The grand jury is a mockery, no matter all white or all black Psychologically conditioned into seeing all pigs as right and exact Just like a trial jury, the state can never be wrong The state's not trying to indict, they're only playing along, singing a song To keep the people pacified and from raging against the machine It's a police state, a black persyn's life ain't worth a thing They can kill us but we can't kill them, what kind of justice is that How can we free the people with all this warring against us Blacks? "No Egalitarianism, No Peace!" this double standard of law must stop Calling us extreme for us only responding to them extremely peeling our caps Leaving it to their mock grand jury like leaving it to their mock god Til we show them what we'll do for our blood, we're scarred We must do more than just protest, we must boycott We must organize and educate and revolutionize believe it or not We are the only people that the constitution don't protect Shooting us down now is equivalent to ropes around our necks They're killing us while screaming they're in fear for their lives They pick the fight then go to crying, telling lies Bullies, that's all they are, goons for the rich Take their guns and badges away, they'll run back to the sticks 6 conscripted pigs on one Black man, chokehold him to death And his family is screaming for calm, that's all we get "Burn it down!" Michael Brown's step dad said Look how quick he was about to face indictment, as a threat Amerikkka fascinates us but infuriates us more You're an Amerikkkan if you're not against Ms. Justice and her so-called law Having all Black pigs won't make a difference either Because their oath is to the anti-egalitarianist imperialist agenda We are not supposed to fight back or take a stand Just accept our inferior status, know our place and stand in it looking grand It's not angry, extreme or wrong to kill an innocent black man Criminal background or not, 12 or 90, blam blam Not only in Amerikkka but in many distant lands Bombing innocent wombmen and children in Afghanistan But one of theirs get killed they go Amerikkkan Nam Oppression is oppression here, there and everywhere Apartheid is apartheid, in Azania, Palestine or Amerikkka We are occupied by imperialist forces, we can't afford to bow The pigs want beef, we gotta bring the whole cow Egalitarianism now, yes right now
Amerikkkan imperialists often claim that they have overcome their dark past of slavery. Of course, their wish is to dismiss the stench of the putrid acts of their forefathers but those acts are memorialized for all the world to see in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United Snakes. In the former we read, "All men are created equal" but in the latter we find "excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons."(1) This means, of course, that only white men are created equal. Women and "Indians" (indigenous Americans) do not count, and Africans count as 3/5 a person. According to these white Flub Fuckers, I mean Founding Fathers, only white men are fully human; everyone else is less than, or nothing.
The modern white imperialists say they fought wars to correct their past stench. These pukes say slavery is a thing of the past; that slavery is abolished, and we should "forget it and move forward."
But after the so-called civil war that allegedly abolished slavery, we find the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed. This amendment reads, in pertinent part: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Are we perceiving a pattern? "All men are created equal" except. "Slavery is abolished except..."
In the nineteenth century cities were burned, courthouses bombed, and Presidents assassinated to bring about an end to most slavery in the united snakes. Is that what it will take to get it through the thick skulls of the modern imperialists that slavery is repugnant under any circumstances: no exceptions!
While this article is not broad enough in scope to compare modern penological practice with nineteenth century slavery, let us note that today's prisoners and former slaves:
1. Are disenfranchised, forbidden to vote in both federal and state elections.(2)
2. Are not considered persons nor employees, and may be forced to labor without compensation.(3)
3. Do not have any right to wages, nor granted any humane civil protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act or the Federal Minimum Wage Law.(4)
4. Do not have any rights to property in most instances, we are property.(5)
While Amerikkkan slavery was more severe than incarceration in Amerikkka's gulag today, the overwhelming thrust behind both institutions is a disgusting conviction that one group of humans is somehow superior and has the right to degrade and deprive the other group.
No one would seriously argue that the majority of slaves in kkkolonial Amerikkka was any race other than Afrikan. But what about the prisoners in Amerikkka's gulag?
It is widely known that the united snakes imprisons more people than any other nation per capita. It is said the United $tates has just 4.4% of the world's population yet locks about 25% of all the world's prisoners in its gulags.
As of 31 December 2012, there were 1,570,397 people in bondage in federal and state correctional facilities in the United $tates (not including jails). That year Black males were incarcerated at a rate 610% higher than white males (Blacks 2,841 per 100,000 U.$. residents vs whites 463 per 100,000).(6)
In state facilities at the end of 2011 there were 509,677 Black men and women prisoners which is 38% of the total prisoner population of 1,341,804. By contrast white men and women accounted for only 34.7%. And yet Blacks comprise just 13% of the entire U.$. population whereas whites are 80%.(7) Said another way, of the 41,455,973 Blacks in the united snakes, 509,677 are in a state correctional facility (approximately 1%) serving a prison sentence, but merely 465,180 of the 255,113,682 whites (1/5 of 1%) are in prison. Mathematically five times as much of the Black population is in prison compared to white population.
Does this mean Blacks are more "criminally active" than whites? Let the documents speak. Of the 9,390,473 arrests in 2012, 6,502,919 or 69.3% of the arrestees were white. There were only 2,640,067 Blacks arrested, or 28.1% of all arrestees were Black. So how is it the majority of the prisoners are Black? Because the white imperialist injustice system prosecutes Blacks and crushes them with lengthy prison sentences while the majority of whites have charges dropped, or lowered to lesser offenses, or get probation/pretrial diversion, or have expensive attorneys for trial, etc.
While imperialists do not profit from the labor of prisoners as their forefathers did from slaves, imprisonment keeps Blacks from competing against upper class whites in the job market. The labor aristocracy maintains its white hegemony. Be sure not all white imperialists are Caucasian. Ask President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Marco Rubio what they think of the 13th Amendment and the deprivation of basic rights to prisoners economically. The next time an imperialist Amerikkkan sings jingoism about the United $tates correcting its addiction to slavery and exploitation, simply say "bullshit." But soon the people will crush it. Til then let us educate with plans to eradicate.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade makes a solid case for the existence of national oppression within the United $tates today, as evidenced by the disproportionate treatment of New Afrikans compared to whites in the criminial injustice system. And by correctly noting that the imperialists do not profit from the labor of prisoners, this writer also provides the reason why we do not call prisoners, even those forced to work for no wages, slaves. (See ULK 8 for more on the U.$. prison economy). Further, unlike slaves, prisoners can not be bought and sold like property. And so on this point we disagree with the author: we do not call prisoners "property" just like we don't consider prisoners to be "slaves."
Every article in ULK 44 is on point! "Baltimore: Contradictions Heightening" leaves me hoping there are boots on the ground to guide the demonstrators into an organized resistance. It seems from historical examples that destruction of property and forcible removal of merchandise gets results, e.g. Rodney King, whereas candles and prayer obtain imperialistic praise, e.g. Trayvon Martin in Florida. When a kkkapitalist suffers economic harm, imperialist forces will crush a few of their own thug enforcers to restore the facade of calm. Destroy the property of the bourgeoisie and the killers of oppressed citizens get arrested.
Loco1's article on the sovereign citizen movement does much to dispel myth and urban legend. But often the hope of fallacy is stronger than the cold fist of truth. Recently a rumor has spread that prisoners may file a 42 USC 1983 petition for just $35 if they tell the clerk to "file it in the green file without the protection of admiralty law." Even though I've shown men an order from a magistrate judge, and a letter from the court clerk, both stating $400 is the filing fee ($350 if in forma pauperis is granted), prisoners still insist they only have to pay $35. I even showed them an order denying a prisoner's request to "file his petition for $35."
