In recent months it is becoming more common to read news stories about the irreversible collapse of glaciers in Antartica and elsewhere around the world, as a result of the rising temperature on earth. This degradation of our global environment is driven by humyn emissions of greenhouse gasses. As the reality of humyn destruction of Earth's natural systems becomes more apparent daily, and scientists provide more clear and alarming evidence that we are at a point where the effects cannot be reversed, we see a compelling case for communism as the only economic system that has a chance of providing for the long-term survival of humyns.
Maoists focus on combating the repression and brutality of humyns against other humyns, which is an inherent element of capitalism. When it comes to fighting for the survival of the most oppressed humyns in the world, fighting for the life of the planet on which we all live has become inextricably intertwined with our humynism. Without an environment that can sustain humyn life, the fight against oppression of groups of people becomes irrelevant. We see a strong reason for communists to take up revolutionary environmentalism, and for unity between environmental activists and those fighting oppression of people. But we will not win the fight for the environment without first liberating the world's oppressed people and overthrowing imperialism.
Back in 1997 MIM published the MIM Theory magazine entitled "Environment, Society, Revolution." In it they wrote: "Our fundamental goal is eradicating the oppression of people over people, and this goal is also the most effective way to liberate the environment from human aggression. We do not believe that socialism necessarily achieves environmental salvation, but we do argue that only through socialism do we have a chance at it."(1)
Historically the worst devastation has been wreaked on the environment as a result of oppression among people: wars, mass production using exploited labor, and corporate land seizure. In war, herbicides and chemical agents are used to deforest land and destroy crop production, which have severe, longlasting impacts on not only the plants, but the people and wildlife as well. Agent Orange, depleted uranium, napalm, and white phosphorous are examples of this type of warfare. A bomb that targets an "enemy" also destroys the environment in the surrounding area. Capitalist production allows for the practically unregulated dumping of waste into our rivers and oceans, including oil spills. When commodities cannot be sold, they are literally dumped into the ocean or incinerated, impacting ocean life and polluting the air.
Further, the imperialists target the Third World with imperialist-country waste, locating dirty industries there and dumping toxic waste in other people's backyards.(1) And it is clear that the countries that contribute least to climate change will be impacted the most by it. Typhoons hitting Southeast Asia and India, droughts in Africa, and islands that will soon disappear to rising sea levels are all consequences that have already taken the lives of many people and threaten to destroy even more. Where the imperialist countries will be able to rebuild infrastructure and defend against the impacts of climate change more easily due to their stolen wealth, residents in the Third World do not have this privilege. At the same time, pollution and other effects of humyn activities have reached a scale where it is harder for the oppressor nations to isolate themselves from these problems. For this reason, environmentalism may prove to be the most powerful material force for building true internationalism.
In the United $tates the capitalists are attempting small reforms to address the growing environmental problem, but these attempts show us clearly why capitalism will fail to save the humyn race. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed regulation of power plant emissions, focusing on existing coal plants. In slow-moving capitalism, the EPA will finalize their proposal some time in 2015, give states a year to figure out how to implement the new regulations, fight the lawsuits that states are threatening, and maybe see a few small changes many years down the road. The EPA optimistically predicts the proposal could cut carbon dioxide emissions from these plants by up to 30% by 2030.(2) The corporate media is already complaining about emissions standards being "bad for business," which under capitalism is more important than humyn lives. And in true capitalist fashion, there is talk of paying off the coal companies and compensating people who have good high-paying union jobs that will be affected.(3) So for the sake of the rich capitalists and the well-off First World workers, there will be years of fighting over the possibility of making some small changes, while people in the Third World are dying today from climate change effects already happening.
Many well-meaning people think they can address environmental problems with individualist solutions. They suggest that everyone needs to recycle and drive electric cars, or perhaps not eat meat. It is true that Amerikan diets, car culture and wasteful production must all be dramatically changed in an ecologically sustainable system. But such lifestyle politics are moving even slower than capitalist reforms in terms of actually reducing the rates of pollution, resource depletion and natural systems disruption. Social movement must be backed by organization, structural changes and real power. The capitalists have all these things, but lack the motivation for change. Setting up independent institutions that actually change our systems of production and consumption to be in line with the rest of the natural world needs to happen. Whether this can be done prior to the seizure of state power is something for revolutionary ecologists to explore. We do know that the joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations will be necessary to eventually enforce the changes needed at a global scale. This is necessary because a significant portion of the oppressor nations will not willingly reduce their consumption, and as long as there is the potential to profit via short-sighted ecological practices, there will be people who will try to do so. In the United $tates today the forces which maintain the status quo are more organized than the forces to impose sound ecological practices.
A third common approach to environmental problems is the pure technology approach. While the science of ecology has advanced in recent decades, it has been limited by the social structure enforced by capitalism. First Worlders can build careers around working with small communities to solve local problems, but these band-aids cannot heal the wound when the knife of capitalist profiteering continues to twist and turn inside it. Such academic ecologists can contribute to our knowledge, but their efforts do nothing to challenge the capitalist model itself. It is far more efficient and effective to make changes necessary for the survival of humynity with centralized government acting in the interests of the majority, rather than through the NGO or non-profit sector, or even via the direct action method favored by anarchist camps. Communism unleashes the creativity of all the masses in a way that pushes these projects forward with immeasurable enthusiasm and breadth. (see our discussion of China: Science Walks on Two Legs in our review of revolutionaryecology.com) We encourage ecologists with global perspective to develop a strategy that will really make use of their work globally, and we advocate communism as the best way to accomplish their worthwhile goals. In the United $tates today, we have far more lifestylists and reformists in the environmentalist camp. We need more revolutionaries.
Socialism will put an end to "efficient" capitalist methods of making profits. And with the land in the hands of the people, we can start to make smarter decisions about balanced use for humyn survival without environmental destruction. The majority of the world's people do have an interest in living on a healthy planet, but the capitalists with the money and power are focused on profit. Since they have the power and the guns, they do not have to answer to the majority. They waste resources or even destroy them, if it serves their competitive interests. And they do not care who or what dies in the process. Under capitalism we see how government agencies and the government itself are beholden to the wealthiest special interests, and incapable of implementing even modest reforms. Only by overthrowing the capitalists and enforcing policies that ensure the survival of humyns on Earth do we stand a chance of reversing the destruction of the environment.
I read over the letter from our Polunsky comrades. This is what I recommend. Often it helps to attach an I-60 with your Step 1 grievance and ask the Grievance Officer for the processing number of your grievance. If you have this number you will have a direct reference to track a grievance. This helps discourage grievances being "misplaced." It's also handy when you write Administration Review & Risk Management (ARRM) about the unit not addressing that particular grievance. For important and serious grievances it is useful to start them like this:
I file this grievance to exhaust all administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act to bring forth action under section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
It basically says: I'm going to sue you! It's not a guarantee but such an intro may make the grievance officer take it more seriously.
In regards to the officers who confiscate personal property and then destroy them, I'd like to direct our comrades to the Texas Grievance Guide, in particular the part concerning filing criminal charges against officers. If an officer takes a prisoner's property without giving a confiscation form stating the reason for confiscation, then that is legally theft. It is also a violation of your civil right to due process (which is also a criminal offense). Of course you will need some kind of proof that the item existed and was taken. Get prisoners to write affidavits and reference any camera numbers (if there are any). The criminal charges may not stick because pigs don't eat pork, but it may give them a wake up call and make them think twice.
I agree that our grievance petitions are having no effect with the people we are currently sending them to. I feel it more beneficial to send them to ACLU Texas or the DOJ. Our grievances and complaints are systematically neglected and denied. It is an Orwellian system, a labyrinth of closed loops, a facade. We need to push for the TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee which will place our grievances before an unaffiliated organization with the ability to monitor TDCJ to ensure that it abides by statutory law and its own policy.
We shouldn't hope sending the grievance petition alone to the DOJ or ACLU is enough. We must promote and campaign this proposed bill to our freeworld friends and family. I see no other way to break these closed loops.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Write to us for a copy of the Texas Grievance Guide. While we agree with this comrade that a TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee would bring progress for Texas prisoners in their fight against abuse and injustice, this too is not enough. We must learn from history that reforms like this one are followed by DOJ tricks and adjustments to work around the new policies and continue the same old abuse and repression. While we should still fight for these reforms, and use the battle to educate and unite people both behind the bars and on the streets, we must do this in the context of the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system. We should never mislead people to think that one reform or one house bill will make the change we need to see to create a true system of justice.
MIM(Prisons) conducted our annual congress in July to sum up our work for the year, learn from our mistakes and build on our successes. We affirmed our strategic direction and came away with some shifts in our tactical work based on experiences over the past year and proposals from our comrades. This report sums up the decisions of interest that can be shared publicly.
Under Lock & Key (ULK) is our primary educational and organizing tool, and the main way that we retain contact with our readers behind bars. We will continue to lead theoretically through this publication with expanded analysis of economic issues and international content. This is important because we understand the value of prison-based reporting and organizing information, but must not lose sight of our role as a Maoist organization. Keeping the internationalist orientation of our work, and providing analysis based in communist theory, is critical to the goal of MIM(Prisons). We are working to develop more writers behind bars who can also contribute at this level, and we still value our field correspondents who report on what's going on in their prison or state.
In our focus to lead theoretically we have set a goal of finishing the upcoming book on the [email protected] nation by the end of this year. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán is a collaborative writing effort representing several emerging Maoist voices in the [email protected] movement. There is a need for Maoist literature and leadership in the hotly contested struggle of [email protected] and migrants against Amerikan repression, especially in the new context of multiculturalism and widespread wealth throughout the United $tates. We aim to get the ball rolling on that contemporary theory development with the release of this book. Prisoners interested in receiving a copy should write now to request one.
Because we are a prison-focused cell, anti-censorship is a very important battle for MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). Censorship is a primary and effective tool used by the criminal injustice system to cut prisoners off from the broader anti-imperialist struggle, and it is implemented illegally and arbitrarily against our literature. Censorship can stop folks from receiving important educational materials and in the extreme case it completely shuts down our communication in states where all of our mail is stopped.
Last congress we decided to target certain states for anti-censorship campaigning, and we had success with this tactic, especially in North Carolina, California and Missouri. In the censorship chart you can see what states had victories, bans in particular facilities, and overall statewide bans. The chart may appear misleading in that a ban might only directly impact a handful of subscribers. But still, even those few subscribers could multiply into a movement if given half a chance. On the flip side, there may be no censorship reported in a state that actually does have censorship or a ban; we just don't know about it yet. Facilities where our mail was banned over the past year were Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton, FCI Talladega, U.S. Penitentiary Atwater, Rutledge State Prison in Georgia, Sheridan Correctional Center in Illinois, Ely State Prison in Nevada, Riverview Correctional Facility in New York, State Correctional Institution (SCI) Fayette and SCI Waymart in Pennsylvania, and Central Utah Correctional Facility. This is SCI Waymart's second year banning MIM material, and Central Utah Correctional Facility's third!
