Sadly far too many people who should know better believe that a sign of “equal justice” would be if Kyle Rittenhouse was housed in the empty cell down the tier from me. Additionally far too many people actually felt and argued that a sign of the system working was the guilty verdict given to the McMichaels for killing Ahmaud Arbery. However i wonder what exactly such people believe happens when these people are in fact placed into prison. Do people believe these people would share the same experiences as someone from the semi-colonies? Do they believe these people will be subjected to the same level of brutality from the state or its representatives? Do they believe this is “rehabilitation”?
i’ve even heard far too many people state that these people should not even be given bourgeois rights while going through the courts. Such people obviously believe in amerikkkan “democracy” and only aim to put and keep their people in power specifically through the Democratic Party where they can use the levers of bourgeois civil society to dominate* the Republican Party. This is vengeance against the Amerikan bourgeoisie’s political party by another - not justice and definitely not revolutionary. We should condemn this at every turn.
2020 was lost because spontaneity dominated instead of actual consciousness. Lenin stated in 1900 that the “spontaneity of the masses demands a high consciousness from us.” Another obvious failure was the failure of analysis of what amerikkka’s capitalism-imperialism is and who her citizens are and their relationship to this specific form of late capitalism-imperialism. Had this been done there would’ve been less talk of trying to stuff a true history lesson down the settler-colonist throats as if this would make them see the light and instead teaching this history to New Afrikans, First Nations, Raza, API and receptive whites with an emphasis on self-determination struggles, self-reliance, anti-imperialism and internationalism. A proper class analysis would’ve concluded there’s no real opposition to capitalism-imperialism (in 2020) and most amerikans benefit from this system. The people protesting, thinking pigs would be or should be neutral, while their system was under attack; that they would not welcome vigilantes and even thank them were foolish. If any one was surprised at all by how that night played out, regardless of the Rittenhouse verdict, they need to go back to the ABC’s of amerikkkan history (maybe Critical Race Theory would’ve helped them).
Not only should we not root for U$A injustice system even against our enemies**, we should denounce bourgeois criminal behavior, not just gangsterism but even in protests. We are not terrorists nor do we believe in focoism or anarchy. We advocate revolutionary consciousness. We do not lead the people to slaughter. We gather forces or at least sympathy for revolution.
What are prisons for? We know all too well about the school-to-prison-pipeline and who this is designed for. We know we are considered surplus-population and prison acts as a social tool to keep idle people idle. We also know that amerikkkans are infatuated with law and order (and punishment). We know amerikkkans rest assured when its carceral system locks people away for 40 or 50 years for whatever crime…we know amerikkka does not bat an eye at such abuses. In fact immediately after Rittenhouse’s GoFundMe page successfully got him acquitted Vice President Harris professed her role as top-cop in California was to make the system more “equitable” and his acquittal means there’s obviously “more work to be done”. Again, but what are prisons for? Rittenhouse should go inside a box (for obviously many, many years), get old and then be judged (by a specific faction of the bourgeois dictatorship - the democrats**) to see if it’s enough years gone by. This is the only purpose prison in bourgeois society serves so what kind of people advocate such a thing?
Even in prison it’s not well known what prison is used for. Not only that, even in prison bourgeois mentality is prevalent and ubiquitous… We sit in cages like animals. We are psychologically tortured, sexually humiliated, manipulated and harassed. We must fight for outside contact, safety, humanity and freedom but a majority of captives sit around in their assigned boxes and literally direct their anger and future violence at other captives. Not just that but rebellion against our circumstances and capture is far too often shunned. Revolution even in hell isn’t automatic. Bourgeois society will go down as the most adaptable. When almost everyone has a price how could it not?
When i hear “lock em up” or that “justice” was served i know for sure i’m in the midst of enemies. i know such people deep down believe i’m exactly where i should be. Revolutionaries cannot parrot Jesse Jackson, Alicia Garza, Amy Goodman or anyone else’s call to “lock em up.” Let’s leave that to Trump and Clinton and all the other enemies of the revolution. Instead let’s learn how to protect each other starting with a proper class analysis. True political consciousness going into 2022 must start from the empire’s utter success in buying off all but a small percent of its population and the knowledge that this demand and lame-ass attempt to take over the bourgeois system “from the inside” with this pro-police imperialism, pro-FBI socialism, anti-revolution revolutionaries is worse than a joke.
Salutes to TX Team One, FPC, Republic of Aztlán, and the entire USW,
NA Struggle RL NAIM CA-MLM
*Obviously if this had the potential to advance anti-imperialism in any way it is to be considered but we will not first exploit internal contradictions between the capitalist then as a response to this build our forces. No, there must first be a revolutionary force to galvanize otherwise it’s just more imperialism and pro-imperialism.
**It would have to be Democrats because Republicans believe this was just.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade’s focus on building our forces, building anti-imperialism, building movements for self-determination. As we say on page 2 of every Under Lock & Key, we have a different solution to the bourgeois prison system and that is proletarian justice. We distribute the book Prisoners of Liberation about Amerikan spies in a Chinese socialist prison that we use as a starting point for how prisons can be used to serve the people and give everyone the resources to reform and contribute positively to society.
But implementing pro-people rehabilitation on a mass scale is a ways off for us in this country. And we agree with our comrade here that these calls for “justice” are the battlefield of bourgeois politicians. If Rittenhouse was given a long prison term, that would only increase the chances of him becoming the Nazi that he has been branded already in the media; an indication of what these bourgeois prisons actually do. There are class enemies, and both sides will use force against their class enemies. But we must first build proletarian institutions, before we can implement proletarian justice.
