Skip to content

Tributes to political prisoner Tom Manning

August 25, 2019

Via Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar

Ray Luc Levasseur

Jaan Laaman

Bill Dunne

Oso Blanco

Kojo Bomani

Certain Days collective

Statement on passing of Tom Manning

By Ray Luc Levasseur

Tom Manning’s death on July 30 has me in the grip of an emotional riptide. I feel like part of me died with him.

Tom was imprisoned at USP-Hazelton, WV at the time of his death. The ostensible cause of death, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was a heart attack.

I received Tom‘s last letter on July 15. He wrote that he was in dire circumstances, his medical needs treated with deliberate indifference, delays in receiving necessary medication, his body weak from lack of oxygen. Supporters scrambled to get a lawyer in to see him, but death arrived first.

Tom battled the Bureau of Prisons criminal negligence of his medical needs for the past 10 years, beginning when he almost died from an untreated knee infection while at USP-Coleman, FL. As a result of that infection, most of his knee was surgically removed and he was wheelchair bound for the rest of his days.

But he was not through fighting.

When he arrived at FMC-Butner, NC for further medical treatment he was kept in solitary confinement under abysmal conditions for 3 years. Much-needed knee and shoulder surgeries were repeatedly delayed until pressure from Tom‘s supporters forced the BOP to act. But the surgeries came too late, and combined with the lack of necessary rehab insured that Tom remained in a wheelchair.

Tom always had the warrior spirit, right to his last breath. Many more like him, and the ruling class would tremble. The ache in my heart over his passing will be forever.

In remembrance, I offer words I wrote in 2014 for Tom‘s book “For Love and Liberty,” a collection of his paintings:

“When Tom Manning and I first met 40 years ago, we were 27 years old and veterans of mule jobs, the Viet Nam war, and fighting our way through American prisons. We also harbored an intense hatred of oppression and a burning desire to organize resistance.

As members of a community action group called SCAR, we worked its ‘survival programs’ including a community bail fund, prison visitation program, and a radical bookstore. The Red Star North bookstore drew the venom of police – surveillance, harassment, raid and assault.

Tom and I disappeared underground in the midst of this and COINTELPRO revelations. We remained underground for near 10 years, much of it on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. We were tagged as ‘terrorist’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ because as ‘members of a revolutionary group’ we used explosives against targets of empire: predators of apartheid South Africa, Puerto Rico’s colonialism, and the slaughter in Central America.

We considered our work anti-terrorist. It was a time, you see, when activists were killed, imprisoned, tortured and exiled. ‘Winter in America’ as Gil Scott-Heron put it, and raging hell in El Salvador. It was a time when the U.S. sub-contracted its terrorism and if you were on the wrong end of it – you died.

Sometimes when we met underground I noticed Tom sketched on scraps of paper. I was impressed with how well he drew. I said to him – man, you got talent, why not do landscapes, portraits, big pictures! His response – no time for that, for our priority was taking down this wretched system that disrespects and destroys life.

The government’s mandate is that Tom die in prison, as our comrade Richard Williams did in 2005 after a long period of medical neglect and solitary confinement.

Tom has risen beyond the gulag’s attempt to strip his humanity. You can feel the dignity and spirit of resistance in his paintings. He is one of those carrying heavy burdens, be they the ‘sans-culottes’ of the world, a Haitian health care provider, or a victim of police bullets.

Political prisoners do not exist in a vacuum. They emerge from political and social conflicts. The ruling class and media attempt to criminalize, demonize and marginalize these prisoners, because recognition of political prisoners is de facto admission that serious conflicts exist and remain unresolved.

In 2006 an exhibit of Tom Manning’s paintings – ‘Can’t Jail the Spirit’ – opened at the University of Southern Maine. Police organizations throughout the Northeast conducted an intense ‘shut it down’ campaign. The police were particularly disturbed with the characterization of Tom as a ‘political prisoner’ and his painting of Assata Shakur on display. When the police got to the university’s corporate funders, the USM president capitulated and the exhibit was ordered shut down. The exhibit’s supporters then carried Tom‘s paintings through the city streets and rallied at Congress Square.

