Michael Reed Dorrough’s article written in Feb-March of 2019, was published in the SF Bayview newspaper of June 2019:
A discussion on the culture of hate and violence in US society and the rationality of securing New Afrikan communities
by the NCTT: Zaharibu Dorrough, Heshima Denham, Jabari Scott and Kambui Robinson
Published in: SF Bayview, April 26, 2016
“It is well known that the Black race is the most oppressed and most exploited of the human family. It is well known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries … a bitter disgrace on mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after … years of so called “emancipation,” American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material suffering, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching … Imagine a furious horde, fists clenched, eyes bloodshot, mouths foaming, yells, insults, curses … They are armed with sticks, torches, revolvers, ropes, knives, scissors, vitriol, daggers – in a word, with all that can be used to kill or wound … In a wave of hatred and bestiality, the lynchers drag the Black to … a public place … When everyone has had enough, the corpse is brought down … While on the ground stinking of fat and smoke, a black head, mutilated, roasted, deformed, grins horribly and seems to ask the setting sun, ‘Is this civilization?’” – Chairman Ho Chi Minh, 1924
“Instead of trying to avoid conflict or whining about the injustice of it all, consider an option developed over the centuries by … strategists to deal with violent and acquisitive neighbors; reverse intimidation. The art of deterrence rests on three basic facts about war and human nature: First, people are more likely to attack you if they see you are weak and vulnerable; second, they depend on the signs you give out, through your behavior both past and present; third, they are after easy victories, quick and bloodless. That is why they prey on the vulnerable and weak.” – Robert Greene
“The need to not mistake enemies for friends is especially great for us. Part of the reason for us being issue oriented is that we don’t yet see the need to assume responsibility in the development of the strategies affecting our lives. Those who are misgoverned and oppressed merely respond to the oppressive issues and conditions as they arise, and as the suffering triggers our awareness.” – Yaki Sayles
“For two or more centuries, America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred – making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike – rather, a great religion, a world war-cry.” – W.E.B. DuBois
Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Amerikkka is a sick state – its social ills the product of the malignant sickness of ruling class morality. For us to make sense of the relentless, 400-year-long onslaught of racist violence against New Afrikans and other nationally oppressed people in Amerika and the absence of a collective program of comprehensive self-defense and secure communities among the majority of the New Afrikan population in the U.S., it’s important we first grasp the origin of this contradiction, as all other points of contradiction and irrationality flow from it.
There is a direct correlation between the origin of U.S. society, the relationship of New Afrikans in its development, the racist murder of nine women, men and youth in Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the ongoing wave of Euro-Amerikan police slaughtering New Afrikans in their communities, and our failure to develop a national policy of self-defense. To understand that correlation, we must trace its etiology.
The mode of production and appropriation is what determines the composition of a society and which class will rule it. When the Euro-Amerikan bourgeois settlers overthrew colonial British socio-economic organization in North Amerika, it retained for itself the same privileges of usurpation that the aristocracy had so long enjoyed; they simply replaced, through the restructuring of the modes of production and appropriation, the layers of illusion used by the nobility – mysticism of symbols, politico-religious illusions like the divine right of kings, etc. – with naked self-interest, direct exploitation, pseudo-scientific justifications for racialization and inhuman brutality and open, unashamed oppression. Human worth was reduced to mere exchange value, and all of the social life was commoditized for efficient valuation, barter and disposal.
These values made up the basis of “morality” for the U.S. ruling class, and they imposed their values on the whole of society through their enforcement apparatus, “the state.” The institutions of U.S. society were structured to orient the population in these notions of “morality” and “law” as well as their underlying basis: PROFIT AND VIOLENCE.
In doing so, the U.S. ruling class embedded the illusion into the whole of society that the ruling class’s interests and the people’s interests were one and the same, thus developing a slavery of the willing. Hierarchical and authoritarian in nature, the function of these institutions was to reproduce these warped values in society as a whole – based on one’s class, cultural group and resultant social function – as the supreme rules of social life.
This process of assimilation to the ruling class took its own unique form for each culture and class subject to its domination. For New Afrikans, it took the form of Jim Crow apartheid lynch law, COINTELPRO, the deliberate application of poverty, the intentional introduction of narcotics, criminalization, “legal” re-enslavement (in mass incarceration) and “civil death.”
Throughout each of these eras, we saw racist violence and murder being visited upon us at the hands of the state and aspects of its majority Euro-Amerikan population. Though New Afrikan resistance to the assimilation process has been consistent over the course of our 400-year domestic colonization – including organized self-defense at different periods throughout that history – we have yet to develop and implement a consistent and comprehensive secure communities strategy across the New Afrikan collective in Amerika. Our failure to do so has both maintained our vulnerability to racist violence in the U.S. and emboldened those who perpetuate such attacks upon us to continue to do so.
“(W)hile the economic conditions of an ideology give us an insight into its material base, they offer us no immediate knowledge of its irrational core. Subject to the specific economic conditions of a society, man reproduces the historical economic process in his ideology. By forming ideologies, man re-shapes himself; man’s core is to be sought in the process by which he forms ideologies. Thus it is clear that the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s structure irrational.” – Wilhelm Reich
We watched along with the world the images of Dylann Storm Roof calmly walking into historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He sat in fellowship with nine of our sistas and brothas for an hour, then pulled out a gun and slaughtered them like sheep. Moments later he calmly exited the church, completely unmolested, got in his car, and drove away, leaving Rev. C. Pickney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. D. Simmons Sr., Uzia Jackson, Tywana Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Sharonda G. Singleton, Rev. Depayne M. Doctor and Ethel Lance dead.
