Aprendiendo la diferencia entre nuestros amigos y enemigos significa que nosotros sabemos que otros prisioneros comparten más en común con nosotros que lo contrario. Esto también significa que dentro de la nación de uno, las formaciones dentro tienen aun más en común que lo contrario.
Para el Aztlán encarcelado, las divisiones fueron últimamente
inspiradas en el imperio. El ala avanzada del Aztlán encarcelado
entiende que es tiempo de re-unificar a Aztlán.
En Califaztlan, norteño, sureño, EME, NF han sido paredes que separaban. A veces cada formación era necesaria por seguridad, y algunas formaciones pueden ser más progresivas que otras. Pero estas formaciones todavía separan al Aztlán encarcelado. La separación de una nación no es buena bajo ninguna circunstancia. Yo creo que la meta de todas estas organizaciones Lumpen (LO) es la unificación en algún punto, pero ¿cómo puede esto ser posible?
Un Vistazo futuro a un Aztlán Unificado
Es una realidad que se ha desarrollado mucha animosidad y/o orgullo por una LO o la otra. Al mismo tiempo nosotros vemos que el acuerdo para Terminar Hostilidades nos ha permitido a todos el conocernos y apoyarnos los unos a los otros. Ahora está bien el asistir y estar ahí el uno por el otro, lo cual es grandioso. Nosotros hemos regresado a antes de que empezara la enemistad entre el Norte y el Sur, sin embargo lo que se necesita ahora es el salto hacia adelante.
La verdad es que mientras los LO (ej. NF, EME) todavía tengan formaciones norteñas y sureñas, no habrá reunificación entre el Aztlán encarcelado. Esto va a tomar pasos. La implementación de programas autorizados en los niveles más altos. Un programa inicial seria el formalmente desmantelar las formaciones del Sur/Norte. Al hacer esto la raza será simplemente Raza de nuevo.
Tatuajes de Norte/Sur serian prohibidos en el futuro. Esto ayudaría a
aliviar conflictos y tensiones.
Un periodo de transición relajaría a la raza y luego la siguiente fase de la unificación de EME/NF sería necesaria aún si ellos mantienen comités separados con una nueva organización política. Pero, una nueva organización con un nuevo nombre es necesaria para proveer un vistazo al nuevo futuro de un Aztlán unificado. En algún punto, el Aztlán encarcelado debe de moverse y crear un nombre en el que todos estén de acuerdo, de otra manera ni un lado ganara nunca al otro lado.
I am reporting an act of solidarity. First we must remember what the word solidarity means. Solidarity is defined as: A feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc. (Merriam Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary).
I am currently in the Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). It's similar to the SHU. The COs think since we're diagnosed with bi-polar, antisocial, major depression and whatever that they can just oppress us. Well, they learned on 4 September 2017 that we're not just a bunch of crazies.
It's hard to get 10 comrades to stand together as a whole so when a member from the LGBTQ community got jumped on and 30 comrades refused to leave the classrooms I was shocked! I asked a few of them "why did you stand up for one of mine?" Some of them said they were tired of the COs putting their hands on us, and some of them said the COs went too far. I thanked these comrades for standing with me and my LGBTQ family.
So, I'm sharing this because in the July/August ULK (No. 57) a Nevada prisoner weighed in on "Fighting Gender Abuse." As comrades we need to stand together in this way more. You shouldn't care who or what the person is, who cares? If s/he is in the same struggle as you then you need to help him/her. In the long run by you helping them you'll be helping yourself.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great example of people coming together behind bars. And the writer highlights the important point that we need unity across different groups and individuals. This imperialist system has created some major divisions between groups of people: based on class, nation and gender. And these divisions are found in prisons as well.
In prison, class tends to be less relevant as prisoners are forced together as lumpen, at least while behind bars. But the national oppression that is so fundamental to imperialism's power and wealth creates national divisions. Within the United $tates (and around the world) oppressed nations are encouraged to fight one another and even to form sets within a nation to fight, so that they won't come together against the oppressor nation.
Gender oppression is a bit different behind bars than on the streets, with prisons segregated by designated biological sex. One of the most common manifestations of gender oppression we see is against non-heterosexual prisoners (or those perceived as so). Uniting against this abuse starts with people, like those described above, recognizing that this abuse is wrong, no matter who is targetted. We can take it to the next level by proactively combatting gender oppression among prisoners as well as by the guards. We need to defend our comrades against abuse, and educate our allies about why gender oppression is wrong.
