Tag Archives: NCTT

On Self-Defense against Racist Murder

A discussion on the culture of hate and violence in US society and the rationality of securing New Afrikan communities

by the NCTT: Zaharibu Dorrough, Heshima Denham, Jabari Scott and Kambui Robinson

Published in: SF Bayview, April 26, 2016

Part 1

It is well known that the Black race is the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family. It is well known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries … a bitter disgrace on mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after … years of so called “emancipation,” American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material suffering, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching … Imagine a furious horde, fists clenched, eyes bloodshot, mouths foaming, yells, insults, curses … They are armed with sticks, torches, revolvers, ropes, knives, scissors, vitriol, daggers – in a word, with all that can be used to kill or wound … In a wave of hatred and bestiality, the lynchers drag the Black to … a public place … When everyone has had enough, the corpse is brought down … While on the ground stinking of fat and smoke, a black head, mutilated, roasted, deformed, grins horribly and seems to ask the setting sun, ‘Is this civilization?’” – Chairman Ho Chi Minh, 1924

Instead of trying to avoid conflict or whining about the injustice of it all, consider an option developed over the centuries by … strategists to deal with violent and acquisitive neighbors; reverse intimidation. The art of deterrence rests on three basic facts about war and human nature: First, people are more likely to attack you if they see you are weak and vulnerable; second, they depend on the signs you give out, through your behavior both past and present; third, they are after easy victories, quick and bloodless. That is why they prey on the vulnerable and weak.” – Robert Greene

The need to not mistake enemies for friends is especially great for us. Part of the reason for us being issue oriented is that we don’t yet see the need to assume responsibility in the development of the strategies affecting our lives. Those who are misgoverned and oppressed merely respond to the oppressive issues and conditions as they arise, and as the suffering triggers our awareness.” – Yaki Sayles

For two or more centuries, America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred – making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike – rather, a great religion, a world war-cry.” – W.E.B. DuBois

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Amerikkka is a sick state – its social ills the product of the malignant sickness of ruling class morality. For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.

There is a direct correlation between the origin of U.S. society, the relationship of New Afrikans in its development, the racist murder of nine women, men and youth in Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the ongoing wave of Euro-Amerikan police slaughtering New Afrikans in their communities, and our failure to develop a national policy of self-defense. To understand that correlation, we must trace its etiology.

The mode of production and appropriation is what determines the composition of a society and which class will rule it. When the Euro-Amerikan bourgeois settlers overthrew colonial British socio-economic organization in North Amerika, it retained for itself the same privileges of usurpation that the aristocracy had so long enjoyed; they simply replaced, through the restructuring of the modes of production and appropriation, the layers of illusion used by the nobility – mysticism of symbols, politico-religious illusions like the divine right of kings, etc. – with naked self-interest, direct exploitation, pseudo-scientific justifications for racialization and inhuman brutality and open, unashamed oppression. Human worth was reduced to mere exchange value, and all of the social life was commoditized for efficient valuation, barter and disposal.

These values made up the basis of “morality” for the U.S. ruling class, and they imposed their values on the whole of society through their enforcement apparatus, “the state.” The institutions of U.S. society were structured to orient the population in these notions of “morality” and “law” as well as their underlying basis: PROFIT AND VIOLENCE.

In doing so, the U.S. ruling class embedded the illusion into the whole of society that the ruling class’s interests and the people’s interests were one and the same, thus developing a slavery of the willing. Hierarchical and authoritarian in nature, the function of these institutions was to reproduce these warped values in society as a whole – based on one’s class, cultural group and resultant social function – as the supreme rules of social life.

This process of assimilation to the ruling class took its own unique form for each culture and class subject to its domination. For New Afrikans, it took the form of Jim Crow apartheid lynch law, COINTELPRO, the deliberate application of poverty, the intentional introduction of narcotics, criminalization, “legal” re-enslavement (in mass incarceration) and “civil death.”

Throughout each of these eras, we saw racist violence and murder being visited upon us at the hands of the state and aspects of its majority Euro-Amerikan population. Though New Afrikan resistance to the assimilation process has been consistent over the course of our 400-year domestic colonization – including organized self-defense at different periods throughout that history – we have yet to develop and implement a consistent and comprehensive secure communities strategy across the New Afrikan collective in Amerika. Our failure to do so has both maintained our vulnerability to racist violence in the U.S. and emboldened those who perpetuate such attacks upon us to continue to do so.

(W)hile the economic conditions of an ideology give us an insight into its material base, they offer us no immediate knowledge of its irrational core. Subject to the specific economic conditions of a society, man reproduces the historical economic process in his ideology. By forming ideologies, man re-shapes himself; man’s core is to be sought in the process by which he forms ideologies. Thus it is clear that the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s structure irrational.” – Wilhelm Reich

We watched along with the world the images of Dylann Storm Roof calmly walking into historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He sat in fellowship with nine of our sistas and brothas for an hour, then pulled out a gun and slaughtered them like sheep. Moments later he calmly exited the church, completely unmolested, got in his car, and drove away, leaving Rev. C. Pickney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. D. Simmons Sr., Uzia Jackson, Tywana Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Sharonda G. Singleton, Rev. Depayne M. Doctor and Ethel Lance dead.

This immediately conjured images of another New Arikan church in another time … of four little New Afrikan girls in an Alabama church murdered by a klansman’s bomb. Our minds moved to Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and so many more, stretching in an unbroken line of corpses all the way back to the Middle Passage. Actions and organization of the broad masses of New Afrikans seemed to reflect a collective irrationality, which could not analyze the core contradictions accurately, and as a result were incapable of developing viable solutions to these contradictions.

Before we can speak of a genuine anti-racist agenda in the U.S., it must be understood that racism and its underlying basis, reactionary racial violence, are ideologies, and these ideologies are structural components of U.S. society. They cannot be “reformed” away. They are woven into the superstructure and base of capitalist Amerikka and are foundational components of its culture.

Racism itself, an ideological component of the system of global white supremacy, owes its very existence to New World slavery and the genocide of Native Americans during the U.S. ruling class’s primitive accumulation of capital. Racism is a uniquely Amerikan creation, and it is wholly irrational for us to seek to “reform away” the cultural fiber and ideological foundations of society.

It is even more irrational to seek to affect such change through identifying with its state and looking to its institutions – judicial, legislative, academic, socio-economic etc. – for such reform, when it’s the function of the state and these institutions to preserve the Amerikan cultural fiber and defend its ideological foundation – which includes the race-caste system and its underlying basis: racist violence.

It’s as though a large swath of the New Afrikan population has been so thoroughly assimilated to the ruling class that they have lost their capacity for rational thought. It is as though they’re incapable of thinking outside the dominant power system.

Consider the response of a significant number of our people in the immediate aftermath of Dylan Roof’s attack: They clamored for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina State Capitol, instead of clamoring to secure our communities and their institutions from further attacks.

We watched the entire proceedings, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime and staunch defender of maintaining the Confederate flag “as a symbol of (their) heritage,” shook the hands of the families of those slain as the flag lowering ceremony commenced. We looked upon this sea of humanity outside the South Carolina Capitol begin to cheer as an “honor guard” marched out to respectfully remove this symbol of death, torture, exploitation and hatred of New Afrikans and were amazed at the depth of irrationality in the U.S. mass psychology.

The state’s obsession with pomp and pageantry was clearly designed to deepen the delusion that the removal of this flag had any significance whatsoever in the structural racial hatred and institutional white supremacy imbedded – consciously or unconsciously – in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of Euro-Amerikans.

We noted, as the flag was removed, New Afrikans were shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” and waving tiny U.S. flags, while only a few yards away, over half the crowd – all Euro-Amerikans, all clearly less than joyful – were hoisting Confederate battle flags in every size, while at the front of their crowd, one fellow was hoisting a large U.S. flag in one hand and the Confederate battle flag in the other. As if mirroring our thoughts, the camera panned back to the mixed half of the crowd still blithely shouting “USA! USA!” as if the contradiction only feet away wasn’t underscoring the irrationality of both their chant and their celebration.

Between 2005 and 2012, according to a study by USA Today, New Afrikans were murdered by Euro-Amerikan police officers at a rate of twice a week. Every one of those officers had a central commonality: Each of them had a U.S. flag sewn to their uniform. It was almost as though we were looking upon a physical manifestation of the U.S. fascist mass psychology.

We often view the ideology of racism as something separate from us, while failing to analyze how our core psychology has been affected by it. At the same time they were removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol, it was being erected in millions of homes across the U.S. Amazon.com reported a 3,260 percent increase in sales of “Old Dixie” the day it was removed.

It would have been more rational to leave that flag right where it was, as a constant reminder of just what type of sick society we live in and our need to organize ourselves for self-defense and social transformation. The Confederate battle flag is just that – a symbol of Amerikan’s willingness to fight to preserve institutional racism as a structural component of U.S. capitalist society … just like the U.S. flag.

Consider this: In response to the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E., “Black Lives Matter” was spraypainted on the statue of a Confederate general. The response of Klansmen to this was to burn down six New Afrikan churches in five states. U.S. mass media mentioned a NAIM formation was holding a rally in South Carolina; the Ku Klux Klan’s response was to hold a march and rally through downtown Charleston, complete with national media coverage and police escorts to ensure their security.

The same way the U.S. government views ISIS or Al Qaeda as terrorist groups bent on the destruction of their nation and interests, the New Afrikan people in Amerikka view the KKK. There is nothing ISIS has done that the KKK hasn’t done to New Afrikans in Amerika – only the Klan carried these atrocities out with much more frequency over a much longer period of time.

However, if ISIS were to march and rally in downtown Charleston, S.C., they would be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment under the U.S. Freedom Act, National Security Act and other “anti-terrorism” laws. But if the KKK does the same, they’re provided the full protection of the U.S. Constitution – armed police escorts and national media exposure.

Amazingly – or perhaps NOT so amazingly – the local NAACP president asserted, “They have a First Amendment right to do so,” and he supports their right to exercise it. What is the difference between ISIS and the KKK? One is all Euro-Amerikan, Christian, kills New Afrikans and is protected by the U.S. state; the other is primarily Arabic Muslim, targets Amerikans and Europeans, and is summarily killed by the U.S. state.

In the face of such gross contradictions, do you truly believe “Black Lives Matter” to the U.S. state? Racism and racist violence will continue to re-invent itself as long as the ruling class and state in power remain in power.

Part 2

Racism will continue to exist so long as the belief in the concept of ‘race’ and the material reality underlying it exists. It’s this belief which allows racism to appear as totally autonomous (independent) of the economic relations it serves: capitalism. Unless and until it is uprooted, its forms will change, and its practices will ebb and flow, following the needs of its base, the political requirements of the oppressive state, and the forms and levels of struggle engaged by the people.

