The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Theory] [White Nationalism] [ULK Issue 55]
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A Case for Unity with Reactionary Nationalist Organizations

Is there ever a time when we would unite with reactionary oppressor-nation lumpen organizations in a united front for peace in prisons?

This particular question is one that contains within itself a set of extremely complex issues concerning the ideology of these types of groups or organizations. It is only after we examine these issues that we can make an intelligent informed decision concerning this question of uniting with a reactionary-oppressor organization in prison.

We know that at their very core a large percentage of these groups are deeply rooted in their beliefs in Adolf Hitler and/or the Nordic Gods, or they are rooted in the distorted beliefs of so called "white Christianity"" (ie the KKK or the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian, etc.). All of their gods are considered to be extremely Aryan and will only deal with or help those who are white Aryan people unless it benefits them. Those who hold to the ideals of "white Christianity" have merely reconstructed the Holy Bible to fit their views of white supremacy. These white Christian organizations support those organizations who are neo-Nazi by nature.

The ideologies of both of these styles of organizations are centered around the philosophy of one being "white." Yet, you do find exceptions to this way of thinking. However, you generally discover that their mottos revolve around the principle of "if you ain't white, you ain't right." This ideology holds not only the connotation of the color of your skin is important, but likewise so are your ethical, moral, and religious beliefs. This, in itself implies that you are never going to be on an equal status with them.

These white nationalists live by a 14 word creed "we must secure the existence of our race and the future of white children." They likewise live by what they call the 88 precepts which create a vision of superiority for the white race.

Both morally and ethically the vast majority of white nationalist organizations find it extremely difficult to honestly and openly reach out to others with a spirit and agenda of true peace. This is due to the basic core of their beliefs that have been hammered into them since they were young. They have been taught to use other races, groups, organizations or individuals to gain their advantages for the betterment of themselves and once they are finished with them they simply jettison them and move on to their next victim.

Having presented the above to you the informed reader, I now remind you that we as individuals and a movement must never forget that the best method for change concerning these types of groups and organizations is to openly and honestly invite them to participate in the process for peace. If we diligently allow them to become actively involved in the process then perhaps their hearts and minds will be opened to the truth.

We must never let ourselves succumb to the way of thinking that we are better than others. We must steadfastly remain inclusive of everyone around us. Always remember that if we can affect one mind, just one heart, then indeed we have made a great step for all mankind.

Through slothfulness and unawareness we do surely die. Through strength, honor, courage and vigilance we surely do survive!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting commentary on uniting with white nationalist organizations because it comes to the same conclusion we have come to, but for different reasons. We agree that the United Front for Peace in Prisons can include reactionary organizations. It is true that sometimes through a united battle we can educate others and change their minds to a more progressive viewpoint. But we must be clear that we only unite with reactionary organizations when we have common goals and enemies, and when this unity might serve to push forward the battle with our principle enemy. Just as the Chinese communists allied with the Kuomindang in the war against the Japanese imperialists in spite of the Kuomindang previously attacking the communists and expressing significant disagreement, antagonism and aggression against the communists. At that time the principal task of the movement was to get the Japanese occupiers out of China. And the Kuomindang was an organization of Chinese nationals and so they shared this goal with the communists. Once that was accomplished the communists knew they would then need to fight the Kuomindang, but it did not make sense to divide the anti-Japanese forces and take on both battles at once.

Similarly we see our principal task being best advanced by building peace and unity among prisoner organizations so that we can all focus our fight on the criminal injustice system. This doesn't mean we expect white supremacist organizations to be won over to the side of the oppressed. But we can have principled unity with these organizations as we focus on a common enemy. We will not compromise our views or pretend to agree with them politically. And in this principled unity we may win over a few from the ranks of these white nationalist organizations who begin to see the correctness of our political positions.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 55]
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Maintain the Trust in the United Front

I have had a revolutionary mindstate since I was 16 (I am 30 now), when I realized our current government structure was corrupt and I started searching for a new philosophy. I came into Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Ever since then I have been a sort of pariah in society for my views. I caught my first bid at 18 and have been in and out of the prison system repeatedly. Mind you these prison bids were my own fault but the length of the sentences were always to the extreme. I was never given a second chance. Now I am in a Level 4 work release and finally about to go home in a few weeks and felt it necessary to share my views.

For starters oppressor-nation lumpen organizations should not ever be trusted. Joining with their factions they will try to incorporate their bigoted views into our cause and give true freedom a sour taste in our mouths. That is why we should avoid this situation. A united front is exactly how it sounds, united at all fronts no matter your race, sex, creed, or class. Hatred should not be tolerated within our ranks.

The same goes for pariahs such as snitches, child molesters, and rapists. These are things we should not tolerate. In order for the revolution to succeed we cannot have people looking at our organizations as a threat to house and home. Unity is built on trust. Would you trust a convicted and known child molester to be around your children, or a convicted rapist to be around our wimmin? I know I wouldn't. Amerikkka would love for us to have dissension within our ranks and we cannot afford to have this.

As for snitches, they work for the government! This cannot be allowed to infiltrate our ranks. If you would tell on a case so you don't go to jail, how can we trust you with political treason? Our revolutionary leaders are already being killed and incarcerated, we cannot let in anyone who will jeopardize more of our leaders. Take for instance, one of us was in contact with Edward Snowden (a true patriot, also this is all hypothetical) if a snitch caught wind and set him up to be arrested a leader will be lost.

Comrades I encourage you to think about the implications of letting these kinds of people into our rank and file. Long live the revolution.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about who we can organize with. A comrade in Virginia wrote in with similar concerns:

"Individuals lose sight that to these bigotry-minded organizations we are stupid. They feel as tho we need them to survive. I don't agree with that at all, ULK and all the brothers and sisters make it work and it means so much to me that we have this movement. If these oppressors know our lessons and remedies for the oppression we hope to stop it will be so much harder for us to stand against this imperialist movement they run daily.

