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[Elections] [ULK Issue 53]
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Fascism: Are We There Yet?

Trump Hilary Imperialism

We don't support or uphold the current U.$. political process as a viable means for the liberation of U.$. internal oppressed nations and semi-colonies. Bourgeois politics work for the imperialists and the bourgeois class. However, assessing the current election cycle provides a glimpse into the social dynamics of U.$. imperialist society. It allows us to gauge the level of parasitism and privilege that is generally characteristic of First Worlders. In short, we can better clarify who are our friends and enemies as well as determine what actions we need to take in order to push the national liberation struggles forward.

This presidential election season we saw very deliberate rhetoric that contains elements of fascism. Huge numbers of Euro-Amerikans have shown unshakable support for Donald Trump's idea of how to "make amerika great again." Trump has made it explicitly clear that ey despises Mexicans. Ey advocates for extralegal violence against people of color, particularly those individuals who had the audacity to exercise their "right" to protest Trump's racist, hateful campaign. And Trump's view and treatment of wimmin, while not surprising, reaches a new low in gender oppression. To put it succinctly, Trump represents more than working class jobs for Euro-Amerikans, who feel that Amerika is changing for the worse. Ey is offering them a vision of payback and retribution for all the perceived slights and humiliation that Euro-Amerikans have endured in respect to their place in U.$. imperialist society. Needless to say, a Trump presidency would have serious consequences for the climate and space for organizing for liberation within the United $tates.

Opposing Trump was Hilary Klinton, who may check all the boxes for "minority" support, but will continue along the same path as Obama. Likely, ey will be even more hawkish and ready to engage militarily to defend empire.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The recent U.$. presidential campaign had a lot of people reeling over whether Clinton or Trump is more of a fascist. So we decided to have our special election issue devoted to the question of fascism as MIM(Prisons) sees it. We don't completely agree with the author's analysis above, which we hope to explain further in this article and throughout this issue of ULK.

In order to analyze fascism, a study of historical materialism and dialectics is very helpful.(1) Capitalism is characterized by the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Imperialism is an escalated form of capitalism, and Lenin analyzed imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism. So imperialism has the same fundamental contradiction as capitalism (bourgeoisie vs. proletariat), but it is on an international scale and the world is divided into oppressor nations and oppressed nations; it is also divided into exploiter countries and exploited countries (which are not parallel divisions).

When the proletarian forces (the secondary aspect of this contradiction) grow in strength and overcome the bourgeois forces, then the economic system will change from capitalism to socialism. We saw examples of this movement towards socialism in the early-to-mid 20th century across Africa, Latin America, and most of Eurasia, with solid socialist states established in the Soviet Union and China. In response to the spread of socialism, the imperialists committed coup d'etats and backed the installation of fascist leaders in several countries.

We can see that the proletariat defeating the bourgeois oppressors is not a simple process. As the antagonisms between the proletariat and bourgeoisie (and all the inherent sub-classes of these two groups) increase, humyn society reaches a fork in the road. This is called the unity of contradiction. Humynity will be at a crossroads between socialism and fascism. At this point, the secondary aspect (the proletariat) of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism may overcome the dominant aspect (the bourgeoisie), but if fascism grows in strength and popularity, this is a clue that the socialist and proletarian forces are losing. If the communists are doing a good job in their work, then we should see more economic systems turning toward socialism. If they are maintaining those successes well, with cultural revolutions as we saw in China under Mao Zedong in 1966-1976, then we can expect those successes to evolve toward communism worldwide.

Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we're in a fascist scenario now, or we're moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it's natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven't moved into fascism as an overall system.

The imperialists want to protect their economic interests, but actually any imperialist who's good at eir job is a bourgeois internationalist and would put off moves toward fascism until absolutely necessary. It's a more difficult system for the imperialists to maintain. The mass base that historically pushes for fascism the most, to protect their own material interests, is the labor aristocracy. Living in the United $tates, surrounded by labor aristocrats, our primary task as communists in the First World is to combat labor aristocracy denial. The more that people believe themselves to be oppressed by "corporate capitalism," when actually they are benefiting immensely just from living within these borders, the harder it will be for us to fend off fascism.

One of the myths of fascism is that average Amerikans would suffer under it. That's not actually the case — average Amerikkans would benefit from fascism just as they benefit from imperialism. It might be a little less convenient to consume than we do today, and some liberal privileges may be curbed for the "greater good," but the wealth acquired by the labor aristocrats would still be an extractive process; extracted from the Third World where the United $tates already exercises a much higher level of imperialist brutality more closely resembling fascism than what is experienced in this country.

So how does Trump v. Clinton fit into this dialectical analysis?

Capitalism is characterized by a class contradiction (bourgeoisie vs. proletariat), yet the principal contradiction is nation. So a lot of this question of how the U.$. presidential race fits into the question of fascist development in the United $tates rests on how the national contradictions interact with class contradictions.

Except for a very small minority, on the whole people in the First World are aligned with the bourgeoisie. And this includes oppressed-nation internal semi-colonies. Even organizing among the oppressed-nation lumpen, one of the most oppressed groups in U.$. society, we still see a lot of loyalty to empire.

While this election itself was not much different than other elections, Trump's rhetoric increases antagonisms along national and gender lines, which encourages the openness of these sentiments in general society. Male and white chauvinisms already belong to capitalism and imperialism, so an increase in these sentiments aren't necessarily a move toward increased fascism. In this case, Trump's sexism is just a fluctuation within the realm of imperialism.

Clinton's election rhetoric (not to be confused with eir practice) was not as antagonistic on national or gender lines. Eir political practice is of course different than eir rhetoric (as with any politician for as far back as this responder has studied). Clinton and Sanders are more avid supporters of the labor aristocracy's interests than Trump. Clinton and Sanders favor a $15/hour minimum wage, union organizing, etc., where Trump wants to gut worker protections in favor of the capitalists.

Trump's rhetoric is not bourgeois internationalist. Ey promotes an "isolationist" position, meaning ey wants the United $tates to isolate itself from the rest of the world. (In practice it is unlikely that the Republican party would actually carry out isolationism at this point in time as imperialist profits come from internationalist plunder.) Trump doesn't support the TPP or NAFTA, whereas Clinton is more of a bourgeois internationalist who does support NAFTA and did support the TPP until it became inopportune for eir campaign. Clinton has more of a geopolitical interest in eir presidency. Trump panders to Amerikkkans' national interests. Ey doesn't pander to the imperialists. Clinton panders to both the U.$. labor aristocracy and imperialists' economic interests.

National contradiction and fascism

How do the national contradictions within the United $tates interact with the international class contradiction (proletariat vs. bourgeoisie)? In other words, we know the Amerikkkan labor aristocracy is pro-fascist in its core, but how would the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies fare?

If Trump's leadership increases antagonisms between the oppressor nation (Amerikkka) and the oppressed internal semi-colonies, then that would be reversing a lot of the assimilation that has been so important since the 1970s in quelling legitimate uprising of the people in this country. This may be why the republiklans were apprehensive of supporting Trump. They remember (if not persynally then at least historically) how important this assimilation has been to maintain their nation's political power. They don't want Trump to disrupt that stability.