As for the sovereign citizen rubbish, it is historical fact that even when a legal remedy does provide liberation, the supreme court of the united snakes devises methods to make it inapplicable to the oppressed. Look up Dred Scott. Consider that "a prison inmate ... is not an employee within the meaning of the [Federal Labor Standards Act]."(1) Does anyone honestly believe that an imperialist court of pig justices would uphold the sovereign citizen argument? Even if the argument was rooted in sound legal principles (and your articles shows it is not), the imperialist powers in the court are not going to say the government that empowered them is a fraud and void.
And Rashid is incorrect, especially on the subject of the labor aristocracy. First, MIM's definition can be validated by simply engaging in discussion with prison staff, including teachers. Those people do not identify with the workers in other nations. Recently a teacher told me that his gas prices should be lower because "Iraq owes us their oil in exchange for our blood in liberating them." When I replied that I don't recall any Iraqis ever asking us to invade their country and plunge it into civil war, he said, "You only hear what you want to hear." I was also informed it is fair for a factory worker in India to earn 46 cents an hour because "Amerikkka and England built that country for them." Really? And second, just because members of revolutionary groups are possibly from bourgeois or aristocratic backgrounds, it does NOT mean those groups as a whole will support revolution. But neither does it automatically exclude one from the fight. There were Germans who fought against the nazis. And Americans who fought for the bastards.
How can we unify the common interest of the prison population at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) when you have those who understand the needs of the masses and address them accordingly in direct opposition of those who place their own personal agendas as well as status above the needs of the people. President John F. Kennedy once said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."(1) This statement transcends class, ethnic, political and economic spheres. In 1964, Clarence 13X (2) did something for his people that was at times hidden from even the initiated parties in the NOI/FOI umbrella (Nation of Islam), he liberated the people through the development and synthesis of the supreme mathematics and supreme alphabets.(3) He exposed the true nature of the Black man (Blackman is jet black, brown, red, yellow peoples) to the masses.(4) When coupled with the Supreme Wisdom lessons given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad the result is the 120 degree Book of Life; a tool used to promote mental, physical and spiritual growth, through diligent study of the social science of life.
An experiment was conducted to evaluate the principal contradiction of prisoner vs. selfish individuals from a Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) perspective. Father Allah (formerly Clarence 13X) stated "I'm not pro Black, no am I anti white, I'm pro righteousness and anti devilishment."(5) The 33 degree of the I-40 defines a devil as any man which is made weak and wicked or any grafted, live germ from original is a devil.(6) The I-40 defines the 5% on the poor part of the planet earth as poor righteous teachers who are all-wise and righteous.(7) So the God Body put into practice a blueprint established in Message to the Blackman in America.(8) To see who in fact would make a concession for the sake of the whole (prisoners) or plot scheme and manipulate for parasitic status, personal wealth and physical lust (selfish individuals). The entire range of programs can be found in Message to the Blackman in America. The core of these programs are in direct line with United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principles of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, independence, written in language specific to oppressed youth (those without knowledge of self).
The first task was to free the God Body from the open-ended oppression of the privileged entitled hierarchy of Islam. That happened 9 October 2014, when 25 independent parts came together and collectively established a Universal Parliament(U.P.) and began building during cipher Saturdays. The U.P. was offered every other Thursday for a "trial" period. Because of the KVSP operational procedures, the God Body does not have the luxury of everyday contact, so Thursdays and Saturdays became show and prove days. The results were complex in nature. The main principal contradiction of prisoner vs prison came into play. The administration, short of Security Threat Group profiling us, made going to the chapel a hassle, made getting the God Body out on ducats to U.P. an uphill battle. The God Body was informed beforehand also of the possible delay tactics and threat assessments. Certain free staff, whom due to fear of the unknown, began to spread chaos and confusion among ill-informed followers. This resulted in hostile posturing on their part. Yet the truth had revealed a sense of security was lost when "all of the wise people walked off."
The next task, was to provide the God Body with study material to engage in informed conscious development. Collectively the God Body pooled all resources together so that no one was lacking. Then certain elements began to replace sound science with political slander for sympathy (an act that would eventually lead to a divided front). The pooling of resources was a show of growth, certain elements viewed this growth as a chance for a power grab for personal gain, such as establishing credit with parasites. Allying with capitalist movements that even Mao himself would wish to execute. The movement isn't about short-term "runs." The movement is constant, generational, so, in order to preserve the integrity of the God Body resources were issued as needed to prevent selfish deeds. Resulting in mysterious bed moves occurring at odd hours of the night.
The next task was to apply peace (9) towards the population. Peace happens to be the final goal of what we will achieve.(11) So rules of A-yo you immediately placed the God Body as a threat to the status quo. This shed light on those that had intentions of using the God Body for selfish interests. Elements began to poke and pry into affairs, blowing any and every situation into all out war, when in reality, those elements were upset that the God Body demonstrated peace and harmony instead of the usual chaos and confusion. An extra insight was gleaned also, when a proletariat has no major opposition or when elements feel the enemy has come and gone it may eat itself because peace may be seen as weakness. Prisoners vs. prisons, as a personal opinion, ensures opposition larger than a divided yard. The demonstration resulted in a pruning effect. The selfish individuals cut themselves off from the God Body, actually returning to an oppressed state.
The next task, was extending support to other righteous people who adhere to the absolute truth. In motion as we speak, is the movement to secure close ties between the Black man's nation. At this point I would like to address the notion that there are no white god bodies. Azreal and Azreal Wisdom are both well known poor righteous teachers deeply rooted in the movement. This movement allows for the entire NGE to thrive as one strong nation. To criticize one of your own for developing and implementing applied science to build up, not tear down, the nation shows a clear lack of study of the supreme sciences involved in the use and practical application of the 120 degree Book of Life. Those selfish individuals would voice the rhetoric of racial infiltration. The reality is, the God Body is not a circle within a circle. It is 3 dimensional and metaphysical. Able to assert its chemistry and algebra across all aspects of life. If elements reach out to parasites for support you can't honestly say you God Body.
The next task was and still is liberating the Black man. How can we make free a nation with plantation psychosis? Wanting to be free and actually being free is the principal contradiction. Those that preach and teach freedom yet don't know freedom should take notes on how struggles are pushed. You can’t be free and married to the master outside of self. I-self-lord-and-master(12) is how to be free! Drugs, yard sex, debt, drama, is house nigga politics. Freedom, liberation, and independence comes from struggle, hard work dedication, blood, sweat and tears. Re-education and active development promote independence. Each one teach one according to h own knowledge. (13)
After synthesis of accumulated findings the God Body can survive if and only if the selfish individuals remain outside of the body. During the qualitative experiment the selfish individuals main objective was to establish a parasitic egg inside of the God Body to bring the movement to a stand still. One selfish individual after another removed themselves from the body citing the fast of Ramadan as the reason for removal. Yet, through efforts of the prisoners working to liberate the God Body Ramadan is a non-issue. The question I pose to the world is how long will it take for selfish individuals to stop pretending and start presenting?
