We are given shoes - and the cement to walk on jacket and pants - and the gum to chew on unwrap the plastic - open the box Let's see just how much money we can blow on socks symbols stitched outward - seams pink and frilly made in amerikkan sweatshops - made in Vichy Chile Teresa Marie is nine and has worked here years fifty cents a day for her blood sweat and tears she lives in a mud hut with her family's chickens and old rusty barrel - a couple flat rocks home sweet home - here's Teresa's kitchen her father shot by a U.$.-backed dictator her mother raped by a drunken U.$. soldier the baby's half white and starving to death fifty pennies a day - eight mouths - no milk left you walk into the store - air conditioned - complaining she walks in the mud shoeless - sharp rocks - daily you are proud as apple pie to be an amerikkkan she has nightmares: "U.$. soldiers are coming to get me" bigger fatter stitched corporate brand name socks skinnier jumpier malnourished children walking on rocks you're depressed - on medication but at least you don't stink powdered. deoderized - pampered. christianized you want Jesus to save you - LOL - ya right behind her hut in an old tree knot a penny a week out of the several she's got a smile lights her face as she turns to cook dinner her brother needs ammo - revolutionary clandestine U.$. pig killer
Let's talk about religion. Specifically, let's address the question of whether religion is or is not useful in the struggle against prisons and against imperialism.
Many of today's prison groups and lumpen organizations (LOs) are well rooted in religious ideas, theories and practices. For example, the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Rastafarians are both very influential among New Afrikan LOs. The LOs in prison have had experience in the areas of adopting certain religious values for the sake of defending themselves against total annihilation. Whether using religion, spirituality or faith as a conventional method to serve this goal for prisoners will bring about liberation faster than any other method will be determined by prisoners and prisoner-led efforts. [History has already proven dialectical materialism as an ideology to be far more effective at bringing about liberation than religion and faith, but we agree with testing it as a tactic in certain conditions as discussed below. - ULK Editor]
Prisons are a political effect of the bourgeois imperialist oppressive structure, which is determined to take more of the world's wealth and riches than it gives. Therefore prisons are political and produce political prisoners, as MIM(Prisons) holds: "...all prisoners are political prisoners because under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, all imprisonment is substantively political."
Prisoners begin to develop a consciousness of their environment by evaluating the material conditions they are in. Through a process of unity-criticism-unity they often transform themselves into the change they wish to see. This transformation often begins to manifest in individual decision-making skills. One begins to evaluate the pros and cons of indirect and direct action, to spread solutions to fellow prisoners' conflicts, and eventually one becomes sought out by the masses as a leader.
While the reality is that all prisoners are political, as we begin to develop our political consciousness we find that we are prohibited from being directly involved in the politics that we are subject to. When U.$. prisoners take that conscious state of mind to the level of organizing, campaigning and agitating, they become victims of laws criminalizing politicking in prisons. Many prisoners and LOs are well aware of this weapon of the snakes. Prisoners have little to no legal standing in the U.$. bourgeois injustice system to defend against the assaults on their humyn right to politically advocate and demonstrate their class interest as lumpen in the United $tates.
By law, according to the U.$. Constitutional standard, prisoners have a right to grieve conditions relative to the prison environment. They have the right to correspond with members of society, including the press. But when those of the prison population begin organizing the locals into group actions, they are labeled as security threat group leaders. Prisoners are incapable of putting forth a defense to these charges because by state standards their groups are un-sanctioned. Without a license we are prohibited from driving forward the people to a state of consciousness from where they may liberate themselves.
LOs don't register their groups with the state, they don't report their activities to the state, and the majority of LOs don't pay taxes on any income of the organization; all behaviors criminalized by the state. Essentially, prisoners being involved in a public manner in/with prison politics are whooped from the jump start.
It is therefore no coincidence that religious/spirituality groups that focus on the lumpen have become quite popular within U.$. prisons. They provide a more free outlet for expression and camaraderie. Of course, this has been a role played by religious organizations since the days of the Roman empire, when the church recruited the labor of those who had no legal warrant to sell their labor. This can lead to these religious bodies being a voice in service of the oppressed or to the religious body suppressing the desires of the oppressed to the benefit of the oppressor.
At different times religion has played different roles ideologically and politically. Many New Afrikan lumpen read in Dr. Suzar's Blacked Out Through Whitewash that:
"'Jesus, was the Panther? An original name for Jesus was... son of the Panther!' (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine).
"Even the Bible refers to him as 'the Lion of the tribe Juda.' (Rv. 5:5) 'Jesus in fact, was a Black nationalist freedom fighter... whose goals were to free the Black people of that day from the oppressive... White Roman power structure... and to build a Black nation.' (I Barashango)
"Schoenfield reports in The Passover Plot p 194: 'Galilee, were[sic] Jesus had lived... which was home of the Jewish resistance movement, suffered particularly. The Romans never ceased night and day to devastate... pillage [and kill].'
"In the Black Messiah p91, Rev. A.B. Cleage Jr. writes that Jesus was a revolutionary 'who was leading a [Black] nation into conflict against a [white] oppressor... It was necessary that he be crucified because he taught revolution.' Jesus stated, 'I have not come to send peace, but a sword.' (The Holy Bible - Mathew 101.34 - King James Version)"(1)
Depending on the leadership of the religious institutions and the cleverness of the lumpen, religion and politics can go hand-in-hand with one another. Devout members of the left will disagree and dogmatic rightists will call for a lynch mob. But at the end of the discussion the outcome is to be decided by those directly related to and at the source of the phenomenon.
