Tag Archives: NCTTCorSHU

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!

Advertisements

Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery

From: SF Bay View, Dec. 25, 2014

by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham and Kambui Robinson, NCTT Corcoran SHU

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” – George Berkeley


“Slavery is nearly as old as human civilization itself, but … (in) 1698 …the construct of ‘race’ was hardly formulated … This racialization of American slavery was rooted in economic calculation and psychological anxieties … In fact, the human family was carved into modern “racial” pigeonholes – white, black, red, brown, yellow – in order to control, confine, discipline and dishonor … Racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” – Dr. Cornel West


“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” – Amendment XIII, U.S. Constitution

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. There are moments in human history when doors to genuine human freedom are opened. This does not mean we, as a species, always take advantage of the opportunity to walk through those doors – but every once in a while, the true potential for our liberation arises. Often, we fail to take advantage of those opportunities because we genuinely don’t know they exist; in such cases, a lesson in dialectics is learned.

However, more often than not, it’s because there is some social force standing in our way – be it unprogressive attitudes, backwards ideas, old style tendencies, or the very real fear of freedom that’s been deeply imbedded into so many of us. Something acts to bar us from entering that new world of unrealized promise.

On Oct. 10, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, men from various cultural groups and walks of life, put into effect the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” perhaps the single most significant “door to genuine freedom” opened in American society in recent human history. What makes it so significant is not simply its motive force but, more importantly, its true potential for our collective liberation as a society.

On this second anniversary of this historic agreement, we’d like to give you all a glimpse through the door the Agreement to End Hostilities has opened for us all. For us to appreciate the path the Agreement to End Hostilities has paved for our futures, we must look back at the “road” we traveled thus far and understand its interconnections to both those forces which have historically opposed progress and those which foster it.

Owing its origins to the primitive accumulation of capital within the chattel slave system and the extermination of the Native Americans, the very concept of race was manufactured by European colonial slavers and business interests to develop a “legal” and ideological foundation for establishing the socio-economic hierarchy and dehumanization of various cultural groups – an ideology of superiority and inferiority which reflected the European capitalist world view of economic, political and military domination and exploitation of the Earth.

This system of global white supremacy was forged on the dehumanization of the remainder of humanity by embedding the artificial ideology of “racism” in its every institution. The correlation between the chattel slave system and Native American genocide in the “New World,” the development of the “race” ideology and “racial” antagonisms in American society, the slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment for convicted felons, and the years of “race”-based hostilities among U.S. prisoners – and the communities they hail from – cannot be accounted for simply through the macrocosmic-microcosmic reflection of society and prisons.

No. It is much deeper and more disturbing than this, and it is why the Agreement to End Hostilities is so potentially devastating to the pillars of American capitalist exploitation.

“(We) always agree that “race” is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.” – Paul Gilroy

The system of American capitalism has always used the fictitious construct of race as the central means to maintain the fluid functioning of the class system and in turn the dominance of the ruling class. It is woven into the base and superstructure of American Society.

As James Yaki Sayles observed, race has come to function on the superstructure; it’s become part of our distinct way of life and cultural existence. The interests of race – as a characteristic of the peculiar class and national social relations of capitalist and colonial exploitation – have become part of the group interests that we share and which stand as antagonistic to the interests of other groups of people, classes and nations.

It’s part of the collective consciousness which informs the creation of the organizations and institutions we use in pursuit of our aims. Now all this is really less about race than about class and national formation and consciousness. It’s not about race, since that’s a fiction.

As we’ve observed, racism developed as an ideological concept to sustain slavery and as a justification for the extermination of First Nations people. It was anchored in the economic deliberation, financial interests and the panic of Europeans of the age over their numeric inferiority in relation to the remaining human cultures of the world.

Conveniently, the same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today. These racial antagonisms, like so many other social ills, are magnified and concentrated in the socially hostile microcosm of prison.

The same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today.

This intentional warping of man’s social being – forcing the false construct of “race” to be manifested as a social force in U.S. capitalist economics – has been so thorough that it has allowed dehumanization to not only be codified in the supreme law of land, the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment, but “normalized” it. Now tens of millions of people in America accept dehumanization – disenfranchisement, third and fourth class citizenship, “civil death” and diminished constitutional and human rights – as a natural outgrowth of their economic position in relation to the productive system.

There was a time when questioning a people’s humanity was tantamount to a declaration of war. Yet millions so affected simply accept it – as does American society as a whole. EVERY PRISONER in the U.S., including parolees, regardless of cultural identity, religious or organizational affiliation, is considered by the state to be a slave and is viewed no differently from Afrikans in Amerika in the early 1800s.

“The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, then moved back again towards slavery.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The chattel slave system in the U.S. required Euro-Amerikans – and not simply those engaged in the slave trade – to dehumanize the subjects of the brutal practice: slaves. They went so far as to develop baseless, pseudo-scientific rationales for phenotypical human variation, a product of human evolutionary adaptation, and to connect these to a stratification of the human species.

Their rationale reflected the irrational world view of the European proto-capitalist: The European male was the only “true” human and the creator of civilization; the rest of humanity was reduced to various retrograde sub-human phenotypes with the Afrikan being the hindmost – a mere “three-fifths of a man.”

When the Prison Industrial Complex erected the “new Jim Crow” on the backs of the poor nationally, the “legal,” ideological and political structures already existed to extend this dehumanization to those who refused to accept the status quo of property relations and the dictates of the ruling elite: the felon, the outlaw, the prisoner.

When we speak of America being a locked, anti-poor society, we are speaking of the conscious dehumanization of the underclass and the lumpen. Just as a quack “science” sought, and failed miserably, to create some scientific justification for “racial” ideology and racist dehumanization so as to legitimize its material force in society, so has modern quack “science” sought to create justifications for criminalization ideology and “criminal” dehumanization to legitimize the disproportionate policing and imprisonment of “citizens” from poor, non-European and underclass communities.

“Doctors” like Stanton Samenow and Dr. Yochelson have produced a body of pseudo-science based on the eugenicist premise that “criminals” are “born bad” and “genetically different from other humans” and the “only solution is to separate them from society.” That every objective sociological, physiological and psychological study refutes such baseless claims as hokum is not what’s relevant.

What’s relevant is authoritarian powers want to believe them and penal institutions across the U.S. have latched on to this tripe and transformed it into a material force, building an entirely new sub-industry of the PIC: cognitive restructuring. Their hope is to brainwash hundreds of thousands of the imprisoned poor to absolve the nature and structure of capitalist society of all culpability in the lack of viable choices available to them and for the existence of social automation technology and instead accept their innate criminality and that they were born social degenerates.

Instead of moving away from the “Bell Curve” [a 1994 book by that name arguing that racial differences in intelligence are genetic and immutable], Samenow, Yochelson and their ilk have simply expanded it to encompass anyone convicted of a crime – almost exclusively non-Europeans, the poor and the underclass – an absurd notion in a nation where the average person violates several “laws” daily that they are unaware even exist. In the case of cognitive restructuring, it’s just the latest way to monetize social control and add an air of “scientific” legitimacy to dehumanization.

