“In recognition of your important contribution to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America. And in honor of your commitment to making a difference in your community. Thank you for taking a stand.” Signed: Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
December 4, 2012: SF Bay View
“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing a third person.” – United Convention Against Torture, Art. 1, Sec. 2
We extend our heartfelt greetings to you, brothers and sisters.
Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
Academics from multiple disciplines, from psychologists to sociologists, have all weighed in with the objective, scientific analysis that indefinite SHU confinement is not only torture, but even limited SHU confinement results in irreparable psychological damage. Yet, as with the Bush era “torture papers,” the socio-economic and political interests of the capitalist tend to supersede and supplant objective evidence, moral reason and human decency.
A recent incident here in Corcoran SHU’s short corridor compels us to give voice to the outrage we should all feel at the continued maintenance of the indeterminate SHU debriefing process of the U.S. domestic torture program: Another suicide, Armando Morales (Baby Paya), a validated Mexican prisoner from Los Angeles who had been confined to SHU for almost a decade, hanged himself after the IGI moved him from the 4B-1L-C-Section short corridor, to 4A-1R.
The reason(s) that Armando was moved are the typical ones associated with the coercive tactics employed to break men’s minds: After his girlfriend had been compromised by IGI and other state and federal law enforcement, those same agencies mounted an effort to put pressure on Armando, who was actually a baby in terms of what he did and did not know, as it relates to the enormous pressure that law enforcement will apply to coerce information from persons they’ve targeted.
In response to that pressure, he took his own life. Naturally, IGI and the state will seek to escape any culpability, and their response to this is that each person is responsible for his own conduct. We should all recognize the illegitimacy of such a position – that this is nothing more than an excuse to try and separate themselves from a situation that they are responsible for by their reckless and barbaric disregard for our humanity.
Amerika maintains the largest domestic torture program on earth. The state of California runs the largest torture program in Amerika.
We know this primarily because the vast majority of us have been in these tortuous madhouses for decades. One day is too long and not a single illegal act or rules violation has been committed by us to justify this, which is, by international law, unjustifiable.
But we also know this because our research into the origins of the torture program reveals that this type of systematic psychological degradation to coerce information and create broken men is its purpose. The domestic U.S. torture program carried out in SHU (aka SMU, control unit etc.) style prisons finds its origins at a meeting of social scientists and prison wardens held in Washington, D.C., in 1962, recruiting the findings of Dr. Edgar Schein, which he delivered to them in his man-against-man brainwashing. In addressing the group Dr. Schein stated:
“I would like you to think of brainwashing not in terms of politics, ethics or morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captive populace lives.”
The techniques he espoused would also require, to be effective, a new type of environment conducive to altering the very foundations of one’s perception of reality. For this the state took Dr. Levinson’s sensory deprivation prison unit design and a form of Skinnerian operant conditioning called “learned helplessness.”
This last technique is a key factor of both validation based indeterminate SHU confinement and the debriefing process. “Learned helplessness” is a systematic process of conditioning to crystalize in the imprisoned victim’s mind that he has no control over the regulation of his existence, that he is completely dependent on the state and its guards for the necessities of “life,” that he is helpless and must submit to the state’s power and control.
Our research into the origins of the torture program reveals that this type of systematic psychological degradation to coerce information and create broken men is its purpose.
This is, of course, contrary to core human consciousness and a linear thought divergence into two options, “resistance or escape.” The program is designed to apply maximum punitive coercion against “resistance” from the outset – from physical removal from the general (prison) population to sensory deprivation, using informants, collaborators and agent provocateurs to erode trust amongst those of like circumstances, punishing uncooperative attitudes, prohibiting collective thought or expression while simultaneously employing group punishment, arbitrary punishment and property restrictions etc.
At the same time, those who are capable of prolonged or indefinite resistance through ideological consistency, political development or force of will – like victims of crucifixion left to rot on crosses during the Roman Empire – they serve as powerful deterrents to those of lesser psychological resilience or those in general population to not resist and instead explore the second option: escape.
The state of California has made its escape option clear since taking the Schein-Skinnerian-Levinson system to its heights in erecting the torture units at Pelican Bay SHU. There are only three escape options available to you: parole, debrief or die. Due to the successful corporate influences of the prison industrial complex on the legislative, political and, to a degree, cultural processes in the nation over the past quarter century, most validated SHU prisoners are serving mandatory minimum, enhanced or BPT (Board of Prison Terms) based sentences and their very confinement to SHU is prohibitive to their parole.
The Board of Prison Terms has repeatedly stated to validated prisoners seeking parole:
“If you want a parole date, you probably want to think about debriefing.”
This form of “escape” – debriefing – is consistent with points 7, 8 and 9 of Dr. Schein’s behavior modification techniques: (7) exploitation of opportunities and informers; (8) convincing prisoners they can trust no one; (9) treating those who are willing to collaborate in far more lenient ways than those who are not.
Again, our personal experience with the state and its use of such opportunistic broken men against those of us who are committed to resistance has been demonstrated here at Corcoran-SHU on a number of occasions in which agents posing as revolutionary progressives have tried to undermine the efforts of the NCTT (New Afrikan Collective Think Tank), and when those efforts failed, they locked up and debriefed.
It was only through our collective education and insight and experience with these periodic Cointelpro-style attacks on progressives which allowed us to identify and resist the attack and mitigate its political disorder. But this does not negate the damage done by the broken males to the unity and progress of resistance in the SHU population.
Though political immaturity by some elements played a role in the mistrust and disunity that resulted from it, in the broader population, it is the nature of the domestic torture program itself to create such broken males that we must understand is prohibited by the international community – and the U.S. knows this in analyzing the effects of such broken males on the psychology of certain elements in SHU. Other such examples of torture being put to such use against those who resist in Pelican Bay, here and across the U.S. is legion.
The state of California has made its escape option clear since taking the Schein-Skinnerian-Levinson system to its heights in erecting the torture units at Pelican Bay SHU. There are only three escape options available to you: parole, debrief or die. The Board of Prison Terms has repeatedly stated to validated prisoners seeking parole: “If you want a parole date, you probably want to think about debriefing.”
In the etiology of the U.S. domestic torture program, Marion Control Unit was the first. When former Marion Warden Ralph Aron was asked why the torture unit was built, he replied, “The purpose of the Marion (and all) controls unit(s) is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and society at large.” These broken males thus serve to not only damage or destroy progressives in prison but the attitudes and ideas of progressives in society at large.
It was always meant to be this way. To be sure, Dr. Broder, the psychotherapist who implemented Dr. Schein’s brainwashing program at Marion envisions those paroled broken men as “therapeutic technicians” who will take these techniques and warped views back into the community. Some 30 years later we have a snitch culture that derides objective facts in favor of a corporate media-created fantasy, and it owes some of its existence to the disastrous effects of isolation, which leads to the inevitable final “escape”: Death! Suicide rates in these sensory deprivation torture units are magnitudes higher than those in general population.
Speaking these words simply does not convey the reality of what we all know intimately: the transient appeal of the void as an alternative to endless isolation. We all know of the disastrous effects of isolation because we have seen what it does, along with the pressures that the state brings to bear on us all daily in its efforts to break us, efforts that include compelling the taking of one’s own life.
“The purpose of the Marion (and all) controls unit(s) is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and society at large.”
If this domestic torture program did not exist, Armando and so many others would still be alive today. But his is only the “escape” view of death. There is also a “resistance”-based view of death – that all of us who will never be counted amongst the broken men not only understand, but have demonstrated twice before, and may well be compelled to do again: peaceful protest in the form of hunger strikes, mass single cell, work stoppage etc.
Christian Gomez died [a year ago], not “escaping” these torture units but “resisting” these torture units, and it is this dialectical view of this final option – that death is an active and practiced form of both escape from and resistance to indefinite SHU confinement – is the final and definitive proof that it is, undebatably, torture.
During an assembly hearing on solitary confinement on August 24, 2011, a former Corcoran-SHU prisoner testified, “For someone to be willing to lie down and die just for someone to hear the situation … in the SHU program, they must be serious.” His assessment was correct. We are serious. The question is, are we as a society serious about upholding basic tenets of humanity. People are dying who could be saved while you are reading these words.
A former Corcoran-SHU prisoner testified, “For someone to be willing to lie down and die just for someone to hear the situation … in the SHU program, they must be serious.” His assessment was correct. We are serious. The question is, are we as a society serious about upholding basic tenets of humanity.
And now you know. This is a system that must be abolished. It is a system that has robbed us all of some part of our humanity and has caused us to lose our way as a nation. So many of us have stood idly by as the U.S. has strode the world stage criticizing other nations for systematic human rights abuses and demanding that others meet their obligations to the world community, while they maintain the single largest domestic torture program and the single largest prison population on earth. If the U.S. is going to continue to insist that other nations meet their international obligations under U.N. treaty resolutions, they must do the same and adhere to the U.N. Convention against Torture.
They have proven that they will not do so without compulsion. We must ensure that they do so, as a nation of the people, for the people and by the people. If we are doing anything less, we are complicit in the state’s hypocrisy.
The Pelican Bay D Short Corridor has given us the proper onus for unity in their historic “agreement to end hostilities” issued for Oct. 10, 2012. We call upon all of you brothers and sisters across the nation in prison yards and hood blocks, in SHUs and barrios: Take up this call also. Turn your attention not toward one another, but to those who have condemned us all to languish at the lowest rungs of this locked anti-poor society: the ruling 1 percent.
Many of us have stood idly by as the U.S. has strode the world stage criticizing other nations for systematic human rights abuses and demanding that others meet their obligations to the world community, while they maintain the single largest domestic torture program and the single largest prison population on earth. If the U.S. is going to continue to insist that other nations meet their international obligations under U.N. treaty resolutions, they must do the same and adhere to the U.N. Convention against Torture.
Join the movement – embrace, support, join or form your own local Occupy or anti-prison industrial complex formation. Build coalitions. And in doing so, change this world. Come, let us make peace.
Our love and solidarity,
Corcoran SHU NCTT:
- Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, 4B-1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212 [53?]
- J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
- Kambui Robinson, C-82830, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
- Jabari Scott, H-30536, 4B-1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
NCTT stands for NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank. All are held in solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture, in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) at Corcoran State Prison.