Must racism be challenged? Yes. Does ‘race’ have a certain kind of ‘reality’? Yes, but, what we fail to focus on is that ‘race’ is only as ‘real’ as our consciousness and our practices will allow it to be.” – Atiba

Understanding the primary purpose of “racism” – to prevent broad class cooperation across cultural lines and to destroy unity amongst oppressed cultural groups with common interests – ensures that we develop strategies which protect our communities from the effects of this psychosis, without compromising our class unity or prospects of social cooperation. “Understanding that racism is a manufactured concept aids us in fighting it from the proper perspective – rationally and scientifically.”

“Combatting racism” is the conscious engagement of a fiction which has been granted material force in the world through its ideological structure. We are struggling against an illusion which only exists in the minds of man and woman. But much like superstition and the supernatural, it imposes itself on reality solely through our belief. Though irrational and unscientific, racism is nevertheless like the ghosts and ghouls that haunt our dreams, very lethal – and as such, it must be defended against … rationally.

Rationality is a hallmark of resistance to fascist assimilation. It is an indication of the peoples’ capacity to see its relationship to the productive system and social life as it actually is – and respond to it accordingly. It is not the existence of racist murder, violent atrocities, state sponsored terror and national indifference to the plight of New Afrikans in Amerika which should shock the conscience – that is all fairly standard in the U.S. It is the suicidal irrationality of our collective response to it which should concern us all.

A cursory analysis of the New Afrikan experience in Amerika from 1619 to the present clearly reveals Amerikans socially control, exploit, contain and kill New Afrikans as a matter of national policy. It is a policy that has evolved to maintain its function through every change in mode of production – from manual labor to industrialization, mechanization and computerization to financialization – pursued invariably through each, ever emerging, ever resilient.

Yet, in the face of tragedy after tragedy, be it racist police murdering us or psychopathic wannabe “Rhodesians” massacring us, we have yet to collectively commit to self-defense and securing our communities.

A primary question asked on tests measuring human intelligence is “If a faucet is running and a sink is overflowing, what do you do first?” (a) Get a mop and clean up the water, or (b) Turn off the faucet”? Of course you secure the faucet first. Otherwise you will be mopping indefinitely.

Similarly, what should we as a people do first? Organize ourselves so that our communities are no longer vulnerable to racist violence, or, continue to plead and organize within the same system that is responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of that racist violence?

The answer would seem obvious – yet it is not reflected in our social practice. Great effort has gone into organizing efforts like The Black Youth Project (BYP100), Dream Defenders, and reorganizing the NAACP, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of our people to hold elected officials accountable, organize rallies and direct action campaigns to raise the peoples’ consciousness, garner media attention, holding voter registration drives, organizing on social networks, and developing legislation in hopes of ending collective oppression. All very good and very important work … the same work that we have been doing since “Reconstruction” … mopping the floor.

It’s important that no one misunderstand our point here: The floor does need to be mopped … just not while the faucet’s still running. Yes, prayer and faith are vital aspects of our culture and solidarity in such times of tribulation – but they are a poor defense against bullets. And a reliance on the benevolence of those citizens who are either responsible for the national oppression or who benefit and have historically benefited from it is simply irrational.

New Afrikans, communities of color and poor people have always been willing to engage in dialogue with the state to create a just and humane society. Because it has always involved protest – the only time the state has ever been willing to engage in any kind of dialogue with us has been as a result of protest – the state’s response has always been exactly what it is now. The state really does hate us.

We overestimate the power of conversation and the benevolence of the state and those who benefit from our oppression, because, on this very basic level, we will not call this what it really is: hate!

We must defend ourselves against their hate. We must secure our communities – now! Any other course is irrational adventurism … just more floor mopping.

Even more irrational is the response of many of the warriors among us. As if to rub salt in the wounds of our own contradictions, the story the news ran immediately following that of the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. was of the epidemic of New Afrikan on New Afrikan gang violence plaguing Chicago.

As we watch these images of our brothas, sistas and children murdering one another across Chitown, we realized that it could have been Watts, Cleveland, Oakland, Baltimore or Southeast San Diego that they were talking about. In the face of unprecedented racist attacks on our communities from agents of the state, self-styled vigilantes or run of the mill racist psychopaths, our response is to help them out by murdering one other over hood, set, turf or (drug) sack.

We can’t be serious!? Actively participating in our own genocide, in the face of non-stop assault on our humanity, is a classic example of the hate that hate has produced. Our inability to be able to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves – the absence of a cultural kinship – is a consequence of our being under the influence of white supremacy.

It represents how much under the influence we are of – and how much we have been and continue to be damaged psychologically by – slavery. Indeed, the nation does still suffer from this pathology of hate.

There is nothing fly about wanting to be like forces who are committed to our destruction. The system of slavery is understandably viewed initially as a Black and White master-slave issue: racism. But slavery, the process by which one group or gender is made subordinate to a more powerful, stronger group, involves us all.

We are up against a united and powerful force and system. And the only chance that we have at defeating it is by coming together.

Division and disunity is weakness and vulnerability, but unlike a weak buffalo on a savannah that has become weak through illness, age or injury, ours is a willful weakness, a deliberate vulnerability and, as such, it is reversible.

The solution is to create a qualitative transformation in one social extreme – in this case, disunity-born weakness – by quantitatively increasing its opposite: UNITY.

It should never be easy to harm us – any of us. We must put our collective survival before our petty self-interests.

Part 3

When someone attacks you or threatens you, you make it clear that they will suffer in return. He may be able to win battles, but you will make him pay for each victory … You make him understand that every time he bothers you, he can expect damage, even if it is small. The only way to make you stop … is for him to stop attacking you. You are like a wasp on his skin: Most people leave wasps alone.” – Robert Greene

We must protect ourselves and our communities from these attacks by securing our communities. And that includes developing self-defense groups within our communities, safe zones that encompass public spaces for our children and grandchildren to play in, where our mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, wives and lovers, friends and neighbors can engage in other areas of social life without fear of violent death by the hands of those of whose responsibility it is to protect them and our communities. We must also work diligently to overcome the mentality that has us held captive.

It will only be as result of our changing the way that we think – being under the influence of the hate that hate produced – in order to be able to develop strategies and tactics that will make it possible for us to not simply be left alone, but to create and maintain a just and humane society. And we honestly do not have a lot of time left to do so.

Our communities, like much of the planet, have already become giant cemeteries and mental health facilities. Citizens here and abroad are being displaced by wars and deprived of the things that we need to live routinely: water, food, housing, decent wages, employment, education, life!

At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that we are in fact in a fight for our very survival and that we are really dealing with people, an ideology – fascism – and white supremacy that has no interest whatsoever in the creation and maintaining of a just and humane society. And when that happens, people are going to start fighting back. You just cannot expect people to continue to allow themselves to be massacred, stepped on and herded off into prisons. At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that this is happening because we are subordinating ourselves to tyranny.

And tyranny is not a greater good. Fighting against tyranny does, at some point, involve violence. Whether we want it or not, whether we consider it to be acceptable or not, it is a natural response to tyranny.

One of the chief psychological factors which have long undermined a collective policy of self-defense within the New Afrikan community, communities of color and poor communities is the state’s insistence that violence is their sole province. Non-violence and passive acceptance of brutality is popularized in the media, revered in discourse and monuments by the state.

This is not by happenstance.

It is the historic continuation of the deliberate imposition of psychological weakness and submission to white supremacy begun in the “man-breaking, slave-making” process centuries ago. To reverse this process requires struggle – constant, non-stop struggle.

Constant struggle and protest is the only rational response to the non-stop assault on our humanity and the planet that is occurring. We must love freedom, ourselves and the humanity of our fellow citizens.

And that love is what we must subordinate ourselves to. That must be the greater good.

The act of securing our communities and reclaiming our humanity has a dialectically progressive effect on our people and on us all as well.

We begin to shed the capitalist delusions and colonial psychosis which have been imposed on us through the assimilation process. We begin to see the true nature of hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty etc. We see past the shadow, which it is, on to the unequal social and economic relationships of the capitalist system which is actually casting it.

We begin to see our manufactured animosities and sub-culture divisions as aspects of our national oppression and, through this realization, glimpse the prospect of a new form of social life. This is what FUNCTIONAL UNITY looks like.

Functional unity is both a psychological state and social act; it is the conscious determination that one’s subjective animosities or active hostilities within our collective are subordinate to the survival of our people and humanity. It is consciously acting on a daily basis to ensure the welfare and survival of each other.

If our national oppression has taught us anything, it’s that the only “rights” we have are those that we can enforce. Our rights can only be enforced through self-defense.

Attacks upon poor communities, both physical and socio-political, are not abating but increasing. In the months of October, November and December 2015, just around the St. Louis area, seven New Afrikan churches were burned to the ground and, in the previous August, Yogi was assassinated. There is no area of social life in Amerika where New Afrikan mortality is not under threat, no place in this land where New Afrikan life is not undervalued, no other rational conclusion we can reach than we must educate, organize and mobilize our communities and ourselves for self-defense and our own security.

We think it appropriate to end this statement with “Freedom” by Frederick Douglass:

Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation,
Are men who want crops without
Plowing the ground;
They want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one,
And it may be a physical one,
Or it may be both moral and physical,
But it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.

Find out just what any people will submit to
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and
these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those whom they oppress.”
– Frederick Douglass, Aug. 4, 1857

Let’s come together! Love, and struggling with you,

NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank):

  • Zaharibu Dorrough (s/n Michael Dorrough), D-83611, CSP Solano B7-131L Level III, P.O. Box 4000, Vacaville CA 95696
  • Heshima Denham (s/n S. Denham #J38283), KVSP B2-117U, P.O. Box 5102, Delano CA 93216
  • Jabari Scott (Aaron Scott), H-30536, CSP Cor 3A-02-143, P.O. Box 3461, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson (Tyrone Robinson), C-82830, HDSP D8-113, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

Editor’s note: This was written when all of the NCTT brothers except Kambui were still in solitary confinement in the Corcoran SHU. Since then, as a result of the hunger strikes, which they all participated in, and the Ashker settlement, all of them have been transferred out of solitary to “general population” yards. Visit NCTT’s new website for more wisdom from the think tank: https://narncollectivethinktank.org/.

 

 

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Welcome to the new site!

Since the Settlement of Ashker v. Brown, the NCTT-Cor-SHU team is being spread around in different locations. That is why the webteam has decided to make the move to WordPress and to give this site a new name and home.

Our new URL: NARNCollectivethinktank.org

Our new Twitter address: @NARNCTT

Our new Email address: NCTT [@] riseup.net

Thank you for staying with us in making change happen for justice, equality and progress!