If Trump's rhetoric is dividing the labor aristocracy (along national lines), undermining the integration that helped Amerikkka keep power coming out of the 1960s, this is likely actually bad for the bourgeoisie and bad for capitalism. It reduces the amount of support that the imperialists might enjoy in hard times, because Trump alienates the oppressed-nation bourgeois-affiliated classes.

With more racism, there would be more national oppression, and the oppressed-nation bourgeois classes would likely become targets of the fascist elements. This would align the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies more with Third World struggles. The bourgeoisie doesn't want to make more enemies unless it has to, especially domestically. So this question of "what about the oppressed nation labor aristocracy?" is parallel to the question of integration and assimilation that we deal with every day in our work already. We see lots of integration but we also see lots of national oppression. It's hard to predict how the oppressed nations would fare under U.$. fascism, but at least some classes, and likely some entire nations, will be subject to fascist oppression.

In reality today we see the strongest expression of fascism in Third World countries where the United $tates supports or actively installs dictators to put down popular uprisings. A good example of this would be the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, which was brought to power by a U.$.-backed coup in 1973 after the popularly elected government led by Salvador Allende began implementing too many anti-imperialist policies. Pinochet's government banned all leftist organizations and arrested, murdered, tortured and disappeared tens of thousands of Chilean people who expressed or acted on disagreement with this imperialist-backed fascist dictatorship. There are similar examples in other countries around the world where activists, especially communist organizations, gain significant footholds and Amerikan imperialism then steps in to help fascist governments come to power to suppress this popular uprising that threatens imperialist profits.

People who rally around anti-fascism but not anti-imperialism will do little to liberate oppressed people in the United $tates or around the world. Capitalism is the economic system that makes exploitation and oppression possible, and we need to oppose all forms of capitalism, whether in its highest stage or on steroids.

Note:
1. MIM(Prisons) distributes several essays on the topic of hitorical and dialectical materialism from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. We also run a correspondence study group that studies the essay "On Contradiction" by Mao Zedong, which looks in-depth about how all contradictions interact with each other, and how history and societies develop.
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[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 53]
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Who Says the Masses Can't Lead?

For those of us who have received a political education and are locked away in Amerikkka's prisons, the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity should be a call to action. As many people as have been involved in MIM and MIM(Prisons)-led study groups over the years, comrades should be more than clear on what their duties and responsibilities are to the prison struggle as well as to the International Communist Movement (ICM). The fact that September 9 events are still few and far between is therefore continuing indicative proof of a variety of contradictions still plaguing the prison movement. This essay attempts to address and give special attention to the development of the mass line.

Some people who have shown interest in taking up revolutionary politics incorrectly believe that they must spend years on end learning political theory before they are ready to take up revolutionary struggle, especially when it comes to applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. However, this type of thinking is incorrect, not only because it has the potential to slow down revolution, but because it can be used to purposely derail the revolutionary movement. Just think — where would any revolutionary movement be if everyone always sought to first become an expert in any particular field before they did anything? This is what Maoists criticized as the "experts in command" approach to education, production and revolution in communist China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) (1966-1976), the furthest advance towards communism in humyn hystory!

The experts in command political line was initially related to the intellectual belief during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), that only experts with years of training (usually within the confines of a classroom or a controlled environment) were worthy enough to lead or teach. This same line was later used by traitors and the bourgeoisie in the Chinese Communist Party itself as a way to disempower the revolutionary masses and consolidate their grip on power.

In opposition to experts in command, Mao Zedong and others began popularizing Lenin's slogan of "fewer, but better" by pointing out that it wasn't necessary for comrades to have years of experience in political struggle before they were able to take up leadership roles. Instead Mao stressed comrades' dedication to serving the people as more important than this "expertise." Furthermore, Mao encouraged cadre to not separate themselves from the revolutionary masses, but to work amongst them and help them develop the mass line. To develop and carry out the mass line is simply to help the masses develop and carry the revolutionary programs that will best help them accomplish the task of developing revolution and achieving self-determination. Without the mass line revolution is impossible; the masses will sink ever deeper into despair, while the leaders lead the revolutionary movement astray and the oppressors will rein. Mao Zedong's instructions for cadre to develop the mass line are thus:

"In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge." - Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership

Mao also said it would be enough for comrades to first put an emphasis on being "red" with an aim towards becoming experts through continued participation in revolutionary struggle.

There is also the problem of intellectuals in the prison movement. But does this mean that all intellectuals in the prison movement are a problem? No, of course not. There are revolutionary intellectuals and there are bourgeoisie intellectuals. Revolutionary intellectuals hate oppression, they value knowledge as power and the collective accomplishments of many people, and they are dedicated to using their knowledge to serve the people. Bourgeois intellectuals on the other hand don't much care if people are oppressed, they are apathetic, they value knowledge for the sake of knowledge and they view the accumulation of knowledge as the accomplishment of great individuals. Some of these people may sometimes cheerlead for anti-imperialism and revolutionary struggles, but thru their inaction they actually hold up imperialism. Such people often excel in MIM(Prisons)-led study groups. These types of people take up revolutionary politics for the sole purpose of study and discussion without application, which is to say that they get off on talking about revolution but very rarely do they go further. These types of people give lip service to communist ideology and the topic of national liberation. When pressed on putting their knowledge to use they'll suddenly come up with excuses. "Now is not a good time for me," "The masses aren't ready," "The movement isn't ready," etc, etc. In fact it is they who are not ready!

Real revolutionary intellectuals don't study revolutionary theory for the sake of knowledge, but to make revolution. Theory without practice ain't shit! Mao addressed this in his essay "On Practice":

"What Marxist philosophy regards as the most important problem does not lie in understanding the laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world."

Maoism teaches us that there is no great difference between politically conscious leaders and mere followers, between leaders and led. The only difference is practice, for practice alone is the criterion of truth for knowledge, as it is through practice that the masses can come to power and exert influence over their destiny.

Notes: Third Draft of Criticism of the RCP by MIM.
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[Elections] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 53]
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Hearing Voices

Bernie Sanders Open Borders

The deeply appreciated efforts of MIM inspire me to see with a different view the same circumstances. Let's look at the current election:

Both candidates have an utterly failed platform. The Amerikkkan elections are about Amerikkkan hegemony; keeping Amerikkka the richest and most militant/violent nation on earth.

There is no revolutionary voice or worthy candidate. Have we heard anyone say "All the wealth of the world belongs to all the people of the world?" That's the revolutionary voice.

Have we heard any candidate say "The goal of humynity, including politics, is to solve the problems of hunger, lack of shelter, cure diseases and end oppression across the globe. Politics is NOT meant to exploit people beyond national borders or to see that we have 'more and better.'" If you heard such a speech you heard a revolutionary voice.

Have you heard a candidate say "This is my plan to assist other nations to work in harmony with us to end world hunger, child mortality, lack of medicine and education, and dire poverty. Some candidates speak of the upper 1%, but I'm here to tell you that if you live in the United $tates you are the upper 13%. It's past time for us to see all people as our family. The Haitian in the slum is your sister, my sister. The Nepalese man living in the street is our father. The infant who died in Bangladesh from a treatable fever is our daughter, yes, one of us humyns."

