Thursday, May 24, 2012
There is not a lot that prisoners can do to really challenge the system from the inside. Prisoners at the Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) have however organized a hunger strike against their conditions and have released a list of reasonable demands to be met.
according to CBS 6 Richmond news there are 45 inmates engaged in the the hunger strike and even a site has been dedicated to solidarity with the strike.
The list of demands are as follows;
"We (Prisoners at Red Onion State Prison) demand the right to an adequate standard of living while in the custody of the state!
1. We demand fully cooked food, and access to a better quality of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, we demand increased portions on our trays, which allows us to meet our basic nutritional needs as defined by VDOC regulations.
2. We demand that every prisoner at ROSP have unrestricted access to complaint and grievance forms and other paperwork we may request.
3. We demand better communication between prisoners and higher- ranking guards. Presently higher-ranking guards invariably take the lower-ranking guards’ side in disputes between guards and prisoners, forcing the prisoner to act out in order to be heard. We demand that higher- ranking guards take prisoner complaints and grievances into consideration without prejudice.
4. We demand an end to torture in the form of indefinite segregation through the implementation of a fair and transparent process whereby prisoners can earn the right to be released from segregation. We demand that prison officials completely adhere to the security point system, insuring that prisoners are transferred to institutions that correspond with their particular security level.
5. We demand the right to an adequate standard of living, including access to quality materials that we may use to clean our own cells. Presently, we are forced to clean our entire cell, including the inside of our toilets, with a single sponge and our bare hands. This is unsanitary and promotes the spread of disease-carrying bacteria.
6. We demand the right to have 3rd party neutral observers visit and document the condition of the prisons to ensure an end to the corruption amongst prison officials and widespread human rights abuses of prisoners. Internal Affairs and Prison Administrator's monitoring of prison conditions have not alleviated the dangerous circumstances we are living under while in custody of the state which include, but are not limited to: the threat of undue physical aggression by guards, sexual abuse and retaliatory measures, which violate prison policies and our human rights.
7. We demand to be informed of any and all changes to VDOC/IOP policies as soon as these changes are made.
8. We demand the right to adequate medical care. Our right to medical care is guaranteed under the eight amendment of the constitution, and thus the deliberate indifference of prison officials to our medical needs constitutes a violation of our constitutional rights. In particular, the toothpaste we are forced to purchase in the prison is a danger to our dental health and causes widespread gum disease and associated illnesses.
9. We demand our right as enumerated through VDOC policy, to a monthly haircut. Presently, we have been denied haircuts for nearly three months. We also demand to have our razors changed out on a weekly basis. The current practice of changing out the razors every three weeks leaves prisoners exposed to the risk of dangerous infections and injury.
10. We demand that there be no reprisals for any of the participants in the Hunger Strike. We are simply organizing in the interest of more humane living conditions."
If you would like to help in any way then please visit http://virginiaprisonstrike.blogspot.com/2012/05/take-action-today.html to find phone numbers to call or email addresses to send emails to etc.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
"You are not a Maoist, you are a revisionist"
Things are not always black and white. The same goes with peoples ideological line. The acronym MLM can mean many different things to different people.
To some individuals or groups it means ML (which itself is used in many ways such as Hoxhaist or tankie or Stalinist) with some contributions from Mao. Some MLM uphold the Three head theory (Marx Lenin and Mao) and some uphold four (Marx Lenin Stalin and Mao). To some it means staunch anti-revisionism to any Marxist-Leninist revision. To others it means to revision all revolutionary theory to current and local conditions. Some Maoist support younger Mao's ideas and actions and some support older Mao's ideas and actions. Some dogmatically follow all his writing to a tee and some people see his ideas as a starting point and think it is against Maoism itself to be dogmatic. To some people to be a Maoist is to be a state-authoritarian, to others it is complete dictatorship of the proletariat from the bottom up.
I am writing this because I want to explain why I am the kind of Maoist that I am.