Power concedes nothing, Part 2: a discussion on retaliation, censorship and fascism in the modern US state

Sept 8th, 2014
By the NCTT-Cor-SHU
Published on: SF Bay View

“Free discussion of the problems of society is a cardinal principal of Americanism … Censorship is utterly foreign to our way of life; it smacks of dictatorship.” – U.S. Supreme Court in Fortune Society v. McGinnis, 319 F.Supp. 901 (1970)

“Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of its legitimacy? In the process of things, the prestige of power emerges roughly in the period when power does not have to exercise its underlying basis – violence. Having proved and established itself, it drifts, secure from any serious challenge. Its automatic defense-attack instincts remain alert; small threats are either ignored away, laughed away or, in the cases that may build into something dangerous, slapped away … Prestige wanes if the first attacks on its power base find it wanting. Prestige dies when it cannot prevent further attacks upon itself.” – a wise man

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Often when citizens of this nation think of “state repression,” images of Egypt, North Korea, Apartheid Palestine or Nazi Germany immediately spring to mind. U.S. state controlled media has become practiced at flooding our airwaves and attitudes with images of violent retali­ation and systematic repression of dissent in other nations as a means to obfuscate the U.S. state’s engagement in identical activity in its own society.

When individual instances of blatant usurpations by the U.S. state are reported on, they are characterized as “isolated incidents,” mere aberrations in the fabric of American social life, and not the structural mechanisms of reactio­nary U.S. fascism which they truly are. This manipulation of your perception of reality serves a functional purpose in the U.S. capitalist arrangement: It re-enforces the illusion that such things do not happen in America, and in comparison to other nations the U.S. must be a paragon of human rights and dignity – while in reality, quite the opposite is true.

Recently, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in condemning the revelations of Edward Snowden, accused him of “hiding in an authoritarian state” (Russia), while in the next breath seeking to justify the U.S. government spying on every man, woman and child in America – and the rest of the world. Though the shear hypocrisy of the state seems lost on most, it does not negate the reality of its authoritarian character.

Those whose actions or ideas are so resonant or potentially revolutionary that they disturb the current social order or oppose the advancement of fascism in a particular area of social life are ruthlessly assaulted, criminalized or vilified in retaliation for daring to expose the contradictions responsible for the social ills and rampant human misery which influences so many of our lives. State retaliation and repression manifest themselves, in one form or another, in every area of human activity in the U.S. – including prisons.

Because prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society itself, state repression need not mask its intent nor temper its irrationality behind the walls. In prison, the state can allow its deviant predilection to impose its will on a captive populace to run wild and bring its most extreme resources to bear on the subjects of its ire.

This truth was born out here at Corcoran SHU on May 12, 2014, when CDCr administrators canceled all programs in SHU and mobilized some 50-plus correctional officers, outside law enforcement from local sheriffs, police departments, and Departmental Gang Unit (DGU) agents, including five separate K-9 units, in a massive raid on the 4B-1L-C section short corridor – and eventually the entire yard.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the water was shut off in the section and scores of officers poured through the section door ordering us to strip out and exit the cell in only boxers, T-shirts and shower shoes. They placed us in plastic flexi-cuffs and marched us through a gauntlet of hand-held metal detector sergeants and other administrators. As we exited the section, an IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) officer, surreptitiously holding a digital camera by his side, tilted upward, was snapping photos of guys as they walked past, exiting the section. When we passed into the rotunda area, several ISU (Investigative Services Unit) officers were setting up a portable x-ray machine to run our mattresses through.

As we exited Block 5, separate K-9 units from local law enforcement, inter-departmental task force and DGU were arrayed in a neat row behind their police and sheriff’s cruisers. As we passed, the dogs barked at us and their handlers made a show of holding some of them back.

This theater was almost comical in nature, but its psychological intent was clear. We were marched in a line to the visiting room and walked through the full-body metal detectors, then placed in the yard cages on the far side of the green wall that separates 4B-1L from every other block on 4B facility. We were left out there until 4 p.m. that evening.

The next watch had long come on by this time, and as they began to strip search us yet again and escort us back to our cells we got our first glimpse at the full scope of the destruction: Four large laundry carts full of personal property items were pushed against the side of the building.

When we were placed back in our cells, they were unrecognizable. It was difficult for some of us to even enter our cells because our personal property, court documents, books, canteen items and clothing were strewn over every conceivable surface.

Dog hair and paw prints were evident all over the cell. Personal photos, canteen package items, TV cables, typewriter ribbons, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, magazines, books and documents were thrown away or destroyed with what appeared to be random indifference. Some radio antennas were snatched down, while others were left intact. It was destruction without rhyme or reason – or was it?

According to the same administrators who authorized the raid, Corcoran SHU is the only prison not participating in the step-down program. They have irrationally and incorrectly placed blame for this at the doors of prisoners in the short corridor here, as though the rest of the population is incapable of taking principled positions on their own – which they ARE.

On at least two separate occasions, administrators have expressed their desire to one NCTT coordinator that we stop writing statements critical of CDCr policies or “write something positive.” That the relentless pursuit of CDCr to maintain their torture program and the accompanying judicial collusion and all around corruption-based political apathy of the state is the catalyst for principled criticism underscores the irrationality of the authoritarian psychosis.

The standard the state courts employ to establish if retaliation has occurred dictates: A party must show that 1) His or her speech or conduct at issue was protected under the Constitution; 2) The state took an adverse action against the party; and 3) There was a causal link between the protected conduct and the adverse action.

As we have articulated ad nauseam, the CDCr validation-indeterminate-SHU-debriefing policy constitutes the single largest domestic torture program in the U.S.; and the U.S. is maintaining the single largest domestic torture program on planet Earth. The U.N. reiterated the U.S.’ failure to live up to its international obligations to abolish the practice only months ago in its “Concluding Observations on the Fourth Report of the United States of America,” dated March 28, 2014.

In point 12, the U.N. Human Rights Committee observed: “(T)he Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity.”

In point 20, the committee wrote: “The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty … in prolonged solitary confinement.” And in point 12, it concludes, “The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts.”

The California Legislature had an opportunity to adhere to its international obligations in AB 1652 and SB 892, but, bowing to the pressure from CCPOA and other industrial and corporate stakeholders, decided instead to kill AB 1652 on the Assembly floor and use SB 892 as a vehicle to codify the maintenance of torture units into state law. There is simply so much money involved in maintaining these supermax-style prisons, their tendrils have insinu­ated themselves into so many aspects of the state’s economy, there is simply no will to alter the dynamic, while there are thousands, sometimes millions, in it for politicians to keep the torture up.

The CDCr validation-indeterminate-SHU-debriefing policy constitutes the single largest domestic torture program in the U.S.; and the U.S. is maintaining the single largest domestic torture program on planet Earth.

The latest legislative gambit is at the national level with Congress’ HR 4618, a piece of legislation yet to undergo the scalpel of lobbying special interests; but it does reveal the range of concern for its social relevance in relation to the state’s prestige. The exposure of torture units in its domestic prison system is embarrassing to the state.

Though the form and scope of the anti-torture protests in California prisons – and elsewhere – is unprecedented, and thus outside the experience of current case law, the U.S. courts themselves have ruled that nothing in the First Amendment itself suggests that the right to petition the state for redress of grievances only attaches when “petitioning” takes a specific form.

There is simply so much money involved in maintaining these supermax-style prisons, their tendrils have insinu­ated themselves into so many aspects of the state’s economy, there is simply no will to alter the dynamic, while there are thousands, sometimes millions, in it for politicians to keep the torture up.

Federal courts have, on paper, long recognized a prisoner’s right to seek remedy to his conditions of confinement when those conditions assail his civil or human rights. Indefinite torture is a clear assault on one’s civil and human rights, and criticizing a law enforcement or corrections agency is also protected speech.

The First Amendment protects criticism and challenges directed at law enforcement officials unless the speech is “shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest” (Justice William O. Douglas in Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949)).

The U.S. Constitution does not allow speech challenging state actions, such as maintaining a torture unit, to be made a crime. The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge departmental action without thereby risking state sanction is one of the principle characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state (paraphrased from City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)).

The exposure of torture units in its domestic prison system is embarrassing to the state.

Organized political discourse critical of prison conditions in SHU torture units – conditions that affect all prisoners similarly situated – are matters of public concern and as such remain protected speech. However, the courts have stated, certain types of “petitioning” and speech would be inconsistent with imprisonment, and those are curtailed based only on “legitimate penological interests.” There exists no legitimate penological interest in torture, and thus it cannot be invoked as a basis upon which to suppress protected speech.

To be sure, prisoners find themselves, as a class, in a unique political, civil and historic position – though not an unprecedented one. Like SHU torture units today, those subject to chattel slavery as well as those in opposition to the practice often found that the law and the state supported the maintenance of the very inhumane conditions that they were struggling against and sought to crush such criticism through retaliatory sanctions.

The Department of Corrections continues to assert that SHU torture is not torture, the courts continue to support the maintenance of SHU torture units, and state legislatures continue to capitulate to pro-torture industrial and corporate interests much the same way these same institutions did in the chattel slave epoch prior to the conclusion of the Civil War.

The courts positions in Dorrough v. Ruff and In Re Griffin is no different – and no more correct – than its position in Dred Scott v. U.S., namely: Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect”; in this case their position is “an indeterminate SHU prisoner has no rights the state is bound to respect.”

There exists no legitimate penological interest in torture, and thus it cannot be invoked as a basis upon which to suppress protected speech.

Under such a socio-political circumstance, where the state itself is in violation of core constitutional values and human rights standards, the U.S. Constitution First Amendment remains informative: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.”

When all legal means of protest have been exhausted, the only recourse remaining to the people is protest, and in this instance, peaceful protest which took the form of three historic hunger strikes, mass social organization of activist citizens in society, and a con­certed effort by advanced elements to criticize these social ills in political discourse, while giving a new vision of social relationships based in shared interests, ideas and the prosperity of peace.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” It is this act of working for peace, for a society where the opportunity for freedom, justice, equality and human rights is available and actively pursued by all, which is the catalyst for this broad spectrum retaliation.

Yet revolutionary social science calls not simply for analysis but, even more vitally, it calls for making interconnections between disparate social phenomena in order for us to understand and transform them. Just as prison is an especially hostile microcosm of society, so too do the state’s retaliatory sanctions manifest themselves both microcosmically and macrocosmically.

The hammer of repression in this case has fallen on the free and bond alike. Here in Corcoran SHU, we are subjected not only to bogus rules violation reports, repeated destructive raids, loss of yard, cold and under-portioned food, arbit­rary and capricious regulations that criminalize matter and activity which is not criminal in retaliation for our petitioning the state and our principled political criticism.