‘There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard,’ reads Psalm 19:3 and the gravestone of Black freedom fighters Jonathan and George Jackson. Voice, through its many forms, articulates vision. Call it subversive art, liberating art, art that challenges the one-dimensional. Tom‘s art is a voice among the dispossessed that transcends concrete and razor wire with an affirmation of life.

The paintings of Tom Manning and American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier; the creative work of Puerto Rican Independista Oscar Lopez Rivera; the poetry of anti-imperialist Marilyn Buck, which lives on; and the Earth defender poems of Marius Mason; the spoken word of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Mutulu Shakur. They are the voices of our political prisoners, principled and honorable men and women who communicate from isolation and suffering.

We must not let their voices be suppressed. They need to be heard and celebrated by freedom loving people everywhere.”

I extend deep gratitude to all those who provided some measure of support and solidarity to Tom during his 34 years in prison.

With Tom‘s passing, Jaan Laaman remains the sole United Freedom Front prisoner. It’s time to bring Jaan home.


Ray Luc Levasseur

Black August

August 1, 2019


Tom Manning – Words of Remembrance

By Jaan Laaman
Class war prisoner, Freedom fighter, Man of the People, long held political prisoner, Thomas William Manning, died on July 30, of a heart issue at the federal penitentiary in Hazelton, Kentucky.
Tom—Tommy to his many comrades, family, friends, people that knew him, was a life long Revolutionary Freedom Fighter. From the early 70s, Tom was a public activist and organizer and later, a quite successful armed militant in the anti-imperialist underground. Captured in 1985, he and some of his comrades became known as the “Ohio 7/UFF“ (United Freedom Front) defendants.
After many trials Tom was hit with 58 plus 80 year sentences. He was then thrown into some of the worst, harshest prisons in the United States. Being in captivity did not stop Tom from continuing to work and struggle for justice, freedom, Human Rights and the socialist and environmentally sustainable future so many people and our planet so need. Tom struggled against abuses inside prisons and continued to work for the independence struggles in Puerto Rico and Ireland, the Palestinian struggle and the then still ongoing anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. In fact Tom was very likely one of the two last anti-apartheid activists still in captivity anywhere in the world. Tom of course always continued to support the struggles of poor and working people in this country, the struggles of Black people, Native rights and land struggles, against police abuses and murders of civilians, people of color in particular.
Tom was an artist, and accomplished painter. His artwork truly captures some of Tom’s essence: his portrayal of the dignity of working people, children, women, the strength and determination of the revolutionary fighters and leaders, and more. A beautiful book of some of Tom’s art was published in 2014 — “For Love and Liberty.”
Now Tom is gone. Our comrade, my comrade, who suffered years of medical neglect and medical abuse in the federal prison system, your struggle and suffering is now over brother. But your example, your words, deeds, even your art, lives on. You truly were a “Boston Irish rebel,“ a life long Man of and for the People, a warrior, a person of compassion motivated by hope for the future and love for the common people, a Revolutionary Freedom Fighter.
We miss you and love you comrade… and we will carry on the struggle!
Jaan Laaman
Ohio 7/Anti-imperialist political prisoner
(Black) August 2, 2019
Jaan Laaman #10372-016
USP McCreary
PO Box 3000
Pine Knot, KY 42635
(When writing Jaan, remember you cannot send greeting cards, paper and envelopes must be white and no address labels can be used on the envelope).

Tom Manning, Soldier of the struggle

By Bill Dunne

“Tom Manning, Soldier of the Struggle, Comrade, Friend, Brother, Artist, Human, Mighty tree in the forest who has fallen. The sound reverberates through everyone who aspires to positive practice in service to the struggle he shared.

I knew Tom more through his exemplary practice across decades and his comrades’ experience of him then by having had the opportunity to hang out and roll out some practice with him. Except one time: a twelve and a half hour bus ride from the Federal Transit Center at Oklahoma City to the U. S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.

We sat next to each other during the entire trip. Notwithstanding the agents of repression, the chains, and the bars separating us from freedom just a window away, we freed ourselves by making revolution all the way. He was farther along in his understanding of what that meant in theory and practice and showed himself to be all of the above in elucidating that praxis.