When you hear that voice, then vote. Until then, ignore the candidates and work together for the day when your political power comes from the barrel of a gun.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade nicely summarizes where our priorities should be as world citizens: focused on ending oppression for people suffering under imperialism around the world. We know that the capitalists will not peacefully give up the power they use to generate great wealth from the majority of the world's people. In fact, even after a communist revolution that seizes the government for the interests of the world's oppressed, we can expect that the former bourgeoisie, and even some new bourgeois recruits, will attempt to take back their wealth and power and they will need to be kept down with force until they can be re-integrated as productive members of society.

We call this phase of the revolution the Dictatorship of the Proletariat because it still involves a government with power over people, but that government is acting in the interests of the proletariat, unlike our current government which is really a Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie. There will be a long period of socialism while we remould society and our culture to educate people in treating others humanely and working for the greater good rather than for individual gain at the expense of others. During this process we can expect to see a new bourgeoisie attempt to take power from the proletariat, as their goal and culture will not disappear overnight.

We learn much from looking at the histories of the Soviet Union and China under socialism, both about this bourgeois counterrevolution and the cultural revolutions necessary to build towards communism. In imperialist elections we recognize that changing the face of the government doesn't change the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and we stay focused insist on overthrowing this dictatorship rather than adjusting the makeup hiding its evil face.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 53]
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CCI Protests Win New Warden, But Can't End National Oppression

This is Saif-Ullah, from USW, checking in from California Correctional Institution. In the last 15 months I've witnessed comrades being beat, slapped, set up, and pepper sprayed, without any justification, until about forty of the inmates of all races joined together with a campaign to have our families and friends call and complain about these abuses, until finally last month a new warden was hired and the old one sent away from here.

Since her arrival she has walked off three correctional overseers, and a teacher, who had some real racist acts under her belt as well. The overseer Stewart, and his side kick Miller are the ones here known to plant razors and assault and beat inmates and really act out, but they charge the inmates with attacking staff.

I myself and about thirty other comrades have came to the point that if we are attacked we will meet them with the same amount of force. As Huey stated, the party was born in a particular time and place. It came into being with a call for self-defense against the police who patrolled our communities and brutalized us. They are just an oppressive army occupying our community.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Amerikkka has been oppressing the internal semi-colonies of North America since the earliest settlers came to these shores. This comrade demonstrates how to put forth the correct analysis of conditions, while mobilizing the masses for short-term reforms like the firing of the worst abusers. There is a reason why we find so many "abusive people" in the departments of "corrections" of the imperialist United $tates. There is a reason why despite massive outcry, unarmed New Afrikan people continue to be murdered by the police. It is a system that aims to control other nations that demands this kind of brutality. That system of national oppression, imperialism, must be destroyed.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Black Panther Party] [ULK Issue 51]
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Fighting Apathy Among the Lumpen

Lumpen Study

[In 2012 a comrade summed up an ongoing discussion about organizing the lumpen class, which is below. The summary gets at how we should approach organizing the lumpen. This is a critical question if we are to apply our theoretical understanding of this class to the anti-imperialist movement in a practical way. We aren't looking to just write essays to expand our brains; we focus on political theory in order to inform revolutionary practice. - ULK Editor]

USW comrades have been discussing money and material trappings as being synonymous with respect and dignity in lumpen organization youth. The struggle for money, like the dope game, for example, can be less a status seeking activity, and more of the people just exercising their survival rights. Comrades made sure to differentiate between money/survival and material trapping (i.e. gold chains, cars, rims, etc.). Amerikkkanism and consumerism promote hardcore parasitism in lumpen youth, causing extreme alienation and fetishization of money.

Today's youth show the same apathy, indifference and nihilism as the youth of 1955. It was the civil rights movement that awoke the youth of that era. Comrades struggled over what today can take the place of the civil rights movement. War, environment and imperialist expansion were three good starting points to organize around. We lumpen youth have more stake in the future environment and it is us who fight the wars. It helps to understand that those starving to death and suffering/dying from preventable diseases are our people. We must fulfill our destiny or betray it. All this nitpicking and betrayal between sets/sides contributes to humankind suffering. We must overcome this flaw.

The principal enemy we must defeat is the glamorization of gangsterism. A revolutionary or a gangster? What are we? Can the two coexist in a persyn and still be progressive? Gangsterism plants fear by oppression, and revolutionaries are in struggle against oppression. This internecine violence we perpetrate between sets is what the pigs want us to do. They sold us this shit in Scarface and we've built on to it and made it our own. Overcoming the glamorization of gangsterism will take proletarian morality, conscious rap, exposing the downsides and ills of gangsterism, the glamorization of revolution, revolutionary culture, and possibly to redefine the word gangsta. Gangsters are parasites and revolutionaries are humankind's hope. It's as simple as that. We need to leave the lumpen mentality for a proletarian one. Many true revolutionaries were once gangsters. Gangsterism is a stage, basically.

Self-respect, self-defense and self-determination define transitional qualities of a revolutionary. Bunchy Carter, Mutulu Shakur and Tupac all transcended the hood and grew into progressives. What we are seeking as USW is opening up the spaces for gangsters of all walks of life to enter the realm of anti-imperialism and begin a transformation of mind, actions and habits to develop into the model of a revolutionary gangsta with the capability of forwarding the cause of the people. We must understand our potential. It is us, we reading these ULKs, that hold imperialism in our fists. A real gangsta is one who has gone revolutionary and has kicked off all the strings of social control - mental illness, drugs, fantasy, despair, escapism, etc.

Mainstream gangsta rap is the enemy of our people and the struggle. We have to create more revolutionary music, art and literature. Fergie, Fifty, Eminem, Kanye, all push watered down, flimsy lyrics. Mainstream rap is psychological warfare and just as harmful as crack or heroin. Imperialism allows the urban drug trade just like it allows Eminem. It keeps us down. It is a form of genocide and wholly harmful to the revolutionary struggle. The only positive we even entertained in the discussion is that drugs and pop culture rap are a form of rebellion that begins a revolutionary on the path of revolution. The benefits to imperialism outweigh the negatives and the opposite is true for the lumpen. Drugs have us punked, dig?

Raw fear and discouragement are the pistols on the hips of the oppressor. To be demonized as a terrorist, have mail messed with, loss of good time, pig abuses, all contribute to lumpen becoming despondent and not standing up for their rights. People have a responsibility to act and fight for the type of society that they want to live in, or they really have no right to complain about oppression. We face pepper spray, tazers, isolation and a bullet in the back face down. The Nazis used the infamous concentration camps to instill fear. And the united snakes has the largest prison system in the world for the very same reason: social control and intimidation. Meth, cocaine and psychotropics act as targets for the raw fear pistol. Increasing it. Making it more deadly. To be uneducated or out of shape physically assures a mortal wound when the bullets fly. We must outsmart and out stick and move. Knowing 1500 children starve to death per hour, and the fact that 3.5 billion people survive on less than $2 per day, you suit yourself in bullet proof kevlar. What's a lost letter and a few extra years in prison without good time compared to that?

Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream. Only through aggressive challenge and exposure of the life-threatening contradictions of upholding the present status quo will we awaken and overcome. Passivity cowers before the eyes of the slave master. We must educate the people into the understanding that raw fear will remain so long as the imperialist system is in existence. It is us, comrades, built exclusively for its utter destruction. This is a call from USW to unite and rise up, in struggle.