But the state wishes to take this one step further and extend their persecution to citizens, activists and abolitionists in the macro­cosm of society via new punitive regulations erroneously attached to “obscenity” standards in CCR §3378 (c)(8)(C)-(D). [Laura Magnani of the American Friends Service Committee reported Aug. 28 that CDCr Director of Adult Institutions Michael Stainer told the Mediation Team that the censorship regulations are “on hold for now” due to the large outpouring of comments. But stay tuned and don’t let your guard down.]

They seek to criminalize the First Amendment itself. The regulation intends to disallow publications or written material “that indicate association with groups that are oppositional to authority and society.” They are actually stating in the regulation itself that it’s a retaliatory sanction to freeze protected speech for criticism of their domestic torture program in indeterminate SHU units. This is illegal.

Principled opposition to state authority and social criticism is central to the maintenance of a free and diverse society and was at the center of congressional intent when the First Amendment was framed. “It was the intent of Congress to encourage ‘free inquiry and expression’ and to insure that ‘conformity for its own sake is not to be encouraged’” (Finley v. NEA, 795 F. Supp. 1457 (1992)) when the very ideal of freedom of speech was codified.

A regulation that suppresses a substantial amount of constitutionally protected expression must be rejected as unlawful unless it is constructed so narrowly that it only targets unprote­cted speech. This regulation seeks to suppress any speech that is offensive to CDCr, the state and their right-wing authoritarian view of society.

They seek to criminalize the First Amendment itself.

It is well established law that certain speech which is thought by government to be highly offensive because it espouses political, religious, racial or socio­economic doctrines which are critical, even damning, of the state does not constitute a ground upon which our speech can be abridged.

To be sure, the very concept of speech which is “oppositional to authority and society” is contentless in the context of American society – even in prison – as seen through the prism of the U.S. Constitution: The very nature of a pluralistic society is that there is an infinite number of values and beliefs and, correlatively, there may be no blanket ban on publications which, in the state’s opinion, are “oppositional to authority and society.”

How is one to determine what is “oppositional” to an open, diverse and pluralistic society such as the U.S. has proclaimed itself to be? The Constitution is a document which is purported to be deeply committed to safeguarding freedom of speech, expression and association, which is of transcendent value to all who are governed by its dictates, not merely the authoritarian institutions of the state.

If this is true, and we concede these freedoms are a special concern of the First Amendment, then its dictates cannot tolerate regulations that cast a pall of orthodoxy over our political discourse. The future of this planet is dependent on people who are exposed to the robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth through a multitude of perspectives, rather than through any kind of authoritarian selection. This rules change is unconstitutional on its face as it must of necessity rely on subjective interpretations, value judgments, guesses at its meaning and variation in its application.

The Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause requires that “a statute be sufficiently clearly defined so as not to cause persons of common intelligence to guess at its meaning and to differ as to its application.” The Consti­tutional three-prong test for this standard was laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Grayned v. City of Rockford (408 U.S. 104, 108-09 (1972)).

This rules change gives rise to each of the three evils identified. In Grayned: 1) It creates a trap for unwary publishers or imprisoned authors who may engage in expression she or he believes comports with the standard, only to learn upon confiscation or denial of his/her work or publication that it is in violation of the regulation because it has offended some prison official’s subjective under­standing of the standard; 2) Prison officials are given no detailed guidance in administering the standard, each apparently expected to draw on her or his own personal views of what is “oppositional to authority and society”; 3) It necessarily causes the imposition of self-censorship wider than the scope of the regulation itself, because its “scope” is in effect imperceptible and subject to the whimsy of CDCr officials.

This rules change is unconstitutional on its face as it must of necessity rely on subjective interpretations, value judgments, guesses at its meaning and variation in its application.

None of these retaliatory sanctions – be it the deplorable conditions, wanton destruction of our property, criminalization of non-criminal matter in their STG disciplinary matrix, or the unconstitutional assault on the First Amendment itself inherent in their director’s rules change of CCR §3378(c)(8)(C)-(D) – existed prior to our seeking redress from the state for their domestic torture program or our criticism thereof, thus establishing an indisputable causal link between the protected conduct and these adverse retaliatory actions by the state.

In the face of all these contradictions and the reality of the state retaliating against segments of the population for exercising their rights on the one hand and suppressing those same rights on the other, we begin to understand what we mean by saying the U.S. Constitution is a meaningless document in the context of contemporary America. The question facing us in this society is, if you believe your Constitution should be upheld, how do we do so when it is “the law” itself who has it under attack?

The answer lies in understand­ing the reactionary view that “the state reigns supreme over society.” The very idea of “the state” leads in a straight line to fascism when it is embodied in an authoritarian form. In previous NCTT statements we have demonstrated how the U.S. is a patriarchal authoritarian state, and what this means is a state dominated by irrational socio-political reaction. With this understood, it is a voyage into futility to struggle against an irrational socio-political institution without first determining how, in spite of its irrationality, it is capable of perpetuating itself and even appearing to be necessary?

However, before we engage in that analysis, it is important to have a functional understanding of U.S. fascism. When the Comrade said that “fascism is already here” over 40 years ago, most didn’t understand what he was talking about, and that is still the case today. Because U.S. fascism looks different in form when compared to Spanish, Italian or German fascism in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, many progressives – even some claiming the mantle of “revolu­tionary” – have asserted fascism does not exist in America. THIS IS INCORRECT.

The first thing that must be understood is U.S. fascism is a mass psychology; it is not something that’s imposed on the people, but something reproduced in and supported by the people. U.S. fascism is a psychosis rooted in the character structure of the majority of the nation’s population and, though uniquely “American” in its manifestation (how it looks externally), it is structurally no different from fascism anywhere else in the world, and in fact the U.S. has been the chief exporter of fascism over the last 50 years – to Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran under the Shah etc., etc.

Fascism is the product of the warping of men’s and women’s character structure and core psychology over the course of millennia. Fascism is not unique to Chile (under Pinoche), Italy (under Mussolini), Spain (under Franco) or Germany (under Hitler).

As the matriarchal structuring of societies was replaced by the patriarchal structuring of societies, the repression of natural human biological drives and free social expression was a key tool employed to warp humanity’s character structure so we would adopt, and subordinate ourselves to, the authoritarian model of society itself. This process occurred over the course of thousands of years, embedding this irrational character structure deep within man’s core psychology, reproducing itself in generation after generation, re-enforced by every institution of the state and social life. The authoritarian psychosis is developed via socio-economic activities and this warped character structure anchors and perpetuates these activities.

Man’s character structure in contemporary America – and throughout most of the capitalist world – is the crystallization of thousands of years of the authoritarian process. The cleavage between natural biological and social drives and the artificial moralistic rigidity of authoritarian dictates manifests itself as a contradiction between an intense longing for freedom and a dreaded fear of freedom.

Political reaction exists and functions in the character structure, thinking and behavior of oppressed man in the form of irrational rigidity, fear of responsibility, subordination of natural biological drives to religious fundamentalism and artificial “moralism” and a lack of capacity to be free. It is implanted in the home of the authoritarian family, re-enforced in school, and nourished in the church, temple and mosque.

True freedom does not mean you are relieved of your social responsibility; it means you are burdened with it. The reactionary tendencies in large segments of the population reveal themselves as a fundamental fear of responsibility and freedom.

This process has gotten so advanced in fascist America, people in the U.S. can’t even assume responsibility for simple choices like drinking soda, TV programing or eating too much fast food. Instead they seek – no, demand – state intervention to “stop them from aggressively marketing these foods, drinks and provocative TV programs.”

These are not value judgments on restrictive “morality.” This fear is thoroughly ingrained in the psychological and physiological constitution of modern man and woman.

This Constitution is neither natural or rational, yet every social process is determined by this same artificially warped character structure in masses of people. To be sure, even now some of you reading these words find yourselves becoming uncomfortable at the prospect of long held beliefs and cherished ideals being exposed as the chains they truly are.

This, the mass psychology of fascism in America, is how authoritarian institutions in the U.S. can confidently assert they are the defenders of fundamental human freedoms and the preservation of pluralistic society, HAVE YOU BELIEVE THIS FICTION, while simultaneously retaliating against progressive political activism and criminalizing those freedoms which have served to both expose their contradictions and educate the people to the reality of their own oppression.

So to the question, how is it possible that despite its irrationality, these institutions are capable of surviving and appearing legitimate, the answer is clear: IT IS THE IRRATIONAL CHARACTER STRUCTURE OF MASSES OF PEOPLE THAT CREATES LEGITIMACY FOR THE AUTHORITARIAN STATE AND ENSURES ITS SURVIVAL.

Only through grasping these hard and dangerous truths can we understand political reaction, and this is the only way we can uproot it from our lives. Recognizing and accepting the existence of the irrationality hidden in the vast majority of our minds provides us with a social and political basis from which to conquer this psychosis objectively and scientifically – and eventually the authoritarian order itself.

This particular aspect of the struggle began with progressive forces struggling against the social evil of domestic torture: indefinite solitary confinement. The authoritarian state has responded to this by making cosmetic changes to this social evil while intensifying its intent to break men and women in keeping with the moralistic authoritarian procedure of dealing with adverse issues superficially.

It never seeks to eliminate the social evil, merely supp­ress its existence or obfuscate it from public discourse, only ensuring it will explode more intensely the next time consciousness breaks the bonds of the authoritarian psychosis. In the mind of the authoritarian official, the appropriate way to deal with the language of “torture” in its domestic prisons is to toy with semantics, rebrand indefinite SHU as “the step-down program,” introduce coercive psychological reconditioning components, and claim that torture no longer exists, when in truth it’s worse than ever.

Conversely, the revolutionary partisan’s mind (read “rationale mind”) strikes at the heart of the matter and not only asks, “How can we eliminate torture units altogether,” but provides viable alternatives based on humane principles of social life. Just as Morpheus from the film “The Matrix” weakened the Machine Order by awakening people from the Matrix, eliminating social evils is one of the primary means of causing the authoritarian state to wilt away.

Accomplishing this end requires us to awaken the people to the state’s contradictions. THIS is why they must retaliate; THIS is why they must seek to completely repress progressive political speech and crush social cooperation.

When social cooperation is destroyed, the state is always made more powerful. Such a view explains how the state’s Legislature went from swearing decisive action to end torture units amidst the largest hunger strike in U.S. history in September 2013 to killing AB 1562 on the Assembly floor in June 2014 follow­ing a racist and classist rant by Tea Party Republican Assemblypersons Brian Jones, R-Santee, and Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinor, vice chair of the Public Safety Committee.