This immediately conjured images of another New Arikan church in another time … of four little New Afrikan girls in an Alabama church murdered by a klansman’s bomb. Our minds moved to Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Omar Abrego, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and so many more, stretching in an unbroken line of corpses all the way back to the Middle Passage. Actions and organization of the broad masses of New Afrikans seemed to reflect a collective irrationality, which could not analyze the core contradictions accurately, and as a result were incapable of developing viable solutions to these contradictions.
Before we can speak of a genuine anti-racist agenda in the U.S., it must be understood that racism and its underlying basis, reactionary racial violence, are ideologies, and these ideologies are structural components of U.S. society. They cannot be “reformed” away. They are woven into the superstructure and base of capitalist Amerikka and are foundational components of its culture.
Racism itself, an ideological component of the system of global white supremacy, owes its very existence to New World slavery and the genocide of Native Americans during the U.S. ruling class’s primitive accumulation of capital. Racism is a uniquely Amerikan creation, and it is wholly irrational for us to seek to “reform away” the cultural fiber and ideological foundations of society.
It is even more irrational to seek to affect such change through identifying with its state and looking to its institutions – judicial, legislative, academic, socio-economic etc. – for such reform, when it’s the function of the state and these institutions to preserve the Amerikan cultural fiber and defend its ideological foundation – which includes the race-caste system and its underlying basis: racist violence.
It’s as though a large swath of the New Afrikan population has been so thoroughly assimilated to the ruling class that they have lost their capacity for rational thought. It is as though they’re incapable of thinking outside the dominant power system.
Consider the response of a significant number of our people in the immediate aftermath of Dylan Roof’s attack: They clamored for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina State Capitol, instead of clamoring to secure our communities and their institutions from further attacks.
We watched the entire proceedings, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime and staunch defender of maintaining the Confederate flag “as a symbol of (their) heritage,” shook the hands of the families of those slain as the flag lowering ceremony commenced. We looked upon this sea of humanity outside the South Carolina Capitol begin to cheer as an “honor guard” marched out to respectfully remove this symbol of death, torture, exploitation and hatred of New Afrikans and were amazed at the depth of irrationality in the U.S. mass psychology.
The state’s obsession with pomp and pageantry was clearly designed to deepen the delusion that the removal of this flag had any significance whatsoever in the structural racial hatred and institutional white supremacy imbedded – consciously or unconsciously – in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of Euro-Amerikans.
We noted, as the flag was removed, New Afrikans were shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” and waving tiny U.S. flags, while only a few yards away, over half the crowd – all Euro-Amerikans, all clearly less than joyful – were hoisting Confederate battle flags in every size, while at the front of their crowd, one fellow was hoisting a large U.S. flag in one hand and the Confederate battle flag in the other. As if mirroring our thoughts, the camera panned back to the mixed half of the crowd still blithely shouting “USA! USA!” as if the contradiction only feet away wasn’t underscoring the irrationality of both their chant and their celebration.
Between 2005 and 2012, according to a study by USA Today, New Afrikans were murdered by Euro-Amerikan police officers at a rate of twice a week. Every one of those officers had a central commonality: Each of them had a U.S. flag sewn to their uniform. It was almost as though we were looking upon a physical manifestation of the U.S. fascist mass psychology.
We often view the ideology of racism as something separate from us, while failing to analyze how our core psychology has been affected by it. At the same time they were removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol, it was being erected in millions of homes across the U.S. Amazon.com reported a 3,260 percent increase in sales of “Old Dixie” the day it was removed.
It would have been more rational to leave that flag right where it was, as a constant reminder of just what type of sick society we live in and our need to organize ourselves for self-defense and social transformation. The Confederate battle flag is just that – a symbol of Amerikan’s willingness to fight to preserve institutional racism as a structural component of U.S. capitalist society … just like the U.S. flag.
Consider this: In response to the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E., “Black Lives Matter” was spraypainted on the statue of a Confederate general. The response of Klansmen to this was to burn down six New Afrikan churches in five states. U.S. mass media mentioned a NAIM formation was holding a rally in South Carolina; the Ku Klux Klan’s response was to hold a march and rally through downtown Charleston, complete with national media coverage and police escorts to ensure their security.
The same way the U.S. government views ISIS or Al Qaeda as terrorist groups bent on the destruction of their nation and interests, the New Afrikan people in Amerikka view the KKK. There is nothing ISIS has done that the KKK hasn’t done to New Afrikans in Amerika – only the Klan carried these atrocities out with much more frequency over a much longer period of time.
However, if ISIS were to march and rally in downtown Charleston, S.C., they would be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment under the U.S. Freedom Act, National Security Act and other “anti-terrorism” laws. But if the KKK does the same, they’re provided the full protection of the U.S. Constitution – armed police escorts and national media exposure.
Amazingly – or perhaps NOT so amazingly – the local NAACP president asserted, “They have a First Amendment right to do so,” and he supports their right to exercise it. What is the difference between ISIS and the KKK? One is all Euro-Amerikan, Christian, kills New Afrikans and is protected by the U.S. state; the other is primarily Arabic Muslim, targets Amerikans and Europeans, and is summarily killed by the U.S. state.
In the face of such gross contradictions, do you truly believe “Black Lives Matter” to the U.S. state? Racism and racist violence will continue to re-invent itself as long as the ruling class and state in power remain in power.