This year we made a number of commitments around censorship battles that should improve our ability to respond quickly and resolve them from the outside. We do not have the resources to fight every censorship incident, so we prioritize assisting subscribers who are also engaging in this battle from behind bars. You can request our guide to fighting censorship if you don't have it already. The basic advice is to appeal all censorship, and appeal it to the highest level. Send us copies of censorship notifications and inform us when any mail we've sent has been rejected. Censorship battles are sometimes won on just the first appeal, but others require much paperwork and persistence. Also tell us all the mail you receive from us, whether it was censored initially or not.
We decided to push our anti-censorship work in support of the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP), based out of Pelican Bay State Prison in California. This mentorship program is committed to providing one-on-one guidance to people on the outside who are interested in New Afrikan liberation and fighting injustice. A comrade in MIM(Prisons) attempted to participate in this program hself, but h participation was squashed at the outset. Pelican Bay officials claim the WLNMP is a Security Threat Group, related to the Black Guerilla Family. Since we're prevented from participating in the mentorship program directly, we've decided to instead help fight censorship of the program. We will continue reporting on the development of this program in ULK and on our website.
United Struggle from Within (USW) is the MIM(Prisons)-led organization for prisoners. This is the group through which we build campaigns and educational programs behind bars. California and Texas are usually heavily represented in USW membership, and this year we had an influx in the Southeast and Midwest United $tates. In the coming year we will expand our focus on states where we have active comrades, and help those comrades build new campaigns relevant to their local conditions. In practice this means that we have identified the most active states and will be focusing our work there to bring together individuals from different prisons with the goal of building unified campaigns and a broader state-wide movement.
In addition to our focus on more active states, MIM(Prisons) is working to improve the ways we engage people to make sure no lone comrades fall through the cracks due to censorship or just from being locked up in a relatively inactive state. We are going to pay special attention to those who stay in touch and do work.
Alongside our commitment to develop prisoner leaders and activists, we recognize the need to continue supporting our comrades once they are released from prison. The MIM(Prisons) Re-Lease on Life program will be focused on this year, in an effort to address some issues our released comrades have struggled with. In the coming year we are going to research the possibility of setting up a more intensive release program. This is something that will take significant time and resources, and we will only be able to offer it to those committed to a life of political activism. As we develop the program we will reach out to eligible individuals to work out a release plan. In the meantime, make sure we know when you have a release date coming up in the next few years so we can start planning now.
We considered a proposal from a USW comrade to use prisoner-created revolutionary art for fundraising, and to spread revolutionary culture in prisons and on the street. We are going to take up parts of the proposal that are within our means at this time. In the coming months we are going to initiate a project to create revolutionary greeting cards for sale on the streets and for use behind bars. The proceeds of this project will be used to fund the creation of a revolutionary prisoner art zine, which we will distribute on the streets. Any profits from that zine will be used to fund a culture project to be selected by the contributing prisoner artists. Anyone can donate art to this project by sending in your submissions to the address on page 1! Even if you aren't an artist yourself, you can help spread and build this cultural project in your facility. Write in for more information.
We are pleased to report that our work has expanded in many ways over the last year, and we expect additional expansion based on the plans and resources we have in place for the coming year. In solidarity with all genuine anti-imperialist forces world-wide, we continue moving forward!
Pigism has no color As we adjust they adapt So we must remain abreast by choosing not-to-wait-to have-to-react.
Pigs are Black! Wearing afros or hats to the back yelling KAPTIVES! hands in the air! as they attack. Attack! Attack!
Pigs are white old "Raiders in the night" Imperialist goons with guns (oink) Blue and grey uniforms (oink) forcing kaptives to LIE DOWN! and conform conform conform. Imperialism is pigism and has too easily become the accepted norm.
Somebody Sound the Alarm as we storm! Storm! Storm! and tear down the norms and no longer conform to pigism
In today's world we're seeing the courts and media minimize the fact that U.S. prisons are run by criminals worse than the so-called worst confined within them. They have attempted, and have succeeded to a degree, in demonizing the prisoners being tortured and thereby desensitized the general public on that subject.
This is why it also seems the jury in the court of public opinion is still out regarding what process is due, and how the experimental implementation of political censorship known by its official misnomer "Obscene Materials Regulations" is already in progress on San Quentin State Prison's (SQ) four death row Security Housing Units (SHUs). The normalization of censorship in all its forms continues right before our eyes in SQ and beyond.
Consider how an invasion force imposes their will upon their victims preserved alive. One of the first things it does is knock out all means of communication. After installing a puppet governing body it then promotes its own agenda through the mass media. The San Quentin Antenna Cable System (SQACS) can be described as a one-sided propaganda bomb with a signal jamming warhead. It is a weapon of mass corruption in the hands of terrorists embedded in the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and other affiliates using the CDCR as their puppet to lord it over in the micro-societies of prison. Their fee for this is deducted from your paycheck, education, and social services for the disabled and elderly.
The SQACS (AKA SQTV) consists of expensive technology similar to that used by cable providers. Most cable companies receive their programming via satellite and then rebroadcast it on frequencies that boxes atop your television can receive. SQTV also consists of 14 converter boxes and several DVD players. As you may know, these devices require your TV be on channel 3 or 4 to operate. However, the SQACS rebroadcasts each on a different frequency. It even rebroadcasts free over-the-air digital signals on different frequencies in QAM (cable mode) and the UHF band.
Not only are the 14 now obsolete converters a huge waste of electricity (they've been on 24/7 nearly 5 years!) they also block free over-the-air broadcasts on the VHF channels they're rebroadcasted on. Contrary to popular belief prisons don't make money for the state. Only those working at prisons make the money and since the SQACS wastes YOUR money and not theirs, they don't care - especially when it can be used to give them job security.
Public broadcast stations KQED and KMTP are just two stations multicasting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked/restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. I argue it is actually intentional because these provide programs such as World News, Democracy Now, and even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long term torture by indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons.
San Quentin is by no means the only California prison using this technology to censor over-the-air broadcasts that don't fit their oligarchy's agenda. Radio stations received via these systems at various SHUs have reportedly cut out as the hunger strikers were being commended for their peaceful protest. The broadcast was then turned back on when the CDCR representative began demonizing it.
As stated in the essay "Free your mind; reversing the effects of prison censorship" by S. Muhammad Hyland, "The bottom line is simple. The institutional restrictions on revolutionary political material are in place for a reason: to keep us from learning how to go about securing our freedom, and destroying the system responsible for our lack of success in Amerika."
MIM(Prisons) adds: Unlike most U.$. prisons found in rural areas, San Quentin is right in the Bay Area where, as this comrade points out, there are many sources of progressive information on television and radio. It is quite damning that the state finds it necessary to censor these channels, which anyone just outside of the San Quentin compound can watch and listen to just fine. It speaks to the truth that prisons are all about social control. And it underscores the importance of not just having control of our own independent media, but also fighting for our First Amendment rights to distribute and share that media. Distribution networks are constantly threatened by bourgeois interests, from eliminating public bulletin boards, to the attempts to prioritize corporate website traffic on the internet, to blocking television and radio stations within prisons. Under Lock & Key is perhaps the most censored news source in the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System, and we are always engagedin ongoing battles in many states. We need more jailhouse lawyers and legal help on the streets to help with this fight.
July 1, Murrieta, California - Residents of this southern California town blocked three buses carrying about 140 detained migrants from Central America from entering their town. The buses were diverted to other border patrol facilities for processing and supervised release pending appearance in immigration court. These flag waving Amerikans spouted racist slogans about the destruction of Amerika brought by these "illegal" additions to their precious white community as they attacked the buses. The migrants crossed the border in Texas and were flown to California to relieve the overcrowded processing facilities in Texas by the Department of Homeland Security.
The protests were instigated by Murrieta Mayor Alan Long who called on residents to oppose the federal government's decision to move the migrants to the facility in his city. He wants the federal government to deport these migrants immediately. The Obama administration responded to the outcry by promising to cut back on the "illegal" border crossings, attempting to get $2 billion from Congress and authority to return people home faster.(1)
Already this year Border Patrol agents have detained more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.$. border.(2) But in spite of the media reports, this isn't just about children migrants, and we do not believe that activists should attempt to stir up public sympathy by focusing on the children. The U.$. border is an artificial restriction, put in place to protect imperialist wealth from those people who create the wealth. Migrants cross the U.$. border to escape U.$.-backed militia violence, capitalist-corporate economic devastation, brutal regimes and devastating poverty. These are all conditions that secure cheap labor for exploitation by imperialist corporations which bring the wealth home to Amerika and protect it with militarized borders. The border crossers of all ages deserve access to this wealth more than the well-off residents of Murrieta. Anti-imperialists call for open borders, and support the rights of indigenous people everywhere to enforce immigration restrictions on the imperialists who invade and steal their land and resources.
On May 1, in the northern Alaska village of Tanana, two state troopers were shot to death after being sent to the remote Alaska Native village to arrest a resident for misdemeanor violations including driving without a license and threatening a village public safety officer. The man's son shot the troopers as they entered into a physical altercation to arrest him.
The issue has been sensationalized in the bourgeois press as an extreme tragedy involving the deaths of the officers who were killed "in the line of duty." The young man who fired the shots is being vilified by the media as a murderer and arch-villain guilty of killing two cops who are painted as heroes and outstanding individuals. As droves of white settlers attended the long procession of police cars carrying and escorting the bodies of the troopers from the medical examiner to the airport in Anchorage, hands over hearts and tears in eyes, nary a word is to be heard in lament of the destruction of a young First Nation life and family. Upon further, deeper examination however, a picture emerges which places the emphasis on First Nation repression, police-state tactics, and a long history of neglect by the white ruling class of its oppressed, dependent and dominated rural native population.
