“Don’t forget you must pitch the old Black male vs. the young Black male, and the young…vs. the old… you must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skinned slaves… and the female vs. the male… if used intensely… the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful…”
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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This was published in 2003, and shines a light on the unchanged and discriminating ways and reasons of “validating” (= finding reasons for locking people up in solitary confunement without any end in sight) prisoners on the basis of political ideologies. See also this recent article on SolitaryWatch about the “validation-process”
Heshima wrote that this article was used as a pretext to keep him slammed in the solitary confinement torture unit. He asked the webmaster to post the attached “Confidential Information Disclosure Form” that shows the prison took this 2003 article published in California Prison Focus as ‘evidence’ of ‘gang activity,’ precisely what the article was refuting.
Published in: California Prison Focus Nr 18 (2003)
“…employees will not subject other persons to any form of discrimination because of race, religion, nationality … political belief…”.
For example, on October 6, 1995 at Pelican Bay State Prison, L.L. Anderson, then a Lieutenant in ISU (now a Captain) stated the following in a validation memorandum on a prisoner whose political ideology was revolutionary in nature:
“Confidential memorandum dated 11/1/93.
This memorandum clearly outlines subject’s affiliation with terrorist organizations (i.e. The New Afrikan Peoples Organization and the Afrikan Socialist Party) and support of a New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (N.A.R.N.). N.A.R.N. is considered synonymous with the Black Guerilla Family ‘prison gang’ and is now accepted as a source for validation purposes.”
Incredulously, Mr. Anderson goes on to state:
“Some correspondence connects subject with individuals linked to the Weather Underground and the Nation of Islam. These two terrorist organizations are well noted for their sympathies to overthrow the government.”
This example of hypocrisy is not the exception, but the rule when dealing with progressive elements in the prison population.
“…New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism is considered synonymous now with … prison gang(s)…”.
It is my contention that the reality of political freedom and the right to exercise such does not extend to those whose freedom has been abrogated by the legal farces men call “courts of law”.
|Click to enlarge: Confidential Information Disclosure Form: see under nr 3.|
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.
On the Continued Relevance of Scientific Socialism in our daily lives
By: Heshima Jinsai
© Heshima 2005
As we witness the gap between rich and poor widen by its largest margin in modern human history, while simultaneously experiencing an unprecedented rise in the “ I/me” mentality of selfishness, greed and avarice which the system of capitalism promotes across the race-class strata, it becomes prudent for us to make a scientific analysis of the reliance of our socio-economic world view. Scientific socialism, primarily, is an economic system where the means of production are in the hands of the people; where distribution of wealth, opportunity and materiel needs is equalitarian in nature. Scientific socialism is a system of non-exploitation and puts an end to the wage slave system and the fleecing by capitalist of the surplus value of labor. Scientific socialism’s central tenet is “From each person according to their talents, to each person according to their needs.”
This principle of socialist dialectics envisions a symbiosis of objective socio-economic output and objective human need/consumption, and reveals the fallacy in logic of proponents of market capitalism. Unlike the bureaucratic totalitarian economics of planned economics in the former eastern European Soviet era, scientific socialism employs a more stringent and all-inclusive standard of materialist analysis on both the “talents” and “needs” sides by ensuring society-wide input via the democratic centralist construction of each city block, town, and rural community. Scientific socialism respects the humanity of the individual by ensuring the finest and most advanced education and training in any field the citizen may desire, while mandating general indoctrination in our core principles and ideology – not only developing them to their ultimate potential, but strengthening and fitting them in the area of our socio-economic infrastructure where their talent, education/training and personal desires all converge with the needs of the collective society as a whole (divisions of labor, specialization). This ensures the freedom to do what you like to do while maximizing productivity through the joy and enthusiasm of working in a field you enjoy with the prospect of greater influence in that field should your performance prove exemplary.
Simultaneously, need at every level of human activity (material, spiritual, psychological, medical, cultural, entertainment, scientific, technological, fellowship, etc., etc.) is met in accordance with current conditions, and surpluses are distributed equally. With the means of production and distribution in the hands of the masses, the surplus value of labor, normally extracted as profits by the capitalist class, remains intact end distributed equally across the population. This ensures a maximization in the standard of living for all and not simply a minimum needs standard for most and an opulence standard for some. This is possible only through the strict adherence to the dictatorship of the proletariat as envisioned by Marx, Lenin, Mao and Jackson.