Previously I argued that taxpayers are not responsible for government capital policy because they are ignorant. My error was pointed out to me and now I see the truth – the January 6th rioters showed me that they are willing to fight for my oppression therefore their ignorance is irrelevant – they are indeed more responsible than I assumed, therefore I must ignore my compassion for their humanity as unnatural as that is for me. The object is more important than the subject.
When evaluating responsibility, it is tempting to be blinded by the subject. For instance, government officials are directly responsible for enforcing capital policy. However, collaborators often look like our neighbors, friends or even family. These collaborators will support & encourage oppression & tyranny out of ignorance or out of a callous heart. Ignorance cannot be excused if freedom is ever going to be won. When the object of freedom becomes important enough all barriers must fall, even if that means forcing ourselves to do what is not natural.
Rights are never granted, rights are won. Unfortunately, this includes basic human rights such as freedom. To win freedom from the tyranny & oppression that comes with a capitalist economy, the opposition must fall. This necessity does not come naturally, that is because the values instilled in our youth are instilled by capital policy (submission), these values are what allows capitalists to steal your freedom. We must relearn a greater value.
There exist those that will take more than one has to give, that is what capital is (inequality). There is only so much resource & for one to have more than one needs he/she has to deprive another of what they need. For one to be rich, one must be poor.
As I watch the January 6th investigation, one thing is clear. That is the effort was weak. I think that is because the rioters knew in their hearts that they were fighting for the exploitation of an oppressed class. Ironic that they choose to capture the Capitol Building in order to keep their capital wealth at the expense of the oppressed class.
For those of us that are fighting for freedom, We will not make a half-hearted effort because it is our very survival that we are fighting for. We are not fighting for material wealth because we have none. Because our oppression is total & complete then so is our fight for freedom.
We will not fight for one building, not even for one city, or one country. We are fighting for equality. We will not stop until all opposition is fallen. Our fight comes from the heart & that is why it is stronger than the January 6th fight for material wealth.
The difference is that I am sick & tired of being oppressed so that another can live lavishly. The difference is that unlike the January 6th rioters I am not here to have a big party with a bunch of friends at the Capitol Building – I am here to win my freedom and to fight for the freedom of all oppressed people and I will not stop and lay down, I will never stop!!
That is what Marx means by permanent revolution, we must never stop fighting because the very moment we relax is the moment the exploiters continue to exploit as they have always done. Sun Tzu said we can “never leave an enemy on the battlefield.” If we do they will come back again.
As communists we must know our enemy is the object and not the subject. Compassion can blur our vision of the object and it is in these moments I must remember that the capitalists never had any compassion for the oppressed.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This point is relevant as Amerikans remember the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Afghans sigh in relief as the invader of their country pulls out. Professor Ward Churchill took a lot of heat for quoting Malcolm X on chickens coming home to roost after 9/11 and referring to Amerikans as “little Eichmanns.”(1) Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi in Germany who ran logistics for the system of concentration camps there. He was captured years after the war and in his trial claimed he was just following orders, just a cog in the machine, and should not be blamed for the deaths caused by that machine.
Since the end of the second imperialist war, the Amerikans have run the largest system of concentration camps in the world. While they lack the mass murder of the Nazi system, they are genocidal nonetheless against the oppressed nations that make up the majority of the prisoners. The day will come when Amerikans will be charged for their decades of crimes against humynity. Our success at building anti-imperialism and accountability in the United $tates today will ease the transition to a more just future on these lands.
The seizure of the Capitol on 6 January 2021 was the culmination of oppressor nation organizing over years that has proven the continued need for New Democratic revolution here in North America, what many First Nations people today call occupied Turtle Island. Participants in the siege donned racist Odinist tattoos, pro-holocaust slogans, anti-China signs, and waved pro-slavery and nazi flags. Most had Amerikan flags or pro-Trump flags, hats and shirts. They included QAnon followers, Tea Party members, elected officials, Proud Boys, and leaders of a number of fascist organizations and groupings.
Media reported five deaths, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer and four pro-Trump rioters. Those killed during the siege included a womyn shot by security for trying to crawl through a smashed window to get to the Senators, a man who reportedly tasered himself to death while trying to steal a painting off the wall and a cop who was beaten to death with sticks, including one carrying an Amerikan flag, while the audience sang The Star-Spangled Banner. The latter, Brian Sicknick, served the imperialist army in Afghanistan and was an outspoken supporter of President Trump.(1)
The group who laid siege to the Capitol did so in response to calls from President Trump to oppose the election results that has Joe Biden scheduled to replace him on 20 January. As the mob took swings at police and smashed through barricades, they chanted, “USA, USA!”, “Stop the Steal” and called out the Democrats and CNN as primary targets of their anger. By denying the outcome of the election, this organized force is allied with efforts to deny New Afrikans, and other oppressed groups, the vote. These front-line Trump supporters militantly deny the right of Chican@s to even exist on their own land, not to mention control it. And they generally support the incursion of multinational corporations into the small fragments of territory left to the other indigenous peoples of this continent. They want to keep Muslims and Asians out of the United $tates, whether its because of terrorism, a virus, or some other semi-factual excuse for xenophobia. They fear the browning of the U.$. population.