“For every system of state and law, and the capitalist system above all, exists in the last analysis because its survival, and the validity of its statutes, are simply accepted (by the colonized) … And these laws retain their validity even when personal motives or the force of circumstances have induced him to violate them.” – George Lukacs

The truly disturbing aspect of all this is so many of us for so long accepted this, even acted in accordance with it – much as slaves did in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. The system of slavery was NOT maintained for so long because of the lash, the noose or the guns of the slavers. One can only be a slave master if the subjugated accept their roles as slaves.

No. It lasted so long due to the way slaves were orientated and divided. It was the science of “man breaking and slave making.” They pit the male slave against the female slave, the dark skinned slave against the light skinned slave, the young slave against the old slave, the field slave against the house slave – none would trust the other, yet ironically they all “trusted” the slave master.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period. It is their chief weapon of dominance over the remainder of society.

There was a time in American history when that weapon was always pointed at the Native American, the Afrikan slave, the unruly Mexican or the European indentured servant. Now that weapon is always aimed at us – the lumpen, the underclass, the convicted felon, the prisoner – because we, like the Native, slave or indentured before us have no interest in upholding and perpetuating a system which declares its imperative to dehumanize and repress us. Again, see the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period.

There is an entire body of law which articulates the “legitimacy” of the “civil death” of prisoners and the “appropriateness” of the absolute despotism of the state in their lives. We tacitly support it by accepting our dehumanization, though it runs contrary to our interests.

As a wise man once said, “The question I’ve asked myself over the years runs this way: Who has done most of the dying? Most of the work? Most of the time in prison (on max row)? Who is the hindmost in every aspect of social, political and economic life? Who has the least short term interest or no interest at all in the survival of the present state? In this condition, how could we believe in the possibility of a new generation of enlightened fascists who would dismantle the base of their hierarchy?”

The modern Prison Industrial Complex has picked up right where the “Peculiar Institution” [of slavery] left off, only substituting the long standing cultural divisions of “race” ideology for traditional slavery’s labor and social function-based divisions. They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another – and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units – Security Housing Units (SHUs) – and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy – as we were further dehumanized and despised.
Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.

“Only social practice can be the criterion of truth … Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world.” – Mao Tse Tung

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

There are few among the entire population of prisoners and their family members who, just five years ago, would have believed this possible. That in just two short years of social cooperation which defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status could produce such a result.

Though this victory, in actuality, simply exposed the fact that the state has housed hundreds of men in torture units who should have never been there, it does not mean the struggle has approached its logical conclusion. On the contrary, the struggle has only begun.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


The next logical step is to move to reclaim our humanity and reorganize the social life of ourselves and our communities in such a way that it serves our interests. The Agreement to End Hostilities has provided us with the impetus to organize ourselves to abolish not only indefinite SHU torture, but the “slavery” provision of the 13th Amendment upon which the civil basis of our dehumanization rests.

Doing so would ensure we reclaim our humanity and become self-actualized human beings with the right to influence our world and participate in the social processes of life. To do this we must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

In just two short years social cooperation defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status.

It is within our communities where the “school to prison pipeline” opens its maw to consume our youth and subjugate our collective future to the role of slaves, powerless to do little more than poison, pimp and slaughter one another on our way to the concentration kamps of the state. The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships many emerge.

We must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

“This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people’s support, will of necessity triumph.” – Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power – not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society – will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

A recent Pew poll showed how new authorization, right-wing backed voter registration and ID laws have reduced voter access to underclass, nationally oppressed and youth voters by 30 percent. Direct access to the political process for the prisoner class would push back against this trend of legislative disenfranchisement.

These “legal” attacks on the people’s democratic rights are designed to further marginalize the underclass into a solely labor and surplus labor role – to work, be chained by debt, submit to exploitation, accept criminalization and not be heard.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor. Involuntary servitude is fundamentally inhumane and only serves to reinforce the essential condition of oppressed man as the laborer whose production is appropriated by his “masters.” It would create new spheres of social cooperation to de-criminalize prison unions and provide the underclass and other affected communities with the political will to defend and expand organized labor unions in their communities.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime. Brothers and Sisters, do you not see the correlations?

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime.


As Michelle Alexander observed in the section of “The New Jim Crow” titled “The Birth of Mass Incarceration,” “conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime.”

In classic irrational fascist reasoning, it was not the inhumanity of Jim Crow law which was criminal; it was protesting against that inhumanity which was criminalized. Identically, it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized.

“One function of the entire cultural apparatus at any given period has been to internalize in men of subordinate position the idea of a necessary domination of some men over others, as determined by the course of history… As a result and as a continually renewed condition of this cultural apparatus, the belief in authority is one of the driving forces, sometimes, productive, sometimes obstructive, of human history.” – Max Horkheimer

Restoration of our humanity by abolishing the basis for our dehumanization is the first step in us all reclaiming our rightful voice in social affairs. Intentional underdevelopment in the chattel slave epoch and intentional underdevelopment in the modern Prison Industrial Complex – enforced idleness, all-encompassing dependency, repression of political expression, retardation of socio-economic self-determination etc. – are both social control mechanisms reliant on legalized dehumanization to accomplish that end.

They point to our intra-cultural (“racial”) antagonisms and conflicts as “proof” of our sub-human nature, while simultaneously reinforcing the ideology of racism as a material force in every aspect of human activity – though not for the reasons many of you may believe.

“Race” serves the base by hiding its true nature and core contradictions, such as the contradiction between workers and the relations of production – specifically the trends of ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of labor’s surplus value. The ideology of race antagonisms obscures the origin, the source, of social contradictions and hinders the progressive development of humanity as a whole.

“Race” obscures “class,” so we cannot locate and understand the source of social contradictions or the foundation of social development, which are primarily the province of “class” relations. The Agreement to End Hostilities clears away this “fog” and provides a basis for broad class cooperation. Without the divisional dynamic of racial antagonism, the truth of our human suffering of both its source and our own unwitting participation in it is revealed – allowing us to move against it.

The Agreement to End Hostilities provides a basis for broad class cooperation.


To be sure, already the Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all. A more dangerous portent for the current nature and structure of capitalist society does not exist.

The Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all.


“Instead of the ritual indignation and despair at the cultural condition of ‘the masses,’ it is necessary to break through to the central fact that most of our cultural institutions are in the hands of speculators, interested not in the health and growth of society, but the quick profits that can be made … The real question is whether society can afford to leave its cultural apparatus in such irresponsible hands … We should be much clearer about these cultural questions if we saw them as a consequence of a basically capitalist organization, and I at least know no better reason for capitalism to end.” – Raymond Williams

We, ALL OF US, are under assault at every point of human activity. Even the food we eat is governed by industrial interests that intentionally structured the modes of production to maximize profits, minimize food safety, increase the intake of unhealthy corn based, genetically modified, sugary, sodium packed processed foods by the underclass – while ensuring healthy and/or organic produce is cost prohibitive. This in turn ensures a steady influx of chronically ill, low income patients whose health care costs and debt will ensure the profiteering of the pharmaceutical, health care and debt based industries.

All of these industries in turn legally bribe your “elected” officials by lobbying them into maintaining these modes of production. Meanwhile, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and ever increasing incidences of e coli contamination disproportionately ravage the underclass and threaten the entire food supply – turning workers not merely into paupers, but sick paupers.