Published in: SF Bay View, Dec. 4th 2012
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As a think tank that wrote the proposal for the “Sustainable Agricultural Commune,” we support Prop 37 Labeling of genetically modified food (GM), so please Vote Yes on Prop. 37 if you are in California and if you are voting tomorrow.
In more than 60 countries worldwide the labeling has already been made into law. It is time Californians know what goes into the food they buy. It will save your health and also the natural environment.
[added on Nov 6th: Also, how are farm workers effected? Read this article in Nation of Change. ]
And the EU itself says: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/gmfood/labelling_en.htm
Also this from Natural News in September of 2012:
In the Crawford case (In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012)), won by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford), the three-judge appeal panel ruled unanimously that the CDCR cannot confiscate mail and claim that it contains some kind of “coded” message without proving it. It’s an important case not only because it strips the CDCR of an illegal tool that it considered important in burying people in these dungeons.
Equally important is that the judges finally had the courage to actually uphold the law for the sake of upholding the law, and there was no trade-off. There was no “I’ll do this in exchange for that,” which is pretty routine when it comes to the rights of prisoners and criminal defendants.
It really is foul and obviously so. You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people.
Correcting madness only requires courage. We are a nation governed by bullies. The judge in the Crawford decision, like Crawford himself, had courage.
You, the Bay View, your husband, the Pelican Bay representatives, the thousands who resist and supporters who have stood up and continue to stand up and really stand up against the state have courage.
We also received a copy of the latest draft – version 7.0 – of the STG (Security Threat Group, or gang) proposal, and it appears as if this will be the policy. I did not think it could get any worse.
You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people.
This is the best proof of how irrational the thinking is: People literally create their own reality, give it a name and then do with it as they please. There is no such thing as an “STG handshake.” There is also a provision that makes it possible for a person to be given a SHU term for “group exercise.” People are actually paid huge salaries to come up with this shit!
The sanity of these people should be called into question. The Pelican Bay representatives and SHU population are absolutely correct: This must be resisted. To not do so, particularly in the face of such disrespect, would be deplorable. It would be weak! And nothing is as pathetic as weakness.
Our hope is that we might be able to come up with something to contribute to the efforts being made by the Bay View, you and others who have been so supportive and so inspiring in the struggle. However it is that we can contribute to any of your endeavors, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
The road is long and hard and rough, but anything worth loving is worth fighting for. Take good care.
Strugglin’ with you – Michael Zaharibu Dorrough
Send our brother some love and light: Michael Dorrough, D-83611, Corcoran SHU, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212. This open letter was written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda, a prisoner human rights advocate whose husband, Robbie Riva, T-49359, is being tortured in segregation at Calipatria State Prison ASU.
In a personal, introductory note, Michael wrote: “Dear Kendra, Hello sis. It is my/our hope that you continue to be of sound health upon receiving this and that you will continue to maintain that magnificent fire that you possess. It is the difference between being committed to changing the inhumanities that confront us all and those who are just paying lip service to it. You could never be confused with the latter group.”
From: SF Bay View
August 20, 2012
We as New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Freedom Fighters have won a major court victory toward throwing off the shackles of mental oppression.
- New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN),
- New Afrikan Nation (NAN),
- New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man (NANRM),
- Black Revolutionary Nationalism (BRN),
- Revolutionary Nationalism (RN),
- Black Nationalism,
- New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Freedom Fighter (NARNFF),
- New Afrikan Ethnic Group (NAEG),
- New Afrikan Revolutionary Guerrilla Nationalist Resistance Movement (NARGRM),
- New Afrikan Socialist Man/Woman (NASMW).
The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco has ruled in a 3-0 decision that alleged members and associates of the New Afrikan revolutionary leftist organization titled The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and all New Afrikan prisoners have a First Amendment right to expression of their United States constitutional rights to speak to the New Afrikan nationalist revolutionary man ideology.
Declaration of James T. Campbell
I am over 18 years of age and fully competent to make this declaration. I have personal knowledge of the matters described here unless otherwise noted.
- I am currently the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History at Stanford University. My research focuses on African American history and the wider history of the black Atlantic. I am particularly interested in African American intellectual and political history, including the long history of interconnections and exchange between Africa and America.
- In my quarter century teaching at Stanford University, Brown University, Northwestern University, and the University of the Witwatersrand I have taught the following courses: Slavery and Freedom in American History; The Politics of Retrospective Justice; The Harlem Renaissance; History and Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement; The Life and Work of W.E.B. Du Bois; Celluloid America: History and Film; as well as survey courses in American and South African history. My curriculum vitae is attached as Exhibit A.
- I was contacted by the Prison Law Office to review a letter dated April 11, 2010, written by James Crawford, along with some of his other writings. I was asked if I could determine whether the contents of the letter and, in particular, the terms “New Afrika” and “New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man” communicated genuine political ideas about Black Nationalism in the context of African American history, which is an area I have studied extensively.
- After reviewing the letter carefully, I reached the conclusion that Mr. Crawford is rooted in a political tradition with deep roots in African American intellectual and political history, a tradition that stretches from the first African emigration movements in the era of the American Revolution, through the classical Black Nationalist tradition of the nineteenth century, and extending through the twentieth century in such incarnations as Marcus Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Black Panthers, and the Republic of New Afrika. The language that Mr. Crawford uses to communicate his ideas reflects a thorough immersion in and understanding of this history and ideological tradition.
- Mr. Crawford’s use of the terms “New Afrika” and “New Afrikan” are consistent with the movement in the 1960s and 1970s to allow African Americans the right of self-determination to decide whether to form a Republic of New Afrika in the South. The Republic of New Afrika was one of the movements that popularized the usage of Afrika with a “k.”
- As is characteristic of Black Nationalist thought in American history, Mr. Crawford’s letter does not appear to trace back to a single source but rather reflects a synthesis of a range of ideologies and movements stretching over the entirety of American history, with particular emphasis on the Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.
- Although I have no personal knowledge of what Mr. Crawford was trying to communicate in his April 11, 2010, letter apart from reading it, in my judgment he is a serious political thinker using terms such as “New Afrikan” and “New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man” that were ubiquitous in Black urban life in the 1960s and 1970s and that to my knowledge have no particular connection to prison gangs.
by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough
In: SF Bay View
Aug 15th 2012
“The way prisons are run and their inmates treated gives a faithful picture of a society, especially of the ideas and methods of those who dominate that society. Prisons indicate the distance to which government and social conscience have come in their concern and respect for the human being.” – Milovan Djilas
We should never accept being abused or mistreated. It’s our duty as human beings to fully resist. Our strike activity over the past year, followed by strikes as far away as Palestine/Israel, has shown that solid resistance is not only possible but also very effective, and it can be done in smart, fully advantageous ways. It simply requires prisoners to come together collectively for the common good of all and with the support of the people outside, forming a powerful force to compel changes that are long overdue.
“Our compliance and recognition of the prisons’ power over us is our downfall. If we collectively refuse to comply and refuse to recognize the prisoncrats having any power over us via refusal to work, refusal to follow orders, then these prisons cannot operate,” wrote Pelican Bay strike representative Todd Ashker in the March San Francisco Bay View.
Our only solution, as overwhelming as it may seem, is to launch a long, protracted campaign of resistance throughout the prison system – level three and four yards – not only to close the SHU facilities down completely, but to gain back everything we’ve given up over the years. The time for us to get off our knees is long overdue.
With the application of new and correct tactics employed throughout the system, accompanied by class action 602s and lawsuits, coordinated written statements from us to the media and support from various prison activist groups and, of greatest significance, mass solidarity, we can achieve this. The legal struggle that was being waged in the interest of the entire population to overturn the process failed to provoke a unified response. We are, as a prison population, oppressed as an entire population, therefore the solution is to be found in a group response.
We as a prison population are becoming increasingly more self-centered and driven by self-interests as our material conditions continue to deteriorate, and in turn we become contributors and accomplices to CDCR’s agendas and the further downward spiral of our own deterioration. More often than not we do so unconsciously; that is, we do so unintentionally and unknowingly.
“We live within circumstances where the existing and predominate ideology of ‘individualism’ is self-defeating and destructive to all of us as a population and where the collective mentality is an absolute necessity for the improvement of our living conditions,” wrote C.L. in “The Road Ahead” in the March issue of Rock.
Finally, hundreds of men in the ASU at Calipatria State Prison participated last year in the Pelican Bay State Prison Hunger Strike that reached statewide in July 2011 and another in September 2011. The men at Calipatria State Prison ASU who starved themselves were in unity with Pelican Bay State Prison’s five core demands, but these men added their own demands, which were to have appliances, either a TV or radio, to stimulate their minds if they had to be forced to stay in segregation.
With help from articles that were published to expose the illegal extended years these men are serving in these “temporary” segregation units, loved ones on the other side of these walls pushed CDCR to have these men’s demands met for appliances. The men at Calipatria ASU described to the public the extreme inhumane conditions they were faced with, and after Warden Leland McEwen was removed, Sacramento approved TVs for all men in Calipatria State Prison ASU.
On April 19, 2012, at the expense of CDCR, TVs were distributed and installed in all ASU cells. This demonstrates that the issue of addressing the need for prisoner unity, of specific examples of solutions and the importance of developing a political consciousness and its role in developing successful strategies and tactics inside and outside of prison is an important part of the dialogue.
The success of any struggle is tied to the strength of its movement – a movement that we all belong to as a result of our willingness to resist and make sacrifices. Unity requires dialogue and commitment, and our only interest is in broadening and deepening the unity and support that all of the efforts made have realized for us all.
As revolutionaries, we will and must continue to pursue the formation of a broader “National Mass Movement” which will support the realization of the five core demands articulated by Pelican Bay, just as we all strive to transform the nature and structure of capitalist society itself which gave rise to the need to pursue the California Prisoners Hunger Strike and the Pelican Bay D-Corridor Collective to create the five core demands.
Other areas that can be pursued are contacting the hunger strike coalition, if this has not already been done, and explain to them the circumstances of your situation. Write to your families and loved ones and make them aware of your situation. And educate them about the prison movement as well.
The Prisoner Activist Resource Center (PARC, P.O. Box 70447, Oakland, CA 94612) is an invaluable resource. And again, the article “The Road Ahead” in the March issue of Rock is an excellent study material to refer to.
Struggling with you.
Send our brother some love and light: Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, Cor-SHU, 4B-1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This story is an excerpt from a letter sent to Ed Mead of the Rock newsletter.