But scientific socialism is much more than this. Scientific socialism is also a psychology and culture exemplified by our ‘principles of collective life.’ It’s a way of thinking and living that is both egalitarian and compassionate. Scientific socialists have largeness of mind. Are selfless and caring, and care more for the needs and welfare of others than for themselves.
In contrast, market capitalism has made a science of behavior modification in marketing its goods and services and promoting the fantasy that multiple, attainable paths to wealth, power and opulence exist for everyone if they are only willing to “work hard enough to attain ‘the American dream.’” This divorces the minds of the masses from the reality that capitalism presupposes the necessity of unemployed (surplus labor) and under employed (competitive class labor pool) to ensure the wage and class systems function. There is an underlying psychological phenomenon I’ve coined, “The Success Brainwashing Method” which I define as the systematic psychological conditioning of capitalist indoctrination that begins at infancy and is reinforced throughout life which enforces the premise that a man’s / woman’s worth as a human in this society is directly proportional to their ability to make money, attain upward class mobility, or achieve the trappings thereof (i.e. jewelry, fine cars, expensive clothing etc., etc.).
The motive force behind this phenomena focuses efforts on one’s individual gain and self-interest, if need be, at the expense of others – even celebrating one’ s ability to dispense with ethical standards which would impede the realization or maximization of material wealth (i.e. exploitation, betrayal, usury, manipulation, fraud, theft, misappropriation). This psychological construct encourages “getting over” on, or at the loss of, others and is all perfectly allowable; if skillfully done, it is even encouraged – no matter the adverse effects on one’s community(s), personal relationships, or even themselves. Capitalism as a productive system has as its primary motivation the development of super-profits and the growth of its markets and influence on the natural resources, political structures, and labor which sustains them. The capitalist extracts the surplus value of the worker’s labor as profits or super-profits and is obsessed with finding new ways of reducing costs and maximizing profits at the expense of labor and consumers.
The capitalist state is a tool to ensure the dominance of one class (the ruling or “capitalist” class) over the others and does so through the economic and social stratification of society via the two primary components of the capitalist state: 1) the economic class system and 2) the race/gender caste system. Racism, xenophobia and sexism are key components of the global white supremacist motive force of capitalist, market economics. Each individual class is competing with and in opposition to, the other classes – and within their own – while the reinforced race antagonisms, anti-immigrant sentiment, and sexist attitudes ensure the necessary divisions are in place, and periodically intensified, to prevent broad class cooperation or proletariat / lumpen-proletariat united mass organization. Capitalism must ensure the existence of surplus labor (the unemployed / lumpen-proletariat) while simultaneously promoting social attitudes against this segment of the population as undesirable and / or “criminal” to ensure the remaining socio-economic strata act as a check on its revolutionary potential.
Criminalization of the poor has been woven into the very fabric of the social consciousness, while police state repression supports this notion by creating a pool of souls for the prison industrial complex to both profit from the disposal of this surplus labor and act as a deterrent against effective organization (or even accurate identification of the people’s ills) at this level of society. It is though this highly refined system of racial automation which combines the psychological incentive of potential wealth with the deterrent of underlying force /violence, of divide and rule at every level of human activity, where in the ruling class’ monopoly on control is grounded. The difficulty in popularizing any alternative socio-economic system rests here. Here in the U.S., Yankee-style capitalism has systematically conditioned its population against broad based cooperation or cooperation which could threaten the continuation and expansion of exploitation of man by man.
To understand the clear polarization between these two systems of thought and production I have enclosed a thirteen (13) point comparison in simple terms of the two modes of thought (see attachment-[missing]).
Despite the inherently avaricious culture of capitalism and its facade of glitz and universal privilege, scientific socialism and principles of collective life can be popularized in the under end working classes of the capitalist economy by creating and successfully implementing programs that meet the needs of the people, providing an alternative to lift the yoke of poverty and perpetual toil from their backs without the need to abandon their humanity.*
Humans are social creatures, and capitalism promotes social ties based solely on the individual interests of those tied together. Should those individual interests change, those social ties are as transient as the sunset. Principles of collective life base success on the strengthening of social ties at every level of human activity and looking upon the success of your fellow man/woman as your own because, quite literally, they are. The resultant, collective consciousness, this united mind is far better equipped to manufacture cooperative economic programs and collective work ventures, and is more efficient as it is consistent with the social nature of the human condition. This is uniquely true for the New Afrikan. Communalism, socialism’s evolutionary origin, is indigenous to our economic culture; harkening back to the very beginnings of the historical miscarriage and throughout our subsequent struggles for survival on the shores of North America.