By extending the Agreement to End Hostilities to our communities, we establish the foundation upon which we can build Sustainable Agricultural Communes, Closed Circuit Economic Initiatives, Health Care Co-ops and Community Clinics, Block-Vote Democratic Initiatives and Youth-Community Action Programs [described in “A discussion on strategy for the Occupy Movement from behind enemy lines.”] We can finally begin to re-organize social, political and economic life (transfer culture) so we can actually live and not simply exist.

Every one of you who are reading our words right now, regardless of culture, class or social standing, are by your inaction supporting the maintenance of slavery and dehumanization in America. All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the very class which has organized and structured the apparatus of our collective human misery: the bourgeois authorization, the capitalist, the ruling class.

From Ferguson to destabilizing imperialist adventurism in the Middle East, from the e coli factories of the U.S. beef industry to the maintenance of the U.S. domestic torture program in supermax prisons across the U.S., the greed, hate and hypocrisy of the ruling class has demonstrated in every area of human activity – particularly in the codification of dehumanization for prisoners and the poor – that it is unfit to dictate social life.

All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the ruling class.


At almost this same time of year in 1847, Karl Marx and Frederick Engles observed: “The modern laborer … becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”

“At the end of this massive collective struggle, we will uncover our new man (woman), the unpredictable culmination of the revolutionary process. He (She) will be better equipped to wage the real struggle, the permanent struggle after the revolution – the one for new relationships between men (women).” – A Wise Man

Finally it is here in this observation as relevant and accurate today as it was in 1847 wherein lies the great significance of the Agreement to End Hostilities. It has the potential to topple the Ruling Class by transforming the nature and structure of the human relationships upon which the capitalist system is based. The “race” caste system and economic class systems are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

Without cultural antagonisms – especially within the underclasses of society – the system cannot function as designed. To end hostilities among cultural groups, to engage in social cooperation which serves our collective interests – in both society and prison – erodes the very purpose of the race caste system. It ceases to perform its function to bar broad class cooperation and uphold European male dominance. Thus the core contradictions, the “face(s)” of our true enemy, are revealed and together we have moved and can continue to move against it – until we win or don’t lose.

Our futures – and the future of humanity itself – is in our hands. Will we be equal to the demands of history, or will we buckle under the weight of our collective contradictions and descend once again into the miasma of the mass psychology of fascism?

Our confidence is as ever with YOU, the people. We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to encourage you all to support the Agreement to End Hostilities in YOUR communities. Support the New Afrikan Prisoners Rights Coalition Movement and, most importantly, support one another. Our love and solidarity are with you all always. Until we win or don’t lose.

NCTT Corcoran SHU

For more information on the NCTT or its work product, go to NCTTCORSHU.org or contact:

  • Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-28, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212

NCTT mailed this to Kendra Castaneda Perez. She is a writer, a prisoner human rights advocate, and the wife of Raymond “Chavo” Perez, who is one of the 12 representatives responsible for the historic Agreement to End Hostilities and who spent 18 years in Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor until January 2014, when he was transferred to Sacramento State Prison (New Folsom) general population into Step 5 of the Step Down Program.

On Racism, Resistance and State Violence – A Discussion on the Politics of Greed and Hate

By N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU

“We all agree that ‘race’ is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.”-Paul Gilroy

“ ‘Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology. 

To be ‘anti-racist’ is, first of all, not to hold the false belief in an alleged plurality of ‘races,’ to be ‘against racism’ is to combat all beliefs and practices that facilitate the exploitation of peoples, particularly when such exploitation is supported by the social construction of ‘race.’
 

Any attempt to destroy ‘racism’ without an explicit link to the struggle against capitalism ultimately serves only to reinforce ‘racist’ ideology and to shield capitalism from attack. On the other hand, an attempt to combat capitalism without an explicit link to anti-racist discourse and struggle allows capitalism to use belief in ‘race’ held by oppressed peoples, and appeal to the ‘racism’ of citizens of the oppressive state, thus undermining all revolutionary initiative.” – James Yaki Sayles (Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles)

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

The events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri present us with yet another opportunity to address the inhumanity of racism. But the country will again not take advantage of it because we will continue to treat this act of inhumanity as though it is an isolated incident, and not an act that flows from the very structure of the nation.

 This is a system that, over hundreds of years, has indoctrinated people (particularly “law enforcement” elements) to look at people, and based on their physical characteristics, particularly their Black skin, determine whether they represent a threat and respond accordingly. Because Afrikan, Latino and Native American men (males) have – for hundreds of years – been considered to be the enemy, the “savage,” the “worst of the worst,” there is this kill-first mentality (and anytime you fire “a hail of bullets” at a person the intent is to kill), and that intent to kill is motivated, either consciously or unconsciously by fear and/or hate!

No one wants to think that they are under the influence of patriarchal authoritarianism / White male supremacy in how we think or conduct ourselves. We have been indoctrinated to believe that it’s not the system, it was a mistake, an over-reaction on the part of the individual officer–or Klansman–and all it takes is for that individual to be fired or prosecuted and the country is satisfied…until it happens again, and again, and again! We genuinely do believe that this is not the same country as it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago and we believe this in the face of so much racist / sexist / misogynistic / homophobic / religiously intolerant / anti-poor hate!

What we are facing in this nation, as it relates to the murders of New Afrikans (Blacks) by police is simply the ongoing legacy of socio-economic relations between the White ruling class and the New Afrikan underclass, a manifestation of patriarchal authoritarian White supremacy enforcing the dictates of the race caste system in Amerika. Institutional racism is a structural component of Amerikan culture and property relations. As such it cannot be “reformed.” It is irrational to assume you can legislate away hate in a society where every institution reproduces and reinforces it in the population’s core (and developmental) psychology.

The very nature and structure of American society preserves White male supremacy and hatred of New Afrikans (Blacks), it is only that within policing this power dynamic is most visible (it is the police who in the first line of defense for the ruling class and the police have the most frequent contact with the population). This power dynamic, as it relates to policing, gives its visibility primarily to the fact that the underlying basis of power upon which White male hegemony in Amerika rests is violence. It is a power which must be seen to be effective.

As consciousness of oppression metamorphoses into resistance, no matter how minute, fleeting or legitimate that resistance may be, the response of the state’s police forces is violence–lethal force…murder. It has always been thus, from the slave catcher to the “strange fruit” of the lynching trees, from the slaughter and raiding of  rosewood, to the slaughter and siege of Ferguson–the initial, the primary, the first response of the police to New Afrikan resistance is violence.

What should disturb us is the irrationality of people and pundits who condemn resistance to such overt force; the condemnation of those who seek to exert their own coercive force to end such hate-based violence. In Ferguson there is a great deal of talk of “outside agitators” who have come in and “hijacked” the protests [for instance here on the Daily Beast, 8/19/14, and echoing here], as though, somehow, no one outside of that community has an interest in abolishing hate. Every citizen who has an interest in creating and maintaining a society/world based on equalitarian principles should converge on Ferguson, and anywhere else in which the humanity of people and the planet is under assault.

