I just got done reading ULK 61 and I got to say it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff that I did as a gang member of Aryan Brotherhood in Texas to sex offenders coming into the system. When they came in, me and several other dudes would beat them up to "break them" and then would sell them to the butty bandits due to their crime of being labeled a sex offender.
The system would not attempt to protect them either, due to the label they had on them as a sex offender. So we had free reign to punish them as we seen fit. But nowadays I look back on the stuff that I did and can see the big errors of my ways.
I ran into a dude down in the state hospital that was just about dead of AIDS that he got due to the actions of me and some other dudes breaking him. I was going for breaking my hand in a fight and saw the death wagon pull up and unload two AIDS patients, and one dude seen me and called out my name and asked me if I was still breaking in sex offenders and if so to look at him and see what it causes.
I was like "Dude I do not know you or want to know you either." He told me where I beat him up and sold him, and it blew my mind. I had a lot of hate towards sex offenders when I came into this place and it has mellowed out over the last 34 years that I have been in prison. My baby sister was assaulted by her friend's father, so the issue of sex offenders is personal to me.
When I started in the County Jail beating up sex offenders for something to do, the Sheriff would tell the jailers to put anyone that came into the jail on my tan and tell me in front of the dude what he was in the jail for. I look back on it now and I am coming to the realization that they were using me to punish the dudes that were charged with sexual assault.
One dude, I broke his jaw in two places due to his granddaughter saying he touched her in a private spot. Come to find out it was a lie because she was mad at him for grounding her for the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not attempting to brag about it, just am showing the length of time and intensity that I have been blinded by the system to do their work, and now I'm starting to understand the system. What made me wake up is one of my brothers got charged with sexual assault/harassment for grabbing his croch and telling a chick to suck is dic- as he left school. Since he made a crude gesture towards her she said she felt violated. He was on a ten-year probation so he got violated for the gesture and came to prison for it. And yes he has to register as a level 1 tier offender due to him being mad about getting kicked out of school for a 3-day period.
Each case is different so you got to look at all of the facts. If you go blindly as I did for years upon years you are no better than the ones you are jumping on, due to the fact that you are siding with the oppressors and are holding down your own people. Yes I am fully aware that there are some sexual offenses that are true crimes and they need all that they get and ten fold more heaped on top of it if they are truly guilty of the crime of sexual assault on a woman or child.
But before you lace up the steeltoe boots and put your pistols on gloves to beat up a sex offender, make sure it's a true crime and one that deserve the punishment that you are fixin to hand out. If not you're just working for the system that you are claiming to work against. You cannot pull both ways at once or you go no place at all.
I used to beat up the dudes, now I try to help them with their cases due to the fact that a lot of them are not able to get help in the law library because they have ask a law clerk to help get a case cite and his first question is "what you charged with?" And he will go to the law books and look up your case, and if you do not pass his smell test he will not help you, or he will tell you the case cite you're asking about is not in the law library, or throw your request slip away and say he never got it at all.
Look at it like this, what if you're with a girl and you're going at it and she says "stop"? If you move forward one more time you have just committed sexual assault.
So before you say it will not happen to you, you got to look at it with your eyes open and see the whole picture and not just what the state wants to show you. So think about all the forms that you may have been labeled a sex offender in the past and then you can get over the stink of the name and start to see the person and not the label that the state has put on a person. Most I can work around because I was a dirty dog in the world and could have been charged a few times too. But the main issue is we need to stop letting the state do our thinking for us and take back our minds from the system. You can handcuff my body but I refuse to let you handcuff my mind any longer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer has learned through practice pretty much everything we've been saying about sex crimes. This is an impressive transformation, and we hope ey has also transformed eir thinking about oppressed nations over many years behind bars.
It's true that a lot of people have committed sex crimes but not been caught. Men are taught to be "dirty dogs" as this writer says. That's why the revolutionary movement will need to do a lot of work reforming thinking and rehabilitating. Not just those with sex charges, but everyone raised in this messed up system. As we discuss in the "Punishment vs. Rehabilitation" article, we can do some of this rehabilitating now, but we will focus our energy and time on those who recognize their mistakes and crimes and want to make a change and committ to serving the people.
Reports from the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity are starting to come in. Comrades in prisons across the country commemorated the anniversary of the Attica uprising, building the movement and taking a stand against the criminal injustice system.
This day of action was initiated in 2012 by a prisoner-led organization working with the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). The day is focused on building unity and solidarity. The call for peace between all groups, sets, organizations and individuals, even for just one day, frightens the prison administration. We know they don’t want peace. They benefit when the oppressed fight one another. It keeps the attention off the real enemy: the criminal injustice system. We see this in the report about September 9 organizing from Master K.G. Supreme.
This year's action coincides with the end of the three week country-wide prison strike initiated by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. The demands of this strike focused on improvement in conditions behind bars and changing laws and unwritten policies of national oppression that perpetuate the criminal injustice system. The organizers of the strike recognize that the battle continues: "Incarcerated organizers never believed that their demands would be met a negotiating table during the past three weeks; it has been a huge success of the 2018 prison strike that the 10 points have been pushed into the national and international consciousness."(1)
The UFPP principle of Peace states: "WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." This work doesn’t stop with September 9, we need to work for peace among the oppressed year round. Below are a few initial reports from California. We look forward to more reports from the rest of the country.
California Correctional Institution
For this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity, I personally will fast, exercise, read and hold a study group, which will consist of 8 committed and conscious-minded individuals, who hold fast to the philosophy of peace and unity amongst prisoners. This day there will be no strife, conflict nor division amongst the prisoners here. It's not conducive to a healthy environment. Nor will it promote growth and development.
So, the study group's theme will be peace and unity and how we can best promote these themes within these prison confines. I will start it off by giving my interpretation on what peace and unity means to me. And then i will ask the eight comrades what does peace and unity mean to them individually.
And this will start the deep discussion about the continued peace and unity amongst the prisoners here. And at that, we can come together in solidarity to rid ourselves of the internal oppression that exists amongst us. And only then can we conquer and vanquish imperialism in all its forms. This is our object. We'll make this a successful effort by all means necessary.
Salinas Valley State Prison
Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move here at SVSP quad this Bloody September. This September 9, 2018 we remember the anniversary of Attica of Sept 9, 1971 and them faceless freedom revolutionary fighters who fought and died in these prisons uprising throughout history of our struggle as we continue to fight the oppression, exploitation, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners. A lot of rights and privileges comrades have today is because of these soldiers at war with this corrupt system.
Throughout this country, we as New Afrikans must reconstruct our thoughts and come up with ways and ideas to get control over our minds behind enemy lines, and work to educate the lumpen. I know our young comrades think they know everything. Being upright, independent and fearless against all odds and not fearing the outcome of whatever is what the young comrades are looking for true leadership.
This Sept 9 day I refrained from all negative conversation. AFW continues to push to end prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities throughout this country. I had the chance to meet and become a student of the main 4 reps to end all hostilities between our racial groups, and also a brother from the representatives body. I spoke with brother X about our beloved brother W.L. Nolen and GJ and our conditions today as "new man," and how GJ struggled to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality. And solidarity with all you comrades around the country this Sept 9 day.
Valley State Prison
Greetings from the A-yard of Valley State Prison. In honor of the anniversary of the Attica uprising, and as an act of solidarity, the members of our study group abstained form eating for 24 hours. For one day we did not eat, starting with the Sunday G-slam, lunches (cold) and the evening meal. Ten copies of the solidarity study pack were passed out to members of our sg and a few other prisoners who were interested. A comrade was kind enough to photocopy my solidarity study pack which MIM(Prisons) provided. Most of the prisoners who attend our group were not even aware of the events at Attica on 9 September 1971, or the calls for prison reform which the Attica uprising prompted. A special emphasis was put on finding ways to promote peace and to educate all prisoners across the country on principles of the UFPP.
In closing, I want you to know that I may be new to this but I am trying hard to learn and organize here at VSP and so are others. We, as always appreciate very much the material support and organizational guidance of MIM(Prisons). Thank you.
California State Prison - Corcoran
This Black August Resistance was a success. The program was designed to educate the minds of our youth who I believe have revolutionary potential. We read and studied Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, and Chancellor William's The Rebirth of Afrikan Civilization, along with the Appeals of David Walker. Exercised, and wrote essays on the days required to do so. Also, in support of September 9, we will continue our fast from 8/21 until 9/9, we will not be ordering any canteen nor packages for the 4th quarter. So far we aren't getting any backlash from the pigs, and other Lumpen Orgs are participating in the program as well.
August 2018 — September 9 is expected to be big! No violence, everyone has agreed to be at peace. In USW we support!
We are upholding the five principles of the United Front here in Missouri. We've been effectively organizing, uniting, educating, etc. as a part of the program for peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. And as a result, prison violence has dropped dramatically. We thank you for giving us a way to transmit positive energy and reduce conflict among prisoners. We now have 5 maximum security prisons on board, helping to raise the consciousness of the confused youth and building unity amongst the older captives. As we focus ahead, we see a future filled with love, freedom, and peace. We pray that you will continue to help us transform our people so that together we can strengthen our organizing for liberation.
I received ULK 63! I was so glad to hear from you all. This issue really laid it all out for my guys, so I made 45 copies and passed them out, then instructed each member of UZI (United Zulu Independence Movement) to do the same.
Three days later I called a meeting in the gym to discuss in-depth what each bro had read in this new issue of ULK about UFPP. The responses I received were beautiful. The young Crips now believe that the lumpen in California, who they mimic, are seeking to unite instead of separate. They now see that the gangs are fighting against the oppressor.
Missouri is a slow state, so they were still set on fighting each other, until they witnessed me and my New Afrikan Tribe moving under the sciences of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. We trade evolutionary material, we speak about communism, we teach each other to use the law as a tool to build doorways to freedom, and now your newsletter just explained everything that I've been telling these young Crips about the need to stop the senseless gang bangin', riots, and territorial disputes on the yard caused by the COs.
Thank you! ULK Thank You! Now these bros see that the struggle is real. I have to get back to work. Will write more soon. Can't stop! Won't stop!
The Dangerous Class and Revolutionary Theory
Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2017
Available for $24.95 (USD) + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
The bulk of this double book is looking at the limited and contradictory writings of Marx/Engels and Mao on the subject of the lumpen with greater historical context. MIM(Prisons) and others have analyzed their scattered quotes on the subject.(1) But Sakai’s effort here is focused on background research to understand what Marx, Engels and Mao were seeing and why they were saying what they were saying. In doing so, Sakai provides great practical insight into a topic that is central to our work; the full complexities of which have only begun to unfold.
Size and Significance
In the opening of the "Dangerous Class", Sakai states that "lumpen/proletarians are constantly being made in larger and larger numbers".(p.3) This follows a discussion of criminalized zones like the ghetto, rez or favela. This is a curious conclusion, as the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates are largely being dispersed rather than expanding. Certainly the rez is not expanding. Sakai does not provide numbers to substantiate these "larger and larger" lumpen populations today.
In our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? we do run some census numbers that indicate an increase in the U.$. lumpen population from 1.5% of the total population in 1960 to over 10% in 2010. However, other methods led us to about 4% of the U.$. population today if you only look at oppressed nation lumpen, and 6 or 7% if you include whites.(1) This latter number is interestingly similar to what Marx estimated for revolutionary France (around 1850)(p.66), what Sakai estimates for Britain around 1800(p.112), and what Mao estimated for pre-revolutionary China.(p.119) Is 6% the magic number that indicates capitalism in crisis? The historical numbers for the United $tates (and elsewhere) are worthy of further investigation.
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat (Colquhoun)
1850s France (Marx)
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat
2010 United $tates (MIM(Prisons))
First Nations lumpen
New Afrikan lumpen
Raza lumpen + semi-proletariat
Alliances and Line
Certainly, at 6% or more, the lumpen is a significant force, but a force for what? In asking that question, we must frame the discussion with a Marxist analysis of capitalism as a contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat. There’s really just two sides here. So the question is which side do the lumpen fall on. The answer is: It depends.