We are here today because those principles have served us well, allowed us to endure through the most heinous privation, evolved and refined, end now find their highest expression in our Party. But, let ‘ s be clear, modern U.S society has never been more polarized between rich and poor while, simultaneously, being as self-interest orientated, avaricious and disconnected from one another. The advent of Barak Obama has resulted in no change in the status-quo. And the nature and composition of monopoly capitalism will only be transformed as a result of a victorious revolutionary change. The popularization of principals of collective life are the first concrete steps on that path (transfer culture) providing the psychological foundation for educating, organizing and mobilizing the people for scientific, socialist revolution.
But anything new is fraught with uncertainties and peril. The potential for mistakes is great – especially considering the reactionary nature of domestic U.S imperialism and its history of violent repression-
So, in this discussion it may be prudent to revisit some of the past mistakes in the implementation of socialism as a socio-economic and political system. Though ideologies are indigenous, surely there are things we can learn. Let’s see what a cursory examination of history reveals to us:
In the chattel slave uprisings and subsequent Haitian revolution of the 1700′ s, following the final military defeat of the French, Dessalines and his successors were so traumatized by the chattel slave experience that they oversaw the systematic destruction of every aspect of the Haitian, national economic infrastructure which reminded them of the institution of slavery. This included the entire transport, mining, agriculture, and warehousing infrastructure which made Haiti the single most profitable colony in the history of the colonial era.
Instead of appropriating and maintaining this productive capacity for themselves, after decimating the infrastructure they restored communalist economics emptying subsistence farming. So fearful were they of the return of the French, and being isolated by the other (meaning all) economic powers in the western hemisphere -this fledgling socialist commune paid billions of dollars to the French right up until 1948 effectively bankrupting Haiti and taking it from one of the most productive economies in the western hemisphere to the poorest. Had Dessalines, and those that came after him, simply abolished the oppressive end exploitive relationships upon which their enslavement was based, maintained the economic infrastructure and productive capacity of the nation while instituting the same communal, (socialist in practice) mode of distribution of wealth, goods and services, the demand for Haitian sugar, rubber and coffee, globally, would have been tapped via South American and Caribbean proxies (Haiti sent military aid to Cimon Bolivar in Venezuela in the 1800’s – they had the means) effectively breaking the U.S embargo, maintaining its prosperity, despite the payoffs to the French, and today we’d see a much different Haitian history and nation – and as communal socialists may well have lived in a much different world.
As father of fascism, many on the left conveniently forget that prior to the ultra-right wing, jackboot politics of “The new Pax Romana,” Benito Mussolini was a leading official in the Italian Socialist Party, an avowed Marxist (at least in self-description). So how then did he go from a proponent of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia to the ultra-reactionary book burning, race mysticism of fascist nationalism?
The answer is two-fold and was repeated only a short time later in Germany with the Brown Shirts and Hitler’s “National Socialist” NSDAP Party (the Nazis).
During the height of the Great Depression Italian socialists clung to mechanistic, Marxist economic dogma which failed to feed, house, clothe and warm the deprived Italian masses, while the sure economic benefits of seizing wealth and resources by force of arms from the “lesser nations and subject races to the greater glory of the “Pax Romana” and “The New Empire” were readily understandable and visually in reach. Mussolini argued their ability to conquer others and the inability of others to stop them was all the justification needed to legitimize the fascist enterprise – the Italian people agreed and supported him as did the German people with Hitler a short time later.
Which brings me to point 2) Mussolini understood what the mechanistic Marxist could not: the nature and structure of patriarchal, authoritarian, European society lent itself to the social manipulation of mysticism and ultra-nationalist zealotry. He understood that psychological constructs were more capable of influencing masses of people than were data or external, material conditions – the perceptions of which could be manipulated. Amazingly, the socialist of this time discounted the existence of “psychology” as an influence on social conditions, or even a verifiable factor, period – reducing man to mechanical processes alone. Hitler continuously stressed that one could not influence the masses with arguments, proofs and knowledge, but only with feelings and beliefs. These two points are exceedingly complex end interconnected, involving everything from the misapplication of dialectical materialism to patriarchal, authoritarian, sexual conservatism as a basis for ultra-right wing reaction.
