Under Lock & Key Issue 65 - November 2018

Under Lock & Key

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 65]
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Crossword Puzzle December 2018

xword

Thanks to our comrade inside who made this crossword puzzle! Answers below.

Down

1. In the language of many northeastern Indigenous Nations, this name is used to refer to both the western hemisphere as a whole, as well as more specifically to refer to the northern land mass of the continent. We generally use the term to mean all of the Americas, which remain dominated by U.$. imperialism today. (2 words)
2. One must put theories into use to test them. One can only compare practices with?
4. When we gain information from observation and interaction with the world around us we call that ___ knowledge.
5. Those whose political views claim to be Marxist yet reverse Marx's work fundamentally by failing to apply the scientific method of dialectical materialism are called?
7. The abolition of power of people over people.
8. The mode of production or economic system in which the bourgeoisie owns the means of production.

Across

3. The exploiter class most characteristic of the capitalist system. Their wealth is obtained from the labor of others, in particular the proletariat.
4. The group of people who have nothing to sell but their labor power for their subsistence.
6. A division put on a society based solely on economic status. These groups of people share a common relation to the means of production. (2 words)
9. The transition stage in between capitalism and communism where the dictatorship of the proletariat will be in power.
10. The doctrine which guided the first successful third world peasant revolution that liberated China in 1949.
11. The scientific process of learning from practice and using those lessons to improve your practice. (2 words)
12. The theory that all things originate from the idea and that matter is only a reflection of what exists in the mind, as one perceives it.
13. The philosophy that is the opposite of idealism. Philosophy which sees mater as the basis of reality and material circumstances shaping individual and social consciousness.

Answers

Down
1. Revisionists
2. Materialism
3. Socialism
4. Practices
5. Proletariat
6. Turtle Island

Across
1. Bourgeoise
2. Perceptual
3. Idealism
4. Dialectical Materialism
5. Maoism
6. Social Class
7. Capitalism
8. Communism

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[Organizing] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 65]
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When is Patience Taken Too Far?

Revolutionary greetings to all who stand firm in opposition, and we extend our most sincere wishes of suffering and death to those in our midst whom compromise their dignity on a daily, serving the interest of our captors, and killing US in the process.

We received ULK 63 and as always we were fed with the best of nutrients for the struggles. My comrade in arms (a structured Kiwe Nationalist) and I do all we can to push and pull one another, as we are virtually surrounded by: 007 agents, Adolph wannabes, and mentally retarded "gangsta" caricatures who are clueless as to what "convict" entails.

In truth, I/we are at a loss as to explain this "twilight zone" Oregon DOC system. The standards by which the vast majority base their day-to-day ethos on are so unrecognizable that we question exactly what planet we are on!! In ODOC it is "okay" to collaborate with pigs, as long as one is not a sex offender!

The majority of the populace appears to be under the influence of some kind of mind-altering pills! We note that OCOD has a deliberate "agenda" in place, in which medical doles out pills to whomever says they can't cope! We all recognize that these gulags have very negative impact(s), and some of us truly need help. My point in bringing this up is only to say that the pigs are utilizing drugs to further weaken captives. Captives who are already weakened by the effects of life as "half men" in capitalist Amerikkka. It is as if these ODOC isolation units are being utilized to create "pets," men made docile by narcotics, conditioned to serve pigs' interests, via apathy and, at times, outright anger directed towards the progressives/movement.

How do we combat "Stockholm syndrome"? The ODOC cultural norm is to be anti-ethical and as such, those of us that live and breathe struggle find our backs closing in on the walls! Permitting ourselves to be disrespected with no response(s) is exactly how we have come to find ourselves in this position. "Patience taken too far is cowardice" said Comrade George. Without examples made, the masses have no illuminated path and thus remain in darkness and ignorance! Guess what I/we ask is, at what point does it become a prerequisite to revolutionary cultural creation that the strugglist(s) utilize non-peaceful means? This is the looming question for the brothas of struggle here.

We New Afrikans are few and far between in ODOC. However, make no mistake about it, we are here and are striving forward! Boots laced, backs straight, eyes firmly on the prize! Freedom or Death! Power to the People.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This question, of when is it time to take up non-peaceful means of struggle should be at the forefront of the minds of revolutionaries. If we act too soon we end up getting ourselves and our comrades killed, or locked up (if they aren't already in prison). But if we wait too long we are responsible for unnecessary deaths and suffering.

In the more specific situation behind bars within the Amerikan criminal injustice system, we know the long game is taking down the entire system. But the smaller battles include winning people over to the side of revolutionary struggle, and making space for organizing by fighting repression.

The question we always have to ask about any action is: what is the risk and what is the reward? Someone is attacking you with a weapon, should you fight back? Risk: you get tossed in seg for fighting, Reward: you don't get killed. The reward wins. But in the case this comrade raises, where everyone is collaborating with the pigs and taking pills, the risks and rewards are harder to work out. Are there actions that will win people away from collaborating with the enemy? Or will those actions just bring down more punishment on the few who are resisting? These questions have to be answered by people involved in each situation.

We encourage our comrades to work on ways they can create revolutionary culture now, while using peaceful means. Sharing ULK is one way of doing this, and what are others?

We can only offer this framework, and encourage everyone to remember that revolution isn't an overnight action. We're in this for the long battle against imperialism. Even within the belly of the beast, surrounded by enemies, we can't lose sight of our ultimate goals.

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[Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 65]
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Liberation Theology as Organizing Tool

The purpose of this article is to explain that Christianity is not intrinsically counter-revolutionary, and to give my comrades some advice on how to teach revolutionary ideas to Christian prisoners.

While I am an atheist, I recognize that many Christians can deservedly be called Comrades. Indeed, Jesus emself often spoke and acted in favor of the proletariat. However, there is a dangerous strain of imperialist pseudo-Christianity prevalent in the United $tates. The leaders of this cult, who have historically and predominately been rich white men, cherry-pick passages from the Bible in an attempt to justify their selfish agenda. This tactic of distorting Christianity has been used by oppressors from the conquistadors to Amerikan politicians and televangelists such as Pat Buchanan. It's been used to justify the conquests of indigenous people, manifest destiny, slavery, retributive punishment, and the persecution of [email protected], wimmin, New Afrikans, queers, transgendered people, and poor people.

Unfortunately, this cultural brainwashing has infected the minds of many prisoners. To reverse this trend, we must show potential Christian comrades the following two points:

1. That certain lessons they learned do not actually represent the teachings of Jesus Christ. Rather, they reflect the imperialist demagogues who have opportunistically co-opted the Bible to suit their own capitalist and white-supremacist agenda.

2. That the real teachings of the New Testament are not only compatible with, but actually suggest, a revolutionary outlook.

For example, when you hear a Christian prisoner trying to rationalize homophobia, point out that many reputable Bible scholars claim that the New Testament does not actually condemn homosexuality. For example, in Introducing Christian Ethics by Roger Crook, we find an alternative interpretation of Paul's verses in Romans 1:16-32. The point of Paul's passage is not that homosexuality is wrong, but that God does not send people to heaven according to their adherence to traditional morality. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals get to heaven because of their sexual preference, but only by accepting God's gift of grace.

However, a more detailed approach eventually becomes necessary. For this, we should introduce our potential Christian comrades to Liberation Theology. The priests and theologians of this movement have actively struggled against U.$.-backed, capitalist puppet governments in the Third World in order to establish socialist governments managed by and for the people. In the book Liberation Theology, Robert Brown identifies four key themes of the movement:

  1. Commitment — taking a stand that unites thought and action
  2. Hope — the anticipation of a better future
  3. God's presence — the realization that we are not alone but that God is in our midst, in another persona and supremely in Jesus Christ
  4. A preferential option for the poor — the guideline for the kind of changes which will bring greater justice into the world (pp. 25-33)

In addition, many of these theologians have synthesized their theology with insights from indigenous spirituality, Marxism, feminism, womanism, New Afrikan studies, queer studies. The books A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone and Feminist Theological Ethics, edited by Lois Daly, are prime examples.

Remember, Comrades. "Christianity does not have to be reactionary!" Jesus was basically a socialist who preached love and tolerance for all people. Ey surrounded emself with poor people and outcasts, not bourgeois demagogues.

!Viva la Revolucion!


MIM(Prisons) responds: There have been some revolutionary liberation theology movements throughout history which provide examples of what this comrade describes. These organizations take their dedication to religion as a dedication to serving the oppressed. In Latin America there are examples of Christian groups explicitely working under the liberation theology banner to support revolutionary struggles. We have also written about the potential of Islam as a liberation theology, and Malcolm X provides a solid example of promoting revolutionary politics in this way. We have much respect for and unity with these movements. And we definitely agree that pointing religious folks in this direction is a good idea.

Quoting bible passages to religious folks to refute their reactionary beliefs or actions may indeed help reach some people. But we also shouldn't pretend that religion is all about revolution or serving the oppressed. Organized religion has a long reactionary history of its own oppression. And the bible has plenty of fuel for reactionary ideas and actions. While pointing religious folks to a more progressive interpretation, we should be careful not to mislead them into thinking that we endorse their mysticism. The very belief in a higher power discourages people from believing that they can control the development of their own and all of humanity's future.

In the end, we try to approach people where they are at. And so this comrade is offering some good tips for approaching religious folks. We just caution against leaveing the materialism out of the discussion altogether.

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[Black Panther Party] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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Black Panthers in Today's Climate

July 2018 — We remember for all time in the future the terrible and untimely political assassinations of Comrade George and Jonathon Jackson. Black August and bloody September are fast approaching and while many people will of course mourn due to these fatalities committed by the state, we shouldn't be saddened by these most terrible atrocities. We should rejoice and see repression as a logical response by the capitalist masters to stop our thrust upward.

The history of Amerika's reign of terror begins with its start as a settler's colony that exterminated the otherwise "savage and backward" Indians, and raped Africa for her peoples to build and industrialize this young nation. The trends toward monopoly capital actually began during the civil war, during the only time where the masters of capital felt the greatest threats to its power. Amerikan history has always been a story of masters and slaves, dominators and dominated, capitalists and workers, and haves and have-nots. But the centralization of state power actually began during the age of the Industrial Revolution.

The earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story. At the close of World War II when the purple mushroom clouds over Japan were aired for the world to see, fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika. In fact the trends towards monopoly capital might have begun right here in Amerika.

The Black Panther Party formed as a response to state terror. The savage repression which can be estimated by a brief reading of the nation's dailies has not failed to register on the minds of most lower disenfranchised, especially when you couple the fact that we are worth no more than the amount of capital that we can raise. Whether they know it or not we are victims of both social and economic injustice and our economic status has reduced our minds to a state of complete oblivion.

The older vanguard parties were committed to reformism and its counter-productive nature. The Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Army however were committed and prepared to take the fight to whatever level needed to be taken in order to make sure that the demands of the people were met. As a response, J. Edgar Hoover and his secret branch (COINTELPRO) devised a plan to stop a "Black Messiah" from rising out of the ghetto that could lead the people to revolution. On 4 December 1969 Gloves Davis, a black officer in Chicago, killed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Of course the COINTELPRO was very effective in infiltration tactics, because Fred Hampton's bodyguard was later to be revealed as a "class defector and stool pigeon" for the forces of repression.

We shouldn't be sad that George is gone. We should be sad that no one has ushered in to take up his works, even though so many champion him and also since there are guerillas all over who shout "George," but have yet to follow in his footsteps. Our overall situation doesn't stand out as glaringly as it did during the 1960s and 70s. However we should not be tricked into thinking that the struggle is no more. The hip-shooting pigs still gun us and call it justifiable homicide due to the trends in the crime culture we have embraced. The crime culture only mimics the European experience. In order for us to seize the time we should think in terms of true freedom. The freedom that comrade George fought and died for. Long live the real Dragon.


