The terrorist attains his goals
by means of instilling fear and intimidation.
The revolutionary, being an egalitarianist,
attains his goals by means of instilling courage.
So who then but the government is the real terrorist?
Using the press and the media,
showing off weapons and technologies,
instilling fear in oppressed people,
giving them nothing but worries.
Wonder why the people are standing up no more?
After decades of being psychologically bombarded,
with nothing but pro-imperialist goon (pigs)
and military blows?
Big Brother's watching you, everybody knows.
Got you watching yourself too, from head to tippy toes
like you was living in One Nine Eight Four.
Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition By Griffin Fariello Avon Books, 1995
Red Scare is set in the time when there were open communist witch hunts across Amerika. Younger people may not remember or even have heard of the time when it was a crime to be a revolutionary in the United $tates. Although the laws have made it "legal" today to be a communist, it really isn't as legal as many think. The state's old methods have only been fine tuned and made more subtle, but the repression still exists and may even be more dangerous today than in years past.
Senator Joe McCarthy, elected in 1946, started off as any other Senator and then took a real fascist turn in 1950 when he began his anti-communist terror. His political life did not last too long as McCarthy died in 1957 but his ideals lived on and took on even more deadly ways in the years after, especially for oppressed nations in Amerika.
The 1950s was a tougher time for communists in Amerika. There were many laws that were anti-communist in nature. In the state of Texas for instance, membership in the Communist Party would get you twenty years in prison. In the state of Michigan to just write or speak subversive words would get you life in prison! No wonder Michigan today has some of the largest white supremacist militias in Amerika. The state of Tennessee would give you the death penalty for what it called "unlawful advocacy" that was aimed at communists.
This was a time when buying a house came with having to sign a "loyalty oath" denouncing communism. A student receiving a diploma had to first sign an oath, people living in the projects had to sign it for the landlord at rent time. This was the "war on terror" on steroids. Think of the round ups and harassment of Muslims in Amerika post-9/11 and triple that!
By 1956 Hoover's FBI spread its slimy tentacles so much that in the CP-USA, whose membership at that time was less than 5,000, one out of three members was an FBI informant. This may help explain CP-USA's passivity on many issues at that time. It was a time when the feds had three informants in a three-persyn CP unit, so entire units were comprised of informants, which also helped to ensure who was supplying reliable information and who wasn't as the informants were not aware the others were informants.
The information on surveillance and what one ex-FBI agent called "bag jobs" was enlightening. It was a look on how the feds really teach their agents about those of us who want to free the people from oppression. An ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen is interviewed about his targeting of a communist group in COINTELPRO-like methods, defends his self-described "hundreds" of bag jobs by saying
"none of us worried too much about the illegality, because most of us were veterans from World War II. Gee, all you had to do is wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things. And after the indoctrination we got in training school about communism and the communist party and how they were trying to overthrow us, it was like war all over again, just that no one was shooting at anybody yet..."(p. 86)
Like in the 1950s, the FBI enjoys recruiting its agents from police or military. Like Swearingen noted above, all you have to do is "wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things." And so when people want to stop genocide, exploitation and other madness, the state is meanwhile teaching its agents that it's war, only no one is getting shot yet. It's war because poor people don't want to live in land contaminated by toxic waste, because poor people are protesting the corporate greed, the war on the Third World, etc. For objecting to this monstrous behavior it's like "a war all over again."
The "bag job" involved breaking into a home of a suspect, and if the suspect was a communist or member of the CP the agents would search for any pieces of paper with anyone's names. It could be the paper boy's name but agents would gather these names and add them to the "security index" which was a list kept by the FBI of those "subversives" (communists) who, in case of "national emergency," would be rounded up in concentration kamps. This was awfully similar to how in California prisons the state deals with the validation process: during all searches any names found in a supposed gang member's cell are added to a database as a gang associate for future targeting and possible round up into SHU (concentration kamp). The similarities are uncanny, if you simply substitute "communist party" with "prison gang" you would think a lot of this was written about California's validation program.
For example, the ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen goes on to say
"During the Church Committee hearings one of the Senators asked James Adams, who was the associate director of the FBI, how long a person would stay on the security index. I think they were talking about one individual who had been on there something like twenty or twenty-five years. And the senator said 'Did you have any information that he was still a member of the communist party?' and Adam's response was 'we didn't have any information that he was not a member of the communist party, then we'd keep him in there and we'd keep him on the security index.' Sometimes we would get information that someone did drop out of the communist party, but we wouldn't believe it anyway. Bill Sennett stayed on the security index almost ten years after he quit the party because no one would believe it."(p. 95)
The chapter titled "Five minutes to midnight" discussed the underground. In the late '50s CP-USA began discussing the inevitability of war between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was decided that the United States was on the verge of repression and so to survive the coming fascism the party would need an underground organization.
The underground apparatus was organized in three different levels. The first level was called "deep freeze" which were top leadership who jumped bail for conviction on the Smith Act which basically criminalized the act of being a communist, along with those who it was assumed would be in the next sweep of arrests. The second level was called the "deep deep freeze." These were trusted members who would be a source of leadership should all the other leaders be arrested. Many of these people were sent abroad to Mexico, Canada or Europe, kind of like sleeper cells, to lead normal lives and not engage in any political activity. The third level was called "operative but unavailable" who traveled state to state in disguise working as liaison between the aboveground party and the deep freeze.
According to the author, millions of dollars were spent on the underground apparatus with lodgings, transportation, and the courier system that kept the hundreds of men and wimmin underground. This took its toll with almost everyone abandoning the party within five years. The writer states "seasoned communists realized the impossibility of carrying a political movement in this fashion." A couple of decades later, activists would probably beg to differ with this because of the targeting, murder, and imprisonment that followed being above ground.
The Smith Act created some real anti-communist ways of thinking. The city of Birmingham, Alabama for instance passed a law in the 1950s mandating that all communists had forty-eight hours to leave town or face imprisonment. This was looked at as normal treatment for political ideas by many. This continues to sound like the witch hunts progressive prisoners face today in Amerika where you are locked in control units, not for acts, but ideas, beliefs or assumed beliefs and yet it's not for 2 or 3 years like when the Smith Act was enforced but decades and sometimes for life!
