Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anti-Prison Dinner and Presentation on the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike (Mtl, March 28)

Thursday March 28 @7pm

La Belle Epoque
1984 Wellington

An informal dinner and letter-writing evening with an anti-prison focus – a space to meet and discuss, as well as to share updates on the situations of different prisoners. This month features a short presentation on the 2011 Pelican Bay hunger strike and the solidarity organizing around it.

In 2011 thousands of prisoners in California carried out the largest mass hunger strike in u.s. prison history, with five basic demands: End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse, Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement, Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food, Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates, and most importantly to Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria.

Despite hollow promises from the prisoncrats, two years later hardly anything has changed, and there is talk of another hunger strike this summer, to be supplemented by a work stoppage. This would represent a significant escalation in the struggle, and so it is more important than ever to renew our commitment to supporting the California prisoners in struggle.

Join us for a brief discussion of the 2011 hunger strikes, support activities that were carried out in Montreal, and what life is like in isolation in Pelican Bay-SHU, the flagship torture unit in California’s gulag archipelago.

Mtl: Captive Genders Discussion and Letter-Writing

Friday, March 29
1800 Létourneux

Join the Prisoner Correspondence Project for a reading from Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex and conversation with two California-based queer anti-prison activists. What are some of the uses and limits of a queer framework in anti-prison organizing? What does it mean for queers to "act local" as prisons become increasingly removed from urban centres? What are the resources and strategies that can be shared in our cross-border contexts?

Eric Stanley is visiting faculty in Critical Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute and coeditor of the anthology Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011)

Toshio Meronek is a freelance writer focusing on social justice, disability, prisons, and LGBT/queer issues. From 2010 to 2012, Toshio was editor of The Abolitionist, the newspaper of the anti-prison industrial complex organization Critical Resistance.

Kersplebedeb Leftwingbooks will be present with copies of Captive Genders and other books for sale.

Revolution at Point Zero: Montreal Book Launch and Discussion with Silvia Federici (April 4th)

[please post and forward widely] [svp diffusez largement] [français ci-dessous]
[facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/123882664466638/]

Revolution at Point Zero: A Book Launch and Discussion with Silvia Federici

Thursday April 4 at 6:30pm
1610 Ste-Catherine West (Faubourg Building), Room B-060
(métro Guy-Concordia)

- This event is free.
- For free on-site childcare, please call 24 hours in advance: 514-848-7585.
- Wheelchair accessible.
- Il y aura une service de traduction chuchotée vers le français.

Join us for a discussion with feminist and anti-capitalist activist Silvia Federici, a veteran of the Wages for Housework campaign and author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation.

Federici will discuss her most recent book Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (PM Press 2012), a collection of texts written between 1975 and 2010. In this talk she will specifically address social reproduction in an era of  globalized capitalism providing a feminist and autonomous Marxist analysis of the ongoing recolonization and decimation of much of the planet. As outlined in Revolution at Point Zero, this process fosters a permanent crisis of reproduction and survival. As women continue to bear the brunt of this onslaught, Federici puts forth a vision of the commons as a site of resistance.

Copies of Caliban and the Witch and Revolution at Point Zero will be on sale along with other feminist and anti-capitalist literature.

This event is co-sponsored by QPIRG Concordia, QPIRG McGill and Kersplebedeb Publishing.

(Note that Silvia will also be giving a workshop on "Reproductive Work and the Construction of the Commons in an Era of Primitive Accumulation" at the Anti-Capitalist Teach In on April 7th. For more information, visit: http://www.qpirgconcordia.org/?p=4319)

info: 514-848-7585 – info@qpirgconcordia.org
www.qpirgconcordia.org - www.qpirgmcgill.org - www.kersplebedeb.com - www.pmpress.org


La Révolution au Point Zéro:
Discussion et lancement du livre de Silvia Federici

Jeudi le 4 avril à 18h30
1610 Ste-Catherine Ouest (Bâtiment Faubourg), local B-060
(métro Guy-Concordia)

- Cet événement est gratuit.
- Pour le service de garde, veuillez téléphoner le numéro suivant (24 heures en avance s.v.p.): 514-848-7585.
- Accessible aux personnes en fauteuil roulant.
- Il y aura la traduction chuchotée vers le français.

Venez rencontrer Silvia Federici, militante féministe et anticapitaliste de longue date, membre du mouvement «salaire contre travail ménager» et auteure du livre Caliban and the Witch : Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation («Caliban et la sorcière: Femmes, corps et accumulation primitive»), dont la traduction française sera publiée sous peu.

Federici discutera de son dernier livre, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (PM Press 2012), un recueil de textes écrits entre 1975 et 2010. Plus précisément, elle apportera une analyse marxiste féministe et autonome pour adresser la question de la reproduction sociale dans un contexte de capitalisme devenu global, de la recolonisation et de la décimation de la presque totalité de la planète. Comme le souligne Revolution at Point Zero, ce processus crée une crise permanente de reproduction et de survie. Alors que les femmes se retrouvent aux premières lignes de  cet assaut, Federici nous offre une vision du bien commun en tant que site de résistance.

Des copies de Caliban and the Witch et de Revolution at Point Zero seront disponibles aux côtés d'une sélection de publications féministes et anticapitalistes.

Cet événement est une collaboration entre GRIP-Q Concordia, GRIP-Q McGill et la maison d'édition Kersplebedeb.

(À noter que Silvia offrira un atelier sur "Le travail de reproduction et la construction de biens communs à l'ère de l'accumulation primitive" au teach-in anticapitaliste qui aura lieu le 7 avril. Pour plus d'info: http://www.qpirgconcordia.org/?p=4319&lang=fr)

info: 514-848-7585 – info@qpirgconcordia.org
www.qpirgconcordia.org - www.qpirgmcgill.org - www.kersplebedeb.com - www.pmpress.org

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Talking Nonsense Solves No Problems: Reply to an Open Response Letter Allegedly Written by the Amazons-August Collective and NAPLA to the New Afrikan Black Panther Party

The following is an essay Kevin "Rashid" Johnson just sent me and asked me to post. -k

I recently received an “open letter” purporting to be from the Amazons-August 3rd Collective (AA3) and New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army (NAPLA), which claims to respond to an article I wrote elaborating the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter’s (NABPP-PC) line on New Afrikan Liberation. [1] The said letter, however, doesn’t analyze nor respond to our article at all. Instead it goes to some lengths, building momentum as it proceeds, to ridicule and angle to undermine the motives and character of the NABPP-PC in general and me as a leading member in particular.

The letter proves to be based purely on conjecture, where its authors, (whoever they might actuallybe), admit having little or no factual knowledge or study of the NABPP-PC as an organization, our history, our political and ideological line, our membership, or much else. Yet we are disparaged as unscientific nostalgic adventurists, egotists, glory-seekers, opportunists and more [2]. The letter is obviously geared to lead others to look upon our Party, its work and members with suspicion and ridicule, characterizing us as a threat to the Movement, the People and the struggle that must be “reigned in,” and without a shred of fact to back its critiques.

My first thought on reading this letter was that it reads exactly like a piece of FBI counterintelligence like old COINTELPRO brown mail written by the political police but claiming to originate from some actual or fictitious organization or persyn, which was sent to a targeted group of persyn or otherwise publicized, with the purpose of inciting groups against each other and to discredit groups and their members in the public eye. These are old and well-established pig tactics, and ones any student of pig covert actions would readily recognize, and that seasoned Comrades would be conscious to avoid using themselves or playing into.

I especially doubted the authenticity of the letter when I considered that leading cadre of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) have admonished the Movement against publicly lambasting other groups in this fashion. For example New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) Chairman Chokwe Lumumba warned the Movement against this in an article [3] I know the actual AA3 and NAPLA are familiar with, because it was referenced in an article written last year by Comrade Sanyika Shakur which they signed onto. [4] Chokwe stated:
“Publicly blasting revolutionary New Afrikan organizations without prior efforts to resolve conflicts and indeed after declining an opportunity to do so behind closed doors (as Malcolm X suggests) has worked to the detriment of the Black Liberation Movement on countless occasions. Garvey vs. the Afrikan Blood Brotherhood, Malcolm vs. Elijah Muhammad, West Coast Panthers vs. NY 21, Panthers vs. cultural nationalists, the Provisional Government Republic of New Afrika Constitutional Crisis of 1969/70 are all examples of the counter-revolutionary consequence of such behavior. The agents of the enemy are drawn to open “wild west” political shoot outs, between revolutionaries like flies are to feces. This type of debate helped to imprison Garvey, discredit the Blood Brotherhood, kill Malcolm, destroy the Panthers and divide the Provisional Government in the 1970’s.

