The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Strikers Continue until Debriefing Stops

The refusal of this prison to meet all of the five demands has resulted in yet another hunger strike here in Pelican Bay. The demand that was left untouched by prison officials was the debriefing process. This debriefing process has forced people to either snitch on someone or simply make up gangs in order to get out of the torture chamber known as Security Housing Unit (SHU), and this has gone on for decades.

Just think, most people in SHU are here for b.s. and are not even what the prison claims they are, do not really belong to gang xyz, etc. And so when someone can't take the torturous conditions and wants to get out of SHU, officials require them to debrief (inform) on others, yet this person may not even know anything to tell about even if he or she wanted to, so many times this persyn will make up his own random people while at other times this may be the time for personal vengeance like how men are sent to Gitmo often because their neighbor in Pakistan didn't like the loud music he played.

This pathetic way of "weeding out" supposed gang members or security threats is broken and changes nothing, the truth is SHU is a racist operation directed at the oppressed nations. In addition, guards are getting paid higher salaries for working in these units. Of all the people in SHU, none are the rich, the wealthy, no billionaire ever been validated as a gang member, I have yet to meet a millionaire in SHU. We are the poor, those coming from barrios and ghetto projects, those who can't even walk down the street in our hood without getting tracked by a predator pig and slammed against the wall threatened, beaten, or worse we of the oppressed nations are open game in the streets of the united snakes.

Today is the fifth day into the strike and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and most know this. Here in SHU conditions cannot possibly get worse, we are stuffed into solitary confinement boxes, locked into isolation for the rest of our days - what is worse than this existence?

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[Medical Care] [Mental Health] [California]
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Medical Malpractice in the PSUs

One of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) current problems is not enough bed space inside the psychiatric housing units. As a result of this consistent problem prisoner's health and federal rights are being compromised more and more. Currently there are 4900 prisoners in Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) programs, but a large number of EOP prisoners have been awaiting admission into the CDCR Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) for way too long.

This problem could have been solved by the prison administration a long time ago, but with the CDCR, money takes precedence over prisoner's health and well being. They just do their best to camouflage that fact creating legal technicalities to prevent liability. EOP Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners who are currently in the PSUs are suffering and paying the cost of overcrowding. Due to the prison administration's desperation to create bed space for EOP SHU offenders awaiting admission to the PSU, many EOP prisoner's level of care is being lowered without regard to their medical needs by the interdisciplinary treatment team (IDTT) committee members.

Recently a fellow prisoner comrade of mine went to his IDTT hearing, which are held every 90 days. At the hearing he was told that because he is "high functioning" his level of care would be reduced back to Correctional Clinical Case Management System (CCCMS). He told them that he has many medical reasons to stay on EOP level of care to help control his symptoms, including hallucinations and inconsistent changes of behavior. They ignored his medical history and dropped him from the EOP program.

The CDCR takes a mental health patient who isn't functioning well at a CCCMS level of care, and changes his level of care to EOP, to help the prisoner function better. Then they see the positive changes the prisoner has made due to the level of care change, and so they decide to change him back to CCCMS. But there is no help for these prisoners to sustain their progress on CCCMS. That's what the IDTT members are doing to current PSU EOP prisoners simply to make bed space. There's a huge difference in treatment given when in CCCMS compared to being in EOP. there is no possible way a prisoner that requires an EOP level of care can cope at a lower inadequate non-suitable level of care CCCMS! That's medical malpractice! It's the same as forcing a disabled prisoner that can't walk to be restricted from using a wheelchair!

As a United Soldier from Within member I'm asking for the EOP prisoners who are experiencing this type of medical malpractice to come forward by sending a letter to Under Lock and Key and let us know your situation. If we can demonstrate that this is indeed a pattern someone from United Soldiers will be assigned to look into the matter and work on putting a cease to this form of injustice and inadequate medical care.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade demonstrates well the failure of the health care system in Amerikan prisons.

First there is the failure of care in general: prisoners receive abysmal health care services that amount to outright neglect. This got so bad in California that a federal judge put California prisons in receivership under a mandate to fix the health care services. Denial of adequate care leads to an unknown number of deaths and illnesses every year in Amerikan prisons.