I will not forget that trip. Some of Tom Manning will always ride with me as I try to make progress in the struggle. He will help paint the most equitable social reality in which all people will have the greatest possible freedom to develop their full human potential that is our destination.

Tom Manning Presente!

The future holds promise!

Bill Dunne
FCC Victorville FCI-1
9 August 2019
Nagasaki Day

The future holds promise!

Love, Bill

A Revolutionary’s Farewell: Rest in Power, Tom Manning

By Oso Blanco

Brothers and Sisters of the Struggles:

I’m sad to learn I’ve lost a great and true Warrior Brother, Tom Manning, who left this earth only very recently.

He is free now. Dealing with our loss is not getting easier. The only positive way I can deal with the loss of our great comrade is to think of his transition in those terms. Tom is free now, and it is always better to be free.

I did three-and-a-half years with Tom in USP Leavenworth, where he and Leonard Peltier taught me to paint with oils and schooled me on how I’d be treated horribly strictly due to my politically motivated actions that landed me in prison. Tom taught me what to expect from this imperialist empire. I truly loved this Brother Tom Manning, and also his brother Bob Manning who is still with us in New Mexico. Bob always helps me, and stays in touch with me and my mother, Melody.

We must stop wasting time, for these warriors laid the revolutionary foundation that the struggle lives upon today. These people must not be left to rot in the hell holes of this empire. All of you need to get your people out, and be for real, and put you comfort-zone toys away so you can put in the real work it takes to the help men and women who have been locked up by the monsters of death and destruction running this empire. Get your asses in fucking gear.

I say this to all in the struggle—every activist, every warrior, every anarchist: be for Super Real and Powerful like Tom Manning and his co-defendants and start getting your actions rocking and rolling. Waste no more time.

Oso Blanco* #07909-051
USP Victorville
Post Office Box 3900
Adelanto, CA 92301
*Address envelope to Byron Chubbuck

PP Kojo Bomani Sababu speaks of Tom Manning and Black August-!ASHA!

Life is strange all the good things come to a end. Tom was a beautiful  person very talented in painting and skillful in articulating matter to be understood politically. I am glad I spent a few moments onthis earth with him. George, Huey, Sofia, and Tom all died in August, that is why this month is Black August. Kojo”
AKA-Grailing Brown
#39384-066 USP Canaan
P. O. Box 300
WaymartPA 18472

From the Certain Days collective

The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar mourns the loss of political prisoner Tom Manning, a longtime supporter and inspiration to us.

Tom’s contributions to Certain Days go right back to the first calendar in 2002 when we printed his portrait of Steven Biko. Tom’s art beautifully conveyed the internationalism and solidarity that animated both his own politics and those of the calendar project.

His portraits of iconic figures such as Assata Shakur and Yuri Kochiyami paid homage to their leadership, while his paintings of the ordinary people in communities in Haiti, Chiapas and Cambodia highlighted their day-to-day struggles. Tom was extremely generous over the years and took the time to share his art with us even at moments when his health presumably made it quite taxing for him to be involved. He was warm, and funny, and we always looked forward to opening a letter from him.

His work has appeared consistently in Certain Days over the last two decades (gracing the cover twice — a feat unmatched by any other artist). We’re honoured to have learned so much from our work with Tom, and saddened and angry to lose him too soon due to ongoing medical neglect while he was imprisoned.

Rest in Power, Tom!

See some of Tom’s inspiring artwork here.

Call for Art and Article Submissions: Health/Care

April 6, 2018

What: A call for art and article submissions on Health/Care for the 2019 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar.

Deadline:  May 18, 2018

The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar collective ( is releasing its 18th calendar this coming fall. The theme for 2019 is ‘Health/Care,’ reflecting on the overlapping topics of health, care/caring, and healthcare.

We are looking for 12 works of art and 12 short articles to feature in the calendar, which hangs in more than 3,000 homes, workplaces, prison cells, and community spaces around the world.

We encourage contributors to submit both new and existing work. We also seek submissions from prisoners – please forward to any prison-based artists and writers.


In 1972, The Black Panther Party formally added healthcare to its ten point program:


We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival.