“Racism will continue to exist so long as the belief in the concept of ‘race’ and the material reality underlying it exists. It’s this belief which allows racism to appear as totally autonomous (independent) of the economic relations it serves: capitalism. Unless and until it is uprooted, its forms will change, and its practices will ebb and flow, following the needs of its base, the political requirements of the oppressive state, and the forms and levels of struggle engaged by the people.
“Must racism be challenged? Yes. Does ‘race’ have a certain kind of ‘reality’? Yes, but, what we fail to focus on is that ‘race’ is only as ‘real’ as our consciousness and our practices will allow it to be.” – Atiba
Understanding the primary purpose of “racism” – to prevent broad class cooperation across cultural lines and to destroy unity amongst oppressed cultural groups with common interests – ensures that we develop strategies which protect our communities from the effects of this psychosis, without compromising our class unity or prospects of social cooperation. “Understanding that racism is a manufactured concept aids us in fighting it from the proper perspective – rationally and scientifically.”
“Combatting racism” is the conscious engagement of a fiction which has been granted material force in the world through its ideological structure. We are struggling against an illusion which only exists in the minds of man and woman. But much like superstition and the supernatural, it imposes itself on reality solely through our belief. Though irrational and unscientific, racism is nevertheless like the ghosts and ghouls that haunt our dreams, very lethal – and as such, it must be defended against … rationally.
Rationality is a hallmark of resistance to fascist assimilation. It is an indication of the peoples’ capacity to see its relationship to the productive system and social life as it actually is – and respond to it accordingly. It is not the existence of racist murder, violent atrocities, state sponsored terror and national indifference to the plight of New Afrikans in Amerika which should shock the conscience – that is all fairly standard in the U.S. It is the suicidal irrationality of our collective response to it which should concern us all.
A cursory analysis of the New Afrikan experience in Amerika from 1619 to the present clearly reveals Amerikans socially control, exploit, contain and kill New Afrikans as a matter of national policy. It is a policy that has evolved to maintain its function through every change in mode of production – from manual labor to industrialization, mechanization and computerization to financialization – pursued invariably through each, ever emerging, ever resilient.
Yet, in the face of tragedy after tragedy, be it racist police murdering us or psychopathic wannabe “Rhodesians” massacring us, we have yet to collectively commit to self-defense and securing our communities.
A primary question asked on tests measuring human intelligence is “If a faucet is running and a sink is overflowing, what do you do first?” (a) Get a mop and clean up the water, or (b) Turn off the faucet”? Of course you secure the faucet first. Otherwise you will be mopping indefinitely.
Similarly, what should we as a people do first? Organize ourselves so that our communities are no longer vulnerable to racist violence, or, continue to plead and organize within the same system that is responsible for the preservation and perpetuation of that racist violence?
The answer would seem obvious – yet it is not reflected in our social practice. Great effort has gone into organizing efforts like The Black Youth Project (BYP100), Dream Defenders, and reorganizing the NAACP, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of our people to hold elected officials accountable, organize rallies and direct action campaigns to raise the peoples’ consciousness, garner media attention, holding voter registration drives, organizing on social networks, and developing legislation in hopes of ending collective oppression. All very good and very important work … the same work that we have been doing since “Reconstruction” … mopping the floor.
It’s important that no one misunderstand our point here: The floor does need to be mopped … just not while the faucet’s still running. Yes, prayer and faith are vital aspects of our culture and solidarity in such times of tribulation – but they are a poor defense against bullets. And a reliance on the benevolence of those citizens who are either responsible for the national oppression or who benefit and have historically benefited from it is simply irrational.
New Afrikans, communities of color and poor people have always been willing to engage in dialogue with the state to create a just and humane society. Because it has always involved protest – the only time the state has ever been willing to engage in any kind of dialogue with us has been as a result of protest – the state’s response has always been exactly what it is now. The state really does hate us.
We overestimate the power of conversation and the benevolence of the state and those who benefit from our oppression, because, on this very basic level, we will not call this what it really is: hate!
We must defend ourselves against their hate. We must secure our communities – now! Any other course is irrational adventurism … just more floor mopping.
Even more irrational is the response of many of the warriors among us. As if to rub salt in the wounds of our own contradictions, the story the news ran immediately following that of the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. was of the epidemic of New Afrikan on New Afrikan gang violence plaguing Chicago.
As we watch these images of our brothas, sistas and children murdering one another across Chitown, we realized that it could have been Watts, Cleveland, Oakland, Baltimore or Southeast San Diego that they were talking about. In the face of unprecedented racist attacks on our communities from agents of the state, self-styled vigilantes or run of the mill racist psychopaths, our response is to help them out by murdering one other over hood, set, turf or (drug) sack.
We can’t be serious!? Actively participating in our own genocide, in the face of non-stop assault on our humanity, is a classic example of the hate that hate has produced. Our inability to be able to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves – the absence of a cultural kinship – is a consequence of our being under the influence of white supremacy.
It represents how much under the influence we are of – and how much we have been and continue to be damaged psychologically by – slavery. Indeed, the nation does still suffer from this pathology of hate.
There is nothing fly about wanting to be like forces who are committed to our destruction. The system of slavery is understandably viewed initially as a Black and White master-slave issue: racism. But slavery, the process by which one group or gender is made subordinate to a more powerful, stronger group, involves us all.
We are up against a united and powerful force and system. And the only chance that we have at defeating it is by coming together.