"Just because they say they want to help does not mean that's their goal. See when they start sentencing whites to harsh treatment as they do our people daily and blanket the way we are oppressed then I can say their actions show they want to help us. It's not the case of wanting to help us it's about them gaining intel on our movement, so for that I disagree with any movement of this struggle joining forces with oppressive white groups."

Both these writers express concerns that undermine our position against coalition-based organizing in favor of building united fronts. Below we explain the difference between united front and coalition organizing, and we encourage our readers to write in with your thoughts if you think this distinction would resolve the concerns presented above. Below we make generalizations about the two modes of collaboration, but of course there may be some coalitions that operate more similar to a united front and vice versa.

In united front organizing, various organizations come together to work on a specific goal or project. All the organizations maintain their independence, which is a very important distinction from coalition building. So in a united front, white supremacist groups could maintain their bigoted views and their ultimate goal to undermine our self-determination. At the same time, liberatory organizations maintain our politics of anti-imperialism, anti-amerikkkanism, equality for all, etc.

On the other hand, in the coalition model, the groups are supposed to agree on and uphold the ideology of the coalition, which usually forces the more progressive grous to water down their line on the issue. Talking points are chosen and orgs in the coalition are supposed to stick to the talking points.

For example, if we enter into a united front with a prison reformist group which has a goal of reforming the prison system within capitalism, we will not tell them that they must agree with the need to overthrow capitalism in order to resolve the problems they are trying to fix. They also can't force us to advertise that a series of reforms, while keeping capitalism and U.$.A. intact, is what we need to end oppression within prisons. Each organization is able to push the agenda of the united front (in this case, that Amerikan prisons are terrible) while putting our own analysis on the issue. In a coalition on the same topic, there is usually a greater unity of political line, which often means the line of the most progressive orgs are put on the back back back burner. All the groups don't agree we need revolution, so revolution is not allowed in the campaign.

To the writer in Virginia's concerns, about the security of our movement if we allow oppressor-nation lumpen organizations to gain intel on our inner-functions, we believe that first an accurate assessment must be made to figure out if these groups actually do have a genuine interest in the goals of the collaboration. If that assessment is accurate, then working together in a united front, focused specifically on a particular goal or task, should help protect us from these attacks because the information that needs to be shared is much more limited. The level of unity required is much more limited. The conversation is focused on "what will we do about this one particular problem?" and each group's practical contribution to the campaign is left to itself to carry out.

So we disagree with the Delaware comrade's definition of a united front as being united on all points. Instead we see it as united against a specific enemy or to achieve a specific goal. But let's disregard semantics for a moment, and ask if these comrades believe we should still not work with opppressor-nation lumpen orgs, even if we use an independence-based united front model? Why or why not, and what examples can we look to to help us make this analysis? Would we be able to achieve our goals even if we have a policy to never have tactical unity with oppressor-nation groups?

More on security. Obviously snitches are dangerous to revolutionaries. However, people can be reformed. It is possible someone in prison got a reduced sentence for ratting out someone else. But once in prison they might come into contact with revolutionaries who educate them on the importance of unity amongst the oppressed and they are self-critical about their actions and resolve to never act against the oppressed again. We should not shun this persyn forever, but instead encourage their transformation and embrace genuine change.

We also call out the question of "convicted and known" rapists. Who is doing the convicting? Why do we trust the criminal injustice system to tell us who is a rapist? New Afrikan men accused of raping white wimmin are likely to be convicted, regardless of the facts. Accepting conviction as truth is something every prisoner knows to be dangerous. And so we ask why this conviction is an acceptable measure for rape? Of course anyone who advocates gender oppression or believes it is their right to sexually assault others will have fundamental disagreements with us. But we can't just trust the state to tell us who are our friends and who are our enemies.

It is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the oppressed to build a United Front against a principal enemy, overcoming the divisions put on us by the imperialists, and identifying allies even in the face of significant and fundamental disagreements over certain important issues.

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[United Front] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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Abolitionists from Within Prepare for 2nd September 9th Day of Solidarity

First I would like to thank the comrades willing to study and struggle with Abolitionists From Within (AFW) here on C yard for having the heart to step out and shake hands with the different ethinc groups and put an end to the hosttiliites with peace on their tongue during Black August. Our study group has been growing throughout the cells here at High Desert C yard, despite many setbacks of harassment from the pigs here and there. As I continue to share literature with the comrades and this year's study group, I introduce them to MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). I remind every comrade that everyone's struggles are different (state of mind). If you know what the problem is our job as comrades is to help come up with solutions to combat the problem for our comrades. But in order to do anything to advance the struggle we must be organized in order to help one another, we must set triablism to the side! And set aside all of our differences as well as our past beef and come together collectively in an effort to accomplish our goals: Peace, Unity and Growth among the oppressed masses.

Wake up young Afrikan! Put an end to this madness. September 9th Day of Solidarity is just around the corner. Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move for the second year here at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. This year we put the issues of today on the table:

  1. Who is your neighbor? Always remember racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. And AFW, USW and MIM(Prisons) are all in agreement with anti-imperialism!
  2. What will help us improve our material condition? First we must start off with our neighbor, each one teach one no matter the color.
  3. Understand the prison system. The system operates through criminal justice institutions, but functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.

Comrades, wake up! Understand the racial caste system; they don't require racial hostility or overt biogtry to thrive, they need only racial indifference. Wake up young Afrikan! Mass incarceration in the U.S. is a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social system. Cormades, help me help us organize and advance our struggle forward for peace throughout C yard.

Comrades, Peace and Solidarity
(i will also be following up with our report of September 9th activities)
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[United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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Approaching Conflict More Scientifically

For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.

Strategies to Address Conflict

Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility

We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.

Strategies to address conflict

Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.