But, for the sake of expediency, I ‘ll highlight a few key points and move on. The application of mechanistic Marxism as a tool for economic and social empowerment in Italy and Germany has fertile ground in the industrial workers sector, but its narrow interpretation applied solely to the sphere of subjective economic processes and government policies. It was thus, doomed from the outset. When it tried, and failed, to implement industrial and agricultural soviets to feed the starving masses of workers (due primarily to the opposition of industrial capitalist and their program of bloody sabotage and brutal intimidation), they also failed to note or comprehend the development of subjective contradictions within the minds of these same workers .
The socialists failed to make use of their own method of dialectical materialism to comprehend this new historical reality of fascism, which neither Marx or Engels had encountered, and Lenin recognized too late. It was not that the socialists of that time did not understand the progressive farces of society where its productive farces or the contradictions of as they related to real life. They wrote the book on it. Their failure was to understand the forces that retarded social progress (such as fascism) and degenerated into hollow formulas as opposed to assessing the concrete socio-economic and mass psychological factors of the social changes that extreme economic deprivation was creating. Instead of the economic crisis leaving the mass clearly to the left, it made them feint left then ride hard for the right. The result was a split between the economic basis developing to the left, and the ideology of broad levers of society developing to the right. The role of ideology and emotional attitudes, unanalyzed and uncontested by an oblivious left, had contradictory and devastating repercussions on the economic basis for change. The left did not understand that the basic structure of reactionary man’s mind, especially in patriarchal authoritarian Europe, was capable of subordinating its objective economic interests to its subjective emotional attitudes where no opposition to this tendency was present. The failure to address those material needs through socialism further underscored the potential inherent in this new uItra-nationalistic doctrine – fascism.
What Italy teaches us is two prime points and one cognizant lesson:
we cannot afford to field ineffective economic policies which fail to meet the people’s needs, they will reject us, and thus, their own interests.
It must be understood “… revolution is a war for the minds of the masses.”
The psychological structures of the masses, and our influence on those structures towards scientific, socialist economics and principles of collective life, are central to our entire struggle.
If you all recall, in a single generation, the New Afrikan colony went from the Black Liberation Movement to reverting back to right-wing lumpen-proletariat expressions (circa 1985 to present) as a direct outgrowth of multiple, adverse psychological factors (the loss of many New Afrikan teachers to integration and busing policies, the introduction of crack and popularization of narco-trafficking and social empowerment through gang warfare, a move to the right and rejection of radicalism amongst Reagan-era New Afrikan intellectuals and co-option of radical voices or marginalization of the same, a resurgence of Baptist Evangelical Christianity in the mid-west and south, etc.).
George’s statement that, “The principle reservoir of revolutionary potential in Amerika lies in wait inside the Black colony, its sheer numerical strength, its desperate historical relationship to the violence of the productive system and the fact of its present status in the creation of wealth, forces the Black stratum at the base of the whole class structure into the forefront of any revolutionary scheme”, is still true. Yet, the practical application of socialism – or true social change – is a remote one in the New Afrika colony.
The U.S. S. R’ s implementation of a bourgeois, bureaucratic state oligarchy under Stalin, in essence removing power from the Soviets and concentrating it in the Kremlin, abandoning the 3rd. revolutionary international, and purging its most advanced elements, (Lenin and Trotsky) sounded the death knell for soviet socialism. Which warns us of the danger of totalitarian sentiments and personality cultism in the political application of socialism. A trend that was repeated with Kruchev, Breznev and Gorbatchov – ultimately dismantling the mighty U.S.S.R under Yeltsin.
But for a more contemporary view of Stalinist, Bureaucratic deformation of a socialist economy – we need look no further than China. In China we find a deformed worker’s state strangled by the global capitalist construct into accepting market reformation, in which a privileged, parasitic bureaucracy sits atop collectivized property relationships developed by the glorious 1949 revolution! Guided by a desire to protect its privileges, the bureaucracy defends state property only to the extent it fears the working masses.
As scientific socialists, we see collective economics based on democratic centralist planning as essential for truly developing the productive forces of society. We seek to liberate the creative and imaginative powers of humanity, which have been shackled by capitalism and class divisions. This brings us to the second flaw inherent in the Chinese approach to socialism which doomed it from the outset: single state socialism.