“’Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology.” – James Yaki Sayles
Greetings, brothers and sisters. A firm, warm, and solid embrace is extended to you all. In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults against the people from various segments of the bourgeois apparatus reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology.
In July 2011 a group of racists beat Jason Smith, a young New Afrikan man, to death in Louisiana;
in February 2012 Trayvon Martin was murdered by a racist vigilante in Sanford, Fla.;
that same month Christian Gomez was allowed to die of starvation-related complications by guards while on hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison in California;
in March 2012, 17 people, nine of them children, were slaughtered by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bales in two Afghan villages as they lay down to sleep;
that same month Kendrec McDade was slain by racist police in Pasadena, Calif.;
in April 2012 Gerardo Perez-Ruiz was murdered by border vigilantes in Eloy, Ariz.
Each of these atrocities can be traced back to warped thought processes. The U.S. mass psychosis is the key inhibiting factor of social progress in this nation and the origin of sadistic violence in the modern world. Though all of these atrocities offend the humanity of each of us, we’ll highlight two of the cases to illustrate the etiological correlation of racist, xenophobic, sadistic violence and authorization psychology.
|Trayvon Martin, 17, was murdered by a vigilante in Sanford, Fla., Feb. 26, 2012.|
Imagine if you will, you are walking home one evening from the local convenience store with a can of tea and a bag of skittles for your younger brother. You’re looking forward to the Miami Heat game with your father when some strange man drives up and accosts you: “Hey! What are you doing around here? Come here! You need to explain your presence to my satisfaction.”
You’re a young man, a child really, and you don’t know who this guy is. He could be a kidnapper, pedophile, racist murderer – you don’t know. “I’m going home, man.” And you attempt to continue on your way … but he prevents you.
You’re frightened and confused as your fight or flight response kicks in; an altercation ensues and you scream for help as this strange white man pulls a gun. He aims at your chest and your screams of terror are cut off by the thunderclap of a gunshot, and the shock of pain as the hot bullet rips into your flesh slamming you backwards. You fall to the ground feeling the wet pavement under your cheek. As your life flows out of your body, your young eyes glaze to darkness as you die …
You wake to the familiar ache of hunger in your small cell in Corcoran State Prison ASU. You’ve been on hunger strike, and now something is wrong. Your heartbeat is racing, you can’t get enough breath. You knock on the wall to alert your neighbor to your distress. Soon the rest of the guys on hunger strike begin to kick and bang on the doors.
The prison guards can clearly hear the yells of “Man down” and your cell number as a sharp pain grips your chest and abdomen and you fall to the cold cell floor. The calls of “Man down!” and kicking on cell doors becomes more insistent as if the others can sense the grip of death closing around your body. The guards continue to ignore these calls.
Fear and panic seize you as your body no longer obeys your commands. You’ve not eaten in many days. It was the only way to bring attention to the reality of the U.S. domestic torture program being carried out in ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) and SHU (Security Housing Unit) torture units in California. That coupled with your illness has weakened your body too much to resist the draw of the veil.
It seems like so much time has passed since those around you began calling for aid to help you and none has come. None will ever come as you realize you are about to die … It hurts so much, perhaps death is not such a bad thing … Your eyes begin to flutter … They open and shut once more … but they see only emptiness … You have passed on …
|Christian Gomez, 27, was allowed to die alone in solitary confinement while on hunger strike in Corcoran Prison, California, Feb. 2, 2012.|
These nightmare imaginings, which were the reality for Trayvon Martin, Christian Gomez and all those victims we named at the outset, all have a common psycho-social correlation in their aggressors: All these instances involved social expressions of the same warped character structure; all these instances involved the murder of people of color by Euro-Americans or repressive forces of the U.S. state consistent with that historic dynamic; all these instances involved, despite mass outcry, at least the attempt at tacit justification or explanation by authoritarian interests in the U.S.
We have included in our previous discussions the pathology that has been created by our failure to deal with the legacy of racism and the capitalist authoritarian psychology that spawned it. It has claimed five more victims here and 17 more in a single night in Afghanistan. Trayvon Martin and Christian Gomez did not have to die. But they did. George Zimmerman and CSP-Corcoran ASU guards both share the identical psychological character structure of authoritarian man, reinforced by their particular stations in the U.S. social arrangement: the dominance of white male privilege and state power.
George Zimmerman, an affluent member of an exclusive gated community, clearly exemplifying the perceived supremacy of his Euro-American parentage and economic station, felt completely justified in pursuing this New Afrikan child that he identified as “Black” to the 911 operator. He then stated, “They always get away,” just before hunting down, accosting and subsequently murdering this poor child.
Much of America does not get that within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded in truth and prudence. The fact that Mr. Zimmerman continues to feel justified in executing Trayvon, as evidenced by his self-serving statements to Trayvon’s parents at the bail hearing, should chill all of you reading this. The state released him.
Within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded.
The irrational core of such justifications lies in the racial dehumanization of New Afrikans (males in particular) in the U.S. This dehumanizing dynamic is embodied in the historical development of property relations in the U.S.: a wealth surplus cultivated on the backs of Afrikan slaves working stolen Native American lands.
The unique ideological basis of capitalist economic development in the U.S., which incorporates the race-caste system as a vital component of the class structure, created a corresponding character structure that this process reproduces and re-enforces in its citizens. There has never been a conflict between democracy and racial oppression, inequality and exploitation in the mind of authoritarian man in Amerika. The pathological dehumanization of racism is the central component which allowed Zimmerman to not only murder a New Afrikan child for walking “his” neighborhood, but to justify doing so as “self-defense” and have that “justification” echoed by the Sanford Police Department. Such irrational reasoning has an origin.
In “the ignoble parody of modernity,” Cornel West states, “racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” It is this racial component of economic exploitation and conquest which is the developmental foundation of U.S. society still celebrated on Columbus Day. The irrational mentality of George Zimmerman did not fall from the sky. It was developed from the authoritarian mass psychology and national ideology of the U.S.
While a historical analysis of U.S. economic conditions gives us a glimpse into the material basis for racist ideology, it provides little insight into its irrational core – how it got there in this warped form today. Subject to the socio-economic conditions of U.S. capitalist society, Amerikan man reproduces those unique historical economic processes in his ideology.
This is why some three centuries after the “Willie Lynch method” was introduced to increase the productive output and relative safety of enslaving Afrikans in the Amerikas, the same twisted psychic structures that process created continue to be reproduced in both New Afrikans (the slave mentality, inferiority complexes, self-hatred) and Euro-Amerikans (authoritarian white male privilege, superiority complexes, hatred of other human phenotypes) in the U.S. today.
Ideologies reshape man’s being; we discover his material core by analyzing the process by which he forms ideologies. The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities in those who maintain the ideological “traditions” of the “Amerikan way” today.
The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities.
You see, the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s character structure irrational. Thus the genesis of the pathologically warped reasoning of Zimmerman; that he, not this frightened child, was “justified” in “defending himself.” Such a position is an indictment of the modern U.S. authoritarian mass psychology itself.
Now that the mainstream media, who shamefully ignored this tragedy initially, have gotten so involved that the mass psychological nature of authoritarian ideology is on display. National media outlets are asking the parents of Trayvon, “Shouldn’t George Zimmerman be given a fair chance?” “Shouldn’t we let the process play itself out?” These are legitimate questions, but they are questions that should not have to be asked. That they felt it necessary to ask questions like this is the best proof that we are going about this all wrong.
For example, Pat Buchanan asked on one news program, “Would Al Sharpton and others have come forward had it been a white male who had been shot by an Afrikan citizen?” We all must see how illegitimate these questions are, but entertaining such irrationality is what the pathology created by the historical legacy of racism has reduced us to.
We actually think that because there is a New Afrikan citizen in the White House – who is shamefully and routinely disrespected by the political establishment – and at the head of the Attorney General’s Office that, somehow, we are not the same nation we were in the not so distant past. Many say and think this, while simultaneously – again – engaged in a conversation about the lynching of Trayvon Martin … and we don’t see the contradiction.
To be sure, for weeks we’ve watched corporate mass media put forward theories of justification which absolve this gun toting, self-appointed “neighborhood-watch commander” of culpability in murdering this child – even going so far as attempting to disparage Trayvon’s character with such descriptions as “He was a troubled youth with behavior problems” in one breath, while dialoging on the analysis and re-analysis of the police video of Zimmerman’s head in the next.
The underlying message of the corporate mass media was given unvarnished clarity only days later in a tweet by a white New Jersey police officer, who said of Trayvon, “Act like a thug; die like a thug.” This simple articulation of the modern dehumanization of New Afrikans in Amerika by the authoritarian apparatus was the guiding ethos of George Zimmerman and the Sanford police.
To those with this twisted mindset, Trayvon was not a “human” child walking home from the store to watch the game with his family; he was “one of them,” “Black,” “they,” a “thug” – something other than and inferior to Zimmerman himself. In his mind he was justified in pursuing Trayvon, justified in accosting him, justified in murdering him because George Zimmerman was an upper-middle class white man “protecting” his community, and Trayvon just some “Black thug” in a hoodie.
This is really the type of sick, twisted rationalization that was proffered by Zimmerman and initially accepted by the Sanford police. Even when it was clear the nexus of protestation had forced the reactionary state to cleave with the authoritarian social imperative and finally arrest Zimmerman, instead of focusing on the self-evident atrocity of Trayvon’s murder and inexcusable delay in the state seeking redress, the authoritarian regime used this moment for law enforcement to sing its own accolades and re-enforce the authoritarian status quo by stressing the position that the national outcry at this one man lynching was not a factor in the state’s decision to prosecute.
They verified it by allowing Zimmerman to deposit $15k with a bail bondsman and just walk out of jail scott free, as though such a warped human hiding behind the “stand your ground” statute does not pose a threat to the safety and lives of others. Just as disturbing , only weeks later, it was discovered Zimmerman was not having such a great economic difficulty as he’d led the court to believe. He had raised some $250k online for his “defense.” The fact that so many Amerikans donated money to Zimmerman in just a few short weeks that he was able to amass a quarter million dollars is definitive proof of the mass psychosis of the authoritarian psychology in Amerika.