Then, as now, health in all its dimensions — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental, community — remains fundamental to liberation. Some of the topics that could be explored within this theme could be:

  • health care and medical neglect in prison
  • movement healthcare projects (anything from the Black Panther Party free clinics, to current projects providing both western medical and other forms of health support)
  • radical reproductive health projects, past and present
  • the politics of care work in its myriad forms (care for people living with illness and/or disability, childcare, elder care, etc)
  • mad pride and resistance to forced psychiatric treatment
  • aging and health issues in prison
  • disability and health
  • Indigenous healing and other non-western health practices and projects
  • trans health projects and activism
  • radical organizing among health care workers and/or in defence of public healthcare
  • medical parole
  • strategies for, and stories of, (collective and individual) self care within movements



• 500 words max. If you submit a longer piece, we will have to edit for length.

• Poetry is also welcome but needs to be significantly shorter than 500 words to accommodate layout.

• Please include a suggested title.


1. The calendar is 11” tall by 8.5” wide, so art with a ‘portrait’ orientation is preferred. Some pieces may be printed with a border, so it need not fit those dimensions exactly.

2. We are interested in a diversity of media (paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, computer-designed graphics, collage, etc).

3. The calendar is printed in colour and we prefer colour images.

Due to time and space limitations, submissions may be lightly edited for clarity, with no change to the original intent.


1. Send your submissions by May 18, 2018 to info @

2. ARTISTS: Please send images smaller than 10 MB. You can send a low-res file as a submission, but if your piece is chosen, we will need a high-res version of it to print (600 dpi).

3. You may send as many submissions as you like. Chosen artists and authors will receive a free copy of the calendar and promotional postcards. Because the calendar is a fundraiser, we cannot offer money to contributors.

Prisoner submissions are due June 8, 2018 and can be mailed to:

Certain Days c/o
Burning Books
420 Connecticut Street
Buffalo, NY 14213


The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal, Hamilton, New York and Baltimore, with three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. The initial project was suggested by Herman, and has been shaped throughout the process by all of our ideas, discussions, and analysis. All of the members of the outside collective are involved in day-to-day organizing work other than the calendar, on issues ranging from refugee and immigrant solidarity to community media to prisoner justice. We work from an anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, queer and trans positive position.


Oppose the new directive from DOCCS eliminating food packages

January 7, 2018

The thugs who run the NYS prison system (NYS DOCCS) have issued a new directive (4911A) that describes new, draconian package rules that they are testing in 3 facilities as a ‘pilot program.’

Currently, at most facilities, family and friends can drop off packages at the front desk when visiting- packages that include fresh fruit and vegetables that supplement the high carb/sugar, meager diet provided by DOCCS.

These new rules are problematic in a lot of ways including:

1) Packages can be ordered only from approved vendors.

2) Fresh fruit and vegetables are not allowed.

3) Family and friends cannot drop off packages while visiting. All packages must be shipped through the vendor.

4) Each person is limited to ordering three packages a month for him or herself and receiving three packages a month from others. Each package cannot be more than 30 pounds. Of the 30 pounds per package, only 8 pounds can be food.

5) Allowable items will be the same in all facilities. (No more local permits.)

6) There are far fewer items allowed than before and of the items that are allowed, far less variety. This includes additional restrictions on clothing.

7) Groups like NYC Books through Bars, Inside Books Project, and South Florida Prison Books will not be able to send free books to the 52,000 people in the NYS prison system.


The pilot program implements an “approved venders only” package system. This means that only packages from approved vendors will be accepted. The vendors appear to be companies that specialize in shipping into prisons and jails. There are currently five approved vendors identified on the DOCCS website. This amounts to a cash grab for these companies.

The pilot program is starting at three facilities: Taconic, Greene, and Green Haven. Those facilities stopped accepting packages from non-approved vendors on January 2, 2018.

We have to make this package directive unworkable. These new rules are cruel- eliminating fresh fruit and vegetables and creating massive profits for the vampire companies that will fill the niche.



Some ideas how:

1-Sign the petition- share it with your address book, share it on Twitter, share it on Facebook. It takes two seconds. 

2-Get in touch with your people in NYS Prisons and let them know about this new policy.