One way to accomplish the task of organizing the streets from behind bars is to show the importance of organizing. We on the inside of the razor wire slave plantations have transformed our minds from criminals serving the interest of the oppressor, into revolutionaries who educate our oppressed nation by way of the Afrikan struggles that happened before us in our history. These true revolutionary nationalists challenged the conditions of slavery with rebellions, and within the system that continues to treat us as second class citizens, in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and still to this day.
Within the prison system we've resisted these practices by our solidarity demonstrations, with 3 mass hunger strikes and our Agreement to End Hostilities, and now we have organized the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC on 19 August 2017. With this demonstration we are attempting to show that the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to treat us as modern-day slaves. The Millions for Prisoners March is led by men and women on the inside and organized by men and women on the outside.
This is a show of solidarity with the understanding of knowledge about the injustices being done to us economically, politically, socially, culturally, and militarily by the capitalist system. A system of exploitation dependent on the stratification of society into opposing economic classes who compete within and against one another for upward mobility in the class system, and especially in the prison system across this country. In order to beat this monster we have set up education classes within the prison system, entitled schools of liberation.
With liberation schools you teach the new generation about struggle and what the New Afrikans accomplished by their resistance, which was an example on how to challenge your conditions, like the elders, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party, just to name a few trail blazers. In every form of resistance, be it armed conflict, heroic methods with bravery, educating the masses, leading demonstrations, or getting the word out in newspapers, building schools of liberation will help strengthen you in character and bring about a revolutionary new man & woman, which will give you a world view of scientific socialism, and the desire to end oppression, long-term solitary confinement, and to see people thrive throughout the inner cities of the United $tates. We will never give up or give in.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives some excellent examples of organizing behind bars, both to educate prisoners and to build the movement on the streets. And liberation schools behind bars can accomplish both tasks, by building solid revolutionaries who will continue their activism when they hit the streets. For people looking to get your own schools together, we offer study groups through the mail along with materials to support your prison-based study group. Get in touch to get involved.
There is one thing that occurred, that I feel the need to address, because it made a huge impact beyond what I even intended. It deals with my class "Commitment to Change." This is one of those "it's all your fault" classes.
On day one, sitting there with a headache from my desire to stop drinking coffee. I heard an individual in the class ask a question about choice as it relates to culture. I do not remember the exact question.
But the teacher, who is a psychologist, responded by saying that the "ghetto culture, for example is a negative culture, and individuals within the ghetto have a choice to stay and get caught up in this
culture or to leave and better themselves."
Hearing this I attacked his reasoning, showing that his position was not only racist, but extremely inaccurate. I told him that his argument in fact proves to be the exact opposite of reality. I do not remember the whole debate, but he finally stated that he had to stop and end class.
After class a large number of people from this class, and many more who were not in the class, approached me to thank me and to inquire about the USW and MIM(Prisons). For the past week all my old copies of ULK have been passed around through so many people it's not funny.
Most of these people I had attempted to open a discussion with before but they had no interest. I mention this because I think it is a good idea to have an open discussion either via USW, or ULK, where examples like this are shown. Why? Because honestly, I was extremely surprised at the response due simply to me challenging the facilitator of a class. I would love to know in what other ways comrades have instigated mass discussion because we need it bad here at this pivotal point, and if I can follow these comrades' footsteps I will.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an excellent example of using everyday activities and discussions to inspire political thought and interest. While some folks will be inspired immediately by a generic political speech or a book or newspaper, many others will need to see the political ideas put into practice. This could be in the course of a debate with a teacher or other authority figure, or it could be in a campaign to fight for some basic rights. As this comrade points out, we should think creatively about how to interject politics into everyday prison life to capture the attention and imagination of those who otherwise might show no interest.
We echo this writer's call for other examples and ideas on how to elicit interest in politics. Send us your yard-tested tips and stories.
This is in response to an article from ULK 55 titled "Maintain the Trust in the United Front" by a Delaware prisoner. Legion is United Struggle from Within (USW). Legion used to be ranking general in a Damu organization here in California. Then life happened and Legion began to question the line. After consulting his peoples, Legion decided to become once again a NGE 5%er. In doing so, Legion wound up on a Special Needs Yard (SNY). Never ever snitching on any former comrade from the lumpen organization (LO) he was representing.