“We emphasize that We do not believe that there should never be public debate or struggle between revolutionary groups. But We do believe that before such exchanges occur, maximum caution should be taken to insure that these debates are not self-destructive.”
He also pointed out that his own NAPO:
“has been engaged in political debate recently with many of the Organizations in the Black Liberation Movement… However, these debates  have been and continue to be carried out in a secure and productive manner.

“They are occurring in a non-public manner, or publicly after notice of the issues, and with preliminary discussion designed to correct gross misinformation and misconceptions in order to minimize the danger of public comment which mischaracterizes on the basis of distortions or mistakes of fact.

“Among genuine revolutionary groups this process helps to minimize enemy provocation and provides a better opportunity for maximum consideration of all factors involves, before any organization has publicly committed itself to that which might easily be shown to be erroneous information or thinking.” [5]

Investigate Then Speak

To the extent this “open” letter is actually the work of AA3 and NAPLA, the NABPP is fully prepared to answer questions or concerns they may have about our organization, line and work.[6] In addition, we can refer them to articles we’ve written and our media that explain a lot of what is questioned or challenged in that letter, including what our purpose is, our history, why and how we originated within the empire’s prisons, why we are an aboveground Party formation and not a clandestine organization, the purpose and functions of leading positions and the election to and revocation of such positions within a revolutionary Party organization, etc. I am also in process of having more of our Party materials posted to my website – rashidmod.com

Reviving the Party: A Dangerous Nostalgia or Rearguard Necessity?

We can certainly understand Comrades’ confusions surrounding the need, role, function and structure of a revolutionary political Party. In fact, Comrade Owusu Yaki Yakubu aka Atiba Shanna spoke to this tendency years ago:
“The movement and its organization must be re-built – by cadres. We look to the past and see that one of our major weaknesses was the lack of attention given to properly selecting and training cadres.  WE claimed to base ourselves on Marxist-Leninist theory (e.g. with respect to party-building), and to be aware of the class dimensions of the national liberation struggle. Yet, we ignored or overlooked the need to use class-based and vanguard criteria in the selection and training of party members and cadres. In point of fact, we were more ignorant of the process of building revolutionary scientific socialist parties than we realized. (There wasn’t much material on this in The Red Book or Mao’s military writings, and by 1970-71, we’d been so disappointed by Huey Newton & Co., and so misguided by our own petty-bourgeois [and lumpen proletarian–Rashid] mentalities and our misinterpretations of certain South American experiences, that we, in effect, abandoned the principle of the need for a party, i.e. the necessity for a party organization if revolutionary struggle is to be effectively generated and successful.)”[7]
Comrade Safiya Bukhari also recognized and emphasized the need to reconstitute a revolutionary NA Panther Party, as the political vanguard of the NAIM in which she’d long been a leading voice and organizer.[8]

As the “open” letter mentions, various groups since the demise of the BPP in 1982 [9] have assumed the name of the original Party. But as Comrade Mumia Abu-Jamal observed in his study and political memoir of his experiences as a member of the BPP, these groups have not built upon or continued the legacy of the BPP.[10] However, in a 2006 article in support of Comrade Hasan Shakur, the Minister of Human Rights of our NABPP-PC until he was murdered by the State of Texas on Black August 31, 2006, Mumia wrote:
“Hasan has joined the newly-formed New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, based in Amerika’s prisons and in honor of his commitment in the face of death, the NABPP has named him its Minister of Human Rights.

“Hasan, through his politicization, has devoted his life to what the NABPP calls “Pantherism,” or a fidelity to the Revolution as taught and practiced by the original Black Panther Party.

“Unlike other recent formations, the NABPP studies the writings of Huey P. Newton Bobby Seale, George Jackson, and other founding and leading members. The words of Malcolm X are important tools for understanding and addressing the challenges of today.

This is refreshing news indeed.”[11]

Political Work Involves Wide Publicity

What defines our work and structure is what sort of organization we are. The NABPP-PC is not an underground (para)military nor a joint political/military organization, but a “legal” aboveground political Party, that aims to be both flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. From the extremes of enemy repression to permissive conditions where open political agitation, education and organizing are possible, Revolutionary Parties have existed, communicated, thrived and ultimately succeeded in defeating oppressive systems under much worse conditions than we find ourselves in Amerika or its prisons.

In revolutionary struggle, especially in its developmental stages, political work takes primacy, which entails educating, and agitating amongst the People. Many in the Movement have instead long given primacy to armed struggle. A tendency that Comarade Owusu Yaki Yakubu also criticized.[12] As Mao Tse-Tung noted, in a struggle for liberation:
“there are various fronts, among which are the fronts of the pen and of the gun, the cultural and military fronts. To defeat the enemy we must rely primarily on the army with guns. But this army alone is not enough; we must also have a cultural army, which is absolutely indispensable for uniting our own ranks and defeating the enemy.”[13]
This is the principle behind revolutionaries publishing their line and analyses as broadly amongst the People as possible, and is what the critics who wrote the “open” letter see in the wide distribution of my art and writings in various media and my having developed working alliances with a wide range of organizations and People.

Doing What We Can: Filling a Void; Leading by Example

Our critics wouldn’t know, because they’ve admittedly done little study of our literature, but the NABPP-PC has repeatedly recognized and publicly acknowledged the limitations that objective conditions place on our ability to be fully integrated with the masses, and be as effective as we’d like in our work. But as Dialectical Materialists, we struggle to understand and work within the laws and limits of objective external conditions, to achieve as much as we can and create more favorable conditions for greater struggle, toward achieving our revolutionary ends. We don’t just “do nothing” because we don’t find ourselves in the most ideal conditions. But we could certainly accomplish much more with the unity and support of AA3 and NAPLA, and vice versa.

We also recognize that today there exists a revolutionary leadership vacuum, and if nothing more we can set an example and offer a blueprint on how a Party organization looks and works, for a Movement that continues to not recognize the fundamental need of a revolutionary Party to lead any revolutionary movement, and for any such struggle to advance and succeed; nor how such an organization is structured and operates. A few articles I’ve written that might be instructive on these points are: “Unity-Struggle-Transformation: On Revolutionary Organization, Leadership, and Cadre Development,” (2012), “On the Vanguard Party, Once Again” (2012), “The New Afrikan Black Panther Party’s Organizational Principles, Policy and Practice: The 3-P’s” (2012), “The NABPP-PC Rules of Discipline and General Directives” (2005).[14]

In any event, we do appreciate and understand the risks and tactical flexibility that goes with this work, and factor that into our line and policies. We are far from naive, reckless or reactionary.

Start from Scratch?!?

The NABPP certainly looks to carry forward our People’s centuries old struggle. But it is impossible to advance any struggle across generations without building on the shoulders of those who went before. Indeed, one reason our movements have met with repeated setbacks is because we don’t maintain organizational and historical continuity. Lacking political organizations that retain, build upon, and pass down the memories of our past achievements as well as failures, and thereby enriching our culture and persynality, we find ourselves every few years struggling to reinvent the wheel and repeating the same errors along the way. We suffer organizational and political amnesia. And our critics seek to raise this tendency to a political principle [?!]. “Starting from scratch” is what has us never getting past the opening stages of this race – running only a few yards, falling over some obstacles, then turning around, returning to the starting line and repeating this same process over and over; instead of studying the track, training and preparing, lining up our best runners (and having reserves trained and in place), adjusting to and preparing for changes on the track, in the weather, etc., then running the race, staying the course, and passing the torch to each successive generation of runners until the race is won. That’s organizing to win!

Are We Flippin’ the Scripts of the BLM or NAIM?

The NABPP-PC is a product, part and continuation of the BLM and NAM, and seeks to link and advance them into the larger struggles to overthrow this imperialist system and to achieve genuine liberation, not just for New Afrikan peoples, but our Afrikan peoples the world over and all others who suffer under the yoke and lash of imperialism. This entails a multi-faceted strategy, that requires the sort of political organization and United Panther Movement (UPM) we are struggling to build, and working in alliance with various other vanguard and mass organizations.

