Under Lock & Key Issue 40 - September 2014

Under Lock & Key

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[Mental Health] [Gender] [Abuse] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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Defining Rape

I have initiated a lawsuit alleging that Officer Mary Brockett at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac) subjected me to sexual harassment. This occurred in the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) which is part of the mental "health" services in the California Deparment of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). When I reported Brockett's predatory acts to other top ranking prison officials, they did not believe me because I'm Black, and Brockett is a white amerikan. They also did not understand why a prisoner would file a staff sexual misconduct complaint against an officer. As a direct result of Brockett's sexual misconduct against me she was terminated, but CDCR top ranking officials refused to have her arrested and identified as a sexual offender.

I requested an Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation against Brockett for her predatory behavior towards me. In December 2003, I was interviewed by Special Agent Jill Chapman of OIA, and I agreed to assist her with an investigation against Brockett in order to prove my sexual harassment allegations. During said investigation, the OIA dropped the ball, and OIA agents allowed Brockett to sexually assault me four times after the start of the investigation.

On 15 January 2014, Judge Hunley of the United States District Court, ruled that officer Brockett's conduct violated clearly established law of which Brockett should have been aware. The court found that Brockett is not entitled to qualified immunity on my Eighth Amendment sexual misconduct claim.

My investigation has revealed that many other prisoners who reported rape and other forms of sexual assaults by CDCR personnel are sent to SHU as a form of retaliation and/or intimidation. My defense team and I have been able to identify many other cases of corrections, medical and mental health staff sexually abusing the mentally ill prisoners, plus many coverups by supervisors, at several California state prisons.

I had to hire a private investigator to assist me in light of the fact that going to ranking officials kept getting me put in lock-up units. Instead of charging Brockett with sexual assaults, the CDCR prison officials in Sacramento allowed me to be subjected to a series of retaliatory transfers attempting to intimidate me. On 8 September 2009, prison officials were informed about my lawsuit and that same day I was placed in administrative segregation (ASU) on false allegations of fighting. In December 2009 I was ordered placed in ASU pending a false prison gang validation. Retaliatory transfers are a violation of CDCR policy.

The evidence will show that correctional and medical and mental health staff sexual harassment and sexual assaults were not isolated incidents within CDCR's EOP. I would ask you to help me and my defense team to spread the word. Other victims are out there. My purpose of the lawsuit is to shed light on sexual abuse against the mentally ill in California, including torturing tactics through criminal activities and criminal organized crime within CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: People usually conceptualize patriarchy as those biologically categorized as male oppressing those biologically categorized as female. But sexual assault of bio-male prisoners by bio-female guards is an example of how gender oppression is not necessarily linked to one's biological sex category. In the first issue of Under Lock & Key we wrote about prison rape, and using the best statistics available, we suggested that Black bio-men might be gendered female in the United $tates, largely due to imprisonment rates and the sexual abuse that comes with imprisonment. The abusing bio-female guards are certainly gendered male, and are part of what we call the gender aristocracy.(1) Amerikan (and especially white) bio-wimmin enjoy benefits in leisure time based on their national ties to white bio-men, based on a long history of lynchings, suffrage, and Third World oppression.(2)

Fighting sexual abuse through the courts can be difficult for anyone, and especially for prisoners. As this correspondent writes, white Brockett was not even charged for the sexual assault. When sexual assault cases do go to court, the judge/jury, like much of U.$. society, get hung up on the debate of whether the sex was "really rape," a subjective measure of whether the victim gave consent to the sexual activity or not. Prisoners are assumed by the courts and society to have a low moral standing, and this subjectivity bleeds into the judgement of whether they were "really raped," and whether they should be protected even if they are considered to have been raped. People have debated for decades about where to draw the line with consent, and this debate has recently resurfaced in First World Maoist circles.(3)

When deciding whether a sexual encounter was a rape, a tendency is to focus on whether the victim of sexual assault verbally said they did or did not want to have the sexual encounter, what words they used, in what tone, how many times they said it, if they were intoxicated, how intoxicated, their sexual history, what they were wearing, etc. Others even draw the line where "Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(3) But all these criteria are based on subjective social standards at the time. Many people don't start calling a sexual incident a rape until months or even years afterward, because they have since learned more about sexuality and social norms, or the social norms have changed. The courts change their definition of rape depending on public opinion as well. When mini skirts were racy, it was considered by many an invitation for sex. Now that mini skirts are normalized as pants in our society, almost no one would make this argument. Social norms and subjective feelings are untrustworthy as measures of gender oppression. They focus too much on individuals' actions and feelings, ignoring the relationship between the group and the individual.

Rather than falling into this subjectivist trap, MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy is rape. Among the general public, living in a highly sexualized culture with a long history of material consequences for granting and withholding access to one's sexuality, no "yes" can be granted independent of group relationships. This is especially true for a captive population; saying "yes" to sex as a trade for privileges, or to a guard who quite literally has your life in their hands, cannot be consensual, even if everyone involved "liked" it or "wanted" it. Power play is very tied up in leisure time to the point that a coercive sex act can feel pleasurable to all involved. Granting consent in a society with gender oppression is a moot point. People always behave in a way that is determined by group relationships, and this is no different for the gender oppressed under patriarchy.

While Liberals are concerned with how we define rapists so that we can lock them up and ostracize them, we look at the systematic problem rather than essentializing individuals. We don't adhere to the bourgeois standard of criminality for theft, so why would we follow their standard for rape? Instead we want to build a socialist society that allows jobs for everyone, separate from the sex industry. We would then ban all sex for profit, all pornography for profit, and all sex trafficking. We wouldn't criminalize sex slaves or people choosing to have sex for their own subjective pleasure, but we would criminalize anyone making a profit off of sex work, especially the multi-billion dollar porn and abduction rackets. Low-level pimps and "self-employed" sex workers would at least need to go through self-criticism and reeducation and take a cold, hard look at how their activities are impacting others. Anyone who wanted to leave these anti-people industries would have other viable options, something we can't say for the vast majority of sex workers in the world today who were either kidnapped, or subject to manifestations of national oppression such as homelessness and drug addiction.

As with any form of oppression under imperialism, we encourage people to use the courts when we think we can win material advantages, set a useful precendent for other cases, or make a political point to mobilize the masses. But kicking Brockett out of the facility will just replace her with another gender oppressing officer. Ultimately we need to change the economic conditions that underly the coercive gender relations in our society and attack the system of patriarchy itself.

Notes:
1. For more on gender get ULK 1, ULK 6, and MIM Theory 2/3.
2. In contrast to the strand of class oppression which is based in work relations, the strand of gender oppression is based outside of work, or in what we call "leisure time." To speak of prison as "leisure" can sound odd because it's certainly not a day at the beach, but the point is that it is not labor time, and not based in class. See "Clarity on what gender is" 1998 MIM Congress Resolution.
3. Comments on "All Sex is Rape". 20 July 2014, LLCO.org. Write to us for a more in depth critique of this piece.

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[Gender] [Political Repression] [New York] [ULK Issue 40]
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PREA National Standards: Symbol or Sword?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into law in 2003.(1) National prison and jail standards were enacted in 2012, nearly a decade after passage of PREA, and inexplicably late for the U.S. prison system which is long plagued by a sexual violence crisis.(2) PREA national standards carve a benchmark for prison administrators to prevent, detect and respond to prison sexual violence (PSV). Most significant are sweeping changes affecting documentation, accountability, confidentiality, post-sexual-assault medical care, testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and mental health counseling for PSV survivors.(3)

The PREA audits began in August 2013, and are supposed to occur at every youth and adult, state and private prison, jail, and holding facility every three years, with punitive forfeiture of federal funding at stake for lack of compliance. With 50% of documented PSV perpetrated by staff, prison administrators face greater liability through the transparency now mandated by PREA.(4)

One in ten prisoners are sexually abused, which is more than 200,000 youth and adults in prisons, jails and juvenile detention each year.(5, 6) Many are left to march the road to recovery, while coping with HIV, other STIs, mental trauma — the morbid souvenirs of rape.(7)

With PREA, the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) started promoting "zero tolerance" propaganda. I felt (foolishly) that we were on the same side for once. I formed and launched a non-profit project with the goal to support, educate and advocate for PSV survivors, and those at risk. I especially focused on LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Queer, Intersex) prisoners who are at 10-13 times higher risk to be victim of PSV, according to Department of Justice statistics. Not thinking I was doing anything "disallowed," I conducted this openly with no attempts to hide my activities.

However, DOCS took a radically different view, and launched an Inspector General Office investigation, forcing me (under duress) to cease and desist further activity with the project. But unable or unwilling to issue writeups on this issue, they instead launched a salvo of "unrelated" administrative charges, resulting in 18 months of keeplock (isolation). They also transferred me multiple times. I'm now serving 5 months keeplock time, which I'd already served at the last jail.

All this has only served to strengthen my commitment and resolve. Our efforts, in concert with NY ACLU, have yielded a settlement with DOCS to reduce the use of SHU/long-term isolation, with caps on sentences and exempting non-violent/safety-related offenses. It's a start but I'd have preferred a court ruling to this "voluntary" settlement, which the state can renege on.

PREA mandates the first round of audits as of August 2014, with statistics to be published online. This increased transparency is progress. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are little more than an ideal or paper unless we facilitate their power through litigation, demanding compliance with these standards. PREA can be just a stack of papers and "feel good" hot wind, signifying nothing. Or it can be a keen sword to excise the cancers of prison sexual violence and prison staff corruption and negligence. The burden falls to us to proactively safeguard our interests, and our futures. Fight to Win!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We regularly receive reports of sexual assault from prisoners across the country. In September 2013, one year after the PREA standards were finalized, Prison Legal News published an article detailing incidents of PSV all across the country. This article underscores the futility of federal laws to actually protect people in custody of an oppressive state.