3- Flood the electeds with postcards. Send one to Governor Cuomo and one to Anthony Annucci, the acting commissioner of DOCCS. It costs 34 cents.

Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224


Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci


Building 2, State Campus

Albany, NY 12226


Some sample text:

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Prisoners should have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other support from their families. I object to the new DOCCS package rules.


(Your Name)

(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)


Dear Acting Commissioner Annucci,

The new DOCCS package pilot punishes innocent families. Having a loved one in prison is already expensive and difficult—the new rules make it worse. Rescind the package pilot!


(Your Name)

(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)


4) Write a letter to both of these people (address above)


5)Call Cuomo’s office and leave a message about it. You won’t have to talk to anyone. Just leave your message.



6) Email




7) Tweet at Cuomo: @NYGovCuomo

8) Write your NYS Senate and Assembly reps as well:

9) Get media to cover it especially outfits like Democracy Now and the NY Times





NYC Books through Bars letter to Cuomo:



Jaan Laaman transferred to USP McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky

December 28, 2017

Avoids Transfer to CMU, After Long Period in Segregation

As of December 28, 2017, Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, has been transferred to USP McCreary in Kentucky — after being held in segregation at USP Tucson for over 270 days — over 8 months. Please write Jaan at his new address right away so he feels the love. We want the prison to be aware that he is supported by folks and we have his back.

Please send greetings & love to:

Jaan Laaman #10372-016

USP McCreary

U.S. Penitentiary

P.O. Box 3000

Pine Knot, KY 42635

We’re happy to report that Jaan is back in general population! While at Tucson, Jaan was held in segregation (minimum 23 hours a day, locked down in a 6×9’ cell) since his birthday on March 21, 2017. Jaan was placed into segregation because of two short messages which were shared with his close family and friends: this statement in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio on March 9, 2017. Prison officials made the absurd claim that these statements ‘threaten the security of the prison.’

Transfer to CMU Prevented!

Jaan was threatened with transfer to a Communications Management Unit (CMU) because of these statements. Jaan’s pro-bono attorney, Paul Gattone filed a lawsuit challenging the attempt to transfer Jaan to a CMU. Paul is a people’s lawyer who practices in the areas of civil rights and criminal defense, and an owner of Revolutionary Grounds infoshop in Tucson, AZ.

Preparing for Parole Hearing:

Jaan is a Freedom Fighter and Must Come Home!

Preventing Jaan from being transferred to a CMU was the first goal. Jaan is an Elder (69 years old) and needs to be brought home. Jaan should be home with his siblings, family and loved ones. Jaan is a freedom fighter who was convicted of actively fighting some of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history–US backed atrocities like apartheid in South Africa and genocidal wars in Central America. Jaan is a lifelong anti-racist and anti-imperialist. We need his vision and voice at home now more than ever. This work to bring Jaan home will be led by Jaan and folks on the outside that Jaan identifies to lead up this effort. Please let us know if you would like to help in this effort. Jaan and all political prisoners must be brought home and we can make it happen!

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman. Contact:; Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman; Twitter: @4StruggleMag. Learn more about Jaan here and here

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman. Contact: Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman Twitter: @4StruggleMag

Support Herman Bell’s Attempt at Parole

November 26, 2017

Political prisoner Herman Bell’s next parole attempt will be taking place in February 2018. As you probably all know, it’s been a difficult fall for Herman, as he was assaulted viciously by guards earlier this year. However, his health is recovering and he has been so deeply touched by all of the support that he was showered with from all of you. And of course beating the charges was such an incredible win!Because of the tremendous support Herman received behind the assault, and because activists in New York recently succeeded in having the worst parole commissions removed from the parole board in NY state, and new parole commissioners appointed in their place, many of us feel this 8th time will be his best chance yet of finally getting out of prison, after four-and-a-half decades. We’re all most certainly going to put forward our very best efforts toward this goal.

pdf packet is linked to here containing information re: parole-support letters for Herman. The due date for all letters is December 15, 2017. The address of where to send the letters is in the attachment. All of the information contained in the attached documents can also be found on Herman’s website, on the Parole Efforts tab ( We are trying to focus on getting letters from “influential” people, on getting letter from people who have met or corresponded with Herman, and having as many letters as possible on professional letterhead. Also, ideally letters would be mailed rather than emailed.

