyond the question of uniting without complete theoretical agreement, this writer is arguing that it is too risky to unite with focoists because their premature military action could bring down the whole united front. This is certainly a risk we need to consider. Groups within the UF have the autonomy to act independently of the group, and so some may engage in actions that others disagree with. While we wouldn't automatically exclude focoists from a UF based on their political line, this comrade is correct to warn that we need to stay vigilant about actions that present a risk to our work and to our organization.
At the same time, resistors of all stripes, even those who aren't focoist, bring down repression from the state. Even anti-imperialist academics and people working in electoral politics are harassed, and murdered, by the state when their words are too effective. One could also argue that the frivolous security practices of other groups will jeopardize the UF. We have to find a balance between putting ourselves out there, and getting the work done.
We can't make up easy rules to answer to this contradiction. Instead everyone has to evaluate alliances based on the circumstances and current situation.
Issue 55 of Under Lock & Key is taking a deeper look at building the United Front for Peace in Prisons at the margins. We've already spent a lot of space debating the role people on Special Needs Yards (SNY), especially in California. While that is an issue we will need to continue to address, here we focus first on white nationalist lumpen organizations, that are more likely to be on the mainline, and how anti-imperialists might relate to them. We also have a few pieces looking at the question of sex offenders who are generally seen as pariahs. That topic is a subset of the SNY discussion. In this article we will focus on the white nationalist question, and the question of oppressed nations allying with whites in general. In many cases handling this question properly will have a big impact on our success, because there are a lot of white people in prisons and many of them team up with white nationalist orgs.
So there are a few principles of dialectical materialism that we should apply in our analysis of groups which are often considered pariahs of the revolutionary movement: 1) dialectics differs from metaphysics in that metaphysics believes a thing has an essence; 2) dialectics in contrast sees everything as always being in a constant state of change; 3) and we can best understand that change by looking at the contradictions within that thing, while also considering the external contradictions that may influence it (them). To put it another way, no one is born a white supremacist or rapist, and just because someone's actions were that way in the past doesn't mean they have to be in the future.
What is White Nationalism?
Elsewhere in this issue we talk about white nationalism as an ideology that is a product of imperialism. Another point we must stress when talking about white nationalism is it is the majority ideology among the oppressor nation under imperialism. Most of this issue will be dealing with extreme examples found in imprisoned lumpen organizations. But there is a whole range of white nationalist ideologies, and the lumpen organizations are not necessarily the most extreme. Because the imprisoned lumpen are in the trenches, they must be more scientific than the more privileged wings of the white nationalist movement, and their motivations are often quite different.
In our current political climate in the United $tates, "white nationalism" is a hot topic. It is being used to criticize President Trump and those around em. But most of this criticism is coming from the perspective that former President Obama was not a white nationalist. The split between the left wing and right wing of white nationalism is about how to best manage the oppressed, even when that is not how they think about it. If we recognize that the current imperialist order is one that puts whites in a position of supremacy, then we must conclude that any position that works to preserve that system is white nationalist. Or we may say Amerikan nationalist to avoid confusion when its proponents do not appear white. But even though some internal semi-colony people are sitting at the table, globally, white supremacy in the form of Amerikan hegemony is alive and well.
Initially, the question of how and when to strategically ally with white nationalists is a broad one, as it refers to how we might ally with the majority of people in North America. But within that majority there are different classes and political tendencies. And white nationalist prisoners may be at the top of the list of likely allies from that group.
Another argument for the importance of working with the white lumpen is the Marxist analysis of the lumpen as a particularly dangerous, wavering class. If this country is heading in a more fascist direction, white nationalist lumpen youth and former military will be the first bases of recruitment for the fascists. This concern applies to the lumpen in general, but the national split makes it a harder sell for the internal semi-colonies to take up fascism. As always, our strategy is to win over all who can be won over, not to set false limitations based on identity politics or preconceived assumptions.
More so than former military, the white lumpen have connections to the struggles of the oppressed. And it is the massive prison system in this country that we can largely thank for that. The modern prison system is an inherent part of the modern ghetto, which has been lumpenized. While segregation is stronger today in many cases in the ghettos, it is weaker outside of the ghetto. This translates into a stronger class divide within the oppressed nations. The extent of this divide in the white nation is something that requires more research. But from the information we have, white prisoners are much, much more likely to integrate into petty-bourgeois society rather than be caught in a ghetto-like situation upon release. But as long as they remain in prison, whites do experience that ghetto life and the most brutal repression that we have in this country.