When you look at the historical record, particular forms of protests have intensified, particularly over the last 30 years, only because the system that produces the inhumanities remains in place. Even people, particularly young people, who may not be knowledgeable about the country’s history, are immediately introduced to that history. Images from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, and beyond, are introduced to them. They look around and see citizens, neighbors and others within their own communities and towns rushing out to buy guns, symbols of hate and destruction, instead of joining the protest in fear off those whose humanity has been assaulted. This is the most definitive proof that among large segments of the population, nothing has changed in their thinking. Even among some segments of the New Afrikan (Black) population, it is felt that the officer/the system acted appropriately -and that represents the most definitive proof that, among large sections of the population, nothing has changed.

In a clear illustration of the institutional nature of racism in Amerika, the mass media instantly sought to tacitly defend the police by professing justifications for murdering this latest New Afrikan child, Michael Brown, while condemning direct action force by protesting as “criminals,” “looters,” “outside agitators,”  [see here and a later ‘analysis’ here ] and “thugs,” [see also this news on October 2nd] “seeking to capitalize off the latesttragedy,” as opposed to the rational, although disorganized, response to some 400 years of unbroken racist violence against New Afrikans (and Native people) in Amerika.

Yet, irrationally, New Afrikans continue to refer to themselves as “Afrikan Americans”– an oxymoron which consciously ignores the fact that “Americans” had killed “Afrikans” as a practice in Amerika since 1619… And therein lies the contradiction–the psychological cleavage of the New Afrikan mind when subject to Amerikan state violence: they unconsciously do know this, and act to move against it just as one would reflexively swat at flames on one’s flesh or a stinging bee on one’s skin, you meet the pain of force with force of your own, in order to make the pain stop. 


It is an act of intelligence with intent, yet many would have us accept such patently racist violence with nothing more profound or transformative than passive pleas of “hands up-don’t shoot!” to justify such irrationality. They point to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi’s courageous examples of nonviolent resistance, while conveniently ignoring the fact that both were killed for their efforts and their aspirations have yet to be realized. The rabid poverty, gross inequality and brutalization of women, which dominates neo-colonial Indian society is not the “independence” Brother Mahatma gave his life for and the fact that we are even having this conversation with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless others cold in the ground, is the best proof the dreamers’ dream remains Amerika’s nightmare. These mentacidal (mental suicide) contractions in social analysis render the prospect of solutions–effective solutions–all but impossible.

Many of the New Afrikans (Black), clerical,  political and community leaders we’ve heard speak thus far have, in the midst of the latest events in Ferguson called for a change in the way law enforcement officers police New Afrikan communities, in hopes of returning these state agents to their stated role of “serving and protecting” our communities. Because this starting premise is so incorrect, every other idea or effort that flows from it will prove equally flawed, a voyage into circular thought which will inevitably lead us back to the same problem repeatedly. The first thing we must understand is what the police is, and what is their purpose.

The police, at their core, are the enforcement mechanism of the state’s dictates on the populace. The state is a tool to ensure the dominance of the ruling class and its cultural imperative (capitalist White supremacy) over all other classes and cultural interests. This determines the policies’ purpose. The purpose of police in the capitalist state is to “serve and protect” the ruling class (and their constituents) while controlling, containing and repressing the remainder of the population, especially underclass and non-White communities. 

The core flaw in thinking by mainstream (state-approved) and clerical “leadership” in the New Afrikan and other concerned communities is it begins with the premise that police are in their communities to “serve and protect” them, when all objective observations and historical analyses reveal the police’s function is to control, contain and repress them… Until this is understood, accepted and acted upon, the development of viable solutions by New Afrikans to this scourge will be futile.

Consider this: within the bowels of the prison industrial complex’s Super Max (Secure Housing Unit or SHU) torture units in California, hundreds of New Afrikans have been consigned to “the hole” for the remainder of their lives (if they are not broken) for studying their culture, history, political ideas–and even current events if they are presented through a New Afrikan lens. 

In recent 128-B chronos authored by I.G.I. Officer T. Turmezei, the overly racist hostility of  the state is on full display. In the documents, the officer actually criminalizes New Afrikan cultural celebrations (like “Black August Memorial”), the terms “Black,” “Brother,” “Elder,” and “Comrade,” stating:

“[Subject] specifically identifies his B.G.F. allegiance with “Comrade,” ethnic race as Black through “Brother”… In so stating, [subject] identifies himself as a “comrade” of the B.G.F.”
He goes on to state:
“…[subject]’s B.G.F. allegiances is further supported [by]…the use of the word “elders” to identify the senior membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay …Within the prison system a Black would not reference a White, Hispanic or other raced gang member as his “elder.” Members and associates of the B.G.F. show reverence and allegiance to senior B.G.F. membership of the B.G.F. housed at Pelican Bay State Prison.”

That the terms “brother” and “elders” is commonplace in most every underclass community, regardless of racial competition, and the term “comrade” is universally used in leftist circles of every hue and has been since the 1800’s, we can only assume he has another motivation for such baseless lies.

He goes on to criminalize progressive political parties like the B.R.L.P. (Black Riders Liberation Party), publishers like “Chicago Zine Distro” and legitimate newspapers like the “San Francisco Bay View” as “documented vehicles of dissemination for the training material and communications among members of the B.G.F. prison gang.” If this warped racist perspective was not so demonstrative of the institutional racism which is a structural aspect of the state, perhaps this officer could be laughed off as an ignorant, misinformed crackpot. However, the unfortunate truth of the matter is the one thing all of these things have in common is their connection to New Afrikan (Black) culture, thought and expression.

There are, as we speak, hundreds of crips, bloods, Muslims, Christians and non-affiliates validated as members or associates of the B.G.F. for no other reason than seeking to study, express or embrace their culture, history and political ideas. Though these New Afrikans (Blacks) have no relation to any revolutionary formation, what they do all have in common is their Black skin and their common historical experience with, and development in, capitalist Amerika. The state, unable to bring itself to just admit its hatred of New Afrikan (Black) males and their need to repress any expression or pursuit of self-realization, instead outlaws being “Black” itself–our very culture, history, expression and manner of relating to one another is reduced to a “gang” or “gang activity” and used by the state as a pretext to subject thousands of indefinite SHU torture.

Men who have no affiliation to the B.G.F. or any other progressive revolutionary formation are routinely validated and slammed in the SHU in hopes of breaking their minds. Unfortunately, reflecting many episodes in New Afrikan Liberation history, some New Afrikans (Black) prisoners who have been wrongly validated as freedom fighters have blamed not the state, but the freedom fighters for their being subjected to these torture units; a manifestation of their own under-development which unwittingly aids the state by destroying unity and promoting antagonisms between New Afrikans (Blacks)–all of whom are being subjected to the same racist repression.

Nevertheless, consciousness is directly proportional to oppression and as more of these New Afrikans (Blacks) are confronted with the intensification of these institutional racist practices, the greater their consciousness will become and lead to their turning their antagonism on their actual adversary–the authoritarian police state, as opposed to those who have spent their adult lives resisting the attacks of the capitalist order upon all New Afrikan (Black) people (and have-nots from all cultural groups).

It is possible to change all of this. People must remove, through the ballot box, on a state and federal level, those officials who support the maintaining of a system that produces, indeed encourages, hate and greed! We must replace them with officials who will not subordinate themselves to moneyed interests (who have a stake in maintaining the system that exploits humanity and the planet to enrich themselves). This is the same system that built the torture units called Supermax prisons and the same people who have amassed fortunes by creating and then exploiting human misery.