One inspiring thing we learn in this book is that the lumpen made up the majority of the guerrillas led by Mao’s Chinese Communist Party at various times before liberation.(p.122) This shows us that the lumpen are potentially an important revolutionary force. However, that road was not smooth. On the contrary it was quite bloody, involving temporary alliances, sabotage and purges.(pp.201-210)
Sakai's first book spends more time on the French revolution and the obvious role the lumpen played on the side of repression. Marx's writings on these events at times treated the Bonaparte state as a lumpen state, independent of the capitalist class. This actually echoes some of Sakai’s writing on fascism and the role of the declassed. But as Sakai recognizes in this book, there was nothing about the Bonaparte government that was anti-capitalist, even if it challenged the existing capitalist class. In other words, the mobilized lumpen, have played a deciding role in revolutionary times, but that role is either led by bourgeois or proletarian ideology. And the outcome will be capitalism or socialism.
Defining the Lumpen, Again
Interestingly, Sakai does not address the First World class structure and how that impacts the lumpen in those countries. Our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? explicitly addresses this question of the First World lumpen as distinct from the lumpen-proletariat. While MIM changed its line from the 1980s when it talked about significant proletariats within the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, this author has not seen Sakai change eir line on this, which might explain eir discussion of a lumpen-proletariat here. Sakai's line becomes most problematic in eir grouping of imperialist-country mercenaries in the "lumpen". Ey curiously switches from "lumpen/proletariat" when discussing China, to "lumpen" when discussing imperialist-country mercenaries, but never draws a line saying these are very different things. In discussions with the editor, Sakai says the stick up kid and the cop aren't the same kind of lumpen.(p.132) Sure, we understand the analogy that cops are the biggest gang on the streets. But state employees making 5 or 6-digit incomes with full bennies do not fit our definition of lumpen being excluded from the capitalist economy, forced to find its own ways of skimming resources from that economy. The contradiction the state faces in funding its cops and soldiers to repress growing resistance is different from the contradiction it faces with the lumpen on the street threatening to undermine the state's authority.
Sakai dismisses the idea that the line demarking lumpen is the line of illegal vs. legal. In fact, the more established and lucrative the illegal operation of a lumpen org is, the more likely it is to be a partner with the imperialist state. That just makes sense.
The inclusion of cops and mercenaries in the lumpen fits with Sakai's approach to the lumpen as a catchall non-class. We do agree that the lumpen is a much more diverse class, lacking the common life experience and relationship to the world that the proletariat can unite around. But what's the use of talking about a group of people that includes Amerikan cops and Filipino garbage pickers? Our definitions must guide us towards models that reflect reality close enough that, when we act on the understanding the model gives us, things work out as the model predicts more often than not. Or more often than any other models. This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model.
How about L.O.s in the U.$.?
The analysis of the First World lumpen in this collection is a reprint of Sakai's 1976 essay on the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago. Sakai had referred to L.O.s becoming fascist organizations in New Afrikan communities in a previous work, and this seems to be eir basis for this claim.
While the essay condemns the Blackstone Rangers for being pliant tools of the Amerikan state, Sakai does differentiate the young foot soldiers (the majority of the org) from the Main 21 leadership. In fact, the only difference between the recruiting base for the Rangers and the Black Panthers seems to have been that the Rangers were focused on men. Anyway, what Sakai's case study demonstrates is the ability for the state to use lumpen gangs for its own ends by buying off the leadership. There is no reason to believe that if Jeff Fort had seen eye-to-eye with the Black Panthers politically that the youth who followed him would not have followed him down that road.
Essentially, what we can take from all this is that the lumpen is a wavering class. Meaning that we must understand the conditions of a given time and place to better understand their role. And as Sakai implies, they have the potential to play a much more devastating and reactionary role when conditions really start to deteriorate in the heart of the empire.
Relating this to our practice, Sakai discusses the need for revolutionaries to move in the realm of the illegal underground. This doesn't mean the underground economy is a location for great proletarian struggle. It can contain some of the most egregious dehumanizing aspects of the capitalist system. But it also serves as a crack in that very system.
As comrades pointed out in our survey of drug use and trade in U.$. prisons, the presence of drugs is accompanied by an absence of unity and struggle among the oppressed masses. Meanwhile effective organizing against drug use is greatly hampered by threats of violence from the money interests of lumpen organizations and state employees.(2) The drug trade brings out the individualist/parasitic tendencies of the lumpen. Our aim is to counter that with the collective self-interest of the lumpen. It is that self-interest that pushes oppressed nation youth to "gang up" in the first place, in a system that is stacked against them.
The revolutionary/anti-imperialist movement must be active and aggressive in allying with the First World lumpen today. We must be among the lumpen masses so that as contradictions heighten, oppressed nation youth have already been exposed to the benefits of collective organizing for self-determination. The national contradiction in occupied Turtle Island remains strong, and we are confident that the lumpen masses will choose a developed revolutionary movement over the reactionary state. Some of the bourgeois elements among the lumpen organizations will side with the oppressor, and with their backing can play a dominant role for some times and places. We must be a counter to this.
While Mao faced much different conditions than we face in the United $tates today, the story of alliances and betrayals during the Chinese revolution that Sakai weaves is probably a useful guide to what we might expect. Ey spends one chapter analyzing the Futian Incident, where "over 90 percent of the cadres in the southwestern Jiangxi area were killed, detained, or stopped work."(p.205) The whole 20th Army, which had evolved from the lumpen gang, Three Dots Society, was liquidated in this incident. It marked a turning point and led to a shift in the approach to the lumpen in the guerilla areas. While in earlier years, looting of the wealthy was more accepted within the ranks of guerrilla units, the focus on changing class attitudes became much greater.(p.208) This reflected the shift in the balance of forces; the development of contradictions.
Sakai concludes that the mass inclusion of lumpen forces in the guerrilla wars by the military leaders Mao Zedong and Chu Teh was a strategic success. That the lumpen played a decisive role, not just in battle, but in transforming themselves and society. We might view the Futian Incident, and other lesser internal struggles resulting in death penalties meted out, as inevitable growing pains of this lumpen/peasant guerilla war. Mao liked to quote Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, in saying that war is different from all other humyn activity.
For now we are in a pre-war period in the United $tates, where the contradictions between the oppressed and oppressors are mostly fought out in the legal realms of public opinion battles, mass organizing and building institutions of the oppressed. Through these activities we demonstrate another way; an alternative to trying to get rich, disregarding others' lives, senseless violence, short-term highs and addiction. We demonstrate the power of the collective and the need for self-determination of all oppressed peoples. And we look to the First World lumpen to play a major role in this transformation of ourselves and society.
July 2018 — Hey guys n gals. Well good and bad news.
First the good. I successfully organized my first demonstration, on Father's Day. We are in G-4 custody (20 hr lockdown - 2 hr dayroom and 2 hr rec). The staff always steals our rec with the excuse of "short of staff." So I gathered 6 other prisoners and stated that we would like to speak to Rank (i.e. Sergeant or Lieutenant). Soon all 48 prisoners were united. The officers did not know what to do. They called on the radio an ICS (inmate control squad) stating that we were refusing to rack up. Lo and behold, every officer on the unit arrived with bean bag guns, gas, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, everybody. I guess they were NOT short of staff! LOL!
After that I approached the Captain very calmly and told him our grievances. The Warden showed up just in time to see. He said "tell them to rack up and we will see what the officer has to say." Seeing that the message had been delivered, I withdrew.
About 10 minutes later they came back and gave us rec.
Now the bad news. Since then the prisons are now targeting me and I am in Seg. SMH! It is okay. Because I see now that I do have the power to make a difference.
Thanks for the Texas Activist Pack, and thanks for the back issues. I also got ULK 62 yesterday and I will follow up soon. In Struggle!
MIM(Prisons) responds: The Texas Activist Pack was updated in August 2018, and you can get one by sending a donation of $3.50. It's a bit thicker now, so the cost to print and mail it has gone up since the last version. The Texas Pack has info about all the campaigns that United Struggle from Within comrades have developed for the state of Texas.
Let's pause to consider why aren't these materals already available to prisoners held by TDCJ? Why has the TDCJ been withholding the grievance manual from prisoners since at least November 2014? Who are the people held by TDCJ and how does it impact their lives and familes when they don't have access to this info?
Filing grievances and working on individual or reform campaigns do have their place. But, like with this comrade's successful efforts to get rec time, the greatest impact will come in the unity we build with our comrades, and the sense of our own power that we can tap into. Those are the successes that are going to stick with us for the long haul, and through various stages that our struggle goes through.
May 2018 — I read ULK 61 and it is a pretty interesting newsletter on a topic that I have never put much thought into. I have to say I do not agree with the portion about "un-muddling the relationships between comrades (i.e. no dating within the org)" in the Sex-Offenders vs. Anti-People Sex Crimes article. I believe this practice would serve no real interest in the organization. I believe it is a form of dis-unity. To make a method of such effective the org would have to segregate the two (men and women). The reason being men and women form relationships naturally. I believe we need to congregate with our women for relationships, build unity, and if unity is a strong point of this organization a rule like that shall be established in this organization.
I do understand why MIM would decide to take that approach, but I see it as going against the inevitable. I believe it would also create secrecy in the org if people were dating and that would cause dishonesty. I believe a better approach would be to recognize the relationship, as to say if the comrades are to date they should be married. Not only would this relationship be recognized by the org, it would be recognized by the state/U.$., further decreasing such allegations of sex crimes. And at the same time the organization would be helping to build and create unity between men and women.
Another reason I believe this approach/practice would be more effective in the organization is because people seem to be more serious about marriage, meaning there just won't be any fraternizing within the organization. If there has to be an appointed licensed priest/preacher or someone to wed the two it should be done so. It, the ceremony, should be done in front of the org. Now it becomes if someone interferes with the relationship man or woman they should be punished/dealt with. Now that the marriage is consensual the sex is consensual. We should not deharmonize the harmony between man and woman. We are trying to build a United Front!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We need to be clear that marriage does not ensure consensual sex. We can't create a utopia outside of the patriarchal culture right now, and so we know that our relationships (including marriages) will still be strongly influenced by that culture. And under the patriarchy sexual relations are inherently unequal regardless of marital status or level of political activism of the people involved.
This writer is correct that people do have a tendency to become romantically involved with people with whom they spend a lot of time. And having a lot of political unity can encourage this romance. We don't share the view that this is naturally just between men and wimmin. It also happens between men and men and between wimmin and wimmin. So separating the people would only stop some romance. There may be other arguments for separating men and wimmin while we battle the patriarchy, but we shouldn't expect this to end romance or sexual assault. The situation in men's prisons across the United $tates is a clear demonstration of this point.
Our main disagreement with this writer is with the idea that we should use romance to build unity. On the factual front, even with the formality of marriage, most relationships don't stay together. This is just a fact of life under the imperialist patriarchy right now. This is the reality we live in. And we know that when relationships end there is a lot of irrational anger (and often rational anger too) that comes with it. So if we're trying to build unity, encouraging romantic relationships is likely to backfire in the majority of cases where the relationship doesn't last. Perhaps we can do better than the average couple with the support of the political organization, but we're still going to have a lot of relationships end. We just don't have the power or reach right now to reverse this fact of patriarchal culture.
In the ULK 61 article this writer responds to we wrote:
"How we handle this process now in our cell structure will be different if a cell has 2 members versus 2,000 members. The process will need to be adapted for different stages of the struggle as well, such as when we have dual power, and then again when the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations has power. And on and on, adapting our methods into a stateless communism.
"Even with policies in place, we have limited means of combating chauvinism, assault allegations and other unforeseen organizational problems endemic to the left. Rather than wave off these contradictions, or put them out of sight (or cover them up, like so many First World-based parties and organizations have done), we need to build institutions that protect those who are oppressed by gender violence."
This is something we need to continue discussing, trying various approaches, and working on the best approaches to ensure the longevity of the anti-imperialist movement.
I think a crime against the people is dead ass wrong because they be bringing up all kind of bullshit ass charges to hold you for shit just because you have a certain kind of charge. People will judge you. It's hard for a sex offender charge because the female officers will use your sex charge against you. They act like you done killed the president or something.
I done seen some cats get locked up for 1 charge, come out of prison a sex offender. Like in the state I'm locked up in, Georgia. They will make you register as a sex offender if you have masturbation charge on your file or too many of them.
