This report is on the conditions at California State Prison - Corcoran 4A SHU (CSP-COR). It is written with the purpose of sharing with comrades locally and nationally the demise of the movement here at CSP-COR, and what will be necessary for comrades of the United Struggle from Within (USW) to regain momentum uniting those capable of being united in the struggle to abolish the Security Housing Units (SHU).
The author has been housed at CSP-COR SHU on an undetermined SHU sentence that resulted from a battery on a peace officer with serious bodily injury. This was an event orchestrated by Kern Valley State Prison's corrupt guards. Any prisoner who has been somewhere within the California prison system knows the history of CSP-COR and the high degree of guard corruption; everything from murder and police brutality to conspiracy against prisoners for complaining against officials. Here at CSP-COR I've personally witnessed staff abuse the power bestowed upon them by California and its California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) union for the purpose of keeping their foot on prisoners' throats and preventing our freedom of speech.
There is a code of silence practiced by the majority of staff at CSP-COR, dubbed the Green Wall, and it's alive and well here in 2012. Where once it was isolated to those in green (correctional officers) it has now spread to those within the medical department (nurses, doctors, and psych staff), the legal library, the mail department, the food services department, and the religious department. This is not to say that every person who works for the CDCR is a part of the Wall; there are individuals who can be used to expose the system for what it is. But the state's institutions seem to be uniting its forces more these days against prisoners for the sake of covering up the problems and sweeping important social issues under the rug.
On 4A, the law librarian prevents any access to his facility unless a prisoner has a deadline from the courts or a state. The prison law library is the most important resource for prisoners, providing literature that guides the ability of prisoners to more effectively prosecute cases in the judicial branch of this government. Prisoners need things like computers, copies, typewriters, reference material, etc. The CCPOA knows this and take away prisoners' access to one of the most important resources they have through understaffing and budgeting. Political power in the hands of prisoners presents a threat to the financial security of every vampire of the U.S. prison complex. And because it is not only a possibility but also a social reality, the state and the union seek to stall the success of the prison movement, particularly in the area of free speech, free assembly, and right to grievance which becomes free protest.
I've also witnessed officials censor prisoners' mail because the contents of the correspondence or periodical didn't sit well with the agenda or idea of the state-union establishment. Often a pig in the position of sorting incoming/outgoing mail is issuing, withholding, or completely disposing of a prisoner's mail for malicious reasons. Brothers at Corcoran SHU have a difficult time just corresponding with the outside world. Officials with their personal vendettas, and most times negligence, confiscate materials such as stationary packages sent to a prisoner from their family. They then turn around and try to trade the material with another prisoner who has filed a grievance against them in exchange for the prisoner's silence on the subject of the grievance.
They trash mail that may expose the reality of the state-union corruption. Most times they secure the support of the public by declaring the "security" threat as a threat to the public. But if the matter was placed under the microscope where the real public could hear and see the position of prisoners, they'd be forced to recognize that the blood of prisoners are on their, the public's, hands.
California uses a department regulation 3135(c)(1) in order to validate censorship practices in its prisons holding that the material is "...of a character tending to incite murder, arson, a riot, or any form of violence or physical harm to any person, or any ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or other group." Most times, though, this isn't even the case. It isn't the security of the public that is at stake, it is the financial security of the labor aristocracy that is at stake.
After the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike prisoners received a number of small concessions from the state. Here they've already begun to renege on their deal. They allow brothers to wear their personal kicks and at times purchase new kicks. There are clear color pen fillers on the store, beanies are issued in the winter, and someone from the psych staff walks around once a week and passes out a sheet of paper with eight to ten puzzles and a calendar for the Jewish month. But CSP-COR officials don't even recognize the elements with the most material substance of the PBSP core demands. There is no group yard, the cages do not have pull up bars, and the ab-roller equipment that was issued has been banned. The canteen has not been expanded, there haven't been any added TV stations, and prisoners still can only receive one package per year.
The guards are banning Prison Legal News and MIM(Prisons) publications, but allowing religious periodicals like the Trumpet. Any attempts by prisoners to come together to figure out how to curb such BS is interfered with by means of vandalizing cell inspections, shortening food rations, confiscation of property/privileges, and bogus rule violation reports. Take, for example, an event that occurred where various Special Needs Yard and Disciplinary Detention prisoners of Black, white, and Latino nationality were on the cage yard exercising together, calling out their routine in cadence to coordinate the exercise routine. The yard pig approached the group and interrupted their exercise stating they'd have to cease the group work out as it was gang activity. The prisoners objected asking, "was the Marines a gang?" The pig wouldn't answer, so they continued exercising. The pig called the building where these prisoners were housed and instructed 4 coworkers that the prisoners involved in the exercise routine were to have their cells vandalized.
This is a brief description of the abuses taking place at CSP-Corcoran. There are a few class actions being initiated and a certain USW comrade is organizing prisoners (peacefully) around a campaign to oppose mail censorship. The USW comrade said it all started with CSP-Corcoran censoring MIM(Prison)'s correspondence.