Legion first began re-educating deaf, dumb and blind members of the Black Nation by giving them the knowledge of themselves, then using United Front for Peace in Prison (UFPP) via ULK and other publications to show and prove to these young Gods the reality of the material conditions we are living in.
In the article mentioned above, a Delaware prisoner is worried about a rapist or a snitch when this comrade is compromised. This comrade is using the state-issued labels to disenfranchise potential comrades. This comrade must not know how to turn base metal into gold. Every persyn we built with has become a valuable asset to the movement.
You can't have a united front without having every class of inmate represented because in California, SNY is a reality not a myth [having grown to one third of the prison population - ULK Editor]. And some counties are requiring gang members to PC up in county jail to get plea bargains without snitching. There are entire Aztlán hoods SNY because they refuse to pay taxes to the mob.
As for the "snitch," I know known snitches who are walking on GP yards and are protected by policy put in place in the 90s by these pigs to "keep the peace on yards." And I know some real revolutionaries, who, because of a Delaware prisoner's line of thinking, had to tap out because of unrealistic politics.
Legion is fed up with PC politics on both sides of the fence. There are so-called leaders who are further dehumanizing victims of U.$. imperialism by not letting people prove why they should be in good standing on the line. Being GP don't make you active! If you were put in a cross this is for you. If you kept quiet and wound up SNY this is for you.
Legion demands a recall of all "leaders" of New Afrikan movements who adopted white supremacist politics instead of self-determination. Hugo "Yogi" Pinell (Rest in Paradise) demanded his right to walk the line head held high because he was innocent of his controlling charge. There are a number of revolutionaries who caught cases and were accused of rape/molestation/murder/trafficking/domestic violence, etc. Yet, some woke up because of such maneuvers and became stalwarts of the movement. It is part of the setup!
Comrades can be re-educated and most take up revolutionary politics because they become aware of the injustice system that pits self against self, fast against slow, wealth against poverty, and male against female. We have to take a real scientific look at the reality of one's incarceration before we discard a 'rad as no good. Let the measuring stick be his/her/its actions now vs. what a greenwall/pig say. We can't limit our resources because a few feel superior over a group of misguided revolutionaries; that's class warfare within the prisoner class, which represents a contradiction in need of resolution.
What if a person was witness to some foul shit and the DA/Judge/PD and public pretender tried to coerce a solid kat to testify on his brother at arms but he stayed silent? Took a deal that even though evidence suggested otherwise, he had to take a deal to secure his release because a jury of 12 would have killed him off. When told on, he stayed solid. When framed — solid. When forced to be SNY — solid. How does that make sense?
California Department of Corrections (CDC) is rolling back archaic policy that says you foul for XYZ. Why? Because real revolutionaries who have been isolated for years are now running the show again. I hope every Afrikan dig deep to figure out if he/she/it/they are active or just want to go home. In the 5 we are told your square is where you live and where you die. So I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. What I speak is the principal contradiction of convict vs. the system. Class warfare under the most unfavorable conditions.
If you want revolution it's all or none. It takes time, effort and resources to build a revolutionary advocate. Real snitches are free men. Think about that.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Here, Legion echoes what we have been arguing for years about not writing off whole sections of the prison population, such as Special Needs Yards (SNY) in California, which still have a stigma among some comrades. That's not to say that there are not prisoners who have snitched or raped. Both are serious crimes against the people. Snitches, have given us a very good reason not to trust them. But we need to guard against snitch-jacketing, which the enemy will use to divide good comrades. Those who have committed rape and other serious crimes against the people also need to earn our trust and demonstrate an understanding that what they did was wrong. But again we can’t just take the injustice system's labels and convictions at face value.
Society is quick to condemn the oppressed nation lumpen. But being a hot target for the criminal injustice system can lead to making compromises that most Amerikans would never imagine having to make. Organizing the imprisoned lumpen inherently means organizing people who have committed anti-people activities, many very serious. As we say in every issue of ULK, we don't propose letting all prisoners automatically free. Under a future dictatorship of the proletariat all people will be given the opportunity to become productive members of society. We should all see ourselves as reforming criminals in this country. Whether we've been convicted by the imperialists or not, reforming ourselves requires a deep commitment to fighting patriarchy and imperialism.