Red Scare falls short in not analyzing the politics of this era, not discussing the political line of revolutionary groups of the 1950s. The Jim Crowism was not even really talked about much. The author does discuss events like the Rosenberg trial/execution, children of the persecuted and what ey calls "redactors" who were the teachers who were persecuted under McCarthyism. But ey does not get into the oppressed nations of that time. The author gives one example of the CP-USA going to New Mexico to work in the Chicano barrios, briefly mentions the Black Panthers, and does not even mention the First Nations.
One will not learn anything of the different ideologies of that time yet this book is worth reading if you seek to understand the birth of COINTELPRO which really decimated the oppressed nations' struggles in the '60s and '70s. Although this book was written in the 1990s it reads as if it was written in the 1950s with its oppressor-nation outlook on struggles during the McCarthy period, a little too vanilla and boring, but worth plowing through the 500+ pages only for its content on early COINTELPRO.
Red Scare speaks volumes about the success of the Soviet Union in building socialism, a more popular alternative to capitalism. While it is easy to laugh at the extreme paranoia expressed by the state in this period, there was a real fear starting in the 1930s when the Soviet Union was developing in leaps while the capitalist world crumbled under the great depression. Coming out of World War II, during which the Soviet Union demonstrated its technological and ideological strength, the Red Scare of the 1950s reflected this.
This year's election reminds me of the 1980 Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter neo-conservative presidential campaign. We have Donald Trump, the competitive imperialist bizzness mogul. Now we must ask ourselves, since we have lesser of the two evils, what is it that we as a nation want as a leader? But I find myself not liking or feeding into the rhetoric of both candidates, Trump or Clinton. Hillary Clinton favors exploitation of Third World international proletariat. Both Trump and Clinton have no solutions for the oppressed nations here in the United $tates or abroad. As senator Sanders pointed out, Clinton is in the pockets of big bankers and Wall Street. And Trump seizes the opportunity to expand his ego and exploit more oppressed nations, by building casinos, resorts and handing out slave wages to the proletarians of that land.
But what are the solutions to our problems in this capitalistic culture? One solution which needs to be addressed is a separate party which would be for the people and by the people. We must not allow the media to downgrade socialism. Socialism and a socialist party in the United Snakes of America is a must. We have to overstand what socialism is and what it can do for oppressed nations here in America. Bringing equality to all people, and ending global imperialism. But this brings me to Bernie Sanders. His rhetoric of free education and universal health care sounds good, but if you are going to support socialist ideas, then you must go all the way and build a socialist party, and not allow the two party system of Amerikkka to stigmatize socialist views and its persistent hopefulness.
As long as the wings of establishment support imperialism we will never get close to fruition of socialism. But what really upsets me is that New Africans in America sell out to capitalistic rhetoric by upholding or embracing bourgeois cultural propaganda. This is why the title “lesser of two evils” is used for this essay on the awakening of the lumpen to class consciousness.
There are so many contradictions within Donald Trump's “Let's make America great again” slogan. First and foremost, we must overstand what made so-called Amerikkka great. Stealing land and demoralizing the First Nations. Denying them culture and their own way of life. Enslaving New Africans, or might I say oppression of all people of color who do not represent white supremacy. That Trump slogan alone is a subliminal white supremacist statement. Making those who support the labor aristocracy continue and support efforts to exploit the white lumpen and the people or nations of oppressed people of color. Creating more wars, and war on the revolutionaries who will stand up to imperialism. And I can’t forget about Hillary Clinton who will continue where her husband left off. She was a supporter of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton. And we have the nerve to say oh she's for New Africans. I must conclude that what we have in this election is lesser of the two evils, Trump vs. Hillary. Capitalism vs. mass incarceration.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is on the right track in condemning the Amerikan election system as a tool to reinforce imperialist power. There is no choice for the truly oppressed and exploited of the world. In fact, the vast majority of those exploited by Amerikan imperialism aren't even eligible to vote in these elections because they aren't Amerikan citizens.
We agree that the lumpen should be paying attention to this election and using it to raise class consciousness, but we're not in agreement with the implication that Bernie Sanders represents socialist ideas. In fact, he is just the other side of the Donald Trump "Let's make America great again" coin. Both want to increase the wealth for the Amerikan labor aristocracy which can only come at the expense of the exploited Third World proletariat. Even if Sanders spreads those super profits around a bit more, that doesn't help the oppressed majority of the world. Sanders supports the same aggressive militarist international policies of all the other imperialist candidates: “We live in a dangerous world full of serious threats, perhaps none more so than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. Senator Sanders is committed to keeping America safe, and pursuing those who would do Americans harm.”(1)
The problem isn't just that Sanders doesn't support an independent socialist party, the problem is that Sanders is muddying the word socialist, just like the "national socialists" (aka fascists) in Germany did in their day. This is not a word meant to ensure greater wealth for privileged nations at the expense of oppressed nations. And while it's possible Sanders could pursue a policy of greater advancement for the oppressed nations within U.$. borders, this would only serve to expand the ranks of the labor aristocracy on the backs of oppressed nations globally. We cannot support that sort of rhetoric.
MIM(Prisons) maintains that it is possible one day Amerika will fully integrate the oppressed New Afrikan, [email protected], Boriqua and First Nations like the Irish, Italians and others who initially faced oppression but later fully integrated into Amerikan society. This could even be done by shifting around some money from within imperialist Amerika. But judging from the popularity of the overtly fascist rallying cries from Trump and eir ilk, it seems more likely that national oppression abroad will continue to engender national oppression and racism at home.
This election is important for lumpen consciousness within Amerikan borders because it would be easy to be taken in by the Sanders rhetoric. Or to be frightened by the Trump rhetoric. And so be moved to rally around “the lesser of two evils” campaign to get on the streets working for the “Democratic Party.” But the lumpen class consciousness needs to be tied to internationalism. We need to diligently point out the suffering of the international proletariat at the hands of imperialism, which is the same oppressor keeping the lumpen down. The alliance should be between these two oppressed groups, against the imperialists. Not between the lumpen and the so-called left wing of the imperialists against the international proletariat. Our job as communists is to push the oppressed and exploited classes to the right side of this equation: the side of the world's oppressed.