It is the institutions upon which the authoritarian state and its capitalist masters rely to maintain this hate and greed, that we must focus our efforts on transforming, until the process of progressive social change reaches its logical conclusion. This means we must act to install officials who will oppose the nature and structure of the authoritarian state, officials which will actively wage struggle against racist, sexist, classists homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti-youth thinking and practice within those institutions.

This means restructuring these offices and the electoral process itself, which has been hijacked by moneyed interests. The numeric superiority of the underclass in the context of the democratic process counter-balances, and is capable of overcoming, the moneyed interests of the ruling elite. This will require us to overcome the irrational thinking which deludes many of us into believing our interests, and the interests of the ruling class, are one and the same. Such transformative consciousness is produced only in the crucible of progressive struggle, active participation in organized efforts to eradicate the manifestations of hate and greed demonstrated in such social atrocities as the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, and the criminalization of culture inherent in CDCR’s approach to New Afrikan (Black) men (and others as well) in prison today.

We must begin to view and resist these social contradictions in their interconnections. Our failure to collectively resist actually contributes to the niggerdization of every non-White cultural group by the institutional racism inherent in the authoritarian state.

The current immigration crisis is a prime example of the expansion of this hate. The state, supported by significant swathes of the population is engaged in a blatant anti-Mexican, anti-South American campaign couched in the poorly veiled auspices of “the rule of law.” Indicative of the underlying authoritarian superiority complex of the settler mentality, “Americans” in these border states are holding dehumanizing, anti-immigrant rallies and hurling racial slurs at people (many women and children) whose land the U.S. took by force and violence or which was decimated through imperialist adventures.

Where California now stands is Northern Mexico, part of the traditional home of the Mexica people. Mexicans, who were attacked and driven south by the U.S. military in Amerika’s genocidal bid to fulfill its “manifest destiny”.

In the face of such historical crimes, how then are indigenous people “illegal immigrants”? This history is still being perpetuated in today’s xenophobic venom and congressional policy intent. There is no difference in these forms of hate and the U.S. continued financial and military support for Israeli imposition of Apartheid in Palestine. There is no different in CDCR criminalizing the SF Bay View and the U.S.-backed Egyptian military junta criminalizing journalists from Al Jazeera who were objective in their reporting on the “Muslim brotherhood”. Our failure to oppose these manifestations of hate embolden those who advance these values and ensure they are preserved and reproduced in the next generation.

Based on our society’s current level of development, the only hope we have is to relentlessly struggle against these manifestations of greed and hate in every institution in society, and in so doing, allow the series of illuminations which will flow from such a process of social evolution to reach its logical conclusion: the quantitative increase in the consciousness of the people, leading to a quantitative transformation of society. It is our sincerest hope that each of you challenge yourselves to make such a commitment and join us in forging a more free and just world.

Until we win or don’t lose.

Zaharibu Dorrough, D83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Heshima Denham, J38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Kambui Robinson, C82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212;
Jabari Scott, H30306, CCI, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.

August-October 2014

Typed from handwritten letter by Adrian McKinney for the SF Bay View.
Edited by NCTT webmaster. Posted here on SF Bay View, Oct. 25th, 2014 

Download and Share the Zine we made from this article!

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.

A Eulogy for Chokwe Lumumba (2-25-2014)

In the 1980s the Ku Klux Klan planned to march down West St. in Downtown Jackson, MS, and Chokwe and the New Afrikan People’s Organization (of which me and my homies were members of their ‘self-defense forces corps’) had organized a counter-protest of hundreds and hundreds of New Afrikan people, and some White brothers and sisters, and we all converged on West St.

I was young, ultra-radical, and full of fire – and I really wanted a physical engagement, but it was not  to be – and that was a good thing. The cops were out in full force with riot sticks, and the Klan were grouped around their 3 busses ant the top of West St. with the cops – some Black – in a defensive line protecting them.
Chokwe was at the head of us all, with a bullhorn telling us all how we were not going to let the Klan march. As Chokwe inspired us all, he yelled out: “They have the ‘po-lice’ to protect them and their hate, and we have our protectors of our right!”And when he said it, 30 NAPO-S.D.C. soldiers – big, musclebound New Afrikan men in black muscle shirts, black tame, and black combat boots, detached from the crowd in perfect unison, and walked into the street in orderly rows, assuming parade rest opposite the police – those of us from the corps (most of us were former street thugs) converged in the street behind them, pumping our fists in the air, and as we did so, a miracle occurred: the Klan piled back onto their busses and pulled out! Chokwe yelled, as though he knew the course of events all along: “The Klan’s not going to march here today – we are!” – and began to lead us all in a historic march down West St. and throughout downtown Jackson, ending in a vacant lot on Farish St. (a historically and traditionally New Afrikan section of Downtown) and gave a rousing speech on the merits of anti-racism, human dignity, and resistance to hate.
The feeling I felt this day, the elation, love, and unity has never left my mind, nor did this tall, wise, slim man who invoked it in me: Chokwe Lumumba. I loved him, I still love him – and I will always love him. I have always, by writ of my social experiences and development, been imbued with revolutionary potential – but it was Chokwe who inspired me to try and fulfill that potential – to translate these ideas into a social force.
Our world is diminished without him, but I will never stop seeking to live up to the example he set for me over 30 years ago.
March 2014

Ncttcorshu.org

Published as part of the article: Chokwe Lumumba: Dare to struggle, dare to win!  in the SF Bay View

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

NCTT Corcoran SHU responds to new Security Threat Group management proposal

From: SF Bay View: http://sfbayview.com/2012/nctt-corcoran-shu-responds-to-new-security-threat-group-management-proposal/

March 26, 2012

by J. Heshima Denham and Zaharibu Dorrough, NCTT Corcoran SHU

This banner led the July 23, 2011, march in Santa Cruz in solidarity with the hunger strikers. – Photo: Bradley, Bradley@risedup.net

Written to Kendra Castaneda on March 16, 2012, postmarked March 19 – 

For decades the California Department of Corrections (and Rehabilitation) has, with the support of the U.S. government, operated a domestic torture program in California SHUs – at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and CCI state prisons – whereby men are consigned to indefinite solitary confinement, sensory deprivation and constant illumination with the sole intent of compelling these state victims to become state informants.

This domestic torture program employs as its key feature the “validation process,” by which innocent “source items” – a tattoo, address, group exercise etc. – which evidence no “overt unlawful acts” in furtherance of a “gang.” And the arbitrary and subjective determinations of a staff gang investigator of these “source items” is the entire basis for consignment to indefinite confinement in these sensory deprivation torture units.

Following unprecedented peaceful, non-violent hunger strikes by tens of thousands of state prisoners and a global social outcry, CDCR has submitted a new “Security Threat Group” management proposal that states its intent to move to a “behavior-based model” that focuses on prevention of actual gang related criminal acts.

We have reviewed the proposal. Unfortunately, in its current form, it fails to meet its stated intent and instead seeks to retain the “arbitrary and subjective determination” standard for gang investigative staff. That standard is the foundation of decades of abuses and the very focus is the prevention of horrible crimes as the basis of moving to a behavior-based model in one breath; yet draft regulatory definitions, language and polices maintain the same status quo of arbitrary and subjective staff determinations that are responsible for perhaps the largest, most well hidden domestic torture program on earth.