As to our stand on the National Liberation strategy embraced by AA3, NAPLA and other RNA affiliates, the NABPP is no more antagonistic to them than was the original BPP. And as we will show, our line is consistent with ones that have long existed within NAIM, indeed we are part of NAIM, which explains in part why we in the NABPP account ourselves “New Afrikan” (which in any event is our People’s Nationality, which exists independent of any organizational or political affiliation.)[15]

We tend to agree with the line advanced by Comrade Huey P. Newton in his September 13, 1969, letter to the RNA, on the occasion of the return of RNA President Robert Williams from exile. In fact we feel conditions today — in particular the replacement of colonialism with today’s far more advanced and refined neo-colonialism – validate Huey’s position eve moreso. Based upon carious critiques we have read of our line on New Afrikan liberation from Comrades who embrace the RNA line, it seems Huey’s letter has been lost or forgotten within RNA circles. It is an important historical document we feel, and therefore bears quoting at length. The letter was entitled Huey P. Newton to the Republic of New Afrika, and read:
This is Huey P. Newton at Los Padres, California 1969, September 13. Greetings to the Republic of New Africa and President Robert Williams. I’m very happy to be able to welcome you back home. I might add that this is perfect timing. And we need you very much, the people need you very much. And now that the consciousness of the people is at such a high level, perhaps they will be able to appreciate your leadership, and also be ready to move in a very revolutionary fashion.

Some time ago I received a message from the Republic of New Africa with a series of questions concerning the philosophy of the Black Panther Party; and very detailed questions on certain stands, and our thinking on these positions. At that time I wasn’t prepared to send a message out. I’ve had to think about many of the questions, and due to the situation here it’s very difficult for me to communicate, so this explains the lapse of time between question and answer. I won’t be able to expound on all the questions but I would like to give some general explanations of the Black Panther Party’s position, as related to the Republic of New Africa.

The Black Panther Party’s position is that the Black people in the country are definitely colonized, and suffer from the colonial plight more than any ethnic group in the country. Perhaps with the exception of the Indian, but surely as much even as the Indian population. We too, realize that the American people in general are colonized. And they’re colonized simply because they’re under a capitalist society, with a small clique of rulers who are the owners of the means of production in control of decision making. They’re the decision making body, therefore, that takes the freedom from the American people in general, and they simply work for the enrichment of this ruling class. As far as Blacks are concerned, of course, we’re at the very bottom of this ladder, we’re exploited not only by the small group of ruling class, we’re oppressed, and repressed by even the working class Whites in the country. And this is simply because the ruling class, the White ruling class uses the old Roman policy of divide and conquer. In other words the White working class is used as pawns or tools of the ruling class, but they too are enslaved. So it’s with that historical policy of dividing and ruling, that the ruling class can effectively and successfully keep the majority of the people in an oppressed position; because they’re divided in certain interest groups, even though these interests that the lower class groups carry doesn’t necessarily serve as beneficial to them.

As far as our stand on separation, we’ve demanded, as you very well know, a plebiscite of the U.N. to supervise, so that Blacks can decide whether they want to secede the union, or what position they’ll take on it. As far as the Black Panther Party is concerned we’re subject to the will of the people, but we feel that the Republic of New Africa is perfectly justified in demanding and declaring the right to secede the union. So we don’t have any contradiction between the Black Panther Party’s position and the Republic of New Africa’s position it’s simply a matter of timing. We feel that certain conditions will have to exist before we’re even given the right to make that choice. We also take into consideration the fact that if Blacks at this very minute were able to secede the union, and say have five states, or six states, it would be almost impossible to function in freedom side by side with a capitalist imperialist country. We all know that mother Africa is not free simply because of imperialism, because of Western domination. And there’s no indication that it would be any different if we were to have a separate country here in North America. As a matter of fact, by all logics we would suffer imperialism and colonialism even more so than the Third World is suffering it now. They are geographically better located, thousands of miles away, but yet they are not able to be free simply because of high technological developments, the highest technological developments that the West has that makes the world so much smaller, one small neighborhood.

So taking all these things into consideration, we conclude that the only way that we’re going to be free is to wipe out once and for all the oppressive structure of America. We realize we can’t do this without a popular struggle, without many alliances and coalitions, and this is the reason that we’re moving in the direction that we are, to get as many alliances as possible of people that are equally dissatisfied with the system. And also we’re carrying on, or attempting to carry on a political education campaign so that the people will be aware of the conditions and therefore perhaps they will be able to take steps to controlling these conditions. We think that the most important thing at this time, is to be able to organize in some fashion so that we’ll have a formidable force to challenge the structure of the American empire. So we invite the Republic of New Africa to struggle with us, because we know from people I’ve talked to, (I’ve talked to May Mallory, and other people who are familiar with the philosophy of the Republic of New Africa), they seem to be very aware that the whole structure of America will have to be changed in order for the people of America to be free. And this again is with the full knowledge and full view of the end goal of the Republic of New Africa to secede. In other words, we’re not really handling this question at this time because we feel that for us that is somewhat premature, that I realize the psychological value of fighting for a territory. But at this time the Black Panther Party feels that we don’t want to be in an enclave type situation where we would be more isolated than we already are now. We’re isolated in the ghetto areas, concentrated in the north, in the metropolitan areas, in the industrial areas, and we think that this is a very good location as far as strategy is concerned, as far as waging a strong battle against the established order. And again I think that it would be perfectly justified if Blacks decided that they wanted to secede the union, but I think the question should be left up to the popular masses, the popular majority. So this is it in a nutshell.

As l said before, I don’t have the facilities here to carry on long discussions. I look forward to talking with Milton Henry [later known as Gaidi Obadele–Rashid] in the near future, if it’s possible, (I know that he has his hands full now) or representatives of the Republic of New Africa, so we can talk these things over. There are many things I heard, things I read, I’m in total agreement with. I would like for the Republic of New Africa to know that we support Robert Williams, and his plight at this time; that we support him one hundred per cent, and we’re willing to give all services asked of us, and we would like to find out exactly what we can do that would be most helpful in the court proceedings coming up, what moral support we could give. Perhaps we could send some representatives, and we will publish in our paper, “THE BLACK PANTHER,” the criminal activities that he’s been victim of for some eight or nine years. I would also like to request of the Republic of New Africa to give us some support to Bobby Seale our Chairman of the Black Panther Party. Bobby Seale is now in prison as you know in San Francisco, he has a case coming up in Chicago, and one in Conn., and we invite the Republic of New Africa to come in support. We would like this very much, and whatever moral support they could possibly give, we would welcome it. We should be working closer together than we are and perhaps this would be an issue that we could work together on. The issue is the political prisoners of America, and people as one to stand for the release of all political prisoners; and this might be a rallying point where all the Black revolutionary organizations and parties could rally around. Because I truly believe that some good comes out of every attack that the oppressor makes, so perhaps this will be a turning point in both our organizations and parties. So I would like to say, “ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE, AND MORE POWER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NEW AFRICA, ROBERT WILLIAMS.”
So, like the original BPP, the NABPP-PC doesn’t negate the right of New Afrikans to secede, the question is at what point is secession a practical and genuine answer to the oppressed condition of New Afrikans – before or after defeating the Amerikan imperialist structure? And in either case the ultimate decision if to secede is one for the People to make . And that decision must be informed so that they know and understand their options pro and contra. Also, consistent with the original Panther line, the NABPP-PC believes – and we have a very developed practical strategy for building a viable movement to deal imperialism the coup de grace – that so long as the imperialist system exists, secession right on its border would not “liberate” us. So there is no major line departure from the original BPP as our critics claim, only the NABPP-PC has gone deeper into the question especially in relation to the development of neocolonialism.