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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs]
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Building Unity Among the Lumpen

Prison organizations today have the tendency to bang on other orgs more than they do on the pigs, Corrections Officers (COs) and the system. Raw fear is so deep in us and we've placed the oppressors on such a pedestal, thinking the pigs are "godly," invincible and "in-the-right," that we've become stuck. Shaking in our boots or peeking out the blinds shuddering. The pigs want us believing we are degenerates or mentally ill rejects and to trust boldly that the pigs are only trying to help us. One comrade voiced concern over seeing ruthlessness so deep between lumpen orgs in his gulag that captives cheer suicides and mental breakdowns in fellow captives but want to know how "snouty sir's" vacation went. It's a sad situation.

"Earning stripes" and "putting it down for the cause" is telling when it is fellow captives being lifeflighted and body-bagged as the man with the keys giggles. Putting it down for whom? MIM(Prisons) and USW don't promote violence. But there are lesser and higher levels of incorrectness when the man pushes us in the corner in the use of self-defense. Viciousness and brutality against our own is unforgivable. Period.

Watered-down versions of the various struggles that came before are served up steaming before our hungry, bloodshot eyes. Organizing our people to realize our destiny takes theory and analysis of past and present conditions. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the meat we must partake of. Throw that watered down soup kitchen fare into snouty's face. The actual methods on how to organize and take control of our destiny is what's for dinner, comrades. Educating, agitating, theorizing, study groups, unity and books challenge bullshit and backward ideas. Knowledge of history and our present reality is what we lack. We must recoup from the losses we've experienced after all these years. Muscle has memory, believe that! We are only doomed to that failure if we remain asleep. Will we?

Independent nationhood isn't in the forefront of most lumpen minds when Seinfield sitcoms and chick-o-sticks occupy our perception. Progressives of all stripes must rip the amerikkkan flags out of our faces and walk over the motherfucker. Parasites In Gangsters clothing, CIA. Sheep infiltrating LOs mainstream gangster rap or pig induced crap? Occupy wall street or spitting on Third World's feet? Stand in our fork in the road. We are at the historical juncture where the hustling game [dope, pimpin etc.] as our only "come up" must be shot to shit as the game plan. The dope game's insanity. There is a more practical revolutionary way to control our destinies and obtain independence. Getting ourselves out the imperialist crosshairs must be our goal. Not protecting street corners and crack, meth or herb market shares. Just look at the Mexican cartels doing it big time as their people in the base areas remain hungry, shoeless and without basic necessities. The sad aspect is we leave our families in the same boat. We must overcome this.

We must remember, though, that the oppressor will always let one or two big shots come up. Some cartels' base areas in Mexico do gain better living conditions to pacify unrest and garner support from the people. Is drug dealing, guns and stickups too entrenched in the lumpen's economic life that survival, even survival at such low levels, would be impossible without them? This is the ideological crossroads we stand at.

What is preventing oppressed nation people from coming together and bucking this system? If the drug trade doesn't act as a sleeping gas, in that we benefit from it, but as a poison which hurts us, then why do we continue in it? Drug culture and popular culture seem to contribute to this deviation. The use and sale of drugs is addictive. But so is the culture that comes with it. The street/dope world envelops an individual in non-political thinking. Like a cancer, few survive. Some do manage to feed their children and make ends meet slanging but only so long. And at a high price (prison, death, addicted sons and daughters, brain damage, disease etc.).

The media mind washes us into believing the oppressor pigs are "all mighty" and McDonald's workers are slow and slimy. This puts us in the trap of spending our whole lives trying to prove to each other we aren't slow and slimy. But why don't we prove this to the oppressor? Consumerism, amerikkkanism and patriotism stand toe to toe with mass revolutionary politics. And we ain't getting nowhere until the referee drags out the bleeding corpse of "grams, hundreds and eight balls" lying at our feet. Drug culture down. Revolutionary culture up. Drug culture is used as a sort of net to catch rebels before they truly do turn revolutionary. And by the time the drugs spit us out on the cement floor of a solitary cell, collapsed vein and hollow brain, psychotropic culture steps in with a great big smile. Know your enemy.

Most people in the U.$. have an idealistic philosophical view of socioeconomic and political structure so that they support reformist political movements before they do revolutionary movements. Spending time voting for the richest man or writing your governor are almost laughable when one discerns 98% of amerikkka is enemy. Class consciousness in the labor aristocracy and bourgeoisie is high while in the lumpen it is low. Privileges, false-consciousness and "the amerikkkan dream" got us hook, line and sinker chasing the carrot. The pigs, the imperialists, keep us out of legal employment with the opportunity of upward mobility being impossible. So we chase the illusion of the amerikkkan dream in the drug game. To chase ideals taught in elementary and high school right into our caskets. It is this juvenile ass scenario preventing our peoples from unity and throwing off this system like a bad habit.

When the drug trade ceases, and excuses for policing and imprisonment have no grounds to stand on, the government would have to backpedal the drug war into their garage. Most of us don't realize that the more violence we contribute to, in and out of prison, the more excuses for SHUs and SWAT team type scenarios pop up. Can you imagine the power in directing the crack fiend's intelligence, cunning and commitment into politics?! Imperialism fears such scenarios. This is why they keep the drug trade on and popping. Prison guards, street cops, prison administrators, food-telephone-parole-commisary, etc., services would be jobless if we put down the pipe, the drug war's an illusion and smokescreen hiding the wizard of oz behind its fancy tapestry.

Mexican cartels make billions off the drug trade. This money they funnel into amerikkkan banks. The $20 dope fiend gets one to fifteen yeas as the 2 billion dollar dealers get free checking. The sad part in all this is the money in these banks, made from Latino cartels, goes to oppose revolutions in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The more Third World countries Amerikkka has under its thumb the more goods oppressor nation labor aristocrats can siphon. Third World countries like Mexico act as prime markets for amerikkkan products and prime hot spots for factories that employ oppressed wimmin and children on 60 times less money than amerikkkans make.

These Mexican cartels are not the principal enemy. But even though they are fighting against the oppressed nations' interest worldwide, they are still oppressed nation national bourgeois and minority compradors. We take Mao's example in China when he united with Chaing Kai Shek, an oppressor, to defeat Japanese imperialism, the bigger oppressor. Mao's tactic worked. We must employ such means, when necessary, if we want to succeed in bringing imperialism to its knees. One divides into two and some of these cartels will side with revolution and some with imperialism. To label all as enemy would in effect shoot ourselves in the feet. Some of the money cartels make goes to the revolution, here and abroad, that's almost assured. So the drug trade is internationalist in some of its practice. We must avoid the trap of big nation chauvinism and see that 80% of the world is Third World.

Most lumpen orgs will not transform into revolutionary orgs as long as they can benefit materially from working in cahoots with the imperialists, i.e. pushing dope and other hustles. Most youth these days haven't even heard of their set's infancy. Lumpen orgs were originally created to fight oppression in the hood. But the pigs infiltrated these orgs and turned them into oppressive groups. Like a vampire. What better way for a vampire oppressor to sleep easy than making sure everyone from sea to shining sea are themselves vampire oppressors!? Just lock up behind razor wire those whose necks they can get at and it's sweet dreams for dracula.

