The 2012 London Olympics are almost upon us and the world waits, holds their breath even, in anticipation of this most glorious of events which will surely decide what country can lay claim to the best athletes bar none.
But take a closer look and you'll see that the Olympics are in all actuality nothing more than bourgeois propaganda; a multifaceted cultural and ideological weapon of the international bourgeoisie in which they pretend that the world isn't divided into oppressor and oppressed nations. Through the institution of the Olympics the international bourgeoisie seeks to make us believe that the entire humyn species is all living in harmony as equal members of one big happy family, and that the nations of the world co-exist peacefully as if all are members of one big "global village" with the exception of some "rogue states." Nothing however could be further form the truth! Part of that truth being that the Olympics are really just another synonym for this "global village" construct, a construct used to white-wash reality.
The term and concept of what the petty-bourgeoisie ideologues have deemed "global village" and what the big bourgeoisie have in turn labeled more correctly as "globalization" can be more appropriately elaborated and defined as "...a supra class, supranational and universalist process of irresistible all around homogenization of the world under the auspices of monopoly capitalism, through the multilateral agencies (United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB/IBRD) and World Trade Organization (WTO)) and the multinational or transnational firms and banks."(1)
But this ain't no nit-wit critique of the process of globalization per the mythical "99%," who aren't 99% of anything but more like part of the top 13% of the richest people in the world!(2) No, this is a critique of the "global village" construct which has its origin rooted in petty-bourgeois ideology just like the "99%," and which is but a rephrasing of that same process of "globalization" from the international bourgeoisie, as if both the exploiters and exploited are all in the global struggle for humynity together! But we communists know this construct and its material reality by its original name: imperialism!
As previously stated, the Olympics don't just serve to gloss over national and class contradictions on a global scale. They also serve as an extension and propagation of bourgeois ideology a la "human nature," i.e. that always inherent drive to compete.
Indeed, the Olympics serve to keep both the masses of the world and the more progressive wing of the enemy population distracted from the harsh reality of imperialist society (as do professional sports in general). The reality is that the imperialists are on a global rampage in which they're voraciously and ruthlessly raping and plundering the oppressed people of the world and their national territories, i.e. Latin America, Africa and Asia (the Third World). The lie that is the concept of the "global village" exaggerates "...the coherence of the world capitalist system to the point of glossing over the distinction of national modes of production"(1) and its main proponents are in the oppressor states: the industrialized and ethnologically developed countries, the First World, principally the United $tates.
Furthermore, "globalization"/imperialism pretends that the dismantling of national barriers to the operation of capital markets and finance capital brings progress to the Third World or "developing economies" whilst the idealistic and naive petty-bourgeoisie of both the imperialist countries and the Third World believe it. But the truth of the matter is that the "...counterproductive character of neocolonialism is the result of imperialist financing for the overproduction of raw materials and some manufactures for the consumption of the capitalist countries and the upper classes in the underdeveloped countries since the 70s."(1)
On top of this, the popularization of the global village concept isn't just done by the bourgeoisie. This fake global concept is even propagated by so-called "communists" principally in the First World thru the guise of revisionist trickery!
On the one hand we have the barefaced bourgeoisie who uses these concepts to deny Lenin's formulation of imperialism and proletarian revolution, saying that it belongs to the past and that the current neocolonial system is a "post-imperialist phenomenon," as if imperialism and all its tools of oppression and exploitation have all but withered away!
On the other hand we have the so-called and sometimes self-proclaimed "Maoists" in the First World who are really nothing but crypto-Trotskyists that spread the false notion, correctly criticized by MIM, that "...the world proletarian revolution can only be the result of a simplified struggle between a globally united monopoly bourgeoisie and the world proletariat and that the total collapse of the unified imperialism is impending despite the current state of the subjective forces of the revolution in the world."(1)
We must take the time to study and analyze the world around us and its history thru the historical materialist perspective and from the point of view of the oppressed and exploited Third World masses. We need to look at the two great socialist projects of the 20th century. The first was born from the First World War and strong proletarian leadership, and the second was born of the Second World War and strong peasant backing which gave further credence and elaboration to the importance of national liberation and the correct theory that socialism can only be accomplished one country at a time, of which the establishment of the USSR should have proved to the muddle-headed. This study makes clear that the global village/globalization concept that the bourgeoisie uses to deceive the masses and the world is the same theory the revisionists use to accomplish the aims of their bourgeois brethren.
So when you're watching the Olympics this summer remember two things: 1) The world isn't one big happy family. It is divided into oppressor and oppressed nations. This is the principal contradiction on a world scale, while the fundamental contradiction on a world scale is the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat. The Olympics are nothing but the vain attempts of the international bourgeoisie, and imperialist states to whom they are bound, to cover up national and class contradictions and to white-wash reality so that we will confuse the true prize of national liberation, self-determination and complete emancipation from the imperialists for gold medals. 2) Just as the global village construct of the petty-bourgeoisie that dominates that class is a myth and a lie, so is the global village thesis of the crypto-Trotskyists (simultaneous world revolution) which they've specifically tailored to their purposes. It is an ideological weapon of the revisionists used to fool the oppressed nations within U.$. borders into believing that we need not seek national liberation and self-determination for ourselves because according to them all nationalism is bourgeois in essence and "the whole world comes first!"