MIM(Prisons) responds: We salute the comrades of the Nation of Gods and Earths and other organizations at Kern Valley doing this important work as part of the struggle to build a United Front for Peace in Prisons. It sounds like they are really putting in the work with the right attitude of protracted struggle. While we have some criticisms of the NGE ideology related to Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet and their tendencies towards idealism and metaphysics that we've addressed in more depth elsewhere(14), this comrade demonstrates the dialectical materialist method in eir practice above. And it is that kind of experimentation in the laboratory of U.$. prisons that will allow USW to learn and grow into an effective organization.
In this analysis the comrade mentions a few principal contradictions, all of which are important to discuss. However, it is important to note the context of each one, as each thing has a principal contradiction that defines that thing at a given moment in time. For instance, the contradiction of prisoner vs. selfish individuals is one that we might reframe as the necessity for the lumpen to come together as a class to survive and its tendency to resort to selfish individualism following the capitalist model, which allows for short-term gains for some. This is an important contradiction that we think defines the First World lumpen class, and is therefore principal. The contradiction that defines the internal semi-colonies in the United $tates we think is that between assimilation and liberation, which is related to the contradiction discussed of wanting to be free and actually being free. And finally, there is the contradiction between prisoners and the state, which is the principal contradiction defining the prison system. Those interested in an in-depth discussion of the principal contradiction in the prison movement can write us for an essay we have on that topic for USW comrades.
Many prisoners view the organization formerly known as the Mens Advisory Council (MAC), now known as the Inmate Advisory Council as servants of the people behind prison walls. Most of the people believing this fallacy are the new or relatively newer and younger prison population, and even some older prisoners who should really know better by now. However, for those of us who do know better we not only know the true limitations of the MAC but their true purpose within these walls, and so it's not for nothing that some of us refer to the MAC organization for what it really stands for: "Man Against Convict."
The original idea for what came to be known as the Mens Advisory Council can be traced back to the turbulent 60s and 70s inside of California prisons and the violent years that followed which included a relatively high number of staff assaults, prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and both peaceful and violent protests. The Council was initially conceived of by socially conscious prisoners as a way to not only encourage and develop dialogue between prisoners themselves to avert unnecessary violence between the white, [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations, but also as a way to develop this same dialogue between prisoners and the prison administration. In this way then the precursors to the MAC were meant to function not only as representatives of the prisoner population with prison administrators, but as advocates of prisoner rights.
And for some years this precursor to the MAC org did what they set out to do, maintaining both a level of favorable and positive bias towards the prisoner population as well as enjoying a righteous level of credibility amongst prisoners themselves. Both the precursor to the MAC organization as well as the MAC itself tackled issues ranging from visiting policy and procedure, to basic hygiene and sanitation issues, to quantity and quality of food, to how our mail was to be properly handled.
As time went on however the MAC went from an organization representing the interests of the prison population as a whole to being co-opted by the powerful lumpen chiefs and representing their narrow and counter-productive interests, from which it was then taken and turned into an organization working in the interests of prison administrators. Today the IAC functions as an extralegal means for prison administrators to get from us exactly what they want, which is a highly passive and compliant prisoner population. As such, the MAC/IAC organization has become just another tool of the prison administration used to control us not unlike the tools on a pigs belt; like the pepper spray they use to gas us, or the batons they beat us with — just another tool.
I would like to take this concept even further. One can even liken a MAC rep to a neo-colonial ruler in the Third World who, thru their representation in government, gives the illusion of independence and a real self-determination to their compatriots; a nominal independence or a fictious level of power. This is not to say that the MAC/IAC never get anything done or accomplish anything for us. Quite the contrary, they do manage to accomplish a small victory from time to time. But prisoners get it twisted when they begin to believe that the MAC/IAC reps are there to serve or win anything for us. We must be clear about one thing here, the MAC reps accomplish nothing for us that the administration doesn't allow them to. In other words, in the battle for prisoners' rights, prison administrators do not lose to the MAC/IAC, rather they concede. Concessions in the prison realm are "necessary evils" to prison administrators as they are used to lend a level of legitimacy to the MAC/IAC org and hence continue their support from the wider prisoner population. Just like the system of neo-colonialism in the Third World, nominal leaders are allowed to govern and rule exactly because the imperialists allow them to, but these leaders must also have the support of the masses so that they may keep on ruling, or else the entire system collapses.
Surely there will be some who want to consider my allegations to be untrue, but it is hard to argue with my thesis when you see the MAC/IAC reps actively working against you. All you have to do is look closely at your MAC/IAC reps and ask them, what have they done for you lately? What oppressive and repressive policies have they helped the pigs peacefully implement and transition to with or without prisoners' consent? Not for nothing that a lot of the MAC/IAC reps are flat out hustlers and silver-tongued liars looking to swindle you out of your rights and privileges. Indeed if we look closely at these MAC/IAC reps we can see that they are messenger boys and running dogs to the administration because they have to be.
This is not to say that all MAC/IAC reps are bad. Of course there are some who actually seek out and take up these positions because they are truly interested in bringing positive change to the oppressed prison population, but these people are few and far between. These people however are also naive because they actually believe that they can bring real change to the prison environment thru steady reform, therefore they can also be some of the most convincing and legitimizing aspects of this oppressive prison apparatus and hence the most lethal to the prison movement for they will try the hardest to convince you of working within the system.
For those of you still not convinced of what I'm talking about, let's examine CCR Title 15, Article 3, Inmate Councils, Committees and Activity Groups 3230. Establishment of Inmate Advisory Councils:
(a) Each warden shall establish an inmate advisory council which is representative of that facility's inmate ethnic groups. At the discretion of the warden, subcommittees of the council may also be established to represent sub-facilities or specialized segments of the inmate population.
(2) The council shall operate only under the constitution and by-laws as prepared by the council's inmate representatives with the advice and guidance of designated staff and approved by the warden.
(d) Inmate advisory council representatives shall not, as a council representative, become involved with inmate appeals unless the matter affects the general inmate population and such involvement is authorized by the warden.
(h) A staff person at the level of a program administrator or higher shall be designated as the inmate advisory council coordinator.
(i) Facility captains shall be directly involved in council activities within their respective programs and may delegate specific aspects of supervisor, direction and responsibilities for council activities within their unit to subordinate supervisors.
Now let's look at what is described as the decision making process in matters of foreign policy on an international level and the general rules and concepts of how a strong nation (namely Amerikan imperialism) interacts and deals with weak nations (those in the periphery):
"The structure of a decision making process — the rules for who is involved in making the decision, how voting is conducted, and so forth — can affect the outcome, especially when a group has indeterminate preferences because no single alternative appeals to a majority participation. Experienced participants in foreign policy information are familiar with the techniques for manipulating decision making process to favor outcomes they prefer. A common technique is to control a group's formal decision rules. These rules include the items of business the group discusses and the order in which proposals are considered ... Probably most important is the ability to control the agenda and thereby structure the terms of debate."(1)
Foreign policies are thus described as
"the strategies used by governments to guide their actions in the international arena. Foreign policies spell out the objectives state leaders have decided to pursue in a given relationship or situation as well as the general means by which they intend to pursue those objectives....States establish various organizational structures and functional relationships to create and carry out foreign policies. Officials and agencies collect information about a situation through various channels; they write memorandums outlining possible options for action; they hold meetings to discuss the matter; some of them privately outside those meetings to decide how to steer those meetings. Such activities, broadly defined are what is meant by the foreign policy process.'"(1)
The Machiavellian implication of all this is all very apparent then, and one must be a special kind of naive to not see the resemblance between imperialist foreign policy and how prison administrators choose to deal with the prison population; the majority of whom come from the oppressed nation lumpen.