It was not native or even just local law enforcement which came to intervene and attempt to take into custody the alleged offender, it was white outsiders who needed to be flown in from a far distant regional hub in the tradition of the imperialist colonial model. These intruders have no personal ties to such communities and they naturally are viewed with resentment and suspicion. This sort of "law enforcement" is seen as arbitrary, external, and illegitimate by many who are forced to recognize its jurisdiction at the barrel of a gun. It is also increasingly being challenged.(1)
At first glance, what would appear to have happened in this particular situation is that a local individual who was transgressing some relatively petty ordinances or laws (which, by the way, are mostly foisted upon the First Nation people by white settlerism from far-off white legislatures and courts) was confronted by what passes for law enforcement in most rural villages - a VPSO, or "village public safety officer." The alleged offender did not want to cooperate with the VPSO and threatened him. The VPSO then contacted state troopers. The troopers were eventually flown in, attempted to arrest said individual and a struggle ensued after the man resisted arrest. The man's son, upon witnessing this altercation, grabbed a firearm and shot the troopers in defense of his father. The media is portraying the son as a "cowardly and selfish" criminal who killed two of Alaska's finest. But let's now dig more below the surface to understand the real elements behind this unfortunate circumstance.
The father and son are connected with a group called the Athabascan Nation (Athabascan being their particular native tribe). This group denies the authority of the state over native lands. They have also questioned and challenged the authority of the VPSOs.(2)
The position of VPSO was created by the state legislature. Instead of allowing First Nation sovereignty, and also even allotting appropriate funding for tribes to create their own, this was the state's way of providing a law enforcement presence in villages.
Most VPSOs are the equivalent of a native "Uncle Tom," a puppet of the "man." Though it is only the equivalent of putting a band aid over a gaping wound, many tribes in the south have been granted a form of limited sovereignty under a set of laws incongruously titled "Indian Country." The Navajo Reservation in New Mexico is an example. However, in Alaska, a clever piece of settler legislation called the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act killed "Indian Country" sovereignty in Alaska and instead regional "corporations" were set up, which in turn were given lucrative contracts on oil and mineral exploitation (most of which is still dominated by Euro-Amerikan multinationals like BP and Exxon anyway). These corporations make considerable amounts of money for a relatively few shareholders while providing limited health care and other services but little else. In other words, it was and is the Euro-Amerikan exploiter class's way of bribing a significant enough portion of Alaska natives to be content with being an otherwise plundered and oppressed colonial, subjected people. This has effectively kept most pacified, while corporations appropriate natural resources, including oil, gas, minerals, timber, fish, etc, worth billions of dollars to the ruling class exploiters.
In order to maintain complete control over these lands, the white plunderer ruling class has even imposed their own arbitrary laws and regulations on the First Nation peoples' way of life — their traditional and time-honored means of subsistence. As an example, state fish and game officers forcefully prevent indigenous peoples from harvesting food resources that they have for thousands of years, in the name of preserving stocks and preventing depletion (so that great white hunters won't run short on sport-hunting). They are then forced onto the rolls of social welfare programs such as food stamps, thereby making them into a totally dependent population. The social evils this has produced are numerous and horrendous, including creating feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness amongst a formerly proud and self-sustaining, independent people and therefore contributing in large part to the extremely high rates of suicide and drug/alcohol dependency and in effect inflicting another indirect genocide on the First Nation peoples.
There is, of course, something patently obscene with a nation who have historically been the biggest polluters and foulers of the earth imaginable telling those engaged in indigenous practices that have proved sustainable over generations what they can and can't do on their land. From over-fishing by commmercial fisheries, mines like Pebble Copper and Usibelli Coal and, of course, fossil fuel extraction, Amerikan dominance of the Alaskan territories has brought ecological disaster. This March was the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, killing hundreds of thousands of shorebirds. While bird populations are recovering, others have not, including the local Orca populations that have continued to decline since the spill.(3) And that's only beginning to scratch at the surface of the farcical nature of white colonial rule.
Returning to the VPSO issue, it can be seen they are only a quisling representative of white colonial rule and are additionally so powerless that they all are even unarmed, making them completely dependent on state enforcement. Tribal councils themselves are little more than puppet shows. Tribal authorities rarely challenge state rule or push for sovereignty because they are, for the most part, bought-off. They don't want to lose state funding and corporate backing or jeopardize their own salaries and positions. Members of the Athabascan Nation and other similar groups recognize this and fight against their treachery and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the latest action against the troopers by an over-idealistic and perhaps protective young man amounts to focoism that has destroyed his life, but this has shed a lot more light on the need for natives to assert far more control and autonomy over their own affairs separate from state interference.
Showing their complete disregard for their own and their status as lapdogs of state authority, the tribal council of Tanana moved to banish the man troopers came to arrest as well as another "aggressive" member of the Athabascan Nation, calling them "intolerant." Why not also banish outside, militant and aggressive officers of an oppressive regime bent on stealing and keeping your land? They'd rather banish two of their own? This speaks volumes.
In contrast, even the young man who is accused of shooting the cops seems to have had a better grip on who his real friends and enemies were, as, even though he also drew a bead on the native VPSO who was present, he lowered his gun and declined to harm him. This in itself speaks loudly for the need for tribes to govern and police themselves. It is far harder to harm someone you identify with or know, than it is someone you have had no interaction with and view as a foreign aggressor. It is also interesting that after the shootings, the local VPSO was able to take the young man into custody with the help of a few community members without further incident. So clearly, this was not, contrary to most media reports, a case of an out-of-control, criminally minded and dangerous coward, but a young First Nation man coming to the defense of his father who was being accosted and assaulted without due cause by an aggressive, militant and foreign force he did not recognize and rightfully viewed with hostility and distrust.
Not very surprisingly, even reformist measures such as the concept of "Indian Country" are vehemently opposed by the state government. If enacted, this would take away state authority and create a dual-legal system on the small amount of tribal (vs. corporate) lands that would become "Indian country."(4) In other words, the white settler state might lose its ability to fully plunder and loot the First Nation people and their land, and lose its ability to legally impose its will on the people by force.
We must fight for the national self-determination of First Nations. The imperialists must be forced to end their absolute hegemony and domination over the indigenous populations and the vast wealth of their country. The First Nation people must not be subjected to a cruel, indirect genocide and forced assimilation into white Euro-Amerikan "culture," with all its comparatively decadent values, fetishization of money, and inherent corruption.
The only solution is the revolutionary one - to support and accept nothing less than full First Nation sovereignty for all indigenous peoples.
In early June of this year, MIM Distributors received a letter from Assistant Director Cynthia Bostic of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) upholding the censorship of Under Lock & Key No. 37 (March/April 2014). Bostic censored ULK 37 because it mentions the options legally available to prisoners, to not buy from commissary, not order packages through the prison's vendor, and to file civil action suits. None of these activities are illegal, or even against NCDPS's own policies. Since the newsletter talks about activities which prisoners are legally allowed to engage in, but which give the prisoners a tiny notion of agency and self-determination, it is not permitted in the state.
MIM Distributors has written multiple letters to NCDPS administrators in an effort to defend the rights of prisoners to read our newsletter, and to exercise our right to free speech. One of these letters helped convince Bostic to approve the delivery of Under Lock & Key No. 36 (January/February 2014). According to Section D.0105(d) of NCDPS's Policies and Procedures, upon approval, the Publication Review Committee and Wardens are supposed to work together to deliver the previously censored issues of Under Lock & Key to their intended recipients. In Bostic's letter, she "permits" MIM Distributors to resend ULK 36 at our own expense. We recently checked in with our subscribers in North Carolina to see if this issue was delivered to them via the channels outlined in NCDPS Policies and Procedures. If you were a subscriber in January 2014, you should have received issue 36 from your Warden. Let us know if you haven't!
Revolutionary Ecology (RE) is a new website that appeared in 2014. We welcome its appearance as the Maoist movement is in great need of a dedicated cell to address our current ecological crisis. We promote a cell structure for the Maoist movement in the First World, with cells focused on specific projects or localities. MIM(Prisons) is a cell focused on the U.$. prison system. We need a cell (or cells) that are focused on the struggle against the destruction of our environment just as badly. As the RE comrades point out in many articles, these are problems of dire urgency. They are also problems that threaten First World youth directly, potentially connecting them to the interests of the majority of humynity. This website is a good addition to the arsenal of educational tools for communists working to build a movement to overthrow imperialism.
The organizers of RE describe it as "a collaborative project that seeks to popularize Marxism within the environmentalist and animal liberation movements." They go on to explain: "We are quite literally faced with two options: Communism or annihilation." In the article, "What Would Socialism Mean for the Environment", this is further explained: "Whereas capitalism involves productive relations of exploitation sustained toward the circular end of profit, socialism involves the democratic control over the means of production as part of the rational and increasingly egalitarian satisfaction of people's wants and needs. Implied in such rational and democratic production is the inclusion of ecological regeneration and co-dependence as regulative economic principles." In other words, instead of relying on the almighty invisible hand, socialism is about humynity taking conscious control of our collective destiny and organizing ourselves in a way to best serve the interests of all humynity. As should be obvious by now, these interests overlap greatly with preserving the natural systems that we live in and depend on.
The article "Capitalism's Steady March Towards Irreversible Ecological Tipping Points" describes how capitalism is moving humynity rapidly towards tipping points that will be devastating for the Earth, including the deforestation of the Amazon, while discussing the inability of single issue groups and government regulations to stop this process. Much of the website's content brings Marxist analysis into the ecological discussion, as with the article "Lake Michigan Oil Spill: Capitalism and Nature" which explains the role of commodities and money in the context of humyn's relations with nature. And we are reminded of the importance of internationalism in the revolutionary ecology struggle through articles about South African trade unions and First Nations, among others.
In response to the Deep Ecology platform, one article proposes a Revolutionary Ecology Platform:
The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human life are intimately related. The flourishing of non-human life is generally of direct and indirect utility to humans, and vice versa.
Richness and diversity of non-human life can contribute to utility for humanity at large. Thus, it should be promoted as such.
Real wealth is utility or the ability to satisfy human wants and needs. The source of all wealth is two-fold: nature and human labor. It is in the long-term interest of a majority of humanity to steward biodiversity and ecological well-being (along with other elements of nature).
Alienation from and the subjugation of nature is in the vital interest of a small proportion of humanity: the ruling classes. Increasingly under capitalist-imperialism, less real wealth (i.e., human utility) is produced in proportion to overall economic activity and at greater cost to human and non-human life.
Ecologically unsustainable economic activity is inherent to capitalist-imperialism, whereby economic activity must expand even as much of it is tertiary and adds no real wealth in terms of the satisfying basic wants and needs.[sic] Abolishing such parasitic economic activity and reassigning it to restoring the natural element of wealth would aid in re-establishing the basic link between human and non-human life and provide for the flourishing of both.
The whole structure of society needs to be changed. Only revolution — the seizure of power away from one set of classes by another — can create the necessary conditions for such a transformation. Any such revolution, if it is to be successful, must advance the interests of the most exploited and oppressed sections of humanity, not merely the privileged subjects of neo-colonial imperialism.