MIM(Prisons) associate responds:

The author mentions that "[t]he earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story." However, not all the early vanguard parties were reformist. In general, vanguard parties are not reformist in nature, although they might work on reformist campaigns (wimmin's rights, prisoners' rights, etc.). Vanguard parties, by definition, aim to be the force that lead the revolution. So why did the vanguard parties fail?

One obvious reason is that the United $tates has not entered a revolutionary situation. Due to a variety of factors, and despite the presence of vanguard parties in different places and at different times, there has not been a substantial proletarian movement for freedom. In Lenin's terms, the workers during the Industrial Revolution in the United $tates only reached basic Trade Union Consciousness, not Proletarian Consciousness. Their goal was for better working conditions, not a new system.

This goes hand-in-hand with the second reason. As J. Sakai argues in Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, there has never been a substantial proletariat in the United $tates. Despite the presence of oppressed national minorities, lumpen proletariat, and a few revolutionaries, the revolutionaries have never reached a critical mass. This is especially true today, as almost all real labor has been pushed to the Third World and Euro-Amerikkkans are living off of the superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.

The author also mentions that "fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika." MIM(Prisons) believes that the United $tates is not currently a fascist country (nor has it been in the past). Amerikkka is obviously imperialist and this imperialist core was inscribed into the Amerikkkan project from the very beginning, however we do not equate imperialism with fascism. Fascism is a form of imperialism, but we don't think it's the current state of the world. And we see the most fascist expression of imperialism in Third World countries where imperialists are imposing their will.

Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we're in a fascist scenario now, or we're moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it's natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven't moved into fascism as an overall system.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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Don't Believe the C.O.'s Reverse Psychology

In prison you often hear C.O.s say, "I don't care, write it up," and the prisoner will think, "what's the point? a grievance won't work." But that's not true. What is going on here is reverse psychology. When the officer puts on an air of nonchalant unconcern, it is only a show to put the thought in your mind that all complaints would be futile. But truth be told, that officer doesn't want any negative attention from the administration, and he definitely doesn't want his name coming across the warden's desk.

I have seen with my own eyes one of those segregation big fat bully type pigz practically beg a prisoner not to file a grievance on him, then bribe him with extra food. This C.O. already had other prisoners file on him in the past for his oppressive behavior, so he was walking on thin ice. Recently, I filed a complaint about the cracks along the walls of my cell that were allowing bugs to enter. My intention was to get the cracks sealed. Instead, they sent an exterminator in yesterday to spray. It wasn't what I wanted but I got results. Now all I have to do is continue to apply pressure.

Not all of us prisoners have the financial resources to file lawsuits, but there are many tactics and methods at our disposal if we would only think. No one likes to be constantly harassed, and when you harass the enemy on as many fronts as possible, just a bunch of seemingly insignificant prisoners can jab at a giant corporation until it surrenders. After all, their exploitation of us is dependent upon our cooperation.

But, of course, grievances and complaints are only a temporary solution to ease the sufferings of the average prisoner. Our main objective should be complete liberation, which will require a lot more from us. But that's another story.

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[Censorship] [ULK Issue 65]
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Censors in their own words - November 2018

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda. Here, free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular there is so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. MIM(Prisons) and many of our subscribers spend a lot of time and money fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. Some prisoners are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in our newsletter, or study materials, or even a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many instances.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning them to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage www.prisoncensorship.info/data

Michigan

ULK 63 was censored to two prisoners in Michigan because: "throughout the publication COs/police are referred to as 'pigs.' This reference is reasonably likely to promote or cause violence or group disruption in the facility."

Michigan - Michigan Reformatory

This censorship notification for ULK provided a new justification: "1 booklet with sticker not able to search without destroying."

Florida - New River Work Camp

ULK 62 was impounded because of "PG2: Stamp program advertisement" claiming this violated the rule that "It contains an advertisement promoting any of the following where the advertisement is the focus of, rather than being incidental, to the publication or the advertising is prominent or prevalent throughout the publication: (3) The purchase of products or services with postage stamps"

Colorado - Sterling Correctional Facility

We sent a prisoner the book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán in August of 2017. On May 8, 2018, the prison sent us a notice that the book was censored because: "Safety & Security: Pgs. multiple pgs. - 5+ pgs talks about the rise and struggles for power of the [email protected] Nation within the prison system."

Arizona

In June MIM(Prisons) received a letter from the ADC regarding Under Lock & Key 62 banning this issue:

"The Arizona Department of Corrections has determined that your publication described below contains unauthorized content as defined in Department Order 914.07 and, as a result, may be released in part or excluded in whole for the specific reason(s) given below.
Detrimental to the Safe, Secure, and Orderly Operation of the Facility
Street Gangs/STG
Promotes Superiority of One Group Over Another, Racism, Degradation
Promote Acts of violence"

Regarding ULK 63: "The Arizona Department of Corrections has determined that your publication described below contains unauthorized content as defined in Department Order 914.07 and, as a result, may be released in part or excluded in whole for the specific reason(s) given below. DO 914.07 - 1.2.3 Incite, Aide, Abet Riots, Work Stoppages, Means of Resistance."

Oregon - Two Rivers Correctional Institution - and New Jersey

This report comes from a prisoner now held in Oregon.

While being held captive by this imperialistic government in the oppressive state of New Jersey, I was a regular subscriber to ULK. However, once the pigs searched my cell for contraband all they found were back issues of ULK. As a result of that cell search, the New Jersey DOC banned any and all published material from MIM publications.

In November I was transferred to the Oregon DOC, and recently I asked the comrades at MIM(Prisons) to add me back to the mailing list. On 1 May 2018 I received a mail violation for a ULK issue. Their imperialistic reasons for rejecting the issue were: "Any other material that the Department deems to pose a threat or to be detrimental to legitimate penological objectives."

However, I am pleased to say that I did receive the May/June 2018 ULK 62 publication, so keep them coming comrades and I'll continue my quest for liberation through education, and continue to spread the word about MIM(Prisons) to all those who remain in their oppressive darkness mentally!

Pennsylvania

Notification sent to MIM(Prisons) regarding ULK 63: "This is to notify you that the publication referenced advocates and calls for solidarity among prisoners on September 9. The decision of the correctional institution is for this publication to be DENIED, and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will not be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."

North Carolina

ULK 62 was denied by the NC DOC because page 2 "Has verbiage that may incite distributive behavior." This was further clarified for a prisoner who appealed the rejection. The objectionable section is "Page 2 under What is MIM(Prisons)?" which the prison claims: "Could likely precipitate violence among races/classes of people."

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[Censorship] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 65]
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Pennsylvania Digitizing Prisoner Mail

Pennsylvania DOC has a new mail policy requiring all prisoner mail be sent to Florida, care of Smart Communications (SmartCom).(1) This company scans in all mail and forwards it to PADOC to be printed and delivered on site. No original mail will actually reach prisoners. Prisoners receiving greeting cards or photos are being given shrunk, black and white copies.

Some prisoners in Pennsylvania are circulating a request for legal help to fight this new practice. They list multiple concerns. These changes will dramatically impact the mail PA prisoners can receive including almost certainly denying them access to political books and magazines. SmartCom will keep scanned mail in a searchable database. This will likely be used to profile people who send mail to PA prisoners. Under the pretense of security concerns, this new policy is also about political control.

Prisons are allowed to restrict prisoners' First Amendment rights to free speech, but it is "only valid if it is reasonably related to ligitimate penological interests." (Turner v. Safely, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987)) In this situation, PADOC is citing incidents of "multiple staff members being sickened by unknown substances over the past few weeks." In September 2018, it says there were eight staff emergency room trips for drug exposure.(2) It is focusing on mail restrictions because "[i]t's speculated that the majority of contraband enters the facilities through the mail."

PADOC is building a lot of hype on its website about how drugs come in thru the mail and with visitors. Yet in its photographic report, "Examples of Drug Introduction into Facilities," not one example is given of staff bringing drugs in.(3) Anyone familiar with prison culture knows that prison staff are a likely source for smuggling. It's lucrative and relatively easy. PADOC's presentation of the situation is skewed. And according to its FAQ on the new procedures for how it's going to handle this alleged poisoning problem, no additional screening or testing for staff seems to be on the radar.

The new mail procedures imply that subscriptions for magazines and periodicals will continue direct to the prison: "For now, you will continue to receive issues of current subscriptions. If any issue is compromised, it will be confiscated and destroyed. No future subscription orders may be purchased except through the kiosk." The memo given to prisoners made it clear that all future subscriptions must be purchased through PADOC. PADOC will purchase subscriptions in bulk and have magazines shipped in bulk to the facility to deliver to prisoners. The DOC will set the cost and select the vendors.

As a part of this change, PA is banning anyone from sending any books in to prisoners.(4) "Inmates can make a request to purchase any book. The DOC will provide the inmate with the cost of the book. Once the inmate submits a cash slip for the book, the DOC will order the book and have it shipped to the inmate." No independent orders are allowed: "All publications must be purchased through DOC." Books sent any other way will be returned to sender. While outside folks can deposit money in prisoners' accounts so that they can purchase approved books from approved vendors, they will now have to pay 20% more than the cost of the book because that is deducted from incoming money to many prisoners' accounts as costs or restitution.

This is a ridiculous policy change, under the pretense of security. While an argument is being made that preventing all physical mail from entering facilities will cut down contraband, it is an unnecessary obstruction to First Amendment rights of prisoners. The impact on prisoners, whose contact with the outside world is mainly through the mail, will be dramatic. Mail delays will likely increase, but more importantly, many will no longer have access to education. Cutting off books and magazines, limiting people to only content that is pre-approved by the prison, means that organizations like MIM(Prisons) will no longer be able to send literature to prisoners in PA.

This new policy is only serving to impose greater control and isolation on prisoners in PA. The results of cutting prisoners off from outside contact, and denying them educational materials, will just increase the already high recidivism and likely fuel more conflict behind the bars. This is what the prison wants: keeping prisoners fighting one another rather than educating themselves, building ties to the community, and building opposition to the criminal injustice system.

Notes:
1. FAQ New Procedures, PADOC. https://www.cor.pa.gov/Initiatives/Pages/FAQ-New-Procedures.aspx
2. Drug Interdiction Indicators, PADOC. https://www.cor.pa.gov/Initiatives/Documents/Drug-Interdiction-Indicators.pdf
3. Examples of Drug Introduction Into Facilities, PADOC. https://www.cor.pa.gov/Initiatives/Documents/PA%20DOC%20Drug%20Finds.pdf
4. In September, it appeared PADOC was going to force all prisoners to only acquire books via e-readers. There was much public outcry against this policy, and as of 1 November 2018, it appears PADOC's primary tactic regarding books will be to have them all sent through a processing center in Bellefonte, PA.
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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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Minority Against Minority

We are caught up in a system of competitiveness that pits one against the other, brother against brother, family against family, people against people, braceros against domestics, ethnic groups against ethnic groups, color against color, class against class, instead of minority or lower class against the ruling class. Competitiveness creates division, distrust, suspicions, and isolation. We have too much to lose to allow ourselves to fall into the same trap over and over again. What is in it for me, for you, for us?

All of our lives, we identify with war heroes, supermen, adventurers, gold seekers, empire builders, and imaginary leaders. We dream of praise and honors and love from other people. We go through life hoping to leave some sign of accomplishment to our children, to posterity, and we end up old, tired, wrinkled, with no vision or no memories, and we leave an inheritance of weakness, boot-licking, indignity, and confusion.