Division and disunity is weakness and vulnerability, but unlike a weak buffalo on a savannah that has become weak through illness, age or injury, ours is a willful weakness, a deliberate vulnerability and, as such, it is reversible.
The solution is to create a qualitative transformation in one social extreme – in this case, disunity-born weakness – by quantitatively increasing its opposite: UNITY.
It should never be easy to harm us – any of us. We must put our collective survival before our petty self-interests.
“When someone attacks you or threatens you, you make it clear that they will suffer in return. He may be able to win battles, but you will make him pay for each victory … You make him understand that every time he bothers you, he can expect damage, even if it is small. The only way to make you stop … is for him to stop attacking you. You are like a wasp on his skin: Most people leave wasps alone.” – Robert Greene
We must protect ourselves and our communities from these attacks by securing our communities. And that includes developing self-defense groups within our communities, safe zones that encompass public spaces for our children and grandchildren to play in, where our mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, wives and lovers, friends and neighbors can engage in other areas of social life without fear of violent death by the hands of those of whose responsibility it is to protect them and our communities. We must also work diligently to overcome the mentality that has us held captive.
It will only be as result of our changing the way that we think – being under the influence of the hate that hate produced – in order to be able to develop strategies and tactics that will make it possible for us to not simply be left alone, but to create and maintain a just and humane society. And we honestly do not have a lot of time left to do so.
Our communities, like much of the planet, have already become giant cemeteries and mental health facilities. Citizens here and abroad are being displaced by wars and deprived of the things that we need to live routinely: water, food, housing, decent wages, employment, education, life!
At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that we are in fact in a fight for our very survival and that we are really dealing with people, an ideology – fascism – and white supremacy that has no interest whatsoever in the creation and maintaining of a just and humane society. And when that happens, people are going to start fighting back. You just cannot expect people to continue to allow themselves to be massacred, stepped on and herded off into prisons. At some point it is going to become clearer and clearer to more and more people that this is happening because we are subordinating ourselves to tyranny.
And tyranny is not a greater good. Fighting against tyranny does, at some point, involve violence. Whether we want it or not, whether we consider it to be acceptable or not, it is a natural response to tyranny.
One of the chief psychological factors which have long undermined a collective policy of self-defense within the New Afrikan community, communities of color and poor communities is the state’s insistence that violence is their sole province. Non-violence and passive acceptance of brutality is popularized in the media, revered in discourse and monuments by the state.
This is not by happenstance.
It is the historic continuation of the deliberate imposition of psychological weakness and submission to white supremacy begun in the “man-breaking, slave-making” process centuries ago. To reverse this process requires struggle – constant, non-stop struggle.
Constant struggle and protest is the only rational response to the non-stop assault on our humanity and the planet that is occurring. We must love freedom, ourselves and the humanity of our fellow citizens.
And that love is what we must subordinate ourselves to. That must be the greater good.
The act of securing our communities and reclaiming our humanity has a dialectically progressive effect on our people and on us all as well.
We begin to shed the capitalist delusions and colonial psychosis which have been imposed on us through the assimilation process. We begin to see the true nature of hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty etc. We see past the shadow, which it is, on to the unequal social and economic relationships of the capitalist system which is actually casting it.
We begin to see our manufactured animosities and sub-culture divisions as aspects of our national oppression and, through this realization, glimpse the prospect of a new form of social life. This is what FUNCTIONAL UNITY looks like.
Functional unity is both a psychological state and social act; it is the conscious determination that one’s subjective animosities or active hostilities within our collective are subordinate to the survival of our people and humanity. It is consciously acting on a daily basis to ensure the welfare and survival of each other.
If our national oppression has taught us anything, it’s that the only “rights” we have are those that we can enforce. Our rights can only be enforced through self-defense.
Attacks upon poor communities, both physical and socio-political, are not abating but increasing. In the months of October, November and December 2015, just around the St. Louis area, seven New Afrikan churches were burned to the ground and, in the previous August, Yogi was assassinated. There is no area of social life in Amerika where New Afrikan mortality is not under threat, no place in this land where New Afrikan life is not undervalued, no other rational conclusion we can reach than we must educate, organize and mobilize our communities and ourselves for self-defense and our own security.
We think it appropriate to end this statement with “Freedom” by Frederick Douglass:
“Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation,
Are men who want crops without
Plowing the ground;
They want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one,
And it may be a physical one,
Or it may be both moral and physical,
But it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will submit to
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and
these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those whom they oppress.”
– Frederick Douglass, Aug. 4, 1857
Let’s come together! Love, and struggling with you,
NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism) Collective Think Tank):
- Zaharibu Dorrough (s/n Michael Dorrough), D-83611, CSP Solano B7-131L Level III, P.O. Box 4000, Vacaville CA 95696
- Heshima Denham (s/n S. Denham #J38283), KVSP B2-117U, P.O. Box 5102, Delano CA 93216
- Jabari Scott (Aaron Scott), H-30536, CSP Cor 3A-02-143, P.O. Box 3461, Corcoran CA 93212
- Kambui Robinson (Tyrone Robinson), C-82830, HDSP D8-113, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127
Editor’s note: This was written when all of the NCTT brothers except Kambui were still in solitary confinement in the Corcoran SHU. Since then, as a result of the hunger strikes, which they all participated in, and the Ashker settlement, all of them have been transferred out of solitary to “general population” yards. Visit NCTT’s new website for more wisdom from the think tank: https://narncollectivethinktank.org/.
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.
“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)
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.