In this case, the author is talking about inadequate mental health services. It's important to understand what is meant by "mental illness" under capitalism to put this neglect in context. Prisoners who are locked in isolated cells for years at a time are going to lose their ability to function in society. This is just one example of how the criminal injustice system literally drives people to mental illness.

We don't see mental illness as a fixed situation but rather a result of society. And in fact the definition of this "illness" changes based on who has power in a society. There are many examples in history of communists being labeled "crazy" for their beliefs in the equality of all people. Further, those who are angered and depressed by the exploitation, murder and oppression of the majority of the world's people are given drugs by the capitalist doctors to help make them happier.

There are many people in prison who have been abused by society and then abused by the criminal injustice system. And it should be no surprise that they now have difficulty functioning. We are under no illusions that a little "mental health" treatment is going to fix this problem. But neglect and punishment is certainly only going to make things worse. And the casual moving people from program to program with little regard for their well being described in this article is just a financial and numerical exercise for the prisoncrats.

As we have described in other articles on mental health, we need to keep in mind that we can't rely on the enemy to solve our problems. The criminal injustice system is behind many of the mental health problems in prisons. And so they can not be counted on to provide the solution, which requires more than some capitalist counseling and drugs. We support our comrade's call for adequate health care, but we know that this must be a part of the larger fight against the imperialist system, because the imperialists are the cause of many of our health problems.

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[Organizing] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California]
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CDCR Memos Demonstrate Power of Strike, Fear of Prisoncrats

The CDCR just had the accompanying (Sept 27) memos delivered to the prisoner population here at CSP-LAC. With respect to the memo titled "Review of Security Housing Unit and Gang Policies" I have to say that this is obviously a victory for all California prisoners and a victory wholly owed not just to the thousands of CA prisoners who participated in the mass hunger strike and various outside organizations who helped bring publicity and additional weight to bear to the states deplorable actions, but a victory which could never have come about if those courageous prisoners currently held in the SHU hadn't come together with their strong showing of unity of the oppressed. Indeed, we hope to see more of this in the future.

With that being said, I find it odd that the memo states that CDCR has been in the process of reforming its gang validation process since May 2011, well before the strike. Piece of shit Kernan is trying to give the impression that the reforms have been in the works since before the hunger strike, thereby attempting to deny the SHU prisoners their hard fought victory by making it seem that the reform were inevitable. Ha! Kernan fools no one. The capitulation to the prisoners righteous demands only helps prove MIM(Prisons)'s long standing line and materialist interpretation of history that there are no rights only power struggles. All power to the oppressed.

The second memo titled "Inmate Programming Expectations Relative to Hunger Strikes" is nothing more than the Killafornia Department of Corruptions attempt to threaten and discourage future hunger strikers and leaders from such actions as well as their attempt to encourage divisions within for defensive actions, but the CDC's posturing and threatening memos are futile because as long as there is oppression there will be resistance.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
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Censorship: Epic Battle in PBSP

I have recently been hit with censorship of your mailing sent on 9 September 2011. I did receive prior to that the letter you sent to activists, but then on September 9 I got two 1819 forms indicating disapproval of mail. I have previously won two 602s [grievances] on this very issue, yet they cite the old 2006 memo [a ban on MIM's mail that was overruled years ago].

What happened is the regular Correctional Officer (CO) already been 602'd by me and has seen the 602 granted at the Director level, but he only works five days a week. The other two days a floater works and is not aware of my granted 602. The floater sends it to Institution Gang Investigations (IGI), who says to deny me. I guess the temporary CO is not very fond of MIM. Anyhow, I am sure I'll win the 602 I am submitting, but I know if I do it will take months. If possible, can you send whatever it was again? It seems I'll be having problems getting my mail from MIM Distributors on the regular CO's days off.

I showed my previous 602 that was granted, but was told by the temp "I don't know. They tell us one thing and tell you another. We need to get it straight." This is obviously B.S. because when a 602 is granted, especially at the Director level, it is obviously "straight."

This is a constant barrage of censorship. It's nonstop. I get a 602 granted and then someone comes who don't like MIM literature and then I'm forced to wait months appealing this and missing out on my studies. It is a protracted effort to censor MIM. But nothing MIM(Prisons) says is bad; it's political literature! And why send it to the gang unit when it's political? In Amerika this is how political literature is handled; by labeling it "gang material." This only confirms what MIM(Prisons) says, that there are no rights in Amerika, only power struggles! What happened to the so-called "freedom of the press?"