Neither is the NABPP-PC an interloper nor outside the NAIM because we advocate building a socialist Amerika as a precondition to any realistic option for New Afrikan secession, if secession be the People’s choice. We’ll refer to a leading theoretical voice and veteran of NAIMto make the point viz. Comrade Jalil Muntaqim, whose recently republished book We Are Our Own Liberators (Liberators) has been instructive to many in the NAIM, including those grouped around the teachings of Owusu. Indeed, Owusu’s own theoretical writings have been based on Jalil’s work.[16]

In the very beginning of Liberators, Jalil admits that three alternative strategies on New Afrikan Liberation have long existed within NAIM, not just one. They being, in his own words (and presented asquestions at that):
  1. Are we to fight for an integrated Social Democratic America?
  2. Are we to lead the fight to build a multi-national Socialist United States?
  3. Are we to fight for democratic self-determination and independence of a Republic of New Afrika?
If this be true, the RNA tendency (the third listed by Jalil) is only one of several within the NAIM, and because we in the NABPP-PC promote the second tendency as a precursor to considering or advancing the third one, does not put us outside of nor make us antagonistic to NAIM. Indeed, according to Comrade Jalil our line and we are no less authentically part of the NAIM than the RNA’s line and the RNA. This, being true, collapses the entire foundation of the criticisms made in the “open” letter. Also, as we have already demonstrated, by founding a NA Panther Party aspiring to carry forward the work and set an organizational example for political leadership of the NAIM, the NABPP-PC has acted consistent with what leading voices in the NAIM (e.g. Owusu and Safiya) have stated is an indispensable need in our movement. And prominent veterans of the original BPP have recognized our efforts to carry on and advance the work of the original Panthers, standing on the shoulders of those who went before us. That we’ve taken this initiative while existing under the harshest and most limiting of social conditions, should inspire advanced NAIM elements to join us in building this organization and making it as effective as it can be, rather than attempting to undermine it.

Exposure versus Protecting Political Leadership

Interestingly, while the “open” letter criticizes us as being too exposed, it goes on to contradict this charge by admitting ignorance of and curiosity as to who our members are, where they are based, etc. Also to question our position or membership with respect to wimyn, gays and transgender people. Since we really have no need to publicize this, not knowing where this letter really originated, we’ll answer the letter by quoting from our founding Rules of Discipline which state in relevant part:
“2) We will practice and promote respect for the rights of individuals, oppressed nations and peoples, including the disabled, wimyn, children, elderly, gay/lesbian, all ethnic and racial groups, and especially the working classes of all nations and nationalities.


“10) We will not practice discrimination within the Party’s ranks based upon gender or sexual orientation. All ranks and leadership positions within the Party will be equally available to men and wimyn, and their qualifications being determined by their proven abilities and commitment, and they will be equally respected and obeyed by lower ranks.”[17]
For further elaboration of our line on wimyn’s oppression and the indispensable role of wimyn in revolutionary struggle, see my 2008 article “Wimyn Hold Up Half the Sky!: On  the Questions of Wimyn’s Oppression and Revolutionary Wimyn’s Liberation versus Feminism.”[18]

And I might add, as far as being adventurist and “showing off” with macho posturing, etc., this is something we specifically oppose, and specifically spoke to as counter-revolutionary lumpen tendencies. Again see my 2005 article “The New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter: Our Line.”Also “Don’t Shank the Guards: Legal Recourse to Guards’ Harassment, Brutality and Rape” (2005).[19] Being adventurist and reactionary, by the way, also includes jumping out the window in response to pig provocations, as our critics imply we should be doing, although this was the pig tactic that put Comrade George in their crosshairs.

While we are by no means pacifists and uphold the right to self-defense, we recognize that before one can be a hammer they must first be an anvil. My experience and practice is what has qualified me in the collective judgment of NABPP-PC Comrades to maintain the position of Defense Minister, which is no more an empty “lofty” title than that of the “President” and other “officer” ranks in the PG-RNA. But we again understand NAIM comrades’ unfamiliarity with the structure of a revolutionary Political Party, in particular the organization of a Central Committee and Political Bureau (Politburo) composed of Ministers who preside over specific civil functions and institutions. As Comrade George noted, all many comrades who come to the struggle from the streets relate to is “the gun.” But as all seasoned and successful revolutionary leaders, from Amilcar Cabral to Mao Tse-Tung have emphasized, the gun must be controlled and guided by the Political Party, that indeed the Party is the source of a revolution’s success or failure.

And while political leaders are especially valuable, vulnerable and therefore principal enemy targets, we must structure our organizations so when/if they are successfully targeted we have cadre trained, qualified and ready to pop right up and fill their positions, [20] we can’t completely insulate our leadership from being targeted by the enemy. But we can organize ourselves so we ensure such collective forms of leadership were losing one or a few won’t destroy our organizations, and so that cadre are trained and able to rebuild our organizations’ branches from scratch as necessary, and whenever they may find themselves. That’s the key. And again that is the sort of organizational example we are trying to establish and set for the Movement.

Applying these principles is one of the most frustrating features of Hamas (although a bourgeois organization), that Israel has confronted in trying to crush Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel began its campaign of targeting Hamas’s leadership by assassinating its founding leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin in 2004. But, as in Yasin’s case, every time Israel has succeeded in assassinating one of Hamas’s leaders, one or more equally qualified members popped right up to fill the position. And Hamas is operating under conditions of military occupation, in what has been called the world’s largest open air prison, namely Gaza strip. Conditions in Gaza are many times worse and more regimented than in any U.S. prison. Yet Hamas has devised, as did Lenin under the repression of the Russian Tsar with his Bolshevik Party, ingenious ways of maintaining secure lines of communication between its cadre and leadership in Gaza, the West Bank and Israeli prisons. The struggle for a Palestinian State is closer to realization than at any prior stage in history since their land was stolen in 1967. Their struggle is “against the law” in Gaza, the West Bank, etc. In fact participation is subject to summary execution. But they have organized to win. If they can do it so can we!

Dare to Struggle, Dare to win!
All Power to the People!

Notes and Added Commentary

  1. My article “Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism” was first published inRight On!, vol. 19 (Spring 2010), newsletter of NABPP-PC, then reprinted in California Prison Focus no. 38, Spring 2012,www.prisons.org. It can also be read at www.rashidmod.com. The article drew its first critical response from Sanyika Shakur in an article “Get up For the Downstroke,” posted at www.kersplebedeb.com to which I am preparing a reply, but have been put off in completing because of prison officials repeatedly taking texts I am using for references to refute the many erroneous positions taken and arguments made in that article. []
  2. To the extent that this “open” letter authentically came from Comrades in the AA3 and NAPLA, it reflects a dangerous tendency, also shown in Comrade Sanyika’s article cited in note 1 above, within the NAIM of comrades passing judgments and formulating critiques without performing the slightest investigation of their subject – in this case, the NABPP-PC. One of the slogans that distinguished the original BPP during its most revolutionary stages was, “No investigation, no right to speak.” This slogan was drawn from the teachings of Mao Tse-Tung, who was one of, if not the most important (and feared by the imperialists) revolutionary teachers and leaders of the era. In elaborating this slogan, he explained, when you speak on something without looking into its present facts and history, without knowing its essense, “whatever you say about it will undoubtedly be nonsense. Talking nonsense solves no problems…” Mao Tse-Tung, “Oppose Book Worship” (1930).
  3. Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity
  4. My article “Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism” was first published inRight On!, vol. 19 (Spring 2010), newsletter of NABPP-PC, then reprinted in California Prison Focus no. 38, Spring 2012,www.prisons.org. It can also be read at www.rashidmod.com. The article drew its first critical response from Sanyika Shakur in an article “Get up For the Downstroke,” posted at www.kersplebedeb.com to which I am preparing a reply, but have been put off in completing because of prison officials repeatedly taking texts I am using for references to refute the many erroneous positions taken and arguments made in that article.
  5. Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity, note 8, p. 34
  6. If indeed the letter originated from AA3 and NAPLA, we think the comrades should, in light of Comrade Chokwe’s admonition, do a bit of self-criticism, and we invite them to engage in principled struggle with us on any questions or criticisms they may have, beginning with the principle of working in unity, engaging in principled struggle so that we end on a higher level of unity. This is how contradictions within the ranks of the People are resolved, as opposed to contradictions with the enemy.
  7. Atiba Shanna, “Notes on Cadre Policy and Cadre Development,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), p. 10
  8. Safiya Bukhari, The War Before: The True Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith and Fighting for Those Left Behind (Feminist Press, 2010).
  9. Contrary to our critics’ position that the BPP ceased to exist in 1980, “[t]he year 1982 marks the official death of the Black Panther Party, since that was when many of the Party’s programs, like the once-acclaimed Intercommunal Youth Institute (or primary school), and the publication of the BPP newspaper ceased…” Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004), pp. 232-33.
  10. Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004), chapter 10, pp. 227-247.
  11. Mumia Abu-Jamal, “No Place to be Reborn: The Awakening,” Right On! Newsletter of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter vol. 4 (Summer 2006), p.4.
  12. Atiba Shanna, “On What It Means to ‘Re-Build’ – Part Two: Re-Organization,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), note 6, pp. 39-58.
  13. Mao Tse-Tung, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Are,” Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, vol. 3 (Foreign Language Press,1963), p. 69. (emphasis added)
  14. The articles can be read online at www.rashidmod.com.
  15. New Afrikans are a nation of People whether we have a piece of land we call our own nation-state or not. Political borders, patriotic holidays, national anthems, and a flag are not what makes a people a nation. Chokwe defined a nation thusly:
    “A nation is a people who have shared a long history of inhabitation in a common identifiable territory, while developing a common culture, language and economy; or with regard to economy, a nation is a people who have been collectively subjugated to an imperialist economic system, which has prevented them from developing and organizing an economic life of their own.” Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity, note 3, p. 12.
    According to the second definition, all the groups oppressed by U.S. imperialism constitute a nation, which would include the multi-national and multi-racial working class; also Afrikan People would constitute a Pan-Afrikan nation (both those in the diaspora and on the continent collectively) under this definition which comports with our analysis set out in my article cited in note 1. As to the first definition, it conforms exactly to that set out by Comrade Joseph Stalin in 1912, which contradicts Comrade Sanyika who, in his article cited in note 1, claimed of the RNA, “We don’t import ideas” and disparaged those who do. Here’s how Stalin defined the nation: “A nation is a historically constituted, stable, community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture. “Marxism and the National Question,” (1912). Actually, Stalin’s definition became the standard Marxist-Leninist analysis, and was embraced by Communists and Revolutionary Nationalists the world over. In 1913 Comrade V.I. Lenin wrote that Stalin’s work on the national question should be given “prime place” in revolutionary theoretical literature. Lenin, “The Program of the R.S.D.L.P.,” (1913). And it was under Stalin’s leadership that the International Communist Movement recognized and supported the right of New Afrikans to a national territory in the Southeast U.S.
  16. Atiba Shanna, “On What It Means to ‘Re-Build’ – Part Two: Re-Organization,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), note 11.
  17. The full document can be read at www.rashidmod.com.
  18. This article is posted on www.rashidmod.com.
  19. These articles are posted on www.rashidmod.com.
  20. Our critics inform us that a Liberation Movement must advance by strategy. True indeed! But what they seem to overlook is the revolutionary Party is the source of the Movement’s strategies. And furthermore, the defense of that leadership falls both to the People and the armed component of the Movement, which like the Party must be mass-based. We might also pull our critics coats to the historically proven reality that the old foco model has proven only to result in disaster, a lesson the Movement hasn’t quite seemed to grasp nor to advance from… again because of the lack of a revolutionary vanguard organization to impart those lessons to it, and formulate more workable and effective strategies suited to the time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kevin Rashid Johnson: February 2013: They Waited, Wanted and Watched For Me To Die...