A total ideological change of reconnection between human and non-human life will not fully take place until the basic structure of society (i.e. the mode of production) has been transformed into one of democratically producing long-term utility instead of profit. Nonetheless, the ideological sphere and subjective forces are a leading variable component where class struggle is carried out.
Those who adhere to the above points must get organized to make revolution possible.
Point 5 is of particular importance for drawing the logical connections between Maoism and ecology. Many in the First World who are concerned about ecology are disgusted by the over-consumption of their peers. One example of the extremes this takes in rich countries has been circulating on the internet recently, exposing Amerikans in rural areas who are customizing their big diesel trucks to be less fuel efficient and spew out more pollution, while these excessive polluters are explicitly ridiculing and targeting people who drive more fuel efficient cars. While this is one example of the labor aristocracy taking capitalist values to ridiculous extremes, it is not the individual decisions of the consumer class that fuel the destruction of the natural world. Car culture was built by capitalist planners who developed and marketed suburbs and lobbied for state-sponsored roads. The focus on GDP, the stock market, and other economic indicators are an obsession in the First World that the majority have joined in on, with no thought to the fact that consumption must be reduced in First World countries in the creation of an ecologically sustainable system. But it is not the rural truck drivers who are the biggest obstacle to change, it is the very logic of capitalism itself, which requires ever-expanding production, markets and circulation. This system is backed up by the biggest, most ruthless militaries in the world today.
Nikolai Brown touches on over-production within capitalism in h article on e-waste, "Not only does the inherent focus on the realization of surplus value engender 'planned obsolescence,' a global division of labor enables the flow of resources necessary for the propagation of disposable electronics. True to the fashion of capitalism, by producing toxic e-waste on such a widespread basis, its two requisites, labor-power and the natural environment, are increasingly degraded."(1) This article introduces us to the concept of ecological unequal exchange: "the transfer of natural resources to the First World from the Third World, and the return of pollution and waste to Third from the First World." As ecological crises advance, this is a concept that deserves much attention in connection to the economic unequal exchange that occurs under imperialism.
While we don't have any fundamental disagreements with the principles proposed by RE above, we find their discussion of Deep Ecology idealist in its critique of Maoism's (and other socialist countries') environmental history. The article "Deep Green Maoism?" criticizes the history of socialism for its record on "environmental degradation and species destruction" without offering concrete facts on what is being critiqued. No doubt all socialist societies to date, including the Maoist countries, had much room for improvement around environmental protection. But we should not issue blanket critiques from a position of hindsight and idealism. For their day the Maoists advanced the environmental movement further than any previous struggle by overthrowing imperialism and building a society that aimed to put an end to oppression of people. In the process they set the masses free to solve farming sustainability problems creatively, and develop both farming and industry to more efficiently meet the needs of the people. These are critical first steps towards living harmoniously with the environment. And we can assume that as dialectical materialists, these socialists would have continued to improve and build an understanding and practice regarding the importance of environmental preservation, had those societies not been taken over by bourgeois elements from within the party.
One of the first things we try to teach to new comrades is the difference between idealism and materialism, and that materialism means comparing actual practices. When we compare Chinese socialism to the Soviet Union we see improvements in the overall political approach, which translated into better science and ecology. And when we compare both socialist countries to the capitalist countries, the socialists were industrializing in ways that were much friendlier to humyn workers and the rest of the environment. While we cannot make a comprehensive comparison here, we will provide some large-scale examples that indicate the advances of these real world examples of socialism over what was happening in capitalist countries at the time (and even today).
One Amerikan correspondent in the Soviet Union wrote in 1942, "Moscow has also the most scientific garbage disposal in the world. All the waste of this great city of more than 4,000,000 people is first used in 'biothermal processes' which heat large 'greenhouse farms' from underground. When the garbage and sewage is thoroughly rotted in this quite odorless manner, it is then used as a fertilizer for ordinary farming. This amazing development got no advertising whatever. I merely chanced upon it when I visited a farm."(2) Decades later in northern China, "cadres, peasants, workers, and technicians experimented for ten years with utilizing industrial waste waters. Now the city's daily 400,000 tons of sewage is processed to fertilize and irrigate 12,930 hectares of farmland. ... Reciprocally, agricultural wastes such as cottonseed shells, corncobs, sugar-cane residue, and animal viscera become raw materials for developing commune-owned industries. ... Decentralization and multipurpose use of wastes have, besides integrating industry and agriculture, been used to control industrial pollution. Like the relocation of factories, pollution control is generally coordinated on the local level."(3)
Local, self-sufficient agricultural production was a key to successful socialist development in Mao's opinion. This had more to do with class and economics, but reinforced and enabled ecologically sustainable practices. In discussing the balance between the foreign and native and the large, medium and small scale production, Mao wrote, "At the present time we have not proposed chemicalization of agriculture. One reason is that we do not expect to be able to produce much fertilizer in the next however many years. (And the little we have is concentrated on our industrial crops.) Another reason is that if the turn to chemicals is proposed everybody will focus on that and neglect pig breeding. Inorganic fertilizers are also needed but they have to be combined with organic; alone they harden the soil." (4) Aside from pigs, humanure (or "night soil" as they called it) was a major source of organic fertilizer that utilized local resources on hand while simultaneously dealing with the problem of humyn "waste" similar to the Soviet example above. The safe and efficient use of humanure was greatly accelerated under socialism. Under capitalism, in 2014, this resource is disposed of as a waste, and the movement away from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is still very small.(5)
Guided by the popularization of the scientific method to serve production, the Chinese also developed bacterial fertilizers at the local level. This is something that has gained a lot of attention in India in recent decades as the problems of over-dependence on synthetic fertilizers are becoming more pronounced. A report by Science for the People from 1974 describes the process of culturing the fertilizer, which is "reported to help crops absorb nitrogen, to protect them against more than thirty-two bacterial diseases, and to promote speedier seed germination and a shorter growing period." The report states that, "Such small factories producing microbial products seem now to be common in the Chinese countryside." They report on the process by which this commune studied bacterial fertilizers and has since taught it to about 20 other communes. "Similar processes of face-to-face contact and exchange appear to be exceedingly important in the transmission and popularization of science in China. Because such exchange generates little or no printed material, western observers, who tend to believe that all scientific communication of any note eventually reaches print, are likely to overlook what appears to be a vast network of informal scientific exchange in the Chinese countryside."(6)
An author on revolutionaryecology.com argues that "...the environmental problems associated with the first world-wide wave of socialism were due to a lack of foresight and scientific knowledge about ecology, holdover culture from capitalism and semi-feudalism, and the partial impact of the theory of the productive forces." The socialists of the 1900s had only as much foresight and scientific knowledge as existed at that time, and holding them to the standards of knowledge available today is idealism. Further, we know that the Maoists aggressively attacked the theory of productive forces and undertook the Cultural Revolution to fight capitalist culture. Sure, once these battles were won the revolution in all aspects would advance further, but this is not a basis for a 20/20 hindsight critique of the Maoist environmental practice in the socialist countries of the mid-1900s. We know that some practices in Maoist China would not be undertaken today, with the current state of the environment and the knowledge we have of effects of these practices. But that does not constitute reason for this critique any more than we would criticize China for failing to use computers to advance socialism before computers were available.
The article argues further "...it is this same understanding on the unity between people and nature which was either missing or gravely misapplied during the socialism of the last century." Socialism "neglected to treat nature as part of and necessary to people. That is not to say that socialism treated the natural world and other species in terms other than of humyn utility, but that it did so in an often ill-conceived and short-sighted manner." Here again we ask for concrete examples of socialism's failure in this regard, which should have been corrected based on information available at the time. In farming areas the communes in China were acutely aware of their dependence on nature as essential for survival.
The article goes on to say: "In short, an ecologically informed Maoism offers the chance to build a 'socialism of a new type' for the 21st century which seeks to resolve the contradiction between people and their natural environment as much as the contradictions between people themselves." As humynity's ecological understanding expands, socialism will utilize this knowledge and it will do so without the barriers presented by capitalism. Humyn knowledge and scientific understanding is constantly expanding. We find it misleading to say that "a new type" of socialism is needed to address ecological problems.
Aside from these Revolutionary Ecology Platform issues, we have a few smaller disagreements with the website. First there is a question of setting a bad security example by including a Facebook plugin so that people can "like" the website via their persynal Facebook accounts. This means the website is pushing people to expose themselves publicly as supporting RE. Unfortunately, this is information now available to the state, and individuals who may be new to activism (plus some blissfully ignorant experienced folks) will think they are helping the movement by "liking" the website only to expose themselves as targets for state repression just as they deepen their political line and involvement. Even at the level of random readers, we should always promote good security practices, both as a point of keeping our comrades safe and as an educational point about the repression the so-called democratic state of Amerika will unleash against those who threaten the imperialist system.
RE does not provide much information for readers on how to get involved. They do solicit participation of writers for the website, and the site links to other websites that are generally anti-imperialist and/or Maoist, or have good resources for Maoists (Kersplebedeb), and some of these other websites provide a forum for broader activism. But as a friendly suggestion we'd encourage the organizers of RE to make it easier for newly interested readers to take some anti-imperialist action if they don't want to become writers for the site. Ecology is an appealing topic for white youth, and more must be done to pull those serious about real solutions to environmental destruction into the revolutionary movement. We look forward to more ecologists stepping up to build a powerful and active revolutionary ecology organization.
Since I arrived here in Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), I have personally observed officers oppress prisoners. One prisoner who is disabled was jumped on by these officers, and these officers falsified reports to cover up their use of unnecessary force. Well, he filed 602 (grievance) after 602 on these officers, and he has not allowed the tricks and oppressive tactics to stop him. They placed him in the hole and he managed to get out in 3 days. And now these same officers realize that he is not going to stop, and have turned to getting at other prisoners to get him off the yard, all because of his 602 filing and the direction he is taking against them.
Other prisoners have mentioned how this person always has the officers around him, as to feed into the officers agenda, but that's just not true. This prisoner would be minding his own business, and they start provoking him, so he turns around and uses law back at them. One time officers told him he was a "rat for 602ing all the officers," and he told the officers he would 602 them if they violate him. They responded that they are not afraid of the 602, but when he asked them if they are afraid of "the grand jury" they changed their tune, and demeanor.
I have never seen anyone who was not afraid of the officers, despite what they have already done to him. The amazing thing is he stays to himself and is laid back and shares law with others. I never once seen him involved in any altercations, verbal or physical, with other prisoners. Some officers don't want to even touch him during searches, and I overheard one say this is because he loves his money and job.