This prison's population has just gotten done with a three-week hunger strike and now it seems, as one of the participants, I'm now being retaliated on by censoring my political science correspondence course. But I thought the administrators from Sacramento came saying they would work on bettering our conditions if we stopped striking and ate? And now this is the repayment — censoring the ability to think outside this cell, controlling my thoughts, and preventing me from learning anything besides the state's perspective. I can get all the Forbes, Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, etc. that I want, but let me get something that speaks in the interests of poor people and I'm deprived.

This does not surprise me one bit, and I know how to go about the process of appealing. What pisses me off is thinking of all the prisoners across Amerika who also get this Gestapo-like treatment and who won't know how to appeal, or become discouraged and don't try. This is what pisses me off the most. But I know I got to go back to the legal front and go in for another legal battle.

This censorship in prisons is part of the reason prisoners went on hunger strike. This is why people starved; because of the years and decades of not being able to read history books, not being able to take correspondence courses, not being allowed to grapple with ideas. And when prisoners do try to understand critical thought, we are repressed. And when we protest torture, we are repaid with further repression! A society that creates dungeons and employs sadists to unleash all their sick methods on captive poor people, to torture and experiment on with their psychological abuses, is a society that is warped and morally bankrupt.

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 22]
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Still Waiting for Promised Changes from Strike

And so we begin a trickle of improvements here in SHU. A couple of weeks ago we received a memorandum stating we can now purchase sweatshirts, sweatpants and shorts starting immediately. Also prisoners go to committee every six months and so on our next committee if we have gone one year without a writeup we can be approved to purchase colored pens, pastels, art paper and be able to take one photo a year. They have also placed a few different items on the canteen list.

These changes may seem trivial, and in a way they are, but I also see the impact they will have on prisoners mentally. I for one am an artist and I sit here thinking of the art I can create, the revolutionary art I can do with colored pens. I also understand what a photo will mean to my loved ones, yet all of this stuff is really superficial.

The demand with the most meat is that of dismantling the debriefing process, which, according to CDCR officials, is still being "looked at." Even if the other four demands are granted, it is not enough, as we would not be asking for art paper and beanies, had it not been for the Gestapo-like policy of debriefing. If the debriefing process were not in existence the majority of prisoners would not be validated as gang members and associates and the SHU would not exist as we currently know it!

The world has seen the unmasked villain and so the state of California got a nudge to make this 'problem' disappear. They look for what they can do to appease the public and the world, pacifying the prison population, while at the same time maintaining the stranglehold on the imprisoned oppressed nations and keeping the revolutionary prisoners sealed off and isolated from the prison masses out in general populations of other prisons. This is seen in their granting of other demands and not touching their sacred cow - the debriefing process.

I don't see prisoners (especially those in SHU) accepting to spend life in SHU with the debriefing process as it is even if the state gives us photos. Many prisoners do not even have any money on our books to buy sweats or pastels! Most don't have anybody to even send a photo to so what good is it to the indigent prisoner? This decision to grant some demands is devious in its agenda. To properly analyze this "development" we need to look at who this will benefit?

There are in prisons the haves and the have nots, we all know both segments. In prison parasitism is magnified a hundred times. There are conscious or more progressive prisoners who look out for the less fortunate prisoner no matter who it is, and there are others who will only talk to those who have things. The state officials understand this and have employed a means of divide and conquer. On the one hand you have prisoners who will benefit from these crumbs and will be satisfied with the crumbs, and then you have the have nots who see no improvement along with the conscious prisoner who understands that conditions of the SHU, i.e. no photos, no color pens, art supplies, etc, are "symptoms" of the problem but the main problem lies in the SHU itself! Because once you take the SHU out of the picture, or even the debriefing process, all the 'symptoms' such as lack of beanies and sunlight go away. The state understands this and after we gained world attention they gave in and gave us these crumbs but did not give in to the most important demand around the debriefing process.

This effort laid a foundation and opened up contacts for many prisoners and showed the power that comes from such resistance. The footprint has been set and so I'm sure that path will not be forgotten, time will tell if all the demands are met or not.