What follows is a message from Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, who is currently being held at a behavior modification unit in Oregon, where he suffered a severe health crisis earlier this year. It answers many of the questions we have had since we learned of his predicament. -k

February 2013:  They Waited, Wanted and Watched For Me To Die...
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

Things I Don't Do

Even before I began my political journey in 2001, I maintained certain principles; a variety of things I just don't do.  And usually, if ever I deviated from those principles, even in error, I'd end up in a tangle of trouble.

February 2013 was an ordeal.  I broke some of my rules and things got ugly.  What happened is yet another experience that those who blindly trust the system, and those who don't, need to know about.

Among my longstanding “don't dos” are 1) I don't do suicide and 2) I don't do intoxicants.  Suicide's a no-brainer.  Since I couldn't fathom caving in to pressure – especially not from the opposition.  Which is the only way I could see taking myself out.  But more important is the political principle that my life is not mine's to take.  It belongs to the people.  And that's not to posture nor sound “politically correct.”  It's a genuine commitment.  The intoxicant thing is a bit more complicated.  For one, I don't like not being in control of myself.  Secondly, when under the influence I go soft in the head, being what some call “chemically imbalanced,” or in other words, I literally go berzerk when intoxicated.  And since I don't use, it doesn't take much to tip me completely over.

Meet Mr. Highjinks

My troubles of February 2013 were the result of breaking these two particular “don't dos.”  Over a three day period I got intoxicated, then, under the influence, attempted suicide – twice.  And the pigs and “professionals” quite blatantly watched and waited for me to die, which compelled me, once I sobered up, into yet another life and death struggle to not let that happen.

The intoxication wasn't intentional (on my part), but the practical joke I might say of an apolitical and particularly mischievous peer.  A fella who routinely makes and takes cocktails of various mind-altering prescription drugs he collects.  Although he has consented to being identified by name, being remorseful and willing to confess his role in the ordeal his shenanigans caused, I'll just call him Mr. Highjinks (for obvious reasons).

For some time he'd tried to convince me to pop some pills with him.  Wanting to share his and many others' method of escaping the maddening tedium of solitary confinement.  I declined of course.  But he kept at it, trying all sorts of enticements.  To no avail.  But what I didn't realize was how determined he really was to get me pickled.  Nor that he'd use devious methods to do it.

Mr. Highjinks Spikes the Spread

To give a bit of diversity to the otherwise bland prison diets, prisoners – when we can afford it – sometimes make homemade pizza-like or casserole concoctions by combining foods purchased from the prison commissary and foods taken from our prison meals.  Sometimes several prisoners will contribute various food items and one person will make the “meal” that is then shared around.  The concoction is called different names depending what prison system you're in.  Here in Oregon it's called a “spread.”

Well, on January 31st, I “put in” with Mr. Highjinks to make a spread, contributing items left over from our special Christmas commissary purchase along with some ingredients from the meal trays.  Turns out Mr. Highjinks decided to spike the spread with one of his pill concoctions that has him bouncing off the walls for days at a time.  To him it was all in fun.

I didn't consume my entire portion of the spread until Saturday, February 2nd, and that's when and how things went south.  The result was a total loss of impulse control, and an odd compulsion toward self-annihilation.  In short, I lost my mind.

Outta My Head

First I got into a fracas with the goon squad (about seven guards dressed out in full body armor with gas, taser and a large plexiglass shield).  Then I overdosed on dozens of my own prescription anti-inflammatory medications.  Followed by another clash with the goon squad, as I was being prepared to be taken to the hospital for the OD.  At the hospital – St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, Oregon – no treatment was given, except a staged blood test while I was kept hidden away in an isolated back room.  Within a couple of hours of arriving I was dischaarged back to the prison, where that same night (shortly after midnight, Sunday the 3rd), I was placed on a Close Observation Suicide (SCO) watch, inside a suicide monitoring cell where I found a razor blade.  Obviously no coincidence.

The next day (Monday the 3rd), still out of my head, I broke the razor into three pieces and swallowed them.  This was witnessed by a sergeant and captured on camera.  The entire experience played before me like I was standing outside myself watching someone else.

I was again taken to the same hospital, where again no care was given.  Although they went through the motions of taking x-rays (which they wouldn't let me see), the hospital staff, who were pretty blatant about not wanting me there (apparently a skin thing), claimed the films showed definitively that no razors were inside me.  By then I was sobering up, and, losing my suicidal compulsion, I contested that they were wrong or outright lying, and should do further investigation.  With a bit of attitude the doctor – named Bean – declined and told the guards to be off with me.

To Eat or Not to Eat

Knowing the fatal danger of a punctured intestine I protested to prison medical and security staff upon my return that I still had three razor pieces inside me.  They blew me off, citing the hospital report to the contrary.  So I declined to eat or drink, expecting that stimulating digestion would cause the razors to move along and slice through my contracting entrails.  Meantime I repeatedly requested medical staff to order further x-rays.  They refused, indifferent to my protests.

Several admitted my concerns were valid if I actually did have razors inside me, but of course I didn't, they contended, because the hospital said so.  I went six days without food or liquids, and dropped twenty pounds in just as long.  I requested intravenous hydration from nursing staff and the doctor – named Garth Gulick – which was also denied.  I was told that I was choosing myself not to eat and drink, so they would not intervene.

The New Hippocratic Oath:  “Do Nothing”

On the fourth day without food and water, I fell unconscious in the cell, and was taken by gurney to the prison's medical center.  Gulick was called, and simply told them to put me back in the cell.  That my severe dehydration was my own fault.