Draft regulatory definitions, language and polices maintain the same status quo of arbitrary and subjective staff determinations that are responsible for perhaps the largest, most well hidden domestic torture program on earth.


A truly behavior based “gang” interdiction model, by definition, calls for a complete abolition of arbitrary and subjective determinations as a basis for consigning these men, fellow humans, to eternity in these torture units. By doing so, investigative staff will be free to focus their energy and resources on actually prosecuting overt unlawful acts – i.e., actual criminal conduct – as opposed to punishing men for an address, photograph or their political ideas that have NO relation to the violation of civil or criminal law. Anything short of this calls into question the validity of their stated intent and their dedication to the public good.

For more information on the NCTT Corcoran SHU or to discuss these issues, contact: 
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212, and Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212. 


This letter transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.

Justice Makes a Nation Great

From: SF Bay View

January 26, 2012

by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough

Zaharibu, who has been in isolation for 23½ years, was “validated” as a “gang member” and condemned to solitary confinement for having this classic and four other books by renowned authors in his cell and sharing them with other prisoners. Prison authorities labeled these books “gang material.”

I read once that whereupon meeting a poor man who had been falsely accused, Jesus went with him before the magistrate and, having been granted special permission to appear in his behalf, made this address: “Justice makes a nation great, and the greater a nation the more solicitous will it be to see that injustice shall not befall even its most humble citizen. Woe upon any nation when only those who possess money and influence can secure ready justice before its courts! It is the sacred duty of a magistrate to acquit the innocent as well as to punish the guilty.

“Upon the impartiality, fairness and integrity of its courts the endurance of a nation depends. Civil government is founded on justice, even as true religion is founded on mercy.”

This is my 23rd year in isolation, and regardless of how some might try to define what isolation is, I can assure you that after 23 years and in light of the almost constant, non-stop assault on the senses and your humanity, this is isolation. And at least part of what constitutes isolation must be defined according to what it takes and tries to take from you – the suicides, past and present, the surrender of one’s humanity and integrity, qualities that play a large role in becoming informants. It’s not only that people become like Judas when they do so, they become factors, major factors in the continued efforts at destroying and trying to destroy the humanity of us all.

But like many of those of us who have been buried in isolation for decades, I consider myself to be a student and I love democracy. During the hunger strike of Sept. 26-Oct. 12, I had an opportunity to speak to an officer here who stated that treating the humanity of citizens who are in prison with respect is a liberal idea whose time had passed and the people have spoken. Obviously, he considered “the people” to be those who think just as he does and even those citizens who have remained silent on the issue of democracy and justice.
I was not offended by his thinking. I understood it to be that 500-year-old process in which the elitist minority has convinced much of the middle class and working poor majority that their interests are one and the same. The conversation actually reminded me of conversations that Nelson Mandela had with his captors in a South African prison.

Hate and indifference – and it goes by many names: racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, to name just a few – are powerful tools that the ruling class minority has used to keep the majority competing against one another, from jobs to housing to education, even on how we should love and worship. You can see the pathology that it has created in some basic areas.

Hate and indifference – and it goes by many names: racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, to name just a few – are powerful tools that the ruling class minority has used to keep the majority competing against one another.


If you were to ask 5,000 people if they felt that the criminal justice system is biased, 50 percent or more would probably say yes. If you ask those same people if they believed in the death penalty, that same number of people would say yes. Even if you ask that question as it relates to life without parole, as many now do, you are still talking about a system that is biased.

We actually believe that 1) somehow the system has developed separately from the hate and indifference that the country has developed under and 2) that somehow we can leave our own hate and indifference at the front door and be fair and just in how we treat each other. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the historical record clearly bears this out. Hate and indifference is what has robbed us of our ability to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves.

The only reason why the nation, at least many of us, have failed to see and understand how we have and continue to be affected by the legacy of hate and indifference and the pathology created by it is because it is who and what we are. Movements are crucial to overcoming this pathology.

Movements consist of citizens from different schools of thought – be it cultural, gender, political, economic, spiritual, educational. The thing that brings us all together is that everyone is being subjected to some form of oppression. The actual and spiritual poverty that results from the unequal distribution of wealth is a form of oppression. Movements are supposed to afford us with that crucial opportunity to relate to one another as fellow citizens.

The actual and spiritual poverty that results from the unequal distribution of wealth is a form of oppression.


Hate and indifference is the greatest threat to democracy. Democracy is and can be tolerant of much, but it cannot be subordinate to anything. It is the greater good. We have historically subordinated democracy to our hate and indifference: the unequal distribution of wealth, maintaining wage systems that are shamefully inconsistent with the standard of living, subjecting citizens to long-term isolation – and for many of us it is as a result of our ideas.

My retention in isolation is based on my allegedly being in possession of gang material and providing that material to other prisoners. That gang material was the following books:

1) “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn,
2) “Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880” by W.E.B. Dubois,
3) “Egypt Revisited” by Ivan Van Sertima,
4) “Democracy in Mexico” by Han La Borz,
5) “Democracy Matters” by Cornel West.

The wrongful incarceration of citizens – and a lot of times this too is politically motivated – and the death penalty are all anti-democratic. And when we subordinate democracy and justice to us, as opposed to subordinating ourselves to democracy and justice, believe me, it stops being democracy and justice and it becomes exactly what it has been. These are forms of totalitarianism.

We mentioned in the previous statement that victory will require sacrifice, tenacity and, most importantly, competent strategic insight. That strategic insight must consist of our not only understanding what hate and indifference is, but also how we, individually and collectively, as well as our institutions, have been and continue to be affected psychologically by the legacy of hate and indifference.

The democratic abolitionist struggle demands it of us, and those of us here and in the Pelican Bay SHU, the NCTT, are committed to contributing to meaningful and lasting change. And this is part of what keeps us amongst the sane. We understand, and always have, that the price that we will pay for this is the efforts to silence us, to isolate and destroy us!

We are committed to contributing to meaningful and lasting change. And this is part of what keeps us amongst the sane. We understand, and always have, that the price that we will pay for this is the efforts to silence us, to isolate and destroy us!


But just as we understand this, we also understand that this struggle will also connect us to the Mary Ratcliffs of the world and the other inspiring and courageous citizens and soldiers that we have had the pleasure of meeting. When the officer said that the people have spoken, he was not talking about the Mary Ratcliffs and Sally Bystroffs, the Gabi Pinars and Nakisah Rices, the Ed Meads and Dorsey Nunns, Marilyn McMahons, Carol Strickmans, Penny Schoners, Critical Resistance and Shaka at-Thinnins, the thousands of citizens who comprise the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the People! You are all proof that beauty does exist and you are most appreciated.

Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing. It never has and never will. Those who want to be free must strike the blow!”

Send our brother some love and light: Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, 4B-IL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212. This letter was typed by Adrian McKinney.

Feeling death at our heels: An update from the frontlines of the struggle

From: SF Bay View: http://sfbayview.com/2012/feeling-death-at-our-heels-an-update-from-the-frontlines-of-the-struggle/

January 25, 2012

from the NCTT Corcoran SHU


“Death is impossible for us to fathom; it is so immense, so frightening that we will do almost anything to keep from thinking about it. Society is organized to make death invisible, to keep it several steps removed. That distance may seem necessary for our comfort, but it comes with a terrible price: the illusion of limitless time, and a consequent lack of seriousness about daily life. As a warrior in life, you must turn this dynamic around: Make the thought of death something not to escape but to embrace. 