Lenin, Stalin and Mao all took clear positions on the national question which was liberty at its core; so why can't the First World "communists"? Ask yourself this, go into deep thought, study the question and you will be enlightened ten-fold.
As we convene our third congress, we approach our five year anniversary as an organization. While members of MIM(Prisons) — and even more so USW — have been in the prison movement for longer, we find this an opportune milestone to reflect back on where the prison movement is at and how it has developed.
In 2011 a series of hunger strikes in California made a great impact countrywide. Many activists, from crypto-trots to anarchists to reformists, rallied around this movement and continue to focus on prison work as a result. While our predecessors in MIM saw the importance of the prison movement decades ago, their foresight is proving more true today as we begin to reach a critical mass of activity. It is now a hot issue within the left wing of white nationalism, which is significant because whites are not affected by the system extensively enough to call it a true material interest.
This gradual development has been the result of two things: agitation around the facts of the U.$. injustice system on the outside, and prisoner organizing on the inside, both of which MIM and USW have been diligently working on for decades. In the last year and a half, prisoner organizing came to a head with the Georgia strike and the California hunger strikes, which were both coordinated on a statewide level. While getting some mainstream and international attention, these events rang particularly loud among the imprisoned, with a series of similar actions still developing across the country (recently in Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, the federal supermax ADX, Limon in Colorado and a follow-up hunger strike in Georgia).
Meanwhile, the agitational side of things came to a bit of a head with the release of the book The New Jim Crow last year. This book has continued to get lots of play from many different sectors of the political spectrum. And while in most cases those promoting the book are amenable to the lackluster conclusions, the organization of these facts into a book stand for themselves. It requires a very biased viewpoint to read this book and then turn around and deny the national oppression faced by the internal semi-colonies through the U.$. injustice system. Therefore we think the overall effect of this book will be both progressive and significant, despite its limitations.
It is for these reasons that we see this as a moment to seize. When we started five years ago we had the great fortune of building on the legacy and existing prisoner support programs of MIM. The ideological foundation that MIM gave us allowed us to focus our energies on more practical questions of launching a new prison publication, building support programs for comrades that are released, developing correspondence political study programs, and launching a new website that features the most comprehensive information on censorship, mail rules, and abuses in prisons across this country.
With our infrastructure built and steadily running, we need to look at ways to take advantage of the relative consciousness of prisoners right now and the relative attention the U.$. population has on the prison system. We have always said that without prisoners organized there is no prison movement, so we see that as the principal prong of attack. Thus, we are taking steps to improve the structure of United Struggle from Within (USW), the mass organization for prisoners that was founded by MIM and is now led by MIM(Prisons). Building on suggestions from some leaders in USW, we have enacted a plan to form councils in states where there are multiple active USW cells. Below we further explain an organizational structure for our movement, so comrades know where they fit in and how they should be relating to others.
As we saw during the California strikes, censorship increases, as do other repressive measures, when organization expands. So as we step up our efforts, we can expect the state to step up theirs. We will need more support than ever from volunteers on the outside to do legal and agitational work to keep the state faithful to their own laws and regulations.
As big as those challenges are, the internal challenges will be even greater hurdles for us to jump in the coming years. The recent large mobilizations have begun to reveal what these challenges will be. And there is much work to be done to identify, analyze and work to resolve the contradictions within the prisoner population that allows for the current conditions where the state dictates how these vast populations of oppressed people interact with each other and live out their lives.
The prison movement that arose before the great prison boom that began in the 1980s was a product of the national liberation struggles occurring at the time. Today, the prison population is ten times as big, while the political leadership on the outside is scarce. The prison masses must guard against the great number of misleaders out there opportunistically grabbing on to the issue of the day to promote political goals that do not serve the oppressed people of the world. Prisoners may need to step up to play the leading role this time around, which will require looking inward. We must not only learn from the past, but also build independent education programs to develop the skills of comrades today to conduct their own analysis of the conditions that they face. On top of that we must promote and develop an internationalist worldview, to find answers and alliances in the oppressed nations around the world, and remove the blinders that keep us only focused on Amerika. There is no liberation to be found in Amerikanism. That Amerikans have created a prison system that dwarfs all others in humyn history is just one example of why.
So it is with cautious optimism that we approved the resolution below at our recent congress. We think this plan addresses proposals submitted by some USW leaders, and hope you all will work with us to make this an effective structure.
Congress Resolution on USW Structure
MIM(Prisons) is initiating the creation of statewide councils within United Struggle from Within (USW), the anti-imperialist mass organization for prisoners. A council will be sanctioned when two or more cells exist within a state that are recognized as active and abiding by the standards of USW. MIM(Prisons) will facilitate these councils, where the focus is on practical organizing around the needs of the imprisoned lumpen in that state. As the U.$. prison system is primarily organized by state, the councils will serve to develop and address the specific needs and conditions within each state.