To validate refusing me medical hydration, a nurse named Folkman lyingly documented in my medical file that she witnessed me drinking water on my 5th day without food or liquids.  When on the 6th day without food or liquids Gulick assured me he'd watch me dehydrate to death, and he cited Folkman as a witness that I really wasn't going without liquids (although my tongue was white and “furry,” my lips parched, and my skin scaly), I decided to risk drinking water.

Initially, I kept vomiting the water back up, while suffering extreme stabbing pains in my abdomen.  Gradually, the water stayed down.  Then later that night I defecated a puddle of blood laced with bile.  A nurse Fritz was alerted to the situation and ordered x-rays, taking seriously my protests that I still had razors inside and obviously cutting me.  The next day Gulick overruled her order for x-rays.

Meantime, everyday mental health staff attempted to meet with me to try and take me off SCO status.  I refused to talk to them in order to remain on SCO status for as long as possible.  This way I remained under documented close monitoring in case the razors otherwise caused serious complications.  On SCO status I remained in a completely bare cold cell, naked except for  sleeveless nylon smock and nothing else but two nylon sheets.  I was left to sleep and lie on a bare concrete slab.

Throughout the ordeal I endured constant severe abdominal and kidney pains, and was discharging blood in my urine daily.

Gulick made a game of it all.  Being such a fanatic for denying prisoners needed care, every time I saw him he'd play a debating game with me attempting to rationalize how he knew I was faking about the razors and why he would give me no medical care for that, my pain, nor an of my other issues.  He accused me of everything from malingering the abdominal and kidney pain (although urine tests repeatedly confirmed blood in my urine), and “tricking” guards into thinking I'd swallowed the razors, to trying to “extort” x-rays just so I could look at myself on film (!?).  He ultimately admitted a concern to save the state money by not giving prisoners needed care.

The Uncover Up

During the ordeal several prisoner witnesses sent letters out to my supporters and comrades, only one of which actually made it out – a letter from Cory Freiberg.  Cory's letter succeeded in prompting outside protest and inquiries on my behalf.  Apparently officials didn't expect word to get out -- in fact they acted at every turn to prevent it.

Although I'd had consent for release of information on my medical condition and treatments on file for several of the inquirers since February 2012, the prison's medical staff lied to them for almost a week, claiming they had no such consents on file so they couldn't discuss my medical situation with anyone who called.  In fact the forms on record required them to alert the inquirers when I had to be sent out to the hospital or had any other serious medical problems, but they didn't.

Each prisoner witness who sent out letters was promptly moved out of the unit with me under some pretext.  Meantime my mail was withheld and denied, then ultimately a large amount of it was “confiscated” by an Assistant Superintendent Judy Gilmore, without explanation or justification.

Also, based on a completely fabricated disciplinary report from February 2, 2013, that was later dismissed, I was placed on a completely unrelated status where once off SCO status, I could not possess any mail nor any other property (except legal papers in pending court cases) but for four hours per day.

A Cutting Edge Discovery

After repeated documented complaints of severe abdominal and kidney pain, another nurse ordered x-rays for me.  Gulick promptly overruled her, too.  Only with mounting outside pressure about my situation and a lawyer Benjamin Haile having arranged a call with me, did Gulick finally allow the x-rays, just to “prove,” he said, that I had no razors in me.

On February 21st the x-rays were filmed and the “independent” radiologist's report came back confirming that pieces of metal were indeed in my intestinal tract, having passed through my system and settled in my transverse colon.

I didn't see Gulick again nor find out about the x-ray report until February 28th, at which time he changed his tune.  He knew word had gotten out about my actual situation and I was scheduled to speak with Mr. Haile for the second time the next day.  So Gulick's angle then became to try and interpret and “prove” the metal showing on the x-rays was something other than razors.  He admitted consulting with other doctors to this end.  Another set of x-rays was taken on that day also.

The next day, one of the more candid nurses assured me with the February 21st x-rays showing the razors having passed into my large intestine, they were unlikely to cause serious damage if I ate.  I then accepted my first meal in 25 days.  The next day I passed my first stool in 26 days, where one of the razor pieces was found and documented by the same nurse.  Overall I'd lost 29 pounds since February 4th.

Ducking Liability

I next saw Gulick on March 5th, where the February 28th x-ray results couldn't be found and he then claimed belief that the metal showing on the February 21st x-rays were staples, or something I'd swallowed since my February 4th hospital visit.  Yet another theory he abandoned when I pointed out that I was on a closely monitored SCO status since returning from the hospital.

He finally admitted an initial concern to protect the hospital from liability, and now himself.  Once again it came down to placing monetary interests before human life and professional integrity.

On March 8th the nurse who confirmed the razor in my stool on March 2nd searched for, found and showed me the report for the February 28th x-rays, and it showed at least two pieces of metal in my lower large intestine, one of which she said matched exactly the measurements and dimensions of the razor piece I passed and she collected on March 2nd.  She said Gulick had not yet seen the report, and I haven't seen Gulick again since.

This particular nurse went on to express relief that the razors had passed through my system without any apparent serious injury in light of Gulick's and others' persistence in doing nothing to help me.  She compared the “miracle” to one she said she'd experienced when her young daughter swallowed an open safety pin and it passed through her without injury.


From all this I recognized that from the hospital to the prison staff, a series of events played out that showed at very least gross neglect, and at worst a consistent and shared intent to see me die (no surprise to me by the way).  However foolish my actions that created the predicament, their responses can't be justified.  Now granted, I'm not exactly loved by prison officials so they've some strong motives to see me out of the way once and for all.  But the outright indifference and intransigence of these medical “professionals” and the doctor's admitting to prioritize penny-pinching over needed care even in life-threatening cases, demands that everyone who cares about human life, and anyone with loved ones behind these walls raise a sustained hue and cry, and mobilize resistance and awareness concerning medical “professionals” relating to us with such overtly fascistic mentalities.  Otherwise many loved ones will return to homes and others' lives with all manner of medical disorders (even communicable ones) and expenses they didn't leave with.  As for others, we should remember that the evil people do is in knowing of abuse and turning a blind eye.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Message of Thanks from Kevin Rashid Johnson

A message from Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, just received by an outside supporter:
My deepest gratitude and love goes out to all who extended themselves in word, deed and even thought, to support me and make inquiries on my behalf in this recent ordeal with prison officials. Many of you are aware, without knowing the cause, that I underwent a 25 day hunger strike, which began with my declining all liquids as well for the first 6 days.

I was literally compelled to harm myself to help myself, because officials left me in a potentially fatal medical predicament and sat by eagerly watching and waiting for nature to run its course. I, however, was not intent on letting things run so smoothly. And witnesses to my situation were able to get word out, which prompted your inquiries and protests, without which things would very likely have not turned out as they have. In which case I can say I am fine now, minus not just a few pounds, and expect to recover without complications.

My mail was also denied and my communication lines to the outside were cut. But I am now receiving mail again and hopefully what I send out won't be interfered with. Again, these situations were only resolved because of broad outside support, by many people known and unknown to me. Yet another tribute to People Power! And I cannot overstate my appreciation.

I am in the process of writing a full expose on this recent ordeal because the public deserves full disclosure and I feel as always, there are valuable lessons and understandings to be shared and learned from every battle in this life and death struggle between the people and this imperialist system.

Thank you again for your support. You, the masses, remain my one and true inspiration! All power to the people!

Write to Rashid!

His address:

Kevin Johnson #19370490
777 Stanton Blvd.
Ontario, OR 97914

Always put a full name (not initials) on the return address; otherwise your letter may be rejected. Similarly, do not write anything you would not want the prisoncrats to see, as it is assumed that all mail is read by guards as a matter of course.

Progress and Poverty: a response to Krul, Post and Hamerquist from Noel Ignatiev

i often disagree with Noel Ignatiev - and the following essay is certainly no exception in that regard - however his reasoning is often provocative, which though a bit maddening is also not a bad thing. As such, it should not be assumed that the views in the following guest contribution are those of yours truly. However, it is worth reading in the context of the ongoing discussion of Zak Cope's book Divided World Divided Class. The other essays referenced here are by Charlie Post, Matthijs Krul, and Don Hamerquist. (Note that Krul also posted a further response to Hamerquist on his blog here.)