Young Patriots, White Lumpen Revolutionaries
One of the best examples we have of white lumpen youth forming an anti-imperialist organization was the Young Patriots Organization, which started in Chicago in the late 1960s. Soon the offshoot Young Patriots Party spread the movement to other parts of the United $tates. Their example demonstrated both the potential and limitations of such an organization. As long as there are pockets of whites that face similar conditions to the oppressed nations, as they do in prison, a revolutionary organization that can speak to and organize white lumpen will strengthen the cause of anti-imperialism. However, the Black Panthers, in particular Bob Lee and the leadership of Fred Hampton, played a very hands-on role in the development of the Young Patriots. In general history does not lead us to expect revolutionary white organizations with correct political lines to take hold in North America without good examples from the internal semi-colonies.
Even after becoming established, the Young Patriots were very limited by the reactionary nature of their own nation. The Patriot base was displaced southern whites who ended up in urban ghettos; a much smaller group, but parallel to the New Afrikans who made the Great Migration. When the Patriots returned to the south they were not received well. Two of the members were killed shortly after returning to the south, because of their organizing.(1) In other words, we are looking at exceptions to the rule where there are pockets of whites who are both separate from the oppressed nations but still living very similar lives and in proximity to them. When Peggy Terry of the Young Patriot-associated organization Jobs or Income Now (JOIN) ran for vice president, with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver as the presidential candidate in 1968, they received a mere 28,000 votes in California. In contrast, the openly racist George Wallace campaign got 500,000 (almost exclusively white) votes.(2) And finally, for most of their existence the Patriots had more spies watching their organization than they had members.(3) This security issue is something others have pointed out with white nationalist lumpen organizations in prison that can be swimming with federal agents.
Often the Panther rhetoric spoke of the Young Patriots as representing "white power" in a way that was parallel to the Panthers' "Black Power" and Young Lords' "Brown Power". While we generally disagree with that line, the Panthers later called out all other white groups as "fascists" with the exception of the Patriots. The Patriot culture flew in the face of the rest of the white anti-war and student movements, including their confederate flag logo. We might draw a parallel to the Lucasville prison uprising in Ohio in 1993, where it is reported that swastikas, lightning bolts and words like "Supreme White Power" appeared alongside graffiti throughout the prison saying "Black and White Together" and "Convict unity."(4) These white identities, historically associated with power over New Afrikans were transformed in these unique circumstances.
Racism as a Tool of the Oppressor
MIM(Prisons) is cautious about presenting racism as merely a tool of the imperialists to divide "the people" as that is the line of the revisionists who claim that the majority of people in the imperialist countries are proletarians that must be united in their common class interest. As the practice of the Young Patriots demonstrated, this is not the case. However, in prisons is where we see the greatest potential for a class unity with whites that is progressive in the United $tates. And in prison, it is certainly true that racism is a tool that is actively used by the administration, even if often times white nationalists are too willing to play the role of keeping other prisoners in line for the state.
Of course, not all white prisoners are part of overtly racist lumpen organizations. Former-Black-Panther-turned-anarchist Lorenzo Komboa Ervin documented the history of the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, which was transformed from a completely Ku Klux Klan-dominated facility to one where New Afrikans built power in alliance with white prisoners. Ey argues that the anti-racist whites, often imprisoned for anti-war activities, were able to re-educate other white prisoners where non-white prisoners would not be able to.(5) This is an example of the importance of white-specific organizing, though not on the basis of an outward white nationalism.
We must reach people where they are at in a segregated society. We saw this with the Panthers in Chicago who were viewed with great skepticism by the white residents of Uptown, but were welcomed by the Young Patriot leadership. We saw this in Lucasville, where the New Afrikan leaders picked Aryan Brotherhood member George Skatze to stand with them as a representative of white prisoners because of eir history of settling disputes between whites and New Afrikans.
"At some point on this first day George saw a black inmate (Cecil Allen) talking through a bull horn to a small crowd of other prisoners. George went up to listen. To his surprise the man on the bull horn pointed to George and said, 'There's nobody going to be talking to you guys but me or this man right here,' meaning George Skatze."