Every since my filing of the MIM censorship suit I haven't been able to get a 602 [grievance form] processed, and I was pretty good at filing them and winning them prior to the MIM suit. Since I've been at this prison the only 602 I was able to get acknowledged and processed was one concerning the law library, and only after two months of either having them "screened out" for one reason or another or simply being ignored. It was only because I finally got tired of their b.s., went over their heads and mailed a "retaliation and conspiracy" petition to Sacramento along with a quick letter explaining my situation.
Afterwards I not only got a letter from Sacramento telling me they'd sent it back to appeals court with instructions to properly process, but I got a letter from here basically reprimanding me for going over their heads; but it got the job done.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of perseverance in the face of repression, following in the footsteps of a similar victory in Kern Valley this month.
Comrades, I'm white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they love themselves too much more than anyone else more than anything else more than all else I love all else my mom's white my brother's white father and sisters white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they are killing my people and my planet all for green paper and towering white steeples I'm a traitor who grew up in a trailer I branded cows in my youth ninety miles to the south the nearest traffic light we pissed off the porch poached deer - ate rattlesnake comrades, I'm white But don't hold that against me because I hate this motherfucking country to death my pen's my weapon my blood - my breath my planet - my species above all else
I was born of a womb of a mother who smokes grew of age in a concrete tomb choking on I-15's exhaust smoke my veins I must stretch to feel at ease This is what my life is like from conception to the grave unable to breathe quit what it is you hate while you still hate it three quarters done with my sentence hoping someone's still there to say "You've made it" Considered depressed and despondent since the age of five that's when I learned to pledge allegiance age five they taught us loyalty to one's country as I smuggled cans of copenhagen and snickers to my daddy in prison age five I was born of a country Built on and maintaining DOC brutality Pledged allegiance to a flag that destroyed my family So, you see this is what my life is like from conception to the grave Still unable to breathe
When one is imprisoned and kept away from society for a rather long period of time, it's not unnatural to feel as if you're beginning to lose your bearings, and it's not unnatural for one to seek help from "medical professionals."
What is considered unnatural however is to speak of the plight of the oppressed. I found this out the hard way when I went to my annual psychiatric review. To be "mentally-ill" or depressed when one is from oppressed nation origin and imprisoned is perfectly normal. However, to be perfectly normal or "sane" under the oppressive conditions of imperialism is certainly abnormal. One cannot be of oppressed nation origin and imprisoned and be content. Depression is a completely appropriate state of mind when oppressed by imperialism; there can be no other reaction.
As stated above I attended my annual psychiatric review and was introduced to the four member committee. I was asked a series of questions. How did I feel? Have I experienced any depression lately? Am I suicidal? I answered their questions as quickly and concisely as possible. I felt I passed their test with flying colors. As I was about to be excused however one of the psychiatrists stopped me from leaving and asked me if we could talk about my revolutionary tattoos. My first instinct was to ask him what my tattoos have to do with my "mental health." However, I felt it might look bad to not cooperate so I agreed to stay.
The psych wanted to know what they meant. I simply stated that they were political symbols and took it no further, but he pressed and wanted to know exactly what they meant. S/he kept pressing and at this point I once again thought, "what the hell do my political beliefs have to do with my mental health?!" I figured I'd play their little game and see exactly what they were trying to get at.
I was asked why I choose to have this artwork on me. I replied that they were simply expressions of my solidarity with the oppressed and exploited of the Third World. But why did I feel the need to show my solidarity? "Because" I stated, "they're oppressed and exploited, they've been oppressed and exploited and they're gonna continue to be oppressed and exploited for the foreseeable future!" "Oh, is that all?" At which point I lost temporary control of my emotions and strongly stated: "Yea, that and the fact that they're currently being massacred across the globe!" The committee then collectively jumped and stared at me as if I was indeed crazy for saying these truths.
The psych then attempted to further bait me and get me to incriminate myself by asking me if I felt the need to show my solidarity in any other way. To which I simply laughed and stared in h judgmental hate-filled eyes and said "of course not, I'm in prison." But what if I wasn't in prison? And of course I laughed and just said no.
S/he then accused me of being a gang member, to which I immediately objected and said "no, I am not a gang member!" But the bald-head, the tattoos and last but not least the fact that I'm from the oppressed nations certainly means that I'm a gang member. S/he then asked me what I'm in prisyn for. I told h the truth and told h that I'm in prison for "gang violence." S/he then repeated that I was a gang member. "No!" I once again corrected h. I explained to h that while I once was a gang member, I no longer am today. However, s/he insisted and asked me if I was in solidarity with the Third World when I was on the streets. I told h of course not. I was in solidarity with myself and my "gang". "So you've changed?!" Of course I changed, everybody changes. To which s/he then looked at me curiously and asked if I'd ever been in an insane asylum. "No" I stated. "Would you like to go to one?" "No" I once again stated. I was quite simply surprised that s/he would threaten me so openly. I was then excused.
The implication is clear. To speak of the plight of the oppressed and exploited Third World masses, one must be "crazy."