Amerikan imperialism is hostile to the oppressed global majority and their foreign policies are reflective of this hostility. Likewise prison administrators' dealings with the prison population mirrors Amerikan foreign policy exactly because prisons are extensions and tools of national oppression and social control, and so it is logical and to be expected that Amerikan foreign policy and the policy of prison administrators are two sides of the same oppressive coin. Whereas one deals with the oppressed nations on an international level, the other deals with the oppressed nations on a domestic level. Furthermore, as a matter of foreign policy U.$. borders are the structures used to keep Third World workers out and unable to gain access to their portion of wealth stolen by U.$. imperialism, whereas prisons are used to keep the oppressed nation lumpen in their place and away from this same global metropolis.
It has been said many times before, prison is a microcosm of society and it is time we begin to actively engage in this society. Marxist philosophy holds that we are all products of our environment and just as our environment has the power to influence and mold us, so do we have the power to influence and mold this same environment. We shouldn't be relying on individuals or small cliques of people to speak and act for us. We should rely on ourselves and our sheer numbers to bring change. Therefore, it is time that this whole business of MAC/IAC reps be done with and put to an end. It would be a positive qualitative development for the prison masses to begin relying on themselves. Individuals don't make hystory, the masses do.
Prisoners day - September 9th - must be kept silent no more. This particular day, marking its ground breaking appearance on 9 September 1971, is making a slow steady trod towards mass movements and prisoner organizations from the east coast to the west.
Any prisoner subscribing to Under Lock & Key, or the variety of political newsletters free to prisoners, can attest to the constant reminders of the one day that prisoners stood up in unity to get shot down, and lifted back up year after year. For many who are familiar with the Attica uprising, just hearing the name Attica reawakens the stories told about the protest back east, where a select few brothers of a mixture of lumpen organizations were put in a position to stand for something and not just fall for anything. A protest from which many political prisoners take inspiration today in their thirst for freedom. Attica became legendary.
Many prisoners were forced into the tombs of the beast, known as the control unit facilities, for their commitment to keeping alive the memory of the day that history was made by prisoners struggling for a common cause. These prisoners forced into the tombs of the beast, who spoke from the grave to the injustice of the system, became the silent force of an already nuclear-reactor-type vibration within U$ prisons.
As time went on so then did the minds and movements of the masses, its leaders, and the lumpen organizations charged with serving the interest of the prisoners. The lines of the parties involved with commemorating the anniversary of Attica were crossed and compromised. The dream of rehabilitation and reforms set many in backward positions compliant to the interest of the enemy of the prisoners, the state.
Details of the September 9 uprising and certain individuals involved began meaning less and less. The historical facts, leadership, and goals became gossip of he said she said, your homie got my father killed.
The state understood the importance of stemming the tide with the tactic of division, thus a line was drawn between the political prisoner and the prisoner just trying to do their time and get back to what they knew as freedom. The latter wanted nothing to do with the former, as these old timer political prisoners were viewed as extreme in their ideas and objectives. The former, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the latter, who at each turn of the age began to appear as a type of foreman, respecting the privileges and rewards for the good behavior of not upsetting the system. Even to this day these lines are the principal contradiction between the prisoner mass and the few political leaders.
Attica served as an example to both sides of the fence. Power is in people's unity. With the support of the people at Attica in 1971, time stood still long enough for prisoners to occupy the prison yard and a few dorms. In a stand off with state police, prisoners demanded to be afforded humyn decency.
The end result was the murders of many who knew they had nothing to lose but their chains. Attica's effect is on all prisoners. Attica's effect lives with prisoners even today. Let prisoners refresh their memories in as many uprisings as possible with peace as the objective.
It is not at this time that prisoners should be waging war with each other. Nor should we, in the United $tates, be taking up armed struggle. We must learn that prisoners must not prey on other prisoners with exploitative practices that result in the beefs that go beyond prison yards and effect more than just the local factions. But prisoners must consider the conditions of the entire class which it is rooted in and decide what direction it as a whole will move in.
Attica gave birth to many many great prisoner demonstrations and prison uprisings across the United $tates. More recently in Texas, California, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few.
The day of solidarity is rooted in a reality that prisoners must at some points and time, for a specific frame of time, put to the side their differences in order to pool the energy and resources for the causes that contribute to tearing down this system as they know it. And after that, if they want to go back to their state of parasitic lifestyles, then they can take it up with the people.
The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity is the prisoner's memorial day; the convict holiday. It is the one day that prisoners as a whole can safely cross the lines of divide that have been expanded over the ages of time. Prisoners at this time can become festive in their anticipation of the entertainment, education, application and advocation of a vocal prisoner mass speaking up and out to the injustice of the U.$. prison system.
USW invites all those who have committed to the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to participate in the coming September 9 celebrations. Submit high quality artwork to our Strugglen Artist Association to be printed and circulated within your prison, spreading the message of peace on September 9. Our comrades MIM(Prisons) offer political books free of charge that your group can study and write or draw your interpretations of the reading. You can even just write a statement describing the nature of your local September 9 celebration program.
It is now the age of speak up speak out for prisoners. If prisoners can build upon their shared experiences like the uprisings in the past, their voices can speak to their interests aligned with the internationally oppressed, and begin upsetting the system one state at a time.
Then and only then will the power be reinstated in the leadership who are most capable of representing the interests of the whole, without fear of retaliation or repression for their leadership roles. The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity prepares all prisoners for the day that all must make the decision of whether they'll stand up for something or fall for anything.
The sovereign citizens movement has become among the top domestic terrorist groups on the FBI's list in the United $tates for refusing to cooperate with the government. People of this movement assume an artificial independence as a nation and refuse to file taxes, carry any type of license or hold a social security card. Question is, where does the anti-imperialist movement stand with these individuals and how does their approach to liberation compare to that of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
It is reported that more than 300,000 people are self-declared sovereign citizens in the United $tates, and it is predicted to be one of the fastest growing movements in U.$. history.(1) So it is a reasonable question to ask whether these people are on to something or not.
It appears that the sovereign citizens movement is currently one of a mixture of oppressed nation lumpen, bourgeois nationalists and petty bourgeois organizations across the United $tates. For example, among those claiming to be sovereign citizen organizations are the New Afrikan groups like the Moorish Nation, the Mawshakh Nation of Nuurs and the Washitaw Nation, both Islamic and Hebrewic. Then there are the white nationalists responsible for publications and broadcasting programs for the movement: From the Embassy of Heaven, The Aware Group, the Republic of Texas, Rightway LAW, Freedom Bound International and Amen-Ra BTO, Inc.; and personalities like David W. Miller, Charles Weisman, Alfred Adask, George Gordon and Brent Johnson.
Lumpen class in search of answers
The talk of sovereign citizens in prison was first heard by the author in 2009, promoted by a variety of lumpen prisoners professing to be card-holding members of the jailhouse lawyers National Lawyers Guild. They claimed to possess the mysterious knowledge, which utilized in U.$. courts could result in riches from financial settlements, as well as the potential of an early release for prisoners who have learned the craft of cracking the code described as redemption.
Lumpen in the United $tates, in general, are always looking for a come up, but they rarely consider at what cost will they come up. They, in general, believe that if they can just grow their underground economy they can free themselves. This viewpoint is a product of the lumpen's relationship to capitalism as belonging to internal semi-colonies. Lumpen are excluded from the prosperous imperialist economy overall, yet given tastes of that wealth via these underground economies that also provide an illusion of acting outside of the system. It seems that the popularity of the sovereign citizens movement in prisons can be explained this way, the difference being that it actually claims to be based in law.