Accepting their request for help, Skatze later "approached the whites, who were sitting in the bleachers. Putting his arm around a black inmate George said, 'If the guards come in here they're going to shoot us all, no matter what color we are.' We asked George who that black man was. He said, I don't know; I had never met him before."(6)
Veteran of the first wave of the California prison movement, Kumasi describes one scene in the late 1960s where hundreds of prisoners circled around the yard chanting, "Power to the people! Death to the pigs!" Approaching the group of white gangsters on the sidelines ey framed the situation as "are you going to be with us or with the pigs?" And since the reality reflected eir statement, they sure didn't want to be seen as siding with the pigs. As the whites started to join the ranks of the protestors, Kumasi grabbed one of their hands and raised it in the air as they faced the warden. In a segregated society this sort of representation of different nationalities can have powerful effects.
Kumasi has a number of stories about organizing across nationality. Similar to today, the California system was very segregated back then. Various white power and nazi gangs existed, as they do today. The united fronts Kumasi forged with these groups were not long-term and could be quite impulsive. It was really the strength of eir own organization that pushed others to come along. A justification of the line that building up one's own national unity helps build up the united front. Because the movement for change had reached such popularity and support among New Afrikans, it was easier to get the [email protected] to join up (who had not yet been divided between north and south).
A USW comrade has this to say about organizing in California today:
"There has been times when we've done alliances with white nationalist groups in prison. Any time we had a common goal, say shutting down SHUs, or removing informants off yard, assistance with legal work and what not.
"The only way for this to function is by creating a different set of politiks/policies than those used amongst the other LOs. As long as it does not interfere with the LOs' goals to end oppression. It is my opinion that even when dealing with oppressor nation LOs we must keep a move ready to be made once achieving certain goals due to the history the oppressor nation LOs have and because of their values as humans. We wouldn't like to see the LOs of the oppressed be set back a step or two after gaining ground. I think that even unity of some form can be achieved with pariahs — taking into account what they've done and what they are willing to do to not only redeem themselves but to benefit the struggle even at the cost of sacrifice. There is a place, space, form and energy for everyone in a struggle. It is our responsibility to organize, learn, and organize again."
What these histories demonstrate is that in cases where the white nationalists aren't completely in bed with the pigs, they tend to see themselves as prisoners and the pigs as their foes, like everyone else. And it is the unity around demands for all prisoners, ones that are nationality-neutral, that we will see opportunities for united front. So while national unity may need to come first, class unity will always be important in the prison movement.
White nationalism in general, whether of the left-wing or right-wing variety, is based in an alliance with imperialism. But there are examples in history of portions of the white population in the United $tates who may have overt racist overtones without the attachment to imperialism. Or at least with a mixed relationship to imperialism. And in many cases this racism is more motivated by fear of the other, or just self-protection than it is any deep investment in racist ideology itself. The AB comrade who wrote "The Enemy of my Enemy" seems to be an example of this white nationalism based in youthful ignorance. And the experience of the prison system has given em the opportunity to learn about the lives of the oppressed, and to live that life emself. George Skatze from Lucasville was also an example of this, someone who stood with New Afrikan prisoners and literally put eir life on the line in the struggle for prisoner rights and then later at the hands of the state when ey was one of the comrades who did not make a deal with the state to avoid death row as some of the charged prisoners did.
While others suggest we fight racism as a way to end oppression, we say to fight oppression to overcome racism. And in some cases oppression itself will overcome racism, by uniting those once divided by ideas of race. Our ideas are a product of our material conditions, and in participating in the transformation of our conditions our ideas change.
There are some good examples of united fronts between oppressed and reactionary groups in the history of the United $tates. Some of which ended up serving the interests of the oppressed and some which ultimately hurt the oppressed. We find a few of these examples described well in the book 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance available from PM Press.(1)
First the case of the fight between the British and the emerging United $tates of Amerika.
"In 1812, using the pretext of Native raids along its northern frontier from British territories, U.S. forces attempted to invade British North America. Here again, Britain's colonial policies proved effective; an alliance of Native nations (who had their own interests in full implementation of the 1763 Proclamation [which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachian mountains following the French and Indian War]) and European settlers succeeded in repulsing the U.S. expansion."(p. 29)
As we have seen since 1812, the victory of the United $tates in the Revolutionary War did not serve the interests of the First Nations. So the First Nations definitely chose the right side in this battle, even though the British surely had no real interest in supporting the rights of the First Nations beyond what was necessary to gain their support. This is an example of identifying the principal enemy and building alliances against that enemy, even if those alliances are with groups that would be enemies in other circumstances. This united front is similar to the alliance between the Kuomindang and the Chinese Communists in the war against Japanese imperialism. Ultimately the Kuomindang betrayed the Communist Party, but at the time Japan was the principal enemy and fighting together in a the united front was the right choice to achieve the ultimate goal of establishing a socialist state.