Edited by NCTT webmaster. Posted here on SF Bay View, Oct. 25th, 2014
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“’Racism’ is used to justify and facilitate the exploitation of peoples, and it’s based on the false belief that humanity is divided into a plurality of ‘races’ that stand in relation to each other as ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ based on physical and/or cultural differences. There are no ‘races’ – only people(s), groups of people(s), united and distinguished by common history (social development), habits, interests etc. – sometimes we call all of this … ideology.” – James Yaki Sayles
Greetings, brothers and sisters. A firm, warm, and solid embrace is extended to you all. In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults against the people from various segments of the bourgeois apparatus reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology.
In July 2011 a group of racists beat Jason Smith, a young New Afrikan man, to death in Louisiana;
in February 2012 Trayvon Martin was murdered by a racist vigilante in Sanford, Fla.;
that same month Christian Gomez was allowed to die of starvation-related complications by guards while on hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison in California;
in March 2012, 17 people, nine of them children, were slaughtered by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bales in two Afghan villages as they lay down to sleep;
that same month Kendrec McDade was slain by racist police in Pasadena, Calif.;
in April 2012 Gerardo Perez-Ruiz was murdered by border vigilantes in Eloy, Ariz.
Each of these atrocities can be traced back to warped thought processes. The U.S. mass psychosis is the key inhibiting factor of social progress in this nation and the origin of sadistic violence in the modern world. Though all of these atrocities offend the humanity of each of us, we’ll highlight two of the cases to illustrate the etiological correlation of racist, xenophobic, sadistic violence and authorization psychology.
|Trayvon Martin, 17, was murdered by a vigilante in Sanford, Fla., Feb. 26, 2012.|
Imagine if you will, you are walking home one evening from the local convenience store with a can of tea and a bag of skittles for your younger brother. You’re looking forward to the Miami Heat game with your father when some strange man drives up and accosts you: “Hey! What are you doing around here? Come here! You need to explain your presence to my satisfaction.”
You’re a young man, a child really, and you don’t know who this guy is. He could be a kidnapper, pedophile, racist murderer – you don’t know. “I’m going home, man.” And you attempt to continue on your way … but he prevents you.
You’re frightened and confused as your fight or flight response kicks in; an altercation ensues and you scream for help as this strange white man pulls a gun. He aims at your chest and your screams of terror are cut off by the thunderclap of a gunshot, and the shock of pain as the hot bullet rips into your flesh slamming you backwards. You fall to the ground feeling the wet pavement under your cheek. As your life flows out of your body, your young eyes glaze to darkness as you die …
You wake to the familiar ache of hunger in your small cell in Corcoran State Prison ASU. You’ve been on hunger strike, and now something is wrong. Your heartbeat is racing, you can’t get enough breath. You knock on the wall to alert your neighbor to your distress. Soon the rest of the guys on hunger strike begin to kick and bang on the doors.
The prison guards can clearly hear the yells of “Man down” and your cell number as a sharp pain grips your chest and abdomen and you fall to the cold cell floor. The calls of “Man down!” and kicking on cell doors becomes more insistent as if the others can sense the grip of death closing around your body. The guards continue to ignore these calls.
Fear and panic seize you as your body no longer obeys your commands. You’ve not eaten in many days. It was the only way to bring attention to the reality of the U.S. domestic torture program being carried out in ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) and SHU (Security Housing Unit) torture units in California. That coupled with your illness has weakened your body too much to resist the draw of the veil.
It seems like so much time has passed since those around you began calling for aid to help you and none has come. None will ever come as you realize you are about to die … It hurts so much, perhaps death is not such a bad thing … Your eyes begin to flutter … They open and shut once more … but they see only emptiness … You have passed on …
|Christian Gomez, 27, was allowed to die alone in solitary confinement while on hunger strike in Corcoran Prison, California, Feb. 2, 2012.|
These nightmare imaginings, which were the reality for Trayvon Martin, Christian Gomez and all those victims we named at the outset, all have a common psycho-social correlation in their aggressors: All these instances involved social expressions of the same warped character structure; all these instances involved the murder of people of color by Euro-Americans or repressive forces of the U.S. state consistent with that historic dynamic; all these instances involved, despite mass outcry, at least the attempt at tacit justification or explanation by authoritarian interests in the U.S.
We have included in our previous discussions the pathology that has been created by our failure to deal with the legacy of racism and the capitalist authoritarian psychology that spawned it. It has claimed five more victims here and 17 more in a single night in Afghanistan. Trayvon Martin and Christian Gomez did not have to die. But they did. George Zimmerman and CSP-Corcoran ASU guards both share the identical psychological character structure of authoritarian man, reinforced by their particular stations in the U.S. social arrangement: the dominance of white male privilege and state power.
George Zimmerman, an affluent member of an exclusive gated community, clearly exemplifying the perceived supremacy of his Euro-American parentage and economic station, felt completely justified in pursuing this New Afrikan child that he identified as “Black” to the 911 operator. He then stated, “They always get away,” just before hunting down, accosting and subsequently murdering this poor child.
Much of America does not get that within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded in truth and prudence. The fact that Mr. Zimmerman continues to feel justified in executing Trayvon, as evidenced by his self-serving statements to Trayvon’s parents at the bail hearing, should chill all of you reading this. The state released him.
Within the New Afrikan community there is still a discussion held between parents and male Afrikan children about the dangers they face in the larger society because of their sable skin. For any that believe this is an exaggeration, the execution of Trayvon, Jason and Kendrec is proof these fears continue to be well grounded.