A lot of drug charges get more time than anything. But it's the hardest, say like this, if I sell drugs to support my family because I can't get a job. That's the only thing I know how to do. Not to say it's right. But I done seen how drugs fucked some people up, like ice. It done messed up a lot of black people. How can the pigs punish you for drugs? But you are not trying to stop it. It's doing nothing but killing our own people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores why we want to set up systems of rehabilitation for people who commit crimes against the people. We agree that it is hypocritical for a society to punish people for selling drugs, but set it up so this is the easiest (or only) way people can feed their families.
Capitalist society promotes crimes against the people: from careers in national oppression (police, CO, military, government), to flooding lumpen neighborhoods with drugs and guns, to advertising sex (often with very young girls) in popular culture. We need to transform these oppressive structures and culture of rape so that we can hold people to realistic standards of treating their fellow humyns with dignity and respect.
That's not to excuse the cops and military for what they do every day to oppressed nations. And we can push the lumpen now to stop pushing destructive drugs on their people. Even under capitalism people have the ability to act in the interests of the oppressed. But we know that the biggest step we can take towards ending the oppression is ending the structure of capitalism that requires this oppression.
Having been engaged much of my adult life in fedz and now state of Oregon, I am acutely aware of this dilemma which faces us behind the walls. As a "validated" (e.g. oppressor-classified prison gang member) New Afrikan for over 20 years, I've been conditioned to see myself as a kind of superior klass of man within the greater kaptive klass. By virtue of my "good" paperwork I established a history of violence behind walls: day-to-day conduct in line with NARN ideological precept(s). I saw it as us vs. them, the latter being those who had "bad" paperwork (e.g. sex charges, informant backgrounds, etc.). We were taught to revile them, extort them, dog them at every turn, as if doing so would somehow validate my/our realness. A "convict" vs. "inmates"! For over half my life I've bought into this fallacy.
In 2014 I had a life-altering experience. First I was given 45 years behind a PTSD-fueled assault. Secondly, I was abandoned by all I'd held dear. Thirdly, I embraced Islam. All of which caused me to do a self-evaluation and in turn analyze my ideology as it related to "struggle". Entering the ODOC, I've found that all my previously-held notions of what is and what is not a so-called "convict" has been forever altered. This cesspool is a virtual twilight zone to say the least. The ODOC captives have created a Calif-caricature, in which alternative realities to reality is the prevailing social norm. The so-called "good dudes" are those with no sex offenses, yet can be obvious jailhouse rodents and be respected. This wierdo worldview made me reevaluate.
Those of us who subscribe to progressive politics see it like this. Simply having a sex case does not, in and of itself, make one a pariah to us. We believe in a peoples' tribunal, where one's peers study all paperwork related to a case prior to making any community decisions. It should be noted: child rape and elderly rape is non-negotiable, if DNA evidence is involved. We all hold those to be a line of demarcation and that peoples' justice should be meted out accordingly.
Now with this being said, a Muslim is obligated to not only accept all fellow Muslims as brothers in faith but also support him in conflicts that occur. I cannot lie, my prior conditioning has me today struggling with this. My hatred for the Amerikan injustice system makes it virtually impossible to be cool with those who've rided for the kkkops. Ditto for those who see putting molestation of children or elders as ok. Islam teaches us that our creator accepts repentance of all who sincerely repent and in turn correct their behaviors. As a man, a dad, a granddad, I am wrestling mightily within myself to embrace this tenet of my faith, whilst simultaneously striving to embrace my kaptive peers into a more unified and progressive ideological precept.
In a nutshell, ODOC is showing us that many sex convictions are highly suspect and as such must be independently verified, prior to judging them. And, there can be redemption and klass acceptance for some. The divisions within klass truly only serve the oppressors' interests, as they continue to oppress us all. History has shown the poorest of Euroamerikans have been and continue to be the greatest obstacles to klass unity, as they fear unity and klass progress will cost them their "white privilege." Hence their continuous "chads agent" behaviors anytime we make any advances. This segment is our greatest enemy in my eyes and until we address them, in context of "dangerous foes," we shall not progress.
With that I shall stop here. Hopefully, something i've shared can help push this national dialogue. Until the next time, I remain standing firm and firmly embracing of all progressives! Power to the people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's work to build unity and embrace those ey previously rejected. But we want to comment on the klass division ey mentions. As this writer explains, Euro-Amerikans' fear of losing their class privilege is a huge barrier to unity in the United $tates. This fact reinforces our understanding that it is nation, not class, that is the principal contradiction within U.$. borders. Oppressed-nation unity is what we must fight for, because the vast majority of the oppressor nation will not join the struggle to end their power and privilege. There's still a place in the struggle for white folks who renounce their national privilege and join the revolutionary movement. We can embrace whites, men, sex offenders, drug dealers, and all who renounce past reactionary acts and dedicate themselves to serving the people.
I read ULK 61 and it gave me the idea to finally speak up. I spoke with my loved ones on me sharing a bit about my current situation, and they agreed it was a great idea to share my conflicting story.
I was arrested in 2013 at the age of 16 for a sex crime on a minor under the age of 14. The victim was a relative who was very close to me. Being sexually abused myself at such a young age, I know how my victim might feel. The difference in my abuse was I was 9 years old when a 43-year-old man took advantage of me in the worst forms possible. I started to use heavy drugs at the age of 11. I smoked meth and PCP, and did mostly any drug that I could get my hands on. I was under the influence when I committed the crime. Even though I only remember small pieces of that day, I had to be honest with myself and my loved ones. I was sentenced to 5 years in prison for what I did.
Now that my victim is older she has forgiven me for what I did. My mom and other family members stood by my side. They knew I needed help. The drugs were taking over my life.
Being so young in prison really shattered my innocence and what little of humanity that I had within me. My transition from juvenile hall to state prison was terrifying. I was afraid that I wasn't going to make it home. I was beaten, humiliated by COs, sexually assaulted by my cellies.
I had lost hope. I didn't want to accept that I was being categorized as a sex-offender or a cho-mo, even though I was a youngster when I committed the crime. I attempted suicide at least 7 times while in prison. I tried to hang myself, I cut my veins, and overdosed several times. I couldn't come to terms with having to register and all the other obstacles that I would have to face. I'm not this weird old man who gets off on watching little kids, or has a rap sheet for being a predator. That's not me.
Now that I'm going home soon, my family support was giving me a glimpse of hope. They want me to write a book to tell my story. I'm not this animal that the state painted me to be. I just had a messed up childhood that led to traumatic events. Some of my counselors in juvenile hall used to tell me to not be so hard on myself, that I should also take some time to receive help on issues from my past. I'm currently diagnosed with three major mental health disorders: PTSD stage 2, major depression disorder, and personality disorder. I take medication for these disorders.
I don't ever want to come back to prison, I have experienced things in this place that I'm embarrassed to talk about. It would break my family's heart if they knew what was going on with me inside these walls. I'm not asking for sympathy or pity. I just want people to understand to not be so quick to judge or put someone down. In a couple of months I'll be home with my family fighting for my happiness and seeking a better future.
MIM(Prisons) responds: By demonizing everyone in prison who has committed a sex crime (and this persyn readily admits ey falls in that category) we can see how people like this writer, who may just need help to overcome their own history of abuse, are instead terrorized and further traumatized. It's hard to see how this demonization is helpful, or serves to rectify the wrong that was done against a this writer's victim.
Those who can admit to and recognize their crimes against others are in the best position to be rehabilitated and turn their lives to productively serving the people. Writers like this one are setting an example of self-criticism and self-awareness. We hope that ey is able to move past eir own abuse and use those horrible experiences to inspire future work fighting the patriarchy that creates a culture encouraging such awful acts. We embrace comrades who can put in the hard work of self-criticism and rectifying their past wrongs. It does not matter which crimes against the people we committed, it matters that we are learning and growing and taking action to fight the imperialist system that enables and encourages such acts.
July 2018 — In ULK 61 the contentious topic of sex offenders was discussed with great objectivity (even in certain subjective analyses) and openness. The following will attempt to clarify, expound and expand on some of these positions from my perspective.
I wrote, "Excluding all non-sexual depredations (public urination and such), SOs constitute a dangerous element; more so than murderers because SOs often have more victims, and many of those victims become sexual predators, creating one long line of victimization." As a rejoinder to this comparison, MIM(Prisons) stated: "When someone is murdered in lumpen-criminal violence, often there is retaliatory murder, and subsequent prison time."
While this may prove accurate among lumpen organizations (LOs) and loosely associated persons, this is very far from the truth in society, generally speaking. A majority of people, even a majority of lumpen class, do not resort to such literal "eye-for-an-eye" justice. While there are many (mostly males between 14-22 years old) who do seek retaliatory murders, on the whole they produce a minority to be certain. Just as murderers constitute a noticeable minority of the 2.3-million-plus currently incarcerated through the United States.
Contrarily, sexual predators affect the entire societal composition. They perpetrate crimes against males and females, provoking deep-burrowing psychological problems, and turn many victims into victimizers (not all turn to outright sexual depredation). There is no question murder is irrespective of class, gender, nation, and provokes intense psychological trauma. The difference is not in the severity of the anti-proletariat crime — taking a life or ruining a life — but in the after-effects. To make the argument that murder creates murder in the same, or even similar, manner as sexual victimization creates future victimizers is beyond stretching. It is a patently false premise. Were it even close to the reality of present society, there would be anywhere from 10-50 times more murders and murderers in this country and its prisons.
Not to be crass, but murder is more of a one-two punch knock out. Where sexual depredation is twelve rounds of abuse by Robert Duran with your hands behind your back. Most murderers are not serial killers, which means their victims are family and known associates. Sexual predators habitually prey on strangers who fit their desired victim profile, in addition to relatives, friends, or associates. Murderers are normally incarcerated once arrested. Sexual predators are often times released.
Also it is much more stigmatizing to be a victim of sexual violence — shame, feelings of inferiority, desire to vengeance, self-deprecation — than a murderer's victim. Desire for justice, feelings of powerlessness, and greater stigmatization arises from the criminal injustice system's treatment of sex crime victims. Many are left feeling as if they are the perpetrator instead of the victim. This is why so many sex crimes go unreported. Such is not the case with murders, unless persons decide to seek vigilante justice. Considering the above, it is clear why a more negative perspective is attached to SOs than to murderers. Logically, a murder is traumatic but almost all overcome the event without becoming killers. In the case of sexual victimization, a slim minority overcome the stigma, and more than half become victimizers; whether emotionally, physically, or continue to harm themselves, reliving the victimizations perpetrated upon them.
"Lumpen criminal violence (created and encouraged by selective intervention and neglect by the state) is one of the reasons why 1 in 3 New African men will go to prison at some point in their lifetime." This is undoubtedly true. Although to state such a statistic to disprove the "logic" behind SOs being viewed as pariahs more than murderers is slightly disingenuous. Capitalism is formed in a manner destined to exclude great numbers of people. Mass incarceration is capitalism's answer to this exclusion. This is the manner in which capitalism addresses the lumpen class it creates in order to maintain a steady course on the capitalists' globalization/exploitation road. Crime and violence are incidental to the system that created a mass lumpen class. So, while this does "represent a long line of victimization," it is inherent to capitalism, but sexual depredation is not.
As it relates to imminent or immediate efforts at rehabilitating sexual predators, my meaning was that efforts can be made on an individual basis by revolutionaries who are able to see past label prejudice. Through their efforts, if conducted scientifically, a systematic method can emerge for once the revolution is successful. Practice directs theory and theory is validated in practice, of course. But my overall meaning was and remains that sex crimes will be a problem for capitalism, socialism, or communism. Sexual depredation is a social contagion which transcends borders of politics, gender, economy, class, nationhood and age. Revolutionaries will need to address the problem sooner or later. For those who can be ahead of the curve, they should be. Revolutions need innovative trail blazers as does every department of humynity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this clarification on this writer's article in ULK 61, and find some compelling points here for distinctions between the impact of murders and sexual assaults. Though we still maintain that we will need to reform all who can be reformed, regardless of crimes (conviction or not).