When the Black Panther Party's Ten Point Program included: “We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America” they were demonstrating this internationalist class consciousness, specifically in the context of the Vietnam War. This writer is correct that we will never get close to socialism within the imperialist establishment. But we disagree that there is actually a lesser of two evils in any imperialist election, or a choice between imperialism and mass incarceration. These things go hand in hand, and one side's rhetoric benefits some Amerikans more while the other side would benefit a slightly different group of Amerikans, while the white nation remains firmly in power, and the wealth continues to come from the exploited in the Third World.
I always express how important it is to salute the comrades to the young prisoners and the unconscious prisoners. For them to always assist in some way in the struggle. Here in [the facility where I am] it's a whole different world. It's like the twilight zone, you have to see it to believe it. But it's our duty to still push to get the fire burning and to keep the fire burning.
These oppressors, the pigs, have domesticated and brainwashed so many of these prisoners, to where they think that comradism is nutty. So I give my all to try to enlighten the ones whose ears I can catch. Explain to them that if it wasn't for this comradism, some of these small opportunities that we do have as rights (to see your lawyers, phone calls, rec time, keeping your legal work, law library), some of these battles have been won on the back of some hell of men. Even cost some of them their lives, and they was willing to die for something. We must be grateful and love these warriors.
I try to make an example about how much these oppressors fear and hate these warriors. I try to tell them to look at yourself and some of the other brothers that we say put work in. These prisoners can stab another prisoner numerous times and get one year or six months hole time. But the warriors don't have to touch a soul and be in the hole, for ten, twenty, thirty years, and never put a knife or nothing else in another prisoner. I tell them that they're more afraid of the knowledge they possess, they know who the true enemy is. So these warriors is some of the most feared prisoners and go through a lot of torture, for the cause that all prisoners benefit from. So I salute the comrades - THANKS AND KEEP THE FIRE BURNING.
This is a question which all communists must ask themselves at one point or another of their revolutionary careers. Furthermore, it is a question which has essentially dominated the International Communist Movement (ICM) ever since that movement became a real contender on the world stage. Suffice to say that there has never in essence been a more important question to ask and correctly answer within the ICM itself other than patriotism or internationalism? That said, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism are not mutually exclusive phenomena forever separated by the same great impassable divide of ideological difference, rather, patriotism and internationalism as properly understood by communists are dialectically interconnected concepts that we must struggle to unite.
Sometimes general, sometimes particular, but always of universal importance, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism represent different aspects of the subjective forces whose task it is to carry out revolution both at home and abroad. Focus too much on one and you run the danger of making an ultra-left mistake. Focus too much on the other and you will not only be committing a tactical mistake, but will be guilty of committing a right opportunist error. What comrades must understand however is that pushing the revolutionary vehicle towards a bright communist future isn't necessarily about making the decision of patriotism or internationalism. It's about both. This is the topic which the following essay will attempt to explain. Thus in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism — but are there other ways for us to apply internationalism within nation-specific projects?
Contrary to how this quote has been narrowed down by some comrades, applied internationalism isn't only about each nation fighting their own battles and hoping that anti-imperialists from other nations will be astute enough to recognize the tactical opportunities of our fight and hence get in where they fit in. Internationalism is about extending our hands and providing assistance to our comrades whenever we can and offering lesser but equally important means of support when other avenues of help have been closed off to us.
Point in fact, MIM(Prisons) can't physically and persynally reach out to every prisoner on a one-on-one level. But it has a bi-monthly newsletter that goes out to the prison masses as well as a Free Books to Prisoner Program, a website created in part to help facilitate the needs of prisoners across the United $tates and document abuse. It runs study groups and most recently help put out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, a book that will help to build public opinion for revolution in North America by agitating in favor of the [email protected] masses. Not to mention the other nation-specific and internationalist projects which it has been responsible for spawning.
Another excellent but largely forgotten and ignored example of applied internationalism being practiced outside of a nation's own borders is how the Cuban masses under the leadership of Fidel Castro volunteered to cross the Atlantic to fight alongside the Angolan people in their struggle of national liberation against Portuguese and Amerikan imperialism. This act took place for a variety of reasons, but perhaps none more important than the sheer anger, disgust and solidarity which Cubans felt at the sight of imperialist bombs falling on Angolan heads. It could then be said that this sacrifice on behalf of the Cuban people marked a development as well as a leap in the revolutionary consciousness of the Cuban nation, both because they were willing to give up their lives in the service of another oppressed nation and because with their sacrifice they helped land such a strong and decisive blow against colonialism, while simultaneously helping to detach Angola from the imperialist framework. It could therefore be said that this action on behalf of the Cuban masses was equally, if not more significant than the Cuban revolution itself. This is just another reason why Cuba holds such a special place in the revolutionary hearts of oppressed people everywhere.
This now brings us to a recent debate initiated within the California Council concerning USW's potential contribution to a certain nationalist project, and a certain comrade's apprehensions/objections about the role of USW vis-a-vis the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations, as well as the exertion of influence on USW by revolutionary nationalists operating within that organization. In eir argument the comrade in question took the position that no one nation should be forced to take part in another nation's struggles, citing that this would be tantamount to one nation co-opting others to do its job for them. That said, no nation should be allowed to control another nation's destiny or make decisions for other nations that are integral to the liberation of the latter as this would in effect mark the beginnings of a neo-colonial relation on a certain level. Furthermore, the comrade also made the statement that "USW is not one nation united, it's multi-national." Now this may be true, but the correct definition for USW is the following:
"USW is explicitly anti-imperialist in leading campaigns on behalf of prisoners in alliance with national liberation struggles in the United $tates and around the world. USW won't champion struggles which are not in the interests of the international proletariat. USW will also not choose one nation's struggles over other oppressed nations struggles."
And from the pamphlet The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons:
"Rebuilding the anti-imperialist prison movement means uniting all who can be united around the common interests of the U.$. prison population in solidarity with the oppressed people of the Third World..."