It is the position held by MIM(Prisons) that i admire most:
"In some ways communism is the best way for religious people to uphold their beliefs and put an end to the evils of murder, rape, hunger and other miseries of humyns. Some argue that Jesus Christ must have been a communist because he gave to the poor."(2)
Many prisoners utilize liberation theology as a means to merge their political strengths with the legal warrant of the First Amendment right to freedom of religious exercise as the defense against political attacks from the police state.
The lumpen's religion is the exception to the world's norm of religion as representing the status quo. There are many prisoners who fall into the wash of all faiths, but there is a powerful source of prisoner liberation theologists at the forefront of the anti-imperialist prison movement too. It is possible that this very source is the face of the prison struggle for the age we are entering. Working smarter is working harder within the belly of the beast.
Prisoners should struggle to have their political interest respected by the state, but they should not concentrate more on convincing the police state that prisons are inappropriate, and the greatest crimes are being committed by themselves. They know this good and well already. LOs must concentrate on tactics that will forge united fronts capable of pushing the forces of history forward faster.
We conclude with a quote from Russian leader V.I. Lenin:
"We must not only admit workers who preserve their belief in God into the Social-Democratic Party, but must deliberately set out to recruit them; we are absolutely opposed to giving the slightest offense to their religious convictions, but we recruit in order to educate them in the spirit of our programme, and not in order to permit an active struggle against it."(3)
In response to the call to honor freedom fighters, it is an honor and pleasure to journal the commemoration of New Afrikan freedom fighter Amy Jacques Garvey.
So many today dismiss the Pan-Afrikan movement and its various bodies, both within and outside of U.$. prisons, as that of an unnecessary call and reference to an outdated idea. In the context of the proletarian political causes, it is often the ultra-leftist who has taken up this position.
However, in our attempts to fast forward the most correct methods of resolving contradictions, we acknowledge that they come in the form of class consciousness among nationalist leaders driven by internationalist struggles led by the proletariat. The Pan-Afrikan movement is one likely place where we find these elements.
Many prisoners are aware of the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but very few are familiar with Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Marcus Garvey and the bone and marrow of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Amy Garvey was a special person in the history of liberation struggles. Born 31 December 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica to a middle-upper class family, Amy Garvey was ahead of her time. Though "all identity is individual, there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words, constructed within a field of social values, norms of behavior and collective symbols."(1)
The mother of what author Ula Yvette Taylor coined "community feminism," Amy Garvey pressed the issue of lower class wimmin not only in serving their male counterparts, but also educating themselves to become political leaders in the nation. Today, lumpen wimmin of the internal semi-colonies still find themselves criticized for either being home-oriented or for sex. UNIA enjoyed support across gender and promoted equality of the sexes. Yet, in practice, this "community feminist" approach was a means of dealing with the expectations put on wimmin to be supporters of men while still being political leaders. While wimmin like Amy Garvey had to take on an unequal burden compared to their male counterparts, their actions served to break down the expectations of gendered roles, paving the way for others.
Amy Garvey empowered wimmin to confront racism, colonialism and imperialism, while contesting masculine dominance as well.(2) As she wrote, wimmin should use their "intelligence in a righteous cause" as they are needed to "fill the breach, and fight as never before, for the masses need intelligent dedicated leadership."(3)
Since the 1920s, Amy Jacques Garvey's organizing activities had sought to further the decolonization of West Afrikan nations as people of African descent endeavored to restructure their societies. The antecedents of these largely nationalist movements were well-established in Pan-Afrikan struggle that came into its own during the early 1940s, including the fifth Pan-Afrikan Congress. Meanwhile, other power shifts were occurring such as: the rise of the Soviet Union, liberation struggles in southeast Asia, the independence of China and the Asian-African Bandung Conference.(4) Indeed, within this political milieu, "West Afrikan nationalism and various brands of Pan-Africanism, could mix with everything from Fabian socialism to Marxism-Leninism."(5)
While engaging in the international arena, Amy Garvey also struggled against fellow comrades of the UNIA. She was well known for her refusal to hold her tongue on the contradictions that arose within, even at times writing critical positions of Marcus Garvey himself. It resembles so many of those within the belly of the beast babylon who struggle to liberate themselves in order to offer liberation to their people, only to be hushed by LO leadership.
Amy Garvey was from Jamaica and considered herself an Afrikan. She drove home the point that people of Afrikan descent in the United $tates (New Afrikans) and elsewhere were living as second-class citizens, largely as a result of economic oppression. Today we see the second-class citizenship that New Afrikans and [email protected] face as the biggest targets of social isolation by the U.$. prison system. The second class that the oppressed nations are being bred into today is what we call the First World lumpen class. In the imperialist countries, that is the class that has nothing to lose from a revolution except the very chains that bind them to a bourgeois system that doesn't serve them. "As the lumpen experience oppression first hand here in Amerika, we are in a position to spearhead the revolutionary vehicle within the U.$. borders."(6)
The 2015 release of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group introduces prisoners to the reality of their class identity with the lumpen of oppressed internal semi-colonies in North America.