With its promises of wealth, stature, independence and self-control, lumpen prisoners are not blamed for lining up to receive what they've been conditioned to know as being freedom. However, they are cautioned that everything that glitters isn't gold. What we see at play is the principal contradiction that defines the lumpen class in our society: the individualist tendencies to come up at the expense of others that are required of an excluded class in a capitalist economy, and the need for collective action to overcome those conditions and attain true freedom. We even see the New Afrikan organizations promoting the ideas of sovereign citizenship have borrowed from the ideas of national liberation movements as well. But rather than fight for national liberation of New Afrika, they define their nation in opportunistic ways as if a nation is something that any group of people can just create out of thin air. We recognize nations as scientific phenomena, that exist in the real world and are defined as a group of people with a common culture, territory, language and economy.
It is important that lumpen prisoners begin to pick out the right things, that which they have persynally tested, inspected, researched and referenced to reality in the method of dialectical materialism. Lumpen prisoners have a problem in the areas of these last four key words: tested, inspected, researched and referenced. This failure is the main cause of the material circumstances leading to the divisions between the individualist lumpen prisoners vs. the self-sufficient collective of prisoners struggling for liberation within the movement towards national independence.
Too often lumpen prisoners get something, or hear of something from another inmate and they just run with it, spreading something that they are unfamiliar with and misinforming others. The sovereign citizens movement has benefited from this tendency.
What is sovereign citizens about?
Lumpen prisoners of white oppressor nation origins probably can describe a more definitive history of this movement beginning somewhere in the 1960s to challenge the legitimacy of U.$. tax laws and the U.$. government itself. It is doubted whether most oppressed nation prisoners can describe the founding groups, from Oregon and California, like the Posse Comitatus, which is based in extreme, unrealistic white supremacy.
The philosophy of the sovereign citizens movement is based in the theory that the U.$. government is operating as a fraud commercial entity that is bankrupted and indebted to foreign nations. Many sovereign citizens movement groups subscribe to this idea in that the original U.$. government was that of colonial Amerika based in British common law as a de jure government. After the civil war there supposedly developed a secondary government de facto of its previous state-based governments of settlers.
When they say de jure, they mean legal and therefore legitimate. In contrast, de facto means that it exists but it is not official. It is common to refer to a de facto government after a civil war to imply that things have not been settled and brought back to order. What that order is, is of course a political question in itself. The dictatorship over the capitalists in the south by the capitalists of the northern states after the civil war was a progressive one that marked the end of slavery and forced integration on the white settlers, though much of the progress on integration was later turned back by reactionary forces and proved an overall failure. Therefore, to question the legitimacy of the post-civil war government in the United $tates has a clear connection to this ongoing reactionary movement for white supremacy in North America. While these forces see independence and state's rights as a means of maintaining their national privilege, the internal semi-colonies are attracted to national liberation struggles (and therefore other politics of local control) as means of ending the national oppression that is the other side of the dialectical coin. To have an oppressor nation, you must have at least one oppressed nation.
Many sovereign proponents, like the Whitten Printers, have broken down the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.$. Constitution to the least common denominator. They argue that it was created by the de facto government in order to nationalize Black slaves and afford free Black slaves with comparable rights of the unalienable Constitutional rights of white settler state citizens, leading us to question whether they are reading from the same history books as the rest of us struggling for self-determination.
These sovereign citizens hold that they are not subject to the nationalization process to become federal citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment de facto government because they weren't slaves, they aren't colored, and they never signed into any contract agreements with the de facto government. Basically, they are royal citizens holding on to the good ol' days of the British colonies. Ain't that cute.
Critics of the sovereign citizens theory assert that it fails to sufficiently examine the context of the case law from which they cite and ignore adverse evidence, such as The Federalist No. 15, where Alexander Hamilton expressed the view that the Constitution placed everyone persynally under federal authority. And as the Fourteenth Amendment itself reads, in part:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”(2)
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”(3)
All oppressed nation prisoners must be aware of these facts before they allow themselves to be rallied into support for a movement like the sovereign citizens. The sovereign citizens movement is a white oppressor nation movement whose interest is directly in conflict with yours. They want to preserve imperialism at the cost of your independence and self-determination. National liberation from the imperialist states is in the interest of all lumpen prisoners, and the best way to effect this objective is for all the semi-colonies of the United $tates to support national liberation struggles of the oppressed.
We must also remind comrades that the fascist movement in Italy and the Nazi movement in Germany were appealing to a primarily dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie as well as lumpen and proletarian elements with rhetoric against the state, the bankers and big businesses at the time with some nonsensical religious ideas mixed in and lots of chauvinism. In the event of further imperialist crisis, if the imperialists are pushed to take a fascist approach to managing the people and economy, the sovereign citizens and similar movements will be the ready made mass movements that provide the footsoldiers for such a project. The oppressed peoples of the world must combat this with proletarian internationalism and dialectical materialism and break free of the ignorance that allows us to be suckered by the false claims of such groups.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We want to give Loco1 props for working on this review of the sovereign citizens movement. S/he was one of a number of comrades who have written us about it. And as a very active leader in USW we asked h to write a critique of the ideology behind the movement. Loco1 was hesitant at first for lack of information and knowing where to start.
While limiting access to information helps prevent ideological unity across the imprisoned lumpen, this article goes to show the greater importance of method. Loco1 was able to spearhead this critique with limited resources at h fingertips, but using an analytic approach.
Some of the appeal of the sovereign citizens and similar right-wing anti-government movements is based in an appeal to authority, where they cite a bunch of case law in an effort to convince you that they know what they are talking about. But this reliance on caselaw itself is idealism. It is similar to those who search for answers in ancient religions, as if there is a secret out there that just needs to be found and it will solve all our problems. This is appealing, it is a theme that sells many movies and books, but it is not reality. A real way to solve problems is to understand reality, the contradictions that make it up, and how things are moving so that we can transform reality. No one has been liberated by sovereign citizen paperwork, because it is just words on paper, and words on paper cannot magically liberate you from a real system that is made up of millions of people.
"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you've got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. Once you see how they got theirs straight, then you can know how you can get yours straight." - Malcolm X, Message to the Grass Roots
The basis of any social movement is unity. Unification is most often formed around a common oppression and recognition of necessity by a sometimes common, sometimes diverse group of people in order to link up together to fight the oppressive powers that be. On this topic perhaps the best, yet least known example of a common, yet diverse group of people coming together to fight off the most oppressive and far reaching power the world has ever known, was the Asian-African Conference of 1955 held in Bandung, Indonesia. This gathering of Black and Yellow nations was the first time in hystory that representatives from 29 Asian and African countries would meet to discuss strategic methods for combating the effects of imperialism on their people. All of the countries in attendance were not only newly independent following the beginning of the disintegration of the old colonial order, but represented a quarter of Earth's land surface.(1)
The Bandung Conference was sponsored by the Prime Ministries of Indonesia, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India and the Philippines. The most notable and prestigious country to attend however was the then-socialist People's Republic of China. The convocation of these newly emerging forces was an important step towards the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement and it is from the legacy of both Bandung and the Non-Aligned Movement that the concept of the Third World would later be developed. Most notably barred and excluded from attending the conference were any and all Western imperialist powers, including the then-social-imperialist Soviet Union, as the newly emerging forces were looking to make a clean break from all variations of imperialism.