The “stand your ground” policy that is the law in Florida does include the Trayvon Martins of this nation; how can it not? With this in mind, how can any rational person entertain, even for a second, the explanation of Zimmerman, who’s admitted to pursuing and confronting this child before slaying him?
We live in a society that has never committed itself to changing the way that it thinks. The same social, political and economic forces that created the mentality that lynched Emmett Till and later James Byrd is the same system that is responsible for what is call racial profiling today. This is the same type of thinking that resulted in the murders of Kendrec McDade and Gerardo Perez-Ruiz earlier this year.
|Jason Smith, 14, was beaten to death by the KKK June 6, 2011. This is an autopsy photo. See the video at the end of the story.|
These are the same forces that created the hate which bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama, that claimed the lives of four little New Afrikan girls attending Sunday school in 1963; the same hate which killed James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964; the same hate that murdered Jason Smith in Louisiana in July of 2011.
Trayvon Martin’s black skin is what put him on the radar of Zimmerman and he said as much to the 911 operator. The dispatcher specifically told him not to pursue Trayvon, but Zimmerman hunted Trayvon anyway because he felt he had the authority to do so. The authoritarian mindset had fatal results.
The outrage that has been and continues to be expressed is justified. But it is not enough to demand justice. George Zimmerman is a symptom of a diseased society. We have legalized hate with the legislation of racial profiling and laws such as “stand your ground,” Arizona’s anti-immigrant statues and “gang” injunctions on entire communities of color. It is a crisis of culture, a manifestation of the malignant sickness of bourgeois society.
The core authoritarian psychology that gives social validity to these warped mindsets must itself be eradicated. We will continue experiencing these atrocities until such time as the minds of the masses are transformed, until we realize a victorious revolutionary change in this society.
But this pathology finds its most indifferent expression not in the gated communities of the upper middle class. No, it finds its most indifferent expression in prisons. Over the past 30 years, with tacit state sanction and support, the victims’ rights lobby and prison industrial complex have waged a successful dehumanization campaign on those who’ve abrogated “the law.”
The compulsion of socio-economic desperation, race-class disenfranchisement, and intentional underdevelopment of specific segments of the underclass – overwhelmingly New Afrikan, Latino and Native American – have been irrationally discounted as the origin of “crime,” and the onus for survival activities has been placed solely on the shoulders of the individual offender.
From this artificial social perspective has arisen the myth of the sub-human, predatory, criminal offender. Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.” Society views prisoners the same way we view vermin – as something other than human, repugnant and unworthy of compassion. Christian Gomez discovered this with fatal results. Prison, as a tool of social control and race-caste containment, has always been a key component of U.S. capitalism, but the broad based, systematic dehumanization of prisoners has expanded in direct proportion to the economic expansion of the prison industrial complex.
In the 2010 annual report of Corrections Corporation of America the world’s largest private prison purveyor, they state: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices … For instance, any changes with respect to drugs or controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of people arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing the demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.”
The CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association), GEO Group [the world’s second largest private prison purveyor], and the Fraternal Order of Police have parroted these same lines openly in their lobbying efforts at the state and federal level. Do you not see the inherent contradiction in a public safety apparatus whose speculative profits and salaries are attached to maximizing criminal offenders, not reducing them?
This view they hold of prisoners and potential prisoners as commodities by the various aspects of the prison industry – both public and private – provides a compelling economic motivation for maintaining that social dehumanization in the overall populace.
Seventy percent of all TV programing is crime and punishment content, from “Cops” to “Judge Judy,” from “Law and Order: SVU” to “Blue Bloods” and countless others – all re-enforcing the message of corporate mass media and the labor aristocracy of prison guard unions like the CCPOA that prisoners are not humans but some subspecies of bipedal animal entirely separate from humanity itself. This is particularly pronounced in American paramilitary organizations like police or prison guards and is a manifestation of the mechanization of authoritarian man in the West.
Like the authoritarian process itself, this mechanization of man took centuries and finds its origins in man’s efforts to disassociate himself from the animal as he developed technology.
The best analysis of this is given by Wilhelm Reich in his piece, “The Human Struggle for Freedom,” where he states: “His viciousness, his inability to live peacefully with his own kind, his wars, bear witness to the fact that man is distinguished from other animals only by boundless sadism and the mechanical trinity of an authoritarian view of life, mechanistic science and the machine … Man’s claims are peculiarly contrived to make him forget that he is an animal … Man’s life is dichotomized: One part of his life is determined by biological laws (sexual gratification, consumption of food, relatedness to nature); the other part of his life is determined by the machine civilization (mechanical ideas about his own (self) organization, his superior position in the animal kingdom, his racial or class attitudes toward other human groups, valuations about ownership, science, religion etc.)
“His being an animal and his not being an animal – biological roots on the one hand and technical development on the other hand – cleave man’s life and thought.
There is thus no contradiction in the mind of the prison guard in upholding their oath to the Constitution’s noble humanistic ideals and dehumanizing imprisoned citizens. The warped character structure of the authoritarian psychology to differentiate itself from the “animal” – “the criminal” – makes that dehumanization a simple economic determination for prison staff, an almost reflexive psychological process intimately connected to their economic empowerment, socio-political prestige and influence.
|Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old unarmed college student, was murdered by police in Pasadena, Calif., March 24, 2012. Here, he kisses his newborn baby brother.|
That New Afrikans and Latinos make up 75 percent of the prison population, but a scant 26 percent of the national population gives a corresponding race-caste “justification” to this dehumanizing dynamic in their minds. So ignoring Christian Gomez’ – and the entire unit’s – pleas for help as he died in agony was no great feat for the prison guards. That the only outcry that has been heard has come from the relatively small community of social progressives reveals the immutable truth of the pervasiveness of the authoritarian mass psychology in the U.S.
Society’s support for this evil in service to power and privilege is exposed by their apathy and silence. Despite his mistakes in life, Christian Gomez was not only human, he was a hero, and those of us who are principled people cannot allow his sacrifice to be forgotten. Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
How sick and twisted must the core psychology of our nation be that so few of us have expressed our horror and outrage at the prison guards who just stood idly by, ignoring screams for help, and let him die in agony? How long will we allow racism and the authoritarian psychology at the core of those guards’ character structures to govern our cultural mores? The same sadism in service to the authoritarian imperative laid waste to the peaceful protest at Attica in 1971; gunned down W.L. Nolen and other freedom fighters in the late ‘60s and let them bleed out on the yard, feeding the melancholy history of Soledad State Prison; assassinated George L. Jackson in San Quentin on August 21, 1971, … and allowed Christian Gomez to die horribly in Corcoran ASU on Feb. 2, 2012.
Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
Only in struggle, in actively educating those who are unconscious, organizing those who are conscious and mobilizing the advanced elements against the authoritarian psychosis will we effect meaningful change in the ideology of hate and sadistic violence which is at the core of authoritarian man’s character. It is incumbent upon all freedom loving people to change the culture in which we live. Institutional racism, by whatever name it is called, must be confronted and destroyed wherever it rears its ugly head.
As we have stated before, you, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future. The power to change the culture that has already taken so much from us … and of us, is in your hands.
The NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank), both here in Corcoran SHU and Pelican Bay SHU, have put forward practical programs and platforms for all of us to build toward a brighter world.
From the 10 core objectives of the occupy movement national coalition and three pilot programs – CCE (Closed Circuit Economic) Initative, Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune; Block-Vote Democratic Initiative – developed here; to the glorious efforts put forward by NCTT Chairman Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Abdul Olugbala Shakur, such as The Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change in Pelican Bay give us all the tools and institutions capable of forging the transfer culture necessary to turn the tide of history.
By taking up these tools and supporting these efforts, we consciously act to shatter the chains of the authoritarian psychosis, to free the minds of all masses – to free ourselves.
You, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future.
Let us end this discussion with these words echoed down the corridors of history as a basis for a lasting solution to these ills of society: “The commune. The central citywide revolutionary culture. But who will build the commune that will guide the people into a significant challenge to property rights? Carving out a commune in the central city will involve claiming certain rights as our own – out front. Rights that have not been respected to now. Property rights. It will involve building a political, social and economic infrastructure, capable of filling the vacuum that has been left by the establishment ruling class and pushing the occupy forces of the enemy culture from our midst. …
“The revolutionary is outlawed … Revolution is illegal. It’s against the law. It’s prohibited. It will not be allowed. It is clear that the revolutionary is a lawless man (or woman). The outlaw and the lumpen will make the revolution. The people, the workers, will adopt it. This must be the new order of things, after the fact of the modern industrial fascist state. …
“You will find no class or category more aware, more embittered, desperate or dedicated to the ultimate remedy – revolution. The most dedicated, the best of our kind – you’ll find them in the Folsoms, San Quentins and Soledads.” – George L. Jackson
Trayvon, Christian, Kendrec, Gerardo, Jason and those nine children in Afghanistan will never know justice as long as the authoritarian psychology and ideology of hate responsible for murdering them is allowed to persist. There is only one sure cure. You are no longer ignorant to its reality or origin.
Will you continue to stand idly by, content to submit to the bonds of the ruling 1 percent, submitting to conformity, turning a blind eye to the evil pervading the very fabric of society? Or will you stand with us and those who dare to change the nature and structure of capitalist society, dare to change the culture of hate, dare to struggle, dare to win?
Your choice will determine the course of history. History will be kind to those of us who love freedom. The spirits of Trayvon, Christian, Kendrec, Gerardo, Jason and those nine Afghan babies are watching all of us with an interested eye. What will you show them?
In solidarity with the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change. Until we win or don’t lose.
For more information on the NCTT COR-SHU or its work product, contact: Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; and Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-COR SHU 4BIL-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.
For more information on other NCTT projects or the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change, contact: NCTT Chairman Sitawa N.J. Dewberry, C-35671, PBSP-SHU D-1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532, or Abdul O.S. Harvey, C-48884, PBSP-SHU D-4-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.
This statement was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.