"Kwame Nkrumah in his analysis of neo-colonialism in Africa defined it as: 'The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.' Nkrumah stressed the importance of dividing the oppressed into smaller groups as part of this process of preventing effective resistance to imperialism as had already occurred in China, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba and elsewhere."(7)
Amy Garvey too considered the likes of Kwame Nkrumah as her comrade, alongside of Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore, just to name a few. She was a disciplined, arduous scholar whose objective was to fold Garveyism into existing progressive organizations, thus uniting a divergent Pan-Afrikan world.
Many of the ideas that are circulated amongst the lumpen organizations within the belly of the beast babylon are grafted from the ideas of the peoples parties like the UNIA, whether they admit it or not. The proof is in the pudding. Amy Garvey showed that one could stand on two legs and not buckle under the pressure of integrationist culture.
Amy Garvey held Marcus Garvey up while he served his prison bid in Atlanta, and took the driver's seat of one of the world's most influential Negro organizations in its time when wimmin weren't expected to be political. It is so similar to the anti-imperialist prisoner movement; prisoners aren't expected to be political souljahs.
Death to babylon-imperialism!
MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM said that Pan-Afrikanism should be a strategic question, and is not worth splitting over.(8) They also said that Pan-Afrikanism has historically been the most progressive of the "pan" ideologies. Clearly that the Pan-Afrikan mission has yet to succeed in the dire need for effective revolutionary leadership is evident in the recent revelations that
"In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008."(9)
The imperialists continue to foment the tribal divisions across the African continent to wage proxy wars that amount to inter-proletarian killing on the ground. The overwhelming proletarian character of the populations in Africa gives Pan-Afrikanism its strong progressive character.
As prisoners in this socially oppressive injustice system we tend to be attracted to philosophy to try to get a better understanding of why and how did we end up in a cage like some type of animal. Some choose religion hoping that some omni-present being can answer their questions and fill in the blanks. Others choose a more materialist ideology for a better scientific understanding to the present situation here in the United $tates. The rest just choose to ride it out and hope that the situation changes.
There is no denying that dialectically and hystorically the empire is socially unstable, so much so that the oppressive Amerikan Gestapo are killing us, free of judicial repercussion, in order to protect the bourgeois interests at the expense of the oppressed nations. The state sponsored bourgeois media are quick to suggest that the Amerikan gestapo killings are justified with no scientific facts to support their so-called reporting. The people must look past the bullshit smoke being blown in our faces and understand that shit isn't all lemonade and apple pies.
Religion doesn't tell us scientific facts, but actually dogmatic scriptures about this false paradise where those "chosen" can live free after death. So how can this spiritual being give those materially existing on this earth freedom? It cannot. Religion blinds us to what's really happening here. It is a poison infecting the masses with its dogmatic ideology.
Scientific theory with Maoist philosophy is the only way to freedom. Scientifically it teaches the masses to dissect hystory and to digest what is beneficial to the struggle. It gives us, the lumpen of the oppressed nations, a place in a socialist society where we can take part in the world's struggle for freedom. The former CPUSA called this line petty-bourgeois radicalism, but Maoism teaches that all prisoners are political prisoners. The United $tates has the highest prisoner population in world hystory with most prisoners coming from the barrios and ghettos. Growing up in poverty, the oppressed nations are forced to adapt to their reality. What separates the barrios and ghettos from the Third World? Nothing, we are the Third World. Today we [email protected] and New Afrikans make up most of the prison population. Centuries of oppression on our people has brainwashed us to accept this as our reality.
Fellow prisoners ask me, why do you read about China, or Palestine, etc? Or when I clearly state that I don't believe in God they look at me like I'm crazy. First I state that God is a facade, meant to pacify the masses and mind fuck them into accepting their oppressive reality. World hystory is our hystory, and by examining other nations' struggles we can philosophically advance as a people. The struggle in Palestine is our struggle and our struggle is the Palestinian struggle. Together we are one; the Third World.
Together we stand firm. The victims of the empire deserve justice and only we can bring that about. Oppose the imperialists wars on the Third World, whether they're in Kabul, Juarez, or South Central.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's internationalism as well as eir dedication to the philosophy of dialectical materialism. However, if we are to make a material analsysis of the conditions in the First World ghettos, barrios, reservations and even prisons, we must disagree with em asserting that "We are the Third World."
Like the Third World, the internal oppressed nations of the United $tates are oppressed by imperialism and have histories connected to other oppressed nations that are in the Third World. However, the distinction between First World and Third World is important because of the material benefits that those living within imperialist borders receive just because of the luck of where they were born. That is why we speak of the First World lumpen as a different class than the lumpen proletariat; First World lumpen are surrounded by the labor aristocracy, and not the proletariat. All U.$. residents benefit from the flow of wealth away from the exploited in the Third World. True solidarity with the exploited must recognize this reality if we hope to liberate ourselves from imperialism, or else we risk falling into positions that put the interests of oppressed in the United $tates over the interests of the oppressed elsewhere.