[These guidelines were compiled by the USW Coordinator of MIM(Prisons) incorporating points made by members of the Countrywide Council of USW.]
The Countrywide Council of USW, or Double C, has been working on a concerted effort to reach out to other organizations as a way to expand organizing with people on the outside, and to build a united front in general. The Double C decided to publish their letter to CURE in ULK as an example of these efforts, and to provide a guide to others. We invite all USW comrades to participate in this outreach campaign, and this article is to provide some guidelines in doing so.
First, many readers may ask, am I a member of United Struggle from Within (USW)? Can I write to other organizations as a member of USW?
Good question. Anyone could send out a letter and sign it "USW", we have no control over that. But we certainly hope you would not do that unless you are pushing USW campaigns and politics accurately. USW has two levels of membership: supporter and leader. Supporters are defined as:
"A USW supporter helps build USW in eir prison/area. This persyn might not initiate projects by eirself, but will readily implement requests from USW leaders and MIM(Prisons). Supporters may contribute in many different areas of work including: writing articles for ULK, producing revolutionary art, translating, sending in donations, running a study group or otherwise educating people and building reading skills, working on a campaign such as the grievance petition, referring new subscribers to ULK, and conducting MIM(Prisons)-directed surveys. This persyn writes to MIM(Prisons) less regularly [than a USW leader] but is responsive to letters and completes work assigned within a reasonable timeframe."
A leader is someone who launches campaigns and efforts to expand USW independent of MIM(Prisons), and/or organizes others under that leadership. Once you've developed a practice of leadership that we can verify over a period of time, you are considered a leader and you become eligible to join the Countrywide Council of USW.
As a mass organization, USW does allow for its members to also be members in other local, lumpen or nation-specific organizations at the same time. Comrades in the Double C should not identify themselves as such. Statements representing the Double C, and USW as a whole, must go through the Double C for approval first. Therefore publicly identifying oneself as a Double C representative gives a false sense of authority, while risking the security of the individual member.
The Double C is currently developing its protocol for conducting official correspondence with other organizations. If you feel comfortable representing USW work and positions, then you can write a letter from "[Your Name], a member of United Struggle from Within." However, since you might not accurately represent certain aspects of USW’s positions because you are new, the Double C will serve to provide official responses from USW to other organizations. You can even mention this in your own letters.
With this guideline, you do not need to be a USW leader to write other organizations about USW campaigns. In fact, if you’ve been reading ULK for a while, perhaps writing such a letter could be your first action taken as a USW supporter. But before you do so, you might ask: What should I write to these organizations about?
The focus should be on USW campaigns, projects and positions, and how they might overlap (and differ) from those of the other organization. A good way to structure your letter is "unity-struggle-unity." Start off talking about some aspect of USW work and how it connects to the work of that organization. If you can identify disagreements with this organization then you might bring those up as a form of struggle next. Or the struggle may just be something like, "hey, I haven’t seen you working on this issue, you should do more on it." Then close with more forward looking unity – try to lay out some practical steps for how they might work together with USW.
You may also write to other publications in response to a specific article or topic to point out a disagreement, or something that they missed. We often print such struggles with readers in ULK. Again, "unity-struggle-unity" is a good approach, and circling back to USW's practical work and analysis is helpful.
Regarding the letter to CURE from the Double C below, we should point out that CURE is a very different organization from ours. CURE believes imperialism can be reformed and it does not stand for the liberation of oppressed nations in this country. But the letter focuses on where we have unity and where we can work together, while pushing CURE to work with us in those areas. That is a good example of building toward a united front, where organizations with different beliefs and missions can find commonality.
We encourage comrades to reach out to other organizations as a USW representative on your own, and in many cases we will have multiple USW members writing the same organization. This will build up USW’s reputation among other organizations, and allow our membership to grow by engaging in these dialogues.
What do I do when they respond to my letter? Once that dialogue reaches a point where you are not sure how to respond or proceed, you will want to hand it over to the Countrywide Council of USW or even to MIM(Prisons), depending on the topic of discussion. We will keep you in the loop on the ongoing discussion.