Another example is found in the U.$. Civil War, which was used by Afrikan slaves to fight for their freedom. It was not a case of whites going to war to help end slavery, but Afrikans were in a position to force this issue to the forefront.
"The beginning of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 posed various problems for the northern Union ruling class. Not only was the war for the preservation of an expanding continental empire, but it also opened up a second front: that of a liberation struggle by enslaved Afrikan peoples. With a population of four million, the rising of these Afrikans in the South proved crucial in the defeat of the Confederacy. By the tens of thousands Afrikan slaves escaped from the slavers and enlisted in the Union forces. This massive withdrawal of slave-labour hit the Southern economy hard, and the Northern forces were bolstered by the thousands."(2)
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Afrikans in the South correctly identified a shift in their principal enemy. It was no longer time to ally with Union forces. With the ending of the war these slaves were about to lose their bargaining position as fighters in the Union army.
"Towards the end of the War in 1865, those Afrikans who did not escape began a large-scale strike following the defeat of the confederacy. They claimed the lands that they had laboured on, and began arming themselves – not only against the Southern planters but also against the Union army. Widespread concerns about this 'dangerous position' of Afrikans in the South led to 'Black Reconstruction'; Afrikans were promised democracy, human rights, self-government and popular ownership of the land. In reality, it was a strategy for returning Euro-American dominance...."(p. 40)
This shift resulted in a better deal for former slaves than they would have got by just passively sticking with their unity with the North. But it shows the need to complete the New Afrikan war for liberation from the United $tates to achieve the basic goals of the Afrikan soliders who freed themselves from slavery. Different conditions will require reevaluation of who is our principal enemy and what are appropriate united front strategies at the time.
"Is there ever a time when we should unite with reactionary oppressor nation lumpen orgs in a United Front for Peace in Prisons?" Absolutely! You want to win, don't you? For anyone to refuse to work with a potentially valuable ally against this Juggernaut Force that both groups are up against, due to a few minor differences in excess views and opinions just sounds like folly. Wars are won by alliances, not the practice of alienation.
History is full of these kinds of examples. The German Nazis were undisputed white nationalist, white supremacy, white racist and everything else white group that there has ever been. The Japanese were anything but Aryan or white, yet despite that obvious fact, the two groups were able to put those differences aside long enough in order to wage war against the rest of the world.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Now that's sound logic! If you decide not to join forces with what you refer to as "white nationals," either because they are "white" or maybe even a little too proud of it, then wouldn't that sort of put you in the same boat as them, guilty of the same things? Are you perhaps then a little bit racist too?
Are there so many of you that you can afford to be so picky about the skin color, or differences in ideologies of those that we allow to align themselves with you in this fight? Black communist and white nationalist alike, neither can afford to turn away the aid of the other at a time like this — especially in prison.
White nationalists are seasoned and often times expert resistance fighters that come complete with a deep-seated hatred of our most potent enemy, that any group in this fight would be lucky to have on their side, once the real fighting starts. The Federal Government fears them and has always feared them for those very reasons. These members of the White Resistance Movement would bring their own unique skill sets to the struggle, that you might otherwise be lacking in, such as military strategy, connections — in parts of the underground that you've never had access to before — military tactics and weapons knowledge, etc.
Now I'm only suggesting cooperation with certain white nationalists and/or separatist individuals here and there, that might want to help, not necessarily white nationalist "groups" per say. This is because these types of groups attract a lot of attention from all the current law enforcement agencies and especially the Federal Government and because of that, each group is already heavily infiltrated by under cover agents. So by uniting with such groups and organizations, you would just be inviting those same numerous agents into the folds of your own group.
There are lots of single disenfranchised ex-members of these groups though, who are solid soldiers and have a lot to offer their next group and I think that it would be a mistake to let them get away, if they are willing to help.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises some good points about uniting with all who oppose the same enemy, but perhaps goes too far with the pragmatism of allying for the sake of size and skills. We believe there needs to be some clear political unity in order to build a united front. We don't all have to agree that we want a communist system in the end, but we must have at least one concrete goal that we can unite around in practice. And we also need to agree that political independence is acceptable, as we will not give up our principles just for the sake of convincing someone who disagrees with us to work with us anyway.
Under a bourgeois democracy, militant white nationalists are both tools of and enemies of the state. As imperialism moves closer to fascism the government's fear lessens as they begin to utilize these groups more directly. We're not sure if we can say this is happening unter Trump yet though, although ey as already been giving these groups many passes.