The Syrian civil war, the biggest conflict in the Middle East if not the world, has many wondering what the outcome will be. The United $tates has backed a group in the Kurdish area that has called for the expulsion of Arabs (1) and has armed fundamentalist religious forces that threaten the Syrian government, headed by Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the government-controlled capital of Syria, Damascus, has been a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews are allowed to co-exist, united by the same desire to save their nation from the forces that be. The Syrian Constitution is based in the mission of Pan-Arabism and specifically prevents the formation of political parties "on the basis of religious, sectarian, tribal, regional, class-based, professional, or on discrimination based on gender, origin, race or color."(2)
The Assad government opposes becoming a puppet to U.$. imperialism and was never for the creation of I$rael and its occupation of Palestine. As history has shown, with a policy like that comes economic, if not military, aggression. The East and the West are in a tug-of-war over influence in the Middle East and it's only going to get worse. The so-called U.$.-type of "democracy" has proven again and again that it does not work; imperialist pseudo-democracy will not work in Syria just like it hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The pro-West bourgeois media claims Assad rules with an iron fist, but the West has backed the destruction of secularism and political pluralism in the region. Syria is more democratic than Saudi Arabia, a U.$. ally and the biggest dictatorship in the region. If the United $tates is really so concerned about iron fists, maybe the capitalists should look past the petroleum barrels and look at Saudi Arabia, the anti-democratic Sunni dictatorship that is nominally leading a repressive war in Yemen and was involved in the brutal repression of recent revolts in Bahrain.
For centuries Sunni influence has dominated the sectarian Muslim world, but now the table has turned and the Shia militias have taken up more territory than they've had in centuries, which has the Saudis in an ideological war with Iran. Assad is blamed for all the casualties in the war but even the foreign aggressors can't deny that it's their coalition planes dropping the barrel bombs on innocent civilians, threatening the Syrian government with war if they intervene.
The United $tates has spent $5 million on a Pentagon-sponsored training program to arm the Syrian opposition forces, but four years later there is still no success in their campaign. The Pentagon has admitted that the program was a failure. From the beginning of the war the U.$. State Department's policy towards Syria was "Assad must go now." But since it's looking like this is not going to happen any time soon Obama said Assad doesn't have to leave right away, there can be a transition of power. What bureaucratic bullshit.
All this has to do with Russia and Iran's strong presence in Syria and their strong stance on supporting Assad. The Iran-backed Shia militias are doing most of the fighting on Iraq's border with Syria, and they have made it clear that as soon as they've dealt with the Islamic State they're prepared to fight the real enemy: U.$. imperialism. Russia has recently opened up an airbase in western Syria, the biggest Russian base ever built outside the old Soviet territory. Just recently they've started conducting their own airstrikes against the Syrian opposition forces in eastern Syria, far from Islamic State-held territory.(5) Now the United $tates sees how determined Russia and Iran are in making sure the Syrian government doesn't collapse. Both sides are willing to sit down for talks on how to avoid each other on the battlefield but can't decide how the war should end. One thing is for sure: if Assad leaves, the war still won't end.
The real victims of this ideological, semi-colonial war are the innocent people of Syria. Since the beginning of the war, 250,000 people have died and more than 9 million people have left their homes. According to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 3,000 to 6,000 people leave Syria every day. So now because of the war the biggest refugee crisis since WWII is happening with no end in sight.
Other major casualties are happening among the Kurdish people, who have been fighting for freedom since before the war and have suffered much death and destruction because of the war. I'm not talking about the comprador landlord class that sold out to imperialism. I'm talking about the exploited who were suffering way before the war, and do not have interests aligned with imperialism, despite their misleaders.
As anti-imperialists we oppose U.$. aggression in Syria as well as anywhere in the world. Chairman Mao said "political power comes out of the barrel of a gun." So as long as there is exploitation there will always be war. As materialists we must use scientific theory to educate one another on the importance of solidarity with the Third World and opposition to the bourgeois warmongers.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is correct that our principal contribution here should be in making it hard for the United $tates to stay involved in Syria and elsewhere. And while we cannot determine the forces on the ground elsewhere, we can see who is in the anti-imperialist united front and who is with the imperialists. In that light, we have a couple comments related to some popular narratives on this conflict.
First, there is a myth promoted in the Western media that violence in the Middle East is due to centuries-old religious conflict. This myth paints the current war(s) in an ahistorical way; they have always existed, and may continue to exist unless the imperialists can somehow tame and modernize these backwards peoples.
The reality is that these are some of the most religiously diverse countries because they are close to the birthplaces of so many of the world's most popular religions. Countries like Iraq and Syria not only were quite diverse and harmonious, but were relatively well-developed; not the bombed-out desert caves we see in the media.
The narrative that focuses on religion does so to hide the real politics and economics behind the conflict. In particular, hiding imperialist meddling. It also attempts to convince the West, from atheist to Christian, of the barbarity of these "foreign" cultures. It is important to remember that the principal contradiction on the international scale is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations, and not between religions or genders.
Many have used the role of wimmin in the Islamic State in contrast to the Kurdish regions to justify support for the Kurds. As Frantz Fanon noted in his study of the Algerian revolution, the conditions of armed struggle forced the involvement of wimmin in military operations, regardless of cultural beliefs to the contrary. In other words, the national struggle, if genuinely aimed at liberation from imperialism, will force the gender contradiction forward with it. The converse is not true, which is how we know which contradiction should be prioritized. It is true that more wimmin holding guns can be a good sign of the progressiveness of the organization, but even in the Third World this is not always the case.