Your days are numbered. Will you pass them halfhearted or will you live with a sense of urgency? Cruel theaters staged by a czar are unnecessary; death will come to you without them. Imagine it pressing in on you, leaving you no escape, for there is no escape. Feeling death at your heels will make all your actions more certain, more forceful. This could be your last throw of the dice: Make it count.” 


– Robert Greene, bestselling author of “The 48 Laws of Power

“This photo was taken a few days after the first hunger strike ended. I was about 178 pounds; I’d lost 42 pounds,” Heshima Denham wrote on the back. He added these wise words: “Progress requires sacrifice; give up your life for the people.”

Written Jan. 8, postmarked Jan. 18, 2012 – Greetings, brothers and sisters: A firm, warm and solid embrace of revolutionary love and solidarity is extended to each of you from each of us.

Since the last hunger strike ended, we have weathered wave after wave of retaliation from the state’s prison administrators that continues unabated to this day. But before I catalog these manifestations of weakness on the part of state prison administrators, we feel it’s necessary to recount why this struggle began and the nature of our resolve to see the five core demands realized.

We have been consigned to ever more aggressive sensory deprivation torture units for 10, 20, 30 and in some cases 40 years, based on an administrative determination that we are members or associates of a “gang” – a term that encompasses leftist ideologies, political and politicized prisoners, jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the opinion of Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) is not passively accepting his role as a commodity in the prison industrial complex.

“Gang” is a term that encompasses leftist ideologies, political and politicized prisoners, jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the opinion of Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) is not passively accepting his role as a commodity in the prison industrial complex.


These administrative determinations are not due to some overt act of misconduct or pattern of rules violations. No, these “validations” are based most often on the reports, words or accounts of debriefers, rats, informants and other broken men who will say and do ‘most anything their IGI and ISU (Investigative Services Unit) handlers instruct them to, to avoid confinement in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) or carry some other favor from their masters.

After decades of fruitless legal challenges, after years of suffering the deprivations of conditions so inherently evil, inhumane and psychologically torturous that most of you simply cannot comprehend the reality behind these words, most of us came to realize an immutable truth: that the state’s mantra of “the only way out of the SHU is to parole, debrief or die” was something that they not only meant, but was in fact a key feature in developing a subservient and passive pool of prisoner commodities upon which the orderly fleecing of taxpayer dollars could be based.

Thirty years of successful propaganda, of dehumanizing underclass communities and the imprisoned, of lobbying that’s led to the dominance of the CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) in judicial and political elections and appointments – all to mislead an ill-informed public into submitting greater control of their lives and society to an industrial interest that runs counter to the public safety concerns they were vested to protect. Many of us watched this state of affairs progress unchallenged as our protestations fell on deaf ears, year after year, decade after decade, until advanced age and the decimation of our communities forced us onto “death ground,” where you may survive if you can resist, but you will most surely perish if you do not.

We took up a strategy which would pull back the curtain on the state’s practice of domestic torture which has been so well hidden from the people for so long, a strategy in which some of us may yet die: THE HUNGER STRIKE. We would rather starve ourselves, to risk inevitable death, than to be indefinitely subjected to the deprivations of the torture unit.

We took up a strategy which would pull back the curtain on the state’s practice of domestic torture which has been so well hidden from the people for so long, a strategy in which some of us may yet die: THE HUNGER STRIKE.


What must be understood is that existence here is, in many ways, a fate worse than death; and when advancing age brings that mortality into stark focus, the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die every day,” resonate. This simple observation defines our resolve in realizing our five core demands.

To say this is a protracted struggle is an understatement; this is a struggle in which we will win or we will die in the effort. Our actions thus far, and the awareness of this international community of their inherent righteousness, has made this adamantine resolve clear, so why then would CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) officials resort to petty retaliatory actions? The answer lies in the very nature of the tyranny and authoritarian power they represent.

Aggression is deceptive; it inherently hides weakness. Aggressors possess poor emotional control and little patience for challenges to their interests. The first waves of retaliation from these types of aggressors may seem strong to some; this is why so many non-SHU general population prisoners dropped out of the second hunger strike as those waves struck them. But, of course, we were unmoved; and the longer such attacks go on, the clearer their underlying weaknesses and insecurity become. It is an act of irrational desperation, but one they pursue out of sheer rote.

Since the second hunger strike ended, we have experienced perpetual retaliation – some overt, some carefully disguised – all designed to erode the minds and wills of those committed to resist. We were denied any medical treatment for our starvation and when we filed emergency 602s to receive renutrition treatment and hunger strike-related injuries, they were not responded to until some 40 days later.

For example, during the first hunger strike, I (Heshima) passed out due to malnutrition and dehydration; the account was detailed in a previous statement. But simply put, their own guilt and fear caused them to assemble some 26 officers before opening my cell and piling on top of my unconscious form in order to shackle my arms and legs in chains and put me in an ambulance.

Their own guilt and fear caused them to assemble some 26 officers before opening my cell and piling on top of my unconscious form in order to shackle my arms and legs in chains and put me in an ambulance.


Mind you, according to witnesses, they casually, even jokingly, left me lying on my cell floor for 35 minutes before jumping on my body. Since then I’ve had a sharp, constant pain in my right side at the base of my ribcage. Though I’ve filed two medical appeals, as of this writing I have still not been treated or even diagnosed for this.

Zaharibu’s cholesterol, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are so far outside of normal range he is at chronic risk for stroke, heart attack and diabetes – the nurses routinely “forgetting” to bring or administer his insulin when indicated.

Shortly after the second hunger strike ended, we were told, “One of the two pumps that delivers hot water to the institution is broken and we should have the part to fix it in two days.” That was over 50 days ago and we’ve had hot water for a total of three of those 50-plus days. In that intervening time, “due to the lack of hot water” we’ve been fed on paper trays, which ensures all meals arrive cold and grossly under-portioned. Because all we have to wash or shower with in these freezing cells is cold or lukewarm water, 80 percent of us housed in this 4BIL-C-Section short corridor have contracted a cold, upper respiratory tract infection or flu.

Because all we have to wash or shower with in these freezing cells is cold or lukewarm water, 80 percent of us housed in this 4BIL-C-Section short corridor have contracted a cold, upper respiratory tract infection or flu.


Despite numerous appeals and motions to the court, they have not run law library for any of us since August, making it impossible to access legal research, copying service or verified legal mailing, thus jeopardizing the viability of numerous legal pleadings in the courts.

We have often expounded upon the fundamental unreliability of reforms as nothing more than temporary pacification measures that can be repealed at the whim of administrators, and this analysis was again proven only weeks after the second hunger strike ended. Former Undersecretary of Corrections Scott Kernan made a big to-do about the concessions being made to improve the material conditions in SHU, including giving us action at a single special purchase order to purchase newly approved cold weather items by Dec. 31 – or those items would have to be included in annual packages.