So while we should definitely be in agreement that no nation should be forced to participate in another nation's struggles and that no one nation should be allowed to come up at the expense of another, this does not in any way mean that USW, or the California Council in particular, should be disallowed from initiating proposals and passing resolutions that will support and lend assistance to nations or nation-specific organizations represented within or outside of USW. The nation in question can either accept the assistance or not. This method of action and participation will ensure that USW retains its United Front mass organization character by preserving the unity and independence of all USW comrades and affiliated organizations. Indeed, USW, like all other organizations, has a dual character. Unlike most other organizations however USW's duality is complementary and it is not an antagonistic contradiction. While it is true that USW is a mass organization created to represent and fight for the common interests of all prisoners as a distinct social group, it is also a launch pad for the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations in which comrades can cut their teeth thru revolutionary organizing, and from where they can then go on to initiate and lead national liberation struggles on behalf of their own respective nations.
This is what USW, as an anti-imperialist prisoner organization, should be about: the internationalism of prisoners breeding revolutionary nationalism, and revolutionary nationalist projects breeding internationalism amongst the prison masses. This requires more than each nation blindly going its own separate way. It requires unity of action and unity of discipline. As such, it would seem then that what we have here with the comrade in question may be a problem of perspective. What some might see as internationalism others might perceive as a contradiction. What some regard as mutual assistance others will call co-optation. For those of us having this problem of "perception" however, we would be wise to be cautious not to let our own love for our nations blind us to the plight of others, as sometimes what this fear of "co-optation" really translates to is our own fear or refusal to participate in another nation's struggles. Thus, we should be aware of how our own nation's struggles, as well as our failure to act on behalf of other nations, can affect the ICM, lest we degenerate to the level of narrow nationalism.
Since this question of whether or not USW should participate in a variety of nation-specific struggles seems to be one rooted in perception, let us take a closer look at the supposed pimping of nations that would take place if USW were to decide to work in the interests of a distinct national project. As has been the current practice thus far, nowhere at all has this resulted in one nation's struggle being taken up to the detriment of another. But let's just suppose that this is the case, then maybe ULK should just stop featuring articles that promote the struggle of one nation or another so that we may ensure that no comrades from any nation feel as if they're being pushed into the background, or that their nation-specific article is forced to share space on the pages of an internationalist forum that also represents one nation or another, lest these comrades begin to feel "co-opted."
Just because Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation the nationalism of the oppressed nations is applied internationalism, it does not justify our lack of adherence to other internationalist principles. This is a guiding line of real communism and should likewise be seen as a line of demarcation for all revolutionary nationalists claiming the mantles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Applied internationalism is about more than just fighting your own nation's struggles and we should never forget that. To give an additional hystorical example, when Amerikan imperialism attacked Vietnam the People's Republic of China aided the Vietnamese by providing all types of supplies including food, money and intelligence. Most activists of the time believed this was not enough and that the Chinese should've provided troops as well. We wonder what the previously mentioned comrade would think about this? Perhaps ey would say it was too much and that the Chinese were already guilty of co-opting Vietnam's national liberation struggle and how dare anyone suggest that the Chinese become more involved? Of course, in a possible revolutionary future we can even envision a myriad of situations in which the internal semi-colonies will be forced to coordinate and work shoulder-to-shoulder to oust Amerikan imperialism from their territories. Or would this too be a case of one semi-colony co-opting the struggle of another?
The Palestinian campaign initiated by USW last year is yet another internationalist project that is now shadowed by question marks, at least according to that one comrade's perspective. Perhaps this was simply incorrect practice and "a waste of USW's time"? As previously stated, while we agree that no nation should be forced to contribute to another nation's struggles, we also believe that no comrade should feel as if they're being "forced" to participate in another nation's struggles. As such, maybe these type of people aren't so much for internationalism as they sometimes claim to be? Because Mao accomplished and wrote so much on the national liberation struggle of China many have erroneously come to believe that ey was a nationalist first and a Marxist-Leninist second; but this view is wrong. Mao loved eir nation but ey was a Marxist-Leninist first and foremost who recognized the liberation of China as only a small component in the global struggle for communism.
Choosing and deciding what internationalist struggles one can participate in besides those that are explicitly national liberationist exclusive to one's own is both a tactical and strategical question that is dictated by the struggles and conditions of the time. Lacking a clear and coherent reason why not to participate is indicative of a national chauvinist political line in command. The USW Palestine campaign was a fairly easy campaign to initiate due to the current stage of the struggle and most USW comrades' material conditions. Other struggles will take more time and consideration to implement, while some might be outright out of the question. Excluding the labor aristocracy, there is a reason why revolutionaries from Marx to Mao championed the slogan: "workers of all countries unite!"
We struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people or we don't struggle at all.
"Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism combined with absorption in the narrowest forms of practical activity." - V. I. Lenin
Often times the first half of this quote is misrepresented by people not really knowing the context. Well-meaning comrades will repeat this political axiom when calling for others to pick up their theoretical game (grasp of revolutionary science), for reasons having to do with the obvious need for revolutionary theory to influence and propagate our revolutionary practice. Yet it was in the process of struggle and heated political debate that Lenin first made this now famous statement. These struggles and other political debates were recalled by Lenin in eir book What is to be Done?; a book about communist organization and discipline. More to my point, in this book, Lenin addressed the importance that revolutionary theory should play in informing the revolutionary movement, in part for the purpose of combating various erroneous tendencies.
The main tendency which Lenin devoted the better part of this book to was the problem of opportunism. Opportunism can be defined as the conscious or unconscious watering down of political line in order to garner more sympathy for your cause or movement. It can also be said that opportunism can be described as the glossing over of contradictions within the revolutionary movement so as to not offend or turn away your social base. A perfect example of opportunism would be to tell Amerikans that they are the revolutionary vehicle which we call the proletariat instead of telling them the truth: that they are by and large the objective enemies of the international proletariat — parasites which we call the labor aristocracy.
One example of how opportunism can work its way into the revolutionary prison movement is thru a philosophical belief called pragmatism. To be a pragmatist means to worship the tactics of whatever works at the present time. While there may be occasions in which we must do what is most effective at that particular instance/moment, we must do so in a way that doesn't have us sacrificing our political principles or political line, all for the sake of practical results. Pragmatism as a strategic orientation is a danger to revolutionary movements because it can cause us to shift focus from our strategic goals in favor of the immediacy of tactical results. While tactical wins are a good thing for the oppressed, we will be in error if we confuse a tactical gain for strategic victory. A real world example of the negative effects of pragmatism is how many prisoners who participated in the California hunger strikes first initiated in 2011 abandoned the struggle for humyn rights in favor of material concessions and a more comfortable oppression.