My writing will not analyze Black Nationalism per se, rather it aims to address the "national question" itself. My position comes from a Chicano perspective, which I hope adds to the theoretical sauce surrounding the idea of national liberation and the development of the oppressed nations ideologically, whether they be from the Brown, Black or Red Nations here in the United $tates. In the contemporary prisoner, one sees an awakening to truth and meaning amidst a state offensive to deprive millions of humyn dignity and freedom. The roundups, ICE raids and fascist laws (reinforced with putting the data of millions of oppressed across the U.$. into the state intelligence files preparing for future revolt and repression) has added to the swirl of these times for people to become politicized, and prisoners are no exception.
The struggle in the ideological arena is just as vital as that with the rifle, and perhaps more difficult. Out in society — where people have more social influences — ideas, experiences and thought can bring more diverse views into the sphere of theory. Often times the prison environment, in its concentrated form and social makeup, has more limited ideological influences. This is a trap that prisoners should guard against in developing a political line. There will always be ideological "yes people" in prisons, especially amongst one's own circle of friends or comrades. This could also be said of the limited contacts in the outside world that most prisoners have.
The "national question" is one that is not exclusive to the Black Nation; it is something that Raza and others are wrangling with as well. My critiques here are related to the national question in the United $tates in general, and not specific to the Black Belt Thesis (BBT) that Rashid addresses in his article.
In the section titled "The Black Belt Thesis and the New Class Configuration of the New Afrikan Nation," Rashid describes comrade J.V. Stalin on the national question as follows:
The [Black Belt Thesis] was based on comrade J.V. Stalin's analysis of the national question as essentially a peasant question. Unlike the analysis put forward by Lenin, and more fully developed by Mao, Stalin's analysis limited the national question to essentially a peasantry's struggle for the land they labored on geographically defined by their having a common language, history, culture and economic life together. Hence the slogan "Free the Land!" and "Land to the Tiller!"
Just to be clear, J.V. Stalin defined a "nation" as follows:
A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."(1)
This definition continues to stand as what defines a nation today and to deny this is simply a deviation. Comrade Lenin was not alive to see the development of the anti-colonial struggles and thus in his view oppressed nations could not be victorious on their own accord, but Stalin taught us differently. At the same time Stalin also stated that should a people no longer meet any of these criteria of a nation then they are no longer a nation.
In this section, Rashid refers to a "Great Migration" of Blacks out of the rural south and across the United $tates, which he uses, or seems to use, as justification for not having "need of pursuing a struggle to achieve a New Afrikan nation state, we have achieved the historical results of bourgeois democracy..." Just because a people migrate across the continent does not negate a national territory so long as a large concentration remains in the national territory. For example, if the Mohawk nation continues to reside in the northeast but a significant portion of their population spread out "across America" and become urban dwellers, their nation remains in the Northeast no matter how much they wish to be Oregonians or Alaskans. But what really seemed grating in this section was the last paragraph, which reads:
To complete the liberal democratic revolution and move forward to socialist reconstruction the proletariat must lead the struggle which is stifled by the increasingly anti-democratic, fascistic and reactionary bourgeoisie. The bourgeois are no longer capable of playing a progressive role in history.
First, the proletariat in its original sense for the most part does not exist in the United $tates. In addition, the Trotskyite approach of relying on the Amerikan "working class" is a waste of time. Amerikan workers are not a revolutionary vehicle - they are not exploited when they are amongst the highest paid workers in the world. How can those seeking higher pay for more or bigger plasma TVs and SUVs be relied upon to give all that up for "socialist construction"? And my view does not come unsupported by the ideological framework that Rashid claims to represent. Engels wrote to Marx in 1858:
The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.(2)
So even back in Marx and Engels's day the English proletariat was already bourgeoisified. Imperialism has developed far more since 1858, further concentrating the wealth disparity between the oppressor and oppressed nations globally.
In the section titled "The Revolutionary Advantages of Our Proletarian National Character," the idea is put forth of "building a multi-ethnic, multi-racial socialist America." Although I am not opposed to multi-ethnic organizing, I also don't negate the usefulness of single-nation parties. One has to analyze the concrete conditions in the United $tates. The historical development of the social forces may not agree with this approach, and just because it may have worked in some countries it may not apply to this country. It obviously didn't apply to South Africa, another settler state. In Azania the Pan Africanist Congress seemed to forward the struggle more than other groups, in particular the integrationist African National Congress that took power and changed little for Azanians. Huey Newton himself understood this, thus the Black Panther Party was a single nationality party, with internationalist politics. Of course, at some point things will change, but the advancement of imperialism and a long lineage of white supremacy and privilege remains a hurdle still too huge for real multi-ethnic organizing advancements at this time in the United $tates.
In the section "Separation, Integration or Revolution," what is put forward for liberation is to overthrow "imperialism and play a leading role in the global proletarian revolution and socialist reconstruction." This, Rashid states, is "our path to liberation." This smacks of First World chauvinism. The International Communist Movement (ICM) will always be led by the Third World proletariat. The ICM is dominated by the Third World and our voice in the First World is just that, a voice, that will help advance the global struggle, not lead. The idea of First World leadership of the ICM is classic Trotskyism.