What is the goal of this campaign? There are multiple goals. First, we hope to popularize the work of USW with those on the outside, demonstrating our scientific work on the ground. This will increase the chances of building support for that work in the future. Second, we hope to build working relationships on campaigns and projects with other organizations. We hope to expand the view of these organizations and publications beyond select popular prisoners to the prison masses as a whole. Third, we hope to increase political unity within the prison movement. And where we can't establish unity, we hope to clarify our differences. This will help everyone in the movement better grasp the issues and the different positions that organizations take.
If you think USW is focused on the right campaigns and issues, and you think others should get on board, then this might be a good project for you to get involved in. Let us know who you're struggling with and over what. Or, if it's not too much trouble, even send us a copy of your letters. We can work with you if you want feedback before you send your first letter.
An Open letter to CURE National
from the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 2310
Washington DC 20013
5 September 2017
First and foremost, we would like to give you thanks for the service that you offer to prisoners and the families of prisoners. In these days prisoners find it hard to locate individuals and organizations worthy of praise beyond the worth that most newsletters and papers are printed on. Members of the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within have read the latest few issues of CURE National’s Newsletter back to front and front to back. We must say, it checks out, so thank you.
One of the first CURE National Newsletters that we received included a listing of state chapters alongside the new requirements for state and issue chapters, namely that chapters have to meet, maintain a newsletter, and report the names of their members to their office in Washington. Now, we reviewed the list and see California is listed, but has nothing more than: [an individual's name, email and phone number].
One of our Council representatives wrote Colorado-CURE, Iowa-CURE, Nevada-CURE, New Mexico-CURE and Oregon-CURE of the western branches. Two replied in favor to our inquiry to be involved in local struggles, on account that California has no official branch of its own. Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Chair at Colorado-CURE, suggested our Council representative write to the national office with comments.
The Countrywide Council is a leading body of a prisoner mass organization under the name United Struggle from Within (USW). USW is the brainchild of members and their students within an organization by the name Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons). Though it is an organization that is political from the vantage point of anti-imperialism and thus is anti-prisons, USW works for any reforms that are scientifically sane with the potential to [contribute to] end[ing] prisons as they stand.
USW has a leadership in prisons across the United $tates and can attest to a strong following in the pages of our bi-monthly newsletter (free to prisoners), published by our mother group, under the title Under Lock & Key. In the state with our strongest source of political activity, California, there isn't even a CURE branch?! We believe CURE is missing out on the greatest opportunity it could have, and this is why the Council is committed to help CURE remedy this.
It is the job of our members to find ways to keep our movement working on issues that have the greatest potential of reducing prison populations and partnering with groups and organizations who share our vision of a world with less to no prisons. We believe that working with CURE National to develop a CURE California, the California Statewide Council of USW can put to use much more of the information and resources available, but only in a more direct way.
Take CURE National’s policy initiative for 2016. USW missed the opportunity to involve itself with the CURE policy initiative for 2016 due to unfamiliarity with CURE and the lack of any direct line of communication with its leadership, which would be needed before we moved for the Council to follow. We commend the democratic process of decision making in regards to what struggles CURE concentrates its resources and power. Particularly, CURE National Policy 924 – prisons. As USW is a group heavily engaged in struggles with nearly every state in the United $tates – addressing "The failure of prison grievance systems", we are sure that we, and our memberships may unite in forces to bring about a uniform grievance system in prisons across the board.
USW, and its supporters, has been working on a national prisoners campaign demanding prison officials address, honor and upkeep prisoners' grievances. Petitions have been developed at prisons in all of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Each state has a petition drawn particularly for its local conditions and regulations. [There is also a more generic petition written for use by prisoners held outside these states.]
USW's most difficult task is finding public support to move forward our campaigns in a peaceful and legal way. CURE National’s policy initiatives 2015 1185 hinted at what it thinks is the root of prisoners' problems: "Introducing a Constitutional Amendment into Congress that would repeal the exception clause in the 13th Amendment. This clause provides that slavery is not abolished for those incarcerated. Prisoners are exploited, and for many groups the exploitation raises to the level of slavery." For the purpose of saving time and space, we will not share our science on the subject, but instead guide supporters of the amerikkkan Constitution to the very First Amendment and protecting it. The salvation of the entire Constitution relies on the sound voice of the civilized people. If it is believed that prisoners are slaves and not citizens then it should be understood slaves are property, not human beings. Slaves are objects of labor, tasked as tools and instruments to build or destroy an ideal society. Slaves have no voice to speak of injustice, but instead masters and lords who represent them as Power of Attorney.