This is inspiring to me, because I have watched the officers throw everything at this prisoner and he is still not dissuaded. And now the divide and conquer tactic of paying another prisoner to take care of their problem is what they have resorted to.
I hope MIM(Prisons) is able to convey what I am saying, because I see the teaching from the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles in his walk, and just some of the fruits of these principles that he is reaping, too. I know the officers hate him because I personally hear them talking bad about him.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a great portrait of a prisoner fighting his own battles in prison and through this fight inspiring others. He exemplifies the Peace principle of the UFPP: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." Drawing the hatred of the prison officers is a good sign of success, though of course we always want to minimize the suffering of our comrades and help them gain as much room to organize and survive behind bars as possible.
I have initiated this correspondence in reference to the most recent arbitrary action taken by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of incarcerated, and non-incarcerated, citizens. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
However, the SCDC, which is not even a legislative body, has implemented a policy that impedes and infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following offense was amended to SCDC Policy OP-22.14, Inmate Disciplinary System:
"905 Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site: The facilitation, conspiracy, aiding, abetting in the creation or updating of an internet web site or social networking site."
This SCDC policy has resulted in Facebook, a social networking site, taking the following arbitrary action on accounts created by, or on behalf of, prisoners within the SCDC:
"Your account is locked because it doesn't comply with inmate regulations. People who are incarcerated may not be eligible to use Facebook if: * It is prohibited by state law or regulations of the facility * The account is being maintained by someone else"
These actions on the part of the SCDC and Facebook are of significant public interest due to the fact that they prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to be able to create and update internet websites and social networking sites, utilized to advocate for family and legal support on behalf of their incarcerated family members or loved ones. Further, these actions by the SCDC and Facebook prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from being able to publicize the conditions, and rehabilitative efforts, of their incarcerated family members and loved ones. Such decisions by the SCDC do not serve any "legitimate penological interests" and are in direct conflict with any rehabilitative and re-entry agenda. Most importantly, they are violating non-incarcerated citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech.
The SCDC may cite "security concerns" but this is not a valid response. To prohibit the creation and/or updating of all websites and social networking sites by, or on behalf of, any prisoner within the SCDC is not a sound defensible position. It would effectively negate the hundreds of prisoners who want to establish a true re-entry plan or proceed on a path of rehabilitation. It would also prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. In addition, it would punish prisoners for the exercising of this protected right by non-incarcerated citizens.
In a similar case, the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, decided against such policies and made the following ruling:
"Prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of non-incarcerated third parties." Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Ryan, 269 F. Supp. 2d 1199 (D. Ariz. 2003).
My family created and updated a Facebook account on my behalf to advocate for the support of my family and friends, and to publicize my conditions of confinement and rehabilitative efforts and progress. Facebook has locked that account due to SCDC's arbitrary policy. My family and I are preparing to take legal action against the SCDC, because although they can limit the rights of prisoners due to "legitimate security concerns," they do not have the legislative power to impede upon non-incarcerated citizens' rights.
My family and I would be grateful for any aid and assistance, or referrals, that any individual citizen, or group of citizens, may be able and willing to provide. We would respectfully request that everyone help in publicizing this issue, because there are many citizens who are unaware of the fact that they are affected by it. I thank you all in advance for your time and assistance.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We know that many prisoners and their families and friends make use of social networking sites like Facebook to publicize their case and garner help and support. This attempt by SCDC to further limit prisoner's voices comes as no surprise after they banned literature coming from outside sources a few years ago. We have seen an upswing in prisoner activism in South Carolina over the past year, and this policy suggests the prison will do whatever it can to restrict these activists from getting word out about the abuses and injustice going on behind bars.
We know that social networking sites like Facebook are not going to form the basis for successful revolutionary struggles, and that we must build independent institutions of the oppressed, whether online or elsewhere. Yet even that would not address the threat of punishment against prisoners for providing information that is posted online, the basis of this very website. So we stand behind this prisoner's fight and agree that SCDC does not have the right to impose these restrictions. Meanwhile, we call out Facebook for playing along with regulations that shut down the free speech of prisoners and their family and friends.
I am chairman of New Aztlan - the Young Brown Berets which works to promote the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We are an anti-imperialist group which focuses upon militancy and revolutionary doctrine; our main audience is Chicanos and Native Americans, united in struggle to expose racist agendas in the injustice system. The term Young applies to those in our group who range from 18-30. We attract a lot of non-gang members and de-active members alike. We stand in the pursuit of self-determination, bridging the gap of racism and uniting all people for the cause of dignity, human rights, and national liberation of all conscientious people. We've opened up our work with all minority and resistance groups of all colors.
Due to political retaliation by the guards in Colorado prisons, I've been moved to solitary confinement, in Colorado's highest security prison. Recently, the DOC headquarters told the public that it will put an end to administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). The 23 hours a day spent in total isolation with a TV to babysit us is no longer going to happen. Yet, all it did was to create an even more complicated form of isolation. Ad-Seg has turned into maximum security, with 3 levels to progress into the general population. Class one writeups which carry potential street charges are now given for fights, and other actions that can be perpetuated at any time by any guard.
STG-affiliated members can be sent to Ad-Seg for no reason other than the notion of a perceived threat. Unity of any type threatens the prison system and any prisoners caught taking any action will be subjected to the cruel imagination of the guards. I was denied soap and all hygiene items including a shower for 21 days, all due to my proclamation of my membership as part of a community. It's ok, it's worth the time I've spent alone, in fact your ULK was revealed to me while I was in Ad-Seg.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons builds for peace and unity amongst the oppressed, with an anti-imperialist platform. As more and more organizations like this across the country sign on to the United Front, we are working to implement these principles on the ground. We know that in the early stages many who take up this struggle will face long-term isolation as they become very real threats to the violent, predatory ways promoted by the U.$. prison system. Yet, as more courageous leaders step forward a critical mass will be reached that make the state's tools of repression less effective. We offer study groups and individual study materials for our comrades behind bars, programs that are especially important for those locked up in solitary confinement with no other contact with the outside world. We urge our comrades to make good use of their time behind bars to study and build, whether in isolation or general population.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has just rejected an Illinois prisoner's lawsuit pertaining to the refusal of the prison to allow him to receive the Physician's Desk Reference and the Complete Guide to Prescription Drugs 2009. The court's rationale for this rejection was rather convoluted:
"Quite simply, the prison gave the books' drug related content as one of the reasons justifying its decision to restrict Muson's access to the books, and we don't need to look beyond the books' title and the content to know the books contain information about drugs."
By reading this statement, one would assume that the prison was afraid of the information that the prisoner would learn from reading these books, but later in the opinion, the Court indicated that the same books were available to be read in the prison's law library.
The Seventh Circuit has been issuing some rather head-scratching decisions lately concerning prisoners' rights, and this is simply another one. If the prison we are confined in does not have these books available in the prison library this is a point we as prisoners can raise around this case.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This court ruling demonstrates the arbitrary and unjust basis for censorship of prisoners' mail and reading material. The difficulty with fighting these decisions, which start with the mail room rejections, is that courts often uphold censorship with arbitrary and contradictory reasoning. We need the help of jailhouse lawyers and street lawyers alike so that we can take on some of these battles and expand prisoners' access to revolutionary literature in particular.
We here on Polunsky Unit are receiving the ULK and copies of the grievance petition. We are engaged in the fight on a very small scale. Hundreds of petitions have been sent to the central grievance office, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM), Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and recently TDCJ Board Chairman Oliver Bell, but to no avail. Grievances are not submitted and grievance investigators claim to not have received them. Those that do get processed/submitted are not properly investigated and receive the standard response of "insufficient evidence to substantiate your allegation."
The KKKlantation Warden Gary Hunter is in collusion with grievance staff to trash/destroy any grievance/appeal that may get action if we proceed to the Step 2 level, that is if the Step 2 does not land in the hands of Regional Director Richard Alford who has been Assistant Warden and Head Warden on this KKKlantation within the 12 years that I've been here.
There is another struggle against Helen Sheffield (Sgt. of Safe Prison/Extortion). She confiscates personal property of offenders accused of extortion, running gambling businesses, stores, inappropriate relationships with female guards, etc., and destroys property if the offender refuses to snitch for her. This is all done under the watchful eye of Senior Warden Hunter and Assistant Warden Kenneth Hutto.
If any comrades in Texas can assist us in our fight against Sgt. Sheffield and her theft and unlawful destruction of offender property, please feel free to engage in this struggle.
To all comrades of USW in Texas, we must come up with a new direction to take this grievance campaign (new addresses, etc.) to send grievance petitions to because all the former names/addresses have failed us. My suggestion is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or ACLU Texas. We comrades on the Polunsky KKKlantation have chosen to forward our petitions to the DOJ.
I am in receipt of your introductory letter to the Prisoners' Legal Clinic and a copy of my edited article that's published on your website. Since the publication of the article, the prisoner who had previously been denied schooling is now enrolled. Your efforts and exposure had a positive impact!
Unfortunately, the other materials you have sent, Under Lock & Key, the study group materials, etc., continue to be censored. I'm awaiting the final decision of the Publication Review Committee, so I may send you their notice should you choose to file a lawsuit challenging the censorship.
With the appeal of my conviction for Encouraging a Group Demonstration being decided against me, I am not permitted a prison job. While I did not expect a favorable decision, I was stunned that the final arbiter explicitly admitted that I am punished, "Not for what you did, but for why you did it."
Of course the U.$. Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and speech. And the United Snakes Supreme Clout whose "justices" are the final interpreters of the constitution of the United Snakes have repeatedly ruled "[N]o citizen may be punished for his beliefs but only for his actions."
My point is, I was "convicted" inside the gulag for "encouraging prisoners to refrain from commissary purchases." This action is not a violation of the rules because no prisoner is required to purchase commissary. So the reasons that I encouraged prisoners not to purchase commissary - or my beliefs - are supposed to be immune from punishment. Yet the Virginia Department of Corruptions explicitly stated I was punished not for what I did but for why I did it.
I'm having the decision of the Virginia Department of Corruptions reviewed by some associates for consideration of filing a lawsuit. But to be frank, it has been my experience that for a prisoner in the gulag, the Constitution of the United States is most useful only when my roll of toilet paper is empty.
A paper document has no power. Ask the crime victims who've been beaten by the perpetrators who stepped across the boundaries of the "protective orders." Ask the black and brown people of the south who were beaten for voting even when a piece of paper stated this harassment was unlawful. The Constitution of the United Snakes says we have protected liberties, but the festered minds of the so-called "justices" are filled with pus, and they repeatedly ooze phrases telling us prisoners that the Constitution really does not say what is written therein. These pus-filled minds are fond of saying, in the prison context these god-given rights for humanity are subjugated to the objectives of the go-vermine-ment.