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[Censorship] [Hunger Strike] [Education] [United Front] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 52]
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Battle for Literacy Builds Inside and Outside NC Prisons

Revolutionary Greetings,

As this missive leaves me in Revolutionary Spirits and with strong desires for emancipation I hope it reaches you in the same manner. I continue to battle the anti-literacy tactics used by these jackbooted fascist Pigs that use the word censorship as a tool to keep us deaf, dumb, & blind. The administration of these Razor Wire plantations, better known as the overseers, have the dictatorship to keep us from reading certain books and material that will liberate us from the continuing cycle of returning to these slave pens of oppression.

Nothing has changed from the tactics used in the 1900s til now, it's only hidden better. After the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831 legislation prohibiting the education of slaves was strengthened throughout the South. "In the words of one Slave Code... teaching slaves to read and write tends to cause dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion!" Any publication on the topic of conscious-raising is disapproved under the violation of Division of Prison Policy Section D.0109 (f) which consists of violence, disorder, insurrection or terrorist/gang activities against individuals, group organizations, the government or any of its institutions! We are given the option to appeal the disapproval, it’s then sent to the Publication Review Committee, and 80% of the time they agree with the first disapproval. The recent publications disapproved of mine are the new issue of Under Lock & Key, The Wretched of the Earth, and Huey P. Newton's To Die for the People! The Wretched of the Earth was approved [on appeal]. I’m still waiting on the approval of the other two publications.

The Commune here at this Razor Wire Plantation came together to form a hunger strike due to conditions we are burdened with, such as the high percentage of disapproved publications. We were promised that we would be allowed to receive publications if we agreed to end the hunger strike! I must say that lately books have been coming in that would not have made it past the mail room. Before the hunger strike I brought to the attention of the overseer that decides to allow us to have the books or material sent in, that there were books in the library of this Razor Wire Plantation that encourage racism, the hanging of Blacks, but those books are OK because they are in favor of the "overseer's" ideology. When brought to the attention of this certain overseer I was laughed at when I showed him the pictures out of a library book titled The Red Summer of 1919, where a Black man was being burnt alive while a mob of whites looked on with smiles on their face. I was asked by this overseer why would those pictures bother me so much when I’m not a man of color? What I should do was mind my business and order books other than the ones I been ordering was what I was told!

So I asked myself this question: is it possible for a white man to detest racism, oppression, repression, classism and capitalism as much as I do? Yes Racism is alive and well, but when you are a victim of classism it causes you to detest Racism! In today's time you don’t have certain communities among the proletarian class that's for one race only!(*) No, the poor live with the poor and the bourgeoisies live among the capitalists. The proletarian class and the lumpen are victims of poor education, which as we know is a pipeline to these Razor Wire Plantations. The educational system for the poor is a joke! (Angela Davis said: there is a distinct and qualitative difference between one breaking a law for one's own individual self-interest and violating it in the interest of a class or a people whose oppression is expressed directly or indirectly, though in many cases he/she is a victim). Poor education is another tactic used by the capitalist to be able to exploit the proletarian class! While selling their labor just to keep the lights on and food on the table there is no extra income for higher educational opportunity! So the proletarian class education system is the framework of the capitalist! The bourgeoisie gains their strength and stability from framework of poor education for the proletarian class. With proper education and educational opportunities the proletarian class could liberate themselves from the need to sell their labor to provide their loved ones with life's necessities! The capitalist know if this was to happen then the stronghold they have over the poor would be no longer!

Most of us allow ourselves to be controlled because of fear of losing something. This fear is what the bourgeoisie uses against us to control us. These chains must be broken for emancipation to take place! It starts with the necessities of solidarity.

Being in solidarity among the proletarian class means building strong relationships and strong communities of resistance. We must get back to the foundation of movement building, which is about building relationships and sustainable communities while breaking out of the confines of single issue organizing. Our accountability lies in what we do within our own communities. Focusing on our communities compels us to understand First World privilege (i.e. if you reside here you’ve got privilege). On the contrary privilege is layered by histories of slavery, colonization, patriarchal control, etc. Our solidarity struggles must therefore find ways to address these inequalities within. This involves listening and learning from the struggles of the proletarian masses. This would take the kind of inter-communal solidarity that Huey P. Newton had in mind.

Comrades, it starts with us held captive within the gulags of these Razor Wire Plantations. How, you ask? Turning these Slave pens of oppression into Schools of Liberation! The Science of Revolution must be spread to the masses of the communities! The help of Revolutionary intellectuals is a must because the key to the people’s unity is Revolutionary Consciousness! Instead of wasting time on who is right and who is wrong, instead of not being in solidarity with the next person because of their skin color, we must come together and spread the Science of Revolution to the unconscious. Theory is made to be advanced; nothing can stay the same because the capitalists strategize ideas to continue to control change every day. When one advances the theory of Marx, Lenin, or Mao it is not in disrespect or disregard of these great Revolutionists. Lenin said: "without Revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." We must focus on our communities. If our own communities are not strong enough to stand up to neoconservatives, then the work of those who promulgate war without end, the dictatorship of the free market, and the stealing of indigenous land will be made all the easier! With no unity among us then we are weak and not a factor! There are many organizations, groups, and cadres with different ideologies but have the same goal in mind! As long as we fight amongst ourselves then we are allowing capitalism to live!

The future of our emancipation lies in our hands people. So as I bring this to an end, I ask that you really think about our own Liberation and the well being of our communities as well as the future of education for the youth. Frantz Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission and fulfill it or betray it." What’s your mission?


MIM(Prisons) adds: It is timely that comrades are organizing actions to protest censorship of educational materials by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), as we just learned that a lawsuit will be going to trial on the same issue. Comrades on the inside and outside are making moves that culminate five years of consistent paperwork battles between MIM Distributors volunteers and NC prisoners on one side and NCDPS prisoncrats on the other.

Those locked up in North Carolina recognized those efforts as our subscribership expanded during periods of time when Under Lock & Key was completely banned in the state. But prisoners did receive the protest letters sent by our volunteers and those letters circulated, sparking even more interest in ULK. As efforts build on both sides of the fence, MIM(Prisons) will continue to support and promote this campaign against illegal censorship and political repression. As this comrade argues, this is an important battle because it contributes to our efforts to make revolutionary science accessible to the oppressed masses.