Real change will not come so long as the imperialists continue their rule. Only when socialism reaches these shores will we see SHU conditions abolished. We can protest today for these abuses and tomorrow new repressive shoots will sprout up and we will be protesting those and on and on. Yet these battles are essential as learning experience and uplifting the political consciousness of prisoners, as well as to develop a current of mutual respect and support between prisoners and activists out in public society, while bringing an even stronger United Front for future efforts. To many so-called activists, prisoners are the last people on their mind, and sadly some don't care what happens to prisoners or care that prisoners are tortured by Amerika. Yet when prisoners begin to struggle and show their humynity it brings many to the prisoners' plight who have previously stood on the sidelines when it came to prisoners' struggles. So as of now the most important of the strike demands, the dismantling of the debriefing process, is still up in the air. So prisoners learn from past efforts while grappling about the future, as we have no choice but to keep struggling against this torture.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 22]
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UF for Peace in Prisons Statement from USW cell

I represent a particular group of individuals who are revolutionary minds of the United Struggle from Within (USW). We believe in anti-imperialism and putting politics in command over everything. Our struggle is the struggle against oppressor nation vs. oppressed nations.

I support the five points of the statement of principles because it is necessary for the unity of all prisoners in order to change the oppressive conditions of U.$. imprisonment on these modern day plantations.

USW is a prison organization guided by MIM(Prisons) and MLM Theory, that believes in the concept and ideology of organization in order to empower the prisoner population. Growth and development is Our motto. We welcome any and all prisoners and groups who are determined to contribute to the works and struggle of this anti-imperialist movement in a protracted way.

We oppose studying persynalities over politics, and we also oppose the idea that violence against individuals builds a stronger movement. As revolutionaries struggling under Maoism, it is Our task to unite all prisoners, and objective to do so by first educating one prisoner at a time. Education, study and practice are the only ways that We are going to be able to develop leaders of the revolution toward a just society free of national oppression, starvation, incarceration, rape, and war. It is the only way We are going to turn people on to the need and possibility of liberation in favor of efforts of the oppressed prisoners to liberate themselves. This United Front statement provides Our organization with the basis to do just that, and therefore is hereby endorsed.

A respectable USW leader,
Loco1

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[Education] [Campaigns]
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Support Free Political Literature Program

support free books to prisoners

Thanks to MIM(Prisons), prisoners from all across Amerika now have the opportunity to discover and learn from various revolutionaries and societies of days gone by.

We can learn of how for the first time in hystory Marx & Engels, thru diligent study of the past and scientific analysis of their hystorical conditions, were able to synthesize socialism into a science, thereby pointing the road forward to emancipation for the proletariat.

We can read of how V.I. Lenin not only defined the decadent and final stage of monopoly capitalism (imperialism), but We can study how he illuminated and laid bare the strategy and tactics of the proletariat, ushering into existence the first socialist state.

We can sort thru all the lies and distortions of the bourgeoisie that have been successfully hurled at the persyn who was the one-time leader of the international communist movement for 30 crucial years; main anti-fascist military strategist of WWII; and leader of that socialist powerhouse, the USSR 1922-53. I am talking about J. Stalin.

We can even learn about the third and final stage of Marxism thus far: Mao Zedong Thought. We can read and draw lessons from how he led one fourth of the world's population to victory over foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism and capitalism by way of national liberation vis-a-vis protracted peoples' war. We can read of the most radical and progressive revolution the world has ever seen, without which socialism will not survive and communism cannot be attained: the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Long Live the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons!


MIM(Prisons) adds: With a little more time and money from our supporters, MIM(Prisons) can expand this important work of spreading revolutionary literature to the prisoner movement. We have revolutionary books, magazines and newspapers that will be sent into prisoners' hands much faster if we have more donations to cover the costs of shipping. The easiest way our supporters can contribute time to our educational work right now is to be a volunteer typist. All you need is access to a computer with an internet connection and you can work with the prisoner study groups and research projects that we support.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [ULK Issue 23]
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FSP Prisoners Unite for Rec and Against Brutality

On cell block one, prisoners were being denied outdoor exercise. In 2003, prisoners won a class action civil suit (titled Osterback v. Singletary) where the court made the ruling that it was against the 8th Amendment to deny Close Management Unit prisoners outdoor exercise.