Other more nuanced examples of how opportunism has come to dominate political organizing behind prison walls come in the form of "friendship groups" and "elites." Both are hazards to the prison movement because of the seemingly casual nature of the two and the Liberalism that underlies them.
Friendship groups are the more obvious of the two. Friendship groups can be defined as: "A group of friends who also happen to participate in the same political activities. Most of these groups' members participate within the group because they like the people in them and not because they have the correct political line."
Elites can be defined as: "A small group of people who have power over a larger group of which they are a part of, usually without a direct responsibility to that larger group and often without their knowledge or consent."
Friendship groups function on an external level and so many prisoners will surely recognize one when they see them, as most LOs have these types of groups functioning in one capacity or another. Elites on the other hand, while being dialectically related to the friendship group are the opposite and function on an internal level. One thing which both these groups share in common is their popularization and use of false logic as a method of accomplishing their objectives. This false logic can be best understood as sophism; a method of argument that fake philosophers use to fool the masses by exploiting to their own advantage any situation they encounter or create. One such method of the professional sophist is the ad hominem attack. Ad hominen attacks are marked by appeals to feelings or prejudices rather than to intellect. For example, if one persyn doesn't like another persyn's politics, but can't correctly argue against eir political line, the aggressor might use an ad hominem attack instead. The ad hominem attack might be accusing the persyn of violating an established taboo, such as stealing from another persyn.
Opportunism will find its way into revolutionary movements and organizations if both the masses and the leadership do not have a strong grasp or even an elementary understanding of revolutionary theory. This can allow for various dishonest and incorrect elements to find their way into our structures, which as a result can cause our movements to falter and perish. This is why as revolutionaries we put such a high premium on the study of revolutionary science not only amongst the prison leadership but the prison masses. Furthermore, in making this point we cannot over-emphasize the dialectical relation between study and practice, as a correct grasp of one will inevitably lead to a correct grasp of the other.
To re-iterate, preventative measures are essential in order to safe-guard our movements from taking up opportunism and watering down their revolutionary agendas. We must strongly advocate and fight for the study and production of both revolutionary theory and practice not only to effectively meet the demands and goals of revolutionary organizing, but to navigate our movements thru the sea and fog of bourgeois Liberalism. Our practice will grope in the dark unless its path is illuminated by the most advanced revolutionary theory.
Last, but certainly not least, i would like to speak to other challenges of revolutionary organizing behind prison walls. When working with the lumpen and attempting to organize for our collective liberation it is only natural that we will run into a variety of problems that may end with us in frustration. However, we should not blithely dismiss the prison masses as incapable of listening to our message because they are supposedly too "ignorant", "backward" or "apolitical" to understand what the so-called "revolutionary" might regard as "complex," as this has more to do with the revolutionary's own ignorance, inability and incapability to either understand the masses or effectively communicate to them the correct political line. More likely than not, when any movement, strike or action fails to materialize or develop it is not due to the low level of consciousness of the masses, but to the revolutionaries' own lack of profundity and insight into the movement of the masses which they often claim some sort of near spiritual connection to.
We must continue to find better ways to correct our approach and understanding of the masses, correct our shortcomings, and stop blaming the masses. Likewise, neither should we fear the masses or their criticism, as the acceptance of criticism and self-criticism is integral to establishing the correct revolutionary line. Do not fear the masses because they are the way forward, and do not fear their criticism because often times they prove to be correct, if even just a bit, for whosoever fears the criticism of the masses only proves that what they really fear is revolution. Above all, always remember that revolutionaries are not above the masses in any way, shape or form. We are but the advanced detachment of the prison movement, nothing more, nothing less. Whoever does not believe this is not a Maoist.
In writing this missive a relevant story comes to mind. When the masses in socialist China were struggling for control of their country against the capitalist roaders during the period of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, many so-called "revolutionaries" felt that the masses were out of control, and that they weren't yet ready to share state power with the communist party. Many of these revolutionaries advocated an end to this "anarchy," accusing the masses of being too backward to run the country. To this Mao Zedong and Lin Biao responded:
"The assumption of power by ideological means is absolutely necessary if consolidation of the working class's power and hegemony is the goal... To accomplish the decisive political leap, the leading role must revert to the masses; this has nothing to do as it is generally believed in the West to do with any form of spontaneity. The role of the party in destroying 'spontaneous' illusions lies in the quality of leadership which consists in transforming dispersed rebel movements into a revolutionary current capable of overcoming contradictions. Lin Biao says that the mass revolutionary movement is naturally correct; for among the masses, right and left-wing deviationist groups may exist, but the main current of the mass movement always corresponds to the development of that society involved and is always correct. Revolution is the resolution of contradictions."(1)
From this end of the bend the only subject relevant to prisoners in regards to the early Black Panther Party (BPP) is the party as a Maoist organization and how prisoners should apply the teachings of the early Panthers to free themselves - resisting the foolishness of the late personality cliques capitalizing off of the party’s reputation. What is most important is getting to the truth between the legacy of the BPP and what it was that the founders were really getting at. What role, if any, do later groups play in keeping the vision alive? And how is it that prisoners should use these lessons in these later years of anti-imperialist prison organizing efforts?
Many New Afrikan lumpen organizations inside prison take their plays directly from the playbook of early BPP members while never truly crediting the party for its works. This in turn creates further confusions between the Lumpen Organization's (LO's) followers and former members of the authentic movement. Others within U.$. prisons are charismatic individuals working hand over hand with the bourgeois nationalist organizations, spreading misinformation about the BPP.
Recently PBS ran a piece on a program called Independent Lens that documented the history of the Black Panther Party. As expected it was as watered down as the bourgeois press and media felt it could get away with.(1) Several of the prisoners housed on this facility burst at their seems with inspiration of the works of the Black Panther Party. It was information that they felt they should have known, being they are Afrikans.