Things like watch caps, thermals, tennis shoes etc. were all “approved” for SHU. Memos trumpeting this and Operational Procedure (OP) update chronos were issued to us all, only to be followed by a memo stating the warden of CSP-Corcoran-SHU was effectively repealing the single special purchase order for cold weather items without explanation. This was soon followed by another memo stating tennis shoes orders to SHU would not be allowed until after “Sacramento” made changes to the property matrix, something that was done by Scott Kernan back in October via emergency memo.

The warden of CSP-Corcoran-SHU was effectively repealing the single special purchase order for cold weather items without explanation.


Rolling power outages have suddenly become routine here. The mailroom suddenly devised new regulations directing any phony orders to be directed to one post office box, while letters go to another, making it more difficult and confusing for those who care to see to the welfare of their loved ones here. Not to be left out, CDCR trust account officials have raised processing fees on electronic trust deposits called “J-Pays,” some 500 percent, from $1 to $5, increasing the financial burden on underclass families while maximizing their own profiteering.

All of those things are designed to fuse with the daily mental struggles of the reality of indefinite sensory deprivation confinement to have the cumulative effect of eroding the psychology of resistance, and if this were a situation where there was some psychological threshold to breach, they may well have found some here who capitulate. But that simply is not the reality.

This is not a situation where multi-spectrum retaliation – or coercive force of any kind – will somehow diminish the resolve of those of us committed to ending the perpetual torture inherent in these indeterminate SHU units. In fact, quite the opposite is true; such actions only serve to crystallize in our minds the simple fact that we cannot lose. The alternative is simply more unpleasant than the relatively quick sacrifice of death by starvation. They can ratchet up the intensity on these petulant retaliation moves a hundredfold and it will have no other effect than increasing our resolve a thousandfold.

This is not a situation where multi-spectrum retaliation – or coercive force of any kind – will somehow diminish the resolve of those of us committed to ending the perpetual torture inherent in these indeterminate SHU units. In fact, quite the opposite is true; such actions only serve to crystallize in our minds the simple fact that we cannot lose.


We must win this struggle not simply because it is morally correct, upholds international standards of humanity, opposes governmental collusion in corporate exploitation of underclass people, and serves the interests – social, political and economic – of society as a whole, but also because it’s necessarily our survival. We are men in earnest; consequences have little meaning in the face of such conditions.

Some of you reading these words are no doubt grappling with the reality behind them, attempting to find some point of relatability, some common experience from which to draw a correlation. Unless you’ve experienced this firsthand, such an attempt is an effort in futility. But for the sake of this discussion, I challenge you to run an experiment: Go to your bathroom and close the door. Imagine that you will never leave that room. Your tub and shower, that’s your bed. Yes, your toilet is only a step or two away from where you lay your head. Your food will be brought to you here twice a day.

Stay there as long as you can. How long do you last? Twenty minutes? An hour? Six hours? Imagine you sit in that bathroom for a year, 10 years, 24 years, 40 years. You will never leave that bathroom unless you are released from prison, agree to be an agent for the same people who stuck you in that bathroom, or you die of old age and infirmity. How long would you last? How strong is your will?

Would you submit to snitchery, kowtow to your torturers and become a tool to condemn others to that same fate? Or would you fight, resist to the bitter end, give your life to expose such evil, greedy, draconian hypocrites for what they really are? Hold the mirror of social reality up to the face of every man and woman in U.S. society and force them to confront the human misery being carried to sicker and more depraved depths every day in their names? What would you do?

Would you submit to snitchery, kowtow to your torturers and become a tool to condemn others to that same fate? Or would you fight, resist to the bitter end, give your life to expose such evil, greedy, draconian hypocrites for what they really are?


Some would characterize our effort as insane, as crazy. In “Hagakure: The door of the Samurai,” Yamamoto Tsunetomo quotes Lord Naoshige as saying the way of the warrior (samurai) is in desperateness. Ten or more cannot kill such a man. Common sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become insane and desperate.

None of us want to die, but all of us are prepared to do so to realize these five core demands. History dictates no less.

So we wait. We have been told the revisions and changes to the status quo in these torture units will be done this month or by February, but the relentless retaliatory blows we are absorbing as the sobering reminder of what we are dealing with: An entrenched labor aristocracy and political patronage of corporate speculators, who’ve grown rich and powerful off extorting billions from hapless taxpayers and criminalizing underclass people and communities, will resist any effort to curtail their wealth, privilege and socio-political status quo.
These vile and greedy people are extracting more of your tax dollars for their exclusive use than many nations’ gross national product by using us as scapegoats to frighten the people – when in fact many of us are servants of the people, political progressives who would willingly lay down our lives to advance the cause of freedom, social justice and economic equality in the nation.

In the case of the NCTT and those of like mind, ironically that’s why we were validated and consigned to these torture units in the first place. A common practice of corrupt political interests is to criminalize dissent and criticism. Who will care? We are prisoners; who will know these truths? They have already succeeded in lobbying to have media access to prisoners banned unless they consent to who will be interviewed. Again, who will care, who will know?

A common practice of corrupt political interests is to criminalize dissent and criticism. Who will care? We are prisoners; who will know these truths?


If you’re reading these words, you now know the only question that remains is: Do you care? Do you care that the very people who you’ve entrusted with ensuring public safety are in fact intentionally working against that interest to maintain a bloated prison industrial complex on your tax dollars and our souls? Do you care that the U.S., which is so vocally condemning other nations, is ignoring its U.N. treaty obligations and maintaining its own expansive domestic torture program in U.S. Supermax SHU prisons across this nation? Do you care that these evils, this blatant hypocrisy is being carried out in your name? Do you care? And if you don’t, exactly what type of society is this we’ve allowed to emerge?

If you are reading these words, you can no longer claim ignorance; to stand idly by now would be complicity. A wise man once said, “All that is necessary for evil men to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” We are under no illusions. The ultimate arbiter of our fate – and this society’s fate – is the people. YOU. YOU must rise up against this injustice and inhumanity. YOU must let the state know that substantive change at every level of society is something the people demand.

The ultimate arbiter of our fate – and this society’s fate – is the people. YOU.

We have supported, and will continue to support, progressive people’s movements, from the Dream Act to the Occupy Movement, because we recognize the inherent unity of purpose in this single political motive force, the reality that we do not represent disparate social interests but a single determined democratic imperative to put an end to the stranglehold that this greedy elite and its tools currently have on every area of people’s activity in the U.S., to put an end to these exploitive relationships that diminish and impoverish the many for the aggrandizement of the few.

To treat us this way is wrong, evil and unsustainable socially. Stand with us. Lend your voices, your labor, and your ideas to this historical work. We can win, but only with you all by our sides. In the final analysis, this is a struggle to determine the nature of humanity itself. We are on the right side of history; we encourage you all to stand on this same side with us. Our love, loyalty and solidarity to all those who cherish freedom, justice and human rights and fear only failure. Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the California prison hunger strikes or the NCTT, contact:

• Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4BIL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
• Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU, 4BIL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.

Read these brothers’ previous stories: “California prison hunger strikers propose ‘10 core demands’ for the national Occupy Wall Street Movement,” “A brief hunger strike update from the front lines of the struggle: Corcoran-SHU 4B 1L C-section Isolation Unit” (second story in that post), “From the front lines of the struggle,”and “We dare to win: The reality and impact of SHU torture units.” This story was typed by Adrian McKinney.