In the section "Reassessing the National Liberation Question," in speaking of past national liberation struggles, Rashid points to them having an "unattainable" goal. Yet countries like Vietnam, northern Korea, as well as Cuba come to mind as being successful in their national liberation struggles. [China is the prime example of liberating itself from imperialism and capitalism through socialist revolution. Of course, Huey Newton himself eventually dismissed China's achieving of true national liberation in his theory of "intercommunalism" that the NABPP-PC upholds - Editor]
Rashid goes on to say, "Even if we did manage to reconstitute ourselves as a territorial nation in the "Black Belt," we would only join the ranks of imperialist dominated Third World nations — and with the imperialist U.S. right on our border." Here it seems the idealist proposition is being put forward that an oppressed nation could possibly liberate itself to the point of secession while U.$. imperialism is still breathing. So long as U.$. imperialism is still in power, no internal oppressed nation will emancipate itself. So the thought of the imperialists being on one's border will not be a problem as at that point in the struggle for national liberation imperialism will be on no one's border.
In this same section, Rashid quotes Amilcar Cabral, who posed the question of whether national liberation was an imperialist creation in many African countries. Now we should understand that the imperialists will use any country, ideology or leader if allowed (Ghadaffi found this out the hard way most recently) but we should not believe that the people are not smart enough to free themselves when oppressed. The white supremacists put forward a line that Jews are in an international conspiracy creating revolution and communism. These conspiracy theorists look for any reason to suggest that the people cannot come to the conclusion to decolonize themselves.
Later in this section the question is asked if the "proponents of the BBT expect whites in the 'Black Belt' to passively concede the territory and leave?"
I'm not a proponent of the Black Belt Thesis, but speaking in regard to national liberation I can answer this question quite clearly. As this writer alludes to, there may be a "white backlash." But in any national liberation struggle anywhere on the planet there is always a backlash from those whose interests are threatened. When the oppressed nations decide to liberate themselves in the United $tates the objective position of the reactionaries will be to fight to uphold their white privilege. This privilege relies heavily on the state and the culture of white supremacy in Amerika. So their choice will be to support the national liberation struggles, as real white revolutionaries will do, or to side with imperialism. But there will be no sympathy for oppressors in any national liberation struggle.
Asking the question of what do we expect whites to do is akin to asking the revolutionary post-Civil War, when many were cut off from parasitism, "well do you expect the people to stop exploiting 'their' field workers?" Do you expect Amerikan workers to stop being paid high wages gained through the exploitation of the Third World? Do you expect the pimp to stop pimping the prostitute? Do you expect the oppressor nation to give up their national privilege? To all of the above I say if it's what the people decide, then YES!
Real white comrades not only will support the oppressed to obtain liberation in a future revolution, but most do so in their work today, even though they are a small minority compared to the larger Amerikan population. By that time in the distant future hopefully more people will have been educated and converted.
It is the task of conscious prisoners to develop a political line that propels the imprisoned masses forward via concrete analysis, not just of prison conditions, but of conditions outside these concentration camps as well. Oppression in imperialism is a three-legged stool that includes class, nation and gender. Thus we must develop our political line according to these concrete conditions. Our line should be grounded in reality. Our society is still very much segregated along class and national lines, particularly in the fields of housing, education and freedom.
Indeed, over half the people living within two miles of a hazardous waste facility are Brown, Black or First Nations.(3) In many high schools in the inner city Brown and Black youth are forced to share one textbook for 3 or 4 students, while their parents are jailed when they attempt to enroll their children in "better off" schools which unsurprisingly are predominantly white.(4) The prisons are no different, nor the "justice system." Of the 700,000 who were reported to have been stopped and frisked in New York City last year, 87% were Latinos and Blacks even though whites make up 44% of New York City's population.
When we develop a political line we must challenge it on a materialist foundation in order to sharpen things up in a positive way, but it must not be detached from reality. Only in this way will we identify what is palpable in the realm of national liberation.
As Lenin said, "it is fine, it is necessary and important, to dream of another or radically different and better world — while at the same time we must infuse and inform our dreams with the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific outlook and method, communism, and on that basis fight to bring those dreams into reality."
MIM(Prisons) adds: The original article by Rashid is in response to the New Afrikan Maoist Party and cites the Maoist Internationalist Movement as another party promoting the Black Belt Thesis. While MIM certainly never denounced the Black Belt Thesis, they recognized the crumbling material basis for seeing it through in the post-Comintern years that Rashid points to in his article. It is worth noting that more recent statistics show the New Afrikan population since 1990 has increased most in the South, where 55% of New Afrikans live today and that in the Black Belt states a much higher percentage of the population is New Afrikan than in the rest of the country.(5) MIM did publish an interesting discussion of the land question for New Afrika as an example of a two line struggle in 2004. Ultimately the land question must be determined by two conditions which we do not currently have: 1) a Black nation that has liberated itself from imperialism, and 2) a forum for negotiating land division in North America with other internal semi-colonies free from imperialist intervention.