We can make history. It will consist of those who tried, who resisted, who led, who dared to struggle, dared to live free. It will also expose those who are afraid, ashamed, arrogant, selfish, greedy, sellouts, malinches, social prostitutes, Tio Tacos, exploiters, and cowards.

If there is to be a movement, then there must be leaders. Those leaders must be judged by their ability to give, not take. Leadership must convert confidence, not egotism — one who sacrifices, not one who is an opportunist. Leadership is the act of using power to free people, not to control them.

All in all, we have to cleanse ourselves of "inferiority" complex, our peon complex and our immigrant complex. We are not inferior, we are no man's peons, and we are not and never have been immigrants. As complete humans, we cannot only build an organization, start a movement, but create a nation. To take these steps we have to think positively. We have to put aside negative thoughts about each other, and especially about our capacity to succeed.

The masses will make a difference. We are educating young people. Our young people here and across this country are saying, I am leading a "Resistance" against institutional racism, racism or oppression. But when no one stands up with that young person, he commits suicide? You see the reason we have problems is because too many people do not want to get involved. When the guy in the cantina, prison cell or yard, the pool hall or the barber shop tells you, "Man, those movement people are out of their minds. I take care of me." Ask him what he's doing for la causa. Ask him what he's doing for the movement. He's not going to be able to say anything. He is part of the problem because he's not doing anything.

So we look at the problem: the problem is the mass majority of society. It's true. It's true that only 6% of the population of this country controls more than 60% of the wealth of the world. It's true that 2% of this country makes all the decisions. And everybody thinks they are living in a democratic society.

So the problem is on our backs, and the way to get rid of it is to deal with it. Now, we can deal with it by saying we are going to go into an armed Revolution with 4% of the people against maybe 50% of the people?

Long Live The Days of AZTLAN!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are up against what seems like an insurmountable number of people either actively or passively on the side of imperialism in this country. It's a good point that if we took up armed revolution right now we'd be a tiny minority, up against a lot of resistance. This is because the vast majority of U.$. citizens are benefiting materially from imperialism. It's pretty obvious to most people just how well off they are compared to the rest of the world. That's why so many people want closed borders; don't let poor people in, they might take back some of that wealth we've got protected in the United $tates.

But this writer is talking about organizing the oppressed nations specifically and that's a bit of a different story. While still benefiting from the wealth Amerika has stolen from Third World countries, oppressed nations continue to face restricted opportunities, discrimination, imprisonment, and police brutality (to name just a few elements of national oppression within U.$. borders), all because of their nationality. This makes people from oppressed nations still potentially interested in revolution for their own persynal interests.

So yes, we need to heed this comrade's call to challenge people about what they're doing for la causa. We need to win over everyone we can. But we might not be in a position to take on imperialism until it is weakened from the outside, by revolutions in countries where the majority of the population has an interest in taking down imperialism. Right now we do what we can from within the belly of the beast to support the battles of the oppressed and exploited masses globally and the struggles of the oppressed nations within U.$. borders.

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[Release] [ULK Issue 65]
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Prep for Release, Plan for Future

break da cycle

Imagine you have just been released from prison. What do you plan to do with your freedom? Finally eat some real food, smoke a cigarette? Buy some Jordans? Get drunk? Score some dope? Get laid? And then go report in at the parole office?

If this sounds like a good parole plan, you obviously did not spend enough time planning for your future. Maybe what you need is another term, so that you can devise an effective parole plan to enhance your chances for success. That faulty parole plan was one that I used many times. I even changed the order, and reported to the P.O. first, but for me it always ended in a violation of parole, or a new term.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and as convicted felons the odds are stacked against us. If you are a high school dropout, woman, or minority, the opportunity for legal financial advancement are already adversely affected enough. But there are ways to level the playing field, and put the odds back in our favor.

Many prisons have pre-release classes, and re-entry services available. If your institution offers such programs, take advantage of the opportunity. If not, check your prison's library for resource guides that often provide addresses of transitional housing, and re-entry services in your area.

Residential drug programs are also a good place to build a foundation once you are released. Due to the demand of these services there usually are waiting lists, so start writing them when you're about a year to the house. And many have classes for life skills, computers, parenting, and resume building, while also providing you with a safe, clean and drug-free environment to reside, oftentimes at little or no cost to you.

If you do not have a GED, make an effort to get it while still imprisoned. If you do have a GED, sign up for vocational or college courses. This will optimize your time, by turning unproductive time into a constructive endeavor. A transitional re-entry plan is also an excellent way to plan for your release (see example below). You know your weaknesses, but you have the power to correct your faults.

Example Transitional Plan

First day goals:
  1. Report to parole office to discuss parole conditions, and any issues pertaining to the expectations of a successful parole.
  2. Abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  3. Check in to transitional housing.
  4. Call family.
First week goals:
  1. Obtain social security card, library card, and bus pass.
  2. Register with the employment development department, and update my resume.
  3. Apply for general assistance.
  4. Register for community college.
  5. Continued abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
  6. Locate and attend AA or NA meeting to find a sponsor.
  7. Buy a smartphone.
  8. Attend church.
  9. Visit family.
First month goals:
  1. Stay within the structured program of transitional house.
  2. Get at least a part-time job.
  3. Continued participation in AA/NA.
  4. Open a bank account.
  5. Obey all laws, and report to parole officer as scheduled.
  6. Be active in my church, and volunteer in free time.
  7. Meet other positive people.
  8. Continue living alcohol- and drug-free.
  9. Be punctual in work and school.
Six month goals:
  1. Continue following the program rules of transitional house.
  2. Report to parole office as required, and obey all laws.
  3. Excell at work and at school.
  4. Maintain sobriety.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Do volunteer work in the community.
Six-month to one-year goals:
  1. Be an exemplary resident of transitional home.
  2. Obey all laws, and comply with parole conditions.
  3. Continue AA/NA participation.
  4. Maintain excellence in work and school.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Help others.
One-year to five-year goals:
  • Get a stable residence.
  • Get off parole.
  • Get my associates degree.
  • Become a sponsor in the AA/NA family.
  • Get married or engaged.
  • Be employed in social work.
  • Continue my church involvement.
  • Be a productive, respectable member of society.
  • Make my family proud

    MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good practical example of the planning that should be done before release to help with the challenges of parole. We would substitute political organizing for church involvement, and we'd sub any programs that help someone maintain (or increase) sobriety for AA/NA.(1)

    This brings up another thing we'd encourage people to consider about their release goals. Is your top-level goal to integrate into the labor aristocracy, get married, and live a "normal" Amerikan life? Or is your top-level goal to put in work into the anti-imperialist struggle for the liberation and self-determination of oppressed nations? Whatever you set as your top-level goal should have mid-level (practical) and low-level (tactical) goals attached to it, and any mid-level goals that don't lead you to your top-level goal should be avoided.

    Whatever your overall life goal is, finding a community to get involved with is a good way to create ties and build a support structure, which is imperative to avoiding another bid. Some people find this in the church or NA, but there is also often family, friends and political comrades to look to for this same support. Political work on the streets can help to give you further motivation to stay out of prison as you see how much more effective you can be when not locked up. Materialists who reject religion will do better building their community outside the church.

    We don't yet have the resources or infrastructure to offer all of the support our comrades being released need and deserve. And so we really appreciate this list of options for some essential services. Ultimately we must provide our own housing, rehab programs and schooling to get free. But for now, we can take advantage of services offered by others (even the state) as we build to that point. What we can offer is political engagement and support. In exchange for your organizing work we can also offer regular check-ins, advice, and day-to-day support helping you navigate the streets. Together we can enable you to be a productive member of the revolutionary movement.

    Everyone should tell us your likely parole or release date so we can keep in touch as it approaches. But it's especially important that you tell us if you have a release date in the next 3 years. We need to start planning and working together now.

    Note:
    1. In our current social context, no drug treatment program has been shown to work for everyone. There are lots of options, but the problem is accessibility (i.e. capitalism). Abstinence is excellent, but reducing harm is better than a "fuck it" attitude. Do what you can to reduce drug and alcohol use, up to and including abstinence. Whatever your behavior toward healthier living, make a sustainable effort.
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    [Theory] [Gender] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Intersecting Strands of Oppression

    Latifah

    While we frequently discuss gender oppression in the pages of Under Lock & Key, most readers will notice a primary focus on national oppression. This is intentional, as we see the resolution of the national contradiction as the most successful path to ending all oppression at this stage. But for any of our readers who like our focus on nationalism, and have not taken the time to read MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, i recommend you take a look. It is in MT2/3 that MIM really dissected the difference between class, nation and gender and justified its focus on nation. Don't just focus on nation because it's more important to you subjectively, understand why it is the top priority by reading MT 2/3.

    All USW comrades should be working their way to the level 2 introductory study program offered by MIM(Prisons). We start level 1 studying the basics of scientific thinking. In level 2, we move on to study Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, which gives a good overview of the 3 strands of oppression: class, nation and gender, and how they interact. This issue of Under Lock & Key is intended to supplement that theoretical material with some application to prison organizing and contemporary current events. (Let us know if you want to sign up for the study group.)

    Academic Individualism vs. Revolutionary Science

    Bourgeois individualism looks at race, class and gender as identities, which are seen as natural categories that exist within each individual. While proponents of identity politics generally recognize these concepts have evolved over time, they generally do not explain how or why. Dialectical materialists understand nation, class and gender as dualities that evolved as humyn society developed. Under capitalism, the class structure is defined by bourgeoisie exploiting proletarians. Class looked different under feudalism or primitive communist societies. One of the things Marx spent a lot of time doing is explaining how and why class evolved the way it did. Engels also gave us an analysis of the evolution of gender in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.

    One self-described "Marxist-Feminist critique of Intersectionality Theory" points out that "theories of an 'interlocking matrix of oppressions,' simply create a list of naturalized identities, abstracted from their material and historical context."(1) They do not provide a framework for understanding how to overthrow the systems that are imposing oppression on people, because they do not explain their causes. This "Marxist" critic, however, falls into the class reductionist camp that believes all oppression is rooted in class.

    The MIM line is not class reductionist, rather we reduce oppression to three main strands: nation, gender and class. This is still too limited for the identity politics crowd. But when we dive into other types of oppression that might be separate from nation, class and gender, we find that they always come back to one of those categories. And this clarity on the main strands of oppression allows us to develop a path to success, by building on the historical experience of others who have paved the way for our model.

    While MIM is often associated with the class analysis of the First World labor aristocracy, this was nothing really new. What MIM did that still sets it apart from others, that we know of, is develop the first revolutionary theory on sexual privilege. The class-reductionism of the writer cited above is demonstrated in eir statement, "to be a 'woman' means to produce and reproduce a set of social relations through our labor, or self-activity."(2) MIM said that is class, but there is still something separate called gender. While class is how humyns relate in the production process, gender is how humyns relate in non-productive/leisure time. And while biological reproductive ability has historically shaped the divide between oppressor and oppressed in the realm of gender, we put the material basis today in health status.(3) This understanding is what allows us to see that things like age, disability, sexual preference and trans/cis gender status all fall in the gender strand of oppression.

    Using "Feminism" to Bomb Nations

    Militarism and imperialist invasion are antithetical to feminism. Yet the imperialists successfully use propaganda that they wrap in pseudo-feminism to promote the invasion of Third World countries again and again. Sorting out the strands of oppression is key to consistent anti-imperialism.

    In MT 2/3, MIM condemned the pseudo-feminists by saying that "supporting women who go to the courts with rape charges is white supremacy."(4) A recent Human Rights Watch report discussing alleged widespread rape in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) is getting lots of traction in the Amerikkkan/Briti$h press.(5) This campaign to demonize the DPRK is just like the campaign to imprison New Afrikans, with potentially nuclear consequences. We have two leading imperialist nations who committed genocide against an oppressed nation touting information that is effectively pro-war propaganda for another invasion and mass slaughter of that oppressed nation.