The father of Jason Smith, 14, describes his son’s KKK murder on June 6, 2011, and asks for help.
by J. Heshima Denham
In: SF Bay View, May 8th 2012
“The purpose of the … control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large.” – Former Marion Supermax Prison Warden Ralph Aron
“In several instances (the control unit) has been used to silence religious leaders. It has been used to silence economic and philosophical dissidents.” – Federal Judge James Foreman, U.S. District Court, East St. Louis, Illinois, 1980
“This type of struggle gives us the opportunity to become revolutionaries, the highest form of the human species, and it also allows us to emerge fully as men; those who are unable to achieve either of those two states should say so now and abandon the struggle.” – Che Guevara, Bolivia, 1967
Greetings, brothers and sisters. Perpetual existence in the sensory deprivation torture units of Amerika, like any form of socio-political violence, is virtually impossible to understand if you’ve not personally experienced it or some other form of coercive force over a prolonged period. Though the human imagination is infinitely capable of conjuring fantasies of such horrors, what appears equally shocking to many is how can some not only resist such systematic psychological torture, but actually improve themselves under such conditions of extreme duress.
Ironically, the answer lies in the motivation of the torture itself. The origin of our resistance lies in the very nature of the core contradictions of capitalist society in conflict with the advanced elements of its most oppressed strata: the bourgeois state’s attempt to stamp out revolutionary sentiment amongst the lumpen-proletariat in hopes of maintaining and expanding its reactionary character, in contrast with the struggle of political and politicized prisoners to raise the consciousness and revolutionary character of the entire underclass, all while resisting the fascist state’s attempts to silence our dissent, crush our will to struggle and foment defection.
We have consistently sought to expose the objective reality of our collective exploitation, of what society’s ills are, their origins in the arrangement of the productive system, and how to change them in the interests of the vast majority of the world’s people. We have consistently been tossed in control units for doing so.
Prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society at large.
Prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society at large. The same structures and relationships – political, social and economic – that make up U.S. society are reflected on any prison yard, stripped of the pretense of patriotism and unity. Those social forces who dictate society’s guidelines – i.e., the ruling class, bourgeois state, the 1 percent etc. – have ensured “the rule of law” is structured to sanction those who would disturb the maintenance of the core contradictions upon which capitalist society is based – i.e., social production leading to private appropriation, the economic class structure, the race card system etc.
Should critics or dissenters rock the boat too far outside the bourgeois prescribed course, they invariably find themselves ostracized or imprisoned. Once in prison nothing is different. Abuses of imprisoned revolutionaries dates back centuries in the U.S. The legacies of John Brown, Eugene V. Debs, Melvin B. Tolsen, Clifford James, W.L. Nolan and George L. Jackson continue today in the indefinite sensory deprivation isolation of Leonard Peltier, P. Sangu Jones, Mumia Abu Jamal, Sondai Ellis, Zaharibu Dorrough, Sitawa Dewberry, Jarvis Masters, D. Mutope Crawford, L. Powell, Wembe Johnson, F.Y. Carter and so many more principled servants of the people and champions of humanity, all daily subjected to indefinite psychological torture solely because they will never renounce the struggle against the oppression of man by man … and neither will I. I am a product of this unbroken legacy of revolutionary thought, action and eternal commitment and have shared the same torturous fate for 12 years, and will continue to do so until we win or don’t lose, until victory or death.
But I’ve been asked, “What is it really like, a day in your life?” We share a functional collective consciousness, so sharing a single day from my life should give you a glimpse into the “lives” – the existence – of all these examples of humanity’s most noble spirit: the revolutionary in perpetual resistance to indefinite torture.
I’ve been asked, “What is it really like, a day in your life?” We share a functional collective consciousness, so sharing a single day from my life should give you a glimpse into the “lives” – the existence – of all these examples of humanity’s most noble spirit: the revolutionary in perpetual resistance to indefinite torture.
I wake to darkness and cold. It’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m in my small cell in Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit). I turn my head slightly to see the photos of my children and grandson on my wall and close my eyes to thank the creator for giving me another day of life in which to make some contribution to the cause of freedom, justice, equality and human rights. I ask that my comrades, my children and my siblings be watched over, their health preserved.
I then open my eyes and rise. It’s particularly cold this morning as I lace up my shoes, fold my linen, and roll my mattress back. After attending to my morning ablutions, clean the sink and sweep my floor, I turn on my TV to the news and enjoy a cup of coffee in preparation for my routine.
I have to be extra careful as I change the channel since the last power surge fried my TV cord and if I move my TV it’ll blow out again. The c/o (correctional officer) walks past flashing his light into my cell. I have the cell light that glares 24/7 blocked using a piece of string and sheet so I can stave off the migraines that accompany the constant illumination we endure daily.
I watch the various stories engaging bourgeois state-controlled media today: Multinational and domestic corporations, sitting on trillions in cash reserves, are refusing to hire because they claim a combination of “regulatory uncertainty and adverse consumer sentiment” has them sitting on the sidelines of the labor market. I see through this blatant gambit to manipulate the working class into opposing greater financial regulation and health care reform in seconds.
In an economy fueled by consumption, which is directly proportional to wage labor payrolls, corporations are intentionally prolonging the depressed economic cycle by not hiring, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of reduced consumption creating the perception amongst the exploited workers that re-establishing the deregulated free market – which is what caused this current recessionary-recovery cycle – and repealing the petty bourgeois policies of the Obama administration in favor of more industrial bourgeois policies that are championed by Republicans is their only course to broader employment.
I shake my head in a combination of pity, anger and disgust as I hear these deluded patsies parroting the ideas of the ruling class as they languish “trapped in the matrix,” their desperate conditions blinding them to their own interests. They continue to grasp and flail ineffectually to realize their immediate interests, seemingly oblivious to any conscious aspirations of changing the system itself, of seizing power and structuring society so the ownership of the means of production and distribution actually reflects the reality of social production and human need.
I immediately berate myself for the direction of my frustrated thought: I remind myself, as I rise and begin my warm-up routine of jumping jacks, that it’s not the people’s fault when the revolution fails; it is the fault of the vanguard party, our fault … MY fault. I/we must redouble my/our efforts, I think. We must combine our ideas, analyses and efforts in a more effective and efficient form to get our words heard, these ideas understood, these theories tested in the vital arena of social practice.
It’s not the people’s fault when the revolution fails; it is the fault of the vanguard party, our fault … MY fault. We must combine our ideas, analyses and efforts in a more effective and efficient form to get our words heard.
I did weight work yesterday, filling my laundry bag with stacks of transcripts and old magazines, then lashing them down with pieces of sheet and string to make a weight bag. So today I’ll do circuit training. I settle on 10 circuits of five exercises: 50 pushups, 40 crunches, 50 split-lunges, 20 dips (between the dunks) and 50 three-count squats.
The pain in my right side, which has been there since the first hunger strike, is like a piece of shrapnel in my side and by the sixth circuit I’m feeling my age, my body wanting to quit. “No one’s here but me,” I think. “I’m sweating, I’ve pushed my body, why continue to endure this pain?” Almost instantly a more insistent voice answers: “What if you were in the field of battle and the lives of your comrades and the people depended on you fighting on? What is pain to the future survival of the people, the party and the revolution? Nothing at all.”
All life is suffering; it is the nature of your existence, the price of your unwavering commitment to what is right. I heed this second voice. I ignore the pain and exhaustion and push on. I feel the cold stone under my palms and the sweat flowing from my pores, but none of it registers in my mind. I am fueled by images of combating the sick bastards on this TV who are dragging an old woman away in cuffs, her head bloodied, from an Occupy Movement protest line.
I strive to control the fire, to channel it into my exercises, and just as the rage against all the injustice I’ve witnessed and endured at the hands of this sick system seeks to overwhelm my reason, my discipline clamps down on it, I detach from my emotions, and finish my last set. I pace my small cell and drink a cup of warm water, re-asserting greater control of my breathing and heart rate in preparation for the next half of my morning regimen, cataloguing the work I have before me today and prioritizing it.
The c/o’s walk by for morning count and unlock the barbox – the sound of the metal gears falling into place, of tray slots being unlocked in preparation for chow signaling the start of another day in the torture unit. When they leave the section, I put up my window blockers and do 45 minutes to an hour of kata and martial arts training.
Here in the 4B1L-C section short corridor, the windows in the gun tower are mirror-tinted and the section windows blacked out. They can watch you, but if they’re staging a raid or monitoring your in-cell activities, you can’t see them. You thus live in a state between perpetual uncertainty and hyper-vigilance, never knowing when you’ll have your cell torn up and property destroyed or confiscated.
They are aware most imprisoned New Afrikan revolutionary nationalists practice some form of self-defense, and they believe they have sufficient documentation as to the extent of my decades of attention to these sciences in my C-file and elsewhere, but they really don’t, so I prefer to train in conditions of privacy to keep the extent of my expertise to myself. I end with some light moving meditation and then take my bird bath.
Around this time they are coming through the section door with chow. It’s scrambled eggs and potatoes today; it’s Tuesday. The menu never changes. You know the meal by the day of the week. We’re being served on paper trays, the food is grossly under-proportioned and ice cold. I go to the door and accept my small tray of food and sack lunch, looking at these c/o’s laugh and joke about the game they enjoyed over the weekend.
Through hooded eyes, I speak politely, thanking them for the cold food and wishing them a good morning. Startled by this response, they offer a nervous pleasantry in reply. I deposit my meal in a white paper cup, place the 2 slices of bread over it and scoop the 3-½ spoonfuls of cold cracked wheat cereal into my mouth and wash them down with some warm water.
I see this for the subtle psychological attack it is, reminding myself provocation and/or mental degradation is its intent. I form the opposite reaction, remembering there are men and women right now in some CIA blacksite prison in Uzbekistan being raped with a cattle-prod for breakfast yet maintaining their ideological integrity. I’ll do no less. The fact that they’ve been feeding me this way for 12 years and counting only strengthens my resolve. I’m desensitized by this point. I eat only to survive. I stopped eating for taste, texture or temperature years ago.
The food is grossly under-proportioned and ice cold. I see this for the subtle psychological attack it is and form the opposite reaction, remembering there are men and women right now in some CIA blacksite prison in Uzbekistan being raped with a cattle-prod for breakfast yet maintaining their ideological integrity. I’ll do no less.
I finish my “bird bath,” clean my sink, toilet, walls and floor, then sit down and eat half of my eggs and potatoes, saving the rest to eat with my lunch. My sack lunch – one slice of bread, two thin slices of bologna, a pack of two graham crackers and a small pack of almonds (12 almonds in a pack) – needs these extra calories to hold me till chow at 5 p.m.
I make my coffee pack, sit down and open my “office.” I intentionally maintain a massive workload so all of my time is consumed with activity. I am very conscious of time, of the quantity and quality of my daily service to the revolutionary cause.