We need to address a few factual questions. The author claims that "SOs habitually prey on strangers who fit their desired victim profile; in addition to relatives, friends, or associates". The reality is that studies of sexual assault have found that around 70%-75% of survivors know their rapist. It is a myth that sexual assault is mostly perpetrated on strangers. This myth serves the racist idea that New Afrikan men are raping white wimmin. And this falsehood has been used to target and persecute New Afrikan men going back to the time of slavery, specifically targeting ones seen as a threat by those in power. So although this is a minor point in the author's essay, we want to clarify the facts.
We want to also address this writer's comment that "sexual depredation is a social contagion which transcends...gender." Sexual assault is one of the most blatant symptoms of a system of gender oppression. It is the exercise of gender power. Sexual assault is a product of the patriarchal system that sets up gender power differences in our society.
And so, we disagree with the author that crime and violence are inherent to capitalism but sexual depredation is not. In the abstract this makes sense: sexual depredation is a result of the patriarchy, a system of gender oppression. Capitalism is a system of class oppression. The two are distinct systems of oppression.
But society has evolved to intertwine class, gender and national oppression so intimately that it is not practical to think we can eliminate one without eliminating the others. Seeing gender oppression as something outside of capitalism suggests we can eliminate gender oppression entirely under capitalism. While we can certainly target aspects of gender inequality and oppression for reform under capitalism, this is similar to enacting reforms to the systems of national oppression. We might improve conditions for individuals within the capitalist system, but the underlying system of oppression will remain.
This doesn't mean we ignore gender oppression right now. We must expose it, and we should demand that it be stopped wherever possible. For instance, fighting against rape in prison is a battle that could reduce the suffering of many prisoners. But we can also see the outcome of state responses to prison rape in the ineffectual and sometimes counter-productive PREA regulations.
With that said, we do agree with this writer that we can work now towards a systematic method to deal with sex offenders and sexual predators. But we will have fewer resources and less power to help these individuals reform now, before we have state power.
We won't reach the stage of communism until we eliminate sex crimes. We disagree with the author's assessment that sex crimes will exist in all systems. Communism is a society without oppression, where all people are equal. We will have to eliminate class, nation and gender oppression before we can achieve a communist society. And so this writer is correct that revolutionaries must address the problem of sex crimes, both sooner and later. As we discuss in the article "On Punishment vs. Rehabilitation," the stage of our struggle will help determine how we deal with those who commit crimes against the people.
Until, and perhaps after, we achieve a society where the culture of capitalist individualism has been destroyed, revolutionary organizations will have to deal with crimes against the people. We need to protect our movement from harm, and we must balance how to protect it from all sides. In some cases, punishment will be appropriate. But our primary focus will always be rehabilitation. Here we will discuss how we think about punishment and rehabilitation in the different stages of revolutionary struggle.(see definitions in Notes below)
Simply punishing someone for a behavior is a generally accepted, but widely ineffective, method of changing that persyn’s behavior. There is first the consideration of whether the persyn is compelled by the punishment to change their behavior. (What does the punishment mean to the one being punished? Does the punishment match the crime?) Second is the consideration of whether the persyn being punished understands their crime and how the punishment relates to the crime. So simply punishing someone without providing any accompanying rehabilitation may serve the purposes of satisfying the victims, or detering others from doing the same behavior, but it does little to change that persyn’s behavior or change eir mind about eir behavior.
Crimes against the people
Crimes against the people are actions that harm the oppressed, either directly or by harming the revolutionary movement of the oppressed. In our current context, they include things like snitching to pigs, facilitating drug addiction, stealing from the masses, and a long list of other counter-revolutionary actions. The list of crimes that must be dealt with today, directly (versus crimes that can’t be dealt with until during the wartime period, or post-revolution) will change as we move through stages of struggle. Additionally, what is possible for us to deal with will also change over time, as we grow in strength and acquire more resources.
Even though we see many crimes against the people committed around us daily, we only have so much capacity to try to rehabilitate people, and an even more limited ability for punishment. But while lacking the time and resources to rehabilitate everyone, we also must keep in mind the consequences to the movement of punishing counter-revolutionary actors. Doling out punishment can have potentially dangerous consequences, yet it might be the only option available to us in certain circumstances. So whether to punish vs. rehabilitate is not simply a question of what we are able to do, but also what will be best for the revolutionary movement.
Overall, focus on rehabilitation
There are no cut and dry guidelines on this question of relabilitaion vs. punishment. Our actions will depend on many factors, and we can only figure this out in practice. Focusing too much on hypotheticals only clouds our judgement when we are faced with an actual crime that we need to deal with.
Yet on the overall question of whether to focus on rehabilitation or punishment, we look to Mao’s injunction that we focus on rehabilitation of those who make mistakes but are open to correcting their errors and rehabilitating their political line and practice:
“A person with appendicitis is saved when the surgeon removes his appendix. So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade. We can never succeed if we just let ourselves go, and lash out at him. In treating an ideological or a political malady, one must never be rough and rash but must adopt the approach of ‘curing the sickness to save the patient’, which is the only correct and effective method.” (Mao Zedong, “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (1 February 1942, Selected Works, Vol. III)
Before the proletariat seizes state power
We are in the pre-revolutionary period right now. Pre-revolution includes the current period of “relatively peaceful” organizing, and the period of outright war when the oppressed fight to take control of the state. The oppressed-nation lumpen in the United $tates face life-or-death circumstances every day, including consequences of imprisonment, economic disparity, inter-lumpen violence, police violence, and attacks from various white nationalists at all levels of society. While we face daily violence, our organizing at this time primarily focuses on self-defense and building independent institutions of the oppressed. That’s why we call this a “relatively peaceful” organizing period, where we focus on preparation.(1)
In our day-to-day struggle, many counter-revolutionary actions will not be a question of life and death as they are in wartime. But they are still serious and potentially dangerous to the movement. This is the period when we have the least power to carry out punishment and to rehabilitate effectively. We should strive for rehabilitation when possible, but with limited power and resources we will need to evaluate each case to determine what we can accomplish.
While we don’t have state power, when rehabilitation is not an option, we still have enough power in some situations to punish crimes against the people. This punishment most often involves exclusion from the movement, but can include public criticism and more physical actions. Our actions in this regard will need to be carefully considered in each case.
The case of snitches comes up a lot in prison organizing, where many attempt to curry favor with the guards in this way. Snitches are counter-revolutionary actors who must be cut out from the movement, though we may lack the power to appropriately punish snitches (beyond exclusion) at this time. But we also believe that snitches, and everyone else who commits crimes against the people, have the potential for rehabilitation through education and struggle if we have the opportunity to engage with them deeply. However, that’s not always a good use of our time right now. Those who see the error of their ways and come to us with self-criticism for their past actions are clearly an easier target for rehabilitation and revolutionary education. Each case will require individual consideration. Those involved in the struggle and impacted by the crimes will have to assess the appropriate response and mix of re-education and punishment.
At Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio in 1993, prisoners were throwing their trash on the tier in a protest. In the book Condemned by Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) we learn the details. This protest was going on for several days and the guards brought in a trustee to clean the tier. The prisoners tried to talk with this trustee over multiple days, to get em to refuse the job, yet the trustee kept cleaning the tier. The protesting prisoners punished the trustee violently. In this case we see the correct method of first attempting to struggle with someone who is acting against the movement, and later taking more direct action to shut em down to protect the movement. We can’t judge this specific incident from afar, and it is something revolutionaries will have to figure out in day-to-day struggle.
Pre-revolution active wartime
Times of war are, of course, characterized by the use of violence and killing of the enemy as the default means of achieving goals. In wartime, the primary focus is on destroying the enemy, and this includes killing counter-revolutionaries. Anyone who acts to support the imperialists is swiftly punished. Some of these crimes merit death, as actions that result in the deaths of many revolutionaries cannot be tolerated.
“Mao Z reminds us in one of his military essays, of the insight from von Clausewitz, that war is different from all other human activity.
”When you check out the record, you can get the feeling that young Mao Z barely bothered to conceal how much he wanted to rip the Li Li-san faction right out of the ‘red’ military and rural party, by any means necessary. No matter how flimsy the excuse or reason, he really didn’t care. To him, the revolution had to disentangele itself, to meet a life-or-death challenge, as quickly as possible.
“…Mao Z and Chu Teh weren’t in suburban California, judging or dismissing cases of individuals in a civilian situation. That would be one set of circumstances. They were in a remote war zone, deep in the countryside, preparing feverishly for the largest and possibly most decisive battle any of them had ever gone through, raw soldiers and officers alike. Any disadvantage could cost them everything, while any advantage might be life-saving. That was a different set of circumstances.”(2)
During the revolutionary wars of the USSR and China, they did not always have the time or resources to attempt to convince traitors to rejoin the revolution, and in many cases they could not even set up prisons to contain these enemies for future rehabilitation. Mao’s guerillas had to turn around and execute lumpen forces that had previously fought side-by-side with them against the Kuomintang. At other times, the People’s Liberation Army was able to successfully recruit whole sections of the Kuomintang army into their ranks. Again, an in-the-moment assessment of our threats and capabilities, with a preference for rehabilitation whenever possible, will be necessary even during wartime.
When we have state power, we will be in a better position to rehabilitate people. But in the short term the masses will demand punishment for those who owe blood debts. In China shortly after the anti-Japanese war was won and the Communist Party took power, Mao addressed this topic:
“The number of counter-revolutionaries to be killed must be kept within certain proportions. The principle to follow here is that those who owe blood debts or are guilty of other extremely serious crimes and have to be executed to assuage the people’s anger and those who have caused extremely serious harm to the national interest must be unhesitatingly sentenced to death and executed without delay. As for those whose crimes deserve capital punishment but who owe no blood debts and are not bitterly hated by the people or who have done serious but not extremely serious harm to the national interest, the policy to follow is to hand down the death sentence, grant a two-year reprieve and subject them to forced labour to see how they behave. In addition, it must be explicitly stipulated that in cases where it is marginal whether to make an arrest, under no circumstances should there be an arrest and that to act otherwise would be a mistake, and that in cases where it is marginal whether to execute, under no circumstances should there be an execution and that to act otherwise would be a mistake.”(3)
In this situation, the Communist Party was acknowledging that it could not get too far ahead of the masses. Punishing those who had committed extremely serious crimes was part of demonstrating to the masses that the Party was acting in their interests. But the goal was not punishment and execution. The goal was to move as many people towards rehabilitation as possible. And we can’t know who has the potential for rehabilitation until we try. Overall, communists should assume that all people can be educated/re-educated because humyns have great capacity to learn and grow, especially when removed from harmful/reactionary circumstances.
Of course forced labor in China was a punishment for these counter-revolutionaries. But it was also an opportunity for reform and rehabilitation. As we learn in the book Prisoners of Liberation by Adele and Allyn Rickett, even people who had served as spies for imperialists during the war were given a chance at rehabilitation. The Ricketts, in China for academic study on a Fullbright Scholarship, were passing information to the Amerikkkan and Briti$h governments. This was while the Chinese were fighting for control of Beijing and then into the imperialist war on Korea, in which the Chinese were fighting against Amerikan troops.
The Ricketts were spies in wartime. Yet the Chinese Communists did not execute them. Instead they were imprisoned in a facility where the emphasis was on re-education and self-criticism. It took both Allyn and Adele years to come to an understanding of why their actions were wrong. But during that time they were never physically abused. Their forced confinement was certainly a punishment, but in the end they came to see this time in a Chinese prison as justified and a valuable educational experience that made them both better people. They were transformed.
Balance of forces for punishment and rehabilitation
In all cases, we must balance several considerations:
The weight of the crimes of a persyn
The sentiment of the masses towards that persyn and their crimes
The power we have to implement rehabilitation programs effectively
The ability to perform punishment if deemed appropriate
Our assessment of the above considerations will change based on our stage of struggle and our ever-evolving strength and abilities. In all cases revolutionaries should strive to reform and rehabilitate as many people as possible. But the limits of our resources pre-revolution, the need for expedience on life-and-death situations in wartime, and the need to fulfill the masses’ demand for justice post-war must also be taken into account.