Progress and Poverty: a response to Krul, Post and Hamerquist (by Noel Ignatiev)
I enter into this discussion out of a sense of duty but also with hesitancy owing to my relative lack of knowledge about global investments, labor migration, transfer of values and other elements that some participants in the discussion seem familiar with and apparently consider essential. Refusing to be prejudiced by facts, and believing that the formulation of a question is its solution, I offer the following contribution.

Cope (like Don, I have not read him), Krul and Hamerquist share certain assumptions, although they differ among themselves on the political conclusions to be drawn from them. These assumptions are:
  • The comparatively high standard of living of workers in the West is to some degree the result of their sharing in the loot extracted from the Third World. (I am foregoing the ironic quotation marks, hoping that people will bear in mind that West, Third World and standard of living are all ideological, as are our, their, wealth, poverty, center, periphery, relative privilege and other terms employed in the discussion.)
  • Workers in the West are in general less revolutionary than the masses of poor in the Third World.
  • There is a causal relation between 1) and 2), although – Don Hamerquist stresses this – it is not as determinant as some have claimed.
If either 1) or 2) is false, then 3) necessarily falls. In my opinion, both are false.

On 1): In 1890 a loaf of bread made from wheat grown in Minnesota cost less in Berlin than a loaf of bread made from wheat grown a hundred miles to the east. The difference was due to the mechanization of agriculture, storage and transport in the U.S., including trans-Atlantic shipping, compared to the techniques then used in Poland. The result was the ruination of agriculture in Poland (and much of Eastern Europe). Did the “shoals of roast beef and apple pie” in the U.S. (to which Werner Sombart in 1904 attributed the failure of Socialism there) depend on the destruction of Polish agriculture? Of course not. They depended on the accumulation of capital in the U.S. (at first based on the expropriation of the natives and the enslavement of Africans, and later on foreign investment in rails and canals) that made possible the cheap coal, timber, steel, tractors, railroads and steamships and ultimately the cheap food, houses, clothes, automobiles and appliances that constituted the famous American standard of living.

I remember reading an article around 1968 in Peking Review about how Chinese workers, using what the editors called the method of “ants nibbling at the bone,” that is, relying on hand tools, had built a stamping press. The editors, and apparently many Chinese, were proud of the accomplishment, as well they should have been. A few years later I worked in a medium-sized machine-tool factory in Chicago that had a couple of dozen presses equal in size to the one they had just built in China. There must have been five hundred factories like it in the U.S. (I make no pretense at numerical accuracy; what matters is the scale.) Didn’t the abundance of those presses in the U.S. explain more about the possession of refrigerators, washing machines, etc. by U.S. workers than the looting of China? Another example, again from China: at that time China, with six hundred million people on the land, was barely able, for the first time in modern history, to feed its population. The U.S., with three million people working in agriculture, was exporting food. Were the “shoals of roast beef and apple pie” consumed by U.S. workers taken out of the mouths of Chinese toilers? I don’t think so.

Cope, Krul and Hamerquist, following Emmanuel, point to unequal exchange as the mechanism underlying the transfer of value from Third to First World. (Emmanuel was the first to attempt to explain how the transfer took place. Lenin and others after him evidently regarded it as too obvious to require explanation. Charlie Post, who disagrees with them and with Emmanuel, gets it wrong: he has Emmanuel relying on transfers of value from industries with low organic composition to industries with high organic composition. Emmanuel actually adopted Marx’s formulation about transfers from low o.c to high o.c. industries and extended it to transfers from low-wage to high-wage regions.) A problem with Emmanuel’s argument and the arguments of his followers is that even if they are right about the process, until recently the output of the Third World was nowhere near great enough to account for the gap in living conditions. For most of the period the Third-Worldists are considering, the greatest portion – as high as eighty-five percent -- of U.S. investments were in a handful of developed countries, and the same is true for Britain, Germany, Japan, etc. If the Third-Worldists are right that U.S. relative privilege depended on low wages in the Third World, then wouldn’t it follow that as investment in the Third World increased the relative privilege would expand? Yet the opposite is true: nearly everything sold at Walmart is produced by low-wage (often prison) labor in China, yet the gap between U.S. and Chinese conditions has not grown but diminished.

I think I have shown that the poverty of the masses in the Third World cannot be the cause of the comparative wealth of workers in the First. But may not the reverse be true – that is, may not development in the First World account for its absence, and the misery that accompanies it, in the Third World? The reduction of the cost of producing wheat in North America and shipping it to Europe led to the ruination of Polish agriculture and the immiseration of the Polish peasants who, driven off the land, made their way to Chicago and Pennsylvania where they took up jobs in the industries that had destroyed their previous way of life. We are seeing similar phenomena today: the Rockefeller-sponsored Green Revolution has emptied the countryside of Asia, Africa and America, and sent millions of former peasants fleeing to swollen cities in those areas and to North America and Europe, but it has done nothing to elevate living standards in New York, London or Paris. On the contrary – it has increased competition for jobs in those places, with predictable results.

That is not the only way in which development in the First World retards and distorts development in the Third. In chapter 13 of volume 3 of Capital, Marx introduces the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, which he says is of great importance to capitalist production and which has been a mystery whose solution has been the goal of all political economy since Adam Smith. The law posits a relentless downward pressure on profits. The point of the law for this discussion is that it demands ever-increasing quantities of investment in constant capital in order simply to maintain profits, quantities that are beyond the reach of all but the largest capitalists and which therefore lead to the concentration of capital in ever-fewer hands and the elimination of the smaller and weaker among them. According to Wikipedia, “There were over 1,800 automobile manufacturers in the United States from 1896 to 1930. Very few survived and only a few new ones were started after that period.” If Studebaker, Nash and Kaiser, which were fairly big and employed many people, did not have sufficient capital to compete with General Motors in the world market, how could Nigeria and Mexico, let alone Haiti, develop an automobile industry, except through foreign investment? And if those countries could not develop an automobile industry and the steel, rubber, glass and other industries that go along with it, how could they expand their domestic markets and create the American way of life?

In sum, the relationship between conditions in the First and Third Worlds is the direct opposite of what the Third-Worldists argue. The Third-Worldist view is a perfect example of the mixing-up of appearance and essence that Marx attempted to counter through his concept of the fetish. That many workers in the developed countries mistake appearance for essence is a political problem; so is it when revolutionaries do the same.

2) Are the masses of the poor in the Third World more revolutionary than workers in the U.S. and other countries of the center? The answer depends on what is meant by revolutionary. If by revolutionary one means engaging in armed struggle for explicitly political ends, then the Third World wins hands down: from Chiapas to Palestine to Naxalbari and in a hundred other places people in Third World countries have taken up guns in defense of land tenure, water rights, local autonomy and other causes great and small. I see no evidence that any of the struggles are motivated by a vision of communism (except maybe Chiapas, and it is significant that the EZLN has not fired a shot in anger in over ten years). By and large those movements are fighting to realize the promises of the bourgeois, French, Revolution of 1789. That does not make them any less worthy of support, but it does say something about how they should be measured against struggles elsewhere. Moreover, the widespread presence of bands of Kalashnikoff-bearing pre-adolescents pillaging and raping in the interest of one or another warlord ought to warn us against any easy identification of armed struggle and revolution, and give us cause to respect the reluctance of workers in Europe and North America, treasuring past victories in the reform struggle (often won through violence and sacrifice), to embark on a path from which it is difficult to turn back.

Or perhaps the criterion of revolution is the commitment to explicit anti-capitalist programs. By this criterion, too, the Third World is ahead: in contrast to the virtual collapse of Socialist and Communist Parties in Europe and the absence in the U.S. of a Socialist Party with a mass following (and the widespread tendency to denounce Obama’s healthcare plan as “socialist”) even the movement headed by Chavez declares its goal to be “twenty-first-century socialism.” Once again, a word of caution: “twenty-first-century socialism“ is not socialism, and the 80 million members of the Chinese Communist Party, whose leading role is written into the Constitution, bear no greater connection to communism (and perhaps less) than do the 60 million Americans who voted Democratic in 2012 to democracy.