The 2013-2014 PREA Resource Center (PRC) report was just released this week. It contains no statistics on the efficacy of the project, but does contain a lot of fluff about the trainings and webinars that the PRC has been hosting.

It is a step in the right direction that this comrade, with the help of NY ACLU, was able to place some restriction on the use of isolation to protect prisoners from rape. The use of isolation has been reported by the American Friends Service Committee to have an even worse affect on the victims of prison rape, causing negative psychological effects due to isolation, and making the prisoner even more vulnerable to abuse by prison staff.(8)

While we can and should make use of laws to stop prison staff sexual violence when possible, we call on prisoners to step up and put an end to sexual violence among themselves using their own inherent power as humyn beings. The issue of prison rape is one that activists must tackle head on, as it impacts our ability to build unity behind prison walls, and is indicative of a wrongheaded line on gender oppression overall. Take an example from Men Against Sexism (MAS), an organization in Washington State Prison in the 1970s. MAS pushed men to treat each other with respect, opposed all prison rape even of very unpopular prisoners, and defended weaker prisoners against attacks by stronger ones.(9)

Gender oppression is a product of our patriarchal society, and neither federal laws nor prison organizations will put an end to all gender oppression in prison on their own. This gender oppression is another tool used to control oppressed nationalities, and won't be done away with until we overthrow the systems that require the oppression of entire groups of people — imperialism and capitalism. Only through revolution can we start to build a society where gender oppression, like class and national oppression, are torn down in our culture, economics, and all levels of social relations. For a basic study of gender under imperialism, we recommend the magazine MIM Theory 2/3, which we distribute for $5 or equivalent work trade. And see the 1998 MIM Congress resolution "Clarity on what gender is" for a more theoretical discussion on the origins of patriarchy and its structure today.


Notes:
1. PREA: P.L. 108-79, 42 U.S. C - 15601
2. Prison and jail standards 28 CFR, part 115 (May 17, 2012)
3. Sexually transmitted infections: including HIV, Hep B/C, Syphillis, Gonorrea, Chlamidia, Trichomoniasis, HSV-2, HPV.
4. Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Sexual victimization reported by former state prisoners" (May 2012)
5. U.S. Department of Justice (May 17, 2012)
6. U.S. department of Justice (February 3, 2011)
7. Post traumatic stress disorder / rape trauma syndrome, DSM Vol V 2013 American Psychiatric Assoc.
General source material: just detention intl., national center for transgender equality, center for disease control.
8. American Friends Service Committee, "Survivors Manual: Survival in Solitary" June 2012, p. 32. 89 Market Street, 6th Floor, Newark, NJ 07102.
9. PTT of MIM(Prisons), "Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism" from ULK 29.

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[Ukraine] [U.S. Imperialism] [Middle East] [Russia] [ULK Issue 40]
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Amerikans Cheer as U.$. Militarism Threatens Amerikan Lives

Warmongering propaganda is at high levels in the United $tates, as it seems no positive lessons were taken from September 11, 2001. It took about a decade for Amerikans to lose interest in the U.$. occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This contributed to almost two-thirds of Amerikans opposing Obama's push to invade Syria less than a year ago. Yet already, about two-thirds of the population now agrees with Obama that they would rather control the government in Syria than keep Amerikan journalists' heads attached to their bodies.

Militarism is driven by an economic system that is built around arms production and requires war to keep up demand. Arms shipments have increased recently to I$rael, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where the U.$. has resumed bombing campaigns that are destroying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment now in the hands of the Islamic State. Every strike made by either side in that war is a boon to Amerikan business.

Meanwhile, Russia has been clear that they will not let Ukraine join NATO. The United $tates and Russia are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world. Yet Obama is pushing to have Ukraine join NATO, and Amerikan anti-Russian sentiment is on the rise in support of him. Open conflict with Russia would greatly increase the already unacceptable risk of nuclear catostrophe due to militarism.

The last 15 years have proven that U.$. militarism cannot be stopped by the Amerikan anti-war movement. Rather, revolutionaries in the United $tates must focus on pushing the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies in solidarity with the Third World. Campaigns like the one in support of Palestine by California prisoners are good for building anti-militarism in the United $tates.

Currently the media and Western politicians are promoting the line that the Islamic State is the biggest threat to peace globally. They are way off the mark. That role has long remained in the hands of the United $tates and its military industrial complex.

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[Gender] [MIM(Prisons)] [ULK Issue 40]
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Activism vs. Romance: Why MIM(Prisons) Does Not Offer Dating Services

MIM(Prisons) gets a number of requests from male prisoners to hook them up with female comrades. They are looking for romance or just "female companionship." Sometimes this request comes from an activist behind bars, looking to build a romantic relationship with someone who is also an activist.

MIM(Prisons) focuses all of our energy and funds on revolutionary education and organizing, but we understand that people have social needs and desires. Here we will address why we don't offer dating or pen pal services and why activists should think carefully about what they are really looking for.

We believe that humyns are social beings who need interactions with other humyns in order to be mentally healthy. That is why we say control units are torture. And in our culture, gendered relations can make it difficult for men to provide emotional support to each other, especially in the hyper-masculine prison environment. So seeking out female companionship is one way to deal with alienation of imprisonment and especially isolation.

Many people find their motivation in such relationships. All you have to do is turn on the radio to know that, even if today's culture has essentialized it to down to body parts and sex acts. But it may be helpful to separate those two things out. There is the patriarchal culture that has trained us to desire certain things, and to be validated by certain things. Then there is some genuine aspect of the humyn brain that craves social interaction.

There is a contradiction with being both distracted and inspired when you are in a relationship. Often when they are in it people can justify it in all sorts of ways, because it becomes the most important thing. Yet, we've also seen people who experience some difficulty that turns them off to romance and as a result they put their nose to the grindstone and pick up their work load. In fact, there are studies in the pop science news claiming that being in a depressed state is better for creativity and concentration. So consider how you can turn your state of loneliness to your advantage and not end up wallowing in it.

We don't hook up our subscribers with conscious sisters for political and security reasons. But even if we wanted to, how would we? Dating is hard. Finding people to date is hard. Doing so from prison has to be a hundred times harder. As cadre, when we look at our political lives and our bourgeois lives, we take a budgeting approach. Everything that isn't political is taking time away from the political. And so you need to parse out what it is you NEED to do to sustain yourself so that you can continue to do political work. Anything else is taking time away from the struggle, away from the people. And that's on you.

When people get into relationships they often disappear. Not just from politics, but from life in general, friends, etc. For the petty bourgeoisie it's probably the top thing to take people away from politics. For the lumpen it's big as well. If we tell people to just give it up and get over it, they'll say we're crazy and don't understand humyns. But for cadre level people this should be something we can evaluate. We should be able to look at our own lives, look at the society that shapes our lives, see what we've been taught and what we know we need, and work towards a lifestyle that best supports our work.

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[Gender] [Sing Sing Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 40]
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New York Offers Rape Crisis Line in Prison

I'm enclosing a pamphlet recently circulated here titled "Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse in Prison." The official policies in New York are actually pretty good and some staff are supportive. Sing Sing has openly gay and lesbian corrections officers (COs), a high percentage of young and/or female officers, and at least one transgender officer. Far from ideal, but good enough to suggest there's hope for the rest of the country and struggles in this area will be successful!

Please note the #77 speed dial feature described in the pamphlet [a speed dial to the Rape Crisis Program that does not need to be on the approved telephone list and calls are not monitored.] This is an innovative idea that could well be advocated elsewhere. I've heard one positive comment from a user, and the speed dial does work well on a technical level. But why not a #66 to report beat downs, or #55 for corruption, or #1 to report injustice or ask for legal help?


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for a hotline to report other abuses within prisons. Any opportunity for prisoners to report abuse outside of the prison structure is a welcome addition to the criminal injustice system that denies prisoners a voice to speak out against abuse. But we do not yet have any evidence that prisoners speed dialing a rape crisis program will result in any help or attention to the problem beyond supportive counseling after the attack happens. If this is just offering the prisoner an anonymous opportunity to talk after a rape, the problem will continue. In a system that has demonstrated its ability to dismiss or sweep under the rug any complaints or accusations by prisoners, we doubt this new hotline will be any different.

As for the existence of gay, lesbian and transgender COs, we see this the same as having New Afrikan COs. Those who have joined the criminal injustice system will be forced to conform to the rules or they will be out of a job. And so we can now expect to see these new COs abusing prisoners just like their straight counterparts. There are many male COs who do not identify as gay, but who are part of the rape of male prisoners. In all situations, the COs are in a position of power in a system that is set up to denigrate and abuse the men and women it holds. Rather than fight for COs of a different sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality we need to fight for an end to a system of brutality that condones rape.

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
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Fighting Gender Oppression in Prison

In prisons, men are housed separately from wimmin, but gender oppression is still a very big issue behind bars. From sexual assaults on prisoners by guards and other prisoners, to the abuse of gay and trans people, gender oppression perpetuates disunity and furthers the social control of the criminal injustice system. In this issue of Under Lock & Key we have articles about rape and sexual assault in prison, the use of sexual orientation to divide prisoners, denial of health care, and several attempts to challenge and fight gender oppression behind bars.

Defining Gender

Our readers should be familiar with the concepts of class and national oppression. Class is clearly related to work and ownership of the means of production. Those who are owners have the power to exploit those who are not. National oppression is also clearly visible with nations which have resources and militaries using those to steal from and control nations which don't.