The irrational core of such justifications lies in the racial dehumanization of New Afrikans (males in particular) in the U.S. This dehumanizing dynamic is embodied in the historical development of property relations in the U.S.: a wealth surplus cultivated on the backs of Afrikan slaves working stolen Native American lands.
The unique ideological basis of capitalist economic development in the U.S., which incorporates the race-caste system as a vital component of the class structure, created a corresponding character structure that this process reproduces and re-enforces in its citizens. There has never been a conflict between democracy and racial oppression, inequality and exploitation in the mind of authoritarian man in Amerika. The pathological dehumanization of racism is the central component which allowed Zimmerman to not only murder a New Afrikan child for walking “his” neighborhood, but to justify doing so as “self-defense” and have that “justification” echoed by the Sanford Police Department. Such irrational reasoning has an origin.
In “the ignoble parody of modernity,” Cornel West states, “racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” It is this racial component of economic exploitation and conquest which is the developmental foundation of U.S. society still celebrated on Columbus Day. The irrational mentality of George Zimmerman did not fall from the sky. It was developed from the authoritarian mass psychology and national ideology of the U.S.
While a historical analysis of U.S. economic conditions gives us a glimpse into the material basis for racist ideology, it provides little insight into its irrational core – how it got there in this warped form today. Subject to the socio-economic conditions of U.S. capitalist society, Amerikan man reproduces those unique historical economic processes in his ideology.
This is why some three centuries after the “Willie Lynch method” was introduced to increase the productive output and relative safety of enslaving Afrikans in the Amerikas, the same twisted psychic structures that process created continue to be reproduced in both New Afrikans (the slave mentality, inferiority complexes, self-hatred) and Euro-Amerikans (authoritarian white male privilege, superiority complexes, hatred of other human phenotypes) in the U.S. today.
Ideologies reshape man’s being; we discover his material core by analyzing the process by which he forms ideologies. The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities in those who maintain the ideological “traditions” of the “Amerikan way” today.
The toxic historical process and development of U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism exemplified by its brutal enslavement of Afrikans, bloody extermination of Native Americans, conquest and annexation of lands and resources, from Northern Mexico to the Philippine Islands, continue to give rise to the psychic certainty of additional atrocities.
You see, the irrational formation of an ideology also makes man’s character structure irrational. Thus the genesis of the pathologically warped reasoning of Zimmerman; that he, not this frightened child, was “justified” in “defending himself.” Such a position is an indictment of the modern U.S. authoritarian mass psychology itself.
Now that the mainstream media, who shamefully ignored this tragedy initially, have gotten so involved that the mass psychological nature of authoritarian ideology is on display. National media outlets are asking the parents of Trayvon, “Shouldn’t George Zimmerman be given a fair chance?” “Shouldn’t we let the process play itself out?” These are legitimate questions, but they are questions that should not have to be asked. That they felt it necessary to ask questions like this is the best proof that we are going about this all wrong.
For example, Pat Buchanan asked on one news program, “Would Al Sharpton and others have come forward had it been a white male who had been shot by an Afrikan citizen?” We all must see how illegitimate these questions are, but entertaining such irrationality is what the pathology created by the historical legacy of racism has reduced us to.
We actually think that because there is a New Afrikan citizen in the White House – who is shamefully and routinely disrespected by the political establishment – and at the head of the Attorney General’s Office that, somehow, we are not the same nation we were in the not so distant past. Many say and think this, while simultaneously – again – engaged in a conversation about the lynching of Trayvon Martin … and we don’t see the contradiction.
To be sure, for weeks we’ve watched corporate mass media put forward theories of justification which absolve this gun toting, self-appointed “neighborhood-watch commander” of culpability in murdering this child – even going so far as attempting to disparage Trayvon’s character with such descriptions as “He was a troubled youth with behavior problems” in one breath, while dialoging on the analysis and re-analysis of the police video of Zimmerman’s head in the next.
The underlying message of the corporate mass media was given unvarnished clarity only days later in a tweet by a white New Jersey police officer, who said of Trayvon, “Act like a thug; die like a thug.” This simple articulation of the modern dehumanization of New Afrikans in Amerika by the authoritarian apparatus was the guiding ethos of George Zimmerman and the Sanford police.
To those with this twisted mindset, Trayvon was not a “human” child walking home from the store to watch the game with his family; he was “one of them,” “Black,” “they,” a “thug” – something other than and inferior to Zimmerman himself. In his mind he was justified in pursuing Trayvon, justified in accosting him, justified in murdering him because George Zimmerman was an upper-middle class white man “protecting” his community, and Trayvon just some “Black thug” in a hoodie.
This is really the type of sick, twisted rationalization that was proffered by Zimmerman and initially accepted by the Sanford police. Even when it was clear the nexus of protestation had forced the reactionary state to cleave with the authoritarian social imperative and finally arrest Zimmerman, instead of focusing on the self-evident atrocity of Trayvon’s murder and inexcusable delay in the state seeking redress, the authoritarian regime used this moment for law enforcement to sing its own accolades and re-enforce the authoritarian status quo by stressing the position that the national outcry at this one man lynching was not a factor in the state’s decision to prosecute.
They verified it by allowing Zimmerman to deposit $15k with a bail bondsman and just walk out of jail scott free, as though such a warped human hiding behind the “stand your ground” statute does not pose a threat to the safety and lives of others. Just as disturbing , only weeks later, it was discovered Zimmerman was not having such a great economic difficulty as he’d led the court to believe. He had raised some $250k online for his “defense.” The fact that so many Amerikans donated money to Zimmerman in just a few short weeks that he was able to amass a quarter million dollars is definitive proof of the mass psychosis of the authoritarian psychology in Amerika.