In the mind of the authoritarian official, the appropriate way to deal with the language of “torture” in its domestic prisons is to toy with semantics, rebrand indefinite SHU as “the step-down program,” introduce coercive psychological reconditioning components, and claim that torture no longer exists, when in truth it’s worse than ever.

Not only did 13 “Democrats” join the Tea Party caucus in maintaining the status quo of California’s SHU torture units but, exhibiting all the political courage of frightened mice, 18 “Democrats” abstained from voting on the bill at all. Their 18 votes would have carried the bill to passage.

Were it not so characteristic of U.S. political institutions, it would be shameful. But even more shameful is we keep putting our trust in such institutions when their composition is so clearly reflective of the very authoritarian psychosis responsible for establishing these torture units in the first place. Is this not the height of irrationality?

The same warped character structure which calmly rationalizes the inhumanity of confining other humans to a concrete tomb forever, not for what they’ve done but for their ideas and associations, is the same warped character structure responsible for confining hundreds of Latino children in tiny immigration cells for months, even years on end, and claiming the only solution is to build more detention cells to hold them before shipping them back to the same dysfunctional and violence-ridden nations whose social conditions were created by U.S. imperialism in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The same misogynistic psychosis responsible for the gang rape and lynching of those young sisters in India is the same psychosis responsible for a white highway patrolmen beating down a New Afrikan woman in broad daylight in the median of a busy freeway here in the U.S.

The same twisted U.S. courts responsible for upholding gang injunctions against New Afrikan, Latino and Asian youth wearing certain colors or clothing and characterizing them as “domestic terrorists” are the same twisted U.S. courts responsible for upholding the rights of the Ku Klux Klan, a well documented domestic terrorist group, to drape themselves in white sheets, burn crosses and associate freely and publicly wherever they like.

There is no difference between Boka Haram kidna­pping hundreds of girls in Nigeria and CDCr sterilizing hundreds of women in CCWF. There is no difference in fascist Italy confiscating and burning thousands of books at Mussolini’s direction and CDCr’s new censorship gambit to ban any written material which in their view is “oppositional to authority and society” at the direction of Jeffery Beard.

The only difference between the Nazi German secret police spying on its own citizens in the 1940s and the NSA spying on ALL of your telephone and electronic communications right now is the Nazis came nowhere close to the scope of domestic surveillance you all live under each and every day. Fascism in America has expanded as far as it can go without evolving the contradiction of its existence into absolute despotism. Do you truly believe they will stop with us?

Revolution truly is a series of illuminations, a process of waking up from the fugue state of the authoritarian mass psychology. Unfortunately, as a society, most of the people have yet to develop to that point. Nevertheless, if all we are willing to do is participate in the bourgeois political process, to go to the poles, then at the minimum we must ensure those we put in politi­cal office, and the policies which govern our lives, actively serve to uproot these authoritarian dictates from our social and political institutions – and thus the minds of our children and future generations. This is within our power to do.

The very stratification of society into competing economic classes works against the advocates of an authoritarian America. The USA is a locked, anti-poor society that, in every area of human activity, favors affluent white males and the propertied class(es) – the capitalist ruling class, upper class, upper middle class – while penalizing the lower classes for the offense of being poor.

The upper classes maintain their social hegemony on the backs of oceans of the oppressed, most often by making significant segments of this ocean of people believe their interests and the interests of the ruling class are one and the same, when nothing could be further from the truth. This is one of the chief functions of the authoritarian mass psychology.

However, the simple truth is, numerically speaking, the “have nots” far outnumber the “haves and in a bourgeois democracy if the “have nots” were politically organized, if they put forward policy initiatives which served their true interests, if we all voted with one voice, we could restructure this society to more closely reflect the humane, rational and free society so many of us truly long for, though we’ve been conditioned to fear its coming into being.

The NCTT has put forward a platform for just this type of organized social cooperation: the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative. A copy is available to anyone online at NCTTCorSHU.org, but we’d like for a moment to address our Sisters and Brothers of all cultural groups in the hoods, barrios and behind these walls:

YOU, each and every one of you, have the potential to act in your own interests right now. The two primary reasons the state, federal and even local legislatures don’t consider us and our communities a constituency are 1) Many of us don’t vote. It’s understandable on the one hand, because even when we have in the past, nothing has changed in the material conditions of our lives. This is not to validate the bourgeois political process, but much of that can be attributed to the fact that we were not an organized electorate, just political pawns being manipulated by an industry of political advertisement and super-PACs. (You can thank the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United for the expansion of this manipulation.); and 2) Those authoritarian and corporate interests who are actually determining the “laws” which dictate how you live your daily lives are backed by powerful lobbies who are throwing millions of dollars at the politicians who are supposed to be acting in your interests.

The unfortunate truth is they’re working against your interests and, as long as there is no political counterpoint to hold them accountable when they place campaign finance and special interests before the interests of the people, they will continue to do so. Lobbying is nothing more than legal corruption, another manifestation of the capitalist arrangement in the political process.

Yet our political will and numerical superiority can overcome both these disparities if only we would commit to the course and resolve to carry the “Agreement to End Hostilities” to its logical conclusion: political empowerment of the underclass.

How many of you have homeboys and homegirls who aren’t on parole? How many of us or our loved ones who are on parole have sisters, brothers, cousins, moms, dads, uncles, aunties, spouses or significant others who are eligible to vote?

YOU, each and every one of you, have the potential to act in your own interests right now.

The first thing we should all commit to doing is this census in our hoods, barrios, communities, prison yards and cell blocks. The next step is to register EVERYONE who can vote, to vote. Those among that number who are skeptical about the political process or simply apolitical can rest comfortably in the knowledge that their vote and their voice will serve to aid their homies and loved ones, both free and bond, as well as their communities and themselves.

Next, human rights activists, the PHSS coal­ition, activist prisoners and our political action committees – when and if they’re developed – in concert with our communities can develop ballot initiatives which we can not only ensure get on the ballot with more than enough signatures, but by voting as a single block we can pass them outright. Instead of depending on the political courage and moral backbone of spineless politicians beholden to lobbyists, labor aristocracies and their own innate authoritarian psychosis, we can depend on our own political infrastructure – one truly of us, for us and by us.

Such a reality will be dependent on us all resolving to maintain and extend the “Agreement to End Hostilities” to our communities. This alone is a monumental undertaking requiring a degree of maturity and view toward our long-term mutual interests which the state believes we are simply incapable of. Recent events at Calipatria State Prison prove repressive state interests will take every opportunity to provoke antagonisms, foment discord and encourage conflict amongst the prisoner class – antagonisms that unfortunately all too often young Brothers and Sisters bring with them from the streets. This too is within our power; we need only exercise it.

In the final analysis, if we are to forge a world where this oppression of men and women by men and women is no longer an inevitable fact of life, where sexual violence, racism, religious intolerance, classism, structural inequality, xenophobia and the many varied forms of hate upon which capitalism and white male supremacy bases its global hegemony, we must begin to uproot its manifestations within ourselves and restructure our institutions to reflect this rational intent.

We rarely, if ever, recognize how these varied forms of hate have affected our own world view, influenced our own biases and reproduced this hate in our own thinking. To do so requires ruthless honesty and iron courage.

But if we are to be free, truly free, it must be done. It is within our power to do; we need only translate this rational intent into social practice. Social practice is the one criterion of truth, so to yourselves – and one another – be true.
Our love and solidarity are with you all. Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the NCTT-Cor-SHU or its work product, contact

Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU 4B lL-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU 4B lL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 4BlL-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-COR-SHU 4B 1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212Jabari was moved on Sept. 2nd 2014 in an “emergency special transfer” to CCI, Tehachapi.

Working the room: Inmates in solitary confinement tell their stories and move people to action against torture and systemic oppression

From: SF Bay View

January 30, 2013by Destiny N. Thomas

Inmates trapped in segregated housing within prisons across the state of California are banding together, setting aside their differences, to expose the human toll of torturous living conditions inside state prisons. While undergoing abusive treatment and sensory deprivation, these organizers have managed to ignite calls for prison reform and self-sufficient communities in a way that transcends the very walls that house them – bringing a voice to a population whose silence is mandated by codes of conduct.

J. Heshima Denham after hunger strike 0711, headshot, web

Heshima Denham

Heshima Denham provides a glimpse of what a day in the life of a prisoner housed in SHU torture units is like. He maintains a daily exercise regimen from within his cell, as he is hardly ever allowed to leave his cell. While the small television in his cell shows the daily news of global oppression, the sharp pain Denham has experienced in his side as a result of a previous hunger strike is his constant reminder of the importance of surviving and resisting while housed in the Corcoran SHU.

The food selection never alternates and is designated by day; it is served at below room temperature, in small portions. In an attempt to maintain some degree of humanness, Denham greets guards with a “thank you” only to be met by laughter. Because bathing is not permitted on a daily basis, Denham takes a birdbath in his cell’s sink.

His day is filled with self-assigned research, caseloads, activism and journalism. The law library at Corcoran is indefinitely off limits. This adds to Denham’s frustrations. Where a person outside of a SHU torture unit would seek other inmates for education on legal and political matters, SHU confines enforce sensory deprivation, so communication is prohibited altogether. The only form of permitted communication, mail, often arrives an entire month after its postmark. To top it all off, Denham has grown accustomed to waking up with migraines, as he has been exposed to constant illumination for 12 years.

The effects of constant illumination

Constant illumination, an unvarying exposure to light around the clock, is a customary practice in prisons nationwide. The effects of continuous exposure to light are vast. Courts have yet to officially recognize this as cruel and unusual punishment as put forth by the Eighth Amendment. One court has cited the benefit to the safety of guards as outweighing the damaging effects of the conditions, although the brightness of the light could possibly be evidence of torture. It was found, constant illumination could only be deemed a violation of human rights if it “causes sleep deprivation or leads to other serious physical or mental health problems.”
However, studies show, constant illumination leads to dramatic decreases in dopamine levels, a biological chemical that affects a person’s ability to control body movement and other sensory-related bodily functions. This leaves people vulnerable to extreme anxiety, hallucinations, decreased motor skills, and likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease.

In 2008, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) launched a documentary titled “Total Isolation.” Six volunteers agreed to be confined to a cell, much like those of solitary confinement in prisons, and live alone in complete darkness for a total of 48 hours. Before being locked away, volunteers were tested for “visual memory, information processing, verbal fluency and suggestibility.”

By the end of the two-day study, volunteers were unable to maintain any meaningful sense of time, they experienced hallucinations, both visual and physiological, and one volunteer was certain his sheets had been soaked. In the two-day time period, volunteers lost the ability to perform basic tasks like thinking of words beginning with the letter “f.”