Still, we were constantly being denied. The prisoners were griping. Another comrade and I decided the conditions were right to direct the people. Thus we set out on a "grievance campaign," forming a nucleus of seven. We enlisted five other prisoners to each make two copies of exemplary grievances (that me and the other comrade pre-wrote), all with different language. This was necessary because the people themselves would not have spent one minute to place pen to paper.

Altogether a good 25 grievances were written by the core body. They were passed on for the people to sign and date, and for others to copy. A good 30 prisoners participated.

On the next designated day of outside exercise, the pigs went from cell to cell asking if anyone desired outside exercise. It was a small victory (however temporary), but it showed what can be accomplished if conditions are ideal and leaders take initiative to direct a movement.

More recently, during exercise time at the outside dog kennels, a prisoner was pulled from his cage and punched in the mouth while in restraints by a sadistic pig. The prisoner requested that the pig remove the handcuffs. The prisoner was then grabbed in a choke and his head was rammed into the cage, carving a deep gash in his head, and knocking him unconscious.

The pig then plotted with his co-workers that they would say the prisoner tried to slip the cuffs. They said that there is no surveillance cameras, therefore nothing can be proven.

Because of the incident they tried to take us back on the cell block, but we refused, and demanded to see a higher ranking official. When the white shirt came we stated the facts. Further, everyone united together and initiated grievance procedures for the victimized comrade.

Three months earlier this same pig bashed another prisoner's head in the wall twelve times and caved that side of his face in. The prisoner was taken to an outside hospital. This sort of police brutality is an everyday occurrence here at Florida State Prison. It has a history for it.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs]
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Lumpen Organizations: Organizations of the Oppressed Feared by the Police

This article was translated and updated by USW C-4 based on an article originally printed in Notas Rojas

Lately there have been news reports about the amount of L.O. related violence. The "solution" proposed is the presence of more police on the streets and barrios of the oppressed nations. In every state where lumpen organizations exist propositions are being heard to raise police funding by millions of dollars. Asking from a reformist perspective, why isn't that money used to create youth training centers for office/trade or education, and the only logical response is that the police, government and white-nation simply want to make life more impossible for oppressed nation people. Above all for Latinos and Blacks.

Lumpen Organizations are a logical extension of capitalist society

When speaking about gangs and violence let's not forget that the most powerful gang and most violent of 'em all is the U.$. government, and it's agencies of protection are the same entities that determine what is and isn't a gang. It can be said that the gang of "Amerikkka" serves as a model for street gangs which are less violent and less powerful. The similarities are obvious: they both defend territories they've taken possession of, many times with violence, they both take part in illegal trade of narcotics and guns for financial gain (and in the case of street-gangs for protection). In the U.$. there was the initiation of chemical warfare on the Black nation in the form of the crack cocaine epidemic which began in the 70s and 80s, also worth noting is the more recent uncovering of CIA agents selling high power firearms to the drug cartels of Mexico. The difference with respect to lumpen organizations and their members is that many times they don't have another option. The government on the other hand does it as a way to enforce it's politics to assure it's hegemonic control over the Third World as well as a form of making money. No one prohibits the government from continuing.

The irony of the matter is that government functionaries are fighting against something that represents the logical extension of the colonizer's society of the U.$. along with it's values and all. The power, the violence and the voracious ambition are all part of the patrimony of the United $tates. Instead of attacking the root of the problem, the pigs favor armed suppression of the youth. To truly solve the problem you have to solve the problem of the nature of society as a whole and destroy the model on which street gangs are based, the military and the government of the United $tates.

Whatever diminishment in gang activity there is due to mass incarceration and/or the augmented presence of pigs will only serve to quiet the issue for a short period of time and might even cause the transfer of the gang to a territory with less police. A real solution to the violence of street crime needs to include the abolition of the system that requires that some live in misery while others live in disgusting and exaggerated wealth, while the rich accuse the poor of not being "smart" like them as an explanation for the wealth.

The inequality of power is a necessary condition of capitalist/imperialist society. The solution requires doing away with this oppressive system. For those who are searching for a more immediate solution for society's problems like gang violence which affect their communities, the community ends up losing when they make it a priority to increase police presence. How many times must it be proven that the police are our enemies. They kill us without a care in the world. See our recent article on David Deacon Turner, former NFL player killed by the pigs.