In his article, Rashid responds to our critique of his liquidating the nationalist struggle in the book Defying the Tomb. In doing so he speaks of a Pan-Afrikan Nation, which is an oxymoron completely liquidating the meaning of both terms. Pan-Afrikanism is a recognition of the common interests of the various oppressed nations of Africa, often extended to the African diaspora. You cannot apply the Stalin quote given above to New Afrika and Pan Afrikanism and consistently call both a nation.
But ultimately, as the USW comrade criticizes above, the liquidationism is strongest in the NABPP-PC line on the progressive nature of the Amerikan nation. It is this dividing line that makes it impossible for our camps to see eye-to-eye and carry out a real two line struggle on the question of New Afrikan land.
It's not for nothing that MIM dubbed the Amerikkkan prison system "the primary tool of oppressor nation repression in the united $tate$," and a review of MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons On Trial makes this point ever so clear. Though this particular MIM Theory journal is dated (1996), like all MTs its message is not. It still serves as a good introduction to the Amerikan injustice system just as Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism continues to serve as an introductory foundation in political economy for those wanting to study the thinly veiled intricacies of modern-day imperialism. One read and you'll see why Amerika, that "shining city on a hill," is in all actuality the prisonhouse of nations.
MT 11 is a must-read, not just for the political- and class-conscious prisoner, but for all prisoners as a stepping stone on the road to liberation and sure footing to understanding the exact context of our imprisonment.
Beginning with the essay "Amerikan Fascism & Prisons," MIM lays out the only real fascist aspect in Amerikan society - the Amerikan prison system. This work is indeed of exceptional relevance as MIM points to the economic motivation behind fascism as well as to the white petit-bourgeois element that breathes life into this most barbaric expression of capitalist production and its anti-revolutionary mission statement.
The article "Capital & State Join Hands In Private Prisons" further elaborates on the thesis that fascism is not just alive and well within the Amerikkkan prison system, but that it has been expanding since the 1980s in the private prison phenomenon, which is but the melding of capital and the state in the growing war against the oppressed nations, with the prerequisite and additional benefit of continuing to win over the middle classes to their side by ensuring them an always available form of employment.
"Prison Labor: Profits, Slavery & the State" then explains how the possibility of open slavery can come back full force thru the institution of the prisons as it was once manifested pre-Civil War. This article also speaks of the important political functions the prison system serves repressing in the national liberation movements and the further indoctrination of the labor aristocracy with fascist ideology.
Nothing however drives home the colonial relation between Amerika and the oppressed nations like the articles "Political Prisoners Revisited," "Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" and "Who Are the Political Prisoners?"
"Political Prisoners Revisited" is a good example of the Maoist tenet of unity-criticism-unity in which MIM explains the basics of their line concerning prisoners in Amerika in a dialogue with the New Afrikan Independence Movement. MIM argues that the term "political prisoners" shouldn't just be reserved for individuals such as Mumia Abu-Jamal or Leonard Peltier, but is more appropriately and powerfully applied to all prisoners. All prisoners currently incarcerated under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are rightly so political prisoners because the "laws" that we supposedly broke were laws specifically designed for the backing of the backward illegitimate political agenda of the superstructure and the settler state which it serves. To ignore or refute this point with respect to the entire imprisoned population and instead deflect the political aspect of this oppression to just a few individuals is not just a victory for the bourgeoisie but is itself bourgeois in essence!
"Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" centers on the antagonistic contradiction of Amerika vs. the oppressed nations that is reflected thru the prison system. It focuses on the material basis objectively present in the form of the gulag, and the material forces already present therein. MIM discusses the dire need for leadership to further help develop these potentially revolutionary forces to their logical conclusion, or in MIM's words: "to unite all who can be united to smash imperialism and all its tools of oppression..."
MIM understood the process of rapid radicalization of "common criminals" as a profoundly political one and in their agitation they emphasized that process as reflecting the material basis for revolution as does MIM(Prisons) and USW. Unity on this point is therefore essential to re-launching the new prison movement in connection with the national liberation struggles which have been repressed and stagnated by the oppressors with mass incarceration.
Finally, "Who Are the Political Prisoners?" is a New York prisoner's contribution and advancement to the MIM line on political prisoners in which s/he expounds MIM's line in detail and in such a way as to leave no doubt that the growth of the prison system within U.$. borders is not just a boil, but a cancer on the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies that needs to be mercilessly removed!
MT 11 also contains, among other things, an essay on Malcolm X's progressive development, a critique of Gandhi's so-called "non-violence" and pacifist strategy and tactics, as well as some good theoretical works and revolutionary poetry.
For all these reasons combined, MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial gets four out of four red stars.
And so with that i end this review the same way the New York prisoner ended his article:
Death and Destruction to the U.$. Empire! Birth and Construction to the Prison Revolutionary Movement!