We distinguish gender from class and nation because it is defined by leisure-time activity. Men (the group with power in the gender oppression dynamic) oppress wimmin through rape, sexual harassment, and a social structure that portrays wimmin as valued for their looks, not for their skills or knowledge. Gender is not so clear cut as "men against wimmin" though. We have an Amerikan history of lynching Black men accused of raping white wimmin, giving white wimmin significant gender power over Black men. The use of humyn bodies in the Third World for drug testing by pharmaceutical companies gives First World men and wimmin benefits from gender oppression. And overall health status and physical ability is tied up with gender privilege; professional athletes and models are both enjoying gender privilege while those with physical and mental disabilities are often times forced into homelessness or imprisonment.

Gender in Prison

In prison we see clearly that gender privilege is not just about biological definitions of male and female. Prisoners face rape and sexual harassment by both prison staff and other prisoners. According to the Department of Justice itself, 50% of sexual assault against prisoners is by staff (See the article "PREA National Standards: Symbol or Sword?"). Prisoners are vulnerable because of their powerlessness against abuse from employees, their lack of recourse to stop abuse from other prisoners, and also because of their lack of access to adequate health care. These vulnerabilities have an even bigger impact on prisoners who are gay or trans, those with physical disabilities or health problems, youth (especially those in adult facilities), and any prisoners who are perceived as weak.

Trans Oppression in Prison

A New York prisoner wrote to MIM(Prisons) recently:

"I'm a transgender woman. I'm writing this because I'm different from the regular male prisoners. I am 200% aware of the oppression that's being done to the heterosexual prisoner population. I've been raped, beaten, and starved. The main reason I've been oppressed is due to my sexual orientation. An LGBTQ individual has it bad [in prison]."

Trans people face gender oppression for their perceived sex role non-conformity, based on physical health status and needs, and for trans wimmin there is the added oppression for being female. As with other gender oppression, this interacts with class and nation, leaving Third World trans people to face the most severe oppression, while some First World trans people end up integrating well with their imperialist culture and enjoying its benefits. Trans prisoners are unique in the First World because the condition of imprisonment puts them in a situation that denies them class or nation privilege, resulting in increased danger specific to their gender oppression.

The root of violence against trans people lies in the strict enforcement of the gender system. People who are visibly trans, especially trans wimmin, are often singled out for social or physical violence. Trans people are automatically regarded as non-heterosexual, and violence against them often includes elements of homophobia. These factors can conspire with national oppression and class to produce disastrous and murderous results.

Trans people have a number of specific health needs, primarily hormones and surgery, but are commonly denied access to even routine healthcare.(1) An unemployment rate double the average(2) often leaves trans people without insurance; but for those who do have it, trans-specific coverage is often categorically denied, and aging medical standards allow doctors to restrict treatment to only those who conform to rigid standards of masculinity or femininity. The result of all this can be lethal. Approximately 41% of trans people have attempted suicide,(3) and trans wimmin are 49 times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population.(4)

Lack of healthcare is even more acute within prison, with hormones normally denied even to those receiving them before incarceration, and surgery completely out of the question. 21% of trans wimmin have been imprisoned (rising to over 50% for New Afrikan trans wimmin)(5) and for them, correct identity documents can mean life or death. Trans wimmin who are regarded as "legally male" by the state get sent to men's prisons. This leaves them much more likely than other prisoners to be victims of sexual assault, rape, and murder,(6) and has a number of other consequences like the assignment of cross-gender guards for strip searches, and incorrect clothing provisions.(7)

Unity is Key to Fighting Gender Oppression

Gender oppression is an integral part of imperialism, and we can't expect to eliminate it without overthrowing imperialism. Ultimately we fight for communism, a system where no group of people oppresses any other group of people (classes, nations or genders). But we can have an impact on some forms of this oppression now, including sexual violence and harassment, through a united struggle behind bars. We call on all prisoners to put an end to gender oppression between prisoners. We need to stand together and say no to prisoner-on-prisoner sexual assault, and no to harassment. Unite and stand up to defend those who can not defend themselves. If you do not face this oppression, it is your job to stand with your comrades who do, and ensure your fellow prisoners do not turn around and act as gender oppressors. Straight prisoners need to understand that gay and trans prisoners are comrades, not enemies. Don't let the prison divide us along gender lines.

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[Control Units] [Montana State Prison] [Montana] [ULK Issue 40]
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Montana Shuts Down SHU, Reopens Under a New Name

The Montana prison suppression machine has pulled the wool over the eyes of several prisoner advocacy groups by pretending to disband their security housing unit (SHU) program. It's not actually gone, it's just been given a shiny new title. It's now known as LH1 - AdSeg and LHII - Max population or step down program.

The SHU program started in Montana State Prison (MSP) in approximately 2004-2005, designed to hold validated gang members or violent prisoners deemed security threats. Unfortunately in Montana the only requirement for validation is to associate with suspicious prisoners or interact with known gang members. No activity is required to validate you. Anyone who disagrees with a corrections officer, files grievances, or otherwise remotely questions the capitalist authority is deemed a security risk.

MSP's favorite use of control units is for a growing number of mentally ill prisoners. MSP has no resources to house these prisoners separately so they use long term isolation, trying to induce forced sumission over them.

The LHII step down program is creating jobs for high risk prisoners who would normally never have the opportunity to earn a few dollars, but at the cost of long term isolation for most prisoners who are only here because they questioned policy, filed grievances, refused a pig's order, or are scared by prison life. This does not make for a prisoner who will fare well once turned back to population or society.

So MSP has once again fixed nothing, but it might have fooled a few people with the name change. We must expose the new system for what it is: a renaming of the same long term isolation.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We need prisoners to help us keep our statistics on control units across the country up to date. We estimate over 100,000 long term isolation units exist in the United $tates, but this data is incomplete for many states. If you know about a control unit in your state, write to us for a control unit survey so that you can help us collect this data on torture in Amerikan prisons.

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[Middle East] [ULK Issue 40]
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The Inspiration Behind the Palestine Petition

Like many other people in here, as I was watching the situation in Gaza steadily worsen, so did my anger. One day I was nose-deep in a Che Guevara book with my TV on CNN in the background when breaking news of live footage of Israeli bombs targeting civilians came in. After a few minutes of cursing the United Nations, I$rael and the United $tates, I calmed down feeling somewhat demoralized at the fact that there was nothing I could do. Defeated, I sat back down and tried to temporarily put out of my head what I had just seen.

I dove back into the Che book when I immediately got my orders from "the commandante" himself, or his ex-wife rather. There is a chapter in the book about Che's time in Guatemala during his formative years and his work with the Arbenz government when the U.$.-backed coup took place and the country was in chaos. Revolutionaries and other activists were in the process of fleeing the country and hiding in various Latin American embassies. Che and his soon-to-be wife were among the last to seek shelter from the political repression, instead opting to continue their work in semi-underground fashion. Che's partner Hilda Gadea was in a somewhat tight bind at the time where her actions and movements were both limited and scrutinized by the new government. She was not able to do everything she wanted to do but she was at least able to start a petition denouncing the coup. Upon reading this I had something of a eureka moment and knew what I had to do, or what I could do.

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Fighting Deadly Texas Heat Through the Legal System

Between the years 2007 and 2011, 13 prisoners died from the heat in Texas prisons. Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in a Galveston Federal Court accusing Texas prison officials of negligence in the deaths.

Scott Medock, an attorney for the Austin based Texas Civil Rights Project, which filed the suits with Austin attorney Jeff Edwards, called some east Texas prisons "death traps."

The Constitution does not require prisons to be maintained at a comfortable temperature. However, if there is extreme heat or cold, prisoners' Constitutional rights are affected. Extreme heat can violate the Constitution. Refer to: Brock v. Warren county 713 F. Supp 238 (E.D. Tenn. 1989) - Maddison County Jail Inmates v. Thompson 773 F. 2d 834, 838-39 (7th cir. 1985) - Hamilton v. Love 328 F. Supp 1182, 1190 (E.D. Ark. 1971).

Prisoners with heat restrictions are in "grave danger" of serious injury and possible death. To win a Section 1983 lawsuit you must show that staff officials acted with "deliberate indifference" to your health risk. "Deliberate indifference" exists when an official knows about a serious danger to a prisoner and yet is "indifferent" (unconcerned, uncaring) to that danger. You can use the fact that the conditions were "longstanding, pervasive, well-documented, and/or expressly noted" by officials in the past to prove indifference. It is enough that the official acted or failed to act despite his/her knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm. There are several kinds of circumstantial evidence that you can use to prove an official's deliberate indifference. These include copies of grievances and appeals, copies of informal notes and letters (I-60s) that you wrote to officials, and you can explain in a declaration exactly when and how you told officials about risk in prison.

As a general rule, officials may not refuse to respond to a substantial risk of serious harm on the grounds that it would be too expensive to fix it. Cost is not a defense to Constitutional liability.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.$. Constitution, among other things, protects convicted prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment. The conditions of confinement must not involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain, nor may they be grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime warranting imprisonment (Rhodes v. Chapman 452 US. 337, 347, 69 L.Ed. 2d 59, 101 S. Ct 2392 (1981).) Whether conditions of confinement are cruel and unusual must be determined from the contemporary standards of civilized decency that currently prevail in society. At a minimum, the Constitution requires the state to provide minimally adequate living space that includes reasonably adequate ventilation, sanitation, bedding, hygienic materials and utilities (Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F. Supp 1052, 1122 (M.D. Tenn. 1981).) Constitutionally adequate housing is not denied simply by uncomfortable temperatures inside cells, "unless it is shown that the situation endangers inmates health" (Smith v. Sullivan, 553 F. 2d 373, 381 (5th Cir 1977).) TDCJ may be held liable under Section 1983 if deprivation of prisoners' Constitutional rights were the result of "custom" or "policy" (Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 463 US 658, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978)).