We received a lot of thoughtful responses to Under Lock & Key 61 debating sex offenders. This is a tough topic. It’s easy to recognize that our culture encourages abuse of wimmin. And there are many problems with how the criminal injustice system defines sex crimes and selectively prosecutes this crime. But people don’t want to condone rape, and many of us have a persynal reaction of horror to sexual predators that makes it hard to think about this objectively.
Regardless of the societal influences, and the unfair definitions and prosecutions, there are a lot of people who have committed sex crimes, and these should not just be ignored or forgiven. This topic got a lot of people thinking about whether or not sex offenders (SOs) can be part of the movement, and if they committed sex crimes, if they can be reformed.
Defining sex crimes
We have all been raised in a culture that promotes sexism and condones gender oppression. We call this system the patriarchy. It’s a system where sexy young teen models sell clothes, and TV and movies glorify powerful men and violence against wimmin. This culture colors every relationship we have. We’re taught that being a good man means acting manly and strong and never letting a womyn tell you what to do. And we’re taught that being a good womyn means submitting to the needs and desires of your man. With this training, we can’t expect equality in relationships. And without equality, we can’t expect free consent. Not everyone has a gun to their heads when they are asked to consent to sex, but there are a lot of different forms of power and persuasion.
So we’re starting out with a messed up system of gender oppression, and then we’re trying to define which acts of sexual violation count as coerced (rape) and which are just “normal.” One California prisoner wrote:
"I want to comment on the sex offender topic. Yeah it’s rough because like the Nevada 17 1/2 yr old dude it’s just that easy to get caught up. As adults we’re able to date 18-19 year olds as a 40-50 year old.
"I mean if people are going to argue 15 year old and an 18 is different, the question is why/how? If their answer isn’t ‘I just want my baby girl to be my baby girl a few more years’ then their answer is B.S., because that’s what it really boils down to.
“Moving on, the sex offender umbrella is too big. Like it was mentioned, a person taking a leak in public is considered a sex offender? We haven’t always had toilets, let’s get real and go after the real sex offenders – fully adult male/female taking advantage of a child. That’s a sex offender! 20, 30, 40 year old trying to sleep with a 13 year old – sex offender! Possession of child pornography – sex offender!”
This writer raises the question of age to define sex crimes. We ask, why is a 20 year old sleeping with a 13 year old rape, but a 20 year old with a 15 year old isn’t? Probably because this writer believes a 15 year old is capable of consent but a 13 year old isn’t. That’s the key question: who has the ability to give consent?
Truly free consent isn’t possible from within a system that promotes gender oppression from birth. But that’s not a useful answer when trying to define crimes from the revolutionary perspective. And if we’re going to attempting to rehab/punish people who have committed sex crimes, we have to decide what is a reasonable level of consent.
For now, we maintain that we should judge people for their actions, not the label they’re given by the criminal injustice system. As this comrade from Maryland explains, society creates sexual predators who act in many different ways, but their actions all show us they are counter-revolutionary.
"I was reading one article on sex offenders in ULK 61, and it was talking about how to determine whether they did the crime or not. The thought came to me of judge of character, their interactions with males & females, whether prisoners or C.O.s, and the traces of conversations when they feel comfortable. Even those who don’t have sexual offense charges sometimes make you wonder by the way they jerk-off to female C.O.s & female nurses or what they say to them that have you think if they are undercover sex offenders.
"One prisoner went as far as getting the female nurse information off the internet and called them on the jail phone and got (admin) (Administration Segregation). This is the same person that comes back and forth for jerking off to multiple disciplinary segregation terms, but is locked up for a totally different charge. He’s a future sex offender, that can’t be trusted for help in the revolution not due to a label, but due to his character and interactions when he sees females.
"Then you have the ones that have been locked-up in their teenage years and they’re currently in their 30s, and like to chase boys who are easy to manipulate or who want sexual activity. One is big on being a victimizer, but knows and talks a lot of Revolutionary preferences. He has a lot of knowledge but can’t be trusted to prevail due to lack of discipline and wanting to continue in his prison rapes & prison sex crimes that he rejoiced in. But he is another one that is not locked up for any sex offenses. Both were juveniles when incarcerated and have been psychologically damaged and lack change & further rehabilitation. Everyone still embraces them in general population and looks past their sexual activities.
“How can people that exploit sexual habits right in clear view of the prisoners be embraced and not looked upon as potential threats to society, families, and fellow prisoners, when you have someone labeled as a sex offender through childhood friendships and has to be sectioned off & outcasted by other prisoners due to the label of sex offender and not background information, the character of the man, their interactions with same sex and opposite sex, and the signs & symbols through their conversation?”
This writer’s view is echoed by a comrade in Texas who has come to realize we need to judge people for their actions:
“UFPP is a must! Regardless of what you did to get in prison (rape, rob, murder), I (also a prisoner) only judge you or anyone on how they go forward from this day in prison. I used to work in food service and I would break a serving into fifths for women in prison for killing or abusing children. Then I grew up and got over myself. How do I know they were rightfully convicted and how do I know how they got in this prison life? I don’t. We’re all in the same spot starting out. What you do from this time forward is your description for me. And people can change. I have.”
When we look objectively at how many people, both in prison and in society in general, commit sex crimes, it’s pretty depressing. The recent #MeToo movement helped expose just how many sexual predators are in the entertainment industry in particular. And writers like the one above expose individual cases of predators behind bars. This is so common because of a culture that promotes gender inequality. As long as we see wimmin/girls as objects for sexual pleasure we will have a problem with sex crimes. Another prisoner described this pervasive problem in California:
“This letter is in regards to the sex offenders articles in ULK 61. We cannot”always" trust a state to tell us what crimes someone has committed - but most of the time we can. It might not always be so clear, but the majority of the time the person convicted of a sex crime did indeed do it.
"Of the thousands of people I’ve come across in the SNY prisons I’ve been in, absolutely nobody has claimed his pc 290 case is for urinating in public. The most common is sex with a minor as there is absolutely no thing in the state of California as consensual sex with anyone under age 18. I know this all too well because sex with a teen put me where I’m at.
"There are probably as many different variables that create sex offenders as there are types of sex offenders themselves. The overwhelming factor with the sex offenders I’ve met in prison (and there’s a lot of sex offenders in prison) is drug abuse, especially methamphetamine. It’s safe to say that most sex offenders (at least 60-70%) were driven by the effects of meth. There are many in prison who will admit to sex with underage females. Growing up in the housing project of San Francisco’s Mission District I knew a lot of adults (mostly men) that had sexual relationships (and even marriages) with teens. It was very common also that the girls my age as a teen carried on with grown men.
"Go to a Latina’s traditional 15th birthday celebration and count the amount of males over 20 yrs old. Yes, that is what many are there for: the girls. Do younger girls’ parents know about this? Yes, most do. Cinco de Mayo has become another reason for America to party. Latin foods, beers, music, piñatas, etc. We’ve welcomed with open arms. Are we going to pretend that these ‘other’ traditions from Latin America don’t exist and just continue to tag and store sex offenders or will something be done to address this issue?
This writer makes a good point: lots of sex crime charges are real. Many men have committed these crimes. But there’s no need to rely on what the state tells us. In fact this writer demonstrates that people are being honest with em about eir past crimes. We don’t gain anything by trusting the criminal injustice system, and we don’t need to.
This comrade helps demonstrate our point that sex with teens is condoned by capitalist culture. These cultural influences encourage men to see their behavior taking advantage of wimmin, and pursuing teens, as normal and acceptable. We won’t stop this completely until we get rid of the patriarchy and have the power to create a proletarian culture.
Can criminals be reformed?
An important organizing question of today regarding sex offenders is whether or not they can be part of the revolutionary movement. This inspires a lot of debate behind bars. A comrade from Maryland provides some good examples of people becoming revolutionaries in spite of history of anti-people crimes. We agree with eir analysis that everyone who has committed crimes against the people (sex offenders, drug dealers, murderers, etc.) has the potential to reform and be a part of the revolutionary movement. Whether or not we have the resources to help make this happen is discussed in “On Punishment vs Rehabilitation.”
"Eldridge Cleaver was incarcerated for rape upon little white girls and was not on Protective Custody, nor was he a victim, but the victimizer. [Cleaver was actually incarcerated for assault, but was open that he had raped wimmin and even attempted to justify it politically. - ULK Editor] Though upon his parole release he worked for a newspaper company until his run-in with Huey Newton at this newspaper company and joined the Black Panther Party to become later down the line a leader within the BPP political organization. James Carr was another that participated in prison rapes even though he grew to become a instrument for the BPP, a body-guard for Huey Newton upon his release, and a prison vanguard alongside George L. Jackson. Basically, saying that in their era they were not faulted by the political group for their past, but were looked upon what they could do in the present and future.
"With what the United States set as standards are only accountable for those who are out of their class and who they don’t care about, while their class gets away with such crimes or slapped on the wrist with the least time as possible. They have messed us up psychologically mass media. So even if the people don’t know if the crime is true, what the state places upon us as fraud charges, our mindset is automatically it’s true cause America says it’s true. Just like when we see people on the news wanted for questioning about a crime, we automatically say he did it without knowing.
“Did the Revolutionaries of the 60s, 70s, and 80s not participate in the Anti-People Crimes as modern day even though they were Vanguards for the people and just as conscious as we are. Did they not sell illegal drugs to raise money for court fees & bail fees? Did they not drink alcohol and smoke weed & cigarettes? Did they not graduate to hard drugs? Did they not shoot or stab people in their lifetime? Did they not commit sexual assaults? That’s why we are able to learn from their mistake, while also cherishing their great stands of Revolution. So within criticism, criticize all through all eras and let those who want to prove their self do it. If sex offenders, whether guilty or not, started their own organization that was aligned with the same goals, principles, and practices as MIM(Prisons), would you support them or acknowledge their efforts? Do you feel that if a sex offender, guilty or not, got conscious and changed for the better is capable of being a positive tribute to a Revolution?”
On this same topic a Wisconsin prisoner disagrees and sees the example of Eldridge Cleaver as a detriment to the movement overall.
"I personally do not believe there is a place in the movement for sex offenders, and when I say sex offenders I’m referring to those who are in prison for committing sex crimes, not statutory rape, where he’s 17 and she’s 16 or even if he’s 20 and she’s 16. I’m, talking about un-consentual, outright rape of women, men and children. I don’t have any affinity for those who rape prisoners or prison female officers and staff.
“A lot of people bring up Eldridge Cleaver to support the argument of reform for rapists, where to me Eldridge was not a true revolutionary, he helped bring down the BPP and his mistreatment of Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown and others was egregious at best and outright barbaric at worst. I don’t knock those who have compassion and believe in reform for sex offenders, I’m just not one of them.”
While we disagree with this writer’s statement that SOs can’t be reformed, we agree that embracing those who promote gender oppression because of their correct line on national oppression can be very dangerous for a revolutionary movement. The Black Panther Party struggled with gender oppression, but in many ways was ahead of other movements and organizations of their day. This doesn’t mean they got it all right, but we have to judge people and movements in the context of their struggle.
Finally, Legion writes compellingly about the potential for rehabilitation of SOs and also offers a framework for undertaking this work.
"So I’m sitting here eating a bowl of cereal and digesting ULK 61 and comrade El Independista made some valid points and MIM(Prisons) dissented. See when we sparked this debate we were struggling with starting a NLO consisting of comrades who have fucked up jackets who are willing to put pride, ego, individualistic patriarchal thoughts and practices to the wayside forming a column of revolutionaries who are given a chance to show and prove that the state was wrong and that U-C-U works for all instead of some. Answering El Independista’s questions of possible solutions isolation, ostracization, extermination may I build?
"First and foremost as a revolutionary raised in the game I’d rather deal with a SO than a snitch or a jailhouse thief. Why? Because in most cases the SO can be re-educated if given the ability to perform. If a potential comrade has been framed by the state who will hear him out. He’s isolated like the sex offender island in Washington State off of puget sound. Ostracization is another word for shun if the SO shuns his/her anti-people conviction and uses unity-criticism-unity to combat the patriarchy and upholds the merits of a drafted constitution along with personal U-C-U known as self-criticism you can begin to mold revolutionaries who ostracize themselves. Then there is extermination, another word for ending re-education self-critique and revolutionary bent will cause an ill (as in sick) blow to the injustice system. It’s all or none. And no, I’m not harboring cho-mos and rapos, just willing to do the work to see us free all of us. For example, if a column of reformed SOs took up a revolutionary mindset and put said mindset into practice one would exterminate a whole under represented class of people.