The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-52 Edited with an introduction by Bruce Franklin
"…Stalin is clearly one of the three most important historical figures of our century, his thought and deeds still affecting our daily lives, considered by hundreds of millions today as one of the leading political theorists of any time, his very name a strongly emotional household name throughout the world." - Bruce Franklin
These above mentioned words are as true today as they were when they were first written 40 years ago. The importance and relevance of Stalin's great theoretical works were at the core of the international communist movement for damn near 90 years and should serve as a rock-hard foundation for any persyn serious about wanting to re-ignite the socialist fire that was ablaze for the greater part of the last century.
As successful as the imperialists have been in vilifying not just the world revolutionary movement but it's once main proponent, they can never completely succeed in wiping the memory or more importantly the teachings and practice of J.V. Stalin from the minds of countless people around the globe. Yet the imperialists and their quisling lackeys such as Bob Avakian of RCP=U$A fame continue to desiccate Josef Stalin be it by "new", "conclusive", "secret archive" evidence or by the "new synthesis" method of attack. Therefore it is the duty of all the real revolutionaries to defend and uphold the practice of Stalin not just because it is integral to the successful practice of revolution as the people of Korea, Vietnam and Peru can attest to but because to attack Stalin is to attack the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao as well; and the only way of doing this is to (a) study Stalin's works and (b) put it into practice! and we will find that (c) without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement as practice gropes in the dark unless it's path is illuminated by the most advanced revolutionary theory.
In my mission to learn the science of revolution I requested "The Essential Stalin" from MIM Distributors and must say with great certainty that my grasp of Marxism-Leniism-Maoism has been increased ten-fold thanks to my acquiring and diligent study of this most valuable Marxist-Leninist weapon of liberation. From the most intriguing introduction which is packed with such hysterical data that reads like the most vivid novel to "Marxism and the National Question", J.V. Stalin's first major theoretical contribution to the oppressed people of the world and to which any self-proclaimed revolutionary nationalist would be remiss not to study, to the "Foundations of Leninism" in which Stalin always the teacher clearly lays out not just the hysterical roots of the first truly successful revolutionary ideology based on Marx & Engels formulations which led to the worlds first socialist society, but in which he clearly relayed to the Soviet Union that they would stay the course set by Lenin; to "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" in which he explained the rudiments of Marxist philosophy and which was once considered required reading for all members of the Chinese Communist Party or "Marxism and Linguistics" where Stalin in replying to young communists properly put forward the place of language in the revolutionary movement while simultaneously critiquing the dominant Soviet "authorities," i.e. revisionists, or "Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR", Stalin's criticism of "two extreme tendencies in Soviet political economy, mechanical determinism and voluntarism" which were propagated by the new bourgeois in the party who wished to cause the disappearing of man in socialist production.
Surely after leading this communist jewel you will find as did I why it was Mao himself who described Stalin as "the greatest genius of our time" and labeled himself as disciple of Stalin.
Studying Stalin however isn't always the easiest task and requires deep thought. Rest assured however that by completely immersing yourself in Stalin's work and undertaking a painstaking study of it you will be illuminated by the shining path put forward by comrade Stalin, and while he wasn't always the perfect communist for the Soviet Union, he was the best they had and as a result the International Communist Movement flourished.
A clenched fist goes up for the New Afrikan youth Trayvon Martin who was murdered in Sanford, Florida on February 26 2012.
Here we are in this endless cycle of genocide inflicted on the internal semi-colonies. Hunting season is never over in Amerika; it is merely covered up with different words to describe it. But those of us in prisons across Amerikkka understand what is taking place.
It has taken almost two full months for the arrest of George Zimmerman to be finally carried out. That's sad, when a Black 17-year-old is executed in cold blood and the killer is allowed to roam free, but we are arrested for reckless driving and given a life sentence. U.$. soldiers slaughter villages, cut off ears, take photos of themselves urinating on the bodies, without being charged; and when they are charged they walk free. Migrants are shot and killed by white supremacist militia groups, and not only does the corporate media not report it, but bills are currently being pushed through that call for militia groups to formally work in concert with border patrol.
The truth is the state operates in a way that allows many loopholes and leeway for white supremacists to survive and continue their terror. This is seen in the treatment these groups are given from Amerika. If you look closely at this phenomenon it shows us what kind of a rotten system we really live under. The problem is we have been born and raised in this imbalanced existence so we now believe many things are "normal" or "okay" when in fact they are very wrong.
Case in point: the existence of white supremacist militia groups. If we were to have a handful of Chicanos with guns in any house we would be labeled "gang members" and the SWAT team would come in and crush our existence. If a handful of New Afrikans were at a house with guns and a flagpole flying their banner, they would be labeled terrorists and crushed. Yet there are entire compounds of white supremacists with guns and websites proclaiming their objectives, and for the most part Amerika leaves them untouched. Why is this? Well because these neo-Nazi or other white supremacists actually complement the imperialists' agenda here in Amerika in many ways.