The Bandung Conference considered problems of common interest and concern to the countries of Asia and Africa, and discussed ways and means by which their people could attain fuller economic, cultural and political cooperation. And while to many today, particularly in the First World, the idea of the Third World liberating itself from the artificially-produced poverty of capitalism without the benefit of U.$. "aid" may seem like a pipe dream, those of us who know the mechanisms by which imperialism operates know that what is actually ridiculous is the notion that the United $tates and other imperialist powers would ever sit idly by as the oppressed and exploited organized for their own liberation to the point that they are no longer dependent on such First World aid. As a matter of hystorical perspective, Malcolm X would later explain the social context for the exclusion of the white man at Bandung:
"The number one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung Conference was the white man. He couldn't come. Once they excluded the white man, they found out that they could get together. Once they kept him out everybody else fell right in and fell in line. This is the thing that you and I have to understand. And these people who came together didn't have nuclear weapons, they didn't have jet planes, they didn't have all the heavy armaments the white man has. But they had unity."(2)
To be clear, it's not that the oppressed Asian and African countries were excluding the white man out of some sense of racism. Rather they were excluding the representatives of various white nations because the issues being discussed at Bandung were in direct contradiction to Western imperialism and the white nations they are in the service of. Never before had such unity between the oppressed nations played out either before or after the 500 years of colonialism which preceded the conference and which the Bandung 29 were trying to depart from. The United $tates responded to this political snub which they perceived as a threat to their political and military hegemony, as well as to their material interests, with various destructive acts. The most serious of these being the attempted assassination of Chinese Premiere Zhou Enlai and the mid-air explosion of the passenger plane "Kashmir Princess."(3)
Even with such acts of barbarity committed on the part of the imperialists against the oppressed for daring to carve out an existence on their own terms, the Bandung Conference was a success as the final communique of the conference can attest to: economic cooperation on the basis of mutual interest and respect for national sovereignty, technical assistance in the form of experts, trainees, pilot projects; the establishment of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development; the stabilization of commodity trade in the region and the stabilization of international prices and demands for primary commodities through bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements, just to mention some of the more groundbreaking methods by which the Bandung Conference sought to break the colonialist stranglehold on their nations.
The Bandung Conference was also convinced that
"among the most powerful means of promoting understanding among nations was the development of cultural cooperation. The Asian-African Conference took note of the fact that the existence of colonialism in many parts of Africa and Asia, in whatever form, not only prevented cultural cooperation but also suppressed the national cultures of the people. From the denial of basic rights in the sphere of education to a peoples basic right to study their own language."(4)
Out in the so-called free world we can see modern day examples in the closing of "ethnic studies" departments and the banning of [email protected] and other Latin American history books in racist Arizona; to the denial of prisoners' abilities to learn their people's true hystory for fear of "Security Threat Group" validation. What the imperialists and prison administrators really fear however is the unity of the oppressed based on common national identities and the creation of revolutionary nationalist organizations that would surely bring most prisoners together, as opposed to the divisive gang feuds that currently mark the reality of many prisons.
In the years following the Bandung Conference, the world saw the rise of national liberation movements all over the Third World, from guerrilla armies to People's Wars in the imperialist periphery, to the fledgling national liberation movements and armed struggles that under-lied the Civil Rights movements in the core capitalist countries, principally the United $tates. Political thinkers attributed these movements in part to the "Spirit of Bandung" and the example set there for the rest of the oppressed nations by the Bandung 29, in particular the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC led by example, showing the world what true independence and balanced self-reliant development could look like. For what many oppressed nations could only just begin to aspire to, the PRC was already doing and had to a large degree already accomplished.
"[The Spirit of Bandung] can be summarized in the following five principles: (1) respect for the fundamental rights of people as well as for the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter; (2) respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations; (3) equality of all nations and people both large and small; (4) non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries; (5) no recourse to acts or threats of aggression or to the use of force. These five principles were also referred to as the "five points" of peaceful co-existence."(5)
The Bandung Spirit Lives On!
Today prisoners from different nations and many different cliques and sets are taking part in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and are hence putting United Front theory into practice. Peace and unity between prison organizations mark not only the beginning stages of national liberation movements within the oppressed internal nations within the U.$. empire, but the embryonic stages of the peoples struggle in the United $tates for socialist revolution in alliance with Third World communist movements. Just as surely, the Bandung Conference marked the entrance on the hystorical scene of the people's liberation movements in Africa and Asia, and represented the first impetuous rising of countries still oppressed or scarcely liberated from imperialism. Thus, from this we take the Five Fundamental Principles for Peace in Prison also known as the "five points of unity":
Peace: By organizing to end needless conflict amongst prisoners we not only struggle against the pigs divide and conquer strategies, but we set a positive example for others and likewise help to begin the constructive reconstruction of our prison and lumpen organizations and nations.
Unity: As against a common oppression we fortify our peace-treaties by using this opportunity to work together in one form or another to both better our conditions and understanding of each other.
Growth: Without growth on an individual level or a group level our newfound unity will not survive. So comrades should take the time to build themselves up and each other so as to aid and push the movement further, as the movement in return will push us all further.
Internationalism: Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism. Within our conditions this essentially means that in struggling for our own nations now we effectively aid the struggles of other oppressed nations by forcing the oppressors to contend with us. Hence on a strategic domestic and international level our tactics are to pit ten against one.
Independence: Then and now independence has always been the ultimate aim, both at Bandung and in the prison movement. By building our own institutions and programs of the oppressed independent of the U.$. prison administrators and their inmate lackeys we help solidify and consolidate the prison movement. Just as the sponsoring countries at Bandung cut out the white man and found that their unity and movement could only be strengthened as a result, so must we cut out all the prison administrations' officially sanctioned prisoner representatives because they cannot truly serve us, but have only served to better oppress and suppress us.
For all these things to work we need not only unified resistance to oppression, but the one crucial aspect that was missing at Bandung. We need vanguard leadership and mass struggle working together so that the prison movement will truly get somewhere and not merely stagnate and die after a few petty reforms are put in place. Hence we need correct leadership to guide that resistance. Correct leadership and struggle comes from a correct understanding of material reality and of the correct methods for influencing that reality; not sporadic and short-lived rebellions where the masses learn nothing but the taste of defeat with incompetent leadership that has no one's interest at heart except for their own, and who clearly lack the vision of carrying the struggle forward until true change and reform is won. This is the difference between victory and defeat, and it is the kernel of truth which we must all grasp if we want to change our reality.
Connected to this kernel of truth is the fact that the prison movement will be dialectically connected to the streets and to the national liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies. All that is left for us to do is to grasp these truths as part of the objective laws of development for our cause and vigorously build on them. As such there can be no successful prison movement without the help of the rest of the oppressed nation masses and various revolutionary organizations outside of prison walls, just as there cannot be any successful national liberation movements for the oppressed without the help and leadership of the revolutionary lumpen in the semi-colonies and behind prison walls playing a vital and pivotal role.