The participants in “Total Isolation” understood they would be released soon and they entered into the cells without the fear of being abused by staff or retaliated against for expressing discomfort. Prisoners trapped in solitary confinement in the United States have none of these assurances. One could only imagine the ways this would amplify the effects of sensory deprivation.

Solitary confinement a violation of human rights globally

Many have asked the question: Is solitary confinement torture? It is. The United States goes on record as being against inhumane treatment of international prisoners while contradicting itself right here in the United States. The United States – reluctantly – signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988, three years after Afghanistan, a nation the United States has accused of inhumane practices. One of the main themes in this document is the emphasis on the definition of torture: “any state-sanctioned action by which severe pain or suffering, mental or physical, is intentionally inflicted for obtaining information, punishment, intimidation or discrimination.”

Yes, solitary confinement is torture; it is a violation of some of the most basic of human rights; and the agents of the state responsible for carrying out this abuse need to be exposed.


California’s Pelican Bay State Prison has 1,000 cells delegated to segregation and torture and many prisons nationally assign segregated housing for indeterminate periods of time. Heshima Denham, a prisoner in the torturous SHU at Corcoran State Prison, explains the conditions barred by the United Nations Convention Against Torture virtually “define the validation, indeterminate-SHU and debriefing processes” of state prisons.

Denham goes on to explain, “You’ll only get out of SHU if you parole, debrief or die.” Debriefing, here, is the state’s term for coercing a prisoner to give up information about another prisoner in exchange for being released from the SHU. Often times, the information an inmate is forced to confirm is imposed by prison officials. Whether the information gathered is true or not – this type of coercion leads to murder at the hands of general population inmates and is torture, as defined by the United Nations.

In 1890, the Supreme Court in James J. Medley’s request to be released from solitary confinement found it to be unconstitutional for a prisoner to be held to a sentence handed down by the courts only to then be subjected to more sentencing, in the form of indeterminate segregation, at the will of prison officials. While this same case did not result in a finding that solitary confinement is entirely unconstitutional, justices went on record noting the devastating blow to mental and physical health that these conditions cause.

A common challenge to solitary confinement is the Eighth Amendment – a claim of cruel and unusual punishment. No cases have successfully proven the conditions in solitary confinement are, in fact, cruel and unusual at the United States Supreme Court level.

Where courts have agreed constant darkness poses a hardship on physical and mental health, prisons now enact constant illumination. Where a prison administration finds segregated prisoners’ complaints may be valid, parallel conditions to those of solitary confinement are then imposed on those in general population, making it difficult for prisoners to prove their hardships are due to conditions unique to solitary confinement.


The Supreme Court requires, to prove an Eighth Amendment violation, prison officials must be shown as having been purposefully unresponsive to the harshness of conditions. In Sandin v. Conner (1995), the Supreme Court noted, if a move to segregated population led to an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life,” a prisoner would have a cause of action.

The vagueness of the Sandin v. Conner requirements for proving Eighth Amendment violations – the precondition of proving something is in fact harsh and then showing prison officials were aware of the harshness and took no action of improvement – has led to prison officials imposing policies and conditions that conceal the true harshness of conditions.

The courts do not require a significant improvement in conditions when harshness is demonstrated. So prisons make minor changes that satisfy the need for action but don’t necessarily improve conditions – barring inmates from claiming intentional harm was inflicted on them.

For example, where courts have agreed constant darkness poses a hardship on physical and mental health, prisons now enact constant illumination. Where a prison administration finds segregated prisoners’ complaints may be valid, parallel conditions to those of solitary confinement are then imposed on those in general population, making it difficult for prisoners to prove their hardships are due to conditions unique to solitary confinement.

The state’s evasive tactics for avoiding bad publicity

Several inmate organized hunger strikes have brought attention to the harsh conditions of solitary confinement. Prisons now face pressure from the media and public who demand immediate changes to prison policies. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) claims to be in the midst of making changes to the SHU assignment and release procedures. However, there is no mention of changes being made to actual conditions within SHU, where significant degradation of health begins to set in within the first several hours of isolation and sensory deprivation.

Specifically, the CDCR claims to be making temporary changes to the “way [they] manage gangs.” Institutional Gang Investigators are establishing new gang profiling tactics, no longer singling people out as gang members by association or symbols. This policy change does not equate to the immediate release of inmates already confined to SHU for tattoos, artwork and writings as a result of the previous policy. In fact, a new “step-down” program has the potential to increase time spent in the SHU.

What the CDCR says will not change is the “option” to debrief – now formally called “cooperation.” The new policy grants more arbitrary power to prison officials when deciding to lock someone up in the SHU.

Self-sacrifice and the toll of resisting behind bars

Organizing against capitalism while behind bars poses a significant risk to the physical and mental health of politically organized prisoners. While participating in nation-wide hunger strikes in 2011, Heshima Denham lost approximately 45 pounds. Denham’s story is not unique. Many prisoners succumb to the stress on their bodies entirely.

Knowing inmates were experiencing health complications as a result of the hunger strikes, in addition to outright denying strike participants food, the CDCR “revised its medical evaluation policy for hunger strikers to minimize the amount of medical evaluation and data … They have ceased taking vital signs – blood pressure, heart rate, temperature – altogether and are weighing [inmates] only twice a week unless “it appears [they] need it.”

One wonders to what extent retaliatory SHU housing impacts a prisoner’s quality of life and will for freedom. Solitary Watch, a web-based collective with the aim of exposing the realities of solitary confinement, tells the story of Armando Morales (CDCR No. P-80673) who hanged himself to death in his solitary confinement cell at the California State Prison in Corcoran on Aug. 28, 2012. “He was found on his cell floor with a shoelace and a blue blanket wrapped around his neck.” Another inmate housed in Morales’ unit reported Morales was intimidated and threatened by IGI efforts to force him to debrief.

Inmate calls to action

The New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation (NARN) is a community of Black people who seek transformative discourse, nationwide networking and an end to systemic oppression. Their common interest in anti-oppression work unites them, even while behind bars. The NARN Collective Think Tank (NCTT) is active in the torturous SHUs of California’s prison system.

'NARN Collective Think Tank NCTT' logoInspired by the Occupy Wall Street movements across the country, Occupy NCTT works to develop and implement programs, policies and initiatives that align themselves with “Occupy” objectives and community activists globally. The NCTT is a collective that ultimately works toward the day when “freedom, justice, equality and human rights are extended to all mankind,” heavily aligning with the 10 Core Objectives of the global Occupy movement.

Heshima Denham, a very active coordinator of the NCTT, works daily with fellow members to develop “programs that improve the daily lives and material living conditions of the people and contribute to the end of oppression of man/woman by man/woman.” Denham likens systemic oppression to a wooden board, saying the likelihood of shattering that board is far greater when the hand – the fingers representing individual groups resisting oppression – is a clinched fist, as opposed to an open hand of stiff fingers.

Following this rationale, according to Denham, solidarity does not require a monolithic stance. With that, the NCTT seeks to rally solidarity through a central blog for the purposes of networking amongst interest groups, activists and those with the common goal of ending oppression – fortifying the proverbial fist.

NCTT Closed Circuit Economic Initiative

The NCTT Closed Circuit Economic Initiative was born out of the realization that lower income communities – not just Black ones – do not spend money in ways that enrich their own communities. The idea is that a neighborhood is more likely to thrive when that community is self-sufficient and invests close to home. The Closed Circuit Economic Initiative solicits the help of the broader Occupy movement in educating communities about the benefits of investing in one’s own neighborhood and about the program itself.

By surveying the community, organizers will be able to identify which goods and services are of greatest importance to that particular community. Once those goods and services have been identified, the most common good or service will become the basis for a cooperative economic venture in that community, thereby keeping funds circulating within the community for that particular commodity.

Essentially, with each member of the community committing to a minimal monthly financial contribution of even $1, a grocery store would be kept running on a monthly basis until it could sustain itself. The business would be jointly owned by all who contributed, with those who have technical expertise also owning a share and contributing their know-how to the maintenance of the business.

Sixty percent of profits would be paid to members of the community who contributed and 40 percent would be kept in an interest-bearing account. The money from this savings account would then be used to purchase and support additional businesses that support the initial venture.

NCTT Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune

The NCTT is very vocal about the need for accessible, quality food and resources in lower income communities. The Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune relies on alliances with Occupy the Hood and Occupy Wall Street. It calls for a joint effort in taking inventory of all land on a per-community basis – making note of who owns what – for the purpose of converting unused land into community-owned agricultural land. With the incorporation of innovative farming techniques and minimal contributions of community members in the form of labor and/or $1 per month, per resident, the commune would be able to distribute 60 percent of the revenue brought in by the agricultural space and farmers’ markets to community members and utilize the rest of the profits for expansion.

The belief here is that the availability of healthy, affordable food promotes healthy living, creates community-based jobs and lessens the likelihood of incriminating activities associated with the present lack of resources and income in underserved communities.

NCTT Block Vote Initiative

In response to tainted political representation and political corruption, the NCTT proposes a uniform platform centered on interests that generally improve the quality of life for those who seek to dismantle systemic oppression. The idea is that through surveys, public forums, community education and dialogue, the agreed upon will of the people participating in the initiative becomes the national platform for their public political voice.

A Voter Access Fund would work to ensure people are properly registered and prepared to vote. Where a policy or political action is either supported or challenged by the Block Vote Initiative collectively, related public actions would take place to insure sufficient public awareness. The pre-established initiatives would then become a national push for legislation. The proposed initial actions include:

  • A total ban on corporate lobbying and “strategic analysts” during elections;
  • An establishment of community-based parole boards so that the actual community the incarcerated person is returning to is able to make their own decisions about whether or not a prisoner is ready to return home, as opposed to probation decisions being left in the hands of law enforcement, the DA and members of traditional parole boards typically not as interested in community well-being and sustainability;
  • Comprehensive, universal healthcare for those earning under $25,000 and families earning under $50,000.

'Occupy the Beat' graphic by Heshima Denham

Occupy the Beat

The three proposed NCTT initiatives are in need of publicity, funding and organizers. One mode for raising the necessary startup resources is Occupy the Beat, a benefit concert series designed to create awareness about oppression and raise funds for the development of these and future initiatives.

A Nationwide Call to Unity

Heshima Denham explains a ban against media interviewing prisoners has meant endless retaliation by prison authorities and a lack of transparency that leads to increased prisoner vulnerability, especially following the last two hunger strikes. This leaves mainstream media in a position to misrepresent and further “dehumanize” the prison population. Without the protection of direct media attention – and with newly incorporated prison medical procedures for those participating in hunger strikes – prisoners need to mobilize to protect one another from within.