I’m doing a portrait of a family who’s befriended my comrade Kambui in hopes of strengthening those social ties and displaying the quality of my/our work to a broader public audience; I’m designing new pieces for my/our greeting card line in hopes of raising funds for our progressive community development programs; I’m litigating a medical civil rights claim on behalf of a prisoner here with diabetes where I’ve been forced to file four different motions for extension of time because we’ve not been given law library access since August.
We’re supposed to get law library access today. I have several chapters and papers I have to review in various texts on economics, politics and mass psychology for a new piece we’re writing on the practice application of revolutionary scientific socialism in the U.S. today. I’m helping some good comrades gain a broader understanding of the ideas of Fanon, Marx, Engels, Mao, Trotsky and Ho Chi Minh as they relate to the ever-evolving conditions in modern society, trying to finish some work for our brothers and sisters in the progressive media and the Occupy Movement and putting the finishing touches on a Japanese cultural piece I/we initially intended to donate to the Fresno Museum of Art to auction off for the Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund but can only assume the museum director never wrote back because we are prisoners and she could not see past the propaganda of the state and its corresponding social stigma.
I take on all these projects, and more, intentionally. Enforced idleness is a key element of the sensory deprivation torture unit. The isolation is designed to concentrate the psychological impact of this endless idleness. The mind is supposed to turn in upon itself, warping reality. It is structured to re-enforce the concept that you have nothing to look forward to but the same nothing … forever. Its purpose is to break the minds of weak men, to transform them into craven informants, agents of the state, rats, debriefers.
The mind of the developed and committed revolutionary cannot be broken. Whenever it encounters such adverse conditions, it changes those conditions. I/we have no “idle time.” From the lowest, most oppressive conditions in this society, the SHU, we struggle daily to advance the progress of humanity itself.
We must work 10 times harder than any other segment of society to have the most miniscule influence on human affairs because we have such overwhelming power arrayed against us with the sole purpose of repressing our ideas – i.e., IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), ISU (Investigations Services Unit), prison administrators, state officials, the U.S. federal government, decades of false propaganda and entrenched social stigmas which have created an aversion and irrational skepticism of anything positive and progressive originating here.
I/we have no “idle time.” From the lowest, most oppressive conditions in this society, the SHU, we struggle daily to advance the progress of humanity itself. We must work 10 times harder than any other segment of society to have the most miniscule influence on human affairs because we have such overwhelming power arrayed against us with the sole purpose of repressing our ideas.
We have a monumental task just overcoming the obstacles to communicate with you all. We have far too much work to do by writ of our chosen lifestyle to ever fall prey to such an innovation in psychological coercion. We are not simply immune, but where the truly committed are concerned, such attempts have the opposite effect: The fact that they would even attempt such attacks on dedicated servants of the people only hardens our resolve to resist. It makes us more revolutionary, better servants of the people and better men.
So I sit here for the first half of my day and work on this portrait. As I work, my thoughts tend to drift to my regrets. I’ve been imprisoned for most of my children’s lives and thoughts of their welfare and safety consume me: What are their interests and views, what do they value, what do they love? I look at the photo of my daughter Jawanda. I’ve never seen her face in real life or heard her laughter. I write them all (I have five children) at least once a month or more, but it’s been years since I’ve heard from most of them. I’m convinced my daughter Jawanda hates me for not being there for her and her brother as they grew up.
I push the thoughts away, comforted in the knowledge that my daily efforts in the cause are the greatest gift I could give them: a world where the interests of the many actually govern its direction and nature, democracy in form and not simply in word. Though I will not live to see the victorious revolutionary change for which I have labored all their lives, and will continue to for the remainder of my own, their children just might usher in this new social order on the heels of our contributions.
I hear keys as the section door opens and IGI officers enter the section wearing their arrogance and warped perceptions literally on their sleeves. They’re here to escort someone to ACH (hospital clinic). As they do so, the nurse and escort officer walk the tier dispensing medication. I accept and take my own meds, treatment for the inescapable damage done to my own mind which has manifested itself in an actual imbalance in my brain chemistry. I ask the officer, “Are they going to run law library?” They haven’t called with a list yet. But “doubt it,” he says.
I leave the door and return to my work, suppressing the sharp spike of anger at their continued refusal to allow us to access the courts to redress these inhumane violations of our rights. Another log on the pyre of the daily usurpations of our basic rights. Before I know it, it’s noon and I set my artwork aside and prepare my lunch while the news plays in the background.
I pick up the book Zamarabu sent down to me, “New Theories of Revolution” by Jack Woddis, and I pick up where I left off as I finish my meal. Most of the texts and concepts Brother Woddis is critiquing are close at hand and by the time my meal is finished and sufficiently digested, I have several tomes opened, cross-referencing ideas and concepts while I simultaneously view them through the prism of current social conditions and my own dialectical analysis.
I save two slices of bread, my apple and a slice of bologna from my lunch so I’ll have something to work forward to this evening. With that done, I turn my attention to addressing a question one of my comrades had on whether the practice of several small businesses trading among themselves to keep their overheads low equated a form of socialism, having seen the same story on PBS. I explained to the comrade his question underscores the importance of ideological development and a firm grasp of historical materialism when analyzing socio-economic phenomena.
What he had observed was a barter system amongst petty-bourgeois proprietors in an intra-class conflict with the more powerful industrial bourgeois interest – in this case Wal-Mart; this was not socialism. Those small businesses continue to offer their goods and services to consumers at a profit mark-up, continue to appropriate the surplus value of their workers’ labor, continue to support this system of white male privilege, race-class divide and rule, and labor exploitation. They are not socialist or revolutionary; quite the opposite, they are reactionary as they seek to turn back the wheel of history to the point where their mode of small production was the dominant segment of the bourgeois class base, where now they seek to bank together against the ruling bourgeois strata to keep from being cast back down into the working class because they can’t compete with the ruling bourgeois’ industrial scale mode of production and labor exploitation.
Socialism does not seek to “reform” capitalist property relations amongst the bourgeois elements; no, socialism seeks to abolish bourgeois property relations altogether. I went in depth on the question as did other comrades. Mind you, because we are in a sensory deprivation torture unit, these discussions cannot be held verbally, no. We must write them on paper, then shoot our lines and “fish” them to and fro amongst each other, sharing ideas, lending moral, emotional, psychological, material and spiritual support to one another via a piece of string and a weighted item tossed down the tier from one cell to another.
Because of blockers welded to the base of the doors and c/o’s who will snatch and break your line, this is of course difficult. But again none will deter us from exercising our fundamental human rights. We are here only because we believe the oppression of man by man should be opposed.
Because we are in a sensory deprivation torture unit, discussions cannot be held verbally. We must write them on paper, then shoot our lines and “fish” them to and fro amongst each other, sharing ideas, lending moral, emotional, psychological, material and spiritual support to one another via a piece of string and a weighted item tossed down the tier from one cell to another. Because of blockers welded to the base of the doors and c/o’s who will snatch and break your line, this is of course difficult. But again none will deter us from exercising our fundamental human rights. We are here only because we believe the oppression of man by man should be opposed.
By the time I finish, evening chow has come. I set my cake aside as a special treat for later and watch “Nightly Business Report” as I finish my meal, assessing and analyzing the daily permutations of global capitalism; then I watch BBC News and PBS Newshour. I then get back in “the office” and work on political pieces for various media interests, until I run out of gas around 8 p.m.
But I have one more thing to do. Today is special to me, and as I’ve done for the past 17 years of my imprisonment – this is now my 18th – I write a letter to my son giving him the benefit of my life’s experiences for the year, summing it up by recounting a story of children in India who are sent in bulk by labor firms to plantation factories as young as 9, 10 and 11 to pick cotton and work the gins in conditions as deplorable as those we experienced in the chattel slave epoch to develop textiles for a mega-rich British multinational. I explain to him that this was evil and how all that was necessary for such evil to continually prevail was for good people to do nothing.
I end my letter, slide it into the tray slot and sit down to enjoy a comedy program on TV while I eat the items I’ve saved from my earlier meals. Conscious of the pain in my side and health benefits of laughter, both chemically and psychologically, I release my emotional control and allow myself again to feel. I let go of the melancholy which is my constant companion and allow the mirth to strike me in the belly as the underclass antics of “Raising Hope” play across my TV.
Conscious of the pain in my side and health benefits of laughter, both chemically and psychologically, I release my emotional control and allow myself again to feel. I let go of the melancholy which is my constant companion and allow the mirth to strike me in the belly as the underclass antics of “Raising Hope” play across my TV.
I hear the section door pop, the bar box being opened and the gears being locked back in place as the other c/o passes out mail. It’s a special day, I’m expecting some mail and hoping to hear from my son. I receive a card wishing me holiday greetings from the beautiful brothers and sisters from a Pasadena community parish in solidarity with the prisoner hunger strike coalition. It fills me with gratitude and warmth. It’s 29 days old and postmarked, meaning IGI held this meager card for at least 26 days. I also get a ducat for blood draw in the morning.
I leave my door and laugh away the disappointment of not hearing from my family on this day, as I enjoy the 10 o’clock news. I see a wonderful story in honor of Muhammad Ali’s birthday, on how he defied the U.S. war machine by refusing to submit to coercion into their imperialist adventure in Vietnam. I suddenly feel even better, knowing I’m in such good company.
I look at my children’s photos and the images of Chairman Mao, Bob Marley, Jonathan Jackson and Buddha that are the only other images on my wall. I again close my eyes and ask the creator to watch over and bless my comrades, my children, my siblings, parents and all the people languishing under the yoke of this global Moloch of greed we call the capitalist “free market.” I close my eyes wondering why I heard from no one. I cut off my TV. I have an early start in the morning. I’m not as young as I used to be. Today was my birthday: Jan. 17, 2012.
Our existence here is one of struggle, of constant, ever present, inescapable daily struggle. I/we have attempted to convey this reality to you in many ways, but these are words, only valid if they serve to influence you positively in some way. What must be understood in the final analysis is we here are not “gang members” when speaking of adherents of NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Scientific Socialism; we are revolutionaries. We think, act and communicate differently than those who have not given their lives to the people.