    If it is true that rape is as widespread in the DPRK as in the United $tates and Great Britain, then we also must ask what the situation of wimmin would have been in the DPRK today if it were not for the imperialist war and blockade on that country. In the 1950s, Korea was on a very similar path as China. Socialism in China did more for wimmin's liberation than bourgeois feminists ever have. They increased wimmin's participation in government, surpassing the United $tates, rapidly improved infant mortality rates, with Shanghai surpassing the rate of New York, and eliminated the use of wimmin's bodies in advertising and pornography.(6)

    An activist who is focused solely on ending rape will not see this. Of course, a healthy dose of white nationalism helps one ignore the mass slaughter of men, wimmin and children in the name of wimmin's liberation. So the strands do interact.

    Distracted Senate Hearings

    Recently, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a hearing before his appointment to assess accusations of sexual assault from his past. This was a spectacle, with the sexual content making it tantalizing to the public, rather than political content. Yes, the debate is about a lifetime appointment to a very high-powered position, that will affect the path of U.$. law. But there was no question of U.$. law favoring an end to war, oppression or the exploitation of the world's majority. Those who rallied against Kavanaugh were mostly caught up in Democratic Party politics, not actual feminism.

    A quarter century ago, MIM was also disgusted by the hearings for Clarence Thomas to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice, that were dominated by questions about his sexual harassment of Anita Hill. Yet, this was an event that became quite divisive within MIM and eventually led to a consolidation of our movement's materialist gender line.(7) It was the intersection of nation with this display of gender oppression that made that case different from the Kavanaugh one, because Thomas and Hill are both New Afrikan. The minority line in this struggle was deemed the "pro-paternialism position."

    The minority position was that MIM should stand with Anita Hill because she was the victim/oppressed. The line that won out was that Anita Hill was a petty-bourgeois cis-female in the First World, and was not helpless or at risk of starvation if she did not work for Clarence Thomas. While all MIM members would quickly jump on revisionists and pork-chop nationalists, paternalism led those holding the minority position to accept pseudo-feminism as something communists should stand by, because they pitied the female who faced situations like this. Similarly today, with the Kavanaugh appointment, we should not let our subjective feelings about his treatment of wimmin confuse us into thinking those rallying against him represent feminism overall.

    Bourgeois theories and identity politics

    The paternalistic line brings us back to identity politics. A politic that says right and wrong can be determined by one's gender, "race" or other identity. The paternalist line will say things like only wimmin can be raped or New Afrikans can't "racially" oppress other people. In its extreme forms it justifies any action of members of the oppressed group.

    Another form of identity politics is overdeterminism. The overdeterministic position is defined in our glossary as, "The idea that social processes are all connected and that all of the aspects of society cause each other, with none as the most important."(8) The overdeterminist will say "all oppressions are important so just work on your own. A parallel in anti-racism is that white people should get in touch with themselves first and work on their own racism."(9) Again this is all working from the framework of bourgeois individualism, which disempowers people from transforming the system.

    There is a paralyzing effect of the bourgeois theories that try to persynalize struggles, and frame them in the question of "what's in it for me?" Communists have little concern for self when it comes to political questions. To be a communist is to give oneself to the people, and to struggle for that which will bring about a better future for all people the fastest. While humyn knowledge can never be purely objective, it is by applying the scientific method that we can be most objective and reach our goals the quickest.(10)

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    [Campaigns] [Organizing] [Northeastern Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Spreading the Word on September 9

    Vita Wa Watu! This is one essay on my tactics to recruit Brothas and Sistas for certain movements. Take the Day of Peace and Solidarity for instance. I sent out letters to those that have a Genuine Love for me and the Struggle and kept it real with them. I informed them that I would be fasting for the 9th day of September because it was a day that meant more to Oppressed and Lumpen than the Sabbath does to the Jews. I told them that that day is a day of Peace in the Prisons around the country and that it commemorated one of the biggest prison uprisings in the states, and also that it was the last day of the now annual prison strike.

    Then I informed them that this Glorious Day meant that there would be no beatings, rapes, stabbings, or any violence of the Oppressed against the Oppressor and that it mean a lot to me if they would fast with me. I got a few confirmations and still awaiting others.

    Also, I let the Brothers here in Ad-Seg know the meaning of this day. However, only one Soulja fasted with me. Nevertheless, the day was a success here at Northeastern Correctional Center. Stay strong, Comrades. I will join you again next year.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: In ULK 64 we printed some early reports of actions on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. We're happy to hear about this work going on in Florida.

    And this is a good example of sharing your tactics for organizing and recruiting. The next issue of Under Lock & Key is devoted to this topic and we're seeking moreinput from readers about what's worked for you, and also what hasn't worked. We can all learn a lot from our practice and from the practice of others. Sum up your organizing experiences and send them in for ULK. See ULK 63 for our prior deep dive into this topic.

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    [Gender] [Theory] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Notes on Advancing the Struggle Inside: Intersecting Strands of Oppression

    Today's principal contradiction, here in the United $tates, is the national contradiction — meaning that between oppressed nations and oppressor nations. MIM(Prisons) provides some very provocative questions as to secondary contractions, their influence on or by and in conjunction to the current principal contradiction. Class, gender and nation are all interrelated.(1) Many times, while organizing our efforts and contemplating potential solutions to the principal contradiction, we overlook the secondary and tertiary ones. Such narrow-mindedness oftentimes leads to difficulties, hampering efforts toward resolution. Other times it makes resolving the principal, effectively, impossible. Analogous to penal institutions making it possible to punish a citizenry but impossible to better it due to the irreconcilable contraction between retributive punishment and rehabilitation. This is why reforms consistently fail and prisons persist as a social cancer.

    In regards to intersecting strands of oppression, prisons are illustrative of more than pitfalls of narrow-mindedness (i.e. reform of one aspect while leaving the rest intact). Prisons also provide numerous examples of oppression combinations. Interactions of nation and gender oppression are some of the most evident. Penal institutions are inherently nationally oppressive, because they are social control mechanisms allowing capitalism to address its excluded masses. Since the United $tates is patriarchal in practice, prisons over-exaggerate this masculine outlook, creating an ultra-aggressive, chauvinistic subculture.

    Intersection occurs oft times when a female staff member is present. Other than the few brave people, most wimmin in prison are regarded as "damsels in distress." Generally speaking (at least in Colorado prisons) a male will accompany a female; though, most males make no effort to do this for other men. Capitalism's undercurrent to such "chivalrous actions" is rooted in wimmin being the weaker, more helpless and vulnerable gender. In prison, machismo culture such is the chauvinist's belief. While many wimmin aid in their inequality by accepting, encouraging, or simply not protesting such "chivalry," brave, independent wimmin experience a form of ostracism — they are derided, an effort to enjoin their conformity. At the same time men are being chivalrous, they sexually objectify females, further demeaning them, reinforcing their second-class status under machismo specifically and, capitalistic patriarchy generally.

    Furthermore, there is also the ever-present nation bias (e.g. hyper-sexualizing Latina females, white females should only fraternize with whites). As prisons are "snapshots" of general society, the contradictions — their intersecting and interacting — hold useful material for revolutionary-minded persyns.

    Intersection of different oppression strands (as shown above) demonstrates that the resolution of one does not automatically mean resolution of others. For instance, should machismo in prison dissolve, the national oppression will still remain and vice versa. Prisons are an encapsulation of society, meaning, their abolishment will not necessarily translate to class, nation, gender contradiction resolutions throughout society. Although, it is a very good, versatile place to start. Penal institutions are more of an observation laboratory where the effects and affects of contradiction co-mingling manifest. A place to watch, document, analyze, formulate and possibly initiate theory and practice. There is no better way to comprehend oppression than to witness it in action. Nor is there any better way of combating the many oppressions than from the front lines.

    Notes: 1. See, MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Nationalism; MIM Theory 13: Culture in Revolution; MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism; MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial. Each available for $5 from MIM(Prisons), P.O. Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140
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    [Special Needs Yard] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [California] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Advancing the AEH is the Answer to Forced Re-Integration

    During the summer of 2018, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) attempted to initiate a radical new policy to re-integrate General Population (GP) and Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY) prisoners throughout the state. These two populations have been separated for decades, but are now living together in what they are calling Non-Designated Programming Facilities (NDPFs).

    SNYs were first created in the late 1990s to provide safe housing for prisoners convicted as sex offenders and other prisoners who had fallen out of favor with prison gangs. This population exploded during the early 2000s, when the CDCR began to ease housing restrictions and criteria on SNYs.

    In 2015, the office of the Governor of the state of California, Jerry Brown, authored the document "The Governor's Plan: The Future of California Prisons" in which they published the rising costs and administrative difficulties related to operating SNYs. It was within this document that the questions of how to stem the growing need for SNY, and possibly re-integrate GP and SNY, was first asked. In 2016, a "SNY Summit" was held by CDCR officials and so it seems that NDPFs developed from both the Governor's Plan and the SNY Summit.

    According to a CDCR memorandum titled "Amended Non-Designated Programming Facilities Expansion for 2018," additional NDPFs were to be created out of existing GP and SNY. The stated purpose for this expansion was to "...expand positive programming to all inmates who want it." The NDPF expansion was scheduled to take place as early as September 2018 at two different institutions with more to follow in the months ahead.

    The official list of NDPFs is relatively short, and only reflects NDPFs affecting level 1, 2 and 3 prisoners at this time. However, MIM(Prisons) has been receiving a lot of contradictory information on this issue from prisoners, much of which can be attributed to rumors from both pigs and prisoners. Therefore it is difficult for us to assess the situation and sum up matters. Naturally these developments have prisoners on both sides of the fence worked up and full of anxiety.

    The forceful integration of GP and SNY prisoners poses obvious concerns for the safety and security of everyone involved. As dialectical materialists, the left-wing of United Struggle from Within (USW) understands that change cannot be forced from the outside to the inside within this particular situation. Rather, unity can only develop from the inside to the out, which is why we are against NDPFs. Re-integration of SNY and GP is something that can only work once prisoners themselves settle the disputes and resolve the contradictions that led to the need for prisoners to de-link from the rest of the prisoner population and seek the protection of the state to begin with.

    Contradictions amongst the people must be peacefully resolved amongst the people; there's no other way around this. Until this happens, the new prison movement will remain divided and unable to unite along true anti-imperialist lines. It is for this very reason that we continue to uphold and promote the correct aspects of the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH), which was developed by prisoners themselves. In the AEH we see an end to the large scale prisoner violence that racked California prisons for decades. We also see a possibility for the re-emergence of revolutionary nationalism amongst the oppressed nation lumpen of Aztlán, New Afrika and the First Nations.

    The AEH is a foundation for the movement, but movements are not built on foundations alone; for this we need brick, mortar and other materials. Likewise the building blocks to the new prison movement will need the contributions and participation of as many of California's prisoners as possible if the signatories to the AEH really wanna live up to the revolutionary ideals which they profess and which so many claim to be instilled in the AEH, lest the AEH be but a hollow shell. No doubt that the AEH was hystoric, progressive and even revolutionary six years ago, but the time has come to amend the document. All language excluding SNY prisoners from the peace process and casting SNY as enemies should be revisited if prisoners from the Short Corridor Collective and Representative Body are truly interested in taking the AEH to the next level.

    For more information on re-integration and NDPFs contact Julie Garry Captain Population Management Unit (916) 323-3659.

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    [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Can We Overcome Greed?