Texas prison conditions do not meet Constitutional standards!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this caselaw for prisoners to use in filing grievances against the dangerous heat conditions in Texas. We have received many reports on the battle against this health risk. Get involved in this fight, file grievances, document the situation, and write to us for the Texas grievance guide.

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[Abuse] [Boyd Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Texas Prisoner Dies After Pleas for Help are Ignored

On 20 June 2014 from 7pm to 9:30pm, 65-year-old Juan Nave pleaded with CO Justin Jernigan for cold water, for medical staff, and to be let out his cell to get some cool air from the dayroom fans because he didn't have a fan in his cell and it was about 100 degrees in our cells. My cell is nearby so I listened as Mr. Nave told to the unconcerned Officer Jernigan he was really ill and needed medical attention. I also attempted to request water and to be let out of my dangerously heated cell for a little cool down time, and CO Jernigan said, "I'm hot too, handle it like me," and he walked away with no consideration for our health or life. Around 9:30pm was the last time I heard Mr. Nave beg Officer Jernigan for help only to be ignored again. At 10pm Jernigan went home and CO Brake took his place. It wasn't until CO Brake was doing a bed count around 1:30am that he discovered Juan Nave was dead.

Both Wardens, the Major and Captain were there within 30 minutes. They called their own medical examiner to rule the death a heart attack, but I knew it was heat that caused Mr. Nave's death. I asked the shift supervisor Lt. Ruth if they were going to get statements from us witnessing prisoners. Lt. Ruth said they would a little later, but no one questioned me or other witnessing prisoners. I filed a grievance but it was denied per grievance policy, "no inmate can file complaint for or about another inmate." About 3 to 4 days after Mr. Nave's death, CO Jernigan worked on the same wing, with a very arrogant and flamboyant attitude. When I mentioned Mr. Nave's death to Jernigan he said, "it was not my fault, he had a heart attack," and walked away.

This time I filed my grievance against Jernigan failing to let me have water and call a supervisor when I informed him I was overheated. That upset Jernigan, and he retaliated by ransacking my cell, taking things he had to give back. I filed another complaint mentioning CO Jernigan killing Mr. Nave and trying to kill me in retaliation for me filing these grievance complaints. A few weeks later Sgt. Thomas informed me Justin Jernigan was removed from the unit work schedule. But that won't bring Juan Nave back to life or relieve his suffering the day of his death. This is why I need all the firepower I can get with all the grievance support that's available.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This fight against the dangerous heat in Texas prisons is literally a battle of life and death, as demonstrated by this article and others we have received from across the state. This is a good opportunity to push the Texas grievance campaign and demand grievances be heard. The rule that a grievance can be denied because a dead prisoner is unable to file his/her own grievance is just one more ludicrous reason used by TDCJ to reject our valid complaints against mistreatment. Write to us to request a copy of the Texas grievance guide.

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[Police Brutality] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 40]
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Fighting Police Murders in Ferguson and Beyond

The recent murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, and subsequent violence in Ferguson, Missouri highlights how far of a divide there is between the police and the citizenry. Racial bias, disparity, the militarization of police and the growing anger of misconduct has opened or reopened wounds from the Trayvon Martin killing and other police executions in the last few years.

For many of us this is a cry that we should have been making against this police treatment long ago. While the media and all of its minions have been paying lip service to the murder of a young man, and the various "activists" have been attempting to bring attention to militarization of police and prison racial disparities, when this is all said and done, we will have nothing that has been accomplished.

Racism is a tool used by the system to distract people from its root problems. We should all be concerned about 1) the justification for murder by police which is embraced so gratefully by many, and 2) how those who don't live in communities where police brutality is common apologize for the wrong-doers and demonize those who are under injustice.

The killing of an 18-year-old happened. He was unarmed and killed in cold blood by a cop who was supposed to be protecting and serving.

How can anyone call for peace when so many young children have been murdered by police? He came from a lumpen community who now all share in the call for justice. No more police murders.

Cops are killing our kids, what are we going to do to get justice if another killer walks?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer makes an important point about racism as a tool used by the imperialist system. Racism is an attitude, and the root problem is national oppression. Michael Brown was a victim of national oppression, a system in the United $tates which puts the white nation in a position of power and wealth while the New Afrikan, [email protected] and First Nations as groups receive vastly inferior education, public services, and income. And the public perception of oppressed nations is a result of centuries of "education" so that police and regular citizens believe that Black youth are inherently dangerous.

We must demand justice, but not just for Michael Brown. One killer cop being prosecuted will not change the system of national oppression. We can't use the criminal injustice system to defeat national oppression. Only by fighting imperialism, the very system that perpetuates national oppression both at home and around the world, do we have a real chance of ending police murders.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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Fighting Sexual Abuse Leads to Reprisals in California

Several of us prisoners filed a grievance on sexual misconduct against us by a correctional officer. The investigators here did not take this complaint seriously or investigate thoroughly, and even told me maybe the officer was joking around. They then intimidated most to drop out of the complaint. Now there are only two of us who refuse to be intimidated and give up, but we have faced much reprisals. Both of us have been removed from our jobs and many officers here stop and search me almost every day. I have been discriminated against and called racial names by several officers.

I continue to file complaints on many staff here but it seems to do no good. When I go the wrong route and disrespect them back, I get written up and disciplined. There is much corruption at California Medical Facility and most prisoners are afraid to do anything because they do not want to lose their jobs and property, and have their cells searched and tossed up.

I complained all the way up the ladder and they all do nothing to rectify the situation. The supervisors think their officers can do no wrong.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Enclosed with this letter was a copy of the author's first, second and third level appeals regarding employee sexual misconduct:

"I've been working in kitchen for over 3 years. I have not had any major issues. Until CO Liggett took over as culinary supervisor. He continuously makes sexual remarks, like you going to suck me off, and he rubs. You can interview all inmates in kitchen/dining halls and I'm sure most will agree with these allegations."

"I believe the ISU and COs here are not taking this seriously. Myself and another inmate [X] have been retaliated against for filing this and other 602s [grievances]. We have had our work cards confiscated and are not allowed to work. I believe the right thing to do is to remove CO Liggett from his supervisor position."

The matter was referred to Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) for an investigation. The third level decision denied the appeal, but mentions the OIA inquiry which is still pending on the outcome of the investigation.

Finally, after the third level appeal decision, the author wrote a letter to the Warden requesting his intervention. The Warden responded "A review of your appeal record indicates no staff complaints have been submitted regarding your situation, and this matter should be handled through the appeals process."

This response appears to be a form letter, completely dismissing a very serious issue without any real investigation. We have seen copies of the appeals from the prisoner and the appeals decision from the prison, so this suggestion that the Warden's claim that no staff complaints have been submitted is just ridiculous. The Warden could not have missed this extensive paper trail if he had actually looked at the record.

This blatant disregard for sexual harassment and abuse of prisoners comes as no surprise in a society where sexual assault in prison is seen as a legitimate punishment and something to joke about. While in general when we talk about gender oppression and sexual harassment we are talking about men abusing wimmin, in prison the prisoners are put in a position of submission and powerlessness that leaves the majority, including the men, subject to gender oppression.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [Sussex II State Prison] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 40]
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Facing Abuse by Pigs and Gender Contradictions Among Prisoners in Virginia

Since my last correspondence I've experienced the greatest oppression in my entire 8-year sentence. This past week or so also presented me with revelation into the power of positive energy and the adverse effects of negative energy, which can affect your mental and physical health.

At Sussex II State Prison, a pig ran in and dribbled my head 3 times between his knee and the ground, when I was cuffed and already grounded. Then, that same pig tossed me in the box and stuck his knee in my neck with intensive force. At this same time, my arm was being bent so far back that breaking it was highly anticipated. Furthermore, my ankles and thumb were in the hands of the pigs. My thumb had nerve damage for 2 or 3 months.

At Red Onion State Prison I was sprayed for a false claim of assault by a super redneck. The pig first grabbed the shackles as if he was going to strike me with them, he looked around, and then had his partner use the can. They rinsed me fully clothed, returned me to storage and then I tried to refuse to give up the leg irons. They then took me out on the block and tackled me to the ground. During this they twisted me, bent my fingers and yelled "stop resisting." Afterwards I was stripped naked and 8-10 pigs placed a turtle suit on me - chained me - and left me for about 15 hours. This happened because the officer refused to correct my negative meal, and I stuck my arm out of the slot because of it.

Those are just two of the oppressive events I experienced in kaptivity.

This week though, it was oppression from kaptive residents. The oppression came by high energy/high volume gossip, to spread wildfire word of myself being homosexual. The fire starter(s) knows nothing about me, knows no one within or outside the block who knows me, and has no evidence of such activity. Fifteen to twenty people whispered this around. The way this happened in a rapid and collective manner, you would've thought I was of great status and/or a part of a group that calls for questioning and violation. I got into a 30-second-or-so bullshit fight and received rejection from workout crews. The fight was with a comrade who was supposed to be a good friend and solid individual, but he needed to protect himself and reputation, so he got defensive and helped the spread.