I say this not to disparage anyone; it is simply a statement of fact. The Honorable Comrade George Lester Jackson stated, “Revolution is a war for the minds of the masses.” The state has buried us in these torture units specifically to ensure we cannot effectively communicate the reality of the collective subjugation of 99 percent of those in this society to the whims of an avaricious ruling elite. They seek to criminalize legitimate political discourse, to disparage the truth in favor of an ever-evolving lie. The truth of the matter is you and I both are nothing but commodities to these people, our values being exploited or intentionally suppressed as the interests of their profit margins dictate.
Saul D. Alinsky in his book “Rules for Radicals” said, “When you are trying to communicate and can’t find the point in the experience of the other party at which he can receive and understand, then you must create the experience for him.” I have tried to do that here without horrifying you. What must be understood is some of the greatest political, social, economic, cultural, scientific and military minds of our time are languishing in the short corridors and cell blocks of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs. Many of you in progressive circles are familiar with my writing, but I am merely a product of the phenomenal principled men I mentioned at the beginning of this discussion and the unfinished legacy of democratic change and equalitarian struggle that is the hallmark of the evolution of civilization.
The state has buried us in these torture units specifically to ensure we cannot effectively communicate the reality of the collective subjugation of 99 percent of those in this society to the whims of an avaricious ruling elite. They seek to criminalize legitimate political discourse. Some of the greatest political, social, economic, cultural, scientific and military minds of our time are languishing in the short corridors and cell blocks of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
Under these conditions – indeterminate SHU confinement – we have the full weight of the state arrayed against us. Our words in some instances are our only effective tools. If I/we write or say something I/we consider revolutionary, that I hope will alter the nature and structure of society and improve mankind, but in the final analysis fails to move anyone in a substantive way, it is not revolutionary or progressive. Communication that fails to effect its intent is so much idle chatter.
The concrete analysis of such concrete conditions would be nothing has been changed. The reason we commit so much time and effort into understanding the history and present interconnections of all human activity in our world is the ability to change people’s minds, to alter their perspectives so a previously hidden truth becomes self-evident. It’s a serious matter, as serious and strategic as war, because revolution is a war.
As you read this I’m waging that war now, against entrenched biases and artificial social stigmas manufactured by a specific socio-economic interest. This is why we are so hard on ourselves, why we intentionally expose ourselves to conditions that would crush most men’s minds and subsume their wills: Failure to communicate these ideas to you effectively is to fail you.
We are speaking of the future evolution of the world, of forging a society more reflective of human decency than human misery. We cannot fail. Our cause is just because our cause is you – serving the people.
It is my sincerest hope that you leave this brief discussion with not simply a greater grasp of this injustice, but more centrally with a determination to insist the state end this hidden hypocrisy. The U.S. – and the state of California – cannot continue criticizing Syria, China, Burma and Russia for their alleged repressive measures against dissent and maltreatment of political prisoners, yet continue to maintain its own domestic program of torture against political prisoners. It is inhumane, illegal, hypocritical and just plain wrong.
Our imprisonment has no bearing on the truth and validity of our ideas. If this is truly a nation which values democracy, equality, human rights and fundamental fairness as its social imperatives, surely its people cannot allow this practice of political repression to continue unchallenged. Surely you will challenge it.
Our imprisonment has no bearing on the truth and validity of our ideas. If this is truly a nation which values democracy, equality, human rights and fundamental fairness as its social imperatives, surely its people cannot allow this practice of political repression to continue unchallenged.
If nothing else, I hope sharing a day in my life will compel you to value your own a little more and cherish that of your fellow man or woman as you do your own. My/our love, loyalty and solidarity to you all … until we win or don’t lose.
April 26, 2012
by Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott of the NCTT Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU)
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
|Michael Zaharibu Dorrough and his family are not the sort of patriarchal, authoritarian family that prepares children to confuse the interests of the ruling 1 percent with their own interests and to submit to oppression without protest.|
Steadfast greetings, brothers and sisters. Our love and solidarity to you all. We felt it appropriate to open this statement with Dr. King’s call, which has been applicable to any given period where injustice is rife. We felt compelled to provide some necessary clarity and context to the struggle taking place.
The National Occupy Movement has been magnificent in how it has changed the framework in which the discourse on unequal distribution of wealth must be made. But in order for the movement to develop into the popular movement that it must become to effect permanent and meaningful change, the slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” must become a reality. It is imperative that both Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and Occupy the Hood (OTH) struggle together to form a popular movement.
It is crucial to any lasting progress that we reignite the cultural revolution that was started early in this nation’s history but never fulfilled: John Brown’s revolt, Thomas Dorr’s rebellion, the civil and human rights struggles of the 1950s-‘60s, the armed revolts throughout this nation’s history, including the rebellions in Watts, Oakland (Kambui and Jabari’s hometown), Harlem, Detroit, Cleveland (Zaharibu’s hometown), Chicago (Heshima’s hometown), and Kent State, to name a few.
These struggles laid the foundation for the cultural revolution that the U.S. was in the process of undergoing up until the later 1970s. No society can make the necessary transformation from a capitalist, patriarchal, authoritarian, racist, sexist, homophobic, unjust one to one in which democratic ideals can prevail and fulfilling one’s potential is actually possible and encouraged without undergoing a cultural revolutionary transformation.
We are not talking about what kind of government we want; that can and will occur in time, and you will know when that time comes just as you knew that the time had come to fight this battle. A cultural revolution occurs during the transitional stage in the struggle and consists of people from different cultural – i.e., racial, ethnic, religious – backgrounds and schools of thought varying politically, economically, socially, spiritually, intellectually, educationally and sexually all coming together to realize a vision for the kind of society they want to share and live in. It is quite possibly the crucial step in a society transforming itself. That’s exactly what was underway toward the mid- to late 1970s.
We believe that because of the overall political immaturity of all but a few of the liberation groups at that time, the movement was not able to develop into a cohesive popular movement. As a result, groups were crushed, individuals either went into exile, were assassinated or imprisoned, while a lot of others in the movement were co-opted by the system.
Billions of dollars were spent on social programs during the Johnson administration. Yet most, perhaps all, of these programs no longer exist. The cultural revolution of that time – traditionally called the “social revolution” – was re-characterized as the “sexual revolution” by the ruling class, reduced to a period of time in which citizens engaged in promiscuous sex – nothing more.
It was part of the ruling class’s effort to de-legitimize the efforts made by those brave citizens who dared to struggle! Simultaneously, they were re-enforcing the puritanical component of the authoritarian mass psychology. It was also the intention of the ruling class to re-write the historical record of the period, thus depriving future generations of a historical record to build on.
There is already an understanding of the underlying conditions that are responsible for so much misery, and those conditions have always existed, but what is not as clear is why have so many accepted these conditions for so long? We will try to address that here.
But what must be clear at the outset is change, developing a popular movement, must consist of OWS and OTH forging meaningful coalitions with one another. Coalitions that recognize that this struggle is not a “white” struggle; it is a people’s struggle.
The Occupy Movement is not a “white” struggle; it is a people’s struggle. The middle class must be prepared to take the necessary steps to reach these goals and that includes reaching out to the underclass.
It must be recognized that in order for OWS to mature into a popular movement, the participation of OTH is required. Those citizens within OTH, the leadership, must mobilize with OWS. This is a protracted struggle. The middle class must be prepared to take the necessary steps to reach these goals and that includes reaching out to the underclass and OTH. OTH must see that it is in their interests to reach back and unite in this struggle.
What is a cultural revolution?
But what is it that we are struggling against? Exactly what is a cultural revolution? Why is it necessary, and what does it entail? How can it be waged successfully?
The answer lies in the nature of the struggle of the National Occupy Movement itself, the struggle between the interests of the ruling 1 percent and those of the 99 percent. It is a struggle between ideas that have been imposed on the people as a direct result of the changes in economic modes of production and the people’s unconscious acceptance, support and identification with those ideas and new ideas that reflect these warped artificial psychological structures in favor of those that free them from an exploitive political and economic relationship that serves a wealth elite.
It must be understood that our movement will NOT succeed in effecting a fundamental change in the mass psychological structure which supports this exploitive relationship. This is the core purpose of a cultural revolution, to eradicate unprogressive values, tendencies, sentiments and modes of thought. But before we can expound upon the characteristics of the cultural revolution, we first need to clearly analyze the core impediment to the successful conclusion of attempted cultural revolutions in the past.
The chief obstacle to the realization of progressive social change here has always been the patriarchal authoritarian psychological structure of reactionary men and women in the U.S. These concepts may be complex for those new to them, so we’ll attempt to be as clear and brief as possible.
For most of U.S. capitalist society’s existence, it has brutally exploited the labor, ideas and political will of the vast majority of its population to maintain and expand the wealth, power and privilege of a greedy elite ruling class the movement has identified as the 1 percent. It has been this way for hundreds of years and each time progressive social forces have attempted to cast off this yoke of oppression or move the nation closer to the idealistic sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence, those forces have been repressed, not simply by the ruling 1 percent and its tools, but by vast segments of the oppressed masses themselves.
What causes this illogical contradiction? What prevents the socio-economic situation they’re suffering through from reflecting the psychic structure of the masses? Again and again, throughout the history of progressive social movements, we see the economic and ideological situations of the masses in the U.S. not coinciding and in fact being at considerable variance. The socio-economic reality of the people is not directly and immediately translated into political consciousness; if it were, the social revolution would have been realized years ago. The answer lies in the unique historical processes that forged the character structure of the average Amerikan worker.
That process began with the introduction of patriarchy as the dominant force in social ideology in Europe and its impetus toward authoritarian control of every aspect of social life of the remaining members of the family unit, especially as it relates to the negation of natural social and biological processes. In the figure of the “father” the authoritarian ruling class has its representative in every family, so the family unit becomes its most vital instruments of power.
This patriarchal authoritarian process’ chief component is puritanical repression, and this is also the manner in which the ruling 1 percent chains the ideological structure of the lower middle and middle classes to its own interests. Unlike patriarchal authoritarianism, puritanical repression as a tool of mass social control is fairly recent – in the last 300 years.
If we analyze the history of puritanicalism and the etiology of the repression of natural human biological expression, you’ll find its origins aren’t at the beginning of cultural development. No, it was not until the organized establishment of patriarchal authoritarianism and the class system that puritanicalism starts to assert itself and begin to serve the interests of the ruling 1 percent in amassing material profit.