    I am currently on close management (secured housing), a euphemism for 24/7 lockdown. My level was recently dropped to II, which means I now have a cellmate. However, since there are more people in this dorm, I have been able to spread some knowledge.

    I am currently involved in a struggle against violations of prisoners' rights in confinement. Although I don't know much about civil law, I am very resourceful and have found 2 non-profit law firms willing to help Florida prisoners. I have begun, after being here since May, to draw a lot of attention and have already been threatened with retaliation for my grievances (in order to file lawsuits, "administrative remedies" must be exhausted). However, I expected this, and take it as a signal that I am doing good and hitting the right issues, such as not being allowed to exit the cell for the specified "dayroom" time.

    They are trying to keep the addicts addicted. It is easier to reach people through face-to-face group studies or even individual studies. I have been doing what I can to get some of the interested prisoners involved in utilizing dialectical materialism. I have also been passing around info on how to fight against the constant oppression. Oppression is good for the oppressed. It is what motivates, and without it complacency would be the norm.

    I will be enclosing some more poetry for use in ULK. Also, the issue of Under Lock & Key sent to me was rejected citing that I already receive too many periodicals or publications. I am looking into if there is indeed a set limit or if this is just a sorry excuse for unwarranted censorship.

    I've been sitting in my room and really, truly devoting myself to studying the MIM Theory I received. I find myself aligning with MIM on all of its issues and where they stand. I do have a question. It is quite perplexing to me.

    It seems to me that one of the biggest problems Maoists and other forms of communism face all have a root in greed. The average human is not inherently good and/or caring. Rather, their main objective in life is to accumulate wealth to ensure a better life for them and hopefully their immediate family. They do not have any feelings or true empathy for those that do not have. So how do we solve this? I am new to this movement, but am very intrigued by the veracity that is communism. Expectantly awaiting.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: In response to this question about greed we ask another question: how do you know humyns are inherently greedy? Sure, this is what we see today in the world around us. But capitalism is built on a culture of greed and selfishness. It's no surprise that humyns raised in this culture, inundated with it from birth through school, entertainment, and adult examples, will learn to be greedy and individualist themselves. Further, capitalism rewards this individualism with material wealth. There is little incentive or opportunity to be selfless or generous.

    But do we really have evidence that this is inherent in the humyn species? When we look at the example of communist China during the Cultural Revolution, so many people were engaging in tremendous acts of selfless work while also actively fighting against reactionary culture. We don't have to look that far for examples of humyn selflessness. Even under capitalism there are jobs that require greater sacrifice than they offer reward, jobs that really help other people. Perhaps you could argue that these are the few oddballs who didn't get the "greed gene." But perhaps instead they represent what we all could be without indoctrination in greed.

    This writer argues that oppression is good for the oppressed because it is what motivates. While we'd agree that oppression is a motivating force, it's still something we strive to eliminate because we believe humyns can be motivated by striving for improvements for society without facing constant oppression.

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    [Organizing] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Debating Missouri Uprising

    time to ring the alarm

    13 May 2018 — 208 prisoners of every race, background, group, organization, etc. said enough is enough! We came together and sat down in a peaceful protest. During dinner (chow hall) as usual the pigs not only violated our constitutional rights (First Amendment freedom of speech) but they also attempted to bully us by flex'n and threatening us. That's when our peaceful protest turned uprising. I wish y'all could have seen the way all the guards (C.O.s, Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc.) ran out the kitchen and chow halls. You would have thought they ran track! Who the cowards now?

    For the first time in Missouri history we united. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity. In a matter of seconds we gained control of the kitchen, both dining halls, property room, canteen storage, the factory, forklifts, weapons, keys, phones, computers, etc. Well after a few hours the phones start to ring. Guess who's calling? The warden and highway patrol. For the first time they listened to our demands. They respected us. They feared our unity. They was at our mercy.

    On our own terms we surrendered 8-9 hours later. After we got our point across.

    Note: 90% of guys in our peaceful protest turned uprising have outdates ranging between a few weeks and 15 years. So only imagine if the outcome was the other way around. 90% of us could have been locked to the board (life without?).

    Due to us striving so fast and hard we left administration not only confused but also emotionally off balance. Being that this never happened before in Missouri history they acted off impulse and violated every constitutional right you can think of. Which led to KC Freedom Project lawyers starting a class action lawsuit on our behalf against Missouri DOC. The media has been on fire regarding this.

    Update? We still on lockdown! We still receiving brown bags (sack lunches). They say it was $3 million worth of damage. They making us do 1 year. We damn near 6 months in.

    Administration is still up to their tricky ways. They have attempted to divide and conquer us by destroying all the guys' property that was in the hole and told them we did it. Also telling all the guys in GP it's our fault they are locked down still. So yeah the struggle continues.

    By the way, there have been two other uprisings of this kind since we kicked it off. If we can unite here in Missouri where unity has never existed then any state can.


    Another Missouri prisoner wrote:

    It has been 13 months since the prisoners bonded together, Black, White, Native and brown (Chicano) and kicked off a riot at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, causing over a million dollars in damage. What did it accomplish?

    1. Prison property got damaged that your families who are tax payers (and you too cause you pay taxes on your canteen items) are going to have to pay for the damages.
    2. You injured one another with violent acts and all it accomplished is enemies, and lockdown of the prison.
    3. Supposedly two housing units are to be cleared out for the creation of SHU units. They are supposed to lock up all the gang leaders and violent soldiers.

    As of now, this is all just rumor, but every time Missouri prisoners show acts of violence via riots, the prison gets stricter. For example, the 1985 riot in the old Missouri State Penitentiary caused them to build a supermax housing unit.

    When are we gonna learn that we are hurting ourselves more ways than one by these acts of violence? When I was advocating peaceful protests with demonstrations of how to shut the prison system down, nobody in Missouri wanted to participate. But you go off on your own and committed this no nonsense act of violence against your brother, your friends, your families, and jeopardized everyone.

    It costs $85 million a year to keep the U.S. prisons up and running. The government is not producing this money to keep the prisons going. So where is the money coming from? Let's see now, in Missouri it's coming from Missouri Vocational Enterprise (MVE), the sign shop, the printing shop, the license plate plant (tag plant), the furniture factory, the chemical plant, information technology (IBM program), the braille program, the laundry, the cooled-chill plant (cold food storage), the shoe factory, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot work release) and the newly implemented paneling factory.

    The above-mentioned factories are multi-million-dollar industries per year. They are paying you pennies. So what a couple of these jobs pay between $150 and $300 per month. If you peacefully protest by refusing to go to work in these factories, either they are going to pay you at least minimum wage where you will be making at least $340 a week, or they are gonna bring in civilians to do the work, in which case the factories are going to have to be uprooted and moved because most civilians are not coming inside the prisons to work. So to shut down a beast like the U.S. prison system is to shut down their economy — that is, the very thing that's bringing them money to keep the prisons open is the very thing that can shut it down.

    This just doesn't begin and end with the prisoners. The prisoner has to survive. He has to eat. So the people in the free world are going to have to support the prisoner financially. Family, friends, advocate organizations are all going to have to pitch in and support the prisoner financially. That means to stop working we have to buy food to eat. To stop using the phones and tablets, we need stamps, envelopes, paper and pens to write letters that cost money. So the free world must understand that for us to make these sacrifices, then society is going to have to make sacrifices to assist us.

    So Missouri prisoners, society (family, friends, organizations, advocates, etc.), stop going about things the wrong way and do them like they should be done in order to get results.

    I go home next year on parole, but I do not leave my fight behind. There is a bigger world out there, which means a lot more opportunities to fight. I am going to find resources and seek out that they join me in my quest to do away with this beast. I will need their support mentally, physically, spiritually and above all, financially. With this, Comrades, I hope to see you on the other side, working with me and supporting me from the inside and outside.

    In struggle—In solidarity
    Arm raised—clenched black fist

    MIM(Prisons) responds: A lot of folks talk about how hard it is to get people to unite behind bars. The prison controls everything from day-to-day comfort to release dates. And that's powerful incentive to conform. Then they introduce drugs and other distractions to pacify the population. They pay off snitches to keep an eye on activists. And they lock organizers down in solitary confinement. Still, faced with all these barriers, prisoners can and do come together to protest. Conditions at Crossroads CC were bad enough to inspire this action. And while the outcome wasn't all positive, the class action lawsuit and attention of the public has forced the Missouri DOC to admit that prisoners are suffering significant restrictions due to short staffing.

    The comrade criticizing this action for its lack of focus and random acts of violence and destruction is right that often these sorts of actions lead to more repression. Though peaceful protests are also often met with increased repression. This debate over tactics in prison protests is one that should be happening within all prisons across the country. We hope the comrades at Crossroads will learn from this action and move forward in greater unity towards future actions that will be even more effective.

    Focusing on the economics of prisons reveals the ridiculous scale of the criminal injustice system. As the writer above notes, it would be a significant financial loss to the state if they were forced to hire non-prisoners for all the jobs prisoners are doing. And this is financial leverage that prisoner workers can use to their advantage.

    But to debate the value of this tactic we need to first be clear about the scope of prisoner labor. The state of Missouri 2018 budget allocated the Department of Corrections over $725 million. About the same as the previous year, which was up $50 million from 2016.(1) The state would have to allocate even more money if no prisoner labor could be used to help run the prisons, or produce products that are sold to generate revenue. But that prisoner labor is still a small part of the total cost of running prisons.

    As we showed from data collected from prisons across the United $tates, in general, losing prisoner labor would add about 10% to the cost of running prisons. Prisons are mostly subsidized by states' budgets. The labor from prisoners just doesn't come close to covering that cost. So while there is definitely economic power in those jobs, shutting down prison industries won't shut down prisons.

    We don't aim to just improve conditions. In the end we know the criminal injustice system keeps taking away rights, doing what it can to make prisons a place of suffering and complacency. But this protest showed the people involved that they have the power to take collective action. As the original writer notes, the prison can see their downfall in the unity of the prisoners. This lesson of the importance and power of unity is what will hopefully fuel ongoing organizing.

    Notes:
    1. State of Missouri Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget, HB 9 – Corrections, https://oa.mo.gov/sites/default/files/FY_2018_EB_Corrections.pdf
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    [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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    USW Countrywide Council Passes New Policy on Work Reports

    In an effort to make work reports more useful within the Council, the below was passed unanimously, with the majority voting to keep the old method of reporting work hours in addition to the below. We are printing this in ULK to solicit work reports from USW leaders who are not yet Council members. By submitting short monthly reports to the Council, we will better be able to sum up the efforts of USW as a whole, while vetting emerging cells for Council membership.

    All USW cells with an active Council representative must submit monthly work reports to remain in the Council.
    All USW cells are encouraged to submit monthly work reports to the Council. Work reports should be one to two paragraphs. They should address the following points as needed to update the Council on your work in the last month:
    • What types of activities did your cell participate in that contributed to USWs mission?
    • What campaigns did your cell participate in or promote in the last month?
    • What Serve the People programs did your cell operate?
    • What were the responses from the masses and USW recruits to this work?
    • What questions came up? How did you answer them? Or do you need help answering them?
    • What lessons did you learn in the last month?
    • What are the most pressing issues that are of concern to the masses in your location? Are there any new or developing issues of concern to the masses there?
    • What organizations/services have you recently found useful in your work (include contact info)?
    • What successes have you achieved in the last month?

    MIM(Prisons) will not share revealing information with the Council. Please keep in mind that your outgoing mail is being read and report on your work accordingly.