My point in presenting this is: I'm not gay and this event is coming my way at a time when my sentence is over. I've never seen or heard of this shit before. It was so collective and everyone possible was engaged. Yet, never is this type of bullshit/energy applied to the fight against the true enemy of imperialist oppression. We have to acknowledge that in order to get others to move within/for the struggle, the key influencing factor(s) have to be identified.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This report of abuse by the guards is nothing new to the pages of ULK, though it is important to remind our readers on the streets of the brutality of prison guards and document it for our records. But this report of prisoner-on-prisoner attacks in the form of gossip and attempts at character assassination is particularly important for us to discuss.

This is an example of the lack of unity in prisons across the United $tates, where, as this comrade points out, more energy is put into attacking other prisoners than into fighting the true enemy of imperialism. But just as important, we want to address the use of gender in this particular attack. Claiming someone is gay as an insult or character attack is a more fundamental problem than just disunity. This is no different than accusing someone of being Chicano as if that would be an insult. We can not allow the oppressors to divide us along lines of gender or nation. Sexual orientation and identity are not a measure of a persyn's character. We should look to people's work fighting oppression, the way they treat others, and their political outlook. Lowering ourselves to considering labels and gender/sexual orientation/identity as decisive is putting ourselves on the level of the pigs who lock up and beat up people for the very same reasons.

We must build a United Front of all prisoners, coming together against the common enemy of imperialism. Reject the guards' attempts to pit prisoners against each other.

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[Middle East] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 40]
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Reject the I$raeli Settler State, Support the People of Palestine

Solidarity against imperialism

Over the past few weeks many of us locked up within Amerikkka's prisons have watched, read and heard about the genocidal war crimes currently being committed against the oppressed nation of Palestine by the white settler state of I$rael. What these events show us is not only the carnage and slaughter of a one-sided war, but that the oppressed will never be free to forge their own destinies so long as the monster of imperialism remains intact.

With forked tongues like the pit of vipers that they are, the United Nations (UN) sits idly by and does virtually nothing to help the people of Palestine as the Zionist regime attempts to bomb them out of existence. The so-called "international community" does nothing for Palestine other than speak hypocritically about the need for a cease fire on both ends and the continued need for a two-state solution, as if the mounting deaths (1,432 deaths as of today)(1) and the balance of war was even! Even as the world watches complacent and content through their pacifist, non-interventionist actions, and some begin to complain about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths, the United $tates continues to arm I$rael. The worthless UN has thus shown its true color: yellow! The international community is guilty of complicity thru complacency, thus Palestinian blood is also on the hands of the United Nations.

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of Israel to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of Israel and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."

Furthermore, with this declaration we express our concern, condolences, solidarity and humynity with the people of Palestine. We grieve your loss. I$rael must pay! Just as Palestinian prisoners of war showed their support and solidarity with the California hunger strikers by issuing a statement of solidarity to end solitary confinement in the United $tates, we must now do the same. We must recognize and acknowledge that their struggle is our struggle and we must say no to I$rael and no to the genocide of Palestine.

Long live the people of Palestine!
Down with I$rael!
Charge and convict the war criminals!
Free Palestine!


Note: The World Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN, 7/31/2014

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Texas Prisons Kill People with Heat

Mouth Sewn Shut
"The mission of the Institutional Division is to provide safe and appropriate confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult felons, and to effectively manage or administer correctional facilities based on constitutional and statutory standards" - Texas Government Code 494.001

For those of us housed within the prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) we know this statement is nothing more than well-worded lies!

Recently the University of Texas - Human Rights Clinic came out with a report "Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons." The report pretty much proves what many of the lumpen already know: conditions inside Texas prisons in the summer violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. TDCJ keeps telling the public they have policies in place to combat the heat. However, Brian McGiverin, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said during a news conference on the topic, "Fourteen inmate deaths are strong evidence the prison agency's measures don't do enough to beat the heat's health risks." He continued, "The response that their policies are adequate today is ridiculous."

Senator John Whitmire, the chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, had this to say on the topic: "But I can tell you, the people of Texas don't want air-conditioned prisons, and there's a lot of other things on my list above the heat." The "other things" were education, health care, and rehabilitation programs, but never has this racist pontificator said he was committed to ceasing the senseless murder of Texas prisoners by TDCJ employees! Whitmire, who has been in the Texas senate over 30 years, continues to turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse and discrimination of prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities. We suffer from racial discrimination, religious discrimination, sexual assaults, vicious beatings and abuse, and Whitmire continues to play good ol' boy politics.

For complaints on specific prison issues I found a strategy that's been working. I've been having family members file Ombudsman complaints via email. They can file formal public complaints on a wide range of issues and these complaints must be placed online for the public to view. We have been experiencing a lot of success! All that PO Box 99 shit to Huntsville is a waste of paper and time. Do it online and put these assholes on Front Street.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one example of the rampant abuse of prisoners in Texas and across the country, that is well documented and exposed in ULK and on our prisoncensorship.org website. But we aim to do more than just expose the brutality of the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Our goal is to organize and educate to make meaningful change. In the short term we fight battles like the campaign to have prisoners' grievances addressed so that we can create better conditions for our comrades behind bars. But in the long term we know that no Amerikan politician is ever going to fundamentally change the system of injustice. It will take the oppressed joining together to demand change to put an end to imperialism before we can hope to end the criminal injustice system. Get involved in this long-term fight today!

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[Control Units] [Warren Correctional Institution] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 40]
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Organizing Against Control Units in Ohio

Resist
I am currently imprisoned in Warren Correctional Institute in Lebanon, Ohio and am Vice President of a prisoner-run organization called Long Term Offenders Organization (LTO) where our main focus is to abolish the "3 tier system" which is Ohio's equivalent to California's Security Housing Unit (SHU) system. We promote abolishment by enforcing programs, workshops, events and activities for prisoners to beat the 3 tier system. We promote unity outside of these walls but even more within these walls. I've noticed a lot of brothers complain about our current circumstances in Ohio such as the 3 tier system (which is obviously a cycle that is supposed to be broken), the food (not enough portions), and correctional officers abusing their authority. By having a platform such as LTO to speak up, I'm promoting prison unity to use the proper procedure through the formal complaints process and not letting the pigs or their system get the best of us. I always tell the brothers it's going to take more than just me alone to make a difference so I need them just as much as they need me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We add these comrades in Ohio to the country-wide movement to shut down control units. Whatever they are called, this long term isolation is a form of torture, primarily targetting politically active and oppressed nation prisoners. We also encourage LTO, and any other prisoner organizations out there, to consider joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, and work to build unity on an even broader scale. As the second organizing principle of this United Front states: "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."

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[Abuse] [Georgia State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 40]
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Georgia Prisoners Ready to Fight Negligence and Corruption

Canteen
This prison degrades all to the lowest form. We are repeatedly refused showers, recreation, and medical attention after being abused by supervising officials. They are running in on us at 3am in full riot gear while we are resting in what peace we can get around here. The Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT) is run by a new sergeant and he is pepper spraying prisoners who pose no threat. He is ordering his subordinates to "shoot first and ask questions later."

We are being subject to excessive rectal searches just to take a shower. Our food is cold, spoiled and inadequately prepared. We don't receive beverages and staff talk over, sweat on, and handle our trays with no gloves, hair nets, or face masks.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Me and my fellow lumpen comrades are definitely determined to sink this "titanic" along with other negligent and corrupt entities within the state. Always remember a closed mouth doesn't get fed. It's time to fight back with our minds, pens and comradery! Believe me that there's only so much that we are going to take laying down! Free all my like-minded brothers of the same struggle.


MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a growing movement of prisoners and lumpen organizations in Georgia standing up to the abuse and unjust conditions in the prisons in that state. Part of this work requires educating and organizing, and for this we need leaders like this comrade. Leaders are willing to put in the work exposing the conditions, and educating fellow prisoners about the need for unity and building for legal and non-violent actions that will further the anti-imperialist movement. United Struggle from Within (USW), the MIM(Prisons)-led prisoner organization, needs more comrades to step up and take on leadership roles behind bars. Get in touch with us for more information on working with USW.

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[United Front] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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United the Power of the People Can Defeat the CDCR

USW SNY

I'm checking in from RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in California, where the conditions of confinement are getting harder and harder to tolerate. Here there are a few comrades in the administrative segregation unit (ASU) from both sides of the prison system, mainline as well as Special Needs Yards (SNY), studying and struggling together to overcome the oppression of being punished for submitting inmate appeals.

The pigs that run this unit are giving the prisoners who stand up for their rights half issues of already substandard meals. They also move us from cell to cell at least five or six times a month, and always into a cell with someone who is mentally challenged and disruptive. Some cells are painted with human defecation and urine, and the staff doesn't bother to clean them or provide any cleaning supplies. Some comrades have been physically attacked and have had their personal property passed out to the rats and snitches.

While these are not infrequent unconstitutional violations here, most of the prisoners are afraid to speak up. The theory and actions these officers display is truly terroristic in nature, and the officials allow them to act with impunity.

So I have made it my mission to lead as well as organize and participate in a campaign to stop these abuses here and wherever my feet touch behind these walls. These abuses range from stealing our personal property to creating false charges against us, from denying pens and forms to withholding our mail and yard time, while they sit in the dayroom and eat the state issue items missing from our lunches and dinners.

On a better note, our study group is up to ten in just one week as the brothers of all races and both sides hear us dialogue about the commonality of our situation. Like the brother in ULK 33, I too am SNY and I know there are good strong comrades over here on this side. What people don't understand is that a lot of youngsters have a theory that older brothers "are like leaves on trees" meaning the older ones have to be knocked off so new leaves can grow. This is wrong thinking and a self-defeating tactic.