This leads us to another myth that we want to clarify for our readers, which is that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is a Marxist, or even a Maoist organization. While having Marxist-Leninist roots, the PKK fully capitulated to the Turkish state after the capture of their leader Abdullah Ocalan in a joint U.$.-Turkish operation in 1999. He officially changed the leading ideology of the PKK to a libertarian “Democratic Confederalism” in 2005. But as early as 1998 Ocalan was denouncing communism, and promoting the route of U.$. development for the oppressed nations.(6)
The PKK has its roots in Turkey, which has a long history of Maoist activity that continues to this day. Yet none of the Kurdish-controlled areas are currently run by anti-imperialist organizations. The U.$.-backed Erdogan regime in Turkey does have a complex relationship to the PKK and other Kurdish forces. While they have provided support to Kurds fighting the Islamic State, in recent months, they resumed violent attacks on the PKK within Turkey. For this reason and many others, the current alliance of Kurdish forces with the U.$. empire is not an optimistic choice for the Kurdish people.
One hundred years since the hystoric Plan de San Diego took place does yet another monumental and hystoric event develop; the publication of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán is a revolutionary nationalist book that focuses on the revolutionary struggle of the Chican@ nation against Amerikan imperialism. This book is in the service of all oppressed Raza within Aztlán and should be studied by those who are interested in liberating the Chican@ nation from U.$. imperialism, especially Raza who are interested in establishing a Chican@ People's Republic in what is currently occupied and oppressed Aztlán, i.e., California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán sheds light on the darkness that is national oppression, a darkness that has shrouded and enveloped Aztlán, by directing its luminous rays onto the shining path that has been paved for us by all the great people's struggles the world over. People's struggles in which the heroic Third World masses continue to prove not only their bravery in the face of disastrous imperialism, but the validity and effectiveness of People's War and the revolutionary ideology from which it sprung: Marxism-Leninsm-Maoism, principally Maoism.
Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán enjoins us to vehemently attack national oppression and criticize the proponents of national oppression whoever they may be. This means that as revolutionary nationalists and the advanced detachment of the Chican@ nation it is our duty to be the first to openly criticize our own sell-out political and reformist leaders. It does no good to go about praising oppressors just because they have a Spanish surname, speak Spanish, or are Raza by birth, as doing so only confuses the issue for the rest of the Chican@ masses who look to us for theoretical and ideological guidance. As revolutionaries we must constantly blaze the trail in matters of political outlook and awareness and must never give in to complacency which inevitably brings about political degeneration. We must put an end to Chican@ nationalists masquerading as Maoists who in the name of Aztlán would raise the red flag only to oppose it. Communists from the Chican@ nation should therefore take a hard and uncompromising stand against these national chauvinists who with their sophistry would only set back the Chican@ movement for liberation and independence.
That said, real Maoists believe in uniting all who can be united in the struggle to free the nation. This is in accordance with United Front theory and practice as developed by Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR during the Soviet people's struggle against German fascism, and Mao Zedong in the Chinese people's war of liberation against Japanese militarism and imperialism. As such and in making this statement it is recognized that there is a contradiction between uniting all who can be united and struggling not only against erroneous tendencies within the Chican@ movement and nation, but outright deviations and revisionism within the Chican@ communist movement as well. Maoists from the Chican@ nation should seek to resolve these differences and contradictions now, starting with the more advanced elements of the Chican@ masses, through the method of unity-struggle-unity. We should not wait for the national liberation stage to be completed before taking up this ideological struggle. This should not preclude our breaking with other Chican@ organizations on the basis of principled stands of scientific dispute as "the struggle bursts forth continuously." We should recognize that in such instances what we must do is not unite two into one, but struggle to divide in order to liberate Aztlán and make revolution.
We should also recognize that before the movement can really take shape through the power and strength of the Chican@ masses there must first be a consensus among all the revolutionary elements of Aztlán so as to consolidate the Chican@ national liberation movement; whether that be within a loose united front of various Chican@ and Mexican@ organizations, or under one united flag with a single program, cannot possibly be determined at this time. What should be acknowledged however is that the revolutionary forces within Aztlán must begin the process of consolidation so as to continue to move the struggle forward. The principal way of doing this at this current stage of the struggle undoubtedly revolves around Under Lock & Key, the voice of the anti-imperialist movement behind prison walls. It is thus the revolutionary duty of Maoists and other anti-imperialists from the Chican@ nation to unite in order to begin the long and arduous process of liberation and decolonization de toda la gente.
The Chican@ revolutionary nationalist movement should be in firm unity with all genuine Maoist forces the world over as well as all revolutionary forces fighting imperialist backed regimes and lackeys. Clenched fist salute! A clenched fist salute is also extended to all Raza and camaradas currently locked in Amerikkka's prisons who have taken the qualitative leap towards gaining freedom and liberation for our people by engaging and struggling with Maoism; the third and highest stage of revolutionary science.
Comrades should also seriously study the ten point program of MIM(Prisons) as well as the six cardinal points of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons before attempting to create their own Maoist organizations as they can help to demarcate between real Maoism and phoney communist organizations. These programs should serve as a general guide to the type of organizing and organization we should aspire to. Revolutionary cells claiming both the mantle of Mao and Aztlán should be open to all [email protected] and should not be contingent on past street or prison organization, but on the deep seated belief that Aztlán is a territory of the Chican@ nation which must be liberated!