Today's youth's mission is realizing protracted struggle is necessary in smashing oppression. We must understand that a concerted effort, that may take many years, is ahead of us. But it's also winnable. China and Russia succeeded in defeating backwards systems. We can too. Most comrades get discouraged after so many years of struggling. To struggle isn't easy but it's capable of giving extreme satisfaction when one looks back at the progression one accomplishes over the years. WE have been misled and under-educated by design. All in an effort at halting our progression and the resolution of the imperialist contradiction. Our Humanity has been stolen. We have no empathy for war or starvation. How sick is that?

Back in the day Jim Crow laws made people rise up against oppression. Then it fizzled out until the Vietnam War made people revolt. Nowadays mass incarceration, the new Jim Crow, and Afghanistan are our hot spots of agitation. But the sad part is most lumpen embrace prison and war. Most of us believe we belong in chains and the Middle East is full of "terrorists." It's a mind wash. It is amerikkka who is terrorist. And the Middle East are our people. We know deep down that shit's not right. One comrade in the study group spoke about the suicide rate, and even his very own suicidal tendencies before politics, as being exponential. USW wants to begin to show how change is possible. We will attempt to provide the roadmap but it is on you to start your cars. Let's discover our humanity and start questioning things around us. War and starvation are a preventable. Let us challenge each other to grow and create a better way for ourselves and the future.

Mainstream hip hop and drugs are killing us. Oppressed nation lumpen eat that shit up like rat poison. "The amerikan dream" a.k.a. "rat poison." If the amerikkkan dream is to starve and create war so I can have an x-box and cheap gasoline it's not worth it. Not to USW. You? Dirtying the names of groups like the Black Panther Party, MIM(Prisons) and USW is a tactic used to revise history and throw a wrench in the revolution. People seem to either embrace us or spit on us, and from what we've experienced there's seldom middle ground. But it says more about the spitter than anything else. We must learn to uphold the standards we promote and avoid straddling the fence or deviating from issues. Practice is principal. Is our work focused on anti-community or pro-community work? The people will recognize which pole we are on, that's assured. We must rest easy in the knowledge that the pigs' truth ain't ours. There is no truth in common between the oppressor and the oppressed. Because the aims, efforts and goals we push are seen as a threat to their wealth and leisure time privileges. USW looks up to the Panther legacy for these reasons above, and many others. We invite thorough study of the rich revolutionary heritage of our forebearers with the black berets. Power to all oppressed people.

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[Censorship] [Hunger Strike] [Education] [United Front] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 52]
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Battle for Literacy Builds Inside and Outside NC Prisons

Revolutionary Greetings,

As this missive leaves me in Revolutionary Spirits and with strong desires for emancipation I hope it reaches you in the same manner. I continue to battle the anti-literacy tactics used by these jackbooted fascist Pigs that use the word censorship as a tool to keep us deaf, dumb, & blind. The administration of these Razor Wire plantations, better known as the overseers, have the dictatorship to keep us from reading certain books and material that will liberate us from the continuing cycle of returning to these slave pens of oppression.

Nothing has changed from the tactics used in the 1900s til now, it's only hidden better. After the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831 legislation prohibiting the education of slaves was strengthened throughout the South. "In the words of one Slave Code... teaching slaves to read and write tends to cause dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion!" Any publication on the topic of conscious-raising is disapproved under the violation of Division of Prison Policy Section D.0109 (f) which consists of violence, disorder, insurrection or terrorist/gang activities against individuals, group organizations, the government or any of its institutions! We are given the option to appeal the disapproval, it’s then sent to the Publication Review Committee, and 80% of the time they agree with the first disapproval. The recent publications disapproved of mine are the new issue of Under Lock & Key, The Wretched of the Earth, and Huey P. Newton's To Die for the People! The Wretched of the Earth was approved [on appeal]. I’m still waiting on the approval of the other two publications.

The Commune here at this Razor Wire Plantation came together to form a hunger strike due to conditions we are burdened with, such as the high percentage of disapproved publications. We were promised that we would be allowed to receive publications if we agreed to end the hunger strike! I must say that lately books have been coming in that would not have made it past the mail room. Before the hunger strike I brought to the attention of the overseer that decides to allow us to have the books or material sent in, that there were books in the library of this Razor Wire Plantation that encourage racism, the hanging of Blacks, but those books are OK because they are in favor of the "overseer's" ideology. When brought to the attention of this certain overseer I was laughed at when I showed him the pictures out of a library book titled The Red Summer of 1919, where a Black man was being burnt alive while a mob of whites looked on with smiles on their face. I was asked by this overseer why would those pictures bother me so much when I’m not a man of color? What I should do was mind my business and order books other than the ones I been ordering was what I was told!

So I asked myself this question: is it possible for a white man to detest racism, oppression, repression, classism and capitalism as much as I do? Yes Racism is alive and well, but when you are a victim of classism it causes you to detest Racism! In today's time you don’t have certain communities among the proletarian class that's for one race only!(*) No, the poor live with the poor and the bourgeoisies live among the capitalists. The proletarian class and the lumpen are victims of poor education, which as we know is a pipeline to these Razor Wire Plantations. The educational system for the poor is a joke! (Angela Davis said: there is a distinct and qualitative difference between one breaking a law for one's own individual self-interest and violating it in the interest of a class or a people whose oppression is expressed directly or indirectly, though in many cases he/she is a victim). Poor education is another tactic used by the capitalist to be able to exploit the proletarian class! While selling their labor just to keep the lights on and food on the table there is no extra income for higher educational opportunity! So the proletarian class education system is the framework of the capitalist! The bourgeoisie gains their strength and stability from framework of poor education for the proletarian class. With proper education and educational opportunities the proletarian class could liberate themselves from the need to sell their labor to provide their loved ones with life's necessities! The capitalist know if this was to happen then the stronghold they have over the poor would be no longer!

Most of us allow ourselves to be controlled because of fear of losing something. This fear is what the bourgeoisie uses against us to control us. These chains must be broken for emancipation to take place! It starts with the necessities of solidarity.

Being in solidarity among the proletarian class means building strong relationships and strong communities of resistance. We must get back to the foundation of movement building, which is about building relationships and sustainable communities while breaking out of the confines of single issue organizing. Our accountability lies in what we do within our own communities. Focusing on our communities compels us to understand First World privilege (i.e. if you reside here you’ve got privilege). On the contrary privilege is layered by histories of slavery, colonization, patriarchal control, etc. Our solidarity struggles must therefore find ways to address these inequalities within. This involves listening and learning from the struggles of the proletarian masses. This would take the kind of inter-communal solidarity that Huey P. Newton had in mind.

Comrades, it starts with us held captive within the gulags of these Razor Wire Plantations. How, you ask? Turning these Slave pens of oppression into Schools of Liberation! The Science of Revolution must be spread to the masses of the communities! The help of Revolutionary intellectuals is a must because the key to the people’s unity is Revolutionary Consciousness! Instead of wasting time on who is right and who is wrong, instead of not being in solidarity with the next person because of their skin color, we must come together and spread the Science of Revolution to the unconscious. Theory is made to be advanced; nothing can stay the same because the capitalists strategize ideas to continue to control change every day. When one advances the theory of Marx, Lenin, or Mao it is not in disrespect or disregard of these great Revolutionists. Lenin said: "without Revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." We must focus on our communities. If our own communities are not strong enough to stand up to neoconservatives, then the work of those who promulgate war without end, the dictatorship of the free market, and the stealing of indigenous land will be made all the easier! With no unity among us then we are weak and not a factor! There are many organizations, groups, and cadres with different ideologies but have the same goal in mind! As long as we fight amongst ourselves then we are allowing capitalism to live!