With that, an “Agreement to End Hostilities” was issued to take effect on Oct. 10, 2012, by a group of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison. The significance of this document is in its call to end racial tensions within prisons for the sake of banding together to demand prison reforms and improved housing conditions. Specifically,

“beginning on Oct. 10, 2012, all hostilities between our racial groups in SHU, ad-seg, general population and county jails will officially cease. This means that from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end. And if personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues!”
The agreement, signed by members of each racial group represented in the prison system, warns inmates of possible administrative retaliation and divisive tactics, but encourages inmates to remain vigilant and move in solidarity.

By taking to heart the experiences shared by Heshima Denham, housed in the Corcoran State Prison’s Secure Housing Unit (SHU), we learn that one of the greatest gestures of support and reassurance of the safety of prisoners who are vocal about their circumstances is constant visibility. The danger and risk associated with being in prison is magnified if at any point a prisoner becomes just another voiceless number.

This notion is not far from the realities underserved communities face daily. The reality is that all evidence points to capitalism. To put it succinctly, yes, solitary confinement is torture; it is a violation of some of the most basic of human rights; and the agents of the state responsible for carrying out this abuse need to be exposed.

Destiny Thomas, a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies studying prison activism with Anthropology Department Chair Andrej Grubacic, can be reached at destinynthomas@gmail.com. Readers are encouraged to write to Heshima Denham, J-38283, Cor SHU 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212.

Update on our Pilot Program Block-Vote Democratic Initiative

With less than 30 days left to the presidential election, and our major fundraising event to benefit the 3 Pilot Programs (“Occupy The Beat”) still being organized, the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative will not be funded and fielded in time to impact this election cycle.

This, however, does not mean aspects of the B.V.D.I. cannot be adopted and implemented by you. There are 34 states that have recently passed these racist, anti-poor, disenfranchisement statutes requiring voters to purchase special ID’s to vote.

It is a blatant gambit by the Republican party to neutralize entire segments of the electorate opposed to their ultra-rightwing authoritarian agenda. We can not allow it. Democracy can not allow it. We urge you to adopt and employ those segments of the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative that you can, where you can.

It is our assessment that churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, college campuses and community centers are all ideal, self-contained institutions where this type of organizing can be carried out. We urge you all to act.

If you simply cannot do the work required to carry forward such an effort but want to support the B.V.D.I. or one of the other Pilot Programs, please go here to our fundraiser site and donate whatever you can to see these vital initiatives are implemented as fast as possible. All that is necessary for evil people to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Please join us in this vital work. 

N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU / Occupy N.C.T.T.

A day in the life of an imprisoned revolutionary

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


Heshima wrote on the back of this photo – a rarity, as prisoners in isolation often go decades without being photographed: “This photo was taken a few days after the first hunger strike ended (last July). I was only 178 pounds; I’d lost 42 pounds.”

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.

Re-asserting the cultural revolution in the National Occupy Movement

From: SF Bay View: http://sfbayview.com/2012/re-asserting-the-cultural-revolution-in-the-national-occupy-movement/
April 26, 2012

Waging and winning the cultural revolution means throwing off oppression by convincing the people that the interests of the ruling 1% are opposite, not identical to those of the 99%

by Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott of the NCTT Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU)


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Michael Zaharibu Dorrough and his family are not the sort of patriarchal, authoritarian family that prepares children to confuse the interests of the ruling 1 percent with their own interests and to submit to oppression without protest.

Steadfast greetings, brothers and sisters. Our love and solidarity to you all. We felt it appropriate to open this statement with Dr. King’s call, which has been applicable to any given period where injustice is rife. We felt compelled to provide some necessary clarity and context to the struggle taking place.

The National Occupy Movement has been magnificent in how it has changed the framework in which the discourse on unequal distribution of wealth must be made. But in order for the movement to develop into the popular movement that it must become to effect permanent and meaningful change, the slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” must become a reality. It is imperative that both Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and Occupy the Hood (OTH) struggle together to form a popular movement.

It is crucial to any lasting progress that we reignite the cultural revolution that was started early in this nation’s history but never fulfilled: John Brown’s revolt, Thomas Dorr’s rebellion, the civil and human rights struggles of the 1950s-‘60s, the armed revolts throughout this nation’s history, including the rebellions in Watts, Oakland (Kambui and Jabari’s hometown), Harlem, Detroit, Cleveland (Zaharibu’s hometown), Chicago (Heshima’s hometown), and Kent State, to name a few.

These struggles laid the foundation for the cultural revolution that the U.S. was in the process of undergoing up until the later 1970s. No society can make the necessary transformation from a capitalist, patriarchal, authoritarian, racist, sexist, homophobic, unjust one to one in which democratic ideals can prevail and fulfilling one’s potential is actually possible and encouraged without undergoing a cultural revolutionary transformation.

We are not talking about what kind of government we want; that can and will occur in time, and you will know when that time comes just as you knew that the time had come to fight this battle. A cultural revolution occurs during the transitional stage in the struggle and consists of people from different cultural – i.e., racial, ethnic, religious – backgrounds and schools of thought varying politically, economically, socially, spiritually, intellectually, educationally and sexually all coming together to realize a vision for the kind of society they want to share and live in. It is quite possibly the crucial step in a society transforming itself. That’s exactly what was underway toward the mid- to late 1970s.

We believe that because of the overall political immaturity of all but a few of the liberation groups at that time, the movement was not able to develop into a cohesive popular movement. As a result, groups were crushed, individuals either went into exile, were assassinated or imprisoned, while a lot of others in the movement were co-opted by the system.

Billions of dollars were spent on social programs during the Johnson administration. Yet most, perhaps all, of these programs no longer exist. The cultural revolution of that time – traditionally called the “social revolution” – was re-characterized as the “sexual revolution” by the ruling class, reduced to a period of time in which citizens engaged in promiscuous sex – nothing more.

It was part of the ruling class’s effort to de-legitimize the efforts made by those brave citizens who dared to struggle! Simultaneously, they were re-enforcing the puritanical component of the authoritarian mass psychology. It was also the intention of the ruling class to re-write the historical record of the period, thus depriving future generations of a historical record to build on.

There is already an understanding of the underlying conditions that are responsible for so much misery, and those conditions have always existed, but what is not as clear is why have so many accepted these conditions for so long? We will try to address that here.

But what must be clear at the outset is change, developing a popular movement, must consist of OWS and OTH forging meaningful coalitions with one another. Coalitions that recognize that this struggle is not a “white” struggle; it is a people’s struggle.

The Occupy Movement is not a “white” struggle; it is a people’s struggle. The middle class must be prepared to take the necessary steps to reach these goals and that includes reaching out to the underclass.


It must be recognized that in order for OWS to mature into a popular movement, the participation of OTH is required. Those citizens within OTH, the leadership, must mobilize with OWS. This is a protracted struggle. The middle class must be prepared to take the necessary steps to reach these goals and that includes reaching out to the underclass and OTH. OTH must see that it is in their interests to reach back and unite in this struggle.

What is a cultural revolution?

But what is it that we are struggling against? Exactly what is a cultural revolution? Why is it necessary, and what does it entail? How can it be waged successfully?

The answer lies in the nature of the struggle of the National Occupy Movement itself, the struggle between the interests of the ruling 1 percent and those of the 99 percent. It is a struggle between ideas that have been imposed on the people as a direct result of the changes in economic modes of production and the people’s unconscious acceptance, support and identification with those ideas and new ideas that reflect these warped artificial psychological structures in favor of those that free them from an exploitive political and economic relationship that serves a wealth elite.

It must be understood that our movement will NOT succeed in effecting a fundamental change in the mass psychological structure which supports this exploitive relationship. This is the core purpose of a cultural revolution, to eradicate unprogressive values, tendencies, sentiments and modes of thought. But before we can expound upon the characteristics of the cultural revolution, we first need to clearly analyze the core impediment to the successful conclusion of attempted cultural revolutions in the past.

The chief obstacle to the realization of progressive social change here has always been the patriarchal authoritarian psychological structure of reactionary men and women in the U.S. These concepts may be complex for those new to them, so we’ll attempt to be as clear and brief as possible.

For most of U.S. capitalist society’s existence, it has brutally exploited the labor, ideas and political will of the vast majority of its population to maintain and expand the wealth, power and privilege of a greedy elite ruling class the movement has identified as the 1 percent. It has been this way for hundreds of years and each time progressive social forces have attempted to cast off this yoke of oppression or move the nation closer to the idealistic sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence, those forces have been repressed, not simply by the ruling 1 percent and its tools, but by vast segments of the oppressed masses themselves.

What causes this illogical contradiction? What prevents the socio-economic situation they’re suffering through from reflecting the psychic structure of the masses? Again and again, throughout the history of progressive social movements, we see the economic and ideological situations of the masses in the U.S. not coinciding and in fact being at considerable variance. The socio-economic reality of the people is not directly and immediately translated into political consciousness; if it were, the social revolution would have been realized years ago. The answer lies in the unique historical processes that forged the character structure of the average Amerikan worker.

That process began with the introduction of patriarchy as the dominant force in social ideology in Europe and its impetus toward authoritarian control of every aspect of social life of the remaining members of the family unit, especially as it relates to the negation of natural social and biological processes. In the figure of the “father” the authoritarian ruling class has its representative in every family, so the family unit becomes its most vital instruments of power.

This patriarchal authoritarian process’ chief component is puritanical repression, and this is also the manner in which the ruling 1 percent chains the ideological structure of the lower middle and middle classes to its own interests. Unlike patriarchal authoritarianism, puritanical repression as a tool of mass social control is fairly recent – in the last 300 years.

If we analyze the history of puritanicalism and the etiology of the repression of natural human biological expression, you’ll find its origins aren’t at the beginning of cultural development. No, it was not until the organized establishment of patriarchal authoritarianism and the class system that puritanicalism starts to assert itself and begin to serve the interests of the ruling 1 percent in amassing material profit.

There is a logical reason for all of this when seen from the perspective of the thriving exploitation of human labor and the apparent enthusiasm of the people to accept that exploitation. You see, the ruling 1 percent very rarely need to resort to brute force to maintain control of society, as the owners of the means of production prefer to employ their ideological power over the oppressed as their primary weapon, for it is the ideology of puritanical patriarchal authoritarianism that is the mainstay of the ruling elite.

The ruling 1 percent very rarely need to resort to brute force to maintain control of society, as the owners of the means of production prefer to employ their ideological power over the oppressed as their primary weapon.


It is within the authoritarian family that the merging of the economic arrangement and the puritanical structure of society takes place; religious and other puritanical interests continue this function later. Thus, the authoritarian state has an enormous stake in the authoritarian family; it becomes the factory in which the state’s structure and ideology is molded.