Regarding the vote, the shift of Georgia from Republican to Democrat marked for these settlers another step towards the end of white domination on occupied Turtle Island. Newly-elected Senator Raphael Warnock is the first Black senator in the state of Georgia, which was 31.94% New Afrikan and 51.82% white (“non-hispanic”) in 2019 (in a country that is about 12% New Afrikan overall). In recent years, “non-hispanic” whites have only accounted for about 44% of births in the state.(2). Warnock comes from the same church as Martin Luther King Jr., where Warnock was Pastor for former representative John Lewis. MLK of course was a symbol of multicultural integration that brought much ire and hatred during eir short life, leading to eir assassination. The current period is the culmination of the reaction to the attempts by the bourgeois state to incorporate those ideas of King’s into the empire. After the abolition of slavery, the Federal government made the first attempt at granting New Afrika democratic rights and full citizenship by imposing Reconstruction policies on the southern states. These were mostly undone by white settlers by the by the 1876 presidential election, which led to the Jim Crow policies(3) (maintained by violent voter suppression of New Afrikans) until the time of MLK and the Black Panther Party. The movement today is to undo the progress of integration that followed the civil rights and national liberation movements of the 1960s. Rioters literally marched confederate flags through the Capitol, after fighting their way in, in 2021.
In 2020, Georgia also saw shows of force from New Afrikan militia, and lumpen organizations coming together to seize the site of a police murder, and defend from threats by groups like the 3 Percenters and Ku Klux Klan from coming into Atlanta.(4) While New Afrikans band together in self-defense, the oppressor nation has made it clear they are now on the offense with their seizure of the U.$. Capitol. They brought firearms, pipe bombs and nooses as they called for the blood of Vice President Mike Pence and others. Men who entered the Capitol carried fire arms and one had seized zip tie handcuffs, ready to take hostages and possibly assassinate Federal representatives, including the Vice President. When officials escaped, the intruders settled for posing for photos in their office chairs and taking memorabilia off the Senators’ desks and walls.
Economics of the Crisis
Social media posts by leaders promoting the action on 6 January are also calling for the assassination of Mitch McConnell and Republicans in general for blocking the $2000 stimulus check currently backed by Trump and the Democratic Congressional leadership. The battle over stimulus funding (to respond to COVID-19 restrictions) in recent weeks has been a great demonstration of the relationship between classes under imperialism. The wealth flowing into this country is split between the imperialists and the rest of the population. The stimulus bills were a clear demonstration of this, with big corporations getting 100s of millions to billions in benefits, while the rest of the country averaged thousands of dollars per persyn. Most people in the world received little to no money.
The printing of money by the U.$. central bank since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in history. With so many more dollars in circulation, economists wonder whether this money can be exchanged for goods at the value one would expect. Many Third World countries have seen depreciation of their currencies compared to the U.$. dollar as finance capital left those countries in response to the pandemic. For the dollar to maintain its value, the empire must stay strong. We’ve already seen a decrease in Japanese and Chinese finance capital from U.$. treasuries in the last year.(5) Japan and China are the two largest foreign holders of U.$. treasuries.
The people of Weimar Germany (prior to the popular Nazi takeover) faced conditions where what they were paid one day could not buy a loaf of bread the next. This was due to having lost WWI and facing sanctions from other imperialist countries. The U.$. has not yet faced this problem, but they are having to do more to stabilize their own currency and economy. If the white nationalists had their way, and productive labor from Latin America and Asia was forced out of U.$. borders, we would see the dollar decrease in value very quickly. While dollar values have not declined yet, the situation is quite precarious, especially as productive output of the economy remains slow.
What Will Happen Next?
Senators who were calling the election a fraud backed off immediately following the siege, proving it was just a popularity game to them. Yet some who forced their way into the Capitol, came ready to die that day. This is curious, as economic conditions in this country do not yet warrant such extremism, especially for the demographic showing up at these demonstrations. Many on the front lines of the siege are steeped in conspiracy theories. These theories tap into a deep existential fear they have of the ending of their white country. Something many of them feel has already happened.
While the attacks of 9/11 were a blow to the sense that Amerikans could have their fingers in every other part of the world, while staying safe at home, the response was a show of strength through Amerikan nationalism. Since then, the U.$. image continued to decline with more lost wars and humyn rights abuses abroad and at home. This week’s attack on the Capitol marks an internal weakening from within.
There is no god coming down to purify the crackers’ souls in the rapture. Nor can Turner Diary-style fantasies resolve the contradictions that define this imperialist country. A re-civilization of the oppressor nations must come from the hands of the oppressed. Having one side of the oppressor nation try to cajole the other into giving the oppressed what they think they need, or rather what they think will appease, has proven ineffective over the last 150 years. The oppressed nations occupied on this land must seize their own destinies. They must rise up for a New Democracy, where they as sovereign peoples can decide how to solve their own problems without the constant oversight and interference of the euro-Amerikan.
We support the continued development of New Afrikan defense organizing in places like Atlanta, that is based in real revolutionary nationalism – which as Mao said is applied internationalism. We re-iterate the call for Barrio Committees in Aztlan, as outlined in the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. We all need to connect with those in our communities that are ready to respond.
With regards to those that are already familiar and well versed with Marixt-Leninist-Maoist political philosophy, we must call for discipline and centralized organization. Most major cities’ “radical scenes” are dominated by anarcho-liberals who preach on voting for the Democratic party one day and preach for militant direct action the next day. Even amongst the more militant and anti-reformist anarchists, there are a lot of poorly organized forms of violence that fleets in energy. Us communists should work towards building independent institutions that the people can go to to solve their daily material problems – not have loosely affiliated cliques that serve themselves more than the masses.