The future of our emancipation lies in our hands people. So as I bring this to an end, I ask that you really think about our own Liberation and the well being of our communities as well as the future of education for the youth. Frantz Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission and fulfill it or betray it." What’s your mission?


MIM(Prisons) adds: It is timely that comrades are organizing actions to protest censorship of educational materials by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), as we just learned that a lawsuit will be going to trial on the same issue. Comrades on the inside and outside are making moves that culminate five years of consistent paperwork battles between MIM Distributors volunteers and NC prisoners on one side and NCDPS prisoncrats on the other.

Those locked up in North Carolina recognized those efforts as our subscribership expanded during periods of time when Under Lock & Key was completely banned in the state. But prisoners did receive the protest letters sent by our volunteers and those letters circulated, sparking even more interest in ULK. As efforts build on both sides of the fence, MIM(Prisons) will continue to support and promote this campaign against illegal censorship and political repression. As this comrade argues, this is an important battle because it contributes to our efforts to make revolutionary science accessible to the oppressed masses.

* While we agree with this comrade's points about education and censorship, we do not seem to agree on our analysis of class and nation in the United $tates. In recent analysis, published in part in Under Lock & Key 51 we show that the class make up of different nationalities in the United $tates are different and that segregation of communities is on the increase. We stand in solidarity with the comrades' actions in North Carolina across national lines for their common interests as prisoners. And while this is an example of class preceding nation, we believe that nation overall is the principal contradiction in this country. This is partially because class contradictions are so weak in the richest country in the world. And recent events around police brutality and prison abuse have shown us uprisings that are very homogeneous in their national makeup. And this is where we see the most radical fractures in our society.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Download and Print] [United Struggle from Within]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Mississippi

MS grievance petition
Click here to download a PDF
of the Mississippi grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Commissioner of Corrections
MDOC Central Office
633 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202-3097

Corrections Investigation Division
633 N. State st
Jackson, MS 39202

USDOJ Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*PDF updated June 2016

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[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 52]
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Call for Unity with LGBTQ Prisoners

Queen D.I.V.A here, I want to speak on why LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transexual, Queer) comrades are treated like shit. This is my second bid and I've seen a lot of love towards my community but to be totally honest I've seen more dislike and hate towards my community.

Comrades will rather be respectful to a kkkorektions officer than a homosexual, why? Comrades will rather say good morning with a smile on their faces to a kkkorektions officer, why? Don't you guys know these pigs are the ones throwing your mail away and then telling you that you didn't get any, that they will beat your ass and say you assaulted them and give you a new bid, and that they will deny your visit after your family just drove 7 hours to see you?

What have LGBTQ comrades done to you? Nothing. We were born different, that's it! What if your own flesh and blood son came to you one day and confessed that he's gay? Would you disown him? Would you treat him like you treat imprisoned gays, or would you put your ego, pride and fear to the side and embrace him?

We are all in this struggle together, let us say "screw what people think." A "unit" is something that works together. We're behind these walls and fences together so why can't we stand together? Stop disrespecting us and you'll see we're not your enemies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade eloquently pushes the United Front for Peace in Prisons principle of Unity around the question of sexual orientation and gender identity, elements of the strand of oppression of gender. We need to look beyond petty differences, and beyond socialized prejudices around gender. Our movement cannot afford to be divided along these lines. Instead we need to judge people by their actions and their political line. Those who side with the pigs, who feed them information, and who help them by provoking fights and doing their bidding: those people are our enemies. People who stand up against the criminal injustice system are our friends. And those who don't stand up but refuse to work with the pigs are our friends in need of a little educating and leadership so that they too will join the struggle.

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[Black Panther Party] [ULK Issue 50]
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Applying Lessons from the Black Panthers to our Current Struggle

securecommunications

As we reflect on the legacy of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP), we are reminded that the struggle for national liberation continues. Fifty years ago, the Panthers emerged from similar conditions of national oppression to what we face today. Armed with Maoism and the gun, Panther leaders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale set out to organize their Oakland community against police brutality and other social inequalities. And what they accomplished distinguished the BPP as the greatest revolutionary organization in the hystory of the New Afrikan/Black liberation struggle.

During its height, the BPP established itself as the vanguard of the revolutionary movement in the United $tates. Revisionists try to paint the Panthers as simple nationalists who only wanted to improve their community. But hystory proves otherwise, because the Panthers’ revolutionary work went beyond the Serve the People programs they implemented. The BPP was a Maoist party which criticized the bankrupt ideas of cultural nationalism and Black capitalist reforms. They attacked revisionism in the Soviet Union, while offering troops to support the Vietnamese in their struggle to push out the Amerikan invaders, and upholding the progress of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. It understood that the relationship between the Euro-Amerikan settler nation and the many oppressed nations internal to the United $tates was (as it still is today) defined by semi-colonialism, and that national liberation was the only path forward. To this end, the Panthers formed strategic alliances and coalitions that broadened their mass base of support and unity. Eventually they succeeded in forming Panther chapters in virtually every major city, precipitating a revolutionary movement of North American oppressed nations vying for national liberation.

Despite this progress the BPP made serious mistakes, mistakes that arguably set the movement for national liberation back tremendously. Even though the Panther leadership adhered to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM), they failed to assess the changing landscape of social and political conditions, which inevitably led them to take up focoist positions. This error in analysis resulted in security issues as repression from the U.$. reactionary forces intensified. With J. Edgar Hoover's plan to destabilize and neutralize the revolutionary movement underway, the Panther leadership continued to promote a "cult of persynality" around Newton instead of democratic centralism. Consequently, these mistakes placed such intense pressure on the party that it was unable to overcome the tide of repression.

Ultimately, the point of this article is to honor the revolutionary legacy of the BPP by demonstrating how the Panther practice is relevant to our current struggle. For our national liberation struggles to gain traction we must learn from the successes and failures of the most advanced revolutionary organization in U.$. hystory.

Fuck the Police!

"The Party was born in a particular time and place. It came into being with a call for self-defense against the police who patrolled our communities and brutalized us with impunity."(1) — Huey P. Newton

There is no greater tragedy for the oppressed nation community than the unjust murder of one of its own at the hands of the pigs. The impact is two-fold. On one hand, police brutality demonstrates to members of the oppressed nation community that there are two sets of rules governing society, one for the oppressor and one for the oppressed. On the other hand, it removes all doubt from the minds of oppressed nationals that their lives are virtually worthless in the eyes of the white power structure.

This point was just as much a sobering reality during the Panther era as it is for us today. In The Black Panthers Speak, Phillip S. Foner cites a 1969 report that captured a snapshot of the police relations with the Oakland community. It read in part:

"...for the black citizens, the policeman has long since ceased to be — if indeed he ever was — a neutral symbol of law and order...in the ghetto disorders of the past few years, blacks have often been exposed to indiscriminate police assaults and, not infrequently, to gratuitous brutality...Many ghetto blacks see the police as an occupying army..."(2)

Under these circumstances, the BPP was formed and began to transform the Oakland community in a revolutionary manner.(3) Newton and Seale understood that the terrorist actions by the pigs undermined the oppressed nation community’s ability to improve its conditions. So they organized armed patrols to observe and discourage improper police behavior. These unprecedented actions by the Panthers gave them credibility within the community, particularly as community members experienced the positive effects brought about by the patrols. Therefore, when the Panthers engaged in mass activities, such as the Free Breakfast for Children program, they did so with the full support of the community.