Other BPP images being portrayed on this 50th anniversary year include one specific article written by a charismatic imprisoned individual that went on and on about Huey P. Newton, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, and not on how prisoners should learn from the early lessons of Newton, applying their lessons of political education in the struggles of today.(2) And probably the most noticed recent portrayal of the Panthers came in the form of sexual media, with Beyonce and eir Super Bowl 50 performance. Capitalizing off of the history of the Black power era, Beyonce adorned eirself and eir backup dancers with black leathers, black boots and black berets. Prisoners should question the significance of Black Panther costume jewelry and make-up versus scientific relevance inside U.$. prisons.(3)
Very few prisoners appreciate the political significance of the difference between the early BPP and the late BPP. This is the reason so many prisoners crowd towards movements that appear authentic and genuinely interested in liberation struggles. The masses are presented with ideas of Black, Brown, red, yellow and white power by superstar groups like #BlackLivesMatter, but prisoners have very few tools of independence to combat the misinformation spewed by these bourgeois nationalist organizations and their personalities. Movements built on single issue organizing, swabbing the support of the populations using identity politics, do a disservice to the oppressed, depriving them of the truth.
The Black Panther Party held the correct line in its early stages, and because of this it was rewarded with the support of the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, the majority being lumpen youth. In its early years the BPP was truly independent, concentrating on its services to Blacks, at a time when the term Black was just as independent as the party. So the organization was able to operate in a loose way within the First World. The early party took its science from a variety of teachings, from the Pan-Afrikan movement to the Chinese communist movement, Lenin’s Russia, Stalin’s theory of nation, and Mao’s People’s War. Mao influenced much of the Black Panther Party’s position as a structured organization. The early members had a very real practice of materialist solutions provided to those in the same environment suffering under conditions of class indifferences, national isolation and gender extinction. They did not believe in struggling against a system while at the same time becoming liberated by the very same system they struggled against.
The prison personality contest conflicts become prominent, with prison identity politics valued above the peace that independence-building projects bring to a self-reliant and self-determined people's anti-imperialist prison movement. Too many prisoners and prison LOs see the end of their individual suffering at the expense of exploiting entire prison populations. MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW) see it differently as we define in the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principle of independence. Independence is building our own institutions and programs independent of the united states government and all its branches, right down to the local police, because this system does not serve us. By developing independent power through these institutions we do not need to compromise our goals.
The Black Panther Party prioritized the momentum of the people in its early years because of the line and position it had on Maoism. The BPP transitioned for some time to a level above many of the revisionist and liberal bourgeois nationalist organizations of the late sixties and was able to attract some of the most progressive members of the lower class, that many now refer to as the First World lumpen. The Panthers at this time studied history from the perspective of dialectical materialism, in contrast to the methods of metaphysics and idealism, and had a clear program that was being adopted by various sectors of the masses across the United $tates. They applied practices that included designing programs that required members to perform services for the community at large, from education to self defense. The services of the Black Panther Party reflected its line in such a way that it was mandatory that members knew the rules of the BPP, the 8 points of attention and the 3 main rules of discipline, off the top of their head. The early Panthers were really on point.
It is in the later stages of the party’s existence that things began to take a turn as a result of the organization shifting from its earlier positions on independence, self-determination and liberation in the interest of the oppressed. This shift occurred in 1970-71, and was marked by the development of the theory of “intercommunalism” by Huey P. Newton. With the added pressures of government-launched campaigns to destroy the Black Panther Party, the party became split on every level one possibly could imagine.
Walking in the Panther Legacy Today
Since the demise of the BPP, though the movement never actually died, a wide gap has grown between the generation of Huey, George, Bunchy, Fred, Kathleen and Geronimo and the generation of Freddie Gray, Mike Brown and Sandra Bland. Since the Panthers, many organizations became infected with a type of Pantherism/inter-communalism fervor. These organizations hold that they themselves keep the work of the Black Panther Party alive, all the while erasing the Maoist politics of the BPP. See our article on the Black Riders Liberation Party for a discussion of another group confusing this legacy today.(4)
United Struggle from Within (USW) is a mass organization led by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons for prisoners and former prisoners in the United $tates. USW is made up of various political prison activists struggling against their oppressive conditions. We are part of an ongoing struggle against the imperialist state to liberate ALL peoples, not only the select few who have made themselves popular at the expense of the people. While USW seeks immediate goals to improve prison conditions, it does not lose sight of the ultimate goal of national liberation and ending imperialism.
"There are two kinds of nationalism, revolutionary nationalism and reactionary nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism is first dependent upon a peoples revolution with the end goal being the people in power. Therefore to be revolutionary nationalist you would by necessity have to be a socialist. If you are a reactionary nationalist you are not a socialist and your end goal is the oppression of the people."(5)
Like their parent organization, many comrades of USW see the Black Panther Party developed by Huey P. Newton as the Maoist vanguard of the United States in the late 1960s. The Black Panther Party grew so rapidly at that time that many of the new recruits and larger memberships had very little opportunity to establish a deep understanding of the political objectives of the party. A lack of political education allows political movements to be co-opted, infiltrated, and run into the ground by enemy line.(6)
USW learns from the Black Panther Party, its good, bad and ugly. Parallel to the method practiced by our parent organization MIM(Prisons), USW comrades apply righteous actions by righteous studies of logic and these are some lessons we take:
No investigation, no right to speak. USW will not misrepresent or misinform the masses.
Correctness of ideas assessed independent of who says them. USW does not engage in the persynality contest so popular in the United $tates and its prisons.
We do not give out information that the pigs could use to assess or destroy our movement. Fishing is a favored method amongst the agent provocateurs and their drones inside the belly of the beast. USW comrades have a clear definition of what a snitch, a rat and a pig is. We don’t use the terms loosely and never false jacket individuals, as our pledge to the United Front for Peace in Prison principle of unity requires.
Anonymity isn’t just about security, it’s also about teaching prisoners to think scientifically rather than follow the person with specific skin tone or hair style. USW must struggle against identity politics and the way it shall go about confronting it as its membership crosses paths with the prison lumpen organization leaders, with their cult-like followings, is in the most peaceful way possible, Under Lock & Key. This issue of ULK is a further advancement into serious dialogues between politically conscious prisoners and the masses. Prisoners as a whole must take from this history, from a Maoist point of view and decide what side they are on. The side of half truths,or the always evolving side of deep study and materialist dialectics.