Lastly, we want to comment on the idea that it is racist to refuse to unite with white nationalists. It would be incorrect to turn away white allies just for the color of their skin, but it is not incorrect to identify groups of people's political and economic interests and to identify potential allies based on this. If someone is promoting white nationalism, that is fundamentally opposed to the liberation of oppressed nations: white nationalism is, by definition, a belief in the superiority of the white nation which already has the power and wealth. This sort of nationalism is reactionary and opposing it is not the same thing as being racist. We can unite with these people on specific tasks, while also struggling with them over their line on white nationalism.
Regarding the question of united front alliances with white nationalist groups, there are pros and cons to working with other groups. I have been writing to MIM(Prisons) for a few years now and enjoy reading ULK. I am pretty much my own one-man army. I do not ask others to do things I will not do myself.
I am in a Federal Penitentiary in Tuscon, Arizona. This is a sex offender, gang drop out, Protective Custody yard. I am not here by choice. I am a registered sex offender for indecent exposure in a bar. Even though charges were dropped I was forced to register and now I am still fighting that case in the state. I am in Federal prison for charges that were unrelated to the state charge. This yard does not have politics that other yards have. We still have politics, but not to the extreme. The chow hall is racially segregated but a man can sit wherever he wants. The point I'm trying to get at is I could leave this yard and go back to an active yard most likely and get killed for being a registered sex offender even though the charges were dropped. That's politics. Now there is a lot of sex offenders and homosexuals, rats, and dropouts. Everyone is here for a reason. I have been on active yards and a lot of times, in fact most of the time, a person is putting his life on the line for someone who is just a piece of shit or a dope fiend. I no longer use dope and do not use dope in prison.
I grew up in the west from Montana to Arizona in the heart of the Aryan nation, an enforcer for the Aryan Brotherhood with the old saying if it ain't white it ain't right. I was a blind kid but a good soldier. At 41 years old I am now my own man. I have never left my brothers but I no longer fight that fight of hatred. There are pros and cons to working with other groups.
I have a question: are there no Maoists who are sex offenders or snitches? Do the Maoists choose to work with other groups or try to convert other groups to Maoism? It is one thing to work with a different group to achieve the same goal. I am an individual in a group and my goals as an individual are not always the same goals as the group. My goal is freedom from an oppressive corrupt government and it does not matter whether it is the USA or Russia, oppression is oppression, corruptness is corruptness and this should be stopped. We all belong to different groups, even the groups that feel the need to oppress others.
The enemy of my enemy is my ally. United Front for Peace!
This is no longer about politics or what group a person belongs to. I am an independent Aryan Brother and I support the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons and the struggle of incarcerated people. (I do not like to use the word inmate or convict or any other word for prisoner that is used to take a person's personal power. These words make people feel powerless, hopeless, and this is not true.) We are people, humans. We have families, friends, just like everyone else.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting letter about united fronts because it comes from someone representing two of the groups that we are often told to never ally with, and ey raises questions from the other side. First on the question of sex offenders, this writer demonstrates why trusting the state's label of "sex offender" is as bad as trusting the state's label of "criminal." We must decide for ourselves which individuals are allies and which are enemies.
On the question of white nationalists and allies, this writer still runs with eir group but apparently has significant disagreements with them if ey also supports ULK and MIM(Prisons). This is an excellent example of uniting all who can be united against the criminal injustice system. We know that the Aryan Brotherhood is fundamentally opposed to the liberation of oppressed nations. Just as the Communist Party of China knew that the Kuomindang was fundamentally opposed to communism. But in China before the revolution was successful, there was an opportunity to build an alliance against Japanese imperialism, the principal contradiction at the time. And we have a similar opportunity to build an alliance against the criminal injustice system within prisons. While certainly a smaller scale than the united front in China, our common enemy in prisons offers the opportunity for alliances with groups that will, in other battles, be our enemy. And it's also possible we will win over some folks from these groups who, like this writer, believe that "oppression is oppression...and this should be stopped."
This comrade mentions Russia, perhaps as a random example. But talking about Russia and oppression is becoming a hot-button topic in the United $tates today. This anti-Russia fervor is, as always, tied up with Amerikan nationalism. It is being used to attack the current Trump regime in a way that threatens the world with inter-imperialist and even nuclear war. Russia was once part of the Soviet Union, which under Lenin and Stalin was socialist. But after Stalin died in 1952 the country moved quickly to take up state capitalism. And capitalism is a system that thrives on oppression and corruption. But the anti-Russia revival in the United $tates should not be mistaken for anti-imperialism, rather it is nationalist rallying for the biggest most dangerous imperialist power in the world — the United $nakes.