The “stand your ground” policy that is the law in Florida does include the Trayvon Martins of this nation; how can it not? With this in mind, how can any rational person entertain, even for a second, the explanation of Zimmerman, who’s admitted to pursuing and confronting this child before slaying him?
We live in a society that has never committed itself to changing the way that it thinks. The same social, political and economic forces that created the mentality that lynched Emmett Till and later James Byrd is the same system that is responsible for what is call racial profiling today. This is the same type of thinking that resulted in the murders of Kendrec McDade and Gerardo Perez-Ruiz earlier this year.
|Jason Smith, 14, was beaten to death by the KKK June 6, 2011. This is an autopsy photo. See the video at the end of the story.|
These are the same forces that created the hate which bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama, that claimed the lives of four little New Afrikan girls attending Sunday school in 1963; the same hate which killed James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964; the same hate that murdered Jason Smith in Louisiana in July of 2011.
Trayvon Martin’s black skin is what put him on the radar of Zimmerman and he said as much to the 911 operator. The dispatcher specifically told him not to pursue Trayvon, but Zimmerman hunted Trayvon anyway because he felt he had the authority to do so. The authoritarian mindset had fatal results.
The outrage that has been and continues to be expressed is justified. But it is not enough to demand justice. George Zimmerman is a symptom of a diseased society. We have legalized hate with the legislation of racial profiling and laws such as “stand your ground,” Arizona’s anti-immigrant statues and “gang” injunctions on entire communities of color. It is a crisis of culture, a manifestation of the malignant sickness of bourgeois society.
The core authoritarian psychology that gives social validity to these warped mindsets must itself be eradicated. We will continue experiencing these atrocities until such time as the minds of the masses are transformed, until we realize a victorious revolutionary change in this society.
But this pathology finds its most indifferent expression not in the gated communities of the upper middle class. No, it finds its most indifferent expression in prisons. Over the past 30 years, with tacit state sanction and support, the victims’ rights lobby and prison industrial complex have waged a successful dehumanization campaign on those who’ve abrogated “the law.”
The compulsion of socio-economic desperation, race-class disenfranchisement, and intentional underdevelopment of specific segments of the underclass – overwhelmingly New Afrikan, Latino and Native American – have been irrationally discounted as the origin of “crime,” and the onus for survival activities has been placed solely on the shoulders of the individual offender.
From this artificial social perspective has arisen the myth of the sub-human, predatory, criminal offender. Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.” Society views prisoners the same way we view vermin – as something other than human, repugnant and unworthy of compassion. Christian Gomez discovered this with fatal results. Prison, as a tool of social control and race-caste containment, has always been a key component of U.S. capitalism, but the broad based, systematic dehumanization of prisoners has expanded in direct proportion to the economic expansion of the prison industrial complex.
In the 2010 annual report of Corrections Corporation of America the world’s largest private prison purveyor, they state: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices … For instance, any changes with respect to drugs or controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of people arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing the demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
Those consigned to U.S. prisons do not simply lose their physical freedom; they lose their social designation as fellow “humans.”
The CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association), GEO Group [the world’s second largest private prison purveyor], and the Fraternal Order of Police have parroted these same lines openly in their lobbying efforts at the state and federal level. Do you not see the inherent contradiction in a public safety apparatus whose speculative profits and salaries are attached to maximizing criminal offenders, not reducing them?
This view they hold of prisoners and potential prisoners as commodities by the various aspects of the prison industry – both public and private – provides a compelling economic motivation for maintaining that social dehumanization in the overall populace.
Seventy percent of all TV programing is crime and punishment content, from “Cops” to “Judge Judy,” from “Law and Order: SVU” to “Blue Bloods” and countless others – all re-enforcing the message of corporate mass media and the labor aristocracy of prison guard unions like the CCPOA that prisoners are not humans but some subspecies of bipedal animal entirely separate from humanity itself. This is particularly pronounced in American paramilitary organizations like police or prison guards and is a manifestation of the mechanization of authoritarian man in the West.
Like the authoritarian process itself, this mechanization of man took centuries and finds its origins in man’s efforts to disassociate himself from the animal as he developed technology.
The best analysis of this is given by Wilhelm Reich in his piece, “The Human Struggle for Freedom,” where he states: “His viciousness, his inability to live peacefully with his own kind, his wars, bear witness to the fact that man is distinguished from other animals only by boundless sadism and the mechanical trinity of an authoritarian view of life, mechanistic science and the machine … Man’s claims are peculiarly contrived to make him forget that he is an animal … Man’s life is dichotomized: One part of his life is determined by biological laws (sexual gratification, consumption of food, relatedness to nature); the other part of his life is determined by the machine civilization (mechanical ideas about his own (self) organization, his superior position in the animal kingdom, his racial or class attitudes toward other human groups, valuations about ownership, science, religion etc.)
“His being an animal and his not being an animal – biological roots on the one hand and technical development on the other hand – cleave man’s life and thought.