On that same note Chican@ Maoist organizations should have very strict admission policies as revolution is not a game or a lifestyle, but a matter of life and death and so only the most committed revolutionaries should be recruited. Comrades should also seriously study the Leninist concept of "better, fewer, but better" for this stage of the struggle. Lastly, comrades should enjoin the oppressed prison masses, in particular imprisoned Raza, to take up struggle and begin working with other lumpen organizations amiable towards revolution in the spirit and practice of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, as this is not only the most effective way of establishing peace in prison but of sustaining it. Peace amongst the lumpen is not only a precursor, but a prerequisite to victory on a strategic level.
The Chican@ and other prison masses must realize that Amerikan imperialism grows increasingly weaker every day, both on a domestic and international level because of its extended, hegemonic over-reach. Instead of gaining the imperialists a greater grasp on the far off and distant periphery this presence is instead met with fierce resistance and hate on the part of the resolute Third World masses. The masses must know that Amerikan imperialism is a paper tiger and on a strategic and long-term level its' show of strength amounts to nothing more than shadow boxing strictly for the benefit of those it would wish to subjugate and oppress; it is a concrete monster with feet of clay and wherever it chooses to plant its feet it gets attacked.
"No rewriting of history can change the fact that it has been the national liberation struggle which has handed imperialism so many military defeats" ("The National Question and Separate Vanguard Parties" in MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Nationalism)
by USW5 of United Struggle from Within October 2015 permalinkSeptember 2015 marked a year since the mass kidnapping of college students in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Yet very little is said about it on the national news here in the United $tates. In fact, since last year I have caught nothing of what the families of the disappeared students are up to. How are they coping? Is justice of some sort still being sought? Well fortunately we still get reports on Mexico from the Spanish news and the small community of that region has not laid down hope, nor are they sitting down with arms crossed. The state of Guerrero has made it clear that they don't trust the Mexican government's competence in finding their loved ones' remains but also in bringing down those who are responsible for the mass slaying of 43 college students out of Ayotzinapa.
On 26 September 2014 many students went into the town of Iguala in shuttle busses to protest against the local government. Something they had a reputation for doing. Usually these protests would be broken up by police and the crowds would disperse, but this night was different as the mayor must have had a different method to eliminate the frequent protests from those students in Ayotzinapa college. It was mentioned in the media that the protests were becoming a nuisance not only for the mayor Jose Luis Abarca but for the rest of the population as well. The protesters were stopping traffic, disturbing businesses and constantly shouting revolutionary slogans, waving their red flags with hammer and sickles. Instead of the usual police methods of dealing with the protesters, on September 26 the police just opened fire, killing six people. And then they rounded up the students and turned them over to the local cartel to deal with.
The mayor was in cahoots with the local cartels. After an international outcry both the mayor and his wife were arrested and are still behind bars. Many police officers were interrogated by federal agents and that's when the story along with the names of those involved began to come out.
After being turned over to the "G.U." by police officials, the 43 students were taken to a nearby garbage dump and strangled. Subsequently their bodies were burned and thrown in bags to be dumped at the lake. This story does not add up because it's difficult to get rid of 43 bodies just like that. The population in Iguala remain skeptical of the reports released by the government. How can they not be when it was their own mayor and police officials who were responsible for their loved ones' disappearance! Can it be possible that there are still higher government officials responsible for the students' death out there running the investigation as if it were a unique incident? It is plausible given the prevalent nature of corruption in Mexico.
[h]Who were the 43 students? [/h]
Collectively they were preparing to become teachers. It was going to be their way to reach the masses. Ayotzinapa rural university was founded in 1926 as part of a new revolutionary government's ambition to educate all Mexicans, especially in the rural areas. Since opening, Ayotzinapa has served as an advanced educational privilege for the exploited and oppressed masses in the rural areas of Guerrero state. The university offers underprivileged youth opportunities other than just being rural peasants. This campus is a place where ideas are discussed around social, political and cultural issues and of course methods of how to change circumstances in favor of the masses.
It comes as no surprise that Ayotzinapa produces some of that region's most active agitators. Revolutionary discussions are a normal thing: "Los Normales Rurales" (the normal rurals) are a product of this university that has been a boiling pot for youth who are introduced to Marxist-Leninist revolution. We see images of Marx and Engels, students walking around campus with a Karl Marx t-shirt emblazoned with a hammer & sickle, and Che Guevara and Maoist murals on campus walls. Even universities for relatively privileged youth are often a breeding ground for radicalism, so it is no surprise that higher education for the poor would feed the revolutionary movement as people become educated in the systems of oppression and the successful and failed options for fighting back.
Los Normales Rurales were protesting their local government i.e. mayor and cronies. They were revolutionary propagandists attempting to reach the masses through actions. Like Mao Zedong's China produced the barefoot doctors to provide adequate health care to the rural areas, Ayotzinapa University is producing teachers who will eventually find locations in other rural or urban areas. They will take teaching positions, and, armed with revolutionary theory and knowledge of their national context, they are vital to organizing the proletariat, the peasantry, the students and other sympathetic classes.
[h]Responses to the massacre[/h]
The Mexican government run by Enrique Peña Nieto only made a cursory attempt to serve justice. This was the way the Mexican government handled the massacre of its' citizens at the hands of its' own officials. That area was infested with corrupt government officials and continuously disappeared citizens by the cartels. The search for the missing 43 students only produced the location of more than a dozen mass graves or "fosas."
Many citizens in Iguala are too afraid to speak out and voice their grievances but not their comrades, other "normalistas" still at Ayotzinapa. They are clamoring for the masses to join their fight against a corrupt and murdering government!