Capitalism is a global monopoly construct that, though competing with one another, unifies as a reactionary survival mechanism against anything resembling revolutionary, scientific socialism. The concept of “single state socialism”, or juche as it’s known in North Korea (the legacy of Il Jung Kim), in essence, dooms a socialist economy to the whims of monopoly capitalist pressures (through trade embargoes and other restrictions on natural resources or technology necessary to run a modern industrialized nation that cannot be domestically found, refined or produced by the socialist state in sufficient volume to meet its needs or on par with the capitalist), eventually resulting in capitulation to “market reforms” or becoming a vassal nation of another power (i.e., North Korea is a vassal state of China).
The very conception of a truly socialist future presupposes a global economic order based on the seizure of the productive resources of the advanced capitalist states through international revolutionary war. There is an inherent tendency (where personality cult does not overshadow as in North Korea) for Stalinist bureaucracy to abandon true socialism in favor of “market reforms ” with output and prices determined through micronized competition between enterprises; wages geared to enterprise profitability, price subsidies are eliminated resulting in higher inflation, the role of petty capitalist entrepreneurs is expanded, increased commercial and financial ties to western and Japanese capitalism, including joint ventures are encouraged. This all strengthens the internal forces of capitalist counter-revolution. Mao made his mistake in economic policy development by basing it on bureaucratic commands and arbitrariness instead of socialist democracy (workers communes). Trotsky, in his piece, “The Revolution Betrayed”, said of the U.S.S.R under Stalin that “Soviet products are as though branded with the gray label of indifference, under a nationalized (socialist) economy , quality demands a democracy of producers and consumers, freedom of criticism and initiative – conditions incompatible with a totalitarian regime of fear, lies end flattery (which the U.S.S.R had become under Stalin).” When we speak of political and economic revolution to establish a collective democracy it must strengthen, not weaken, the scientific socialist commune.
This dogma of “socialism in one country” is anti-socialistic. The problem of privation in the rural areas of China, across North Korea, the entire world for that matter, can only be resolved through successful international socialist revolution. To underscore this point, the entire concept of “socialism in one country” is the bureaucracies’ fruitless pursuit for “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism, a position that has undermined the defense of socialists end socialist states, not least through the betrayal of socialist revolutions internationally. Any serious talk of successful, international, socialist revolution will be decided here in the belly of the imperialist U.S beast. The lessons here are clear, ideological consistency and advance of democratic totalitarianism is central to our socialist ambitions – and we have not won until we win the World (our positive objective).
The core psychologies of socialism and capitalism are diametrically opposed to one another, their care values and motive forces in perpetual conflict. Scientific socialism is guided by principles of collective life which holds genuine concern for one’s fellow man/woman as a preeminent consideration, and puts the interests of the collective before one’s own. In contrast, capitalist psychology promotes such concepts as Gordon Gekko’s iconic “greed is good” diatribe from the movie “Wall Street” and places self -interest as the central psychological concern. Key to reinforcing this psychological state is the basis of competition as the catalyst for innovation and productivity, as a form or socio-economic “natural selection,” appealing to the basest and most predatory instincts of the human social creature. Key to the maximization of competition among workers and enterprises is the “incentive interest.” One of the prevailing arguments made by supporters of market capitalism is that the per capita productivity of wage-based labor (capitalist) is superior to that in socialist economies because superior performance is rewarded with additional material wealth which, in turn, translates into a higher standard of living amongst the populations of capitalist states. This material interest itself translates into a higher interest for capita list states workers to work harder, be more productive, and compete more intensely with other workers for the notice of management or owners which will translate into promotion(s) or increased wages – the material incentive. It is the position of market, capitalist economies that the productive power of capitalism, both individually and nationally (i.e., gross domestic product) will always outstrip that in socialist economies because the incentive interest is present in capitalist economies and absent in socialist economies. Scientific socialist, unlike vulgar Marxist, mechanistic socialist, or dogmatic “MLM” (Marxism, Leninism, Maoism) ideologies, employs dialectical materialism – not communist cannon – as the primary tool of analysis, dispassionately and objectively and there is no dispute that the additional stock option, performance-based Christmas bonus, or company car are all effective incentives to increase productivity.