Naturally, the BPP met resistance from the local and state reactionary forces. Challenging the Gestapo tactics of the pigs and building institutions that served the needs of the oppressed was seen as too much of a threat by and to the white power structure. But the revolutionary movement had already picked up steam, and, given the momentous energy and support from the anti-war movement, it was not about to be derailed. It was upon this platform that the BPP spoke to the oppressed nations across the United $tates and saw its message resonate and take root within the consciousness of all oppressed peoples.

Today, we face the same challenge. Whether it’s the pig murder of Denzil Dowell that mobilized the Panthers into action fifty years ago, or the more recent pig murder of Jamar Clark this past November, there has been no significant change in the conditions of national oppression that U.$. internal semi-colonies are subjected to.

Police brutality continues to keep the oppressed nations from addressing a system of national oppression and semi-colonialism. But there is an even more sinister dynamic involved today. Mass incarceration, and the "War on Drugs” and "War on Crime” rhetoric and policies that fuel it, further divides the oppressed nation community against itself. With the lumpen section of these oppressed nation communities criminalized and incarcerated so too is the revolutionary potential for national liberation neutralized and restrained. Here, the Panther practice provides a blueprint for our current struggle in respect to revolutionary organizing.

Recently, we have seen the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement come into being in response to the unbridled pig terrorism that occurs across U.$. oppressed nation communities. So the basis for revolutionary organizing against the current system exists. Nonetheless, BLM is a reformist organization that advocates for integration and not liberation. What we need are Maoist revolutionary organizations — organizations that seek to build the political consciousness of oppressed nationals through mass activities and proletarian leadership similar to the Panther practice.

Maoism, not Focoism

Maoism demands that in determining correct revolutionary practice we must first proceed from an analysis of contradictions. This means that we must identify the contradiction that is principal to our situation, and then assess its internal aspects as well as its external relationships. In contrast, focoism "places great emphasis on armed struggle and the immediacy this brings to class warfare!"(4) Where Maoism takes account of the national question in its entirety and pushes the struggle for national liberation forward according to the prevailing conditions, focoism seeks to bring about favorable conditions for national liberation (or revolution) through the actions of a small band of armed individuals. To date Maoism has informed many successful people’s wars; focoism, on the other hand, has mostly made the prospect for revolution much less likely.

In this regard, Newton, in developing the Panther practice, saw the international situation of the time as favorable to revolutionary organizing within the United $tates. Given the hystoric Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China representing the furthest advancement toward communism to this day, the national liberation wars of Afrika and Asia dealing blows to imperialism, and the Vietnam War stoking the fire of discontent and rebellion among sections of the white oppressor nation, Newton was correct in organizing and politicizing U.$. oppressed nation communities for liberation.

Bloom and Martin explain in their book, Black Against Empire, that these conditions, in particular the anti-war movement, assisted the Panthers' organizing efforts greatly.(5) This coalition between the Panthers and the Peace movement was so dynamic that U.$. veterans returning from Vietnam joined the BPP and other revolutionary organizations. The link between Vietnamese liberation and New Afrikan liberation (and other U.$. oppressed nation liberation struggles) became a central point in building political consciousness.

Nonetheless, Newton took eir analysis too far. It is clear that ey believed the armed struggles abroad were inextricably tied to the U.$. national liberation struggles. Newton maintained, "As the aggression of the racist American government escalates in Vietnam, the police agencies of America escalates the repression of Black people throughout the ghettos of America."(6) From this standpoint, Newton assumed that the police brutality in U.$. oppressed communities created a military situation, to which a military response from the U.$. revolutionary movement was appropriate.

Newton’s error was mistaking the weakness of imperialism abroad as indicative of a weak U.$. imperialist state. Instead of assessing the changing landscape of social and political conditions, created by a period of concessions by U.$. imperialists, the Panthers continued to organize as if the stage of struggle was an armed one.(7) Even when Newton recognized the dramatic changes and began to adapt, a split occurred within the Party, as a faction held that revolution was imminent.(8)

With respect to our current struggle, we are in the stage of building public opinion and independent institutions of the oppressed. In this work we must establish a united front of all those who can be united against imperialism.

Therefore, when we see the Ferguson or Baltimore protests against pig terrorism descend into scenes of mayhem and senseless violence we must criticize these methods of resistance. Many of the individuals who engage in these spontaneous uprisings mistakenly believe that this will bring about some change or vindicate the wrongs done to them and their community. The only thing these focoist actions change, however, is the focus from pig terrorism to people terrorizing their own community. This basically undermines our ability to organize and build public opinion in this stage of struggle.

Part of this problem lies in the fact that there is no revolutionary organization at this time representing these oppressed nation communities. There is no BPP or Young Lords Party going into these communities and doing agitation and organizing work. As a result, a lack of political consciousness prevails among these communities, underscoring the need for a revolutionary organization.

A Maoist party would guide the U.$. oppressed nations with a concrete revolutionary practice and strategy. This revolutionary organization would use MLM study and analysis to determine the correct actions and methods to take in order to liberate those oppressed nations and avoid the pitfalls of focoism.

Ultimately, this lesson can be summed up in one sentence: "Maoism warns that taking up the gun too soon, without the proper support of the masses, will result in fighting losing battles.”(9)

On the Necessity of Security Culture

Furthermore, the Panthers’ incorrect analysis of conditions that led to focoist positions eventually compromised the security of the Party as well. Once the period of concessions began to sap support for the BPP’s militant posture, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover was able to ratchet up repression against the Panthers. This was seen most clearly when agent provocateurs were able to infiltrate and exploit the focoist tendencies held by some Panthers. Undercover FBI agents would literally join the BPP and begin to incite other members to engage in criminal activities or "make revolution." These repressive measures, their ever-increasing frequency and intensity, began to take a detrimental toll on the Panthers.

Make no mistake, since day one of the BPP’s organizing efforts it faced repression. Armed New Afrikan men and wimmin organizing their community toward revolutionary ends was intolerable for the white power structure. However, the anti-war movement created such a favorable climate for revolutionary organizing that the more reactionary forces attacked the BPP, the more support the Panthers received, the more its membership grew and its chapters spread throughout the country.

But when those favorable conditions shifted, the BPP’s strategy didn’t. The Panthers continued to operate above ground, maintaining the same militant posture that initially placed them in the crosshairs of Hoover’s COINTELPRO. Ironically, Newton was well versed in the role of the Leninist vanguard party. Ey explained that "All real revolutionary movements are driven underground."(10) Though, by the time Newton put this principle into action and attempted to adapt to the changing situation the Party as a whole was thoroughly divided and beaten down by wave after wave of relentless repression.

For us, the important point to draw from this lesson is the assessment of conditions for revolutionary organizing. Because we live in a point in time where we consume our daily social lives openly through various social media, it is easy to forget that the reactionaries are observing. We must therefore place a high priority on security culture as it pertains to our organizing efforts going forward. In addition, we must strongly emphasize the importance of avoiding death and prison. A robust security culture will protect our organizing efforts and dull the blows of repression that are certain to come.