The protests were captured and televised and [email protected] all throughout the country got involved, protesting against government officials especially those of the reactionary party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) who Mexicans hold just as responsible as the cartels who carried out the disappearances. PRI is an incorrigibly corrupt party run by the nation's big bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie has its allies who can carry out their dirty work and would rather eliminate any opposition to their existence. The context in that country is ripe for a revolution! The contradictions between the masses and government is at the point of antagonism.
Recently during elections in Guerrero many students along with the masses wearing ski masks destroyed government offices. A concise response to who they wish to elect! The masses in Guerrero have become politicized like the masses in Michoacan state. Forming their own self-defense militias. The masses in Guerrero are on a likeminded path and still searching for the 43 normalistas, and finding more and more "fosas" with bodies. A leader of one of these self defense groups was just found murdered recently! The loved ones of the 43 normalistas are still agitating as strong as they were a year ago.
The Mexican government wants to sweep the incident from almost a year ago under the rug. Not the masses. It may seem like enough for Enrique Peña Nieto, but the Ayotzinapa campus has now become more intense in their revolutionary struggle. For the 43 fallen comrades and the population as a whole the protests persist and the masses have become more receptive to revolution in Guerrero than ever! None of this is reported by English news outlets and while the Spanish news downplays its reporting, revolutionaries in the United $tates must keep up with current events in the international context.
Many comrades in [i]ULK[/i] have expressed solidarity with Palestine, Syria, and Iraqi muslim fighters because of imperialist aggression towards them, yet we have a growing crises happening in Mexico that gets scant attention because it's the norm down there. And there's little mystery on why there are so many undocumented [email protected] in the U.$. to acquire better employment opportunities and escape that country's social crises. As internationalist revolutionaries we should advocate and support Ayotzinapa's current struggle to liberate its community from oppressive forces like the Mexican government and drug trafficking groups. USW conveys its revolutionary solidarity to Ayotzinapa!
Revolution in Texas! Revolution in Utah! Revolution in Arizona! And Revolution in California!
It is with these hystoric words once shouted by Chican@ revolutionaries a hundred years ago that we proudly echo this sentiment today as we announce the completion of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, on this anniversary of the Plan de San Diego. A hundred years ago, so-called "bandits" and "heathens" in the conquered territory of the United $tates, known as Aztlán, declared their war of liberation from Amerikan imperialism. And just as the Plan de San Diego grew out of heightened national oppression both on a domestic and international level, so does Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán come out of the depths of Amerika's dungeons at a time in which the Chican@ nation, and indeed the world, risks being swallowed whole by various imperialist factions; principally Amerikan imperialism.
Those once thought to be our old guard have come closer and closer to unity with our oppressors than to our own people, yet the Chican@ lumpen pushes through, rises to the challenge and presents us with the most correct political analysis to the most pressing questions facing Aztlán today. Vendidos (sell outs) might say that revolutionary nationalism is an ancient and dead phenomenon no longer relevant in a "globalized world." But it is exactly because of this "globalization" (i.e. imperialism) that this work is more needed than at any other time since the last round of national liberation struggles inside of U.$. borders.
Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán has been in development for well over three years and is a collaborative effort between Chican@ revolutionaries from northern and southern Califas-Aztlán and MIM(Prisons). Our comrades on the outside facilitated, guided and made possible this manifesto. This work is an example of the political unity between both major regions of Califas-Aztlán that must come to bear by the imprisoned Chican@ lumpen on an Aztlán-wide basis before we are ready to put this ideological unity into practice.
Throughout the creative process of this book there were indeed many times in which we found it difficult to continue this collaboration. This was due not only to the same old tired divisions amongst [email protected] in California that have been keeping the imprisoned Raza from uniting as one, but due to ideological and political immaturity as well. However, through all of this, Chican@ revolutionaries from both major sections of Califas-Aztlán managed to resolve our differences through the tools and weapons refined for us by the great protagonists of oppressed peoples' movements everywhere: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. But above all, the reality that bound us throughout this work was not only our common oppression but the want and need to one day see our people free. And so, largely through the method of unity-struggle-unity and the dialectical materialist frame of thought did we finalize this important task. And as great as this work is, and as much of a watershed moment we are celebrating, we remain very much aware that this is just the opening shot to the quickly flourishing revolutionary nationalist movements within Amerika's prisons.
This book is in service to the imprisoned Chican@ lumpen in order that they may finally have a general framework from which to build ideological unity and from which to politically grow and wrest state power from Amerikan imperialism and the white settler nation.
Just as author Benjamin Heber Johnson makes the statement, "In fifty years the projected ninety-six million Latino residents of the United States would, if considered a nation, follow only Brazil and Mexico as the most populous country in Latino America" so will it probably take as long to see the fruits of our labor.(1)
The Chican@ nation is comprised of oppressed Raza and it forms a part of Latin@ America. [email protected] Unite!
[At our 2012 Congress MIM(Prisons) decided to begin the process of building statewide councils to develop USW and its leadership. That winter the work began to set up the first council in California. This coincided with a renewed round of strikes in the state involving more than 30,000 prisoners. As activism spread, so did invitations to join the council. In short time, lack of participation cut the membership back down. For about a year and a half now, leading USW cells in California have been participating in the council on a regular basis, struggling over theoretical and practical questions of organizing the prison movement. This article is by one participant in the USW California Council discussing some of the issues the council has tackled.]