I would like to address the question if there should be a united front alliance with white nationalist groups.
I am all for aligning with other groups who face oppression and who share the same goals. When it comes to white nationalist groups first a few things must be clarified. First question is who and what is "white." White is scientifically not a racial group. Also do whites in prison and the world face the same systematic oppression as people of color? Lastly looking at history how has interactions between whites and people of color effected the non-white groups in a positive way?
The question on "who and what is white?" has an elusive answer especially right here in the United $tates. Since 1790, the United $tates has allowed only "free white persons" to become citizens; in the twentieth century as non-European immigrants applied for citizenship it became the responsibility of the courts to set limits upon whiteness. George Dow, a Syrian immigrant, was denied eligibility for citizenship on the basis that geography defined race; to be white was to be European. Dow eventually won on appeal, showing that Syrians were indeed Europeans based on geography and thus members of the white race. In 1922, a Japanese immigrant named Takao Ozawa argued that he should be considered a white person because his skin was literally white, asserting that many Japanese people were "whiter than the average Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese." His case would go all the way to the Supreme Court, which rejected his claim to citizenship and the idea that race could be determined by skin tone: "To adopt the color test alone would result in a confused overlapping of races and a gradual merging of one into the other, without any practical line of separation," claimed one judge.
Using the science of the day, the court ruled that "the words 'white person' are synonymous with the words 'a person of the Caucasian race'." Since Ozawa was not a Caucasion, he could not be white. In only a short time later, in the case of an Indian immigrant named Bhagat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court betrayed its Ozawa ruling and declared that while all whites are Caucasian, not all Caucasians were white. Even scientists classified Thind as undeniably Caucasian, but the court insisted that "White" must mean something more. "It may be true that the blond Scandinavian and the brown Hindu have a common ancestor in the dim reaches of antiquity, but the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences between them today." To prove his purity, Thind invoked the Aryanist myth of ancient white conquerors setting up the caste system to preserve their race. "The high-class Hindu" he argued, "regards the aboriginal Indian mongoloid in the same manner as the American regards the negro." With all that Thind was denied citizenship. Within the category of "Caucasian," the court noted one could find a wide range of peoples including South Asians, Polynesians, and even the Hamites of Africa based upon their Caucasian cast of features, though in color they range from brown to black. For reasons not articulated the court decided Thind was not white, and therefore not granted privileges of the white empire.
That the Supreme Court could reject a white-skinned Japanese because he was not Caucasian and a brown-skinned Caucasian because he was not white reveals that white people have made race what it has always been: an unscientific and inconsistent means of enforcing social inequality that further rules the machines of global white supremacy. This machine is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions. So basically whiteness is whatever white people say it is. So by white nationalist groups even identifying themselves as white places them in a privileged position in the global white supremacy machine. It is no secret why someone would want to identify as "white," especially in the United $tates where there is undeniably a caste system based on skin color. With whiteness comes privilege and a sense of entitlement. Yes, I know there are white comrades who are being oppressed also but it is not solely based on their skin color or ethnic group. They are basically collateral damage of the capitalistic and imperialistic system that comes from global white supremacy. White people make up around 11% of the world's population yet at least 82% of the world's population is in some fashion being oppressed by the global white supremacy machine. Are white nationalist groups really ready to give up their whiteness to stand for true revolution even if that means in the process whiteness will no longer exist?
History shows that those of us who fight for revolution have aligned ourselves with white groups and white individuals who claim they seek change too. In the midst of this, problems usually occurred. Most notably is with William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison, a white man, can be labeled as a true revolutionist of his time. As an abolitionist he spoke out against slavery and demanded full racial equality even before the Civil War. He also publicly burned the U.$. constitution, calling it an "agreement with hell." Garrison seemed like the white nationalist who wanted to join the fight but he still couldn't escape his sense of privilege and superiority. This moment came when Frederick Douglass, Garrison's protégé, told Garrison that he wanted to start a newspaper. Garrison, fearful that Douglass would draw black readers away from his own paper and hurt that Douglass would even think of competing against him, discouraged the plan. Another white abolitionist in Garrison's camp, Maria Weston Chapman, even doubted Douglass could have the mental capacity for such a task. Douglass went ahead and started his newspaper which ended his friendship with Garrison. Garrison, though he wanted to help, could not see that the revolution was not about him but about the millions of people being oppressed. He still had to be a white guy about the whole situation. He took his sense of privilege and entitlement and wanted to discourage another in his attempt to add to the cause. So can white nationalist groups align themselves with the United Front without trying to make the fight solely about their ego? Can the United Front hold the fight when aligned with white nationalist groups without having fear of offending white people when truths are spoken against capitalism, imperialism and global white supremacy when it puts the collective of white people in a negative light?