* While we agree with this comrade's points about education and censorship, we do not seem to agree on our analysis of class and nation in the United $tates. In recent analysis, published in part in Under Lock & Key 51 we show that the class make up of different nationalities in the United $tates are different and that segregation of communities is on the increase. We stand in solidarity with the comrades' actions in North Carolina across national lines for their common interests as prisoners. And while this is an example of class preceding nation, we believe that nation overall is the principal contradiction in this country. This is partially because class contradictions are so weak in the richest country in the world. And recent events around police brutality and prison abuse have shown us uprisings that are very homogeneous in their national makeup. And this is where we see the most radical fractures in our society.

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[United Front] [Special Needs Yard] [California]
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Put Aside Your Quarrels, Support the Spirit of the AEH

I just received your 50th issue of Under Lock & Key, and I can tell you that I haven't seen an issue like yours. An issue that isn't afraid to speak its mind about the real issues in our Chicano and Black communities.

There was a section from a prisoner in California talking about a book called [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán where he brought up a good point about prisoners on the SNY yards. I have been on this side for about a year and I came over here on my own, not for security reasons, but simply because the "leaders" of the struggle I believed in weren't leaders. They were selfish and one mistake and they would turn on you. We are not only oppressed by the system, sadly we are also oppressed by our own Raza.

Now to the Agreement to End Hostilities. In my point of view it contradicts every aspect that they preach. Now everybody who died, who caught a life sentence for the struggle they believed in was all for nothing. Take a second and think about that. There are people who are in prison serving a life sentence for killing an individual who opposed his views and beliefs. Now they expect him to be the best of friends with these same people? How does that make sense?

Now you guys reading this might say "He is only saying that because he's SNY." Well, for 4 years I was active and I have seen both sides of the fence. Not everybody over here is a snitch. There is more unity here than there is on the mainline. You see raza from North and South united where it doesn't matter what part of the state you're from.

If you want to end oppression it needs to start in the streets and not in prison. It needs to start by teaching our youngsters about our culture. Educating them so they can move beyond the ghettos. If you can prevent one from getting into a gang that's one less individual in prison. I think that is the only way to unite and fight against the oppression that exists in this country.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Saying that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) is hypocritcal based on the past goes against the United Front for Peace Principle (UFPP) of Growth. We must allow for growth and evolution of individuals and organizations if we want to see unity among the oppressed, because the old way didn't work. There are major contradictions between LOs still, and between different housing units in California. But we see these as contradictions among the people. Which is why we stand behind the AEH, and think those old wounds can heal. It's been four years, and there's still a long way to go. But people are putting in the work, and in some locations we've seen real progress.

We understand the lack of trust that some have for those calling for the AEH in California. But we say to those people, the ones who truly want to end oppression as this comrade does, isn't the AEH a step towards what you want? Even if you don't trust certain individuals, the more we do to promote the spirit of the AEH, as well as the principles of the UFPP, the closer we get to replacing the old order with a new order based on unity of the oppressed.

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[United Front] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 53]
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Peleando al Verdadero Enemigo el 9 de Septiembre, Demostración de Solidaridad

El 9 de Septiembre del 2016 fue el quinta día de demostración de Paz y Solidaridad anual en prisiones a lo largo de los Estados Unidos. Esta es una oportunidad para que reclusos conmemoren el aniversario de la insurrección en Attica y atraer atención a los abusos de presos por todo el país por medio de ayunos y paro de trabajo de 24 horas. La demostración anual fue iniciada en el 2012 por una organización en el Frente Unido para la Paz en las Prisiones (UFPP), y se ha tomado como un evento anual de la UFPP, con gente participando en prisiones por todo el país.

Esta demostración esta alineada con los principios de la UFPP de formar unidad entre prisioneros que tengan el interés común de pelear la opresión del sistema criminal injusto. Presos están tomando las 24 horas de manifestación para empeñarse en educación y construcción de solidaridad; cesando toda hostilidad entre prisionero contra prisionero. Este es un pequeño pero significativo paso en formar un Frente Unido entre organizaciones de prisioneros e individuos cometidos al movimiento anti-imperialista. Es una oportunidad para juntarse, publicar el UFPP y estimar nuestro progreso. Para estar de pie en un frente unido, no necesitamos estar de acuerdo en cada tema político, pero tenemos que unirnos alrededor de principios centrales para componernos y estar de pie como uno. La construcción de unidad comienza mucho antes del 9 de Septiembre para esos que están engranando a otros para participar en la protesta. Es un largo y lento proceso de educación y organización para construir el movimiento anti-imperialista.

Recientemente hemos aprendido de otro llamado de acción para el 9 de Septiembre, un "Llamado de Acción Contra esclavitud en America."(1) La gente que hizo este llamado escribió: "En el 9 de Septiembre del 2016 comenzamos una acción para el cierre de prisiones en todo el país. No solo demandaremos el fin de esclavitud prisionera, la acabaremos nosotros mismos cesando de ser esclavos." Este llamado nacional de paro de trabajo en las prisiones coincide con la demostración en solidaridad de la UFPP y tomamos esta oportunidad para comentar en las similares y diferencias.

Antes queremos decir que siempre estamos contentos al ver gente tomar organización y tratar de comenzar unidad detrás de las rejas. Hay muy buenos puntos traídos en este llamado a la acción, particularmente en el reconocimiento de las crecientes protestas en las prisiones por todo el país y la importancia de esta resistencia. Con nuestro enfoque en construir un Frente Unido entre presos, esperamos trabajar con esta gente para ampliar nuestro movimiento. No estamos seguros si los organizadores están enterados del trabajo que la UFPP ha estado haciendo por cinco años en las protestas del 9 de Septiembre, a si decidieron intencionalmente iniciar una acción aparte por los desacuerdos con la UFPP. Nuestros intentos de contactar a los organizadores siguen sin ser contestados.