Prisoners have not signed off of the grid (U.$. citizenship). So it is extreme to take up struggles to have the state abolish prison slavery, however it would be totally reasonable to educate the public about the need for public oversight and community advocacy for the First Amendment rights of prisoners to be protected. It is with greater grievance power that prisoners and their supporters may address the injustices of prisons.
Prisoners, their organizations and the support groups behind grassroots crews lead in civil rights battles with the state. The problem is that the massive so-called grassroots base is alienated when it comes to discussions regarding the general body of the massive population (or masses). We believe this comes at the expense of a care-free public. People aren't interested enough in the affairs of prisoners or their families. The general consensus is that prisoners did the crime and must face the time.
Organizations like CURE National are in a position to change the public opinion. Its members, who are of the public, may interact with communities in ways that prisoners cannot; whether it be due to high levels of censorship applied by prison guards disrupting our lines of communication, or interference from a higher power (the U.$. intelligence agencies). Prisoner leadership behind these walls requires greater socialization opportunities if the Prison Movement is to impact upon our state of existence the change that rehabilitates. So here you have it, an open letter calling on you to serve.
Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
With rhetoric targeting Islamic institutions, and President Trump's policies towards fighting ISIS, today (27 March 2017) on CNN a top military adviser was questioned about these so-called air strikes which have been blamed for the death of civilians. His only answer was, "we're doing an assessment on what happened in Syria and Iraq." Americans who support imperialism, is it right to kill people for profit? Have we forgotten that corporate america has so much investments tied up in Iraq and its natural resources? Are we so truly blind to ignore the genocide of Syrians and Iraqis at the hands of globalist pigs? We need to get away from national struggles and take up international struggles as a
We're so american which is a contradiction in itself. To say you're american and support a system which exploits, murders, enslaves, and justifies bombing innocent people is saying you're not true to what you base your belief in: A belief in freedom and liberty and pursuit of happiness. Is your happiness someone else's death? This system of capitalism has to be abolished and replaced with communism, where no government will have power over other governments or people having control over other people. People need to be the controllers of production. Socialism must be our goal and communism the final chapter where all people can be equal.
We in prison must create a public opinion to change this system of oppression. Those in the streets can learn a lot from us prisoners locked away. We challenge the administrations here in prison and no matter what they do to us, we unify and get things done. If the prisoners can go on massive worker strikes for wages and make some small change I believe the street orgs can do the same. If all the workers was to strike and just have one day of solidarity and unity around all the issues which causes oppression and injustice we might see some change or create a movement which might affect others across the world to do the same. This strike will shake up the elite, and they will realize that the people do have the power, not them. Without the workers, capitalism can't thrive, but there will be a percentage of people who are so addicted to consumerism and the system of capitalism and will sell out. So we must unify the masses, and help one another with food, and the necessities to make sure all are taken care of during the struggle when the system collapses.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on about the contradiction between people who say they believe in freedom and justice while supporting the Amerikan system exploiting, brutalizing and killing people around the world. The Amerika-first
mentality that many people, including prisoners, have is in direct opposition to the value system that Amerikkka claims to uphold. And we applaud the idea of prisoners setting an example for organizers in the street with the unity and struggle being built behind bars.
One point we have to consider when comparing the potential actions of prisoners and those on the streets is where these groups fit in on a global economic analysis. The vast majority of workers in the United $tates are part of the labor aristocracy. They are actually being paid more than the value of their labor, at the expense of workers in the Third World. The profits from Third World workers' labor are propping up the economy of Amerika. This is why it's so easy for Amerikans to support imperialist militarism; it is actually directly in line with their own material interest. So when Amerikan workers go on strike to demand higher wages, it ends up being a demand for even more wealth stolen from the Third World. At best this is a demand that the Amerikan bourgeoisie give the workers a bit more of their large share of this stolen wealth. Either way it's not a progressive demand.
The demands of prisoners' strikes are oftentimes far more progressive because prisoners are not getting paid from the wealth stolen from Third World workers. Also usually prisoner strikes are not focused on wages, and are tied up with issues like brutality, isolation, censorship, and medical care. So while we definitely think organizers on the streets can learn from the solidarity and activism behind bars, we have to be sure to consider differences in conditions between these two situations when applying what is learned.
Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.
When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.
Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.
Disability and Class
In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.
It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.
It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.
Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.
Disability and Gender
Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:
"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary
This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:
"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)
Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:
"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)
Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.
Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.
Patriarchy and Prisons
U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.
There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.
The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.
It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.
In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.
Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.
Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.
Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).
Disability as a Means of Castration
Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.
Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.
Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.
Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement
The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.
Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.
Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.
[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]
After reading The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, by Professor Michelle Alexander, one can see the dynamics of how the political economy shaped the prison system by taking away the jobs which would in fact increase the crime rate. It's been reported over time that the CIA was the biggest drug trafficker in the country and flooded the inner cities across Amerikkka, which only made room for one thing — distribution by the inhabitants of the inner city. Due to this new social phenomenon, lawmakers had a field day with funding SWAT teams to serve narcotic warrants, and perform paramilitary drug raids throughout the United $tates.
The Economic Recovery Act of 2009 included more than $2 billion in new Byrne funding and an additional $600 million to increase state and local law enforcement across the country. [The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. - Editor] Multi-agency drug task forces receive their finances from the federal government to help them increase the prison population, while the lawmakers come together to get Congress to pass laws that will keep inner city youths in prison for mandatory minimums. The 3-strikes-you're-out law orchestrated by Bill Clinton allowed all the newly-built prisons (California built new prisons from the 1980s to 2000) to stay full, and also allowed other states to use this same sentencing method.
Before coming to prison, I along with others from the inner city had no idea about the political landscape that jump started our oppression. What shaped our views was learning how to apply a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, and how to apply this philosophy within our culture. This concrete analysis is called dialectical materialism, and once used correctly we were able to better understand our situation and how to change our conditions. Through the study of our New Afrikan history we realize our struggle was always due to our resisting oppression. Oppression from the same class of people who first enslaved us once arriving on these shore, via a capitalist/imperialist system, established through military conquest, that controls you economically.
We New Afrikans have become political prisoners by challenging these imperialists' control over us through their oppression and have established a social, cultural, economic, ideological, religious, military, and personal interaction between us as a group of people in a society. Our politics encompasses the totality of all human activity and relationships.
The Nevada Council for the United Struggle from Within (USW) is putting the call out for prisoners at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) to end all the hostilities, and to join together in the ongoing grievance campaign and ultimately the mass 1983 civil complaint campaign, that is now underway at HDSP.
The conditions of confinement at HDSP must be challenged. Over the years, our constant infighting has distracted us while our conditions of confinement have gotten progressively worse. We are now faced with a situation where we remain confined to our cells up to 22-24 hours a day, are not given proper cleaning supplies, are denied the use of our toilets, are housed with those who should be being treated for their mental illnesses rather than being overly medicated, etc.
This campaign has already begun, with many individuals having filed grievances, while the final stage of filing a civil complaint is already under way. Our main focus is and must be the lack of programs, education, and work abilities which deny prisoners housed at HDSP the credits which shorten their sentences.
We are in the position that we are in because our national groups have failed to be properly mobilized around an internationalist class consciousness. We have focused on individualistic issues. We as prisoners have allowed this to happen to ourselves. With each new restriction imposed, no action or protest was organized. We are as much to blame as anyone else. Without organized opposition, the administrators have reached new heights of repression and disregard of our needs.
But the United Struggle from Within Nevada Council has taken steps to organize this grievance campaign. We are calling on all nations within the walls of HDSP; PC, GP or otherwise, put aside your differences and conflicts. We are not enemies. We are allies, and share a common interest in fighting back against what we are faced with every day.
So, we are putting out the call. Let's stop all hostilities and join together in raising our voices as one and demanding that we be treated as humans.
Comrades within the USW in Nevada have already united with a few nations in this struggle. There are already over 30 grievances filed! Change will occur, but only if each of us do our part to fight back.
To aid you in this struggle, we have compiled examples of the grievances that have been filed. The examples cover all three grievance levels. We are also writing up an example civil complaint, which can be utilized to challenge the NDOC in court.
If you want change, fight for it. Join our campaign. Stop all hostilities, and pick up the pen!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Nevada was where the first September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity originated in 2012. It's good to see comrades in Nevada keeping it moving. Any prisoners of the state of Nevada can write us for a copy of the example grievances.