The simple fact that selling one’s labor to those who own the means of production is the sole “legal” way for workers to generate money to survive in a capitalist economy, and the incentive interest is a clear path to more of that precious cash, clearly supports a motivation to increase labor productivity. If we analyze the few remaining, practicing socialist economies in relation to nations in the global capitalist construct with equitable populations and land mass – at first glance it’ s clear the capitalist states (i.e., Thailand (capitalist) vs. Vietnam (socialist) ) G.D.P far outstrips the socialist ones (i.e., the Bahamas vs. Cuba). But what is conveniently overlooked by capitalist economists is the incentive interest of capitalism notwithstanding, capitalism is a global construct of interconnected markets that support global growth while, simultaneously competing within this network of economies. The work force and industries of Thailand or the Bahamas do not have to contend with the economic sanctions, trade embargos/limitations, import tariffs and technological exclusion acts that the labor force of Vietnam or Cuba have to contend with which are designed to intentionally undermine the productive capacity and success of these socialist economies.
Such restrictions by global capitalist states are eased only to the degree that “market reforms” in these socialist states allow for the penetration of capital, exploitation of resources or labor, end access to consumers, all of which deforms the workers state end sets the stage for capitalist counterrevolution. Nevertheless, it would be unscientific to deny the productive and innovative impact of the material incentive interest in a capitalist economy. But, is this material incentive a necessary component of human productive capacity? Can man be motivated to higher performance by some incentive other than more cash? This is an important question if we’re seriously speaking of convincing the people to abandon market capitalism in favor of scientific socialism.
It is my contention that the objective economic conditions of a capitalist economy make the incentive interest a key subjective psychological factor for the acceptance of wage slavery and active participation in their own exploitation. Inversely, it is also my contention that the objective economic conditions of a scientific, socialist economy (where material needs are met by the commune) make the material incentive interest an unnecessary component, and the subjective psychological considerations of principles of collective life and the influence incentive of democratic, centralist organization sufficient motivation for equal, if not more, productive labor capacity.
Economist from Harvard University conducted an experiment with ninth grade students where they were offered a relatively significant cash reward, and the chance for more, if they maintained minimum, educational standards set by the researchers. The researchers were shocked to find a paltry 30% increase in educational performance set by the study – and one of the subjects highlighted in the study, an intentional underachiever – the popular guy and class clown – made a conscious decision that he could not trade his social life and peer standing for the effort necessary to get the cash. For this kid, and a significant number of others, the social empowerment of the peer group was a greater Incentive than the cash.
I raised this point in defense of socialism’s psychological incentive (principles of collective life) vs. the material incentive of capitalism with a friend in a conversation on the yard – his reply was: “The kid would have made a different choice if he had bills to pay.” I couldn’t argue with that point, yet it only served to underscore the compulsion of self-interest-orientated psychologies (the “I/Me” mentality) that are the hallmark of capitalism.
I also noted the flaw here in the assessment: in a socialist state, your “bills” are non-existent as your material needs are addressed by the commune. It is my contention that in a scientific, socialist economy, where survival is not contingent on the wage slave system of competitive labor, the desire to increase the prosperity of the collective and the incentive of having greater influence if you have greater insight, skill or ability in a specific field, is sufficient incentive to maximize human productive advancement and innovation. Thought (subjective) is the origin of actions which forge the material world (objective) – simultaneously, it is the objective, material conditions of life which influence what, and how we think. Living in a society where egalitarian mores are the norm, where human need is the primary motivation for material production and distribution, where being generous, sharing and selfless is virtuous not “naïve” or “perilous,” where the success of the collective is more vital than the desires of the individual, where everyone’s opinion has value and the most effective ideas are those that are adopted, will inevitably forge mindsets with motivations and incentive-triggers that are much different than those in a traditional, capitalist economy.
I, like all of us, was raised and developed in this malignant, bourgeoisie society – but, after making the transition and undergoing internal revolution many years ago – as a scientific socialist, I asked myself these same questions – and answered them frankly and honestly. Would I rather have my own freedom – or the freedom of our leading Party officials? Would I rather have $140.00 in supplies – or $20.00 worth for each of us here? Is the work I’m doing for myself – or for the Party, this body and the people (one in the same)? On and on I went -and in every instance I put the interests of the Party, people and our cause before myself and have done so for many, many years.
This, to me, signals (since I know so many others here of like mind) that our core psychology is not determined by mere objective, material conditions but also influenced by our concepts of truth and adhered to by our will and commitment to that truth. Principles of collective life are lived daily and influence every aspect of the socialists day-to-day activities.