The great leap forward (GLF) is usually used as a way to attack Maoist so let me just say that first off the massive numbers of 16-70 million people that were "killed" by Mao has been disproved by many accounts (here is one). Many people did die during the GLF, but it was from starvation and not mass murder and no one set up the GLF so people would starve (there was also drought in some areas and natural disasters in others) . In fact it is impossible to prove how many people starved or that more people starved than in previous years. But the great leap forward was important in the country side because the nation didn't have good irrigation systems and in drought years whole villages would have to fight off starvation (which was a major problem under the old KMT and feudal system). So the CPC called for peasants to help build these huge irrigation systems. The problem was that no one was tasked with turning volunteers away and too many people volunteered and not enough people stayed home and grew food. So I see the GLF as both a success and a failure, if one person died because of the policy then it was one too many. However the GLF brought great harvest after this period and helped put a boot to the throat of mass starvation(many claims supported in link).
Just thought I should clear that up least someone thing Maoist think murdering millions is okay or justifiable.
One of the major reasons I am a Maoist is that I believe communal democracy as enacted in China during the liberation phase up til its dismantling by the soviet wing of the party was the greatest example of proletarian democracy. The old peasants associations and village congresses along with communal farms and kitchens were great corner stones for how a proletarian society should look.
Another reason is that I admire the right and ability of people to criticize the government and their policies and have a chance to steer policy. Under communal democracy and especially during the cultural revolution until 68 the peasants and the working class held control over almost all aspects of their lives. At one point in time during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) the people of Shanghai actually took a vote to change what the colors on the stop lights meant. They voted to make red mean go because red was the color of socialism and thus the color of progress and a movement forward. Some may see this as silly but it illustrates how much power communal democracy gave to the masses. They ended up not changing the light system because it was agreed that it would be confusing to people not from the city and more important things could be discussed.
Since I brought it up I will discuss why I uphold the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) as the furthest advance towards communism and why I believe that many cultural revolutions will be necessary to achieve communism.
Many critics of the GPCR on both the right-wing and the reactionary left simply brush off the GPCR as a violent period that was a result of Mao trying to hold onto power. This is simply an incorrect ahistorical view of the cultural revolution. While there was violence used in the GPCR it was purely because of anger that came forth from the masses over right-wing politicians attempts to turn China into a capitalist nation.
One point of the GPCR was to revolutionize the masses and to smash the reactionary ideas and customs of the old Chinese society. It was direct action by the people to destroy all lines that advocated capitalism as the way forward. Violence was unfortunately needed sometimes to unseat politicians, reactionary landlords or bosses. Everyone was subject to the peoples will. Party members were especially targeted if they were seen as capitalist roaders or as reactionaries.
I believe that cultural revolutions would only be needed in backwards nations and bourgeois minded societies. I do think that the GPCR brought many lessons that we can draw from to revolutionize the popular masses and keep radical people's power in charge. It was reported that when Mao was forced to order the red guards to disband that he did so with tears running down his cheeks. Was this because he knew that this symbolized the end of people's power in China? And that it also showed that the government was to take more power over the people as opposed to the people holding power over their government? Meaning that the "revolutionary Committees" were to be reinstated and that the Soviet wing and the capitalist roaders had won? This writer think these are the reasons for his tears that sad day for China. Most of China's politicians speak ill of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution today because as reactionary capitalist roaders and capitalisms running dogs these politicians would have been targeted during the GPCR, and rightly so.
Anti-anti-ideologies- I do not uphold any anti ideologies, I do believe every branch has something to contribute to the movement to some degree. I am not a anti-revisionist, I think revision to MLism is very important and needed to move forward. We live in a different time and under different conditions and in different places than any of these people who have become demigods. To treat people as infallible is in my opinion in itself against a dialects position. Also to not unite with those who can be united with, over silly reasons is considered leftism.
Self criticism- Is the most important trait that is need in any person or group that plans on taking a leadership position. Not only being able to make self criticisms but also learning from and fixing your short comings is so important to me. Ive never heard any group in the States say "we were wrong" or "that wasn't a correct tactic/slogan" etc. Ive never even heard a member of a party or group say "we were wrong/incorrect". Instead we hear excuses or straw arguments on how they were actually correct. This I believe is brought on by the luxury of these groups being irrelevant in the bigger picture, they can afford to be wrong and ignore it because they are not accountable to anyone and their decisions don't affect any ones life. But these groups need to learn to do self criticisms and learn and grow from their mistakes or else they run the risk of never being taken seriously.