It's hard for me to understand how some people are fighting to end oppression and hate, knowing the role that the media plays in it all, and then they allow a designation of SNY by the statesman architect of hate and repression to separate us because we'd rather leave our organization and have a chance at parole than stay and end up taking a young brother's life.

I spent 15 years in the prison system of the 80s and 90s. I've done my dirt, put in my work. I'm not an animal who just follows his base instincts. I'm a leader and I'm standing for all these brothers who put their faith in my leadership. A true leader will never send one of his warriors to do battle while he stays behind. Further I stand on the ten point program established by the Black Panther Party and we hold the principles of Under Lock & Key to be of the utmost import.

I truly believe in what the Black Panther Party said when they stated that the power of the people is greater than man's technology. But the people's power has to be organized. As the Vietnamese people, who began their war for liberation with only bows and arrows, we must begin ours with pen and paper. And just as they defeated the most powerful military on earth, with determination, internationalist politics and organization by all oppressed people inside and outside these walls we'll be victorious as well.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have published a number of articles on the debate over SNY prisoners and we stand with this comrade in arguing that solid anti-imperialist comrades can be found on SNY yards. We look at someone's history of political work and political line rather than the label that the administration gives them. This comrade's call for unity is in line with the United Front for Peace in Prisons which brings together individuals and groups behind bars to build peace and unity against the common enemy of the criminal injustice system.

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[Spanish] [ULK Issue 40]
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EE UU Envolucrado Detras el Derrame de Sangre en Ukrania

Los Amerikanos deberían de condenar a su gobierno por estar involucrado en lo que esta tomando lugar en el patio trasero de Rusia. Partidos politikos con ambiciones nucleares en el bordo de Rusia es una receta de muerte y gran desastre.(1) A incrementado el derramamiento de sangre y todo es resultado de la maniobra imperialista por la cual docenas han muerto en confrontaciones entre los protestores/fuerzas opuestas, y la fuerzas de seguridad en Ukrania que son controladas por los partidos que entraron en poder en el golpe de estado de Febrero (el segundo, de parte de los EE UU en los últimos 10 años). Interesantemente no hemos escuchado a John Kerry hacer un llamado de sanciones en contra del gobierno nuevo de Ukrania como fue visto el pasado otoño cuando el gobierno anterior asalto a los protestantes, una vez más exponemos su hipocrecia (eso va sin disculparse por el ahora derrocado régimen de Yanukovic, el cual después mato a docenas de protestantes en las calles de Kiev). Los Europeos deberían de estar aun mas preocupados por la violencia que se esta fomentando en Ukrania. Mientras la Unión Europea espera beneficiarse del militarismo de los EE UU en forma de relaciones de intercambios con Ukrania, les podría llegar guerra a su propia región por ese mismo militarismo por el que tanto esperan ellos beneficiarse.

Las declaraciones del presidente Vladimir Putin en Mayo 7 del 2014 indicaron que Rusia se la llevara calmado cuando se trate de este conflicto, las platicas de que Ukrania se una a la Tratado Atlantico Norte (NATO) es una gran amenaza a la seguridad de Rusia. Los Amerikanos expertos en poliza extranjera, incluyendo a Henry Kissinger, han condenado la idea de unir a Ukrania con nato. NATO fue formada al fin de la segunda guerra mundial como un pacto militar entre paises opuestos a los entonces comunistas de la Union Sovieta. Desde la disolución de la Union Sovieta en 1991, poco a poco la OTAN ha estado entrando al este de Europa dirijiendose hacia Rusia.

Las palabras calmadas que expresó Vladimir Putin indican que las muy limitadas sanciones del Oeste han sido exitosos en no añadir mas flama a la rivalidad del inter-imperialismo. Con atacar y enfocarse en individuos, EE UU y Alemania previnieron los tipos de barreras comerciales que terminaron en guerras abiertas entre países imperialistas a principios del Siglo XX. Y aunque los mercados financieros de Rusia han bajado frenta a esta amenaza, el golpe permanece moderado.

Otra razón por la cual preocuparse es que el régimen - apoyado por los estadounidenses tiene participación significante de partidos fascistas de la ultra-derecha. Es irónico que hoy el fascismo encuentra gran cantidad de apoyo con la gente que destruyo el fascismo en los 1940s. Pero nuestro entendimiento del fascismo explica porque. Fascismo es dirigido por una clase imperialista que siente que su existencia es amenazada y/o aspira surgir y avanzar en contra de otros poderes imperialistas. Su gran apoyo es el de los aristócratas laborales los cuales quieren que su nación sea levantada y poder segar grandes superganancias a costos de otros países (lee nuestro paquete de studio del fascismo). Rusia permanece un poder imperialista con desigualdad al oeste, que no puede proveer los mismos beneficios a su gente como por ejemplo los EE UU y esos del oeste de Europa. Mientras que Ukrania no es un país imperialista, hay una pequeña clase de financieros capitalistas que apoyan el avance fascista dentro del régimen actual. Los fascistas se están movilizando entre la guardia nacional y están detrás de las recientes muertes de policías locales y civiles en el este donde la oposición al nuevo régimen es fuerte.

Con toda la ayuda y préstamos ofrecidos a Ukrania departe del Oeste, sabemos que gran parte del dinero dado en el pasado se ha hido a diferentes partidos politikos, "reforma de elecciones" y avenidas de información (2); algo que debemos tener en mente al tratar de entender lo que sucede durante eventos politikos en estados clientes. El USAID, constantemente comercializado por el gobierno como agencia humanitaria, está detrás de esta campaña y fondos politikos. Los EE UU y Alemania se alistan para la planeada elección presidencial que debe tomar lugar en Mayo 25 mientras trabajan detrás del esenario para asegurar sus resultados.

El militarismo Estado Unidense, el cual es definido por la economia Amerikana dependiente de la guerra y producción militar, tiene que ser llevado a un fin para parar todas esas muertes innecesarias como las cometidas recientemente en Ukrania y en diferentes partes del mundo. USAID tiene que ser expuesta y todos tenemos que estar en contra de USAID por ser la herramienta que se opone a la auto-determinación de la gente alrededor del mundo. Los sentimientos anti-Rusos que se levantan entre Amerikanos y el apoyo que Putin esta recibiendo en Rusia no es una buena mezcla para prevenir conflictos en el futuro si es que de casualidad los imperialistas deciden subirle un nivel mas a todo este problema. Esto es la advertencia que nos dice y grita que debemos fortalecer el movimiento acontra el militarismo Estado Unidense.


Notas:
1. Svoboda Party Programme
2. Paul Blumenthal U.S. Obscures foreign aid to Ukrain. But here's where some goes, Huffington Post. 7 March 2014
3. Para mas discusiones historiales de Ukrania mira nuestro articulo en ULK36 antes del coup intitulado "Lenin Statue Toppled in Power Struggle in ukraine."

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 40]
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Maoist Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
July 2014
PG-13

In our review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), we drew parallels to the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) from the original series. The final episode (Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)) of the original series takes place hundreds of years after apes have risen to power and gives an interesting take on the dictatorship of the proletariat as apes rule benevolently over humyns and strive for a peaceful society. The latest, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) is more of a Conquest part two in terms of the timeline, but takes on many of the themes of Battle.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place a mere ten years after Rise, featuring many of the same ape characters. In those ten years, humyns had been virtually wiped out by a virus that was a product of testing done on the apes and infighting that resulted from the crisis. In the meantime, the apes that fled to Marin, California have built a home there, and other species have made a miraculous recovery in the absence of humyns.

The theme that Dawn shares with Battle is the apes realizing they are no better than humyns when it comes to war and violence. This is a positive lesson in historical materialism that looks at the social causes of war, conflict and change in general. It makes sense that as apes develop a more advanced society with language, buildings, fire and larger populations, that similar social phenomenon will come into play as we have in humyn society.

In Battle this was a nice lesson as it came after hundreds of years of dictatorship of apes over humyns, at which point one would expect a sense of commonality (internationalism if you will) to have developed. What is less believable in that movie is that after all that time there would be a vengeful element, which is played off as an almost genetic/racial thing particular to the gorillas. In the most recent movie we would expect much desire for vengeance against humyns, as these were the very same apes that were raised in prisons and experimented on by humyns before the revolution in which they freed themselves.

The new series has not yet reached the point of dictatorship of ape over humyn, only separate settlements that are now engaging in war with each other. Both sides have their militarists. The ape is motivated by vengeance from the torture he endured, while the humyn has a sense of purpose in returning humyns to their rightful place as dominant. A looming oppressor consciousness persists among the humyns despite their fall from grace. Though the main material force pushing them into conflict in the first place is the need for the hydro power that is within ape territory. No doubt, the justification of genocide for natural resources is still deep in these Amerikans' way of thinking.

Dawn does offer us some underlying political lessons. Caesar, who led the revolution in the previous movie as the only ape who knew how to speak, is now the established leader. All apes have developed some ability to speak (and at least the younger ones are learning to write), and they are able to communicate even more complex ideas through sign language. The mantra "ape shall not kill ape" is a direct throwback to Battle, that is repeated throughout this latest movie. This format is similar to short sayings from Mao that the Communist Party of China promoted under socialism to imbue the people with a new collective consciousness. It was necessary in a society with very limited literacy. Like Mao, Caesar is reified. At the same time, as Caesar disappears from the scene, it is clear that there is a core of apes who followed Caesar's ideas, and not just him as an individual. And there is a sense that the whole population has some grasp of these ideas, again similar to socialist China. But when a usurper seizes power, the masses follow him with little resistance. Like the Gang of Four in China, those perceived to be loyal to Caesar's ideas are imprisoned.