So, how can we promote and popularize scientific socialism as a viable alternative in our own communities and daily lives? I believe it begins with the man himself, our daily practice and interactions with one another and the people. Practice selfless and equalitarian giving. Live generosity. If you are aware that someone needs something – and you can meet that need – do so without their even having to ask. In fact, actively inquire as to the needs and concerns of your Comrades and the people. Genuine concern should flow naturally and organically through your personal relationships. Facilitate cooperation among others and foster unity wherever you are. Actively think of new and imaginative ways you can strengthen and support the collective, and develop yourself and your abilities to their maximum potential so you will be more capable of making a meaningful contribution to the Collective, thereby, enriching us all. See the world and your place in it in terms of us and we – ensuring every decision is weighed with and against the interest of the Collective (the People and Party) first, and all else flowing therefrom. The popularization of scientific socialism, especially the revolutionary variety, in the context of a contra-positive authoritarian regime like capitalist Amerikkka is (and must be viewed as) an effort in social engineering which must involve both subjective and objective factors.
To that end we must, as an organization, develop, field and maintain community development initiatives and economic programs that effectively meet the people’s needs, popularizing the practice of communal economics strategically (we may well need to use different terms to identify these efforts in a population that’s been conditioned to fear and reject socialism/communism), while educating and organizing the traditionally most revolutionary segments of the population (i.e., the lumpen proletariat and proletariat).
For purposes of this discussion I’ll outline two (2) programs and one (1) organizing effort developed right here in this region, with elements in this body.
1) The Youth Community Action program (Y-CAP) – Y-CAP is both an educational / training program and a socialist, economic non-profit initiative (in disguise), which targets underclass youth and neighborhoods employing volunteers from the youth’s own community and family to work in concert with Y-CAP organizers in a two phase development initiative.
PHASE 1 – involves a five (5) times a week, 2 1/2 hour (after school) educational and training initiative that focuses on history (from the true perspective – think Zinn, Diop and Dela Valle), cultural awareness (to retard racial conflicts and strife between oppressed nationalities such as Mexicans and New Afrikans), computer and technological literacy, the arts and science / engineering.
Three out of five days a week the final hour will be devoted to martial arts, self-defense training, and strategic thought. Participants must comply with the participation requirements of phase one to be eligible for phase two inclusion.
PHASE 2 – involves establishing a collectively owned, community based business which each youth participant will own an equal stake in and be trained in the area of the venture which best suits them. All will receive equal pay / profit portion (collective work and responsibility, egalitarian distribution of wealth). The pilot venture will be a custom car garage (think “pimp my ride”) where we will seek in-kind donations of equipment and old cars (all tax deductible), cash donations, and fund raiser revenue to fund the rest. Volunteers from that industry will train each youth in exchange for marketing publicity for their own business. And we’ll seek industry related corporate sponsors (socio-economic guerrilla war – using the enemy’s own resources to strengthen you). The cars will be retrofitted, rebuilt and “pimped out” into custom low riders, ‘donks’ and Euro-tuners and put on the lot for sale and website auction. The proceeds from each sale or client fix-up will be split equally among the youth (50% of the profit). 20% will go to expand the non-profit initiative. 20% will go to a college fund for them all and 10% will flow back into expanding their venture. We, in this manner, provide them with an economic incentive to be indoctrinated into scientific socialist practices and revolutionary progressive politics; bring the community closer to one another and the Party (mass line organization), and introduce a new source of revenue into the underclass community where that chapter of Y-CAP is based.
2) Closed-Circuit Economic Commune – The C. C. E. Commune focuses its efforts in a single designated underclass community, educating the people on the concept of collective ownership of business ventures and equalitarian distribution of wealth and employment – going to churches, mosques, community centers, street corners, and door to door with a simple informative / survey pamphlet. The concept is based on the design of a closed circuit capacitor which increases and amplifies electrical wattage by recycling a current on itself through a catalyst element like ionized zinc phosphorous or cadmium.
A dollar circulates in the average Jewish community for forty seven (47) days; in the “white” community for thirty eight (38) days; in the South Korean community for twenty eight (28) days; in the Mexican community for fifteen (15) days. But in the New Afrikan community a dollar circulates for … 17 seconds. Yes seconds. Comrades, we own so few of the economic institutions in our communities that seventeen (17) seconds after we spend one of our dollars it’s enriching some other community. I point this out not to stoke race -caste antagonisms, but to illustrate how little economic organization exists in the New Afrikan colony.