In one way they help to keep the mass attention off the state itself, but they also make room for the state to step in and appear as some savior. As in the Trayvon Martin murder, they allow this vigilante psychotic maggot to run amok, allowing the people's anger to boil, and then step in to arrest him. This way many will think "they did the right thing" or "the law works."
These tired old bait-and-switch tactics don't fool nobody. We know Amerika is Zimmerman! Zimmerman is only a physical manifestation of imperialism. Imperialism, like Zimmerman, travels the world stalking Third World nations and then attacking the oppressed nation, latching on and sucking the blood, the resources, leaving a lifeless corpse in its place. They can call Amerika a "colorblind" society; they can allow the public to be "intermingled"; they can nominate Obama as president; but any way you slice it there is no justice to be found here for Brown or Black folks. Our justice will only come from our own hands through struggle.
Racism is generally understood by revolutionaries first and foremost as an outgrowth of the ruling class, which nurtures these white supremacists into fascist foot soldiers. They are imperialism's reserve army and are intertwined with the state apparatus. They have a mutual interest in keeping things "the way they are."
The most we've gotten out of Obama concerning this modern day lynching was him saying "if I had a son he would look like Trayvon." Really? He couldn't even make a speech denouncing the attack on Black people, the problem of white supremacy, or the new caste-like system that encourages these modern day lynchings lest he offend the oppressor nation. But saying nothing at all would offend the Black nation. His "middle ground" was "if I had a son he would look like Trayvon."
These bourgeois politicians serve the ruling class, they serve capital, they serve Wall Street. Our justice may not come tomorrow but it will surely come, and until then let us prepare the people for the cold reality in Amerika.
"I was born in jail." This was Stokely Carmichael's response to a Swedish reporter in 1967 when asked if he was afraid of being sent to jail for helping to organize the Black nation for national liberation and self-determination.(1) In making this very poignant statement, Stokely Carmichael was putting forward the correct political analysis, referring to the prison-like conditions of the Black nation and other internal semi-colonies of Amerika at the time. It's been 45 years since then and a string of reformist struggles have proceeded. The completion of the civil rights movement, the appointment of the first Black U.$. Supreme Court "Justice," and the election of the first Black pre$ident. But have the material conditions of the Black nation truly changed when compared to other First Worlders? According to the Census Bureau statistics for the year 2006, which show more Blacks and Latinos are living in prison cells than college dorms, they have not.(2)
A new documentary titled "The Violence Interruptors: One Year In a City Grappling with Violence" makes this point ever-so-clear. This documentary centers on an imperialist-funded lumpen organization from the streets of Chicago whose membership is primarily made up of ex-gang members. For the most part they have all done some serious time for some serious crimes, but upon their release made a commitment to themselves and their communities that they would help stop the pointless violence that takes so many lives.
These ex-gang members call themselves "Violence Interruptors," which is a reference to their pacifist tactics. They are funded by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Cook County Board of Commissioners and the U.$. Department of Justice, among others. They run the Violence Interruptors under the guise of the non-profit organization called Cease Fire. The initial idea of the Violence Interruptors program was proposed and partly funded by Dr. Gary Slutkin, who upon returning to Chicago from a medical tour of Africa saw the dire straits of the oppressed here and drew parallels to the African experience. But the organization's true roots date back to Jeff Fort, whose life centered around his leadership in a Chicago lumpen organization that had one foot in Black nationalism and one in drugs and gang banging.
In federal prison from 1972 to 1976 due to his use of War on Poverty money from the government, Fort took up aspects of Islam and rebranded and restructured the Almighty Black P. Stone Nation when he got out. Along with other leading members, and at times working with the police, he worked to build peace between lumpen organizations and to keep crack out of Chicago. But of course the Amerikan government never likes to see the oppressed come together for the betterment of our people, even if at first they pretend to agree with what we're doing. So they had Fort arrested and sent back to prison on trumped up terrorism charges, where he remains today. Having successfully neutralized Fort and other early leaders, the Stones today remain a largely divided umbrella for many sets of gang bangers across Chicago, the status quo preferred by the state.(3)
Carrying on Fort's legacy, Ameena Mathews, a former gangster and Jeff Fort's daughter, is a Violence Interruptor. Mathews, like other Violence Interruptors, is no stranger to the streets and sees it as her own persynal responsibility to stop the violence, even if it means putting her own life at risk. An example of this is caught on film when during an interview for the documentary that's being given inside of her home, a fight breaks out on the street. Recognizing that even a one-on-one situation has the potential to turn deadly, she immediately rushed out to try and bring peace to the quickly-growing crowd. While attempting to calm everyone down, a young man saw a rock hurling at his cousin and sacrificially put himself in the line of fire to protect her. He was hit in the mouth. Afterwards threats are made with the promise of gunplay to come, but Mathews quickly ushers the victim away and tells him that he's the real gangsta because he defended his family and defending their families is what true gangsters do.
Eddie Bocanegra, aka "Bandit," is another Violence Interruptor who did 14 years for murder, but who, during his imprisonment, went thru a period of reflection. He recognized that he not only fucked up his life but that of his family and the family of the person he killed. Now on the streets Bandit admits to having identified pride with his gang but now sees that it was all pointless. Besides being a Violence Interruptor, Bandit also visits schools across Chicago in an attempt to counsel oppressed nation youth who might find themselves in similar situations to the ones he once did.
