The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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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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[United Front] [California]
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FFU Joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons

Our group's name is FFU, or Frantz Fanon University. Our statement of unity is to actively educate "the people", radicalize gang members in aims of putting an end to ALL OPPRESSION.

We believe in having peace amongst the oppressed in working together arm-in-arm. We know that it takes unity to rise up against the power structure that holds us down. Growth is tantamount in the struggle. Internationalism needs to be reached. Independence is what we're striving for.


[signed by the members of FFU]
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[Organizing] [United Front]
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Unification Against Defeatism and Inaction

I write this piece as a result of a conversation I had with a brother, who I consider, an intellectual equal and new friend. The conversation was about action, or should I say the lack of action, in a movement to curtail the imperialist society of capitalism, slavery and oppression. Now, just to clarify the brother I'm referring to is not only an active participant in the political revolutionary movement, he also supplied me with priceless literature on the cause. However, he choose to play the role of devils advocate in order to spark my creative mind.

In general, the conversation was based on a full-scale, non-violent movement against the financial interest of the oppressor, and called for all fellow POWs to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one common goal: Victory! However, throughout our conversation I realized that there are several issues still holding a complete unification for this type of movement, at a stand still. I personally believe it's possible, and honestly I think it's the only way to effect change and bear the fruit of the movement. So I write this piece to bring these issues to the surface, and inject them into like minded conversation in pursuit of overcoming these sub-conscious inhibitors.

The simplest issue to address is the defeatist attitude carried by some, not all, of my fellow brothers behind enemy lines. One must understand that a pessimistic attitude deeper than just thinking negatively. It's allowing that negative thought to impact your ability and actions, in the cause for change. What I mean, and I'm sure some of you have experienced this, is the person who says, "Don't put your name on that petition, you'll only cause problems for yourself" or "I would join the movement but..." or "The officers don't bother me." These are all sorry excuses for tolerating the abuse and oppression from these barbaric animals who claim to uphold the law. Now, I understand that some of my fellow POWs have Stockholm Syndrome and attempt to identify with their captors as a form of survival. However, it is the actions of our captors that isolate us from our families, enslave us and oppress us, until we die or submit to their capitalist ways. If you don't or won't stand up it will never change! Dr. Martin L. King Jr., Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez all initiated a movement with the knowledge and understanding that the road would be tough. However, they all focused on the destination not the trip itself. There's a Buddhist saying that says, "no one drop of water wants to be the cause of the flood," and that's exactly what we're faced with when fellow POWs carry this defeatist attitude.

The next issue that needs to be addressed is our inability to move as one! As I read ULK, the Bayview and all other literature geared towards the movement, I see from the many different groups listed in the literature that sub-consciously we are unable to combine and move under one front or one flag. To divide and conquer has to be one of the oldest military and war tactics known to man, and has a cumulative effect on any movement or political power. Furthermore, it's so effective that it's still being taught at Westpoint military academy as I write this. One must understand what it's doing to the success of the movement. First, strength is in numbers and if you're oblivious to the fact that POWs have the numbers then here's the facts. There's currently 31,000 correctional officers in the state of California (according to MIM(Prisons) December 2007 ULK2) and 110,000 to 120,000 men and women incarcerated in the state of California (per federal population cap issued in 2013). With that being said it is common knowledge that it's easier to control several small groups then a large one. Furthermore, if those smaller groups are fighting amongst themselves for the illusion of ownership of objects that will never truly belong to them (i.e., phones, pull-up bars, tablets, etc.), that only makes it easier to oppress, control and enslave. We as a group must break all seemingly innocuous forms of segregation and unite as one! All racial and ethnic barriers must be broken, followed by all of the small pockets of revolutionary soldiers flying one flag. Symbolizing the unification of one movement, sharing the same political and ideological views. We allow capitalist oppressors to dictate where we draw the lines in the sand and divide us into controllable groups. We have the power, and the time is now. It's time to follow the example of Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell and George Jackson.

To the main issue of this piece and the most important. Is the lack of effective action. When I say effective action I mean a non-violent protest not only done by POWs, but also by the family and friends who support us in our cause. As of now all I see is a massive amount of information being passed around with no action. Information is knowledge, knowledge is power, now that we have the power we don't utilize it. Now, I understand that moving prematurely will only work against the desired effect. However, the same is to be said for not moving and allowing the enemy time to prepare a counter. Most importantly our movement lacks a figurehead. For example, without putting any emphasis on what he stood for, yet highlighting his ability to lead, Adolf Hitler is a prime example, or Alexander the Great, or Malcolm X, or Dr. M.L. King Jr., or Cesar Chavez, or Huey P. Newton just to name a few. However, I want ot reiterate it's not what they stood for its their impact and motivation of their particular movement. In my opinion, that's what all the brothers and sisters enslaved behind enemy lines are missing to propel this movement into national spotlight and over the hump. So I, as an enslaved prisoner of war, surface these issues not only to my fellow enslaved brothers and sisters, but to all those who support our cause form the other side of the razor wire. Let's stop being that one drop of water, and become a wave!


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is true that charismatic leaders can inspire people to overcome defeatism. That is why the J. Edgar Hoover gave the FBI the mission of preventing the rise of a "Black Messiah." The problem was, they were successful. While some "messiahs" rose to the occasion they were shot down, imprisoned or otherwise neutralized.