Tácticamente, ambos estamos promoviendo una huelga de trabajo en este día. Mientras una huelga de un solo día es más simbólica que cualquier cosa, vemos poder en la habilidad de presos para "el cierre" de facilidades sin hacer el trabajo para mantenerlas operando por un periodo potencialmente largo. Sin embargo, los organizadores detrás de este recién llamado están tomando la huelga de trabajo al nivel de una cuestión de linea, a lo cual le tenemos fuertes desacuerdos. Se enfocan en una huelga de trabajo porque están enfocados en eliminar lo que ellos ven como "esclavitud" en las prisiones de los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, para las Marxistas, esclavitud es un sistema económico específico que envuelve a gente como propiedad para explotar de sus labores. Esclavos tienen valor de canje, igual como otros objetos que son vendidos y comprados. Este valor de canje de gente es la base de un sistema horrible que consiste en la captura y compra de humanos. Gente confunde el labor de prisiones con esclavitud porque hay unas significantes igualdades: el labor en las prisiones envuelve que trabajadores reciban un pago muy poco o nada, y como esclavos, prisioneros tienen dado vivienda, comida y otras necesidades básicas mientras están en cautividad. Pero podemos ver claramente que no hay un cambio valorar en presos por que los estados tienen que pagarle a otros estados para que reciban a sus prisioneros. Esto es lo opuesto de esclavitud donde gente paga por la compra de esclavos.

Más aun, para poder llamar el labor de prisioneros esclavitud, debe de haber explotación. Podemos ver que esta explotación (prisiones teniendo ganancias del labor de los presos) solo existe para una pequeña porción de los presos en EE.UU.(2) Estados como Texas y Louisiana tienen industrias significativamente productivas que recuerdan a los días de esclavitud. Para la mayoría esta no es la realidad. Prisiones requieren grandes infusiones de fondos federales y estatales para poder operar. Si estuvieran haciendo ganancias de los labores de presos, este desagüe de los fondos públicos no serian requeridos. En su lugar el labor de presos esta solamente compensado en una pequeña porción del costo de operación.

Unas personas nos dicen que esto solo es semántica, alegando la definición de un significado antes de hablar del verdadero problema que las prisiones están torturando a seres humanos mientras permiten a los verdaderos criminales dirigir el gobierno y corporaciones capitalistas. Pero esta reciente llamada de protesta contra la esclavitud prisionera, desvalora porqué éstas definiciones son tan importantes. Los organizadores de esta protesta del 9 de Septiembre contra esclavitud escribieron lo siguiente: "Cuando eliminemos la esclavitud, perderán mucho de sus incentivos para encarcelar a nuestros hijos, pararán de construir trampas para volver a jalar a los que han liberado. Cuando removamos el motivo económico y la grasa de nuestra labor forzado del sistema prisionero de los E.U, la estructura entera de cortes y policías, de control y casería de esclavos deberá de cambiar para acomodarnos como humanos, en vez de como esclavos." Esta declaración no es cierta, e ignora la verdadera economía de las prisiones cuales reciben sobre $60 billones de dólares al año en fondos estatales y federales para cubrir el costo de operación. ¿Porque funcionaría al gobierno un negocio donde pierde dinero? Ciertamente no para una ganancia económica!

El motivo económico de la esclavitud no es la fuerza guía detrás de las prisiones. Y aunque no lo llamemos esclavitud, economía no es la razón de las prisiones. Aunque es cierto que bastante gente gana muy buenos salarios, y muchas compañías hacen montones de dinero por servir al sistema prisionero, esto solo es la redistribución de ganancias tomadas de la explotación de trabajadores del Tercer Mundo. Es por eso que tiene que venir de lo que el gobierno asigna hacia las prisiones. Y que los $60 mil millones de dólares pueden ser vertidos hacia cualquier otro proyecto que suministra empleos para la aristocracia laboral Amerikana igual de fácil y todos esos guardias y otros que trabajan en las prisiones estarán felices al igual. Prisiones son una conveniente ruta para redistribuir super ganancias imperialistas a la aristocracia laboral dentro las fronteras de los EE.UU., pero no son definitivamente la única opción si la economía fuera la única consideración.

Es critico que activistas y revolucionarios entiendan que Amerika ha construido un enorme sistema criminal injusto como instrumento para el control social. Las prisiones son usadas para encerrar naciones oprimidas y activistas. La historia de prisiones en este país claramente demuestra esto. Miramos una grande crecida de encarcelamientos comenzando desde 1974 después que los movimientos revolucionarios de esos tiempos fueron puestos en la mira por el gobierno. Hasta ese tiempo había una relativamente baja y estable razón de encarcelamiento en éste país. Después la velocidad de encarcelamiento de las Primeras Naciones, Nuevo [email protected], [email protected] subió a un número enormemente desproporcionado relacionado con los blancos, comenzando en los 1970s. Estos eventos históricos y hechos económicos ponen en claro que prisiones Amerikkkanas son usadas para el control social, no para ganancias.

Los organizadores de la protesta anti-esclavitud están desviando a la gente a creer que al cerrar trabajos en las prisiones cerrarán los prisiones. Causará dificultades, y es una táctica muy válida para ejercer poder como un grupo. Pero el labor de presos mismo no es la contradicción principal en prisión. Garantizamos que si fuéramos a alcanzar una unidad para hacer una huelga extendida de trabajo en las prisiones sobre los Estados Unidos, que Amerika descifrara como mantener a los oprimidos encarcelados.

Nosotros llamamos esto una falla a reconocer la contradicción principal. En este caso estamos hablando de la cosa que mejor empujara hacia adelante la lucha de prisioneros contra la opresión. Peleando contra algo que no existe (la esclavitud) ciertamente no es la mejor manera hacia adelante. Aunque no lo llamemos esclavitud, peleando contra el labor de presos como si esto pondrá un fin a las prisiones, también es incorrecto, y nos llevará a un callejón sin salida. Vemos la necesidad de unidad entre grupos de prisioneros e individuos como algo crítico para construir un movimiento anti-imperialista sólido. Nosotros creemos que esto consigna la verdadera contradicción principal que el movimiento de prisiones enfrenta, entre intereses colectivos de los lumpen encarcelados y las tendencias individualistas actualmente dominantes entre esa clase. Esto es porque nos organizamos el 9 de Septiembre, para construir un día de paz y solidaridad. Envuelva en este día! Escribanos para conseguir el paquete organizador del 9 de septiembre y empezar a establecerse en tu prisión.