“In California the Penal Code 226(a) is any sex crime. 266(h-j) have to do with pimping and pandering, 288 is a molester, 290 is the required registration code. Most kidnappers have to register for life. If you’re a John you have to register and if you’re a prostitute you have to register. If you opt into a shoot out and a child was involved you have to register, and child endangerment is a sex crime. As well as rape, peeing on the side walk, flashing. In prison all these cases get ‘P’ coded which prohibits the captive from ever being level 1 where there is minimal politics, and forces one to live in enclosed structures with secure doors AKA cell living. This leaves level”P" coded prisoners in 3 and 4 yards. These yards are political, whether GP or SNY there are politics. And on these yards you have folks with a knack for praying on the weak, creating a pattern of sexual abuse. Just look at any day room wall you’ll see the # for the PREA hot-line and a slogan that says ‘no means no and yes is not allowed.’
“People, we have to prepare for the white wolf invasion. You can’t bully the SO problem away. You have to be a social scientist and commentator and build institutions that collapse the structure. And to answer MIM(prison), most SOs are on SNY yards and you have these snitch gangs who look to isolate, ostracize and eliminate”threats." Most SOs aren’t rats, hell most aren’t even criminals, no rap sheet only accusations. But these “gangsters” need a common enemy, and an easy target is the SO. As a ‘do what’s best-ist’ I would, if given the platform to do so, launch the wolf collective and invite all who read ULK to join, not as a member but as a witness to the scientific display of revolutionary conduct. I do this to sacrifice self for the masses.
"Start with self-critique and a solid understanding of your errors. Make serious revolutionary action your priority Honor and respect all human beings’ dignity Never go backwards in thought walk and push Stand all the way up for what is righteous and do what’s leftover You will be judged by your political work and political line.
“You might think I’m crazy or nuts but I have 36 nuts and bolts that say otherwise. The mathematics makes sense to turn nuts to plugs you plug in nuts meaning you become the change you want to see, and if I have to build the collective brick by brick stone by stone I will. I’m a convict first for all the would-be haters, but I think the time has come to form an infection on the skin of the beast.”
MIM(Prisons) has set the ambitious goal of making Under Lock & Key a monthly publication by 2022. ULK fills a need in prison, providing revolutionary anti-imperialist reporting on and about the lumpen behind bars. This is a relatively small revolutionary project focused on the criminal injustice system. But prisons are just one part of the larger imperialist machine. And it will take a revolutionary movement much broader than just prisons to bring down capitalism. We are a part of that movement, and it is our job to do what we can to push forward its development.
At this stage in the struggle there are revolutionary cells organizing in various segments within the belly of the beast. We're building a United Front for Peace in Prisons to bring together the movement behind bars. And beyond that we want a united front against imperialism that includes both prison and non-prison organizations. This broader movement needs a unifying publication, a newspaper that can be used to both disseminate information and organize people.
Lenin wrote What is to be Done? about the importance of a regular newspaper publication for organizing the revolution in Russia. And in the early stages of organizing, before the movement gained popularity and broader membership, the Bolshevik leader argued that revolutionaries needed to dream of wide distribution of a regular publication. He wrote that, with enough local groups and study circles taking up active work:
"[W]e could, in the not distant future, establish a weekly newspaper for regular distribution in tens of thousands of copies throughout Russia. This newspaper would become part of an enormous pair of smith's bellows that would fan every spark of the class struggle and of popular indignation into a general conflagration. Around what is in itself still a very innocuous and very small, but regular and common, effort, in the full sense of the word, a regular army of tried fighters would systematically gather and receive their training. On the ladders and scaffolding of this general organisational structure [...] [revolutionaries would] rouse the whole people to settle accounts with the shame and the curse of Russia. That is what we should dream of!"
Why print a newspaper when we have the Internet?
Lenin was writing at a time where there was no other way to communicate between localities. We now have the Internet, and some will argue that online agitation is all we need. We can communicate with people around the globe in a few seconds on the Internet. And this is indeed a powerful organizing tool. So why put out a newspaper beyond prisons, one of the few places in First World countries without access to the Internet? The answer to this question is access and organizing.
Most people don't accidentally come across Maoist websites while browsing online, and with the imminent end of net neutrality this will likely become even more true. We're not going to get publicity in mainstream media. And we don't want to encourage bad security by asking people to post on facebook or twitter and expose themselves to the cops. Newspapers can be left for pickup in coffee shops, libraries, book stores, homeless shelters, community centers, laundromats and other places where folks can happen across a perspective they won't see elsewhere. This expands access to revolutionary news and education.
We can use the Internet to quickly share information about campaigns, and rally people from many locations for quick actions. And we can publish the content of a newspaper online, greatly expanding its reach beyond print media. But while the Internet is a powerful tool, it doesn't get us out on the streets organizing people, talking to them, and building study groups and organizing committees.
With a print publication, organizers can walk up and engage people in a way we can not do online. Newspapers give organizers a tool to use in face-to-face organizing. Talking to people about their conditions, and making the connections to the imperialist system. Asking someone to read an article and talk to them about it. Responding to a speech at a rally with a newspaper article on that topic as a starting point for conversation with folks already sympathetic to the cause.
Political goals of the expanded newspaper
Get organizing updates to comrades in prison with greater frequency
Build unity among the Maoist movement within U.$. borders
Broader distribution of anti-imperialist information
Closer coordination of work between various organizations within the united front against imperialism
Organizing tool for folks on the streets and behind bars
What is needed to expand ULK
Distributors: We can only achieve our goal if we can quickly expand
our network of distributors. This is where you, our readers and supporters come in. We will send you a small stack of ULKs every issue for a year for $50. For our Re-Lease on Life Program comrades we will send them for free until you can afford to pay. Selling them for $1 a piece is one way to get the funds to pay for your subscription. Or if you have the money you can take the easier route of dropping off a few copies at local shops and public spaces that have a spot for people to pick up free publications. For our imprisoned readers, reach out to any individuals or institutions on the outside that you think might be able to take on a regular shipment of ULKs.
Money: It will cost more money to print more newspapers, and also more postage to send it out to distributors. We're asking our distributors to cover the mailing costs of what we send them. We also need people to step up and help fund the printing and the costs of mailing in to prisoners.
Content: Our immediate goal is to increase the frequency of ULK, so that comrades inside are getting more regular organizing updates. As this will also expand the content, we hope to increase the breadth of topics that ULK currently tackles, exposing different sectors of the movement to each others' work. We are working on partnerships with fraternal organizations to help create content for this newsletter. We also call on individuals to increase their efforts to produce quality content that addresses the needs of the oppressed from a proletarian perspective.
Who should be part of this expansion?
Revolutionary anti-imperialist organizations that see Maoism as the furthest advance towards communism to date. This is an explicitly revolutionary project. We will not be toning down the Maoism that is our guiding political line. But we will continue to publish articles from individuals who share our anti-imperialist agenda though perhaps are not Maoists.
We need to expand our outside distributors beyond former prisoners. Expanding the content in our newspaper will help attract more supporters. But we also need more supporters to expand. So our number one challenge to comrades on the streets right now is to step up and become a regular distributor of ULK. Without a broader distribution network, we will not reach our goal of doubling the frequency.
Task list to prepare for January 2022
Start by distributing ULK locally. Sign up with us today by sending $50 to our PO Box with an address to send ULKs to, and begin exploring
ways to distribute the publication regularly. (No checks made out to MIM(Prisons), let us know if you want to send a check)
Commit to a financial contribution for this expansion. Ideally a monthly amount we can count on. You can start donating now to help us build up the cash needed for this project.
Volunteer to start writing articles. Ask for a copy of our recently
updated writing guide.
Revolutionary organizations interested in getting involved in this project, get in touch to start talking about how we can work together.
We have been trying to set up an effective Release on Life program here at MIM(Prisons) for many years. We have expanded the pre-release support we offer to our active comrades behind bars. And we've set up some structures for better contact and support on the streets. But what we can offer is still so little in the face of the very harsh reality of life on the streets after a prison stint. We're working on expanding what we can offer. That takes money. But it also requires ideas and people on the streets to work on this. We know what we're doing now is inadequate. But we're trying to build.
For a few years we published a Re-lease on Life newsletter (ROL) which was mailed out to our comrades on the streets and those with release dates in the near future. But we didn't get much interest around this newsletter. We know people are inspired by ULK because we get lots of letters about it and article submissions for it. ROL didn't inspire many responses or articles. So we're discontinuing that effort. Instead we will focus on practical logistical support for our releasees. And we will continue to print release articles in ULK.
Get in touch if you have a date or expect to be released in the next few years. Start working with us now so we can help set you up for success on the streets.
Below is an interview with one of our comrades who was recently released, underscoring the challenges with life on the streets and the importance of preparation and education while you're still locked up.
Revolutionary Greetings!!! I was released from the penitentiary on July 9th 2018. I've been out for over a month. The state and federal government ain't helping us with shit. It's on us to hustle to provide for ourselves. Learn all u can in prison cuz once u hit these streets it's non stop action. For all y'all without a date, mad love n respect. Each one teach one.
Question: Have you found any support for finding housing? If not, what have you tried and what do you recommend others do if they don't have people to live with already set up?
No I have received housing. I haven't received shit from the state or federal government. If u ain't got friends or family to provide u with a roof over ur head then u gonna struggle out here for real. I got family and friends that blessed my game.
Question: Have you been able to sign up for any government support programs (food stamps, SSI, welfare, etc)?
Yes I did sign up for benefits and shit like that but the state and federal government both denied me.
Question: What did you do to find work after release?
I applied at staffing agencies and shit like that but after they ran my name I never got called. I still don't have a job. Been out 2 months already. Self-employed I guess.
Question: You say people should learn all they can in prison. What kinds of programs and studies do you recommend people focus on in prison to prepare for the streets?
I say people should learn all they can in prison like read books. I did my time in solitary confinement Ad-Seg cuz I'm a active STG member. I educated myself. That's what I mean. Use ur time wisely cuz once u hit these streets its a whole nother world.
Some of our fellow comrades remain skeptical or indifferent about our engagement in the political process. Don't be foolish! We have to act while we can to fortify our freedoms and ensure that government does not try to quarantine our communist ideology. Too long have we been unrepresented at the polls for elections.
The fact that we have been unrepresented only condones and promotes the inundated lies that sound convincing and are spread through education, through the media and through entertainment. "In January 2010, a conservative minority on the Supreme Court radically rewrote Ameri[k]a's campaign-finance laws to allow mega-donors and corporations to contribute unlimited sums, often in secret, to political action committees. The Citizens United v. FEC decision gave wealthy donors unprecedented influence to buy elections, which Republicans quickly used to their political advantage" (Rolling Stone, Ari Berman, February 8-22, 2018, p.30). I do not believe there is any difference from today's political culture and the one of the late 1780s "Three-Fifths Compromise" which treated each slave as three-fifths of a person for tax and representation purposes. It has always been about which political party is going to get the vote.
These mid-term elections elect a body of electors who elect the president and vice president. Under the Trump administration we have watched numerous offices filled and seats to our judicial branch, two of which after the next Supreme Court justice seat, will be for the life of that persyn. How does that weigh on us? I do not know, so the advancement of "why the need to vote?" is a relevant topic for discussion amongst us comrades.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is right that we should be talking about elections in ULK because so many people are focused on this topic in the United $tates right now. On the "left" we regularly hear about the critical need to get Democrats elected in mid-terms to limit President Trump's power. But we come at this topic from a different perspective.
To determine what is the most effective actions we can take today we need to first identify our principal enemy. For revolutionaries this enemy is imperialism, the global system which keeps many nations poor and oppressed in order to provide wealth for a few nations. We happen to live within one of the imperialist powers: the United $tates. Here still imperialism is our principal enemy. And the President is certainly the leader of this imperialist country. But congress is just as much a part of that leadership structure. And whether members of congress are Democrats or Republicans matters not one little bit to which side they are on; being in the Amerikan government requires supporting imperialism.