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    [Culture] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Struggle

    All my life
    I felt nothing but pain
    I see no blood, and I see no stains
    I lost all that I gained
    Where do I go
    Where do I run
    Running in circles
    Til my feet are numb

    All my life
    I cry, I lie.
    I became ashamed, so I denied
    What I seen, and where I been
    I promise you won't understand a thing
    See it's a lie
    When they say all champions
    Wear a ring

    All my life
    It's been a struggle
    Some people only understand the trouble
    Doesn't know how it feel to be poor
    And has to hustle

    It doesn't matter how you read it, or how it look
    Never judge a cover without reading the book
    Struggle comes with mistakes
    We all understand positive
    But live our life with hate

    With struggles, life isn't fair
    Even with struggles, someone cares
    With all the hurt and pain
    We learn to move on
    When struggles tear us apart
    We now pick up the pieces
    To try and understand
    We leave the past behind
    Because with all the errors
    And still facing errors
    We can't turn back the time

    Life is a struggle
    For some to comprehend
    Life is a struggle
    To make us become better men
    With tears that fall down our eyes
    That actually means
    We now realize
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    [U.S. Imperialism] [Honduras] [Mexico] [Migrants] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Imperialism’s Refugees

    trump speech bubble

    19 October 2018 — One week to the day of the Dia de la Raza celebrations in Mexico, a caravan of three to four thousand migrant men, wimmin and children (forming part of what's been dubbed the Central American Exodus) stormed the Mexico-Guatemala border at the southern Mexico State of Chiapas demanding passage through Mexico on their way to the United $tates. The migrants had spent the previous seven days walking from Honduras, where the caravan originated, through Guatemala, where they grew in numbers as Guatemalans joined the procession. Upon arriving at the Mexico-Guatemala border, the migrants were stopped by an assortment of Mexican Armed Forces equipped with riot gear, armored vehicles and Amerikan-supplied Blackhawk helicopters. The neo-colonial government of Mexico was acting on orders of U.$. Pre$ident Donald Trump who had issued the threat of economic sanctions against Mexico and warned of sending troops to the joint U.$.-Mexico border if Mexico didn't stop the caravan from reaching the United $tates. Similar orders were given to Honduras and Guatemala, who initially ignored the command. As a result, Pre$ident Trump has warned of cutting off economic aid to the recalcitrant countries.(1)

    Hungry, thirsty, tired, and now frustrated, the caravan broke through the border fence and began flooding into Mexico where Mexican forces fired teargas and resorted to the use of their batons on the migrants in an attempt to push the caravan back. While some migrants began throwing rocks at the police, the event reached a focal point when various young men began climbing the gates of the bridge where they were held and began to jump into the shallow Suchiate river below. After unsuccessfully trying to dissuade people from jumping, a reporter present at the event asked the question, "why jump?" One migrant responded that he was doing it for his children, and while he didn't want to die, the risk was worth it if only he could provide for his family. Others stated that they would rather die than return to the crushing poverty and pervasive gang violence that awaits them back home. "We only want to work," other migrants stated. When it was all over one child was reported to have died from teargas inhalation.(2)

    Unfortunately, the assaults on the caravan did not end there. Forty-eight hours after being stopped at Suchiate, about half of the caravan was eventually admitted into Mexico while 2,000 opted to board buses heading back to Honduras. On 22 October, the remaining members of the caravan along with additional Central American refugees already in Chiapas came together, after which their numbers swelled to 7,000 to 8,000 strong. This included the 2,000 children in their midst, along with the migrants' rights organization Pueblo Sin Fronteras. Members of the caravan made a public plea to the United Nations to declare the Central American Exodus a humanitarian crisis. They ask the U.N. to intervene and send envoys and a military escort to monitor the caravan's journey through Mexico which they referred to as a "Corridor of Death." Representatives of the group accused the Mexican government of perpetuating human rights abuses against them. They claimed that wimmin had been raped and children stolen. They also spoke of children in the caravan suddenly traveling alone because their parents had disappeared.(3)

    Meanwhile, further south in the hemisphere, actor Angelina Jolie, who is a special ambassador for the U.N. Human Rights Commission for refugees, traveled to Peru to call attention to the "humanitarian crisis" that is currently playing out in neighboring Venezuela where inflation and food shortages have led to mass migrations into Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.(4) The migrations out of Venezuela have been extensively covered by the Amerikan media, along with increasingly hostile rhetoric from politicians to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro, which has stood against imperialist control of the country. In comparison, the plight of the Honduran caravan has barely been given any attention by English language broadcasts except in its influence on the mid-term elections here in the United $tates. Could this be because the Venezuelan government has been a thorn in the side of U.$. imperialism for the last 20 years while the combined governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras have been faithful, if reluctant, servants of that same imperialist power?

    Since 2005 the official number of refugees in the world has climbed from 8.7 million to 214.4 million in 2014.(5) However, since the very definition and criteria for refugee status is set by the imperialists themselves, and hence politically motivated, we're sure the real number is way higher. For example, according to the U.N., Honduras isn't even considered a country of origin for refugees. Neither is Mexico, and yet the majority of people migrating to the United $tates come from Mexico and certainly the people of Honduras and Guatemala are fleeing conditions comparably worse than the recent crisis in Venezuela.(6)

    As of 2014, there were 11.2 million undocumented migrants in the U.$.; 67% came from Mexico and Central America. Of these 11.2 million migrants, 72% live in four of the 10 states with the largest undocumented populations. Of these 10 states, four are Aztlán i.e., California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.(7) Statistics also show that migrants from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will integrate into Aztlán and their children will assimilate into the [email protected] nation.(8)

    As the principal contradiction in the world (imperialism vs. the oppressed nations, principally U.$. imperialism) continues to develop, and crisis heightens, we can expect to see more of these mass exoduses in the not-too-distant future. Already, there are reports of another caravan leaving Honduras of at least 1,000 strong. Surely to Amerikans this must seem like a nightmare come true, literally thousands of Third World refugees banging at the gates of their imperialist citadel. As tragic as all of this seems it is but a glimpse of how the Third World masses will finally rise up, and in their desperation, put an end to imperialism once and for all. Oddly enough, revolutionary forces in Mexico have yet to make an appearance and lend a helping hand to the caravan while ordinary working people have already stepped up to lend their assistance. How will [email protected] respond? That is left to be seen.

    ¡Raza Si!
    ¡Moro No!

    MIM(Prisons) adds: The U.$. National Endowment for Democracy was involved in both the 2009 coup to overthrow Zelaya in Honduras and 2002 coup to overthrow Chavez in Venezuela (later reversed). Hillary Clinton infamously helped orchestrate the coup in Honduras as well. Since then murderous generals trained by the U.$. School of the Amerikkkas have terrorized the population, killing indigenous people, peasants and environmental activists. The U.$. has established a large military presence in Honduras since the coup, backing the robbing of land from poor indigenous peasants and peasants of African descent.(9)

    Notes: 1. Al Medio Dia, Noticias Telemundo 52, 10/19/2018
    2. Ibid
    3. Noticias Telemundo 52, 10/22/2018
    4. Al Medio Dia, Noticias Telemundo 52, 10/23/2018
    5. The World Almanac And Book of Facts 2016 pg 5
    6. Ibid pg 735
    7. Ibid pg 10
    8. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, 2015, by a MIM(Prisons) Study Group, Kersplebedeb Publishing, pg 124.
    9. https://old.reddit.com/r/communism/comments/9td3k3/hillary_and_honduras_the_history_of_the_coup_that/
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    [Organizing] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Psychological Warfare Promotes Divisions Over Subjectivism

    I wanted to respond to the document On Cardinal Principles from ULK 54.

    The situation where a group was supporting imprisoned white power by promoting the 23 via events outside prisons was left-opportunism. It was a situation where the activists felt it was necessary to cater to imprisoned white supremacists in order to "move the movement forward."

    During World War II Stalin made temporary alliances with Hitler, but this was only because Russia had to build up its military, and millions of lives were at stake. Here, had the activists chose not to promote imprisoned white power the movement and its united front would have survived.

    Looking back at the response/decision to split with MIM(Prisons) over them not issuing a statement on the matter, I must now say it was wrong. I believe now that I should have criticized MIM(Prisons) on this, but I should not have supported a split. It was an over-reaction, which I feel was brought on by a combination of things. One being the extreme repression and pressure I was under in the concentration kamp. It did affect me in ways I am still dealing with. I was in a situation where death by the state was perpetual, solitary was a mountain of pressure and white supremacy was the assassin ever-present. I felt at the time, betrayal for those who would not issue a response. This of course was an incorrect response.

    Being released from the kkkamps has allowed me to look at my thoughts on this with new eyes. It is true that MIM(Prisons) had served prisoners including myself for many years. I should not have responded as if I just met them. This was a result of many years of solitary, and the psychological turmoil that the state put me through. This kind of turmoil often has prisoners turn on each other, here I turned on comrades politically, comrades who had been my instructors for years. I was wrong for this.

    I accept the criticism from MIM(Prisons) and for the historical record I stand in unity with MIM(Prisons).

    I hope with this self-criticism that our imprisoned comrades can learn from it. It's important to know that to split with comrades over tactics, whether it is over something you feel you may be correct on, is a very big move. Prisons, and particularly solitary confinement, at times obscures our ability to respond in a materialist way. One way to avoid these challenges from escalating is to take a break when you start to think these thoughts. Write the organization/persyn and let them know that you are taking a break so as not to exacerbate the conflict.

    I should note that the tactic of activists to promote the 23 has now been overturned. So in that aspect I was proven correct, it was my response that was incorrect. But this was a very important lesson.

    The movement cannot move forward with subjective decisions. I allowed subjectivism to determine my decisions on this issue and that was an error. MIM(Prisons)'s line never changed so my affiliation with them should not have changed either.

    In Struggle.

    MIM(Prisons) responds: We whole-heartedly accept this self-criticism from Pili based on this statement and eir principled work with the Republic of Aztlán.

    It is not unusual for us to encounter anger and frustration from our comrades inside. Our relationship is tenuous through the mail. Often comrades will question us because of this. We generally know more about them then they know about us. That is an imbalance that can encourage doubts. This is a good example of the psychological warfare that solitary confinement wages on the oppressed. It is not just about isolating individuals from others, it has broad and lasting impacts on the oppressed's ability to organize effectively.

    For all the reasons mentioned by Pili, we try to be patient and understanding when there is the occasional riff with a comrade we have worked closely with for some time. But we always to looking at practice — look at our work, look at what we say. Is it consistent? Is it correct? And we will take the same approach with you. Sometimes comrades/organizations do change their line and practice to a degree that warrants splitting with them.

    Advanced comrades should think about what a dividing line question is for them. This can help orientate you, and avoid subjectivism, when you find yourself questioning whether another group is an ally or not. See the article cited by Pili above for a discussion of cardinal principles and what we believe Maoists should and shouldn't divide over.


    Related Articles:
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    [Gender] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Revolutionary Movements Must Include Trans People

    "We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon." — Comrade Mao, "Combat Liberalism"

    Within every class, gender, and nation, trans women are being oppressed and persecuted because of their trans disposition. This has been so within both capitalist and socialist societies, among revolutionaries as among reactionaries.

    Many hallmark social/revolutionary movements in America's history had non-supportive regard for trans people. The consciousness was not there yet; revolutionary consciousness evolves by degrees, through years, decades, the same for such movements (and governments) in other countries.

    In century 21, both political and revolutionary consciousness are at a much higher frequency. Trans political resistance is occurring across the country (and the world); trans people have become cognizant of the political aspects of their quality of life existence, and are getting politically involved in a revolutionary manner.

    The political and revolutionary consciousness evolution of trans people is taking place in America's prisons. In California, the 36 Movement of trans women is politically active against the anti-trans oppression, persecution, and genocide of the prison system for their lives, livelihood and for political power. There is also the right-wing reaction they must contend with on the yards, and, as well, reactionary behavior towards them by left revolutionaries, and by presumed progressive media outlets on the left. People do not become progressive or revolutionary overnight. Anti-trans sentiment is deep among those so afflicted, because putrid bourgeois opinion predominates in American society, and is infectious.