As Sukant Chandan of Sons of Malcom put it, identity politics is doing the imperialist divide and rule for the enemy, by "focusing purely on individualistic frameworks and issues of oppression which overshadow or totally obliterate understanding, learning and support for Resistance of peoples against imperialism."(7) So just as the Panthers were not about costume jewelry and black berets, they were not about petty beefing and slights towards small groups of people.
So why are there so many groups inside prisons who claim to identify with the Black Panther Party but do not uphold Maoism? Their class loyalty is to the bourgeoisie and they refuse to accept the most scientifically designed methods of discovering concrete practices that elevate the peoples. Study Maoism, study proletarian internationalism, study the actual words of the Black Panther Party from the late 1960s.
Peace from the Gods! We salute the world with universal greetings of peace. We recognize the need for unity-criticism-unity. We only want to build upon the "actual facts" Wiawimawo built upon concerning Islam and New Afrikans. We have found that concerning so-called revolutionaries scientific approach towards New Afrikans and Islam one must first define, then science out the rest for the sake of peace and the absence of confusion. A New Afrikan is a young, poorly educated, superstitious, disillusioned Black person fed up with the slow legal process, who takes up a militant stance against the lack of equality of opportunity and treatment in the United States according to E. David Cronon, a Marcus Garvey biographer who wrote Black Moses. Islam is and always will be peace. There is no "I" in Arabic, so Islam is As-Slaam, root word slm, which is peace. A deaf dumb and blind would use the so-called translation of submission to the will of Allah as the defining of Islam. These are the Facts! Peace is one of the reasons we salute Under Lock & Key.
Wiawimawo has taken a few fragments of information and stretched them to fit a particular line. In the article when he [sic] uses citation 10 from Knight's book, he leaves out the part that states "in turn some[emphasis ours - Legion] Five Percenters replace 'understand' with York's 'overstand' (itself grafted from Rastafari) in regular conversation..." We feel as if to make a point the comrade can't defend a poorly constructed argument, so a blanket statement is made. That's like us saying the Maoist let the Black Panther Party get massacred and laid it down during the COINTELPRO stings.
In citation 11 about the Gods, Black Muslims and Rastafarians in cahoots to kill suspected dope dealers was a cover-up the NYPD manifested to cover up the fact they had ten unsolved murders on the books along with the assassinations of various so-called Black messiahs. On pages 248-252 of In the Name of Allah Vol. 1 you'll find the full history of the situation. The NYCPD, NYPD and FBI tried to cause yet another "civil war" between the Gods and Black Muslims. The NOI was cleared and NYC Mayor Lindsay put Barry Gottehrer to the task of clearing up the confusion.
Five Percenters are doing what no other LO or nation has the ability to do with regard to citation 13, and have been since before 1970. ["In the later 1970s the Five Percenters recruited whole street gangs into their fold whose members accounted for a significant portion of the arrests in Brooklyn during those years.(13)" - Wiawimawo] We are nation builders. It's what we do.
This line about civic duty and spirituality is another stretch. The Five Percenters main brain function is pulling people out of the mud with proper knowledge of self. Spirit as defined in Funk and Wagnalls dictionary is the part of the human being characterized by intelligence, personality, self-consciousness, and will; the mind. We live on actual facts every day in every way. No spook in the sky is ever going to feed us or you. It's in the lessons.
We must point out that Allah (the Father) was never close friends with Malcolm X. The Father stayed away from the beef between X and Elijah. The people come first. The strength of a nation before money is the youth. Malcolm X let the lime light get himself killed. We respect the intent, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People also seem to forget Malcolm X was a UNIA Mason before Elijah, before his brother told him about Islam. So his ability to do for self was in his political make up anyways.
The difference between allegory and myth are exponential. A myth is used to explain a natural phenomenon, while allegory is used to represent characters and events as ideals and princples. To discount the Yacub theory is to discredit any and all efforts made by Maoists, whom use dialectical materialism to present solutions to problems faced by the masses. We are tasked with learning the science of everything in life. So we tend to look listen and observe through an independent lense. If one is a scientist then you are a religionist. If you are not then you really aren't living the life of a scientist (i.e. devoted).
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks to Legion for eir feedback and corrections. Legion pointed me in the right direction for research on this topic, but is much more knowledgeable on the history than i. There is an interesting problem that we face as we attempt to lay out the history of most LOs when there is little documentation, and primary sources are mostly stories and the (subjective) memories of certain individuals. Much of the research in Knight's book is admittedly unverified and presented in a very loose form.
My citation 10, on Rastafari's influence on the NGE was flimsy on it's own. But i do believe the influence is greater than the use of one word, for example in terms of diet and dress (of some Five Percenters, not all). And the bigger point i was making still stands, that the NGE is a uniquely New Afrikan organization that reflects the history of the nation via movements including Rastafari, UNIA, MSTA, NOI, hip hop and lumpen street organizations.
We agree with Legion that the allegory of the white man as the devil is useful. However, it seems clear that it was taught as historical scripture by many. As a white researcher of the history of these organizations, perhaps Michael Knight gave it special attention. But it is at least one of the major issues that caused Malcolm X and Wallace Muhammad to split with Elijah Muhammad. So its unscientific aspect has made it divisive among New Afrikans at times, and the story of Yacub has never been the mythology of the majority of the nation.
As discussed in the original article, idealist philosophies usually differentiate between the material world and the spiritual one. Such philosophies are "dualist." Communists are monists, as we do not believe there is a mind or spirit that is separate from our material bodies. By working to transform society we address both the material and the so-called spiritual needs of the people. Above Legion seems to see the NGE similarly. Even the NOI has in its founding ideology a "do-for-self in this world" line, yet the NOI philosophy is clearly religious. As i argue in the original article, the NGE represents a move towards materialism (and therefore monism), but certainly in its founding ideas there are many parallels to the NOI. Finally, we do not agree that a scientist is a practitioner of religion; as we define in my original article, religion "is idealism with organized rituals." Legion's insistence on merging science and religion seem to demonstrate that there is still some level of disagreement between us there.