Notas: 1. Lean la llamada a protestar contra la esclavitud aquí:https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/04/01/announcement-of-nationally-coordinated-prisoner-workstoppage-for-sept-9-2016/ 2. MIM(Prisons), Abril 2009, MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy, Under Lock & Key Issue 8.
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[United Front] [Education]
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Guerilla Elite Family Pushes Peace and Unity

The Guerilla Elite Family, is a family of brothers who stand on your 5 principles and struggle to apply them to everyday life, being in such a chaotic environment caused not by prisoners, but the COs themselves.

The Michigan prison system is built on lies and injustice. There are no real rehabilitation programs, everything that is practiced is to punish and to create chaos. Since being in prison for the past 12 years, I had to teach myself how to read and write. I was given natural life at the age of 17. I was thrown into an environment where the blind is leading the blind. I'm not allowed to go to school, because I have natural life. Yeah, where's the rehabilitation in that?

The Guerilla Elite Family was born to unify brothers within and outside these walls. We stand on peace, but I learned that there can be no peace nor unity as a whole, until each individual that makes the whole, has a sense of peace among self to bring to the whole.

We understand that we're not each others enemy, and our aim is to expose our oppressors, while unifying and bringing peace among each other.

We believe unity and peace is found through true mentors. People that the whole can trust and believe in to do right by them. We all have been misled in our lives and used by people we thought had our best interest at heart. So this is part of what makes it difficult to bring everyone together for peace and unity.

It's easy to bring guys together to go to war with each other. But twice as hard to bring guys together to stand on peace and unity to fight against oppression and the ones thats our open oppressor.

The Guerilla Elite Family will keep teaching and mentoring comrades and passing on reading material to help educate guys in hopes to bring about peace and unity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It's good to hear from more comrades working in prisons across the country to build on the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. As this writer points out, the prisons work to keep captives from education and knowledge, and so it is our task to bring education to prisoners. This is particularly challenging when so many folks behind bars can't even read and write. We can't just send them books and encourage them to study, we have to start out where they are at, and help them learn to read. MIM(Prisons) can only do so much from the outside, so we are working with our USW comrades to build a literacy program that focuses on revolutionary education. Write to us if you can contribute to this program with ideas or resources we can use.

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[United Front] [Idealism/Religion] [Michigan]
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Response to ULK 48 on Islam and United Front Organizing

I received ULK 48, thank you. From 1998 to right after the towers fell in New York, I received MIM Notes, which were instrumental in my politicalization and capacity to be critical with information. Hopefully re-connecting with MIM will aid me in similar if not greater ways.

As far as the ULK 48, dedicated to the discussion of religious organizations in prison, I would like to add a few observations, critiques and opinions that may aid in better understanding what I consider, the functional limits of prison religious organizations.

I preface the following by stating that like many young, impressionable Black males who entered the Michigan penal system in the mid-1990s, I was heavily recruited by a non-orthodox Islamic sect. It was part religious, part Black nationalist, part civic, radical in the sense that it gave it to the grey and black as well as it took it, but the religious organization was mostly philosophically and ideologically backwards. No clearly defined political lines, no effort toward developing social change theory, and no revolutionary practices or principles cognizable to a revolutionary novice, let alone a seasoned agent for change.

However, the group did introduce me to books, which I fell in love with after spending four years in solitary confinement where there was little else to do besides read to escape the attendant activities characteristic of that environment. In the beginning, narrow nationalism and Islamic related literature is all I read. Far more lasting than any specific set of facts or pieces of knowledge obtained, reading provided me with the understanding of how to acquire knowledge on my own. I learned how to read an essay closely, search for new sources, find data to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and detect an author's prejudice, among other skills, that were not promoted during my K-12 educational experience.

Considering the inescapable oppression of long term solitary confinement, it was inevitable that my attention would be turned to ideas and actions I could take to prevent future experiences of isolation, for myself as well as others. Trying to pray or wish my problems away proved extremely ineffective. I abandoned closing my eyes and hoping for a different reality when I opened them, rather quickly. But I do feel indebted to the group for leading me to books - prior to prison I had never read a book from cover to cover, or for more than entertainment.

After reading ULK 48, the first question that comes to mind is, do religious groups in Michigan prisons possess any power - real or latent - to stimulate and direct constructive social change? Or are they, too, victims of the overall U.S. capitalist structure?

While I'm aware that many people would answer these questions in many different ways, I observe that religion plays chiefly a cathartic role for the imprisoned. It provides an opportunity for followers to "let off steam," to seek release for emotions which cannot be expressed to administrators and guards without consequences. Prison religious organizations are social and recreational and a haven for comfort, no matter how illusory or temporary. Within these groups imprisoned people can assume responsibilities and authority not available elsewhere in the prison. For example, s/he can be the head of security, treasurer or public relations director. Only within the religious organization can imprisoned people engage in political intrigue and participate in decisions open to non-imprisoned people.

The potential power of religious organizations in prison is the ability to attract large numbers of imprisoned people. Although their ability to recruit is severely being challenged here in Michigan by the rise of street organizations i.e., gangs, whose numbers have skyrocketed in the last ten years. Among their more flagrant weaknesses is the fact that their potential strengths can all too easily be dissipated by preoccupation with trivial matters (e.g., did Moses part the Red Sea; did Jesus walk on water; what did Muhammad say about facial hair, eating pork, or what activities should be performed with the left hand?), and the desperate struggle for the empty status, bombast, and show of the prison world.