So when this writer points out that revolutionaries are dramatically underrepresented in the government, we think that's to be expected. The system is not set up to allow for a peaceful revolution through elections. And in fact, when we look closely at the interests of the vast majority of people who could legally vote in elections, we see that their material interests are aligned with imperialism. So of course they are electing these imperialists! The capitalist system has advanced to the point where people living within imperialist countries can be bought off with the vast wealth plundered from the Third World. And buying people off includes buying their voting allegiance since they want to help perpetuate this system that is giving them a comfortable life.
Within imperialist countries we can't expect to have a majority on the side of the oppressed, fighting for revolution, until conditions change dramatically. At this point we're not even close. Trump's reactionary policies and rhetoric may be angering some self-described leftists, but only to the extent that they want to get a more soft-spoken imperialist into the White House. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama are friends of the oppressed. They just peddle a different flavor of imperialism.
It's a mistake for revolutionaries to focus on getting Trump out of office. And when we tell people to vote in mid-term elections we are telling them to vote for the imperialists. There are no revolutionary candidates for high office. And with the implication that we oppose Trump, we're telling people that we support the Democrats. This is not only misleading but also will soon be demoralizing. What happens if the Democrats win big? And at the next presidential election a Democrat comes into office. When we still have imperialism, and the Democratic President is funding more prisons, more police, and more invasions of other countries, what are people going to think of the revolutionaries who campaigned for the Democrats?
This writer raises the question of the Supreme Court. Presidents have the power to fill seats in the court with someone who will serve for life. And these individuals have a big impact on laws in the United $tates. The right to legal abortions, for instance, is a decision many fear could be overturned with a more conservative court. This is an example of a law that has a real impact on people's lives, especially hurting those without the resources to buy access to safe abortions. Just as we fight for legal victories to gain more organizing space and less abuse within prisons, we would oppose outlawing abortion. But these laws and legal precedents are no different than variances in how a city deploys its police force: more trigger happy cops in the projects means more dead oppressed nation youth. There are so many laws and policies within imperialism that are harmful to the oppressed.
Focusing on the Supreme Court again keeps us from seeing the big picture: it's all still a part of imperialism. We will have variations in legal rights and in modes of repression, but imperialism is still the same system of exploitation and oppression. And many of the Supreme Court decisions that Amerikans worry about are only possible due to the luxury of living in this wealthy country. Of course we support affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, and abortion access. But these are things aren't even considered in many Third World countries where the masses are barely surviving in the wake of imperialist wars, direct and by proxy, to secure cheap resources and labor, with puppet dictators in power. The United $tates has not become less imperialist by implementing more rights for more people within U.$. borders.
There are battles that can be fought in these non-revolutionary times that do contribute to weakening imperialism, such as ending torture and political repression within the injustice system. And so we say: keep your eyes on the principal enemy. That enemy is imperialism. Fight that enemy for rights for those living within U.$. borders, but never sacrifice or lose sight of the bigger picture. An imperialist who supports legal abortion for Amerikan wimmin is still an imperialist.
I am approaching from a background of having been held captive in general prison population where I am aware that at least a few of us subscribe to The BayView and Under Lock & Key and agreed the latter's issue No. 62 is controversial in criticizing a certain labor union.
One reason for focusing on this outstanding view(s) is because some of us are unionized with this entity which is the only one of its class that waves membership dues for prisoners and is also actively involved in the prison abolition movement. Specifically you allude in your article to, "Those organizations don't want low paid prisoners to replace high paid petty bourgeois workers."
Further what I think was more shocking is you attributed to outside support low, selfish motive by claiming, "They would be happy to see prisoners rot in their cells... it's higher pay for their class that the labor aristocracy wants." Indisputably your position is informative and generally supported by historical patterns, including Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow which illustrated how Capitalists successfully divided White and New Afrikan working class through granting pay raises and white skin privileges who in turn collectively advocated us decaying in segregation.
I would like to remain on Under Lock & Key subscription list because by far, it's more advanced than a number of other non-mainstream publications, in that yours boldly challenges general thought trends. One case-in-point is an Elder had cautioned us to be vigilant on what Under Lock & Key also affirmed about those who share sentiments identified as "the mass base behind the prison craze." We see clear signs they are present, active and have self-centered agendas.
But in contrast to what you promoted, I don't think our struggle has yet nor is on the verge of being co-opted by selfish motives — though potentially via "Incarcerated Organizing Committees" — provided our focus don't prioritize amending the 13th Amendment over acquiring human rights and Independence, attacking deceptive parole mechanisms. In this regard, MIM(Prisons) provides a vital source exhorting the prison movement to re-evaluate the ramification of amending the 13th Amendment. Perhaps the pendulum will sway away from giving successive energy to the 13th Amendment when factoring that many prison systems already pay money of account for prisoner labor; but yet, both sides of the spectrum agree mass incarceration is the core problem.
In ULK 62, among other issue numbers, you criticize massive prison work strikes. The perspective MIM(Prisons) is herein asked to ponder upon is the impact of "sustained" general work strikes will have on the bottom lines of private sectors; namely, commissary stork, telephone companies, choicey livestock parts that never reaches our food supply, etc.
MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we must make a disclaimer related to this discussion. We've learned of a recent article in Turning the Tide by a couple of United Struggle from Within comrades that calls out IWOC, among other organizations, as "ghost organizations." This is NOT the position of MIM(Prisons) or ULK. We will likely address this in more detail soon. However, we hope our readers can distinguish our approach here in criticizing the political line of other organizations and the effects of that line, rather than disparaging them for not doing anything just because they aren't working with us. No one can deny that the IWOC has done a lot to successfully publicize recent prison struggles and actions.
Overall it seems we have a lot of agreement with the writer above, but areas of debate are well worth addressing. The main point raised here is whether labor unions are selfishly pushing their own agenda for higher wages for the Amerikan labor aristocracy, or if these labor unions can really be putting the interests of prisoners first in prison labor struggles.
As this writer notes, we have plenty of historical evidence of labor unions in the United $tates promoting the interests of the Amerikkkan nation at the expense of oppressed nations.(1) And this promotion of national oppression includes support for the expansion of prisons to lock up oppressed nations. In fact, those prisons provide well-paying jobs for many labor aristocracy workers. So the contradiction between prison employees and prisoners is amplified, as this incarceration is essential to their livelihood.
Many corporations can't take advantage of cheap prison labor because labor unions have put provisions in their contracts and state laws to force consultation with labor leaders before establishing a contract for prisoner labor. It is clear the cheaper labor available in prisons is a direct threat to the high wages paid to people outside of prisons for work that could be done by prisoners. Many labor unions are quite clear about their position on this point.
But the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is different from other labor unions in that it claims to be international and anti-capitalist. The IWW is the labor union offering free membership to prisoners and actively campaigning on behalf of prisoners. The IWW also actively campaigns for higher wages for Amerikan workers. So they are walking a fine line between progressive work supporting prisoners' struggles, and reactionary pro-labor-aristocracy politics. The history of the IWW includes some clear examples benefiting white workers at the expense of colonial labor, as is documented in J. Sakai's book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat.(2)
This doesn't mean the IWW is always working against the interests of prisoners. In fact they have waged some progressive battles. But their goal of raising wages for Amerikan workers is still fundamentally reactionary. The Amerikan labor aristocracy is the mass base for fascism, not a base for revolutionary organizing. They continue to come down on the side of imperialism, and are well bought off with the spoils of conquest and exploitation of oppressed nations around the globe.
In all of our prison struggles we need to keep the contradiction between internal oppressed nations (locked up, killed by police, flooded with drugs, denied economic, educational, and work opportunities, etc.) and the oppressor nation at the forefront. Why do we have such a huge prison population in the United $tates? It comes back to national oppression.
Battles around prisoners getting access to education, or getting paid for their labor, can be progressive parts of the struggle against the criminal injustice system. As long as they are framed in the context of the battle for liberation of oppressed nations. Opportunistically tying the prison labor battle to the broader Amerikan labor union struggles will only drag us down into reactionary oppressor-nation politics which builds up the labor aristocracy at the expense of the world's oppressed.(3) The oppressed, around the world and within U.$. borders, are always the losers in Amerikan labor union wage struggles.
As we come closer and closer to September 9th, Day of Peace & Solidarity, covered in the shadows of Black August, Bloody July, and Blue June, the members of United Struggle from Within(USW) under guidance of the Comrade Loco1 have begun to suffer attacks by the state at the local prison level of Kern Valley State Prisons(KVSP). As we of the common collective refer to it, "Killer Kern", it has been a long time coming this day that members of the MIM(Prisons) guided mass organization came under direct line of fire, but the time has come.
As of late June of 2018, members and supporters of the USW have been on the ground establishing the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons(UFPP) where there has been hostilities between racial factions of the Chican@ nation groups and a particular New Afrikan social group. The hostilities have resulted in riots between both nations that have caught in the line of fire: elderly, crippled, and mentally ill. Members of USW took the lead and waged a strong campaign for the establishment of a Peace Protocol that introduced both Chican@ and New Afrikan prisoners to the UFPP.
USW Loco1, and a key supporter of the UFPP, Silent Israel of The Mafia Alliance(TMA) begun organizing peace talks with various Chican@ nation group leaders on the behalf of the New Afrikans at this local level. Where the pigs had established a culture of turning a blind eye, and even instigating violence against New Afrikans, who are out numbered by the Chican@ factions by far. USW immediately went into overdrive on the consciousness of the masses, which included particularly a call for all convicts to cease in what appears to be radical hostilities driven by police provocations and programming to keep the masses at war and distracted of the rising sun of September 9th. These local leaders put themselves on the chopping block by holding open dialogues with the masses addressing issues like "Racial Segregation" used by the pigs to divide the lumpen, stripping prisoners of the power of uniting. Keeping prisoners in a state of powerlessness.
Loco1 began to spread information about the September 9th commemoration of Attica State Prison, the year 1971, as a means of demonstrating the sort of power prisoners possess if only they'd cease in the war games between themselves and concentrate on the true sell outs, baby killers, sexual predators and traders of national loyalties. The police that is. This instantly made USW and its leader at this local level a target. When prisoner leaderships agreed to cease its hostilities and instead develop a communications system between the two nations, the pigs took it as a personal attack against their false economic interest by Loco1 and immediately orchestrated a plot to have the USW leadership removed and placed into solitary confinement.
As Loco1 and the rising USW supporting committee began gearing up to face off with the pig administration as to its position on a local boycott of KVSP systems and fraud services, in solidarity with the National Prisoners Boycott led by members of the Freedom and Justice Movement, the pigs launched a full frontal agitation campaign to instigate hostilities between themselves and all New Afrikans. What with the New Afrikans leading the way on issues at the local level with: pigs applying excessive force, failing to protect, ignoring prisoner safety concerns, orchestrating a gladiator program, pitting prisoners against one another, etc. Who better to concentrate on? And when New Afrikans failed to bite on their agitation, pigs finally revealed that Loco1 is hatching a conspiracy that involves prisoners repeating history, September 9th, 1971. So to all members of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, USW needs you to pick up the slack and act on your five principles, that these USW comrades do not stand alone in isolation.
A USW comrade adds: I am one of the 40 prisoners who along with Supreme was part of a CDCR plan staged by SATF Corcoran and Kern Valley to remove from the lower level 270 design to a hostile 180 design in order to build numbers for Africans so that the race wars amongst Hispanics and Africans that was instigated by correction corrupt officers and its administration as a last call to prolong releases of nonviolent offenders. It was expected we would come and continue the race conflict. However, I and Supreme came and established a peace between the both sides and now that CDCR see that, CDCR has found other ways to continue to frustrate the peace process such as placing informant Africans in the D yard block 5 & 6 to collect intel or perhaps cause chaos such as a buffoon who they sent in the block yelling racial slurs to the Mexicans while at the same time claiming he's Black Mafia.