Lastly how have groups who are predominately non-white benefited in the past when coming into contact with whites? Historically the relationship between non-whites and whites has been one of colonization, genocide, slavery, imperialism, and destruction. Though all non-white groups and cultures did not live in idyllic golden ages before the coming of white people, these elements weren't consistent, nor were they typical, until the advent of white culture domination. This has been the consistent relationship of white people with the world. So history shows the consistent nature of white people when coming in contact of non-white people has been one of predatory and exploitative relationships.
Now some will say I'm being racist by stating these facts but consider the fact that people of "hue" hence humans have been the most tolerant and accepting people you'll ever encounter (sometimes to our detriment) and this premise of exclusion came from white people themselves. It is only us who are confused about where they stand. Now yes there are those white individuals and groups who attempt to confront and resist these norms. Those who have attempted to do so in earnest have learned these lessons the hard way. White people who actively resist whiteness (and all of its norms) are out-casted, disowned, and reviled by other members of their own groups. This is what defines the community and collective identity and not the individuals who know that "treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity."
So can white nationalist groups abandon their whiteness and sense of privilege? If so then yes United Front can align with them in some fashion. Based on historic events it should be controlled and constantly evaluated. Also whites need not to hold hands with us and smile but reach in their own communities and take the fight to their own who actively and by default participate in the global white supremacy machine which governs capitalism and imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that to identify with whiteness is to identify with an oppressor nation, and we therefore say that Amerikans must commit nation (as well as class and gender) suicide through their actions, in order to join the side of humynity.
The example given of Garrison and Douglass is a fine anecdote, but it is just an example of a couple of people. So we would caution our readers to not draw broad conclusions from isolated examples. And there are books out there, like Settlers: The Mythology of a White Proletariat by J. Sakai and False Nationalism, False Internationalism by Sera and Tani that do broader historical analysis of the relationships between the oppressed nations in the United $tates and various groups of "revolutionary" or "progressive" whites.
Both of those books are looking at imperialism, or at least its emergence in the United $tates. Imperialism's identity is found in the conflict between the oppressor nations and the oppressed nations that resist them. While ideas of superiority based on phenotypical characteristics (appearance) certainly did not originate with imperialism, it is with imperialism that nation becomes principal. Therefore, we would reverse the author's premise that the "[machine of global white supremacy] is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions." Marx and Lenin explained the evolution of imperialism on economic terms, while the culture and ideas that came with it were a reflection of those economic changes. In other words, which came first, racism or capitalism? There were seeds of racism before imperialism, but national oppression (the material manifestation of racism) solidified as a system under the economic conditions of imperialism. The ideas of racism, so central to our society, are a product of this system of national oppression that evolved with imperialism, not the cause of it.
In the struggle against white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism, a united front does not require agreement on every position, or even for all parties to "stand for true revolution." In the context of the prison movement, white nationalists might be serious about the struggle against long-term isolation because their leaders are very likely to face this torture. In this case, we'd suggest we should unite with these groups to work on that campaign. In this issue of ULK we have some examples in which such temporary alliances for common interests as prisoners have succeeded.
The question of how oppressor nation and oppressed nation revolutionaries should relate in this country is a whole other question brought up by this comrade. We will only address it briefly to bring up some general points for further analysis. The urge to unite with white people in the United $tates is a recurring theme due to the fact that the white nation has been a majority population by design since the founding of this country, and it's hard to fight battles as the minority. As we know, those numbers are projected to change in the not-so-distant future. But even when euro-Amerikans become the minority, will most oppressed nation people be anti-imperialist? In current conditions they are not, though great potential remains. As we are currently in a non-revolutionary situation, we think it is a reasonable organizing strategy to avoid white people and white organizations altogether. There are plenty of oppressed nation people yet to be organized, and single-nation organizations have proven most effective in U.$. history at building revolutionary movements.