Another test of principled actions that many communists failed was the reliance and aid to the existing bourgeois institutions such as the FBI and the police. Many radical liberals online have resorted to identifying the Capitol Hill fascists for the police agencies while also hoping these police institutions can repress the fascist movement. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) have had the correct response to this regarding the issue of rape in the country of India. Whereas petty-bourgeois movements call for the death penalty and stronger punishments for rapists in the semi-feudal country, the Maoists recognize that rape is not alien to the system and stronger state forces against these anti-people crimes will result in stronger state repression against the masses.(6) And just like how relying on the bourgeois state to give justice in India will result in the repression against the masses, these acts by radical liberals of relying on the FBI and the police departments will only result in more surveillance and crackdowns on the oppressed people.
Hello - Saludos y Respeto to all those in the struggle, the struggle is real. I must weigh in on the events unfolding in Southern Califas. Namely the two lynchings, the first in Palmdale CA, the second in Victorville CA. What do they have in common? Answer: the Sheriff’s Department! Both racist! Both departments have a long history of working together and as a political prisoner held in CDCR these are the same two departments that joined forces to try and silence my voice and bring down the AV Brown Berets.
Both Departments have deputies that are card carrying members of the racist Minute Men, the new KKK. And having shined the spotlight on this fact earned me a life sentence for crimes I did NOT commit.
And in both cases there is no doubt in my mind there is Departmental involvement. And nothing can surprise us coming from these two historically racist departments.
In both cases these were meant to send a message to the BLM movement against police brutality going across this nation right now, and to discourage it! The evil and racist regime in Palmdale has a long history of using these tactics to silence the voice of the PEOPLE. And if they can’t kill you, they will bury you behind the wall. And this will not stop until they are made to understand the world is watching and will hold them responsible and accountable for their actions. But the racism and prejudice is systemic NOT only in the Sheriff’s Dept. but also in City Government in the Antelope Valley and Silver Valley (The Sinister Valleys) to a mind-blowing degree.
My heart goes out to the families, friends, and loved ones of these latest victims of these Evil Regimes. I spent years of my life trying to expose the racist and criminal practices of these two partners-in-crime, it has come at a great cost. My family, my freedom, not to mention all my worldly possessions but I will NOT stop until justice has been done, and the Evil has been exposed; because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the ONE. In the end the TRUTH ALWAYS comes out! We must continue to move forward and not be discouraged!
LA LUCHA SIEGE!!! VIVA LA CAUSA!!!
(Justice for Ro Alvin Harsh)
MIM(Prisons) adds: Six lynchings, 5 of them New Afrikans and one Latino, have been reported on the heels of the recent uprisings against police terrorism.
Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Palmdale, CA is under investigation
Malcolm Harsch a 38-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Victorville, CA has been declared a suicide by police and the family
Dominique Alexander, a 27-year-old New Afrikan man hung in a Manhattan park and was ruled a suicide by the police, who later said an investigation continues
a 17-year-old New Afrikan boy was hung from a tree in Spring, TX was ruled a suicide by police
a Latino man hung in Houston, TX was also ruled a suicide after family stated he was suicidal
Otis ‘Titi’ Gulley, 31, a New Afrikan transgender woman hung in a park in Portland, Oregon was ruled a suicide by police
Issue 55 of Under Lock & Key is taking a deeper look at building the United Front for Peace in Prisons at the margins. We've already spent a lot of space debating the role people on Special Needs Yards (SNY), especially in California. While that is an issue we will need to continue to address, here we focus first on white nationalist lumpen organizations, that are more likely to be on the mainline, and how anti-imperialists might relate to them. We also have a few pieces looking at the question of sex offenders who are generally seen as pariahs. That topic is a subset of the SNY discussion. In this article we will focus on the white nationalist question, and the question of oppressed nations allying with whites in general. In many cases handling this question properly will have a big impact on our success, because there are a lot of white people in prisons and many of them team up with white nationalist orgs.
So there are a few principles of dialectical materialism that we should apply in our analysis of groups which are often considered pariahs of the revolutionary movement: 1) dialectics differs from metaphysics in that metaphysics believes a thing has an essence; 2) dialectics in contrast sees everything as always being in a constant state of change; 3) and we can best understand that change by looking at the contradictions within that thing, while also considering the external contradictions that may influence it (them). To put it another way, no one is born a white supremacist or rapist, and just because someone's actions were that way in the past doesn't mean they have to be in the future.
What is White Nationalism?
Elsewhere in this issue we talk about white nationalism as an ideology that is a product of imperialism. Another point we must stress when talking about white nationalism is it is the majority ideology among the oppressor nation under imperialism. Most of this issue will be dealing with extreme examples found in imprisoned lumpen organizations. But there is a whole range of white nationalist ideologies, and the lumpen organizations are not necessarily the most extreme. Because the imprisoned lumpen are in the trenches, they must be more scientific than the more privileged wings of the white nationalist movement, and their motivations are often quite different.
In our current political climate in the United $tates, "white nationalism" is a hot topic. It is being used to criticize President Trump and those around em. But most of this criticism is coming from the perspective that former President Obama was not a white nationalist. The split between the left wing and right wing of white nationalism is about how to best manage the oppressed, even when that is not how they think about it. If we recognize that the current imperialist order is one that puts whites in a position of supremacy, then we must conclude that any position that works to preserve that system is white nationalist. Or we may say Amerikan nationalist to avoid confusion when its proponents do not appear white. But even though some internal semi-colony people are sitting at the table, globally, white supremacy in the form of Amerikan hegemony is alive and well.
Initially, the question of how and when to strategically ally with white nationalists is a broad one, as it refers to how we might ally with the majority of people in North America. But within that majority there are different classes and political tendencies. And white nationalist prisoners may be at the top of the list of likely allies from that group.