Currently, we face a strong imperialist state that is more than capable of disrupting a potential revolutionary movement. This point is evidenced by the fact that Hoover’s repressive practices are "mirrored in the far-reaching high-tech surveillance of the US National Security Agency."(11) Maintaining a strong revolutionary organization thus requires us to maintain strong security practices informed by MLM theory and practice.

Party Discipline over Party Disciple

Hystory is a testament that some revolutionary organizations and movements have fallen victim to the "cult of persynality." This is more true in an imperialist society as bourgeois individualism nurtures a response in people to associate or reduce organizations and movements to the characteristics of one persyn. And the BPP was no exception in this regard.

Newton was very intelligent, charismatic, and embodied qualities of a true leader. In truth, ey was a symbol of black power and strength that had been missing from the New Afrikan nation for centuries. The militant image that Newton projected was undeniably magnetic and a source of inspiration for U.$. oppressed nations.

Yet, the BPP relied too heavily on Newton as an individual leader and not enough on the party as a whole. Eir ideological insights and theoretical contributions were unmatched within the party. And to a certain extent this was a weakness of the party. Newton was the primary source of oxygen to the party whereas other members of leadership didn’t meet the demands that the revolutionary movement required of the party.

Bloom and Martin hint at this cult of persynality around Newton, arguing "In late 1971... Hilliard recalls that Newton was surrounded by loyalists who applauded Newton’s every action, challenged nothing, and would do anything to win his approval."(12) For example, when Newton was imprisoned on the bogus pig murder charges, the BPP adapted its struggle and practice toward the "Free Huey” movement. Even Eldridge Cleaver, who was one of those members of leadership that reneged on eir revolutionary principles, criticized this move that ultimately confused mass work with party work. The oppressed masses began to associate the party and the Panthers with freeing Newton and not liberating themselves. The BPP had let its practice become dictated by Newton who was for the most part disconnected from the people and community because of eir imprisonment.

The Panthers should have developed a strong party discipline, one based on democratic centralism. Democratic centralism means that any decisions that the party makes is debated and discussed through a democratic process. Even if party members do not agree with the decisions, they must support them in public. This ensures that the party maintains unity in the face of reactionary forces. Those party members who are still in disagreement with the decision have the opportunity to utilize the democratic process of the party and make their case. Overall, this strengthens the theoretical basis of the party and does not allow one persyn to hijack it or undermine it.

The thrust of this lesson is not to discourage party members from developing leadership. The revolutionary movement will certainly need all the leaders, in whatever role or capacity, which the struggle for national liberation demands. But the point is the importance of party discipline. Because as we see with the Panther practice many of the major mistakes stemmed from not maintaining party discipline. Democratic centralism would have promoted the space and opportunity for members to challenge and question decisions by Newton. And as members engaged in this process they would have developed their theoretical practice, shouldering some of the load that Newton, even while imprisoned, had to bear.

This is not to say that the Panthers would not have made mistakes. But with the same party discipline that saw the Bolsheviks lead the successful Russian Revolution of 1917 or the Chinese Communist Party execute at a high level throughout the many stages of its liberation struggle, surely the Panthers could have avoided the divisions that were largely fomented by FBI interference. In addition, proper application of democratic centralism should have led to the distinction between party cadre and mass organizations to take on campaigns like "Free Huey" and doing the support work to run Panther programs. Such a distinction would have helped prevent the decline of the Oakland-based party into reformism as conditions changed.

What our current struggle does not need is a party disciple or some demagogue who is proclaimed our savior. What will liberate the U.$. oppressed nation is a Maoist revolutionary organization connected and related to the masses. Consolidating the mass line is a necessary part of applying democratic centralism within the Party.

Conclusion

We are at a critical point in the hystory of U.$. national liberation struggles. No longer can we continue to allow the police to murder us with impunity or for our communities to exist merely as pathways to imprisonment. Revolutionary nationalism is needed. And that begins with relating the thought and struggle of the most advanced revolutionary organization in U.$. hystory to our current struggle.

This article has highlighted a few mistakes of the BPP. But in no way does this discard the Panther practice overall. On the contrary, our path to national liberation has been illumined by the lessons drawn from the revolutionary legacy of the BPP. It is in this spirit that this article honors the Black Panther Party, and represents a theoretical step on that path to liberation.

Power to the people!
Notes:
  1. Huey P. Newton, 2009, Revolutionary Suicide, New York: Penguin Group, p. 355.
  2. Philip S. Foner, 2014, The Black Panthers Speak, Chicago: Haymarket Books, p. 40.
  3. Newton and Seale formed the Black Panther Party, its platform and program, during the spring of 1966. Seale became Chairman of the Party, and Newton chose the position of Minister of Defense. While Newton revealed in eir autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, that ey was reluctant to lead formally, ey was in fact the ideological leader of the Party. The revolutionary movements occurring across the world at that time heavily influenced Newton and Seale in which Mao Zedong, Che Guevera and Frantz Fanon became prime sources for the Panther ideology. However, Malcolm X’s "by any means necessary” message of self-defense informed the vision of the Black Panther Party. Newton was convinced that the BPP was acting in the spirit of Malcolm X's legacy.
  4. See MIM (Prisons) Glossary
  5. Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., 2013, Black Against Empire: The history and politics of the Black Panther Party, Berkeley:University of California Press, p. 347.
  6. Bloom (2013), p. xxix.
  7. Bloom (2013), p. 366. Bloom and Martin contend that this period of concessions consisted of increased access of petty bourgeois New Afrikans to social and political representation, and a scaling down of the Vietnam War to appease the anti-war movement. Consequently, much of the revolutionary fervor that once existed during the BPP’s height began to dissipate quickly. The support for the ultra-militant BPP ran out and a corresponding demand for more moderate positions filled the void. This put the Panthers in a compromising position as they had relied too heavily on support from these moderate groups. For example, the Panther practice led to arrests that required legal assistance from outside groups. And these groups who were once fervent supporters of the BPP's militant posture now wanted more moderation on the part of the BPP as concessions began to be distributed. In the end, the party was driven apart because some members believed revolution and national liberation was imminent while a Newton-led faction supported a change in strategy.
  8. Newton (2009), p. 355. Well after the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, Newton acknowledges that the Panthers were too militant and that he misjudged the changing social and political landscape of U.$. imperialist society at that time as it related to the revolutionary movement. He notes: "The emphasis of weapons was a necessary phase in our evolution... We saw this action as a bold step in making our program known and raising the consciousness of the people. But we soon discovered that weapons and uniforms set us apart from the community... We saw ourselves as the revolutionary 'vanguard' and did not fully understand then that only the people can create the revolution... The people misunderstood us and did not follow our lead in picking up the gun... Perhaps our military strategy was too much of 'a great leap forward.'" This was a cardinal error because the Party became disconnected from the masses and got too far ahead that they couldn’t keep up. The Panthers could have shifted from a more militant posture to one that was still critical and confrontational but based on actually politicizing the masses.
  9. MC42 & MC86 of MIM, "Black Panther Party Paved the Way," from the pamphlet Maoism and The Black Panther Party, April 1992.
  10. Foner (2014), p. 66.
  11. Foner (2014). p. xvi.
  12. Bloom (2013), p. 381—2
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