In the film, a delegation from South Africa requested to meet the Violence Interruptors during a recent visit to the United $tate$ in order to find out their secret to keeping the peace. Yet, the delegation became critical of one of the Interruptors' policies, which is to never involve the pigs in the community's affairs. The delegation argued that the Interruptors were not "neutral enough." The Interruptors responded that this was the reason that they were so effective within the community, because the community knows they can confide in and trust the Interruptors with their problems without the fear of being sold out. Certainly the masses are correct to think this way. Problems that arise within the community should be dealt with by the community. To bring in the pigs is only to justify the oppression and occupation of the internal semi-colonies and oppressed communities. The potential problem we see with the Interruptors is that the state is happy to fund them as independent mediators for small meaningless violence, but how do the Interruptors deal with community organizations that are not state-funded, and may come into conflict with the state? The Interruptors present themselves as an independent force, but their funding tells us otherwise.
One indication of the Interruptors' reputation with the community occurs when the family of a young murder victim receives word that his funeral is gonna be shot up by gang members looking for their original target. So seemingly effective and revered are the Interruptors that the murder victim's family calls them to provide security instead of the police. At the end of the ceremony, Ameena Mathews gives a fiery speech in which she righteously calls out all the gang members in attendance and struggles with them to "get real" with their lives because that dead body they were all there paying their respects to was certainly real, and "it don't get more real than that!"
While the documentary was being filmed, sections of the Woodlawn neighborhood, an epicenter of violent drama, came into conflict over a plan to militarize Chicago using the National Guard. The plan was developed by politicians with some members of the community. By building a real, independent peace in oppressed communities, we can eliminate the divisions within oppressed communities triggered by the wild behavior of lumpen youth and form a united front to keep the state's occupation out. The section of the community that spoke out against the call for militarization knows that the National Guard will not provide more safety, only more oppression. This shows that just because the state has gotten smarter about how to control its internal semi-colonies does not mean that they no longer see the need for armed force.
Jeff Fort and the Almighty Black P. Stone Nation's peace activism legacy lives on in the new federally-funded Violence Interruptors. Similarly, the once largely popular efforts of the Gangster Disciples to hold peace summits in Chicago has evolved into a project that works closely with the political machine of the state. Amerika has proven unable to solve the problems that have plagued the ghetto for generations. While Amerika was worried about what the Stones or the GDs might become, they were scared of what the Panthers already were. They drugged and shot Fred Hampton at age 21, while they eventually sent Fort and Larry Hoover to supermax prison cells with very limited contact with the outside world. While Barack Obama has thousands of people murdered across Africa and the Middle East, we see the level of criminality one must have to become a successful Black leader out of Chicago in this country. The imperialist-funded non-profits use pacifism for the oppressed, while painting mass murder for the oppressor nation as "spreading democracy."
Many think that the Violence Interruptors have people power, but in fact they do not, for they wouldn't even exist if they didn't have the blessing of the oppressors. While the short-term goal of the Interruptors is to "stop the violence," the long-term goal of the oppressors in creating the Interruptors is to stop the violence from spilling over onto themselves. They do this by not just co-opting grassroots attempts by the people to overcome their oppression and bring peace to the hood, but by creating organizations such as the Violence Interruptors which in the final analysis are nothing more than sham organizations; it is the bourgeoisie laughing at us.
In the Third World the bourgeoisie forms shadow organization and calls them "communist" in order to split the people and stop them from launching a People's War. In the imperialist countries, like here in the U.$., they either co-opt or infiltrate and wreck those organizations already in existence. While the Panthers were given nothing but the stick, the Stones themselves were easily distracted from the path of the Panthers with the carrot of a little money from the War on Poverty. After destroying any independent mass movements, the imperialists allow and even encourage groups that promote integration or confuse the masses.
While it is true that there is only so much that we can do for the betterment of our class given our current position as oppressed nations within the belly of the beast, we must also recognize the importance of social consciousness on social being and stop letting the circumstances of our imprisonment both in here and on the street dictate to us the confines of our reality. We must come together and build our reality. We must come together and build our own institutions that are there to serve us; institutions of the oppressed. The Black Panthers had this power and we can too. We must learn to reject the bourgeois notion of power, which is only crude power and serves to oppress and exploit. This type of power is currently exhibited by many LOs, both in here and on the streets.
While commending those individuals within the Violence Interruptors who really are trying to do their part to stop the violence, we must also draw a clear line between fighting for self-determination of the oppressed and serving as the friendly face of the imperialist state. We need more allies on the streets doing this work in support of the efforts of MIM(Prisons) and USW in building peace on the inside. Only by building our own institutions of the oppressed will we truly be able to stop the violence that takes so many lives and keeps a substantial portion of oppressed nation youth behind bars.
Brown and Black Unite! All Power to the Oppressed!