It is clear to all who have as an interest in the development of revolution and a revolutionary party in the United States that the struggle of prisoners in the United States is not an isolated one or something that only bears attention when it is our own Communist political prisoners who are under attack. Prison strikes and uprisings deserve the most thorough and unconditional support and attention from all who would dare call themselves Maoists for the prison struggle is at root, a proletarian struggle. The most vulnerable and oppressed segments of the proletariat are being cast out of work and effectively lumpenized. This was predicted long ago by the theoretician and co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Huey P. Newton. While we do not unite 100% with the thesis of “revolutionary intercommunalism” developed by Newton after his right turn post-prison, the lumpenization thesis and the transformation of the old style industrial proletariat into a semi-lumpenized one is something that we believe bears close attention and analysis. We do not see the lumpen and semi-lumpen as “enemies”, but we do recognize lumpenproletarian behavior, as described by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter (NBPP-PC) in their 2005 document “Our Line”, as being detrimental to the development of a Maoist Communist Party:
“To serve in the capacity of a truly revolutionary vanguard, the Party must consist of committed, disciplined people who have the outlook of truly revolutionary workers; people who are committed to work every day in a patient and disciplined way until the conditions for a revolutionary seizure of power by the masses arise. Without remolding their class outlook, the lumpen will pursue ultra-leftist militant acts of exhibitionism and spew forth “Off the Pig!” rhetoric, and when this provokes repression from the Establishment, they will flip-flop to right opportunism, tum rat and become enemy agents, or run for cover. Lacking correct analysis, self-discipline and patience, they will vacillate left to right, and they will confuse one stage of the struggle for another and try to skip the stages that require hard work and tenacity.
These elements disdain to apply the Mass Line, ignore the Democratic Centralism of the Party, fear Criticism and Self-Criticism and lean towards individualism and “commandism,” indulging in personal attacks and attempts at intimidation and coercion of other Party members and the masses through threats and force. Their unremolded lumpen ideology is a corrosive to building Party unity and maintaining discipline, and it makes them easy prey for recruitment by the enemy. The lumpen are capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices, or of the basest banditry and dirtiest corruption.”
A large part of our work in NBPP-PC is to properly educate and reorient the lumpen through ideological and political training and bringing as many of them who are capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices” into the active work of the struggle as possible, and thereby expand the Party while struggling against opportunism, both of the “left” and right varieties. We know that in this work, the enemy will unceasingly attempt to infiltrate its agents of repression and seek out the weak links among us to turn them into their snitches and agent-provocateurs, and we must be vigilant to guard against this, without becoming paranoid; In the struggle, “ideological and political line determines everything,” and we must rely on ideological and political training and commitment to practicing the Mass Line, Criticism and Self-Criticism and the Democratic Centralist method of determining what should be done and how to do it.
We realize that the lumpen are our brothers and sisters, and we do not desire to make war on them, rather we look upon their wrong ideas and lack of understanding as loads upon their backs, and we endeavor to help them cast them off. “Cure the sickness to save the patient,” is our goal. However, we are not naive idealists, and we realize that there are those who lack the moral fiber and will to change or courage for the struggle. Some people have no integrity or loyalty, and those who, after struggle, persist in wrong ways must be purged from the ranks of the people’s movement.”
When we study the Black Panther Party, we see the development of a lumpenproletarian political line within the organization and the eclecticism that characterized its politics as being one of the major factors in its decline and eventual destruction. Internal factors and internal erroneous political lines led to external factors aiding in the destruction of the Party, leading to fratricidal violence and madness and the deaths of several of the best and brightest sons and daughters of the people. When we say we support prison abolition, we do not mean abolition of prisons under socialism, as these apparatuses are necessary for the transformation of class enemies, rightists, and reactionaries. Maoism holds that things, through struggle, are capable of transformation into their opposite. Lenin taught us that it is necessary to smash the existing state apparatus and build socialist new things, replace capitalist pig-police with revolutionary neighborhood committees, replace the fascist imperialist armies with people’s armies of liberation, replace imperialist meddling in other countries’ affairs with proletarian internationalism, replace reactionary hellholes of prisons with revolutionary centers that have as their stated goal the thorough and constant transformation of criminals and enemies of the people or, if this proves impossible, their liquidation. Prisoners of Liberation details how a socialist prison system works. Through constant political education, criticism and self-criticism, labor, and adherence to the principle of “cure the sickness, save the patient”, those who have stood against the new order can and will be transformed. However, under capitalism, the call for the abolition of prisons is correct because it is a repressive, reactionary apparatus. Capitalist prisons must be replaced with community justice apparatuses ultimately beholden to the people themselves, meaning the revolutionary proletariat, through the Communist Party and its mass organizations in which Party cadre work.
We extend our fullest support to the prison strike which has been planned and coordinated by a united front of organizations such as the IWOC which has attracted attention by putting in much work on the ground and inside the prisons to accomplish the tasks of giving voice and teeth to the demands of the proletariat inside prisons. We also extend fullest support to the theoretician Kevin Rashid Johnson as he is bounced around from prison to prison with the intent of silencing his strong voice and unwavering support for his fellow prison workers. Mass organizations in which MCP-OC cadre are active are developing educational activities and direct actions in solidarity with the prison strike. This strike has received international support from Palestine to Canada. This is a testament to the brilliant base-building and information spreading work done by comrades inside and outside the walls. We uphold the demands of the incarcerated organizers, which are democratic and concrete moves to improve the quality of lives of prisoners. These demands are:
- Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
- An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole.
- No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
- An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
- An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
- No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
- Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
- The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
While we, as Maoists, reject the strategy of voting and appeals to the bourgeois structure, it is not our place to condemn or lambaste the comrades in the trenches of struggle from outside. Maoists should reserve our views in the heat of struggle and refrain from splitting coalitions and movements over ideological squabbling while people die in jails and in the streets. What is called for is unity and solidarity from those on the outside. We heed the advice of George Jackson to put aside our petty quarrels, recognize that fascism is already here, and unite on a firm and principled basis to accomplish the tasks before us.
Maoist Communist Party – Organizing Committee
August 23, 2018