Another argument for the importance of working with the white lumpen is the Marxist analysis of the lumpen as a particularly dangerous, wavering class. If this country is heading in a more fascist direction, white nationalist lumpen youth and former military will be the first bases of recruitment for the fascists. This concern applies to the lumpen in general, but the national split makes it a harder sell for the internal semi-colonies to take up fascism. As always, our strategy is to win over all who can be won over, not to set false limitations based on identity politics or preconceived assumptions.
More so than former military, the white lumpen have connections to the struggles of the oppressed. And it is the massive prison system in this country that we can largely thank for that. The modern prison system is an inherent part of the modern ghetto, which has been lumpenized. While segregation is stronger today in many cases in the ghettos, it is weaker outside of the ghetto. This translates into a stronger class divide within the oppressed nations. The extent of this divide in the white nation is something that requires more research. But from the information we have, white prisoners are much, much more likely to integrate into petty-bourgeois society rather than be caught in a ghetto-like situation upon release. But as long as they remain in prison, whites do experience that ghetto life and the most brutal repression that we have in this country.
Young Patriots, White Lumpen Revolutionaries
One of the best examples we have of white lumpen youth forming an anti-imperialist organization was the Young Patriots Organization, which started in Chicago in the late 1960s. Soon the offshoot Young Patriots Party spread the movement to other parts of the United $tates. Their example demonstrated both the potential and limitations of such an organization. As long as there are pockets of whites that face similar conditions to the oppressed nations, as they do in prison, a revolutionary organization that can speak to and organize white lumpen will strengthen the cause of anti-imperialism. However, the Black Panthers, in particular Bob Lee and the leadership of Fred Hampton, played a very hands-on role in the development of the Young Patriots. In general history does not lead us to expect revolutionary white organizations with correct political lines to take hold in North America without good examples from the internal semi-colonies.
Even after becoming established, the Young Patriots were very limited by the reactionary nature of their own nation. The Patriot base was displaced southern whites who ended up in urban ghettos; a much smaller group, but parallel to the New Afrikans who made the Great Migration. When the Patriots returned to the south they were not received well. Two of the members were killed shortly after returning to the south, because of their organizing.(1) In other words, we are looking at exceptions to the rule where there are pockets of whites who are both separate from the oppressed nations but still living very similar lives and in proximity to them. When Peggy Terry of the Young Patriot-associated organization Jobs or Income Now (JOIN) ran for vice president, with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver as the presidential candidate in 1968, they received a mere 28,000 votes in California. In contrast, the openly racist George Wallace campaign got 500,000 (almost exclusively white) votes.(2) And finally, for most of their existence the Patriots had more spies watching their organization than they had members.(3) This security issue is something others have pointed out with white nationalist lumpen organizations in prison that can be swimming with federal agents.
Often the Panther rhetoric spoke of the Young Patriots as representing "white power" in a way that was parallel to the Panthers' "Black Power" and Young Lords' "Brown Power". While we generally disagree with that line, the Panthers later called out all other white groups as "fascists" with the exception of the Patriots. The Patriot culture flew in the face of the rest of the white anti-war and student movements, including their confederate flag logo. We might draw a parallel to the Lucasville prison uprising in Ohio in 1993, where it is reported that swastikas, lightning bolts and words like "Supreme White Power" appeared alongside graffiti throughout the prison saying "Black and White Together" and "Convict unity."(4) These white identities, historically associated with power over New Afrikans were transformed in these unique circumstances.
Racism as a Tool of the Oppressor
MIM(Prisons) is cautious about presenting racism as merely a tool of the imperialists to divide "the people" as that is the line of the revisionists who claim that the majority of people in the imperialist countries are proletarians that must be united in their common class interest. As the practice of the Young Patriots demonstrated, this is not the case. However, in prisons is where we see the greatest potential for a class unity with whites that is progressive in the United $tates. And in prison, it is certainly true that racism is a tool that is actively used by the administration, even if often times white nationalists are too willing to play the role of keeping other prisoners in line for the state.
Of course, not all white prisoners are part of overtly racist lumpen organizations. Former-Black-Panther-turned-anarchist Lorenzo Komboa Ervin documented the history of the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, which was transformed from a completely Ku Klux Klan-dominated facility to one where New Afrikans built power in alliance with white prisoners. Ey argues that the anti-racist whites, often imprisoned for anti-war activities, were able to re-educate other white prisoners where non-white prisoners would not be able to.(5) This is an example of the importance of white-specific organizing, though not on the basis of an outward white nationalism.
We must reach people where they are at in a segregated society. We saw this with the Panthers in Chicago who were viewed with great skepticism by the white residents of Uptown, but were welcomed by the Young Patriot leadership. We saw this in Lucasville, where the New Afrikan leaders picked Aryan Brotherhood member George Skatze to stand with them as a representative of white prisoners because of eir history of settling disputes between whites and New Afrikans.
"At some point on this first day George saw a black inmate (Cecil Allen) talking through a bull horn to a small crowd of other prisoners. George went up to listen. To his surprise the man on the bull horn pointed to George and said, 'There's nobody going to be talking to you guys but me or this man right here,' meaning George Skatze."
Accepting their request for help, Skatze later "approached the whites, who were sitting in the bleachers. Putting his arm around a black inmate George said, 'If the guards come in here they're going to shoot us all, no matter what color we are.' We asked George who that black man was. He said, I don't know; I had never met him before."(6)
Veteran of the first wave of the California prison movement, Kumasi describes one scene in the late 1960s where hundreds of prisoners circled around the yard chanting, "Power to the people! Death to the pigs!" Approaching the group of white gangsters on the sidelines ey framed the situation as "are you going to be with us or with the pigs?" And since the reality reflected eir statement, they sure didn't want to be seen as siding with the pigs. As the whites started to join the ranks of the protestors, Kumasi grabbed one of their hands and raised it in the air as they faced the warden. In a segregated society this sort of representation of different nationalities can have powerful effects.