It is not inevitable, and virtually impossible to politicalize and transform members of these groups into social change agents when religious doctrines emphasize the idea of someone other than you/me/us possessing the power to change present reality: the instruments of escape, weapons of protest, the protective fortress behind which adherents seek to withstand the assaults of a hostile environment and within which s/he plans strategies of defiance, is prayer.

It is no wonder then why imprisoned people who have been politicalized tend to reject religious organizations as a multiple symbol of fantasy; and tend to regard prison religious organizations as basically irrelevant to challenging the hard and difficult realities of capitalism, white supremacy, police powers that can reach all the way into one's bedroom or a woman's womb, and so on.

That this is not more widely recognized by members of these groups may be in part because religious organizations are not an effective model of critical thinking. The fact that religious organizations are the most pervasive groups in Michigan prisons, and the fact that they do not play any measurable role dissenting or resisting the frustrating, oppressive, degrading experience of incarceration, are cruelly related.

If religious organizations are a powerful social force, either the facility, Central Office, or the State would severely restrict/eliminate them. The facade of power which these groups now present would be removed. Think about it, most religious meetings in prison go unsupervised.

Members of these groups hold on to the idea that an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present being will save them at some appointed time and date, while this being had neglected their other needs as human beings. The punishment of "crime" is a political act. It represents the use of force by the State to control the lives of people the State has defined as criminal. No concerted political efforts have been made by these groups to deal with the politics, i.e., the underlying causes of incarceration.

My objective is not to argue that religious belief and political consciousness are incompatible. Speculation on that level is pointless and irrelevant for the purpose of this discussion. However, the simple truth is that the trouble imprisoned people find themselves in, the sham and corruption, the class and race biases of criminal law enforcement, cannot be solved unless imprisoned people feel obligated to learn about systems of power, privilege and oppression, and also feel obligated to do something about them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct to point out that there are significant limitations to religious organizations, whether behind bars or on the streets. And ultimately only by targeting the underlying systems of oppression will we put an end to criminal injustice and imperialism. However, what this letter does not address is the distinction of some of the more anti-imperialist religious movements like Islam. As we argued in ULK 48 "Just as religion is today an outlet for many radical youth in the Third World, religion has been influenced by revolutionary politics in the context of New Afrika. In the 20th century we see a turn towards Islam by a number of New Afrikans who are searching for identity and liberation from oppression by Amerika." We do not push people towards religion, but at the same time we look to unite with those whose religion is compatible with or promoting national liberation. We have a good historical example of this united front in the Christian liberation theologists in Latin America who were a part of revolutionary national liberation struggles in that part of the world starting in the 1950s.

Uniting with organizations that do not share our political line entirely is part of united front organizing. We focus on the principal contradiction, and unite with others who agree with this goal, while retaining independence to make clear where we disagree politically. In a united front led by communists religious groups can be important allies. But we should always be clear that true equality for all people will not be achieved through belief in a higher power or any other unscientific mysticism.

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[United Front] [International Communist Movement] [Theory] [Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 51]
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Patriotism or Internationalism: A message to the left wing of USW

Lumpen Unite

This is a question which all communists must ask themselves at one point or another of their revolutionary careers. Furthermore, it is a question which has essentially dominated the International Communist Movement (ICM) ever since that movement became a real contender on the world stage. Suffice to say that there has never in essence been a more important question to ask and correctly answer within the ICM itself other than patriotism or internationalism? That said, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism are not mutually exclusive phenomena forever separated by the same great impassable divide of ideological difference, rather, patriotism and internationalism as properly understood by communists are dialectically interconnected concepts that we must struggle to unite.

Sometimes general, sometimes particular, but always of universal importance, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism represent different aspects of the subjective forces whose task it is to carry out revolution both at home and abroad. Focus too much on one and you run the danger of making an ultra-left mistake. Focus too much on the other and you will not only be committing a tactical mistake, but will be guilty of committing a right opportunist error. What comrades must understand however is that pushing the revolutionary vehicle towards a bright communist future isn't necessarily about making the decision of patriotism or internationalism. It's about both. This is the topic which the following essay will attempt to explain. Thus in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism — but are there other ways for us to apply internationalism within nation-specific projects?

Contrary to how this quote has been narrowed down by some comrades, applied internationalism isn't only about each nation fighting their own battles and hoping that anti-imperialists from other nations will be astute enough to recognize the tactical opportunities of our fight and hence get in where they fit in. Internationalism is about extending our hands and providing assistance to our comrades whenever we can and offering lesser but equally important means of support when other avenues of help have been closed off to us.

Point in fact, MIM(Prisons) can't physically and persynally reach out to every prisoner on a one-on-one level. But it has a bi-monthly newsletter that goes out to the prison masses as well as a Free Books to Prisoner Program, a website created in part to help facilitate the needs of prisoners across the United $tates and document abuse. It runs study groups and most recently help put out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, a book that will help to build public opinion for revolution in North America by agitating in favor of the [email protected] masses. Not to mention the other nation-specific and internationalist projects which it has been responsible for spawning.

Another excellent but largely forgotten and ignored example of applied internationalism being practiced outside of a nation's own borders is how the Cuban masses under the leadership of Fidel Castro volunteered to cross the Atlantic to fight alongside the Angolan people in their struggle of national liberation against Portuguese and Amerikan imperialism. This act took place for a variety of reasons, but perhaps none more important than the sheer anger, disgust and solidarity which Cubans felt at the sight of imperialist bombs falling on Angolan heads. It could then be said that this sacrifice on behalf of the Cuban people marked a development as well as a leap in the revolutionary consciousness of the Cuban nation, both because they were willing to give up their lives in the service of another oppressed nation and because with their sacrifice they helped land such a strong and decisive blow against colonialism, while simultaneously helping to detach Angola from the imperialist framework. It could therefore be said that this action on behalf of the Cuban masses was equally, if not more significant than the Cuban revolution itself. This is just another reason why Cuba holds such a special place in the revolutionary hearts of oppressed people everywhere.