As conditions become more revolutionary, if forces in favor of revolution remain the minority in all nations in the United $tates, those who avoided whites before may be tempted to address this issue again. The Panthers organized with euro-Amerikans from a position of strength, so that they largely avoided those euro-Amerikans harming their movement, especially in the early years. Yet, Huey Newton found New Afrikans in a position of weakness due to their minority status that led to his proposal of the theory of intercommunalism. Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition and Huey Newton's Intercommunalism demonstrate a strong tendency in the Panther leadership to approach euro-Amerikans as potential allies in the anti-imperialist united front similar to how they approached other nations.
From Malcolm X to Stokely Carmichael to the Panthers, New Afrikan revolutionaries have pushed whites to organize their own. But how do they do that? Some white organizations tried to mimic the Panthers, but this was only viable in small pockets of lumpenized whites. Other groups have provided support structures to oppressed nations, where the focus is on organizing whites to serve other nations. But we need something in between, where white people can be leaders, applying and learning from the scientific method of building a revolutionary movement, but at the same time serving other nations in ways that are against the interest of their own. We don't think whites can organize on the same basis as the Panthers, because they are on the opposite side of the principal contradiction. But we also don't think relegating whites to the kitchen is allowing them to develop politically, and is therefore setting back progress. This could be done on the basis of accountability and self-criticism. It could also incorporate shared self-interest in opposing environmental destruction and war. But a truly revolutionary current among euro-Amerikans will likely not gain much traction until the oppressed nations have progressed the struggle to a stage that is more advanced than it is today.
You encourage all groups in prison to set aside their differences and come together (collective action). As always in my letters to you, I believe the socialist effort will not be successful unless it makes contact with most or all of the radical/reform groups and encourages collective actions between them.
Think about it. If you could start a dialogue with other groups then you would gain the chance to educate them about how mass imprisonment is a standard feature of any capitalist government. Imprisonment is the favored control method for the masses. As long as people are propagandized to believe capitalism is good, you will have thousands of laws to control the lumpen and minorities -– hence, prisons.
Per the September 2016 newsletter of the Coalition for Prisoners' Rights (P.O. Box 1911, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1911), it was reported that the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Movement (FICPM) had a conference on September 9 in which over 500 people attended, of which people from over 30 states were in attendance. The FICPM wants to organize the 65 million people who have been screwed over by the U.$. system as a political voting block. This group has the possibility of actual success.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are two separate points we want to address in this letter. First the question of what will be necessary for the socialist effort to be successful. This comrade believes that we can succeed by bringing together the radical/reform groups (presumably within the United $tates). Where this author says we would be able to educate these groups on a deeper understanding of the relationship between capitalism and prisons, we agree that doing this on an individual basis is possible and has been proven with success on the ground. Some people enter the reform groups because that's all that they're aware of at the time. When they seek a more thorough way to address the world's problems, they may decide to switch to revolutionary organizing instead. We aim to be available for these people, ready to work with them when they're ready to switch.
But as far as winning over whole groups, this hasn't worked out successfully when tried in the past. And we understand this phenomenon in the context of our class analysis, because the vast majority of people within imperialist countries are bought off and actually support their imperialist government. They may protest a few policies, but they are very much opposed to revolutionary change in the interests of the world's majority because that would have a negative impact on their persynal financial situation in the short term.
Because of this, we see socialist revolution coming from the oppressed nations, both internationally and within U.$. borders. For the most part we anticipate it will need to be imposed on imperialist countries (like the United $tates) from the outside, but there is an important role for revolutionaries living within the belly of the beast. We must do all we can to weaken the government and also support the revolutionary struggles of oppressed nations globally. We can break off as many allies for the struggle as possible. But we shouldn't be unrealistic in our expectations of what we can achieve behind enemy lines.
With that said, we do agree that building unity with progressive organizations on the streets is a good goal. We set a baseline goal for this unity around either a political action or a political line. For instance, we work to build unity around battles against the criminal injustice system with all who will support these battles, regardless of their political positions on other issues. For the anti-imperialist struggle we build unity with all who truly oppose imperialism.
But coming back to our first point, we do not think that groups that, for instance, promote recycling, are actually opposing imperialism. They are just helping to put a pretty pseudo-ecological face on capitalism (also termed "green washing"). So when someone tells us to unite with all "radical/reform groups" to achieve our goals of building socialism and opposing imperialism, we have to call this out as a request that we sacrifice revolutionary politics in the name of false unity. We don't actually have unity in the fight against imperialism with those reform groups that are trying to make imperialism a bit kinder, but whose strategy keeps the overall system in place. It's important that we define our political principles and understand who are truly fighting on the side of the oppressed people of the world.