Kumasi has a number of stories about organizing across nationality. Similar to today, the California system was very segregated back then. Various white power and nazi gangs existed, as they do today. The united fronts Kumasi forged with these groups were not long-term and could be quite impulsive. It was really the strength of eir own organization that pushed others to come along. A justification of the line that building up one's own national unity helps build up the united front. Because the movement for change had reached such popularity and support among New Afrikans, it was easier to get the Chican@s to join up (who had not yet been divided between north and south).
A USW comrade has this to say about organizing in California today:
"There has been times when we've done alliances with white nationalist groups in prison. Any time we had a common goal, say shutting down SHUs, or removing informants off yard, assistance with legal work and what not.
"The only way for this to function is by creating a different set of politiks/policies than those used amongst the other LOs. As long as it does not interfere with the LOs' goals to end oppression. It is my opinion that even when dealing with oppressor nation LOs we must keep a move ready to be made once achieving certain goals due to the history the oppressor nation LOs have and because of their values as humans. We wouldn't like to see the LOs of the oppressed be set back a step or two after gaining ground. I think that even unity of some form can be achieved with pariahs — taking into account what they've done and what they are willing to do to not only redeem themselves but to benefit the struggle even at the cost of sacrifice. There is a place, space, form and energy for everyone in a struggle. It is our responsibility to organize, learn, and organize again."
What these histories demonstrate is that in cases where the white nationalists aren't completely in bed with the pigs, they tend to see themselves as prisoners and the pigs as their foes, like everyone else. And it is the unity around demands for all prisoners, ones that are nationality-neutral, that we will see opportunities for united front. So while national unity may need to come first, class unity will always be important in the prison movement.
White nationalism in general, whether of the left-wing or right-wing variety, is based in an alliance with imperialism. But there are examples in history of portions of the white population in the United $tates who may have overt racist overtones without the attachment to imperialism. Or at least with a mixed relationship to imperialism. And in many cases this racism is more motivated by fear of the other, or just self-protection than it is any deep investment in racist ideology itself. The AB comrade who wrote "The Enemy of my Enemy" seems to be an example of this white nationalism based in youthful ignorance. And the experience of the prison system has given em the opportunity to learn about the lives of the oppressed, and to live that life emself. George Skatze from Lucasville was also an example of this, someone who stood with New Afrikan prisoners and literally put eir life on the line in the struggle for prisoner rights and then later at the hands of the state when ey was one of the comrades who did not make a deal with the state to avoid death row as some of the charged prisoners did.
While others suggest we fight racism as a way to end oppression, we say to fight oppression to overcome racism. And in some cases oppression itself will overcome racism, by uniting those once divided by ideas of race. Our ideas are a product of our material conditions, and in participating in the transformation of our conditions our ideas change.
I would like to address the question if there should be a united front alliance with white nationalist groups.
I am all for aligning with other groups who face oppression and who share the same goals. When it comes to white nationalist groups first a few things must be clarified. First question is who and what is "white." White is scientifically not a racial group. Also do whites in prison and the world face the same systematic oppression as people of color? Lastly looking at history how has interactions between whites and people of color effected the non-white groups in a positive way?
The question on "who and what is white?" has an elusive answer especially right here in the United $tates. Since 1790, the United $tates has allowed only "free white persons" to become citizens; in the twentieth century as non-European immigrants applied for citizenship it became the responsibility of the courts to set limits upon whiteness. George Dow, a Syrian immigrant, was denied eligibility for citizenship on the basis that geography defined race; to be white was to be European. Dow eventually won on appeal, showing that Syrians were indeed Europeans based on geography and thus members of the white race. In 1922, a Japanese immigrant named Takao Ozawa argued that he should be considered a white person because his skin was literally white, asserting that many Japanese people were "whiter than the average Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese." His case would go all the way to the Supreme Court, which rejected his claim to citizenship and the idea that race could be determined by skin tone: "To adopt the color test alone would result in a confused overlapping of races and a gradual merging of one into the other, without any practical line of separation," claimed one judge.
Using the science of the day, the court ruled that "the words 'white person' are synonymous with the words 'a person of the Caucasian race'." Since Ozawa was not a Caucasion, he could not be white. In only a short time later, in the case of an Indian immigrant named Bhagat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court betrayed its Ozawa ruling and declared that while all whites are Caucasian, not all Caucasians were white. Even scientists classified Thind as undeniably Caucasian, but the court insisted that "White" must mean something more. "It may be true that the blond Scandinavian and the brown Hindu have a common ancestor in the dim reaches of antiquity, but the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences between them today." To prove his purity, Thind invoked the Aryanist myth of ancient white conquerors setting up the caste system to preserve their race. "The high-class Hindu" he argued, "regards the aboriginal Indian mongoloid in the same manner as the American regards the negro." With all that Thind was denied citizenship. Within the category of "Caucasian," the court noted one could find a wide range of peoples including South Asians, Polynesians, and even the Hamites of Africa based upon their Caucasian cast of features, though in color they range from brown to black. For reasons not articulated the court decided Thind was not white, and therefore not granted privileges of the white empire.