    How are the cadre to address such reactionary or quasi-reactionary tendencies within the revolutionary camp? For one, internal indoctrination can put light on the subject, so that new cadre are aware. But so must elder cadre become aware. For another, ideological discussion on trans issues are worthwhile — trans within society/prison, within the revolutionary ranks — discerning among each other and within oneself traces of reactionary inclination and weeding them out, aligning personal in line with revolutionary principles that guide attitudes towards the people, and propagating the new awareness.

    By such ideological debate, properly practiced, broader unity will result. This is revolutionary. This is the revolutionary guidance of Mao Thought.

    Across the wider spectrum, included is regard for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and gender nonconforming people.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: The transgender question has come out of the closet in recent years. This is a necessary step towards ending gender-based oppression. The question is what bringing the issue to light under capitalist patriarchy will achieve.

    We can look back at the gay/lesbian/queer struggles in this country and see how they led to integration of those once separate communities into mainstream Amerika. While white wimmin have always been allies to white men in national oppression, this relationship has only solidified with increasing power of wimmin in Amerikan society. Both of these examples inform our understanding of nation as principal to our struggle against all oppression.

    If we look at nation, we also see integrationism though. Today the integration road is presented as a viable option in the United $tates, rather than something you have to fight for. However, with nation, that integration was not complete. The ghettos became more isolated, even though they have since become more dispersed, and the koncentration kamps of course expanded with oppressed nations filling the cages. With the integration of both the relatively gender and nationally oppressed in this country, we did not see improvements for wimmin or oppressed nations overall in the world. So there is a problem with looking just at U.$. society for measuring progress.

    The fact that transgender issues have not been a public discussion for as long as other forms of oppression does create the sense that transgender people are the most oppressed, and need the most attention. And this is the conclusion by many advocates of identity politics. As this comrade says, they have faced oppression in all parts of society. However, with our understanding of society within the framework of dialectical materialism we can talk about why nation is principal under imperialism, look at the historical examples of gender struggles in this country, and predict that the transgender struggle is not going to move us toward ending oppression the fastest.

    None of that discounts what the comrade says about struggling for the inclusion and acceptance of transgender prisoners, and people in general, in the revolutionary movement. In some ways the prison population was ahead of the curve on this one as the prominence of transgender wimmin in male prisons has made this issue part of daily life for prisoners before many Amerikans began grappling with it. Still, this has not led to an overall overall progressive attitude among male prisoners, in part due to the hyper masculinity that the prison environment engenders.

    This is an example of how communists must try to address all issues holding back the revolution, while focusing on the principal contradiction. We join this comrade in calling for ideological discussions around trans issues in mass work. This will foster greater unity within the oppressed nations and among the revolutionary movement of prisoners overall.

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    [Special Needs Yard] [Pleasant Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 65]
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    PVSP From Chill to Tense with New GP/SNY Integration

    This report is in response to Programming Facilities in CA to Decrease SNY Population in ULK 63, July/August 2018.

    We are receiving a small but steady flow of general population (G.P.) prisoners on our yard. About 10 every week or two. It's not going well at all. SNY population is now jumping G.P. when able to. First time G.P.s arrived they attacked some SNYs in work out bar course. Four on five and G.P.s got scrapped. Next time SNYs were waiting, so guards had to escort G.P.s from R&R.

    Next morning, 300+ prisoners were outside the building waiting for the G.P.s release. So guards decided not to release G.P.s and recalled the yard. Later guards released only 5 G.P.s and they were jumped by 20 SNYs. So this is the pattern. Only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

    So now anytime in transit G.P.s and SNYs are in a possible dangerous situation. This SNY yard is super chill, with very few incidents to report. So I can only imagine how serious this issue will be on other more dangerous yards. OR when SNY prisoners are placed on a yard with the majority being G.P. Something needs to be done soon. CDC is basically staging these fights.


    MIM(Prisons) adds: While family members on the outside have been petitioning to stop the integration, MIM(Prisons) has been supporting USW leaders who are trying extra hard to push the United Front for Peace in Prisons principles in these difficult situations. California prison staff have a long history of staging fights between prisoners. However, this massive integration is different in terms of the numbers involved. Comrades should search out opportunities to apply the principle of Unity, based on the fact that GP and SNY prisoners are now, more than ever, facing the same conditions.

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    [Black Panther Party] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Learn from the Revolutionary Legacy of the Black Panther Party

    As I first stumbled out of the haze of unconsciousness and began to see the true structure of society and the world, as I began to understand what drove and supported the political socio-economic forces, it was inevitable that I would be influenced by the Black Panther Party. As with many urban youth who lived rough, experiencing ghetto life with its grinding poverty and internecine violence, with the police sweeps and sanctioned violence, along with the general spirit of hopelessness that pervaded the community, the appeal of the party was at first superficial. I was drawn to the audacity in the stories of those so very young women and men who were facing off with the state's protector — the police. Although I didn't understand, I was only seeing the surface of what the party was about.

    I was aware of some of the survival programs that the party had organized and their provocative slogans. As I read more to get an understanding of the party's actual ideology, my reading expanded and my own ideas took shape. I became aware of the class struggles in addition to the racial struggles — I had assumed that the condition of minority groups in this country was primarily race-based. Now I became aware of the guiding hand of economics in the affairs and destiny of peoples and nations, in conjunction with the politics of race.

    Through the books and speeches of the BPP, I became familiar with Marx, Lenin, Fanon, Sartre, Che and so many others through whose analysis and actions revealed a different way of considering human events and condition. They also revealed to me the value of setting examples to motivate and raise consciousness. At first I made what I've now come to see as an error in my attempts to bring myself to socialist thought, at the expense of free thought. But I realized that dialectical materialism does not bring everyone to the same conclusions, certainly not always at the same time.

    Our cultural perspectives are not illegitimate, nor should they be denied in order to fit into any ideological category. A people's history will inform their view and approach to the issues that have bearing on them, on their condition. Their specific needs may require addressing in ways that are unique to those people, and may not be suitable for other peoples' circumstances. If people deny that then they are denying themselves the flexibility and effectiveness to meet their needs, solve their problems and advance a common good. This is one of the reasons for the importance of the BPP.

    The articulation of the struggle could be — when it needed to be — sophisticated, with a higher level of vocabulary and Marxist-Leninst terminology. Then — when it needed to be — the articulation of the party could be iconoclastic, and even vulgar with the turn of a phrase more easily understood by the lumpen-proletariat, the streetcorner man. Huey Newton and George Jackson spoke to us in both ways. They knew when to because they were as we are. Same history. Same soul. There was no need to pretend in order to manipulate the people. The straightforward speech and fearless actions is what got my attention. Then Huey proceeded to expand my imagination with his own as he described intercommunalism. George served as an example, not only of what a person could survive, but also of how hope and purpose could be restored to a life that had been designated as a throwaway.

    The Party existed in a different era than ours. Some things are better, some are worse. Yet what remains exactly the same is the need for people to be conscious of the forces that affect their lives and threaten to dictate their fate, along with the urgent need to seize those forces and address those needs.

    The most effective organizers and motivators of people of the underclass are those who can speak the language of the underclass on the one hand, taking the frustrating and complex, making it plain. While on the other hand demonstrating what someone like themselves are capable of with the depths of their understanding and the heights of their courage — remaining unbroken where others have broken under less pressure.

    In the present, criticism is leveled at those women and men who risked all of themselves, sacrificed so much — even their own lives. Their errors and excesses have been highlighted in history. Although we can recognize the accuracy of some of that criticism, it would be a grave error on our part to allow those things to prevent us from accepting the lessons in their analysis of the origins, significance and relevance of class and racial struggle, nor should we fail to acknowledge the dedication and examples of courage that were demonstrated by people so young.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides us with some important perspective on how we analyze the history of revolutionary activists. Some people are critical of revolutionaries, comparing them to some ideal that has never been achieved, as if these people were gods and should have been perfect. But doing this means we will only criticize everyone and learn nothing from history. Instead we need to measure people, and organizations, by their real world actions in comparison to other real world actions. No persyn or group is perfect. But we look at the impact of their work, and also how well they learned from their mistakes.

    The Black Panther Party was the most advanced and effective revolutionary organization in U.$. history. The BPP correctly identified the contradiction of national oppression as principal within U.$. borders, and saw the need for a revolutionary party to organize the New Afrikan nation. They were way ahead of others in the 1960s with their analysis of the importance of Maoism, and their practice of building a strong disciplined organization. There is a lot to learn from the history of the BPP.

    This doesn't mean we withhold all criticism of the BPP. But as this comrade notes: our criticisms, which with hindsight are always much easier to see than in the moment, should not stop us from learning from the BPP and upholding their organization for its revolutionary leadership. For more on this topic read Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party, available from MIM(Prisons) for $6 or work trade.

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    [Security] [California] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Checking Paperwork v. Checking Ourselves

    Just arrived at the Ad-Seg unit @ Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) on a charge for conspiracy to assault C.O.s on a particular facility, drag for "Administration wants you out of here." I get to the cell and the first voice I hear coming through the adjacent HVAC duct is the voice of a Southern California [email protected], who is my neighbor asking, "Ey homes, are you active?" inquiring as to whether I am housed with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a General Population prisoner or a Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) prisoner. Because I do not engage in the police agenda of separating and segregating California prisons based on racial disparities, I replied, "I'm a konvict!"

    To say the least this lost child of Aztlán continued to press down on myself the hellish investigative tactics so often applied under the prison politic culture. As a New Afrikan leader under the strict guidance of the L1 cell of USW, I know the difference between Politics and Politrix. And the California prison system is saturated in Politrix, most practiced by the prisoners themselves. I relieved the lost child of their fears and went to the bunk area and began opening my Prisoners Legal Clinic Accounting System. I was called by another set of prisoners who were housed on an SNY facility and were members of a lumpen group. These individuals sent me their lock-up orders and asked to review mine in order that we could engage in a confidential dialogue in relation to current feuds between [email protected] lumpen factions and a new born faction of Blacks. This brings me to the titling of this report, "Checking Paperwork v Checking Ourselves."

    Here it is. I, a leader of the New Afrikan revolutionary nationalist identity is sitting in Ad-Seg unit after being kidnapped from a previous prison to fill "Black bed space" at Kern Valley State Prison; space created by racial altercations orchestrated by the C.O.s. I've been shot in the arm and gassed by the pigs with no reports or medical attention administered. I've had a Sergeant threaten to fuck (rape) me because of my involvement in a case witnessing pigs apply unnecessary force, while the anti-intelligence agents (ISU/IGI) do everything they can to keep my voice as an activist for the "Prison Rape Elimination Act" silent. I've been used to carry out acts of violence on other prisoners, in a mafia-like way by CDCR and KVSP officers. Officers who then doctor their reports to justify removing the targeted prisoner. All this done against my will and yet when I pull up, the lost children of Aztlán ask me am I active.

    We need to re-evaluate what it means to be active. In these last hours it means less what the person's p.work says and more to what one's actions say. As a member of the USW-L1 cell I stand on the principle of unity as described by the United Front for Peace in Prisons. For New Afrika, UMOJA brings about UHURU as a five letter word equal to the five point star, and/or square that is Planet Earth. Whether we are visitors or make prison our deathbed, prisoners must begin addressing our problems amongst one another using investigation methods based in true information. Not hearsay or gossip shared with us by the pigs. We must not determine who is active or who isn't solely on a housing status, because when the tables are turned you might be the one de-activated.