Man’s authoritarian psychology is thus produced by embedding these puritanical inhibitions, guilt feelings and fear of freedom to experience natural forms of human expression. The suppression of one’s economic needs compasses a different psychological reaction than one’s natural human drives.

The suppression of one’s economic needs usually incites resistance, while the repression of natural biological needs removes those desires from the consciousness, embeds them in the subconscious and erects a “moral defense” against them, and in so doing prevents rebellion against both forms of suppression. The result is the inhibition of rebellion itself.

How the 1 percent suppresses the cultural revolution

In the average Amerikan, there is no trace of revolutionary thinking. It is this process that has strengthened political reaction in the U.S. and made far too many victims of economic inequality here passive, indifferent and apolitical. It has succeeded in creating a secondary force in man’s mind, an artificial interest that supports the authoritarian order of the ruling 1 percent.

In the average Amerikan, there is no trace of revolutionary thinking.


Yes, most are truly “trapped in the matrix.” This is observable at every level of this capitalist society. It is the conservative who first suggests reactionary repressive measures or curtailing civil liberties in the face of civil disobedience or broad political dissent. The Occupy Movement continues to experience this firsthand at the hands of national police forces.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition here in the Corcoran State Prison SHU and in Pelican Bay continues to experience waves of retaliation from state prison industrialists. This “fear of freedom” is inherent to the authoritarian character structure of conservative man.

The conflict that originally takes place between natural desires and authoritarian suppression of these desires later becomes the conflict between instinct and morality within the person. This, of course, produces a contradiction within the person. Since man is not only the object of the historical processes that created the economic and ideological influences of his social life, but also reproduces them in his activities, his thinking and acting must be just as contradictory as the society from which they arose.

The U.S., for instance, is a society founded on the premises of “equality, freedom and the unalienable rights of man,” yet its formation, history and modern structure contradict this. When we speak of the realization of U.S. “manifest destiny” or the development and maintenance of its global hegemony, we are speaking of the systematic genocide of Native Americans, the organized theft of Native land, the slavery and brutalization of Africans and New Afrikans, the maintenance of institutional racism and sexism, imperialist war mongering, state-sponsored kidnapping, torture and targeted assassinations, suppression of sexual democracy, state imposition of religious moral imperatives that deprive others of their equal rights, the naked exploitation of human labor and suppression of organized labor, and the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color – all while espousing the ideas of “opportunity, fairness and equal protection under the law.”

This is the historical legacy of contradiction in the development and maintenance of U.S. society. These same contradictions are reproduced in the psychic-structures of its people.

Should the middle strata of White Amerika lose these warped concepts of “morality” to the same degree it continues to lose its intermediate position between the average worker and the upper class, this would seriously threaten the interests of the ruling 1 percent. You see, lurking also among this strata of the people, ever ready to break free of its reactionary tendencies, is the inherent revolutionary imperative of their socio-economic situation.

This is why since the start of the 2008 recession the FCC and virtually every segment of public and private enterprise has increased its push for “morality” and “strengthening traditional marriage,” because the authoritarian ideology and family unit forms the link from the wretched social reality of the lower middle class to reactionary ideology and social conservatism: The ideology of the 1 percent.

Where this ideology is uprooted from the compulsive family unit, the authoritarian system is threatened. They sense it on the horizon, and historically this is when the greatest ideological resistance asserts itself.

The socio-economic exploitation of the 99 percent, in its myriad manifestations, would not be possible without the psychological structure of the masses that accepts that status quo.


It is when the economically disenfranchised and dissatisfied classes begin to organize themselves, begin to fight for socio-political improvements and begin raising the cultural level of the broader masses that these authoritarian “moralistic” inhibitions set in. The bottom line here is every social order produces in the masses of its members that structure which it needs to achieve its main aims.

The U.S. is no different. The socio-economic exploitation of the 99 percent, in its myriad manifestations, would not be possible without the psychological structure of the masses that accepts that status quo. There is a direct correlation between the economic structure of capitalist society and the mass psychological structures of its members, not only in the sense that “the ruling ideology is the ideology of the ruling class,” but more essential to the question of a resurgence of the cultural revolution in the U.S. is that the contradictions of the economic structure of society are also embodied in the psychological structure of the subjugated masses.

The role of the cultural revolution

Which brings us to the cultural revolution itself. The role of the cultural revolution is to uproot these old unprogressive ideas and values which have served to keep us shackled to the legacy of oppressive relationships that define the majority of U.S. history and usher in new values which reflect the universal mores of freedom, justice, equality and human rights.

A cultural revolution is a reconstruction of a people’s way of life in order to move them to a given objective; it forms a new historical continuity in which re-evaluation of self, the people and the society compels us to cast aside historical revisionism. It will place the political power back in the hands of the people, rescue democracy from the stranglehold of corrupt political influences and corporate super-PACs.

The role of the cultural revolution is to uproot these old unprogressive ideas and values which have served to keep us shackled to the legacy of oppressive relationships that define the majority of U.S. history and usher in new values which reflect the universal mores of freedom, justice, equality and human rights.


A true cultural revolution entails more than simply chanting slogans, protest actions, hunger strikes or occupations. It’s more than changing our looks or altering our polling strategy to more closely reflect support for those issues dear to the movement. No, it entails changing our core psychology, how you think, changing your conduct and activities, your interactions and methods in order to transform society as a whole.

Cultural values are produced by economic and political systems. As we struggle against the institutional inequalities inherent in the U.S. capitalist arrangement, we will lose the cultural values of that system and will forge more humane values as the basis of new political and economic relationships.

Such a revolution must encompass the common man and woman, illuminating for them the inherent interests in this national transformation of values and how it will positively impact their lives and the lives of their friends and loved ones. This is the reason the National Occupy Movement must organize and grow together.

Cultural values are produced by economic and political systems. As we struggle against the institutional inequalities inherent in the U.S. capitalist arrangement, we will lose the cultural values of that system and will forge more humane values as the basis of new political and economic relationships.


This calls for unity, the conscious development of united fronts and strategic alliances that grow deeper and richer as they experience trials and adversity, pass through ease and danger. Essentially this process IS the cultural revolution.

What must be understood is these different groups represent different class interests, political interests and economic interests and have different ideologies. It is the reality of this dynamic that has been the basis for the divide and rule politic that has governed life in this society and most others since the rise of monopoly capitalism. It is the basis of the primary contradiction now.

We have demonstrated how for the vast majority of this nation’s history, the ruling 1 percent has been successful in convincing desperate segments of society to identify their interests with the ruling 1 percent’s. Playing on “this” economic class interest of the middle strata or “that” religious moral lean of the lower middle strata, all along ensuring that whatever the ultimate outcome, their interests, the interests of the 1 percent elite, will be preserved as the ruling interests.

For the vast majority of this nation’s history, the ruling 1 percent has been successful in convincing desperate segments of society to identify their interests with the ruling 1 percent’s.


They’ve been consistently able to do so despite centuries of material evidence of their duplicity because they’ve been capable of maintaining control of not simply the context of these national discussions, but of the apparatus in which they’ve been held – corporate mass media – and the very cultural values upon which those discussions are based.

There is a relevant maxim which states, “The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.” The current struggle we are waging now in the National Occupy Movement, prisoner hunger strike solidarity movement, anti-imperialist movement etc. is a manifestation of the people’s consciousness that their interests and the interests of the ruling elite are not the same interests and in fact are and have always been diametrically opposed.

Winning the cultural revolution

It is for this reason that corporate entities, government officials, their police forces and corporate-owned mass media have made a collective and coordinated effort to downplay, discredit, underreport, dismiss, brutally attack, pass laws against and ultimately crush the movement before it can lead to a true cultural revolution which could force upon them a progressive transformation in the nature and structure of U.S. society.
This has been the historical trend in the U.S.:

• The gains of “Reconstruction” for New Afrikans were erased by the “1877 Compromise” that paved the way for Jim Crow and Lynch Law;
• The 1839 Anti-Renters Movement was crushed by brutality under the guise of law by 1845;
• Thomas Dorr’s rebellion for election reform in 1841 was crushed by 1842 and buried with the Supreme Court decision in Luther v. Borden in 1849;
• The Labor Movement of the International Working People’s Association of Albert Parsons and August Spies was crushed at the Haymarket Massacre on May 4, 1885;
• The aborted cultural revolution led by the Socialist Party and IWW in the 1900s was crushed by reform and brute force like the 1913 Ludlow Massacre in Colorado;
• The potential cultural revolution of the Civil Rights Movement was aborted by co-option, reform and assassinations;
• The cultural revolution of the late ‘60s to late ‘70s, which encompassed the Black Liberation Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, New Left Movement, Prison Movement, American Indian Movement and Anti-War Movement was systemically crushed by the FBI’s counter-intelligence program, superficial reforms and brutal, bloody force.

Cultural revolutions of these types in the U.S. historically all have a central purpose: to destroy the oppressors’ conditioned mores, attitudes, ways, customs, philosophies and habits that the dominant power base has instilled in us which allow these exploitive and repressive relationships to exist.

A cultural revolution is a revolution of one’s values, and the ruling 1 percent recognizes your values dictate your actions. They also realize where such a transformation in your worldview would lead; it was even noted in the Declaration of Independence: “(A)ll experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.”

A cultural revolution is a revolution of one’s values, and the ruling 1 percent recognizes your values dictate your actions. As long as the ruling 1 percent can keep you convinced that its values and interests are your own, you will continue to suffer oppression without protest.


As long as they can keep you convinced that the interests of the ruling 1 percent are your own, you will continue to be content to suffer the “evils” that you have without protestation. Thus, at all costs they must ensure you don’t realize that the values that have been instilled in you for generations – those of greed, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, elitism, naked self-interest, religious intolerance, classism and thinly-veiled hypocrisy – were instilled to ensure you never realize you’ve long since been “reduced under absolute despotism,” and the political and economic choices available to you, no matter what your decisions, favor their interests first, and whatever interests support theirs most effectively secondly.

The entire purpose of socio-economic stratification and institutional racism is to ensure the ruling 1 percent can maintain control with “a minimum of force, a maximum of law, all made palatable by the fanfare of unity and patriotism,” as Howard Zinn wrote in “A People’s History of the United States.”

Brothers and sisters, this will not be easy because the most vital battles will have to be waged within you. But the reassertion of the cultural revolution is necessary if the movement is to realize actual success and not become just another footnote in the crushed movements of American history.

We will stand with you, wage struggle with you, but in the final analysis only you, the people, the 99 percent, can hoist this banner and carry the cultural revolution to its victorious conclusion – and on the other side a new and brighter world for us all. Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the NCTT (NARN (New African Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank) Corcoran SHU and its work product, contact:

• Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L #43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L #43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• Kambui Robinson, C-83820, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L #49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-Cor-SHU, 4B1L #63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212