The closed circuit economic model is one that intentionally re-circulates and grows wealth within the community it was generated in initially. For example – in the south east San Diego community of Skyline reside some 10-15 thousand residents. We will request $1.00-$2.00 every two weeks from each able resident that will go to a central fund for a six (6) month period. Analyzing the purchasing habits and preferences of the residents who will use the majority of the balance of that fund (est. $100K in six months) to purchase a business which offers that most purchased good/service – say a bakery – which will be collectively owned by everyone in the community on the C.C.E. registry. we will hire only people from that community who are unemployed. All the profits (minus overhead) will go back to the central fund with 70% being paid out monthly to all registers in the form of a dividend check – the other 30% gaining interest in the central fund. We will keep collecting the $1.00-$2.00 every two weeks, depositing it in the central fund – in another six months we purchase a “sympathetic/support business” – which is a venture that depends on our contributes to the initial venture – say a grocery store. The grocery store will purchase its baked goods inventory exclusively from the commune bakery. Again, the grocery store will hire only people from that community that do not have a job. Again we repeat the process. In the next six months a cannery and packaging factory – on and on. In each successive expansion of the C.C.E commune, the unemployment rate drops until eventually we reach 100% employment. The dividend checks will grow as the number and prosperity of businesses grow, and; inevitably, we will reach complete, community economic interconnection (multiple enterprises that all do business with or support one another and the community). The central fund will continue to grow until it is sufficiently capitalized to establish our own credit commune – where people from the community can get guaranteed micro-loans, home and auto financing and standard banking services – and the community itself – own and operates it all – while being its own customer at the same time. In this way, the community becomes entirely independent of the standard competitive, capitalist economy through cooperative economics and collective work, distribution, and ownership. Once a full circuit is closed – we move to the next community, developing interrelated ventures that compliment one another and each community successfully. We only touch the capitalist economy where our own innovation and enterprises fail to meet the capacity, or is simply unable to. By means of the C.C.E commune we can clearly demonstrate that cooperation serves the interests of the underclass where competition cannot – and will not. It is a brief ‘walk’ through transfer culture from here to scientific, socialist economics.
Finally, the proletariat / lumpen-proletariat alliance initiative is a simple organizing effort between politically conscious prisoners, industrial and service labor organizations, immigrant labor organizations and unemployed or under-employed workers with class consciousness to commit to supporting one another in their mutual, class interests. This includes, but is not limited to developing strategies to organize and coordinate the various sectors of the labor force to increase employment opportunities, working condition and profit margins and benefits. Prisoners will / can strike in solidarity with organized labor, and organized labor can strike and support legislation for prisoner’s rights and community reentry initiatives such as community-based parole boards. Advanced prisoners, such as this body, can serve as strategic think tanks, research committees, policy statement authors, and immigrant workers rights drafters – churning out articles, essays and pamphlets articulating the issues and agitating in the communities. One of the primary problems facing the popularization of socialism in this nation is the disorganization of these most revolutionary segments of the population. The success of union busters and co- option of organized labor by corporate and state special interests, and the success of divisive polities which has driven wedges between prisoners, organized labor and immigrant workers dating back to Thomas Dorrs and the Hay Market massacre. We have it in our power with pen, paper and envelopes to start reforging those bonds.
Revolutionary, scientific socialism is more relevant, more necessary, more urgent now than ever. As the Vanguard Party of the most revolutionary segment of the New Afrikan colony, and the North Amerikan population – it is our duty to seek its popularization and establish its roots wherever we can. We have a world to win – let our contributions and sacrifices reflect this intent. Think on these things, they are cause for great meditation.
* “Social alienation” is a central component of market ‘sales theory’ and brand promotion in capitalist systems.
Heshima Jinsai has published multiple articles in progressive publications such as the S.F. Bay View, Prison Focus, and Turning The Tide. One of many dynamic activists in the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank (N.C.T.T.), he co-founded the State Raised Foundation, co-authored the 10 Core Objectives for Progress and Social Transformation, as well as the 3 Pilot Programs. Imprisoned since 1993, he has been a tireless advocate for scientific socialism, community development, abolition of indefinite solitary confinement, anti-imperialism, prisoners’ human rights, and social equality. For more information, please go to ncttcorshu.org.