There is a strong theme of the nuclear family in this movie, at times saying that family is more important than the greater people. While Caesar learns to not idealistically trust all apes, he thankfully does not turn inward to his nuclear family as many do when they feel betrayed by larger organizations or society as a whole. Family is the hideaway of the coward, often the patriarch, who feels they can have greater control there. But revolutionaries strive to transform society by the power of scientific understanding. Like the last movie, the apes show heroic revolutionary sacrifice in their struggle for the greater good for all apes and the society that they have built. While they face internal contradictions based on the harm that oppression has stamped on their psyches, they have done much to build a promising society.

In our review of the previous movie we talked much about the integration struggle, with the apes rejecting that road. The ending of this movie leaves the protagonists from each species hoping for a collaborative effort, but seeing that it is impossible at this time. Caesar in particular seems keen at recognizing the material forces at play and the impossibility of collaboration with the humyns as a whole despite the friends he has among them. Similarly in our world, while there are certainly genuine revolutionary forces among the oppressor nations, we should not be fooled into interpreting that to mean that the oppressor nations as groups are ready for peaceful coexistence.

It is the contradictions that humyns face between their weakened state and their desire to have the material benefits of the past that is the biggest threat to the apes in this movie, and seemingly in the next one to come. We hope that the apes learned valuable lessons from this latest struggle that they can consciously consolidate into their ideology as a society as they move forward in their struggle against oppression and to end war.

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[Medical Care] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 40]
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Hailey Care: Heathcare Disaster in South Carolina

While imprisoned on one of South Carolina's 27 prisons, I've come to understand that Hailey Care is a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control. Hailey Care offers prisoners poor nutrition, medical neglect, ignoring medical complaints, deliberate indifference to medical needs, improper diagnosis and failure to provide prescribed medication.

Nikki Hailey, a Republican and South Carolina's first female Governor, is responsible for this system. So far Hailey Care has meant a denial of medical care for a lot of Black prisoners, especially for older prisoners. Doctors who come to work for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) usually have less than stellar records, come from other states where they have been barred and/or have an array of sanctions. Perhaps for South Carolina and its medical board it's a case of "political unaccountability" and an indifference to the human lives of its lumpenproletariat class.

One case in point was Dr. Paul C. Drago (lic # 9700531), barred from three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He's listed as a plastic surgeon, and was hired by the SCDC, but after many complaints he was said to have resigned. The SCDC then brought in Physician Assistant Gregory Schaller, who time and time again exhibited intolerance towards the medical needs of Blacks. After much resistance he too resigned.

I'm currently under care of Dr. Robert Sharp, an Osteopath. I went to see Dr. Sharp and I requested medicated shampoo for psoriasis of my scalp. I also informed him that I was indigent and could not afford shampoo from the canteen. His reply: "I'm Jewish and a tax payer and I'm not ordering shampoo for an African American's hair." Because I reported his racial remarks to human resource staff person Ms. Wright, a member of the predominately Black "overseers" here at the Ridgeland plantation, I was labeled a liar and given a sanction of 15 hours extra duty.

As of the writing of this article, I'm in need of glasses, and am being denied treatment for sleep deprivation and a degenerative nerve disorder. Just today I reported the fact that I have holes in the bottom of my "crocks." I was told I have to wait a month, while under the auspices of Hailey Care. I will continue to speak out about the inadequate health care abuse in South Carolina's prison kamps.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the failure of capitalism to provide adequate healthcare so it's no surprise that the healthcare provided in South Carolina prisons is even more dangerous to the health of prisoners.(1) In previous articles we've exposed Dr. Drago's incompetence on our website. The dismissal/"resignation" of him and his equally incompetent successor are tactical victories, no doubt in response to the complaints and bad press. We encourage all readers to follow this comrade's example in exposing abuse in all forms, including medical neglect and malpractice. While we cannot create a system of healthcare that provides adequately for all under capitalism, we may save some lives by stopping the most dangerous practices. We can even use this information to educate people about the need to put an end to imperialism, a system that lets people suffer and die around the world with no interest in the health of the majority of the world's people.

For those interested in alternative healthcare systems to the ones failing us currently, we recommend studying how the public health standard was raised in communist China under Mao. We distribute a number of books on this topic through our Free Boos for Prisoners Program.

Note: See ULKs 12, 15, and 34.[

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
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From Unity to Collective Liberation; Learning to Unite Against Gender Oppression

Just recently I finished studying a book from PM Press by Chris Crass titled Towards Collective Liberation. This was one of the best political/activist books I've read, and it has been vital in helping me clarify my political vision and goal for creating liberating and transformative change within myself and the world.

I was not aware how this system of divide-and-control creates and utilizes divisions along the lines of gender (sexism), sexuality (homophobia), ability (elder discrimination), and nationality (anti-immigrant rights) to maintain its ruling-class dominance. This lack of awareness of these systems of oppression along the lines of gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality caused me to be completely numb to and disinterested in any struggles for justice and equality as it relates to gender equality and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, elder rights, and immigrant rights.

Prior to reading Toward Collective Liberation, I would not have come close to embracing any struggles remotely dealing with feminism or LGBT rights, partly out of fear of being viewed by my heterosexual male peers as weak, feminine, or even gay. I now see how such a concern is in and of itself sexist and homophobic in nature and is indicative of my own internalized values of sexist/heterosexist male superiority. All women and LGBT people are human beings deserving of our respect and collective support as they too struggle for equality, basic human rights, and the right to live their lives freely, without hindrance, slander, ridicule or discrimination.

Having been in prison for 20 consecutive years, I bear witness on a daily basis to how these same divide-and-rule tactics manifest themselves even behind these prison walls. The penal system uses behavior modification and psychology against us, especially those politically active prisoners engaged in a protracted struggle against all forms of oppression. Such psychological tactics are inflaming/instigating hatred and violence amongst the different "races"; the use of prisoners who covertly collaborate with the penal administration; treating prisoners who are willing to collaborate with the penal administration in far more lenient/favorable ways than those who are not; using collaborating/informing prisoners to spread rumors detrimental to the character and reputation of natural leaders so they will not be trusted; and most noticeably, the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) as tools of repression to isolate all prisoners deemed to be influential.

Of course, there are many divisions amongst prisoners that can clearly be seen in these modern-day gulags:

  1. Division between much older and experienced captives who view younger, less experienced prisoners as reckless, lacking a "code" of ethics, and not willing to listen to instruction; and the younger, less experienced prisoners who view the older captives as washed up, institutionalized, and behind in the times
  2. Division between those who classify themselves as gay/bi-sexual who are resentful towards those classified as heterosexual who openly alienate them; and those classified as heterosexual who look down upon prisoners classified as gay/bi-sexual with disgust and hostility
  3. Divisions between those who are part of religious/cultural organizations such as Christians, Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Gods and Earths, Atheists, etc.
  4. Divisions between nationalities and even within nationalities
  5. Division between lumpen street organizations who are convinced that it is more "gangsta" to fight each other rather than fight for change in the circumstance or environment, against oppression and exploitation, inhumane living conditions, extortion, substandard food, etc.

And many more.

The "Agreement to End Hostilities" initiated by those courageous brothers of the Pelican Bay State Prison - SHU Short Corridor Collective and the "United Front for Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles" developed by MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, and other types of progressive collective moves taking place in various prisons across this Empire, are just glimpses of the type of unity and leverage we can achieve with a multi-national, inter-organizational, cross-gender alliance if we develop a multi-dimentional analysis of how the penal administration utilizes our differences to keep us divided and at each others' throats instead of working together for our own common good.

What the penal authorities hate most is that after decades of oppressive and inhumane living conditions, the arbitrary use of SHUs, AdSeg, and this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality, the progressive, revolutionary elements within the various penal colonies will always raise their head. They see within the progressive, revolutionary elements that which will expose and defeat them: the commitment, determination and resolve to oppose and ultimately abolish the criminal injustice system.

At the same time, they can see and feel their own powerlessness, for their power ends at the point when we all come together to lift our heads, take the reigns of our lives into our own hands, throw off the old guard, and collectively struggle to provide new guards for our future security.

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[Principal Contradiction] [Economics] [China] [ULK Issue 40]
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Bromma's Worker Elite and the Global Class Analysis

MIM(Prisons) First World Class analysis
The above diagram summarizes MIM(Prisons)'s class analysis of the First World with relative flows of wealth and relative sizes of each class.

The Worker Elite: Notes on the "Labor Aristocracy"
by Bromma
Kersplebedeb, 2014

Available for $10 + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8


As with our previous review of Bromma's writings, we find h new book to be a good read, based in an analysis that is close to our own. Yet, once again we find h putting class as principal and mentioning gender as an important component of class. In contrast, MIM(Prisons) sees the principal contradiction under imperialism as being along the lines of nation, in particular between the imperialist nations that exploit and those nations that are exploited. While all three strands interact with each other, we see gender as its own strand of oppression, distinct from class. While Bromma has much to say on class that is agreeable, one thread that emerges in this text that we take issue with is that of the First World labor aristocracy losing out due to "globalization."