Since 2010, after the so-called "Arab Spring" that caused governments in North Africa and the Middle East to crumble, those regions have been in all-out war at the expense of the people who populate them.
Over here on this side of the world, people have prejudiced animosity towards the people who populate war-torn countries like Syria and Yemen. First World nationalists and the bourgeoisie, along with the petty-bourgeoisie, believe that the displaced people risking their lives to come to the United $tates or European Union threaten their First World lifestyle. What nerve these money hungry, war-mongers have. It's a fact that very few First Worlders have actually seen war, or experienced hunger, or had to give up everything and risk their lives taking a chance migrating to a new country, sometimes even a new continent, to have a so-called "better life" and partake in the "Amerikan dream" that everyone talks about.
600,000 people crossed into Europe this year, sometimes 10,000 a day.(1) This is a cycle that goes back centuries, but now that it's affecting the First World's backyard, the imperialists have no choice but to admit that it's gotten out of hand. Now the imperialists are calling it a "world crisis." My question to them would be, what world are you talking about? I doubt they're talking about the world as a whole.
In the European Union, right-wing parties that promote xenophobia were on the rise way before the displaced people started pushing through the borders.(1) Now protectionist E.U. governments are complaining that Europe will change for the worse because of the mass migration plaguing their countries. They complain that the displaced people will "take their jobs, get spoiled on government benefits, and worst of all change the identity of Europe."(1) Wow, I say fuck their identity, for centuries they've been destroying ours.
Thanks to globalization, smuggling displaced people has become a full-blown enterprise. Smugglers charge up to $1,200 a persyn and children at half that. This is big business with a lot of activity in the Mediterranean. So much so that 100 boats leave Turkey for Greece almost daily, each packed with over 40 people. All this adds up to over $5 million a day for the smugglers.(2) This is true capitalism, getting rich off the people of the Third World.
Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, is to blame for the wars in poor regions like the Middle East with the real victims being our children. Our youth are being poisoned with bourgeois culture, and parasitic class ideology. That type of mentality is everywhere: in books, magazines, TV, and the radio. No matter what part of the world you're in, all you hear about is how great Amerika is, the so-called land of the free where nobody's poor, or hungry, or cold. People, some still children, leave their home countries because they want to believe in a utopia where they are safe from bombs or stray bullets. Only thing is that the imperialist propaganda machine doesn't tell them that the "Amerikan dream" is for a chosen few. I know because I am one of them that risked it all at a young age for a piece of that "Amerikan dream" and now here I am locked away in a humyn warehouse. According to an ABC news report aired on Good Morning America, "5,000 children crossed the U.$./Mexico border alone in October."(3) Now they're in koncentration kamps being processed to be deported back to their poor, war-torn, inhumyn countries. Every one of them treated like an animal, locked away in so-called "refugee camps."
The imperialists call this "radical ideology," but as materialists and students of Maoism we point out the fact that the First World exploits the Third World for its cheap labor and resources. These bureaucratic pigs justify their imperialist policies by claiming to promote democracy and Liberal capitalism. But in reality they flex their muscles in the Third World to intimidate other nations for the purpose of exploiting their oil fields or mines that are rich in minerals, and any nation that resists is called "undemocratic" or "ruled with an iron fist," attacked by the imperialist propaganda machine. Now that some nations want some of that wealth (that was made off the oil or minerals) the imperialists stole, the imperialists push policies to block any of those nations from entering the empire and partaking in the benefits that the wealth provides. It's all in the hystory books for anyone to see. The First World exploits the Third World in the form of neo-colonialism.
As anti-imperialists we oppose U.$. and E.U. aggression in the Third World, and we put them on blast for their crimes against humanity. If NATO could stabilize the Middle East with their billions of dollars/euros they would have done it by now. Now the imperialists see that they have awakened a giant, not in the form of socialism, but still, in the form of anti-imperialism. The bourgeois media gives off this false perception of the people of the Third World as illiterates, uncivilized, and religious fanatics, but hystory is on our side and just like in China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc. the people of the Third World will prevail.
Just like in Nazi Germany the United $tates is using white nationalism in the form of patriotism to use fascist-like tactics and policies to repress oppressed nations here in the United $tates. It's sad really, some actually believe that imperialist forces overseas are actually protecting their freedom. And to those who speak up on the crimes the state department commits against their own people, well just look at Edward Snowden. And if you're against the war crimes committed by the U.$. forces, well just look at Bowe Bergdahl. Both are considered traitors.
We must educate the youth that flashy cars and jewelry is not what life is really about. The reason that people have for coming to the United $tates is that they too want to get rich and own a mansion in Beverly Hills. This is what the United $tates preaches and then they complain when others flood their borders to partake in the "Amerikan dream." We must expose the real criminals. Down with the imperialists and their puppet regimes, all power to the people.
As each holiday season reminds us, there are certain tunes sung again and gain for generations. Perhaps a word or two is altered as language changes, but the message is the same.
A man named Carolus Linneaus is honored by most amerikkkans as "one of the greatest scientists of the Western world" for his message back in 1738.(1) While the terms aren't in use in today's language, let's see if we recognize the time.
Modern imperialism was in its nascent stage back then. Powerful and power hungry Europeans were attempting to find a reasoned justification for dominating and destroying other people in order to take their resources. Good ol' Carolus Linneaus - brilliant scientist - had already classified the world into the various families, genus, types, etc. that we learn in biology. But most hystory books don't tell us he also made four classes of humyns:
Homo Europeans: people who are light, lively, inventive, ruled by rites
Homo Americanus: people who are tenacious, contented, free, ruled by custom
Homo Asiaticus: people who are stern, haughty, stingy, ruled by opinion
Homo Africanus: cunning, slow, ruled by caprice
This is a timeless tune, isn't it? I suppose we could add to this "Carolus" the jingle of Donald Kunt, er Trump kkklassifying Latinos as murderers, rapists, and criminals. I mean, if i classify you as not quite humyn then I can freely treat you as other than me. Like it's okay to steal a duck's eggs 'cause ducks don't have rights.