In the case where cells have identities other than "USW" we do not require them to use that name. For example, the Black Order Revolutionary Organization, which self-identifies as a "New Afrikan revolutionary movement," may be invited to participate in a USW statewide council. While USW itself does not favor the struggles of any oppressed nation over another, as a movement we recognize the usefulness and importance of nation-specific organizing. In the prison environment there may be lines that cannot be crossed in current conditions which limit the membership of a group. As long as these cells exhibit true internationalism and anti-imperialism they may possess dual membership in USW by joining a statewide council.
With this proposal we are expanding the structure of our movement. We recognize two main pillars to the ideological leadership of our movement at this time. One being the MIM(Prisons) cell, and the other being the Under Lock & Key writers group, which is made up of USW members and led by and facilitated by MIM(Prisons). The statewide councils should look to these two groups for ideological guidance in their organizing work, mainly through the pages of Under Lock & Key. In contrast, the councils' main function will be in practical work directly serving the interests of the imprisoned lumpen. They will serve to coordinate the organizing work of scattered USW cells in a more unified way across the state.
MIM(Prisons) will be initiating the California Council immediately, with others to follow as conditions allow.
Recently I received notice of change to regulations number 12-03, publication date 25 May 2012, effective date 10 May 2012, that is said to affect sections 3000, 3375 and 3375.6. It states the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeks to establish requirements for an automated needs assessment tool to be used to place prisoners in programs that would aid their re-entry to society and reduce their chances of reoffending by identifying the criminogenic needs of offenders.
The presentation appears to be harmless, but it is not harmless for those ignorant enough to boast about their gang involvement, family criminality, and other sensitive factors that will become readily available and quickly cross-referenced and correlated with information contained in intelligence files. In addition, the information gained from the compass core assessment official record can be used as an "administrative determinate" under 15 CCR 3375.2(b)(11) in addition to 3375.3 (9)(4)(A) & (B) which is the foundation not only for validation but for intelligence analysts.
Since the 1880s the concept of boycotting, or organizing to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with prison/jail stores or commissaries, has been a very powerful tool. In California it deprives the CDCR of a source of revenue. It also affects the bottom line of prison profiteers, whose profits are guaranteed by what amounts to cash transactions for hundreds of millions in profits and revenues, courtesy of prisoners who lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for a while in order to exercise necessary economic leverage, to compel some administrative change.
Prisoners in California should remember that canteen goods originally were purchased at wholesale prices and then marked up 10% and the proceeds over the costs and expenses went into the prisoner welfare fund to finance many programs and activities that benefited prisoners. This changed with the rise of Pete Wilson, the governor who used prisoner welfare funds to help finance a re-election bid which opened the flood gates for all sorts of misuse of the foundational purpose of the prisoner welfare fund.
The validation process is a means of control and manipulation that I have noted that some general population prisoners and sensitive needs yard (SNY/PC) prisoners embrace as a sort of badge of honor, only to belatedly find out the effects. In ULK 26an Oregon prisoner points to the most significant problems with the divisive nature in the development of LOs who are in competition with each other.
It's common for me to hear cats hollering that they are Blood this, Blood that. Crip this or Crip that, Norteño, Southsider, Bulldog, skin head, nazi, etc., trying to tout some bogus gangsta facade that ordinarily would land them on Corcoran SHU 4B and validated. These boastful cats are easily co-opted and manipulated. Their delusions of grandeur provide Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) with a wealth of intelligence via their eyes and ears on the tier.
A perfect example is the Corcoran prisoner's statement about cats in ASU I (Administrative Segregation) laying down in fear of IGI retaliation for exercising their right to file an appeal! Typically conversations over the tier are recorded when IGI doesn't have a reliable agent to make note of what he sees and/or hears. As to the idea of not taking a cellie as a form of protest, the typical response is privileges taken for 90-180 days and 60-90 days of early release credits are taken. Cats who are addicted to sports programs or television or canteen will cave in every time because they lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for the cause.
Prisoncrats treat gang membership or association as a tool of extortion used in their agenda of touting the violent nature of street or prison gangs.
The CDCR is rife with crooked officials and staff and the secretary, governor and legislature are unable and unwilling to purge itself of those who regularly falsify reports. Supervisory staff/officials fail to address the problems so as to encourage the misconduct and repression. At the same time they are quick to feed a naive public a laundry list of bogus incidents to justify the administration's unwillingness to reform itself.
I try to examine all aspects of the criminal injustice system to see what tactics we can utilize in our struggle effectively, even if I have to employ them alone. I sacrifice luxuries already so I know it's possible and a little something for all to consider.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good topic of discussion: it's important we evaluate the tactics that will be effective in fighting prison repression. There are a limited number of protest options available to prisoners, and some will be more effective than others. Whichever tactics are best may vary by prison or state, but the fundamental task of building unity for the struggle remains the same across the entire criminal injustice system. Comrades in California continue to strategize on the best ways to build on the recent prisoner rights activism there. Join United Struggle from Within and work with other anti-imperialist prisoners so that we aren't stuck employing tactics on our own, but rather in a united front across facilities, organizations and nationalities.
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!