There is thus no contradiction in the mind of the prison guard in upholding their oath to the Constitution’s noble humanistic ideals and dehumanizing imprisoned citizens. The warped character structure of the authoritarian psychology to differentiate itself from the “animal” – “the criminal” – makes that dehumanization a simple economic determination for prison staff, an almost reflexive psychological process intimately connected to their economic empowerment, socio-political prestige and influence.
|Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old unarmed college student, was murdered by police in Pasadena, Calif., March 24, 2012. Here, he kisses his newborn baby brother.|
That New Afrikans and Latinos make up 75 percent of the prison population, but a scant 26 percent of the national population gives a corresponding race-caste “justification” to this dehumanizing dynamic in their minds. So ignoring Christian Gomez’ – and the entire unit’s – pleas for help as he died in agony was no great feat for the prison guards. That the only outcry that has been heard has come from the relatively small community of social progressives reveals the immutable truth of the pervasiveness of the authoritarian mass psychology in the U.S.
Society’s support for this evil in service to power and privilege is exposed by their apathy and silence. Despite his mistakes in life, Christian Gomez was not only human, he was a hero, and those of us who are principled people cannot allow his sacrifice to be forgotten. Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
How sick and twisted must the core psychology of our nation be that so few of us have expressed our horror and outrage at the prison guards who just stood idly by, ignoring screams for help, and let him die in agony? How long will we allow racism and the authoritarian psychology at the core of those guards’ character structures to govern our cultural mores? The same sadism in service to the authoritarian imperative laid waste to the peaceful protest at Attica in 1971; gunned down W.L. Nolen and other freedom fighters in the late ‘60s and let them bleed out on the yard, feeding the melancholy history of Soledad State Prison; assassinated George L. Jackson in San Quentin on August 21, 1971, … and allowed Christian Gomez to die horribly in Corcoran ASU on Feb. 2, 2012.
Much has been said about the medical problems that he had which contributed to his tragic death. However, the question that we must ask is: How dreadful must the conditions under which he and others were housed have been that Christian would commit himself to starving himself given his medical condition?
Only in struggle, in actively educating those who are unconscious, organizing those who are conscious and mobilizing the advanced elements against the authoritarian psychosis will we effect meaningful change in the ideology of hate and sadistic violence which is at the core of authoritarian man’s character. It is incumbent upon all freedom loving people to change the culture in which we live. Institutional racism, by whatever name it is called, must be confronted and destroyed wherever it rears its ugly head.
As we have stated before, you, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future. The power to change the culture that has already taken so much from us … and of us, is in your hands.
The NCTT (NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank), both here in Corcoran SHU and Pelican Bay SHU, have put forward practical programs and platforms for all of us to build toward a brighter world.
From the 10 core objectives of the occupy movement national coalition and three pilot programs – CCE (Closed Circuit Economic) Initative, Sustainable Community Agricultural Commune; Block-Vote Democratic Initiative – developed here; to the glorious efforts put forward by NCTT Chairman Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Abdul Olugbala Shakur, such as The Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change in Pelican Bay give us all the tools and institutions capable of forging the transfer culture necessary to turn the tide of history.
By taking up these tools and supporting these efforts, we consciously act to shatter the chains of the authoritarian psychosis, to free the minds of all masses – to free ourselves.
You, the 99 percent – the people – are the greatest force on this planet. You have the power to change this society and the world you live in now, to dictate the kind we all live in the future.
Let us end this discussion with these words echoed down the corridors of history as a basis for a lasting solution to these ills of society: “The commune. The central citywide revolutionary culture. But who will build the commune that will guide the people into a significant challenge to property rights? Carving out a commune in the central city will involve claiming certain rights as our own – out front. Rights that have not been respected to now. Property rights. It will involve building a political, social and economic infrastructure, capable of filling the vacuum that has been left by the establishment ruling class and pushing the occupy forces of the enemy culture from our midst. …
“The revolutionary is outlawed … Revolution is illegal. It’s against the law. It’s prohibited. It will not be allowed. It is clear that the revolutionary is a lawless man (or woman). The outlaw and the lumpen will make the revolution. The people, the workers, will adopt it. This must be the new order of things, after the fact of the modern industrial fascist state. …
“You will find no class or category more aware, more embittered, desperate or dedicated to the ultimate remedy – revolution. The most dedicated, the best of our kind – you’ll find them in the Folsoms, San Quentins and Soledads.” – George L. Jackson
Trayvon, Christian, Kendrec, Gerardo, Jason and those nine children in Afghanistan will never know justice as long as the authoritarian psychology and ideology of hate responsible for murdering them is allowed to persist. There is only one sure cure. You are no longer ignorant to its reality or origin.
Will you continue to stand idly by, content to submit to the bonds of the ruling 1 percent, submitting to conformity, turning a blind eye to the evil pervading the very fabric of society? Or will you stand with us and those who dare to change the nature and structure of capitalist society, dare to change the culture of hate, dare to struggle, dare to win?
Your choice will determine the course of history. History will be kind to those of us who love freedom. The spirits of Trayvon, Christian, Kendrec, Gerardo, Jason and those nine Afghan babies are watching all of us with an interested eye. What will you show them?
In solidarity with the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change. Until we win or don’t lose.
For more information on the NCTT COR-SHU or its work product, contact: Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU 4BIL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; and Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-COR SHU 4BIL-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212.
For more information on other NCTT projects or the Bunchy Carter Institute for Revolutionary Change, contact: NCTT Chairman Sitawa N.J. Dewberry, C-35671, PBSP-SHU D-1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532, or Abdul O.S. Harvey, C-48884, PBSP-SHU D-4-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.
This statement was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.
The father of Jason Smith, 14, describes his son’s KKK murder on June 6, 2011, and asks for help.