    In struggle and solidarity.


    MIM(Prisons) adds: It is easy for the state to create paperwork, and phoney documents have been a known tactic in CDCR for a long time. This is similar to our discussion around sex offenders, who are regularly ostracized and even attacked based on cases that the imperialist state has put on them. We know there are many who snitch in prison, just as there are many who committed sexual crimes against the people to get there. But we will echo the comrade above, that we must base our judgments on peoples' actions.

    See ULK 64 for our discussion around sex offenders.
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    [Gender] [ULK Issue 65]
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    Response to MIM critique of Soledad Brother

    I don't agree with the idea of Jackson being a homophobe by stating that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns, and/or lesbians; I don't find it derogatory either. I don't agree or disagree with his statement. I actually have no judgement on that idea. I don't understand why MIM says it's homophobic and derogatory.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: The MIM review of Soledad Brother we sent this comrade with a copy of the book includes this critique:

    "The first part of the book, mostly letters to his mother and father, is not very political. Jackson uses many sexist stereotypes in this section, often to criticize his mother for failing in his brother's and his own education. He says, for example, that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns and lesbians (p. 45). While it is true that economic forces put more pressure on unmarried women (the fastest growing population in poverty are women and children), Jackson's stereotype is homophobic and derogatory.

    "Much of what could be criticized as sexist in Jackson's writing is left as ambiguous. He says that 'The white theory of 'the emancipated woman' is a false idea' (p. 46), which is an economic reality of Amerikan capitalism, but no context is given. To his credit he does explain that Black women are the backbone of the family (p. 74)."

    The George Jackson reference is as follows:

    "In the society of our fathers and in the civilized world today, women feel it their obligation to be ever yielding and obedient to their men. Life is purposely made simple for them because of their nature, and they are happy. When the women outnumber the men in the black societies, the men take as many wives as they can afford, and care for them all equally. In the white for some nebulous reason the men can take only one... the rest are left to become prostitutes, nuns, or lesbians."

    The beginning of the quote is perhaps the more damning part, positing that wimmin have a simpler nature than men and therefore are happy serving them. We hope you don't agree with that part. The homophobia is perhaps more subtle, but Jackson is clearly pointing to these three options as being not good, and praising Black men for saving Black wimmin from such fates — having sex in exchange for money/things, not being able to have sex, or having to have sex with wimmin instead.

    The grain of righteous truth in the Jackson quote is that white society had more fully succumbed to capitalist individualism, so that wimmin are more often left to fend for themselves in situations that are not conducive to meeting their needs. But Jackson contrasts this with the paternalist assumption that wimmin need to be taken care of by husbands in order to survive, suggesting that polagamy is a selfless sacrifice by men. The unique struggle of wimmin under capitalism is a result of the intersection of the patriarchy and capitalism, not about wimmin needing husbands to survive.

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    [Economics] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 65]
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    La economía marxista y el encarcelamiento en masa de Estados Unidos: revisando ULK 8

    Mientras muchos euro-americanos se desmoronan y sufren en las prisiones E$tado Uniden$e$, son aquellos cuyas tierras los amerikanos tomaron y ocuparon, y aquellos a quienes esclavizaron y explotaron, que desproporcionadamente se pudren aquí. Los lumpen del primer mundo son un exceso de población, para los que el imperialismo tiene uso limitado.

    Una solución a este problema ha sido utilizar a personas de la sub-subclase para distribuir y consumir narcóticos. Los narcóticos y el juego de la droga en sí tranquilizan a los de las clases más bajas de las semi-colonias internas, proporcionando ingresos y drama que distrae, mientras circula capital.(1) Por supuesto, amerikanos ricos desempeñan un papel mucho más importante en la promoción de las ventas de drogas.

    Otra solución para el exceso de población ha sido el encarcelamiento masivo. Las prisiones sirven como una herramienta de control social; un lugar para poner a las poblaciones rebeldes que una vez engendraron organizaciones como la Black Panther Party y Young Lords Party (El Partido de Pantera Negra –BPP y El Partido Joven de Reyes). Mientras tanto, el encarcelamiento sirve para drenar los recursos de las semicolonias internas de muchas maneras (2) refuerza sus estados coloniales en relación con el imperio amerikano. Como una institución, la encarcelación masiva sirve como una salida en el hogar para la ideología racista que el imperialismo requiere de su población para operaciones en el extranjero. El sistema de injusticia criminal depura las opresiones nacionales bajo el lema de "ley y orden", reduciendo las manifestaciones más abiertas de la contradicción nacional dentro de la metrópoli que provocó el reconocimiento de la necesidad de la liberación nacional en el 1960 y 1970.(3)

    Lo siguiente son extractos de la respuesta de un camarada de Minnesota a Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (Ministerio Internacionalista de Prisiones Maoísta-MIM(Prisons)) sobre la economía de prisiones E$tado Uniden$e$", publicado originalmente en ULK 8, actualmente disponible en el "13th Amendment Study Pack (Paquete de estudio de la 13ª Enmienda)" (actualizado el 8/10/2017).

    "A pesar de que concuerdo bastante con las posiciones de MIM (Ministerio Internacionalista de Prisiones Maoísta) sobre este conjunto de estudio, es que lo encuentro más allá de la relevancia en la discusión sobre si las condiciones bajo las que ahora vivimos son de hecho esclavitud o explotación o más bien una opresión que gira en torno a leyes diseñadas para garantizar que el control social, político y económico de primera clase se mantenga. El encarcelamiento puede ser todos los anteriores o ninguno en absoluto, para aquellos de nosotros en la lucha. En lo que todos podemos estar de acuerdo es en que la encarcelación masiva es una máquina que se usa para exterminar, como nos ven los imperialistas, la sub-subclase indeseable.

    "... Las cárceles se están utilizando para eliminar a los hombres negros y morenos en sus mejores años para producir hijos, ir a la universidad y ganar formación profesional significativa. Esta pérdida de hombres virulentos en Nuestras comunidades hace más que únicamente debilitarlas. Le quita a la mujer un varón adecuado y actúa igual que la esterilización. En lugar de incineradores o cámaras de gas, estamos siendo nutridos, domesticados, dopado y alimentados con carcinógenos. Además, las prisiones nos han proporcionado ambientes plagados de enfermedades y dietas deficientes, mínimo ejercicio ambulatorio, escaso aire y agua. Por último, la eliminación de las cognitivas sociales estimula lo necesario para la maduración de las habilidades sociales ha creado un ser humano antisocial subdesarrollado carente de compasión e individualidad.

    "... La razón por la cual el argumento de esclavitud o explotación no resuena para aquellos de nosotros que están en primera línea, creo, es porque está silenciado por el hecho de que el encarcelamiento es una institución creada por el opresor. Tendrá vestigios de esclavitud, explotación y control social dentro de ella. ¿Hasta qué punto? es discutible."

    Hasta el momento no tenemos desacuerdos con este camarada. Y aunque hemos mantenido este punto que es importante para nuestra comprensión del encarcelamiento masivo en los Estado$ Unido$ y cómo luchar contra él, sí reconocemos que la analogía de la esclavitud resonará con las masas a un nivel emocional. El camarada luego refuerza nuestra posición: "La erradicación es donde la esclavitud y el encarcelamiento masivo se dividen. A pesar de que los esclavos fueron castigados y víctimas del control social, tenían valor y no fueron erradicados."

    Un tosco ejemplo de esto estuvo expuesto el mes pasado cuando los cerdos del Condado de Kern traicionaron a uno de los suyos y lanzaron un video del Cerdo en Jefe Donny Youngblood, que afirmaba que es más barato matar a alguien retenido por el estado que herirlos. Estas son burocracias estatales, con presión para recortar presupuestos. Si bien mantener las camas de prisión llenas es de interés de los sindicatos, no tiene un interés financiero inmediato para el estado en general.

    Mientras que estamos de acuerdo con este camarada cuando ellos discuten el papel del mantenimiento de un prisionero en la financiación de las economías del sur poco después de la creación de la 13ª Enmienda, no estamos de acuerdo con la analogía de financiar las comunidades rurales blancas de hoy en día.

    "El esclavo, en lugar de producir cultivos y realizar otros oficios en la plantación es ahora una fuente de trabajo ... Entonces, insistir en que los estados no son benefactores de la encarcelación masiva es algo incrédulo. Los aristócratas laboristas y la primera clase imperialista, que en su mayoría son varones caucásicos, se han visto beneficiados de forma desproporcional. "

    La diferencia es un punto clave en el marxismo, y entender la economía imperialista actual. Entender que la existencia de millones de prisioneros en los Estado$ Unido$ crea puestos de trabajo para los aristócratas trabajadores es muy diferente a ser un esclavo, cuyo trabajo es explotado. Y la diferencia es que la riqueza para pagar al personal de prisión blanco (o de otro tipo) proviene de la explotación del proletariado del Tercer Mundo. Y la economía en torno al encarcelamiento es solo una de las formas en que el estado mueve esas súper ganancias hacia los bolsillos del Amerikano ordinario. La narrativa del "prisionero como esclavo" corre el riesgo de borrar el papel importante de esta explotación imperialista.

    Otra razón por la que debemos ser precisos en nuestra explicación es la historia de los sindicatos blancos en este país en socavar las luchas de liberación de las semicolonias internas. Enganchando la lucha de prisioneros a la del movimiento laboral de E$tado$ Unido$ no es una forma de impulsar la causa. Es una manera de subordinarlo a una causa enemiga - la de Trabajo Amerikano.

    Hay un grupo de organizadores del trabajo Amerikano en el exterior que están empujando su agenda a la vanguardia del movimiento penitenciario. Su participación en este tema se remonta a más de un siglo atrás y su posición no ha cambiado. Es una batalla entre la aristocracia laboral amerikana y la burguesía amerikana por las súper ganancias extraídas del Tercer Mundo. En este caso, la aristocracia laboral ve que los presos que trabajan por poco o ningún salario podrían entrar en los trabajos disponibles para su clase que ofrecen el beneficio de la extracción de plusvalías de otras naciones. Generalmente, ha ganado la posición de la aristocracia laboral, manteniendo muy limitadas las oportunidades para obtener beneficios reales del trabajo en prisión en este país. Pero eso no quiere decir que no pueda surgir la explotación del trabajo penitenciario, especialmente en crisis económicas graves a medida que los países del tercer mundo se separan del imperio, forzándolo a mirar hacia adentro para mantener las ganancias a flote.

    Si bien, nuestro intento anterior para abordar este tema puede haber dado la impresión de un análisis académico marxista, esperamos que nos vaya mejor al seguir adelante en empujar los límites de que el movimiento en prisiones necesita estar ligado a las luchas de liberación nacional y anticolonial, tanto dentro como fuera de los E$tado$ Unido$. Y que estas luchas apunten a liberar a naciones enteras de los E$tado$ Unido$, y finalmente poner un fin al Amerikanismo. El vender esas luchas a los intereses del movimiento laboral Amerikano no servirá a los intereses del lumpen del Primer Mundo.

    Notas: 1. Ver Drogas, dinero e individualismo en Movimiento E$tado Uniden$e Penitenciario y otros artículos en ULK 59 2. Un estudio estimó los costos de encarcelamiento en casi $ 1 trillón anualmente, con la mayoría de esos costos aplicados a los prisioneros, sus familias y comunidades. Ver MIM (Ministerio Maoísta Internacional de Prisiones) sobre Economía E$tado Uniden$e penitenciaria – 2018 actualización, febrero de 2018, en Lock & Key 60. (Tras las rejas) 3. Informe de los presos de Nueva York sobre trabajo y economía, mayo de 2009, bajo Lock & Key edición 8 (Tras las rejas)
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