That the Supreme Court could reject a white-skinned Japanese because he was not Caucasian and a brown-skinned Caucasian because he was not white reveals that white people have made race what it has always been: an unscientific and inconsistent means of enforcing social inequality that further rules the machines of global white supremacy. This machine is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions. So basically whiteness is whatever white people say it is. So by white nationalist groups even identifying themselves as white places them in a privileged position in the global white supremacy machine. It is no secret why someone would want to identify as "white," especially in the United $tates where there is undeniably a caste system based on skin color. With whiteness comes privilege and a sense of entitlement. Yes, I know there are white comrades who are being oppressed also but it is not solely based on their skin color or ethnic group. They are basically collateral damage of the capitalistic and imperialistic system that comes from global white supremacy. White people make up around 11% of the world's population yet at least 82% of the world's population is in some fashion being oppressed by the global white supremacy machine. Are white nationalist groups really ready to give up their whiteness to stand for true revolution even if that means in the process whiteness will no longer exist?
History shows that those of us who fight for revolution have aligned ourselves with white groups and white individuals who claim they seek change too. In the midst of this, problems usually occurred. Most notably is with William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison, a white man, can be labeled as a true revolutionist of his time. As an abolitionist he spoke out against slavery and demanded full racial equality even before the Civil War. He also publicly burned the U.$. constitution, calling it an "agreement with hell." Garrison seemed like the white nationalist who wanted to join the fight but he still couldn't escape his sense of privilege and superiority. This moment came when Frederick Douglass, Garrison's protégé, told Garrison that he wanted to start a newspaper. Garrison, fearful that Douglass would draw black readers away from his own paper and hurt that Douglass would even think of competing against him, discouraged the plan. Another white abolitionist in Garrison's camp, Maria Weston Chapman, even doubted Douglass could have the mental capacity for such a task. Douglass went ahead and started his newspaper which ended his friendship with Garrison. Garrison, though he wanted to help, could not see that the revolution was not about him but about the millions of people being oppressed. He still had to be a white guy about the whole situation. He took his sense of privilege and entitlement and wanted to discourage another in his attempt to add to the cause. So can white nationalist groups align themselves with the United Front without trying to make the fight solely about their ego? Can the United Front hold the fight when aligned with white nationalist groups without having fear of offending white people when truths are spoken against capitalism, imperialism and global white supremacy when it puts the collective of white people in a negative light?
Lastly how have groups who are predominately non-white benefited in the past when coming into contact with whites? Historically the relationship between non-whites and whites has been one of colonization, genocide, slavery, imperialism, and destruction. Though all non-white groups and cultures did not live in idyllic golden ages before the coming of white people, these elements weren't consistent, nor were they typical, until the advent of white culture domination. This has been the consistent relationship of white people with the world. So history shows the consistent nature of white people when coming in contact of non-white people has been one of predatory and exploitative relationships.
Now some will say I'm being racist by stating these facts but consider the fact that people of "hue" hence humans have been the most tolerant and accepting people you'll ever encounter (sometimes to our detriment) and this premise of exclusion came from white people themselves. It is only us who are confused about where they stand. Now yes there are those white individuals and groups who attempt to confront and resist these norms. Those who have attempted to do so in earnest have learned these lessons the hard way. White people who actively resist whiteness (and all of its norms) are out-casted, disowned, and reviled by other members of their own groups. This is what defines the community and collective identity and not the individuals who know that "treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity."
So can white nationalist groups abandon their whiteness and sense of privilege? If so then yes United Front can align with them in some fashion. Based on historic events it should be controlled and constantly evaluated. Also whites need not to hold hands with us and smile but reach in their own communities and take the fight to their own who actively and by default participate in the global white supremacy machine which governs capitalism and imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that to identify with whiteness is to identify with an oppressor nation, and we therefore say that Amerikans must commit nation (as well as class and gender) suicide through their actions, in order to join the side of humynity.
The example given of Garrison and Douglass is a fine anecdote, but it is just an example of a couple of people. So we would caution our readers to not draw broad conclusions from isolated examples. And there are books out there, like Settlers: The Mythology of a White Proletariat by J. Sakai and False Nationalism, False Internationalism by Sera and Tani that do broader historical analysis of the relationships between the oppressed nations in the United $tates and various groups of "revolutionary" or "progressive" whites.
Both of those books are looking at imperialism, or at least its emergence in the United $tates. Imperialism's identity is found in the conflict between the oppressor nations and the oppressed nations that resist them. While ideas of superiority based on phenotypical characteristics (appearance) certainly did not originate with imperialism, it is with imperialism that nation becomes principal. Therefore, we would reverse the author's premise that the "[machine of global white supremacy] is what gives birth to capitalism and imperialism and other oppressive factions." Marx and Lenin explained the evolution of imperialism on economic terms, while the culture and ideas that came with it were a reflection of those economic changes. In other words, which came first, racism or capitalism? There were seeds of racism before imperialism, but national oppression (the material manifestation of racism) solidified as a system under the economic conditions of imperialism. The ideas of racism, so central to our society, are a product of this system of national oppression that evolved with imperialism, not the cause of it.
In the struggle against white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism, a united front does not require agreement on every position, or even for all parties to "stand for true revolution." In the context of the prison movement, white nationalists might be serious about the struggle against long-term isolation because their leaders are very likely to face this torture. In this case, we'd suggest we should unite with these groups to work on that campaign. In this issue of ULK we have some examples in which such temporary alliances for common interests as prisoners have succeeded.