"The lumpen has no choice but to manifest its rebellion in the university of the streets. It's very important to recognize that the streets belong to the lumpen, and that it is in the streets that lumpen will make their rebellion." - On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver 1970
The recent killing of two New York City (NYC) cops must be viewed as a conscious act of war taking place within the context of national oppression, just as the killing of Eric Garner and countless others from the oppressed internal nations of New Afrika, Aztlán and the various First Nations at the hands of filthy pigs were and will continue to be acts of war that the police wage against the oppressed for the dominant white nation known as Amerika. Yet if we listen to the politicians we hear them desperately trying to switch the narrative of these killings as having nothing to do with the wave of recent protests currently being directed against police brutality and police repression since the murder of Michael Brown in Missouri on 9 August 2014. Instead they tell us that these killings are the result of a depraved criminal element who the police have all along been trying to protect us from.
In a recent public address NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the deaths of these pigs to be "an attack on all of us" and asked that protesters put their demonstrations on hold as it was now time to "move forward and heal divisions." Others, including the pigs themselves, have called on protestors to "tone down their language." One reactionary on a CNN roundtable even went so far as to categorize the killing of those cops as "an attack on the very heart of democracy and the people that uphold that democracy"! And that is a very funny statement to make as i could've sworn that the heart of democracy lies with the people and not with the special bodies of armed men. Instead of democracy we have power arising from society which places itself above the people and becomes more and more alienated from them. These arms of the state have been tasked with managing the irreconcilability of both national and class antagonisms.
But why are the politicians so anxious to stop the masses from making the connection between the state-sanctioned murders of Eric Garner (and others) and NYC pigs? Because they know that context is everything regardless of what the pigs, the politicians or any other member of the liberal and conservative white media have to say. The killing of those pigs was carried out by a subjective revolutionary force outside of an objective revolutionary scenario. Therefore, the lesson for us to take away from this is that the killing of those two cops was undoubtedly political, just as sure as all prisoners are political.
Does this however mean that we support such a strategy of attacking the existing power structure absent a revolutionary situation? No, because that is not an effective way of advancing the needs of the oppressed, nor does it advance our own revolutionary agenda. What is for sure, however, is that the death of two of NYC's "finest" is sure to be used as another pretext to round up and spy on political activists as well as to further clamp down on "crime" in the big rotten apple, which directly translates into more repression for the lumpen.
In The Correct Handling of a Revolution by Dr. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense for the Black Panther Party, Newton hit on the correct methods of both leadership and struggle within the New Afrikan community of his time. This analysis still holds good today and revolutionaries from the oppressed nations should take note:
The vanguard party must provide leadership for the people. It must teach the correct strategic methods of prolonged resistance through literature and activities. If the activities of the party are respected by the people, the people will follow the example. This is the primary job of the party. ...
There are basically three ways one can learn: through study, through observation, and through actual experience. The Black community is basically composed of activists. The community learned through activity, either through observation of or participation in the activity. To study and learn is good but the actual experience is the best means of learning. The party must engage in activities that will teach the people. The Black community is basically not a reading community. Therefore it is very significant that the vanguard group first be activists. Without this knowledge of the Black community one could not gain the fundamental knowledge of the Black revolution in racist America.
While leaving out some focoist rhetoric characteristic of the BPP which we fundamentally disagree with, this excerpt is part of the most correct aspect of the mass line and how we relate to the masses on a day-to-day and strategic level. V.I. Lenin, leader of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union, from 1917-1924, dealt with one aspect of the lumpen-proletariat in his time quite relevant at the present moment — their tendency to engage in spontaneous and disorganized armed struggle against the state and in "expropriation" of private property. Lenin vehemently condemned those Bolsheviks who disassociated themselves from this by proudly and smugly declaring that they themselves were not anarchists, thieves or robbers. He attacked "the usual appraisal" (2) which saw this struggle as merely "anarchism, Blanquism, the old terrorism, the act of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralize the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganize the movement and injure the revolution."(3) Lenin drew the following keen lessons from the disorganized period of this struggle:
"It is not these actions which disorganize the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control. The Bolsheviks (communists) must organize these spontaneous acts and must train and prepare their organizations to be really able to act as a belligerent side which does not miss a single opportunity of inflicting damage on the enemy's forces."(4)
In short, it's not necessarily that we disagree with the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, rather his timing was off. It is exactly these types of actions by the oppressed nation lumpen which make them both the hope of the liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies, as well as the potential spearhead of the oppressed nations against a rising fascist threat here in the United $tates. In the end it doesn't matter whether these pigs wear cameras or not. What matters is how we respond, as that is the difference between liberation and more repression.
Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson Grove Press Books 1997
From de-classed aristocrat, to social vagabond, to communist revolutionary and legend, Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life takes us from Che's early beginning as a sickly kid with a tremendous appetite for reading to his miserable last days in the Bolivian mountains trying to spark a revolution. As far as biographies of political figures go this one is truly exceptional as Jon Lee Anderson does an outstanding job of focusing this book not on Che the individual but on Che the devoted servant of the people. There are just so many aspects and stages of Che's life which this book covers that I already know I won't have enough space to cover it all. Therefore I will stick to covering not so much what we already know about Che but what hasn't yet been fully understood about him.
With that said, let us travel back in time to Argentina circa World War II, a country caught between Amerikan imperialism and a rising fascist influence. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was first turned on to politics as a young child through his friendships with several other children whose parents were Spanish migrants fleeing the Spanish Civil War. Che's family was also apparently very active in Argentina's petty bourgeois political circles. As a result of all these factors Che soon became semi-political himself, proudly joining the youth wing of Accion Argentina (Argentine Action), a pro-Allied solidarity group.(p. 23) However, he wouldn't really begin developing a critical view of the world until his teenage years when he was shaped further by the political turmoil in his own country as well as by his Spanish émigré friends who had a measurable influence in his life. Years later they would all belong to local anti-fascist youth cells formed by Argentine students organizing against the militant youth wing of the pro-Nazi Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista (National Liberation Alliance).(p. 33) Besides this political organizing the rest of Che's high school years were spent devouring every book he could get his hands on, including Karl Marx's Das Kapital. Che later revealed to his second wife years later that at the time of reading Das Kapital he couldn't understand a thing. Of course this would all change.
After graduating from high school he began to study philosophy, both inside and outside of college. He took engineering classes and enrolled in medical school. He also became fascinated with psychology. It was during this time that he began studying Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Yet during this time and the year that followed he continued to avoid any serious political participation. Paradoxically, however friends and family remember that Che began to debate politics with different organizations as well as with his family who were all very political, as if he was beginning to put his reading to the test.(p. 50)
During one of these discussions Che made his first anti-imperialist condemnation of the United $tates, accusing them of having imperial designs in Korea.(p. 50) It was not until his trips up and down South and Central America that Che Guevara would start to become radicalized. And it wasn't books that did it, but "the injustice of the lives of the socially marginalized people he had befriended along his journeys."(p. 63) It was also during this time that Che's criticism and hatred for the United $tates began to grow, as now more than at any prior time in his life he was convinced that it was Amerikan imperialism that was the root cause of all of [email protected] America's problems.(p. 63)
Through subsequent trips up and down the Americas Che met various Marxist intellectuals he had a high opinion of because they were "revolutionary."(p. 118) In addition, he began to openly identify with a political cause, aligning himself and working within the leftist government of Arbenz in Guatemala. Also, very interesting to note that during this time Che began an ambitious project to write what would have been his first book titled The Role of the Doctor in Latin America(p. 135), a project he would unfortunately never finish due to his preoccupation with other revolutionary activities. A shame too as the ideas outlined for his book apparently dealt with the role of doctors during times of revolution, and one can't help but draw parallels with Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth written after, but around the same period of revolutionary upsurge in the Third World. Wretched not only deals with the anti-colonial struggle in Africa, but the role of the revolutionary psychiatrist.