Think about that, my friends. Supposedly, the Constitution of the United States grants the God-given liberties that are basic and essential to human life, but those liberties are permitted in prison only as long as they are not contrary to a legitimate government objective. (read Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989)). By implication, this means the government has objectives that are contrary to what is basic and essential to human life.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner's report comes in as we are building for the September 9 Solidarity Demonstration this year. This day of peaceful unity and protest, commemorating the date of the Attica uprising has resulted in punishment of participants in past years. We cannot let them frighten us into inaction, but organizers need to take account of local conditions when deciding what actions to take on September 9. Prisoners can write to us for the September 9 organizing materials, which includes some background on the Attica uprising.
"It shows that circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances." - Karl Marx in the German ideology
Can we say that a new phenomenon is brewing behind these walls? We can all see the new level of political consciousness in California prisons, where prisoners are resisting the repressive policies of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in a more collective manner. Change has been slow, but progress is evident. The root of this is us prisoners with a little political and legal education to enlighten others and at the same time inspire others to participate in progressive action.
The California hunger strikes weren't spontaneous demonstrations against injust human rights violations in the Security Housing Units (SHUs), but rather carefully laid out plans to get outside attention and assistance. It was years of suppression that brought a few together to gather many in a common purpose that serves all of our interests. Some men are mentally broken while others carry on in these SHU conditions.
This is but a simple dialectic; or two sides of a contradiction forming a unity. On one hand we have those who deteriorate under these conditions and seek any way out, while on the other hand we have those prisoners who adapt and at the same time find ways to better themselves by educating themselves in law, reading good books, or picking up hobbies to keep themselves occupied. It is through these individuals who know the conditions in the SHU who are capable of creating campaigns for abolishing its policies, especially the gang validation policies that so many prisoners fall victim to.
Exposure and propaganda play a vital role on our behalf. This is where USW comrades come in, not just as advocates for human rights, but as advocates of an overall anti-imperialist campaign, as everything is connected to the imperialist system. The SHUs within CDCR are an aspect of imperialism, utilized for social control. And the oppressive conditions within are nothing more but to assert more social control behind prisons. It is through current events that this new phenomenon is manifesting a wave of politically conscious prisoners creating new circumstances. More validated prisoners are leaving the SHUs but more are taking their place. It is possible that one day through a collective effort the gang validation will be dismantled entirely and a SHU cap may be part of our future. I think it is.
Thinking back on all the times we spent Running here, running there Never taking the first step. Conditioned to what's around you Living in the puppet show of life
Dancing along, singing their song Slowly stirring from slumber All the bright colors often dimmed to their liking Seeing with new eyes all the wonder Pulling at the chains as they get tighter
The more you see, things ain't what they seem The more you learn, things ain't what they should be The more you know, running from their rules You're living in their fantasy It's time to wake up and break the chains!
Walking around with your eyes wide shut Thinking you're in a land of the free Seeing it's only the land of deceit Speaking your mind is an act of terrorism Breaking the chains piece by piece
Get a new state of mind Relearning what never should have been forgotten Bracing yourself for what is yet to come Praying for strength to carry on Holding true to your beliefs.
A persyn can proceed no further than the knowledge they have will carry them. To advance the revolutionary nationalist struggle for land, independence and socialism, we have to have a knowledge — a scientific understanding of the world around us — and we must study hystory. In order to do this, we must acquire discipline, revolutionary discipline. Revolutionary discipline is not something we are born with, it must be developed.
Discipline implies self-control, a willingness to submit yourself to the rules and code of conduct of an organization that is dedicated to independence. It means doing what is necessary to advance the objectives of the movement and doing what you say.
A unity of will and purpose cannot be accomplished without conscious efforts of all of the members or potential members of a revolutionary organization to strive to achieve maximum strength thru the exercise of maximum discipline and vigilance.
Many organizations have been destroyed because a member or group of members failed to keep their word. Revolutionary work has been retarded because this or that comrade has said they would take on a task and failed to deliver at the proper moment.
When we embrace or join an organization we have pledged to give something of ourselves for a greater unity and we must expect greater unity to exercise some control over our actions. We can no longer just think of ourselves, but of the group, the family and the movement — the nation.
Often times we wanna disregard the revolutionary discipline that we've committed to to pursue some persynal project. This happens because we have not rid ourselves of the disease of individualism. Thus, to build revolutionary discipline and eliminate individualism, we must stress constant study and practice, criticism and self-criticism.
Ultimately, we must purge from our ranks the weak links in our movement if we are to be strong, organized and about our work.
New Afrika's struggle is about land, independence and socialism. BORO is internationalist in our perspective and worldview and supports the struggle of all people to be free of imperialist aggression, patriarchy, gender and all forms of oppression.
It made me smile to see that Under Lock & Key No. 38 had an article on my civil case. The name of the case is Stanley Earl Corbett, Jr., et al v. G.J. Branker et al., case # 5:13-ct-03201-BO. I filed this case pro se back in 2010. For two years I fought the case by myself, and it took me two years to get the judge to appoint me a civil attorney (NCPLS). Upon them being appointed to my case they asked me to let them use my case to add 7 other prisoners who'd been beaten in similar situations to what happened to me. I told them to add them without any hesitation, then I signed a consent form.
My point in speaking about this is because I could of said "f*** these prisoners," and went to trial, or settled out of court, but I didn't. Why? Because I represent the struggle, and I'm all for a major change in a positive way. So to all these selfish "inmates" (not prisoners) that are only concerned with themselves — We aren't nothing alike! I do this for real, and I'm still taking bumps and bruises because I've been receiving numerous forms of retaliation from these pigs for pursuing my rights. But I'ma ride or die for the cause/struggle. I truly appreciate ya'll exposing this injustice.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Another comrade involved in this case has been keeping us abreast of the consistent progress of this lawsuit. And while the outcome is a limited reform, this letter reinforces the greater significance of this work. By working in the context of class struggle we continue to build something bigger than ourselves as individuals. We're glad this comrade found ULK and has pledged to become a contributor to our work. We're also glad to hear that he received Under Lock & Key No. 38, since every issue for over three years has been put on the statewide ban list in North Carolina. Perhaps comrades' efforts on that front are paying off as well. Despite the repression, comrades in North Carolina are working together to stop abuse.
As Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, it has been trying to create an image of safety and prosperity for the world to show that Rio de Janeiro is an optimum destination for both events and tourism. However, on closer inspection, what is going on behind the official facade tells an entirely different story; less than half a mile away from the sparkling beachfronts and hotels is one of the biggest shanty towns in South America, filled with filth and squalor, violence and death.(1)
The disparity between a growing number of thousands of impoverished citizens in Rio struggling to find adequate housing, employment, health care and other basic necessities, and the record-setting expenditure of $11 to 13 billion on the World Cup alone triggered huge protests less than a month before the soccer tournament begins. Homeless workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, formed a group of 2,000 protesters who left their immense squatter camp to demonstrate outside the stadium where the opening World Cup game will be played June 12. Similar protests occurred in Rio, Recife, and elsewhere.(2)
In Rio, violent clashes broke out between police and squatters when authorities dislodged thousands of families from a newly formed favela in a complex of abandoned commercial buildings. Poor workers and their families have increasingly moved into such structures as affordable housing is becoming a rarity and rents skyrocket, yet hundreds of abandoned buildings stand empty.(3) One member of such an occupation movement put it this way: "It is a way to force distribution of income." Rubber bullets and gas were used against the squatters. Elsewhere, police and quasi-military "pacification" squads move into poor neighborhoods and favelas ostensibly to wrest control from drug traffickers. It is an attempt to drive the lumpen organizations away from these communities and restore police authority ahead of the upcoming games. But the program is controversial and has fallen under heavy criticism for using excessive force, at times killing residents. Groups such as Amnesty International say some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil in careless and violent police actions.(4) The mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater is helping provide security training in Brazil, stoking fears that the "pacification" of the slums is akin to an Iraq-style military occupation.(5)
In addition to the increasing use of militant tactics and hardware being used to "pacify" the favelas, thousands of Federal Army troops are being deployed to occupy such areas, including Rio's sprawling Maré complex of favelas. The militias will remain until July 31, after the World Cup concludes.(5) Authorities are also now promising to "secure" the slums using an elite military police squad called BOPE, a shadowy organization of highly trained special forces whose logo is a dagger piercing a skull. Meanwhile clandestine police "body dumps" have been discovered.(1)
The Brazilian government is learning that they can only push people so far who have little to nothing left to lose, culminating in widespread uprisings against state sanctioned brutality and indifference. Military equipment, personnel and tactics are increasingly being unleashed against the residents of slums in the name of increased security for the World Cup/Olympic games, while little to no prior offer of economic or housing aid is offered to the impoverished residents. The solution for the regime in power simply seems to be more repression and violence while it spends millions on stadiums and aesthetics.
The World Cup soccer tournament, like the Olympics, is a bourgeois bread and circus distraction, minus the bread. If the organizations behind these games were at all concerned about social justice or economic equality they would refrain from awarding to nations that conduct violence and economic terrorism on the poorest of their citizens the privilege of hosting their games and subsequent benefits. But history has shown time and again that such organizations are merely bourgeois capitalist lapdogs whose only concerns are self-promotion and profits for their economic masters and investors. This was shown in the blatant corruption of the Olympic committee some years back in Utah and continues unabated to this day. There can be no justice in a world where the fetishization of an officially sponsored diversionist sport occurs at the same time the cost of a single official soccer ball could feed a starving family for a month, who are also being shot at and gassed less than a mile from where such games are to take place!
Further, such militant tactics are being carried out in the name of an official battle against dangerous drug gangs, but if we are to take such justifications seriously then one would need to ignore the fact that it is the decadent culture and corrupt "war on drugs" itself of the imperialist power to the north that is mostly responsible for creating the conditions for such traffickers to exist and thrive. Especially in light of the fact that very few economic alternatives are offered to the youth of the favelas. While the bourgeois population of the United $tates provides the largest customer base for narcotics in the world, its farcical war on drugs, which it also tries to force on other nations such as Brazil, drives the prices of drugs to ridiculous levels. It's no wonder many impoverished and disillusioned people turn to trafficking. Again, the resolution is economic equality, not militant oppression.
The brutal repression of the people in Brazil for the sake of the "security" of the World Cup needs to be exposed and opposed by all who champion the oppressed everywhere. It will only come and go leaving the poor in worse condition for the expenditure of billions on such games instead of desperately needed social/economic programs. Support the peoples struggle in Brazil!