It is a contradiction we face of how to motivate the disempowered to feel empowered. Many peoples' have faced this situation before. And while we all want action sooner, rather than later. It is the careful study and education of the masses that builds a truly powerful movement where we are not dependent on charismatic or well-studied leaders. Especially in the prison environment, where conditions are closer to fascist repression, it is too easy to isolate our leaders. So we must keep up the slow and steady work of building unity through struggle and education. Just as this comrade experienced with eir new friend above.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 49]
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The Free Speech Society Presents: The Conflict Resolution Committee

[In January 2016, MIM(Prisons) received a report from a comrade in Kern Valley State Prison stating that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) had been broken there. The incident included an attack by one group, and retaliation by another group against others not necessarily involved in the original attack. The original attackers reportedly ran to the state for protection. The prospects for peaceful resolution were not great. In response to this report, a comrade now working as part of the Free Speech Society sent us this update on efforts to reconcile the conflict in line with the AEH.]

All power to the people who do not fear real freedom!!!

Mission Statement:

In the aftermath of two small-scale race-based "isolated" incidents that occurred on B-facility in January of 2016 at Kern Valley State Prison, the Free Speech Society was able to successfully initiate a conflict resolution committee as a part of the inmate advisory council (IAC) that has been established at this prison.

The conflict resolution committee ensures the de-escalation of potential conflicts between various groups/formations on B-facility. As it constitutes a body of like-minded individuals that is both representative of the totality of the various groups/formations on B-facility, but also capable of resolving potential or actual conflicts in a responsible, positive, and expeditious fashion. In the past, Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) administrators, which is inclusive of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) headquarters in Sacramento, California have made errors in one form or another, by failing to ensure the engagement of the primary stakeholders that are representative of those groups/formations actually engaged in a conflict, nor has there been a body of "like-minded" individuals specifically tasked with resolving potential conflicts before they mature into actual hostile-based conflicts, whereby unnecessary disturbances become manifest, which jeopardize the safety and security of both prisoners and staff.

Per Departmental Operations Manual (DOM) 53120.5.3 (viz. "Special Concern Sub-Committee") the KVSP B-facility Men's Advisory Council will enact the Conflict Resolution Committee (CRC). The CRC is convened for the sole purpose of resolving potential and actual conflicts on B-facility whenever and wherever they occur, and effectively articulating these resolutions to the entire prisoner population, with special attention given to the groups/formations in conjunction with the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH).

Because appropriate representation is essential to the resolution of conflicts in an effective and responsible manner, the composition of the CRC will reflect prisoner representation from each specific group/formation who will in turn be responsible for engaging and positively resolving any subdivisions in these groups.

A basic outline of the CRC representative body will consist of a representative from each of the following groups/formations:

  • BGF
  • Surenos
  • Whites
  • Others
  • Crips
  • Bloods
  • Mexican nationals
  • Bay area Blacks
  • Hoovers
  • Muslims
  • 415

Because of the sensitive nature of this special concern sub-committee, the CRC must have access to the units on B-facility, per approval of the facility captain. The daily activities of the CRC are designed to increase dialogue across cultural lines of every formation/group to promote a stronger foundation upon which issues can be put forward and resolved in a constructive manner. Communication and timing are essential components to preventing conflicts before they mature into hostile-based conflict. Therefore, CRC members must be able to talk to who they need to, when they need to. Our objective is to be proactive in resolving potential and/or actual conflicts within the general population. All prisoners are encouraged to relay any and all potential conflicts to the CRC so they can be resolved in an expeditious manner. The function and activities of this committee shall be to ensure equal and effective representation of the entire general population in the resolution of potential and actual conflicts on B-facility. The entire CRC body will abide by the by-laws of the Inmate Advisory Council (IAC).

Our Struggle Continues!!!
For more information about the Free Speech Society go to: www.freespeechsociety.org

MIM(Prisons) responds: What started as a report on the breaking of the AEH at one of the largest California state prisons, has been turned around to a testament of the practical work of the AEH. The release of comrades from SHU is at play here in ensuring that the AEH is upheld by the prison masses in a way that addresses the needs of the masses.

In short order, comrades at KVSP have put to work the tools at hand to address the contradictions among the people there in a practical way. This is an example that should be followed and repeated throughout the state and the country. All that said, in the long run we must caution against depending on institutions of the state to meet the needs of the oppressed. Conflict is not the natural state of the oppressed, it is created. And the history of CDCR is one of utilizing, encouraging and even creating divisions among the prison masses for its own interests.

When the Short Corridor Collective asked the CDCR to distribute the statement calling for an Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH), that was a correct tactical approach to working with the state. When the CDCR refused, it still strengthened the cause of peace and unity among the oppressed. In a recent essay a USW comrade lays out the history and current reality of the MAC/IACs in California prisons.(1) While their formation was based in the strength of the prison movement, they have since been used to undermine the movement, as the comrade argues, as a sort of neo-colonial force akin to U.$. foreign policy abroad. Meanwhile, another comrade in Pelican Bay who has been struggling to build peace reports that attempts to work within the MAC and within an approved Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group have both resulted in increased harrassment by staff who see unity as a threat.

Again, we commend the comrades at KVSP who have utilized the tools available to them to address a very dangerous situation, and we offer our support in those continued efforts. But we recommend that all those attempting to build peace in prisons study the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Independence is one of those principles, because without independence the masses do not have the ability to make decisions for themselves and provide real solutions.

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