Let me advance two criteria for measuring what is revolutionary. The first is the extent to which the preconditions for communism have been established, and especially the degree to which they are taken for granted by the general population. The communist society is characterized by, among other things, the elimination of the distinctions between urban and rural life and between intellectual and manual labor, by the rejection of class distinctions, and by the overcoming of patriarchy. I submit that in no other country have these conditions been fulfilled as in the U.S. and that in general they are more fully realized in the First than in the Third World. Automobiles, televisions, computers and cell towers have made sure that residents of the remotest village in the Ozarks are familiar with daily life in New York. The millions enrolled in post-secondary schools, including the various technical institutes advertised on late-night TV, testify to the overcoming of the distinction between intellectual and manual labor. (I recently had a conversation with a man who was shining shoes at the airport; he had a stack of books on his stand, and informed me that he was studying for the exam to get his realtor’s license; show me another country where that happens.). Even the naïve insistence by Americans that they are “middle-class” points to their refusal to accept class distinctions as permanent. As for the patriarchy, in no other country are the access of women to higher education, well-paying jobs and careers, political office, and the right to drive cars, rent apartments, control their own bodies and choose their associates as freely as men so well established and so widely accepted as in the U.S. Or consider race: The very bitterness of relations between blacks and whites is evidence of the mutual, if often grudging, respect that exists between them – no quarrel so bitter as a family quarrel -- and stands in contrast to prevailing attitudes in Latin America and Asia, where the upper classes do not hate the lower classes so much as look down on them as members of another species. John Bracey recounts the time CLR James was watching a football game on TV and called to him from the other room. “Look at this,” said James. “Black people beating up white people on TV. Capitalism is doomed.” Of course none of these tendencies can be fully realized so long as capitalist relations prevail, but the new society exists within the shell of the old. The U.S. is more ready for communism than any other country in the world.

My second criterion for judging who is revolutionary is the degree to which working-class activity has transformed the world. The Vietnamese people won what was arguably the greatest military victory in history over the world’s greatest power. And what changed as a result? On a world scale, not much. Global corporations are now reaping greater profits from Vietnam than they did before the fall of Saigon. Meanwhile, the massive resistance by U.S. workers to capitalist work discipline, which reached a peak in the 1970s, was an important factor compelling capital to introduce new methods of production that did away with workers, and shift industry from the First to the Third World (and contributed to the U.S. defeat in Vietnam). The struggles of the working class are the chief motor transforming society. Even before it overthrows capital, the working class compels it to new stages in its development. Looking back at U.S. history, the resistance of the craftsmen compelled capital to develop methods of mass production; the workers responded to mass production by organizing the CIO, an attempt to impose their control on the rhythms of production; capital retaliated by incorporating the union into its administrative apparatus; the workers answered with the wildcat strike and a whole set of shop-floor relations outside of the union; capital responded to this activity by moving the industries out of the country in search of a more pliant working class, and introducing computerized production to eliminate workers altogether. The working class has responded to the threat of permanent separation from the means of obtaining life with squatting, rebellion, and food riots. And so forth; this is a continuous process, and it moves the society forward ¾ ending, as Marx said, in the revolutionary reconstitution of society or the common ruin of the contending classes.

Over a century and a half ago Marx wrote:

It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society today. There is no need to explain here that a large part of the English and French proletariat is already conscious of its historic task and is constantly working to develop that consciousness into complete clarity.
Of course, Marx’s last sentence is not without interest.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

PCR-RCP Responds to RCMP Raids and Repression

The following is a translation of a statement issued by the Parti Communiste Revolutionnaire / Revolutionary Communist Party in response to a series of police raids and searches carried out last week. The French original can be found here.

Denounce the RCMP Merry-Go-Round!
The RCP condemns the maneuvers and harassment of the federal police!

Wednesday, February 27, an alleged Revolutionary Communist Party sympathiser had his home searched for almost ten hours by police led by the RCMP and its dubious “Integrated National Security Team”.

The RCMP claimed this was concerning the commission of supposed acts of terrorism, specifically the 2010 attack on offices of the Canadian Armed Forces in Trois Rivieres, which was claimed by a group acting under the name “Initiative de résistance internationaliste.” (“Internationalist Resistance Inititative”)

At the same time, another raid was taking place at the offices of the Association étudiante du cégep Lionel-Groulx (Lionel Groulx College Student Association) in St-Therese north of Montreal, where the RCMP seized most of the material necessary for the association’s day-to-day activities.

The RCMP claims to have carried out similar raids in Saguenay and in the Saint-Hubert neighbourhood in Longueuil, but refuses to disclose the identity of the people in question.

One day beforehand, on February 26, a student from Sherbrooke who was also in touch with RCP supporters was intercepted by police at Ange-Gardien. At the time, he was on a bus with a group of students from his area on their way to Montreal to attend a demonstration; he was brought to the RCMP’s headquarters in Westmount where he was held for several hours. In this case, as in all the others, no charges were laid.

The RCMP is up to its old tricks once again. It seems clear that the RCMP periodically wants to remind the Quebecois people (which has a tendency to “royally” not give a crap about this reactionary police force) that they are there in order to be then be able to go fishing for information in areas that they have been interested in for years.

The investigators from the “integrated team” are shamelessly seeking media attention to let the activist scenes know how desperately clueless they are. Her royal majesty’s investigators have been looking for the big bad wolf for years, and they think they have spotted its den in all the activist scenes.

Of course, politics being politics, the RCMP takes advantage of its annual expeditions to put together its files, to map out the activist scenes and collect loads of computer material and documentation.
But what have they gotten out of this?

  • Big banners that have walked the 400 steps in our streets!
  • Beautiful red flags!
  • Documents that provide hundreds of reasons to fight against capitalism!
  • Documents that provide hundreds of examples of popular struggles here and abroad!
  • Documents that provide hundreds of examples of courageous and inspirational actions and demonstrations!

The Revolutionary Communist Party denounces these RCMP raids, along with any and all police activities currently being carried out against activists and their organizations, especially against revolutionary organizations struggling against the power of the big capitalists.

The PCR-RCP supports all activists who serve the people through their actions, their devotion and generosity, and their engagement on behalf of those oppressed by bourgeois society.

The PCR-RCP invites all activists to continue their good work in ongoing struggles, and to not let the police distract them from pursuing their objectives.

Friday, March 08, 2013

IWD Message from Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart

Radical human rights attorney Lynne Stewart has been falsely accused of helping terrorists. On Tuesday, April 9, 2002, she was arrested and agents searched her Manhattan office for documents. She was arraigned before Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl. This is an obvious attempt by the U.S. government to silence dissent, curtail vigorous defense lawyers, and install fear in those who would fight against the U.S. government’s racism, seek to help Arabs and Muslims being prosecuted for free speech and defend the rights of all oppressed people.

Lynne Stewart, who was at the time 66 years old (she is now 73), received a 28-month sentence in October 2006. The government appealed the sentence, and in 2009 Lynne was sentence to 10 years in federal prison. While in prison, Lynne became ill; at this point she has stage 4 cancer, which has spread from the breast to the lungs and bones. She is now in a federal medical facility for women in Texas, thousands of miles away from her home, family and community.

The following is a message Lynne called in a few days ago, intended for International Women's Day:

This is a cry from deep in my soul on behalf of my sisters--abused, forgotten, made marginal.  We are always aware of our place on the rungs of the ladder of oppression based on race and class and  sex.

Since this needs be brief I want to first talk about sisters Indian--Asian and Native American.  It is the most difficult concept to conceive of the evil predatory communities these women on different sides of the world live in.  Rape is VIOLENCE not sex. It has been routine for men to absolutely do as they will without any fear of retribution legally.  There have been no courts to Prosecute, to PUNISH.  My first rejoinder is always to urge self-defense--that will always get a woman to Court.  But she may be the victim again.  Right now, the Congress has passed a "law" that we hope will protect Native Indian women here.  But there have been many "Laws".  There is greater hope in India where there has been a righteous female uprising that cannot,  will not be ignored.

Briefly I just want to mention -- women who are not in the cruel world but suffer behind bars -- cages, if you will.  Some of us are political --here because the Government has criminalized our actions or framed us -- I call out to you to Remember and  Cherish  Marie Mason, a "green warrior", Afiia Siddique " a heroine in her own Pakistan for her brave resistance", and also Me -- Still fighting, Still Struggling.  Still loving you all.

Love Struggle,
3/4/13;  9:40  am

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Kersplebedeb and Leftwing Books are down...

A quick heads up and apologies - we are trying to upgrade the Kersplebedeb main site and in the process have crashed both Kersplebedeb and Leftwingbooks.net. They are both currently down, and probably will remain down for the next couple of days.

Apologies for any inconvenience; hopefully it will all be worth it. In the meantime if you need to reach us you can still do so at info@kersplebedeb.com