Many people who witness the more visible violence, that of the LOs and not of the police, are siding with the pigs against the LOs. This is expected for many reasons, including the friendly relationship between the police and the press. The press doesn't occupy itself with exposing the abuses and assassinations by the police.

For this debate the voice that's most needed is that of the LOs and their members. After all, can we trust in the press or in a press conference by the police? Or that the press will lie about the LOs? The LOs and their supporters have reason to stay away from the yellow press; instead they should utilize other methods and mediums in building public opinion to speak for them. This is another of the millions of reasons why the oppressed need their own independent media. LO members are encouraged to write MIM(Prisons) to have their voices heard in ULK and to help develop an analysis of the lumpen by the lumpen for the betterment of the lumpen.

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[Asia] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 22]
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Book Review: A Vietcong Memoir


A Vietcong Memoir: An inside account of the Vietnam war and its aftermath
by Truong Nhu Tang
Vintage Books, 340 pgs.

Truong Nhu Tang (Tang) was the ex-minister of justice for the provisional revolutionary government of the Republic of South Vietnam during their war for liberation. Although Tang came from the petit bourgeoisie before taking up the struggle for national liberation he lends a first hand account of the fight against U.$. imperialism during what has come to be known in the west as the "Vietnam War."

In 1978 Tang became disillusioned with the outcome of the Vietnam victory on the political fringe (this started when his brother and other family were jailed for re-education). He went into exile in Paris, which he describes as an escape for the most part.

From much of the literature on the struggle for national liberation in Vietnam we get a view from the higher levels of leadership with books from Ho Chi Minh or Vo Nguyen Giap, which are very educational but lack a ground level approach to digging in to the operations and set backs of lower level struggles. Although Tang claims to never have been a "communist" he does say he was a nationalist revolutionary and held Ho Chi Minh in high esteem.

The book focuses on how north Vietnam and the communists, or "ideologues" as he frequently describes communists, took control of the south post war and were heavy handed in re-educating those who needed re-education. For revolutionaries studying different phases of struggle whether political, military, or the diplomatic front, this book will prove insightful as Tang is very descriptive in his memoir.

Most here in Amerika have seen on TV how many U$ soldiers died in Vietnam, or seen clips of the carpet bombing that the Amerikan B52 bombers did, perhaps the rare few have seen grainy documentaries showing some pile of dead Vietnamese or entire villages being touched and babies crying with their flesh literally hanging off from agent orange. Indeed most of us know the Vietnamese fought like hell barefooted with an AK47 in hand, marching through the jungle and basically wearing out U.$. troops through guerrilla warfare. There was an overwhelming amount of organizing at all levels including youth, students, religious groups, elderly, mass organizations, political groups, shopkeepers, even the intelligentsia. This raising of consciousness had begun decades before and Tang as a participant in much of this low level organizing gets into these efforts and shows the strengths and weaknesses in this process.

Tang traveled to Paris as a young man to study how to be a pharmacist. It was here where he started his political life, initially in the anti-war movement in Paris. He began to seriously study political science and colonialism. While in Paris he mobilized the Vietnamese community and sought to build public opinion around the the French occupation in Vietnam. During this time Tang abandoned his studies in pharmacology and his family cut off his financial allowance. His wife was pregnant and with him in France.

At this juncture Tang's political future was at a crossroad. This happens even here in Amerika where at some point one must make some decision in life about what direction one's life will go, and like Tang, many times one's friends, wife, husband, or family will not understand or agree with one's political beliefs and thus one must make that leap to become a revolutionary or be persuaded to just live one's life. Although Tang doesn't analyze or dig into this, as you read the book you see his predicament and see him leap into the thick of it. When faced with this, he and his wife decide it's best she goes back home to Vietnam to have the child while he goes on surviving any way he can, taking odd jobs while continuing his political agitation. It was here that he met the French Communist Party (FCP) members and intellectuals, and although he didn't quite agree with the FCP on their stance with Vietnam he began to develop his political ideas.

After receiving a master's degree in political science, Tang returned to Vietnam where he describes an environment of revolutionary fervor with almost everyone sympathizing with the Viet Minh. He goes on to hook up with a guerilla unit and went on an ambush of French forces. This taste of struggle for liberation sways Tang to get in on the fight for independence.