On Monday, 19 May 2014, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional on the H-Con Unit began a hunger strike due to inhumane conditions, and finally some getting fed up with the mistreatment. It is day 4 and 8 comrades refused their breakfast this morning. Some of the demands are:
need brooms to sweep cells
need nail clippers to exercise proper hygiene
need outside recreation
need new trays, ones now are cracked, split, peeling causing us to find plastic in our food
staff need to wear hair nets/change gloves for food preparation and serving
need headphones sold separately in canteen so we don't have to buy a whole new radio
stop taking mattress and religious property as punishment for up to 3 days
special housing cells need to be cleaned daily - currently have blood, bodily fluids in them and comrades are placed in them naked on suicide watch, only given 4 sheets of toilet paper, no hygiene, forced to eat with dirty hands
need a law library
stop use of nutraloaf as punishment
stop keeping us on H-Con 18-24 months before letting us off even without getting write ups
stop using restraints as punishment
These are just some of the most important of 33 demands. I am asking other comrades to join in support and fast or to write to:
Frank L. Perry, Secretary Division of Prisons 4201 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-4201
U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC 20530
or other forms of protest that do not cause you to receive an infraction. Also, pump them fists as we got a victory in the Central Prison Unit 1 case. They have to use a hand-held camera during all use of force, specifically after the use of force or during/until you are put back in your cell and no longer in contact with corrections staff. So hear it, can I get a hell yeah from all my comrades!
On June 3 of last year a young Black man named Maynard Brumsey was killed at the Dalhart Unit in Texas due to excessive use of force. As a result of constant urging by comrades and their families calling for justice, several of the top officials were removed. It's more likely than not that they were just placed at other units in similar fashion to what the Catholics did in recent years with pedophiles within their ranks. Nor was their removal likely officially directly related to Brumsey's death. So, we are a far cry from exacting anything like justice upon the offender officers whose actions caused that man to die. Officers Hay, Verlardi, Marquez, Jackson, Crawford, and Gambriel killed this man through excessive force and in failing to take him to medical after they brutalized him, even as he complained of having trouble breathing. They need to answer for that. Those officials who failed to investigate this matter correctly and according to procedure and/or who covered this thing up need to face criminal sanctions. We don't let the Brumsey matter die until that happens.
This is the nature of our revolutionary struggle in the United States at present. What happens in prisons is just one aspect of it. We need to be vigilant in making the connections clear between prisons and hoods, especially the projects to prisons pipeline that uses public schools as a conduit. We need to understand the relationship between these phenomena and political disengagement and economic disempowerment. In clearly defining the nature of our social predicament, we are more competent in our struggles' strategic development.
Consistent and sustained vehicles of information and resource exchange are paramount. I recently received literature from MIM(Prisons) under the banner of our United Struggle from Within which outlined several procedural codes of compliance that can be used effectively against officers and administration. In our past three years of development we have reached nearly 5,000 men with our advocating for our "Triple C Core Concepts." Each of those men should have such material to fight with. So I praise MIM(Prisons) and the collective efforts of our USW comrades for that.
This movie is a must-see for any left-leaning persyn looking to kick start a revolution or join a movement for the purpose of societal change. The East is about a subversive underground movement which can best be described as a loose collection of anarchist cells focused on giving the heads of corporations that are responsible for ecological destruction a taste of their own medicine. One reference in the movie describes them as radical cells that started with Earth First! They attack big business, who they see as responsible for much of today's problems in the United $tates. Indeed, they see the principal contradiction in the United $tates as between greedy corporations that will stop at nothing to make a quick buck and the life on planet Earth that they threaten. The ideas portrayed in their propaganda videos are hard-hitting in a way that is true to the First World radical ecology movement in real life.
The potential for the radical ecology movement to be a real force for change in the First World is one reason this movie is powerful. The movie is also aesthetically pleasing on many levels (which means it's fun to watch!) and filled with political content. It has a couple big Hollywood names; none more notable than Ellen Page of Juno fame. This movie speaks mainly to the worries of today's white petty-bourgeois youth growing up in the shadows of climate change, oil spills and other mass pollution, toxic food and medicine and a consumerist society that doesn't seem to care. The characters touch on struggles with their wealth, but ultimately use their privilege to attack their enemies. They criticize Amerikans for their complacency, but see the imperialists as the ones deserving severe criticism. Similar to many radical environmental movements in the real world, there is no explicit class analysis in the movie, but The East seems potentially friendly to both a Third Worldist and a First Worldist perspective. The real positive lessons of this movie however come from its emphasis on security and organization, or lack thereof, within supposed revolutionary groups.
The East focuses on an ex-FBI agent named Jane who goes undercover for Hiller-Brood, a fictional "intelligence firm" that specializes in protecting the interests of imperialist corporations thru espionage. Jane's mission is to attempt to infiltrate The East, a so-called eco-terrorist organization that has been a thorn in the side of McCabe-Grey, a fictional corporation that specializes in producing cutting edge pharmaceuticals. Jane's assignment is to go undercover using the name Sarah, to meet and gain the trust of potential East members that Hiller-Brood has been tailing.
After a night of partying and getting to know some counter-culture types who Sarah thinks might know The East, she decides they are relatively harmless and then sneaks away in the early morning hours to pursue other potential targets, but not before snapping all their pictures and sending them back to Hiller-Brood for file building. From here on out Sarah sets out to meet some other potential targets who are older, more mysterious and hence more promising. After meeting the possible East members and train hopping with their friends, Sarah gets her first taste of pig oppression when they are forced off the train by railroad security and subsequently beaten. It is in the midst of the commotion that Sarah sees the persyn she's been following flash a badge at security - the persyn she's been following is a fed! After being left cuffed to a train Sarah makes a narrow escape from police and is rescued by one of the train-hoppers whose van she jumps into. Once inside of the van Sarah recognizes one of the symbols of The East. Convinced she is now on the right track, Sarah slices her wrist in the hopes that this guy whose van she's in will take her to The East. Her plan works, but not before he runs a quick make on her by dialing the number on her phone marked "mom."
After speaking to another Hiller-Brood agent posing as Sarah's mom, he destroys her phone, blindfolds her and takes her to a secret location in the woods; a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere. As they arrive, Sarah is introduced to "Doc" the group's resident doctor, much to the chagrin of Thumbs the group's only New Afrikan. As she is being treated Sarah discovers that Doc was once a med student. She is then drugged and put to sleep. After waking, Sarah meets Izzy, Ellen Page's character, who views Sarah with a skeptical eye. Izzy gives Sarah a straight-jacket and tells her to wear it if she wants to come down for dinner. Feeling she is now a hostage, and partly out of curiosity, Sarah reluctantly agrees to put on the jacket. Once they enter the dining room, Sarah is surprised to find the rest of the group already assembled at the table and all wearing straight jackets. At the head of the table is Benji, a bearded and eccentric looking man who reveals to Sarah that they know everything about her, her last job as a bank-teller, where she grew up, everything. All aspects of her cover identity unfortunately.
Benji then tells Sarah that she can begin eating whenever she's ready. Not knowing how to eat if she's in a straight jacket Sarah tells Benji that she's a guest and would not feel right if she started before them. To which Benji responds; "You can do what you please, but we prefer to eat after you begin." Confused and uneasy Sarah attempts to eat by slurping the soup directly from the bowl. Everyone stares at Sarah with a look of condemnation. What happens next is a "zen" moment in which everyone takes to eating by having the persyn next to them pick up the spoon with their mouth and feed them. Feeling played, Sarah storms out of the house and into the woods where Benji and company follow her and ask her to come back. Sarah responds, "For what? So you can continue to make fun of me to your followers?" Benji then explains that he doesn't have any followers. He tells her that if she'd only relied on the group, instead of selfishly trying to feed herself then she wouldn't be feeling stupid. Sarah then retorts "Why is it that self-righteousness and resistance movements always go hand in hand?" Yet it is the bourgeois and the Christians who are the most self-righteous of all, imposing their ways on others, forcing the majority to suffer for their own benefit. They criticize the masses with a false sense of superiority, while it is the job of revolutionaries to criticize the oppressor with the basic facts of their oppression. Throughout the movie, it is stressed that everything members of The East do is their own choice, and when they do do things it is organized in collective ways that challenge bourgeois individualism, such as the eating example.
Later that night Sarah is caught spying by Eve, an East member. Sarah is then forced to reveal herself to Eve, but she tells her that she is an active FBI agent, and that The East house is currently under surveillance, and that if she exposes her she'll go to jail. Eve agrees to stay quiet but flees the next day without telling anyone what she knows. The next day The East discovers that Eve has left. This throws the group's next mission into limbo. Sarah explains that she can easily fill Eve's shoes. The group takes a vote and decides to let Sarah in on the "jam" so long as her knowledge of the mission is relegated to her role. Sarah agrees.
The group's mission is to infiltrate a business party hosted by McCabe-Grey. Once inside the party their plan is to slip a supposed anti-malarial drug "Denoxin" into the drinks of some of Amerika's elites who have gathered to celebrate a contract between McCabe-Grey and the U.$. military which will make Denoxin available to Amerikan soldiers serving abroad. Denoxin's side-effects have been linked to various mental and nervous disorders as demonstrated by Doc, who took the drug after his prescription killed his sister. During the celebration the vice president of McCabe-Grey gives a speech in which she touts Denoxin as a miracle drug that will protect men and wimmin in uniform in the mission to protect Third World people from evil dictators and oppressive governments; thereby allowing them to bring "freedom and democracy" to the oppressed masses.
Sarah finds out what The East is up to and attempts to stop it, but it is too late. The East completes their mission and returns to their hideout in the woods. Back at the safe-house Sarah takes to snooping and discovers the real identities of The East members. However, her spying is cut short when they see breaking news that McCabe-Grey's vice president has begun to succumb to Denoxin's side-effects, her life in possible danger. The East panics and decides to disperse and flee back into the relative safety of the city. They all agree that should members decide to continue with the movement they should all return to the safe house in a couple weeks.
Now, back in society, undercover agent Sarah seems uncomfortable in the real world, she is no longer used to the amenities of living in a First World country. She has become accustomed to living in the woods with The East and their communal social values; she is conflicted. Though she feels troubled she returns to Hiller-Brood for debriefing. She gives up the identities of The East and expresses her concerns that another attack will occur. She pleads to have The East house raided before they disappear, but they refuse and send Sarah back for more intelligence gathering.