As part of his preparation for this book, Che found it necessary "to take his knowledge of Marxism further, as he deepened his struggle of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Peruvian Jose Carlos Marategui"(p. 136) founder of the Peruvian Communist Party which decades later would develop the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). He also discovered Mao Zedong and read about the Chinese communist revolution, ascertaining that their road to socialism had been different than the Soviet Union's.(p. 136) Guevara's resolve as a revolutionary would only become steeled in the ensuing chaos that followed the CIA-backed coup against the Arbenz government. This is also when the CIA first took notice of Che starting "one of the thickest (files) in the CIA's global records."(p. 159)
After Guatemala, Che fled to Mexico where his political destiny would become sealed after meeting the leaders of the July 26th Movement after their failed focoist attack on a Cuban military base. The leaders were Fidel and Raul Castro. Soon thereafter, the trio, along with a band of other Cuban exiles, left Mexico and began their historic guerrilla war against the Batista dictatorship. Their point of unification was that "Batista was little more than a pimp, selling off their country to degenerate foreigners..."(p. 170) But physical training and marksmanship wasn't enough for Che in preparation to liberate Cuba. Confident that the revolution would succeed, Che intensified "his study of economics, he embarked on a cram course of books by Adam Smith, Keynes and other economists, boned up on Mao and Soviet texts..."(p. 189) Once in the Sierra Maestra Che kept up his studies as he wanted to have a firm grasp of political and economic theory.(p. 189)
After exhibiting exemplary fighting and leadership skills Fidel made Che his "chief of staff." After the guerrilla victory, and among many other accomplishments and activities, Che concentrated on consolidating the initial revolutionary power base — the new Cuban military. Like Mao, Che sought to "raise the cultural level of the army." In addition to basic literacy and education, the new military academy under Che was designed to impart political awareness to the troops.(p. 384) He even helped start Verde Olivio (Olive Green), a newspaper for the revolutionary armed forces.(p. 385)
Che was also made President of Cuba's National Bank. Indeed, Che Guevara was fully immersed in trying to build up Cuba's independent socialist economy. He recognized that in order to completely liberate itself from imperialist dependency, the Cuban economy would have to break free from the sugar industry which subsumed Cuba, turning it into a one-crop fiefdom. Cuba would also have to industrialize. Che was also for agrarian reform believing that the peasants who worked the land should have more control and reap more from it. Fidel had similar ideas on agrarian reform but not as far reaching as Che's. As a matter of fact, a thorn of contention between Che and Fidel was Che's strong belief that in order to succeed as a free and independent socialist state, Cuba would have to develop its own productive forces and should bow to no one, while Fidel preferred to play various imperialist powers off of one another in order to receive assistance in modernization and military equipment. And while Che would ultimately, though not always, come to echo Fidel's line on modernization, this seemed to be more because of Che's position as a head of state and diplomat.
To Che's credit however he was the principal architect in designing Cuba's economy and re-arranging the military prior to the Soviet Union's involvement on the island. Many just don't realize how much influence and power Che had in Cuba and that the creation of the many progressive institutions in Cuba can be directly attributed to Che's influence on Fidel and Raul. And while Fidel would name Raul as his political successor, it was Che that many noted as Fidel's true right-hand man despite his not even being a native Cuban.
One also gets the sense from reading this book that after the initial seizure of power, and as the political situation worsened for Cuba on an international level, Fidel trusted no one else in certain situations and so he ceded many matters of domestic and foreign policy to Che who had a better grasp of political economy, diplomacy and military affairs. This was the period in which the USSR, which had already taken the capitalist road, began to take notice of Che, not only because of his influence, but because of his strong peasant leanings and independent initiative, for which they would begin labeling him pejoratively as a "radical Maoist." Che denied being a Maoist, but actions speak louder than words.
According to this book Che made two major criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party. The first was in accusing China of playing hardball with their rice for sugar assistance, accusing China of trying to starve Cuba. The second criticism was in berating China for not doing more to aid the Vietnamese in their struggle against Amerikan imperialism. Besides these criticisms it was very well known that Che had a high degree of unity with China which he very much revered for having a "higher socialist morality" than the Soviets, who he would increasingly and with frequency severely criticize over the remainder of his life. Among other things Che criticized the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for their bourgeois lifestyles which he witnessed first hand. More importantly, he later publicly condemned the Soviet Union for what he deemed collusion against Cuba with the United $tates. Later Che would hold up China's socialist revolution "as an example that has revealed a new road for the Americas."(p. 490) Furthermore, after returning from one of his trips to China, Che was "invigorated" with a new sense and deepened understanding of socialism, replicating some of China's volunteer work brigades. He called these programs "emulacion comunista" (communist emulation).(p. 503)
Nearing his departure from Cuba for the last time Che began two more books which like Role of the Doctor he never finished: Philosophical Notes and Economic Notes. The latter being an extended critique of the Soviet Manual of Political Economy. On the eve of his final trek into the Bolivian mountains he sent an outline of the text to the budgetary finance system (BFS) for review indicating that he was ready to put his anti-Soviet line on political economy into practice (Guevara was the head of the BFS). According to the author, what Che had in mind was "a new manual on political economy better applied to modern times, for use by developing nations and revolutionary societies in the Third World."(p. 696) Furthermore, according to Anderson who interviewed former members of the BFS who read Che's critique, Che wrote in the manual that the USSR and the Eastern Bloc were doomed to return to capitalism if they didn't reform their economies."(p. 697) Apparently these documents were left to a comrade who never found the time to push for publication in the increasingly social imperialist dominated Cuba. Today they remain in Cuba locked away along with other of Che's documents, which Fidel deemed too sensitive to publish.(p. 697)
In the end and throughout his career it is very well known that Che was a focoist and was killed because of his ultra-left and idealized version of what a popular war looked like. Yet I was surprised to find out that Che's war strategy for [email protected] America was somewhat similar to Mao Zedong and Lin Bao's conception of global "Peoples War" for the Third World. As Che pointed out in Guerrilla Warfare: A Method, the liberation of the Americas from Amerikan hegemony could only come about through a virtual united front of guerrilla and other peasant forces that would use the Andean mountains which stretch from the top of South America to the bottom as a series of revolutionary base areas which they would use to attack the cities and urban zones of [email protected] American countries, slowly but surely wresting control of one country after another until all of [email protected] America was free. This is akin to the village-encircle-city strategy of Lin and Mao.
The story of Che Guevara and his iconic image has not yet been forgotten by revolutionaries today, as it continues to inspire us in our own struggles. It is truly a pity that Che succumbed to his focoist beliefs. His story should not only serve as an example as to the type of revolutionaries we should aspire to become, but should also serve as an example of what can happen if we pick up the gun too soon. Focoism has taken away too many good comrades, and in Che Guevara it took away a great comrade! Let it not take one more. So on this day the forty-seventh anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, (9 October 2014) and the day commemorating and honoring Che, "The Day of the Heroic Guerrilla" (8 October 2014) let us raise the red banner of revolution just as Che continuously raised it and died holding it. Let us raise the red banner for the proletariat, for our lumpen and for our nations! Let us be like Che! Seremos Como el Che!