Bromma opens with some definitions and a valid criticism of the term "working class." While using many Marxist terms, h connection to a Marxist framework is not made clear. S/he consciously writes about the "worker elite," while disposing of the term "labor aristocracy" with no explanation. In the opening s/he rhetorically asks whether the "working class" includes all wage earners, or all manual laborers. While dismissing the term "working class" as too general, Bromma does not address these questions in h discussion of the worker elite. Yet, throughout the book s/he addresses various forms of productive labor in h examples of worker elite. S/he says that the worker elite is just one of many groups that make up the so-called "middle class." But it is not clear how Bromma distinguishes the worker elite from the other middle classes, except that they are found in "working class jobs." Halfway through the book it is mentioned that s/he does not consider "professionals, shopkeepers, administrators, small farmers, businesspeople, intellectuals, etc." to be workers.(p.32)

We prefer the term "labor aristocracy" over "worker elite," and we may use it more broadly than Bromma's worker elite in that the type of work is not so important so much as the pay and benefits. Bromma, while putting the worker elite in the "middle class," simultaneously puts it into the "working class" along with the proletariat and the lumpen working class. We put the labor aristocracy in the First World within the petty bourgeoisie, which may be a rough equivalent of what Bromma calls the "middle class." Of course, the petty bourgeoisie has historically been looked at as a wavering force between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Yet, in the case of the oppressor nation labor aristocracy, they have proven to be a solidly pro-imperialist class. This analysis, central to MIM Thought, is particular to the imperialist countries.

Despite these questions and confusions, overall we agree with the global class analysis as it is presented in the beginning of this book in terms of who are our friends and who are our enemies.

One good point made throughout this book is the idea that the "worker elite" is not defined merely by an income cut off. While not denying the central role of income, Bromma defines this class position as a whole package of benefits, material (health care, infrastructure), social (family life, leisure activities) and political (lack of repression, voice in politics). At one point s/he brings up the migrant farm workers in the U.$., who can earn similar amounts to the autoworkers in Mexico who s/he argues make up an established worker elite. In contrast, the migrant farm workers suffer the abuses of the proletariat at the bottom rung of U.$. society, and in reality many make far less than Mexican autoworkers. We agree with Bromma's implication here that the migrant workers make up a proletarian class within the United $tates.

While criticizing previous attempts to set an "exploitation line" in income, Bromma brings in PPP to improve this analysis. The book provides a helpful table of the income levels in Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) for various groups. PPP defines income levels relative to a basket of goods to account for varying prices across countries/regions. Bromma concludes that "a global middle class annual income probably starts somewhere between PPP $10,000 and $15,000", meaning that a single worker (man) could comfortably support a family on this amount. This is similar to the estimates others have done and we have used elsewhere.

One of the key characteristics of this income level is that they have gone beyond covering basic needs and become consumers. Bromma lists one of the three main roles of the worker elite as being a consumer class. This is something we have stressed when people ask incredulously why the capitalists would pay people more than the value that they are producing. Bromma cites a source discussing the Chinese planned capitalist economy and how they have goals for expanding their consumer class as they recognize that their increasing production will soon not be absorbed by consumption abroad. This is typical capitalist logic. Rather than seeing what the Chinese people need, and produce based on those needs as they did under a socialist planned economy, today they first produce a lot of the most profitable goods and then try to find (or create) a market to sell them to.

Where we disagree greatest with this book is that it takes up a line akin to Huey P. Newton's intercommunalism theory, later named globalization theory in Amerikan academia. It claims a trend towards equalization of classes internationally, reducing the national contradictions that defined the 20th century. Bromma provides little evidence of this happening besides anecdotal examples of jobs moving oversees. Yet s/he claims, "Among 'white' workers, real wages are stagnant, unemployment is high, unions are dwindling, and social benefits and protective regulations are evaporating."(p.43) These are all common cries of white nationalists that the MIM camp and others have been debating for decades.(1) The fact that wages are not going up as fast as inflation has little importance to the consumer class who knows that their wealth is far above the world's majority and whose buying power has increased greatly in recent decades.(2) Unemployment in the United $tates averaged 5.9% in April 2014 when this book came out, which means the white unemployment rate was even lower than that.(3) That is on the low side of average over the last 40 years and there is no upward trend in unemployment in the United $tates, so that claim is just factually incorrect. High unemployment rates would be 35% in Afghanistan, or 46% in Nepal. The author implies that unions are smaller because of some kind of violent repression, rather than because of structural changes in the economy and the privileged conditions of the labor aristocracy.

The strongest evidence given for a rise in the worker elite is in China. One report cited claims that China is rivaling the U.$. to have the largest "middle class" soon.(p.38) Yet this middle class is not as wealthy as the Amerikan one, and is currently only 12-15% of the population.(p.32) It's important to distinguish that China is an emerging imperialist power, not just any old Third World country. Another example given is Brazil, which also has a growing finance capital export sector according to this book, a defining characteristic of imperialism. The importance of nation in the imperialist system is therefore demonstrated here in the rise of the labor aristocracy in these countries. And it should be noted that there is a finite amount of labor power to exploit in the world. The surplus value that Chinese and Brazilian finance capital is finding abroad, and using partly to fund their own emerging consumer classes, will eat into the surplus value currently taken in by the First World countries. In this way we see imperialist competition, and of course proletarian revolution, playing bigger roles in threatening the current privileges of the First World, rather than the globalization of finance capital that Bromma points to.

As Zak Cope wrote in a recent paper, "Understanding how the 'labour aristocracy' is formed means understanding imperialism, and conversely."(4) It is not the U.$. imperialists building up the labor aristocracy in China and Brazil. South Korea, another country discussed, is another story, that benefits as a token of U.$. imperialism in a half-century long battle against the Korean peoples' struggle for independence from imperialism and exploitation. While Bromma brings together some interesting information, we don't agree with h conclusion that imperialism is "gradually detaching itself from the model of privileged 'home countries' altogether."(p.40) We would interpret it as evidence of emerging imperialist nations and existing powers imposing strategic influence. Cope, building on Arghiri Emmanuel's work, discusses the dialectical relationship between increasing wages and increasing the productive forces within a nation.(2,5) Applying their theories, for Chinese finance capital to lead China to become a powerful imperialist country, we would expect to see the development of a labor aristocracy there as Bromma indicates is happening. This is a distinct phenomenon from the imperialists buying off sections of workers in other countries to divide the proletariat. That's not to say this does not happen, but we would expect to see this on a more tactical level that would not produce large shifts in the global balance of forces.

Finance capital wants to be free to dominate the whole world. As such it appears to be transnational. Yet, it requires a home base, a state, with strong military might to back it up. How else could it keep accumulating all the wealth around the world as the majority of the people suffer? Chinese finance capital is at a disadvantage, as it must fight much harder than the more established imperialist powers to get what it perceives to be its fair share. And while its development is due in no small part to cooperation with Amerikan finance capital, this is secondary to their competitive relationship. This is why we see Amerika in both China's and Russia's back yards making territorial threats in recent days (in the South China Sea and Ukraine respectively). At first, just getting access to Chinese labor after crushing socialism in 1976 was a great boon to the Amerikan imperialists. But they are not going to stop there. Russia and China encompass a vast segment of the globe where the Amerikans and their partners do not have control. As Lenin said one hundred years ago, imperialism marks the age of a divided world based on monopolies. Those divisions will shift, but throughout this period the whole world will be divided between different imperialist camps (and socialist camps as they emerge). And as Cope stresses, this leads to a divided "international working class."

While there is probably a labor aristocracy in all countries, its role and importance varies greatly. MIM line on the labor aristocracy has been developed for the imperialist countries, where the labor aristocracy encompasses the wage-earning citizens as a whole. While the term may appropriately be used in Third World countries, we would not equate the two groups. The wage earners of the world have been so divided that MIM began referring to those in the First World as so-called "workers." So we do not put the labor aristocracy of the First World within the proletarian class as Bromma does.

We caution against going too far with applying our class definitions and analysis globally. In recent years, we have distinguished the First World lumpen class from that of the lumpen-proletariat of the Third World. In defining the lumpen, Bromma "includes working class people recruited into the repressive apparatus of the state — police, informants, prison guards, career soldiers, mercenaries, etc."(p.5) This statement rings more true in the Third World, yet even there a government job would by definition exclude you from being in the lumpen-proletariat. In the imperialist countries, police, prison guards, military and any other government employee are clearly members of the labor aristocracy. This is a point we will explore in much greater detail in future work.

global wealth flow

The principal contradiction within imperialism is between exploiter and exploited nations. Arghiri Emmanuel wrote about the national interest, criticizing those who still view nationalism as a bourgeois phenomenon as stuck in the past. After WWII the world saw nationalism rise as an anti-colonial force. In Algeria, Emmanuel points out, the national bourgeoisie and Algerian labor aristocracy had nothing to lose in the independence struggle as long as it did not go socialist. In contrast, it was the French settlers in Algeria that violently opposed the liberation struggle as they had everything to lose.(6) In other words there was a qualitative difference between the Algerian labor aristocracy and the French settler labor aristocracy.

It is the responsibility of people on the ground to do a concrete analysis of their own conditions. We've already mentioned our use of the term "First World lumpen" to distinguish it from the lumpen of the Third World, which is a subclass of the proletariat. To an extent, all classes are different between the First and Third World. We rarely talk of the labor aristocracy in the Third World, because globally it is insignificant. It is up to comrades in Third World nations to assess the labor aristocracy in their country, which in many cases will not be made up of net-exploiters. Bromma highlights examples of exploiter workers in Mexico and South Korea. These are interesting exceptions to the rule that should be acknowledged and assessed, but we think Bromma goes too far in generalizing these examples as signs of a shift in the overall global class structure. While we consider Mexico to be a Third World exploited nation, it is a relatively wealthy country that Cope includes on the exploiter side, based on OECD data, in his major calculations.

Everything will not always fit into neat little boxes. But the scientific method is based on applying empirically tested laws, generalizations, percentages and probability. The world is not simple. In order to change it we must understand it the best we can. To understand it we must both base ourselves in the laws proven by those who came before us and assess the changes in our current situation to adjust our analysis accordingly.

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