There is a logical reason for all of this when seen from the perspective of the thriving exploitation of human labor and the apparent enthusiasm of the people to accept that exploitation. You see, the ruling 1 percent very rarely need to resort to brute force to maintain control of society, as the owners of the means of production prefer to employ their ideological power over the oppressed as their primary weapon, for it is the ideology of puritanical patriarchal authoritarianism that is the mainstay of the ruling elite.
The ruling 1 percent very rarely need to resort to brute force to maintain control of society, as the owners of the means of production prefer to employ their ideological power over the oppressed as their primary weapon.
It is within the authoritarian family that the merging of the economic arrangement and the puritanical structure of society takes place; religious and other puritanical interests continue this function later. Thus, the authoritarian state has an enormous stake in the authoritarian family; it becomes the factory in which the state’s structure and ideology is molded.
Man’s authoritarian psychology is thus produced by embedding these puritanical inhibitions, guilt feelings and fear of freedom to experience natural forms of human expression. The suppression of one’s economic needs compasses a different psychological reaction than one’s natural human drives.
The suppression of one’s economic needs usually incites resistance, while the repression of natural biological needs removes those desires from the consciousness, embeds them in the subconscious and erects a “moral defense” against them, and in so doing prevents rebellion against both forms of suppression. The result is the inhibition of rebellion itself.
How the 1 percent suppresses the cultural revolution
In the average Amerikan, there is no trace of revolutionary thinking. It is this process that has strengthened political reaction in the U.S. and made far too many victims of economic inequality here passive, indifferent and apolitical. It has succeeded in creating a secondary force in man’s mind, an artificial interest that supports the authoritarian order of the ruling 1 percent.
In the average Amerikan, there is no trace of revolutionary thinking.
Yes, most are truly “trapped in the matrix.” This is observable at every level of this capitalist society. It is the conservative who first suggests reactionary repressive measures or curtailing civil liberties in the face of civil disobedience or broad political dissent. The Occupy Movement continues to experience this firsthand at the hands of national police forces.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition here in the Corcoran State Prison SHU and in Pelican Bay continues to experience waves of retaliation from state prison industrialists. This “fear of freedom” is inherent to the authoritarian character structure of conservative man.
The conflict that originally takes place between natural desires and authoritarian suppression of these desires later becomes the conflict between instinct and morality within the person. This, of course, produces a contradiction within the person. Since man is not only the object of the historical processes that created the economic and ideological influences of his social life, but also reproduces them in his activities, his thinking and acting must be just as contradictory as the society from which they arose.
The U.S., for instance, is a society founded on the premises of “equality, freedom and the unalienable rights of man,” yet its formation, history and modern structure contradict this. When we speak of the realization of U.S. “manifest destiny” or the development and maintenance of its global hegemony, we are speaking of the systematic genocide of Native Americans, the organized theft of Native land, the slavery and brutalization of Africans and New Afrikans, the maintenance of institutional racism and sexism, imperialist war mongering, state-sponsored kidnapping, torture and targeted assassinations, suppression of sexual democracy, state imposition of religious moral imperatives that deprive others of their equal rights, the naked exploitation of human labor and suppression of organized labor, and the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color – all while espousing the ideas of “opportunity, fairness and equal protection under the law.”
This is the historical legacy of contradiction in the development and maintenance of U.S. society. These same contradictions are reproduced in the psychic-structures of its people.
Should the middle strata of White Amerika lose these warped concepts of “morality” to the same degree it continues to lose its intermediate position between the average worker and the upper class, this would seriously threaten the interests of the ruling 1 percent. You see, lurking also among this strata of the people, ever ready to break free of its reactionary tendencies, is the inherent revolutionary imperative of their socio-economic situation.
This is why since the start of the 2008 recession the FCC and virtually every segment of public and private enterprise has increased its push for “morality” and “strengthening traditional marriage,” because the authoritarian ideology and family unit forms the link from the wretched social reality of the lower middle class to reactionary ideology and social conservatism: The ideology of the 1 percent.
Where this ideology is uprooted from the compulsive family unit, the authoritarian system is threatened. They sense it on the horizon, and historically this is when the greatest ideological resistance asserts itself.
The socio-economic exploitation of the 99 percent, in its myriad manifestations, would not be possible without the psychological structure of the masses that accepts that status quo.
It is when the economically disenfranchised and dissatisfied classes begin to organize themselves, begin to fight for socio-political improvements and begin raising the cultural level of the broader masses that these authoritarian “moralistic” inhibitions set in. The bottom line here is every social order produces in the masses of its members that structure which it needs to achieve its main aims.
The U.S. is no different. The socio-economic exploitation of the 99 percent, in its myriad manifestations, would not be possible without the psychological structure of the masses that accepts that status quo. There is a direct correlation between the economic structure of capitalist society and the mass psychological structures of its members, not only in the sense that “the ruling ideology is the ideology of the ruling class,” but more essential to the question of a resurgence of the cultural revolution in the U.S. is that the contradictions of the economic structure of society are also embodied in the psychological structure of the subjugated masses.
The role of the cultural revolution
Which brings us to the cultural revolution itself. The role of the cultural revolution is to uproot these old unprogressive ideas and values which have served to keep us shackled to the legacy of oppressive relationships that define the majority of U.S. history and usher in new values which reflect the universal mores of freedom, justice, equality and human rights.
A cultural revolution is a reconstruction of a people’s way of life in order to move them to a given objective; it forms a new historical continuity in which re-evaluation of self, the people and the society compels us to cast aside historical revisionism. It will place the political power back in the hands of the people, rescue democracy from the stranglehold of corrupt political influences and corporate super-PACs.
The role of the cultural revolution is to uproot these old unprogressive ideas and values which have served to keep us shackled to the legacy of oppressive relationships that define the majority of U.S. history and usher in new values which reflect the universal mores of freedom, justice, equality and human rights.
A true cultural revolution entails more than simply chanting slogans, protest actions, hunger strikes or occupations. It’s more than changing our looks or altering our polling strategy to more closely reflect support for those issues dear to the movement. No, it entails changing our core psychology, how you think, changing your conduct and activities, your interactions and methods in order to transform society as a whole.
Cultural values are produced by economic and political systems. As we struggle against the institutional inequalities inherent in the U.S. capitalist arrangement, we will lose the cultural values of that system and will forge more humane values as the basis of new political and economic relationships.
Such a revolution must encompass the common man and woman, illuminating for them the inherent interests in this national transformation of values and how it will positively impact their lives and the lives of their friends and loved ones. This is the reason the National Occupy Movement must organize and grow together.
Cultural values are produced by economic and political systems. As we struggle against the institutional inequalities inherent in the U.S. capitalist arrangement, we will lose the cultural values of that system and will forge more humane values as the basis of new political and economic relationships.
This calls for unity, the conscious development of united fronts and strategic alliances that grow deeper and richer as they experience trials and adversity, pass through ease and danger. Essentially this process IS the cultural revolution.
What must be understood is these different groups represent different class interests, political interests and economic interests and have different ideologies. It is the reality of this dynamic that has been the basis for the divide and rule politic that has governed life in this society and most others since the rise of monopoly capitalism. It is the basis of the primary contradiction now.
We have demonstrated how for the vast majority of this nation’s history, the ruling 1 percent has been successful in convincing desperate segments of society to identify their interests with the ruling 1 percent’s. Playing on “this” economic class interest of the middle strata or “that” religious moral lean of the lower middle strata, all along ensuring that whatever the ultimate outcome, their interests, the interests of the 1 percent elite, will be preserved as the ruling interests.
For the vast majority of this nation’s history, the ruling 1 percent has been successful in convincing desperate segments of society to identify their interests with the ruling 1 percent’s.
They’ve been consistently able to do so despite centuries of material evidence of their duplicity because they’ve been capable of maintaining control of not simply the context of these national discussions, but of the apparatus in which they’ve been held – corporate mass media – and the very cultural values upon which those discussions are based.
There is a relevant maxim which states, “The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.” The current struggle we are waging now in the National Occupy Movement, prisoner hunger strike solidarity movement, anti-imperialist movement etc. is a manifestation of the people’s consciousness that their interests and the interests of the ruling elite are not the same interests and in fact are and have always been diametrically opposed.
Winning the cultural revolution
It is for this reason that corporate entities, government officials, their police forces and corporate-owned mass media have made a collective and coordinated effort to downplay, discredit, underreport, dismiss, brutally attack, pass laws against and ultimately crush the movement before it can lead to a true cultural revolution which could force upon them a progressive transformation in the nature and structure of U.S. society.
This has been the historical trend in the U.S.:
Cultural revolutions of these types in the U.S. historically all have a central purpose: to destroy the oppressors’ conditioned mores, attitudes, ways, customs, philosophies and habits that the dominant power base has instilled in us which allow these exploitive and repressive relationships to exist.
A cultural revolution is a revolution of one’s values, and the ruling 1 percent recognizes your values dictate your actions. They also realize where such a transformation in your worldview would lead; it was even noted in the Declaration of Independence: “(A)ll experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.”
A cultural revolution is a revolution of one’s values, and the ruling 1 percent recognizes your values dictate your actions. As long as the ruling 1 percent can keep you convinced that its values and interests are your own, you will continue to suffer oppression without protest.
As long as they can keep you convinced that the interests of the ruling 1 percent are your own, you will continue to be content to suffer the “evils” that you have without protestation. Thus, at all costs they must ensure you don’t realize that the values that have been instilled in you for generations – those of greed, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, elitism, naked self-interest, religious intolerance, classism and thinly-veiled hypocrisy – were instilled to ensure you never realize you’ve long since been “reduced under absolute despotism,” and the political and economic choices available to you, no matter what your decisions, favor their interests first, and whatever interests support theirs most effectively secondly.
The entire purpose of socio-economic stratification and institutional racism is to ensure the ruling 1 percent can maintain control with “a minimum of force, a maximum of law, all made palatable by the fanfare of unity and patriotism,” as Howard Zinn wrote in “A People’s History of the United States.”
Brothers and sisters, this will not be easy because the most vital battles will have to be waged within you. But the reassertion of the cultural revolution is necessary if the movement is to realize actual success and not become just another footnote in the crushed movements of American history.
We will stand with you, wage struggle with you, but in the final analysis only you, the people, the 99 percent, can hoist this banner and carry the cultural revolution to its victorious conclusion – and on the other side a new and brighter world for us all. Until we win or don’t lose.
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