The corrupt officers sent him there to attempt to cause a new storm that had been calmed. When neither the Blacks or Browns fell for it! They yet did it again, this time with a Brown who was mentally ill who began yelling nigger at Blacks until finally a Mexican removed him. So here we see two attempts that failed. Now CDCR sent an informant name XXXX with the promise of a job to give intel on us to remove comrades to Ad-Seg units. This so that there would be no peace keepers. Well they removed Supreme to Ad-Seg due to the snitch's alleged claim that Supreme was staging assaults on staff. Myself now being left to keep the peace alone has now become the target of jealous Israelite Africans seeking position rather than appreciating the Moses of their time. We all know the story of Moses who came to his people's aid and then was told by one slave: Who made you ruler over us? You gonna do to me what you did to the Egyptian who mistreated the other one of us yesterday. (Exodus 2: 11-14).
Today Kern Valley is refusing yard to prisoners and showers. The prison administration is keeping the prisoners locked down in violation of federal and state laws. Officers are doing all sorts of trickery under administration in order to create conflict with prisoners. The inhuman treatment is beyond being fixed by its own. CDCR can't police itself and this is demonstrated. I spoke with several righteous officers who don't agree with what is going on and they are feeling that they too are being pent against prisoners in order to feed their family. I come from an alliance of all races, we come and try to bring peace and harmony wherever chaos exist and put it to death. We as USW must begin to understand the facts! This is the facts! Either jump aboard or jump off board. Everybody got choices. To my cousin Master K.G. Supreme, you are not alone, I feel your spirit brotha. "One Love"
On 14 May 2018, after seven days of being on lockdown and receiving one shower, 6 prisoners at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) in the Management Control Unit covered their windows in protest and demanded they be given showers. The administration argued that they had been taken off lockdown on May 12, and therefore were not due showers.
On May 12, the facility had been taken off lockdown for 10 minutes and as soon as the doors opened multiple prisoners began fighting and the facility immediately went back on lockdown not ten minutes later leaving prisoners without a chance to take showers since May 10th. Colorado's policy is that prisoners get a chance to shower every 72 hours.
At CSP each tier has 8 cells housing one prisoner each, 2 tiers per pod and 8 pods per unit. Six out of 8 prisoners all agreed to protest by covering their windows. Rather than allow the prisoners the human dignity of a shower, the cell extraction team was deployed, and a chemical weapon known as FOXISPRA Jet Oleoresin Capiscum (O/C) spray was applied. This caused several of the prisoners, including the author who has respiratory issues and is "O/C restricted" yet was still sprayed, to pass out. Apparently to Colorado DOC, being unconscious is considered resting. As usual staff tailored the reports to fit their needs, each prisoner was given disciplinary charges and monetary fines of $117, most of which was for one time use items that should have been split six different ways.
Sadly, the goal was not accomplished, however the 6 were allowed to shower to remove the O/C spray. The bright side is that solidarity such as this is on the rise in higher security prisons in Colorado, and this story has been circulating around the facility with high regard.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Building unity around common oppression is an important part of organizing behind bars. When people start to come together to demand their basic rights, they also start to see the power of this unity. Revolutionaries can build on this unity by helping folks to see how these individual situations of oppression are tied to the broader criminal injustice system. And making these connections we can start talking about what we need to do to fight back on a broader scale. Lots of people report their political awakening going back to persynal experiences of oppression, coupled with revolutionaries helping them see the ties to the broader system of oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades can play this leadership role by starting from where people are at and building with them.
Thank you for your literature list. I am interested in a lot of the material more so on Aztlán/Mexico. As of right now they are censoring and denying the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Since a movement has started that has ended all brown-on-brown violence between two tribal groups we were put on lockdown because all violence stopped. Both groups were going to class, rec, sitting, eating together and staff did not like it and slammed us down. I only have a couple more weeks in this facility. As soon as I leave I'll put in an order and send money for the materials I need since for some reason this facility has stopped everything about Aztlán or Chicano revolutionary subjects.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is very inspiring news coming out of Colorado. The oppressors have always feared the unity of the oppressed. We take it as a sign of success that the prison felt compelled to respond to the unity of Chican@s with a lockdown. They expose themselves with these actions: prisons are not trying to reduce violence, they are just in place to implement systems of social control. Unity of the oppressed threatens that control. Keep up the good work comrades!
Siendo una película de Hollywood basada en una historieta de Marvel, Pantera Negra se destaca por un tema político abierto y varias discusiones honestas sobre opresión nacional. El largometraje es sobre los Wakandas, una sociedad Africana sumamente avanzada y pacífica. Una sociedad que incluye mujeres fuertes y facultadas en funciones de defensa, ciencia y servicios a l@s oprimid@s.
La sociedad Wakanda está completamente oculta del mundo y dirigida por el Rey TChalla, el héroe de la película. Su aislamiento es basado en un legítimo temor al mundo imperialista, el cual tiene una larga historia de opresión y explotación en el África. La solución de los Wakandas fue ocultarse y enfocarse en construir una sociedad fuerte y pacifica internamente. Eran extremadamente exitosos, sobrepasando al resto del mundo en el campo de la ciencia y lo que es más, la película sugiere que Wakanda se construyo con las riquezas de sus propios recursos naturales, una sociedad sin una aparente explotación u opresión. Pero este aislamiento tiene una oposición creciendo desde su interior, de quienes quieren ayudar a l@s oprimid@s del mundo.
Podemos comparar el aislamiento de Wakanda a movimientos revolucionarios que han tomado el poder en un país, solo para verse rodeados de enemigos. En lugares como Corea del Norte, Cuba y Albania, el aislamiento fue una estrategia en contra de influencias externas, pero al final fue también una gran dificultad para estas naciones. Wakanda no encara dificultades similares debido a sus tremendas riquezas, pero tampoco nadie conoce sobre su sociedad avanzada y no tienen gastos excesivos de recursos para la defensa de la propia nación. El mundo piensa que los Wakandas son sólo una nación Tercermundista llena de guajiros (Agricultores).
Lo que encontramos más interesante acerca de la película no fue el protagonista, pero el antagonista, Eric Killmonger, quien creció en Oakland en los 1990s. El padre de Killmonger (el tío de Tchalla) estaba sirviendo como un espía para los Wakandas en Oakland cuando se enamoró de los nuev@s African@s oprimid@s con l@s quien convivía y decidió que debía tomar recursos Wakandas para ayudar a liberar a esta gente. Por traicionar a Wakanda, el padre de Killmonger fue asesinado por el Rey (su propio hermano), dejando a Kilmonger abandonado en Oakland. El Rey mantuvo la traición, muerte y a Eric, en secreto, que llevó hasta la tumba, siendo la aparición de Killmonger una sorpresa súbita para l@s que llevaban una vida idealista en el capitolio.
Eric Killmonger es producto del abandono por l@s Wakandas y su crecimiento en las calles de Oakland. Killmonger vio la desesperada lucha que la nueva nación Africana pasaba en los E$tados Unido$ y no podía perdonar a l@s Wakandas por no ayudar a estas personas. Killmonger no sólo buscaba venganza personal por la muerte de su padre, sino también buscaba continuar con el sueño de su padre de ayudar a l@s oprimid@s a liberarse. La educación de Killmonger (en MIT) y su entrenamiento (en la milicia Amerikana) fue determinado, enfocado en obtener una posición para controlar los recursos Wakandas a fin de poderlos utilizar para ayudar a l@s oprimid@s. Killmonger cultivo la pasión y la perseverancia para llegar hasta la sociedad oculta Wakanda y luchar por el trono.
Killmonger no vacila en matar, hasta aquell@s a quien aparenta querer, para lograr su meta. Pero esto es guerra, y las vidas de millones alrededor del mundo están en riesgo. Nosotr@s respetamos su enfoque y dinamismo. Porque preguntar amablemente al Rey Wakanda, de entregar algunas armas y tecnología para ayudar a l@s oprimid@s, no iba a funcionar. Incluso peticiones similares fueron denegadas, a pesar que fueron hechas por personas influyentes en la sociedad Wakanda. Por esto Killmonger razonablemente creía que la única opción era tomar lo que necesitaba por la fuerza.
Hubieron reacciones diversas a la contradicción entre el aislamiento pacifico contra una revolución violenta, estando en juego la batalla por el trono. Uno de los bando Wakandas (la fuerza de la defensa civil) entusiastamente se unió a Killmonger una vez que les explica su plan de armar a l@s nuev@s African@s en los E$tado$ Unido$ y a l@s espías Wakandas alrededor del mundo. La propuesta de Killmonger incluía también que el sol nunca se pondría en el imperio Wakanda. Si la defensa civil se unió por razones altruistas o hambre de poder, esto queda a discreción de la audiencia.
La defensa real de mala manera se queda Leal al Trono cuando Killmonger toma el poder, esta por la obediencia a las tradiciones conservadoras más que alguna otra cosa. La defensa real rápidamente cambia de bando cuando se suscita una justificación técnica – el duelo por el trono no había acabado, porque TChalla estaba vivo. Este bando de la milicia fue hecho para ser héroes, pero ell@s estaban defendiendo a un Rey que mantenía el aislamiento en contra de un Rey que quería ayudar a l@s oprimid@s del mundo.
Sin embargo, hay otro ángulo que está representado por el interés amoroso de TChalla, Nakia, una espía quien trabaja entre l@s refugiad@s y víctimas del tráfico humano. Ella obstinadamente rechazó la oportunidad de ser reina, para poder continuar con su tan importante trabajo ayudando a la gente fuera de Wakanda. Aunque ideológicamente Nakia tenía mucho en común con Killmonger, por lo menos en oponerse al aislamiento Wakanda y en querer liberar a la gente oprimida mundialmente, se mantuvo fiel a Tchalla. Nakia, como much@s otr@s Wakandas, estaba principalmente en contra de la estrategia de Killmonger de enviar armas y armamentos alrededor del mundo entero, y los sentimientos personales hacia TChalla eran un factor influyente.
En la estrategia de Killmonger de solucionar la opresión imperialista había muchos problemas estratégicos, incluyendo la falta de liderazgo o de un movimiento de liberación para tomar el cargo de la milicia y los recursos tecnológicos que estaba ofreciendo. Es difícil ver como entregar armamento a l@s oprimid@s l@s va a llevar a la libertad. De hecho esas armas pudieron haber caído en manos de l@s imperialistas, lo cual, - a diferencia de tradición y "no es nuestra forma" – fue la primera justificación que TChalla dio y otras para mantener Wakanda oculta al mundo.
Al final el rey conservad@r gana, pero aprende que tiene una responsabilidad con las personas del mundo. En perspectiva el cambio de Tchalla de seguir ciegamente el camino de su padre en mantener la tradición en un pedestal, se da en gran parte por el descubrimiento del secreto familiar. La aparición de Killmonger es un gran giro para TChalla. TChalla llega a ver a Killmonger como un@ mounstr@ el cuál fue cread@ por las manos de su padre. Tchalla ve cómo el adherirse a las tradiciones y el aislamiento en realidad enajena a las personas, tal como al pequeño Eric, quien TChalla siente debe de alguna manera ser incluido bajo la protección de Wakanda en ayudar y asistir.
De esta manera, TChalla al final a llega a estar de acuerdo con Nakia y Killmonger que Wakanda tiene una obligación moral de compartir su conocimiento. Desafortunadamente, a pesar de todos l@s espiás internacionales de Wakanda, el Rey TChalla fracasa en correctamente evaluar el equilibrio de fuerzas, y l@s amig@s y l@s enemig@s de l@s oprimid@s. La última escena de la película muestra a TChalla dando un discurso en las Naciones Unidas (N.U.), anunciando que Wakanda comenzará a compartir su tecnología y conocimientos con el mundo. Él también compra varios edificios en Oakland, California para abrir los primeros centros Wakanda de educación y alcance para la juventud.
Si TChalla realmente hubiese querido ayudar a l@s oprimid@s del mundo, él podía utilizar la tecnología Wakanda de poder quedar ocultos a plena vista y la reputación de ser una nación agrícola no riesgosa para armar una fuerza armada en secreto – bajo las aguas – para luchar a l@s opresores por el doble control y luego liberar, incluyendo poner fin al capitalismo. En vez de haber ido a la N.U. y anunciar "¡Oye! !Nos estamos organizando y haciendo cosas extraordinarios que pueden amenazar su poder! !Vélenos de cerca!" Él pudo haber hecho esto discretamente y con éxito. Al parecer TChalla deja de ser conservador para ser liberal y no da el paso a ser verdaderamente revolucionario.