The United Struggle from Within (USW) political line is anti-imperialist, as those behind the walls recognize the penal system and its institutions as an extension of imperialism. Therefore our struggles include both domestic and international issues. As a generated organism from the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons), some within USW have taken up MIM line while others have not yet. USW is an eclectic group of anti-imperialist prisoners working in cells, individually or in a coordinated groups through MIM(Prisons) guidance. Our revolutionary activities can vary according to each cell and location. This makes USW a multi-issue mass organization.
It is important to have USW comrades focus on campaigns that are relevant to their conditions. For instance, field reporting is universally applicable. But those doing indeterminate SHU sentences should focus on getting policies changed or bring up campaigns to shut down control units, while other comrades on mainlines could organize a cell of like-minded comrades, set up study groups, and raise other campaigns. We can all contribute to fighting censorship and other legal actions that can benefit all prisoners if won in court.
Each USW cell works in the framework of bringing the humyn rights of prisoners to the forefront. It is no surprise prisons are swamped with internal semi-colonies, with the long sentences, new detrimental laws that disproportionately affect oppressed nations, and other practices of the criminal injustice system that contribute to the mass incarceration of oppressed nations. This injustice must be brought to the public. Comrades from USW use propaganda as a tool to reach the masses who are sympathetic or will become sympathetic. We utilize Lenin's method of having Iskra as his party's way to get the written word out to the masses by making use of Under Lock & Key to advertise our campaigns, our polemics, our developing theories, or just to expose the negative conditions in prisons. ULK is our voice behind the walls.
USW are we the cadre?
Recently there has been an open polemic in regards to USW. Is it just a mass org without a leadership role or does it have leadership influence, and because of this should it no longer be considered a mass org? Well to apply dialectic materialism to this topic I would say USW is a mass organization formed in part by MIM line. "All correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas) then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge."(1)
USW is guided by MIM(Prisons), leading revolutionary work at their location. Accumulating experience and knowledge while engaged in this work, many USW comrades aren't spontaneous in heading into revolutionary activity, as this would probably prove disastrous if a comrade knows very little of what exactly to do. For this reason MIM(Prisons) has study cells welcoming those ready for revolutionary theory education that is Maoist in content. There are even advanced levels for those who wish to continue into the ULK Writers Group, the most advanced Maoist study cell from which stem numerous USW comrades or cadres.
I use the term "cadre" for reasons of revolutionary language because it permits no dual meaning in our propaganda, and I utilize Che Guevara's definition herein:
"What is a cadre? We should state that a cadre is an individual who has achieved sufficient political development to be able to interpret the larger directives emanating from the central authority, make them his own, and convey them as an orientation to the masses: a person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations."(2)
It can be said that any well politicized USW comrade is a cadre behind the walls as we need not receive directives from MIM(Prisons) to know how to organize and commit ourselves to a campaign. Yet revolutionary learning is limitless and anyone wishing to engage in polemics or just learn from other comrades can do so by either writing in to the MIM(Prisons) USW coordinator, joining a study cell run by MIM(Prisons) or reading up on ULK and writing in.
The Statewide Council
The momentum created by USW cells throughout California prisons has brought us our own revolutionary council where pressing topics are discussed, and polemics, strategizing and other matters will be addressed. Through discussion and the democratic process we have passed resolutions to set the standards for USW cells joining the council. Resolutions passed so far include: time frames for when members must respond to council discussions, requirements that each cell vote on each proposal and provide justification for their votes, minimum study requirements before a representative can join the council, and requirements that each USW cell with representation in the council should put in at least 10 to 40 hours a week of revolutionary work. i.e. study, writing articles, making political art, etc. Cells are required to keep track of their work and report it monthly to build discipline.
The California Council has also built a treasury that we have been using to fund bonus pages in ULK. Our council has brought forth double the amount of donations than all other California comrades during a recent 6-month period. We recently finished a California-specific introductory letter for USW that went out to all existing members in June. We have had a slow start but overall we have established a steady pattern of discussion and work.
Amongst our struggles behind the walls, we will often have obstacles such as comrades abandoning a campaign or legal battle, or who just stop checking in with the council, USW or the ULK Writers group to pursue personal agendas and leave behind their revolutionary work. Our California Council and USW are a product of work and effort by politically conscious prisoners having a strategic goal in mind, be it anti-imperialist, shutting down control units, or prisoner humyn rights reform. The point is that our goals, strategic and tactical, are to struggle through the momentum whether it's low or high! Our focus is to work together for change and we hope our efforts, our resolve, inspires others to join our struggle behind the walls. Our struggle for humyn rights is a pressing issue for the comrades suppressed in solitary confinement, so contributing to litigation campaigns are essential but not our only venue! We need to be organized, we need to agitate and utilize propaganda as a tool in order to apply revolutionary practice!
We seek comrades who have a fair grasp on revolutionary theory. No comrade needs to be an expert, we are all still learning from each other, our USW work, and how to concentrate our USW branches through practice within our revolutionary California Council.
So I can say USW Council representatives are our cadres behind the walls, forging revolutionary discipline, education, legal assistance, study groups, etc. If comrades get transferred to another yard or prison we can expect them to do the same at their new location. And we do our work discreetly to not draw unwanted attention, thus maintaining all within USW cell security.