Sarah re-connects with The East as they are planning the next action. This time around, the mission is to get Hawkstone Energy executives (yet another fictional imperialist corporation) to admit their illegal pollution practices on camera; illegal practices that have contaminated a small town's drinking water. Benji's plan is to rationalize with the bourgeois leaders of Hawkstone into giving up their dangerous exploitation of the earth (kidnapping them and forcing them to listen), but Thumbs disagrees. Thumbs doesn't want to talk with the enemy, he wants action now. He says that these rich types don't ever respond to "intellectual bullshit, they respond to firepower!" After some heated discussion they agree to Benji's original plan where Izzy ends up dead, shot by Hawkstone security.
We cannot afford to make the focoist error of taking up armed struggle when the conditions aren't right, as the character of Thumbs attempts to do. Focoism has a long history of failure, getting good revolutionaries killed or locked up in jail. To think that armed actions will always inspire the masses towards revolutionary activity is an ultra-left and deadly, idealist mistake that has left many anti-imperialists either dead or in prison. In this sense The East has a better strategy in that they are primarily trying to stop the most powerful people from doing the damage their corporations are doing, rather than engaging in focoist actions aimed at convincing Amerikans that the corporations need to be stopped. The East may actually end up stopping some corporations, and the individuals leading them, from some of their more destructive practices. But in the end this strategy, like focoism, lacks the big picture perspective that will enable us to put an end to the environmental destruction that is inherent to capitalism. What their strategy lacks is the building of independent institutions of the oppressed that have the power to implement environmentally-friendly production methods while meeting the people's needs. While the movie shows The East building alternative culture within their collective, we must figure out how to go bigger than that to really counter the powerful corporations that are now calling the shots.
When Izzy dies, The East becomes spooked and are thrown into disarray. One member talks of abandoning the movement and Benji tries to get him to stay. Benji tells him that "a revolution is never easy, but that doesn't make it any less important," to which the deserter states, "I would betray the revolution for Izzy, that's the difference between you and me." This is an inherent weakness in petty bourgeois radical movements. When those they care about are threatened they see the comforts of petty bourgeois life as preferable to struggle. This is why the deserter is able to succumb to such individualist ways of thinking. For the proletariat, oppression is a daily reality, and death of a comrade will tend to justify further what they are doing rather than discourage. What we must fully understand however is that the success or failure of any movement does not hinge on the importance of one individual, one man, one womyn or one child; but on the stated aims of that movement and the completion of that goal, and if we stray from those principles then we are just as guilty of betraying the revolution as the deserter in the movie did.
At this point, this cell of The East splits up yet again. Back at Hiller-Brood Sarah discloses the day's events, she reports Izzy's death and claims that The East is in shambles, a perfect time to move in and arrest them all. Her advice is again ignored. She is ordered to go back. She meets with Benji, but this time pleads with him to give up the movement; partly out of her wish to prevent another attack or death, and partly because she has developed romantic feelings for him. Benji refuses and instead convinces her to take part in one last mission. She agrees because she has feelings for him and because she has now been won over to The East's cause.
On the way to the next mission Benji exposes his hand and tells Sarah that he knows she's a spy. He tells her that if she was ever down with the movement or truly had feelings for him, then she'd complete the mission and run away with him. She agrees to help. The mission is to retrieve a flash drive from the offices of Hiller-Brood that contains the names of fifty agents embedded in underground movements all across the world. Benji convinces Sarah that he only wants the list to spy on the spies; but what he really wants is to expose the agents to their organizations. She carries out the mission but when she finds out Benji's true intention she denies having stolen the flash drive. She tries to convince Benji that if they were to obtain the list it'd be better to talk the agents into giving up their careers as spies for the greater good. She argues if they only knew what they were really doing, they'd all turn just as she had. Benji refuses and they part ways. He, back to the underground, and she onto a one womyn awareness campaign.
The movie ends with clips of her talking to what appear to be other Hiller-Brood agents outside of oil refineries and power plants. The take away? Don't work outside the system in order to change it, work alongside it in order to change minds one persyn at a time.
Now let us examine this film from a Maoist perspective: "In the world today, all culture, all literature and all art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached or independent of politics." (MIM Theory 13)
This should be our attitude and guiding line when viewing or reviewing art i.e, film, literature, music, etc. Only with this attitude will we be able to see thru the bourgeoisie obfuscation of art. Furthermore; "works of literature and art, as ideological forms are products of the life of a given society." Which means that what we as a society deem to be art can only be pulled from the consciousness of society itself. Art expresses not only individual, but society's wishes, its desires, its anxieties and its perceived problems.
Now we began this review by stating that this movie was aesthetically pleasing and filled with political content. Comrade Mao taught us that the most reactionary art in class society is both high in artistic value and filled with political content. And who's political views was this movie putting forward? The bourgeoisie's of course. But even though it is a bourgeoisie product with bourgeois aims we can still learn something from it that we can apply to our own movement. Hence, we should not totally discard it.
Overall, The East is painted in a very positive light in this film, highlighting the liberatory and egalitarian aspects of the anarchist sub-culture. What we are to take away from this is Sarah benefitted and learned from that experience, but goes on to have her real impact by working among the agents of the imperialists to convince them what they are doing is wrong. The whole premise assumes that people just don't know the destruction that these corporations are doing. While the details are certainly masked from Amerikans, the information is still readily available, and a historical analysis of this country will reveal much deeper roots to reactionary politics of the Amerikan consumer nation. A more damaging storyline that would be justified by this movie, which we see time and time again in real life, is the activist who participates in radical organizing to learn and build cred and then goes on to work within the system as Sarah does when they "grow up." This movie will play well with the radical-curious, who find their life's work in NGOs, non-profits and even government agencies. The good side of this film is that it could lead people to be sympathetic to the cause of radical ecology, despite its praise of reformism. There are also some good practical lessons in this movie.
The first lesson to take away from this film is that any movement that is truly working against the interests of the imperialists will simply not be tolerated. The agents of repression are always looking to smash movements of dissent and are constantly working vigorously to infiltrate and spy on us.
Secondly, we must be cautious of who we decide to work with and who we reveal ourselves to. Simply because we meet people who seem to share our political views does not mean they are comrades and thereby privy to our organization's actions or methods of work. Within sub-cultures, having the right look and lifestyle can lead to people putting their guards down for superficial reasons. Sarah demonstrates this, and there are many real-world Sarahs whose stories have been exposed. This essentially breaks down to "better, fewer, but better." And even good comrades can be turned, which we should keep in mind as well. The bourgeoisie and their spies are highly organized and we should be too. A good way of keeping security tight within our organizations is by keeping politics in command. No one who isn't putting in work should know anything about our organizations other than what is published in the pages of Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prisons) website. Our work should always be geared along the lines of what will be the most effective and will get us the furthest fastest. As such, security within our movement shouldn't be something we study in addition to theory, but should stem directly from it.
Thirdly, we shouldn't necessarily have to like our comrades on a persynal level. Just because we like certain people or have relative unity with them on certain issues doesn't mean we recruit based on popularity. We recruit based on the correctness of one's political line and the type of work done over a period of time. When they were around, the original Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika was the vanguard of the communist movement in the North American continent exactly because they were composed of the communist elite. They didn't get to those positions overnight due to social networking, but because they put in the correct type of work over a sustained period. This is something else we should remember when building and re-building our movements. Thus, if we are serious about taking the socialist road then we must study and work assiduously to learn Marxist philosophy, scientific socialism and Marxist political economy so that we may integrate it into our work and apply the most correct political lines.
In conclusion, we must take art seriously and not cede the cultural wars to the bourgeoisie but must engage them on that level as well. For the bourgeoisie this movie was a hit due to its successful combination of aesthetics and politics. Therefore we must also seek to fuse the political with the artistic. Under Lock & Key already does this to a certain degree as the ULK writers struggle to make it the trenchant arm of the revolution. Right now however, what ULK lacks in artistic value it makes up in political worth, though there is much room for improvement.
Don't work alongside imperialism to change it one persyn at a time. Rather, work directly against it in order to smash it and revolutionize the world.
A new report from Global Witness documents over 900 assassinations of people protecting the environment and rights to land in the last decade.(1) And this is just the ones they could find information on, meaning the real number is higher. Of course, none of those killed were from the First World. The big countries in the report were Brazil (448), Honduras (109), Philippines (67), Peru (58) and Colombia (52). The killers have been prosecuted in only 6 of the 908 cases. The report also suggests that this is a growing phenomenon, which seems plausible given the heightening contradictions between the demands of capitalist production and the capacity of the natural world to maintain the balance of systems that are necessary to sustain life as we know it.
In the past, some have painted environmentalism as a concern of the First World. However, this has never really been true, as it is the most oppressed people who have suffered and struggled against the most extreme man-made disasters. And the threat that their struggles pose to the capitalists' interests is highlighted by this list of assassinations; people who were mostly killed in cold blood, a fate those in the oppressor nations know nothing about.
There is a concentration of murders in the tropical countries, where vast rain forests with some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet are making what could be their final stand. Long a source of natural resources, in recent decades these forests have been leveled at an increasing rate that cannot be sustained. In such cases there is a clear connection between protecting the ecological functioning of a region and the national liberation struggle tied to land. These "untamed" lands are often the homes of peoples who have not fully been assimilated into the global capitalist economy. Often private property and land deeds do not exist in these areas, attracting the brutality of the exploiters. The people struggling to exist on these lands have a completely different perspective on what land ownership and stewardship mean.
Many of the reports of these assassinations can be discouraging, when we see vocal leaders of small indigenous groups gunned down by paid assassins of the capitalists and no one is held accountable. But this war does have two sides. In many of the hotspots in this report there are strong organizations that have mobilized indigenous people to defend their lands. One of those examples has made some headlines recently in the Philippines. The revolutionary forces in the Philippines have called for a ban on logging because it has impoverished the indigenous people and peasantry, making them susceptible to environmental disasters as we saw last November with typhoon Yolanda. The New People's Army (NPA) is exerting dual power in putting this ban into effect by engaging in gun battles and arresting members of the military of the U.$. puppet regime that defend the logging companies.(2) In a separate campaign the NPA recently stormed Apex Mining Company, torching their equipment.(3) This is one of many mining companies they have targeted due to the destruction they wreak on indigenous lands and humyn health. This connection between the struggles of the indigenous people and peasantry, the environment and land is nothing new for the Communist Party of the Philippines as was documented in the decades old film Green Guerrillas.
While most pronounced in the Third World, ecological destruction threatens all humyn life and continues to be a growing rallying point for progressive forces in the First World as well. Maoists must tie this work to a realistic class analysis and link the struggle to protect our environment to the struggle for national liberation of the oppressed. A true revolutionary ecology must engage the workings of a system that has assassinated well over 900 innocent people for trying to protect the world that we all live in.