This now brings us to a recent debate initiated within the California Council concerning USW's potential contribution to a certain nationalist project, and a certain comrade's apprehensions/objections about the role of USW vis-a-vis the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations, as well as the exertion of influence on USW by revolutionary nationalists operating within that organization. In eir argument the comrade in question took the position that no one nation should be forced to take part in another nation's struggles, citing that this would be tantamount to one nation co-opting others to do its job for them. That said, no nation should be allowed to control another nation's destiny or make decisions for other nations that are integral to the liberation of the latter as this would in effect mark the beginnings of a neo-colonial relation on a certain level. Furthermore, the comrade also made the statement that "USW is not one nation united, it's multi-national." Now this may be true, but the correct definition for USW is the following:

"USW is explicitly anti-imperialist in leading campaigns on behalf of prisoners in alliance with national liberation struggles in the United $tates and around the world. USW won't champion struggles which are not in the interests of the international proletariat. USW will also not choose one nation's struggles over other oppressed nations struggles."

And from the pamphlet The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons:

"Rebuilding the anti-imperialist prison movement means uniting all who can be united around the common interests of the U.$. prison population in solidarity with the oppressed people of the Third World..."

So while we should definitely be in agreement that no nation should be forced to participate in another nation's struggles and that no one nation should be allowed to come up at the expense of another, this does not in any way mean that USW, or the California Council in particular, should be disallowed from initiating proposals and passing resolutions that will support and lend assistance to nations or nation-specific organizations represented within or outside of USW. The nation in question can either accept the assistance or not. This method of action and participation will ensure that USW retains its United Front mass organization character by preserving the unity and independence of all USW comrades and affiliated organizations. Indeed, USW, like all other organizations, has a dual character. Unlike most other organizations however USW's duality is complementary and it is not an antagonistic contradiction. While it is true that USW is a mass organization created to represent and fight for the common interests of all prisoners as a distinct social group, it is also a launch pad for the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations in which comrades can cut their teeth thru revolutionary organizing, and from where they can then go on to initiate and lead national liberation struggles on behalf of their own respective nations.

This is what USW, as an anti-imperialist prisoner organization, should be about: the internationalism of prisoners breeding revolutionary nationalism, and revolutionary nationalist projects breeding internationalism amongst the prison masses. This requires more than each nation blindly going its own separate way. It requires unity of action and unity of discipline. As such, it would seem then that what we have here with the comrade in question may be a problem of perspective. What some might see as internationalism others might perceive as a contradiction. What some regard as mutual assistance others will call co-optation. For those of us having this problem of "perception" however, we would be wise to be cautious not to let our own love for our nations blind us to the plight of others, as sometimes what this fear of "co-optation" really translates to is our own fear or refusal to participate in another nation's struggles. Thus, we should be aware of how our own nation's struggles, as well as our failure to act on behalf of other nations, can affect the ICM, lest we degenerate to the level of narrow nationalism.

Since this question of whether or not USW should participate in a variety of nation-specific struggles seems to be one rooted in perception, let us take a closer look at the supposed pimping of nations that would take place if USW were to decide to work in the interests of a distinct national project. As has been the current practice thus far, nowhere at all has this resulted in one nation's struggle being taken up to the detriment of another. But let's just suppose that this is the case, then maybe ULK should just stop featuring articles that promote the struggle of one nation or another so that we may ensure that no comrades from any nation feel as if they're being pushed into the background, or that their nation-specific article is forced to share space on the pages of an internationalist forum that also represents one nation or another, lest these comrades begin to feel "co-opted."

Just because Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation the nationalism of the oppressed nations is applied internationalism, it does not justify our lack of adherence to other internationalist principles. This is a guiding line of real communism and should likewise be seen as a line of demarcation for all revolutionary nationalists claiming the mantles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Applied internationalism is about more than just fighting your own nation's struggles and we should never forget that. To give an additional hystorical example, when Amerikan imperialism attacked Vietnam the People's Republic of China aided the Vietnamese by providing all types of supplies including food, money and intelligence. Most activists of the time believed this was not enough and that the Chinese should've provided troops as well. We wonder what the previously mentioned comrade would think about this? Perhaps ey would say it was too much and that the Chinese were already guilty of co-opting Vietnam's national liberation struggle and how dare anyone suggest that the Chinese become more involved? Of course, in a possible revolutionary future we can even envision a myriad of situations in which the internal semi-colonies will be forced to coordinate and work shoulder-to-shoulder to oust Amerikan imperialism from their territories. Or would this too be a case of one semi-colony co-opting the struggle of another?

The Palestinian campaign initiated by USW last year is yet another internationalist project that is now shadowed by question marks, at least according to that one comrade's perspective. Perhaps this was simply incorrect practice and "a waste of USW's time"? As previously stated, while we agree that no nation should be forced to contribute to another nation's struggles, we also believe that no comrade should feel as if they're being "forced" to participate in another nation's struggles. As such, maybe these type of people aren't so much for internationalism as they sometimes claim to be? Because Mao accomplished and wrote so much on the national liberation struggle of China many have erroneously come to believe that ey was a nationalist first and a Marxist-Leninist second; but this view is wrong. Mao loved eir nation but ey was a Marxist-Leninist first and foremost who recognized the liberation of China as only a small component in the global struggle for communism.

Choosing and deciding what internationalist struggles one can participate in besides those that are explicitly national liberationist exclusive to one's own is both a tactical and strategical question that is dictated by the struggles and conditions of the time. Lacking a clear and coherent reason why not to participate is indicative of a national chauvinist political line in command. The USW Palestine campaign was a fairly easy campaign to initiate due to the current stage of the struggle and most USW comrades' material conditions. Other struggles will take more time and consideration to implement, while some might be outright out of the question. Excluding the labor aristocracy, there is a reason why revolutionaries from Marx to Mao championed the slogan: "workers of all countries unite!"

We struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people or we don't struggle at all.

— California Councilmembers, March 2016
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