Tang describes how they began to form the underground resistance that evolved into the National Liberation Front (NLF). This happens in "Saigon," very much an urban struggle, so it proves to be insightful for anyone interested in organizing in a city in an underground group. Tang discusses his creation of numerous committees, mass organizing and the art of propaganda, and even takes you to the jungles where he had his ministry. He tells of how they would hear the bombs raining down, as the guerrillas scramble for the bunkers. Some succumb to what Tang describes as "internal convulsions" where one urinates or shits oneself involuntarily. Tang was living in a constant state of anxiety or combat fatigue, within this environment of constant harassment from opposition, bombings, and attacks, while still carving out a liberation struggle and tending to affairs within the unit or region, and maintaining his ministry while surviving on a handful of rice twice a day. This sacrifice was really something to read about. Imagine holding a study group on Marx or guerilla warfare while the bombs get you scrambling to a bunker, and all for no financial incentive as would be required by Amerikans, but just to free themselves. This was powerful.

I saw slight similarities (of course on a whole different level) between prisoners within U.$. gulags who may be in a constant state of alert, harassed by guards or even at war with a backwards element of the prison population. And within all the chaos that environment can bring, with storm troopers raiding your cell at 2:00 a.m., or putting you on potty watch, or confiscating all your literature, not allowing literature to enter the prison, going to the hole, maybe getting shot, etc. And within all this madness many prisoners continue their studies and struggle to liberate themselves and their oppressed nation. I think many would also find strength and inspiration in learning how many prisoners also develop under such overwhelming odds within U.$. prisons.

There were times when Tang would be arrested and described how he was tortured with electric shock by the pro-imperialist Vietnamese government. I would have liked to hear more of how the Vietnamese prisoners organized, as it is well known that even under French occupation the Vietnamese prisoners saw prisons as "Schools of Liberation" and had their own culture and living guidelines within prison. They had study groups and developed the masses into revolutionaries. It's too bad Tang didn't go into all this but it seems his prison stays were not very long, the longest being ten days. It appears his connections to the Vietnamese bourgeoisie, having a brother who was a high level air force fighter and another who was a high level banker seemed to get him out of prison very fast.

After the war ended and the last helicopter fled the embassy Tang describes the situation as chaotic. But again he was there struggling to rebuild his homeland. It was during this time that many were told to report for re-education and Tang himself says he drove his brothers down to be re-educated. He even led some of the re-education classes and engaged in criticism-self-criticism. However, once his brothers were taken to a re-education camp for the long term his stance on the post-war situation changed. Tang's two brothers were high level military, one being an officer, and although one of his brothers was released (through his efforts and letters to government leadership) one was kept in camp. It was at this point that Tang withdrew and resigned from politics, eventually moving out to a country farm and later sneaking out into exile in Paris.

It is clear his actions were subjective and he notes that many people were not political but nationalistic in their ideas. He argues that the post war government was too heavy handed. From what I read it did appear the NLF was pushing a more nationalistic line rather than a revolutionary nationalist approach. I think that if the NLF had focused their organizing efforts more on raising the people's political consciousness rather than focusing on a nationalist line they wouldn't have had such a hard time post war.

I would have liked to hear more on China and the Soviet Union at that time as Tang was part of a Vietnamese delegation that toured these countries. But he doesn't weigh in on the Soviet revisionism, rather saying Vietnam stayed neutral on the "Sino-Soviet" dispute as he calls it. He does say Vietnam cozied up first to the Soviets but later alluded to his dislike of Kruschev, especially his anger at being left for two weeks in a Russian hotel when he was supposed to be touring the country.

A reader will find this book insightful for the winding paths that were taken to build a movement full of committees and coalitions, underground parties and guerrilla networks all with the end goal of defeating U.$. imperialism. After reading this book I appreciate more the efforts of MIM(Prisons) and what they do to raise our consciousness.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The Vietnamese struggle was a heroic one that is still at the forefront of the global anti-imperialist legacy. After they defeated the imperialists, the most advanced political thinking of the time did not take hold in Vietnam's leadership, preventing socialism from developing. But as the reviewer discusses, there is still much to learn from this book about the successful struggle and organizing, especially under such horrible repression by U.$. bullets and bombs. We point readers to a book review of Ho Chi Minh: A Life for a more complete picture of the history of the revolution in Vietnam, and the political line of the post-revolution government.

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