The question of how oppressor nation and oppressed nation revolutionaries should relate in this country is a whole other question brought up by this comrade. We will only address it briefly to bring up some general points for further analysis. The urge to unite with white people in the United $tates is a recurring theme due to the fact that the white nation has been a majority population by design since the founding of this country, and it's hard to fight battles as the minority. As we know, those numbers are projected to change in the not-so-distant future. But even when euro-Amerikans become the minority, will most oppressed nation people be anti-imperialist? In current conditions they are not, though great potential remains. As we are currently in a non-revolutionary situation, we think it is a reasonable organizing strategy to avoid white people and white organizations altogether. There are plenty of oppressed nation people yet to be organized, and single-nation organizations have proven most effective in U.$. history at building revolutionary movements.
As conditions become more revolutionary, if forces in favor of revolution remain the minority in all nations in the United $tates, those who avoided whites before may be tempted to address this issue again. The Panthers organized with euro-Amerikans from a position of strength, so that they largely avoided those euro-Amerikans harming their movement, especially in the early years. Yet, Huey Newton found New Afrikans in a position of weakness due to their minority status that led to his proposal of the theory of intercommunalism. Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition and Huey Newton's Intercommunalism demonstrate a strong tendency in the Panther leadership to approach euro-Amerikans as potential allies in the anti-imperialist united front similar to how they approached other nations.
From Malcolm X to Stokely Carmichael to the Panthers, New Afrikan revolutionaries have pushed whites to organize their own. But how do they do that? Some white organizations tried to mimic the Panthers, but this was only viable in small pockets of lumpenized whites. Other groups have provided support structures to oppressed nations, where the focus is on organizing whites to serve other nations. But we need something in between, where white people can be leaders, applying and learning from the scientific method of building a revolutionary movement, but at the same time serving other nations in ways that are against the interest of their own. We don't think whites can organize on the same basis as the Panthers, because they are on the opposite side of the principal contradiction. But we also don't think relegating whites to the kitchen is allowing them to develop politically, and is therefore setting back progress. This could be done on the basis of accountability and self-criticism. It could also incorporate shared self-interest in opposing environmental destruction and war. But a truly revolutionary current among euro-Amerikans will likely not gain much traction until the oppressed nations have progressed the struggle to a stage that is more advanced than it is today.
Is there ever a time when we would unite with reactionary oppressor-nation lumpen organizations in a united front for peace in prisons?
This particular question is one that contains within itself a set of extremely complex issues concerning the ideology of these types of groups or organizations. It is only after we examine these issues that we can make an intelligent informed decision concerning this question of uniting with a reactionary-oppressor organization in prison.
We know that at their very core a large percentage of these groups are deeply rooted in their beliefs in Adolf Hitler and/or the Nordic Gods, or they are rooted in the distorted beliefs of so called "white Christianity"" (ie the KKK or the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian, etc.). All of their gods are considered to be extremely Aryan and will only deal with or help those who are white Aryan people unless it benefits them. Those who hold to the ideals of "white Christianity" have merely reconstructed the Holy Bible to fit their views of white supremacy. These white Christian organizations support those organizations who are neo-Nazi by nature.
The ideologies of both of these styles of organizations are centered around the philosophy of one being "white." Yet, you do find exceptions to this way of thinking. However, you generally discover that their mottos revolve around the principle of "if you ain't white, you ain't right." This ideology holds not only the connotation of the color of your skin is important, but likewise so are your ethical, moral, and religious beliefs. This, in itself implies that you are never going to be on an equal status with them.
These white nationalists live by a 14 word creed "we must secure the existence of our race and the future of white children." They likewise live by what they call the 88 precepts which create a vision of superiority for the white race.
Both morally and ethically the vast majority of white nationalist organizations find it extremely difficult to honestly and openly reach out to others with a spirit and agenda of true peace. This is due to the basic core of their beliefs that have been hammered into them since they were young. They have been taught to use other races, groups, organizations or individuals to gain their advantages for the betterment of themselves and once they are finished with them they simply jettison them and move on to their next victim.
Having presented the above to you the informed reader, I now remind you that we as individuals and a movement must never forget that the best method for change concerning these types of groups and organizations is to openly and honestly invite them to participate in the process for peace. If we diligently allow them to become actively involved in the process then perhaps their hearts and minds will be opened to the truth.
We must never let ourselves succumb to the way of thinking that we are better than others. We must steadfastly remain inclusive of everyone around us. Always remember that if we can affect one mind, just one heart, then indeed we have made a great step for all mankind.
Through slothfulness and unawareness we do surely die. Through strength, honor, courage and vigilance we surely do survive!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting commentary on uniting with white nationalist organizations because it comes to the same conclusion we have come to, but for different reasons. We agree that the United Front for Peace in Prisons can include reactionary organizations. It is true that sometimes through a united battle we can educate others and change their minds to a more progressive viewpoint. But we must be clear that we only unite with reactionary organizations when we have common goals and enemies, and when this unity might serve to push forward the battle with our principle enemy. Just as the Chinese communists allied with the Kuomindang in the war against the Japanese imperialists in spite of the Kuomindang previously attacking the communists and expressing significant disagreement, antagonism and aggression against the communists. At that time the principal task of the movement was to get the Japanese occupiers out of China. And the Kuomindang was an organization of Chinese nationals and so they shared this goal with the communists. Once that was accomplished the communists knew they would then need to fight the Kuomindang, but it did not make sense to divide the anti-Japanese forces and take on both battles at once.
Similarly we see our principal task being best advanced by building peace and unity among prisoner organizations so that we can all focus our fight on the criminal injustice system. This doesn't mean we expect white supremacist organizations to be won over to the side of the oppressed. But we can have principled unity with these organizations as we focus on a common enemy. We will not compromise our views or pretend to agree with them politically. And in this principled unity we may win over a few from the ranks of these white nationalist organizations who begin to see the correctness of our political positions.