This is an important initiative; Herman has spent most of his life behind bars, a result of the U.S. government’s war against the Black Liberation Movement. It is time we got him out!

David Gilbert’s Looking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically

November 26, 2017
David Gilbert's Looking at the U.S. White Working Class HistoricallyLooking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically tackles one of the supreme issues for our movement, the contradiction embodied in the term “white working class.” On the one hand there is the class designation that should imply, along with all other workers of the world, a fundamental role in the overthrow of capitalism. On the other hand, there is the identification of being part of a (“white”) oppressor nation. Gilbert seeks to understand the origins of this contradiction, its historical development, as well as possibilities to weaken and ultimately transform the situation. In other words, how can people organize a break with white supremacy and foster solidarity with the struggles of people of color, both within the United States and around the world?

Gilbert began this project in the early 1980s, while in jail facing charges stemming from his activities in the revolutionary underground. It  started as a pamphlet reflecting on writings about race and class by Ted Allen, W.E.B. DuBois, and J. Sakai.  In the 1990s, Gilbert added a retrospective essay, reviewing lessons from the 1960s and the New Left he had been active in at the time. Over the years, Looking at the White Working Class Historically (as it was known in previous editions) has been widely circulated across multiple waves and generations of activists. As Gilbert writes in the introduction to this 2017 edition, this text remains the most popular of his writings for younger radicals seeking to build movements against racism.

This new edition contains all the material from previous versions (including an essay by J. Sakai), along with a new introduction, Gilbert’s take on the election of Donald Trump, and an extensive new text surveying changes in the global political order since the 1960s. More than ever, Looking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically explores and illuminates perspectives for radical change and resistance to racism in the United States today.


What People Are Saying

“This book embodies what I have come to expect from all of David Gilbert’s writings: precision insight tempered with humanity, nuanced historical analysis for the purpose of learning lessons, and an everpresent willingness and even insistence on questioning everything, especially his own work. Gilbert’s honesty in his introduction about what this book lacks strengthens rather than weakens its impact – He does not pretend to have all of the answers, instead insisting the only right answer is a collective one. He invites conversation and critique rather than running from it, highlighted so clearly with a rebuttal by one of the people’s work he delves into. This book, like the politics needed to build a new future, shows struggle as the dynamic living growing creature it is.” —Walidah Imarisha, author of Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption, and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

“David Gilbert’s analytical clarity, commitment to universal justice, and unswerving integrity shine through his words.” —Barbara Smith, founding member of the Combahee River Collective, and of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press; Consulting Editor, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me
Around: Forty Years of Movement Building With Barbara Smith.

When Malcolm X said John Brown was his standard for white activism, he could have easily meant David Gilbert. He is our generation’s John Brown. His support of Black liberation as a method of freeing the world is to be studied, appreciated, and applied.” —Jared A. Ball, author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto, and professor of Media and Africana Studies at Morgan State University

“If we want to organize white people against racism and for racial justice, if you want to build up a broad-based majority for economic, racial, and gender justice, if you are enraged at the devastation of structural inequality in our lives and on our planet, then this book is key.  Class inequality is organized through white supremacy, and the ruling class strategy of divide and rule of pitting working class and poor white people against communities of color, must be understood.  David Gilbert gives us historical analysis to understand this ruling class strategy, and how we can unite white people across class to a collective liberation vision with racial justice at the center.” —Chris Crass, author of Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter


About the Author

David Gilbert, a longtime anti-racist and anti-imperialist, first became active in the Civil Rights movement in 1961. In 1965, he started the Vietnam Committee at Columbia University; in 1967 he co-authored the first Students for a Democratic Society pamphlet naming the system “imperialism”; and he was active in the Columbia strike of 1968. He later joined the Weather Underground and spent a total of 10 years underground.

David has been imprisoned in New York State since October 20th, 1981, when a unit of the Black Liberation Army along with allied white revolutionaries tried to get funds for the struggle by robbing a Brinks truck. This tragically resulted in a shoot-out in which a Brinks guard and two police officers were killed. David is serving a sentence of 75 years (minimum) to life under New York State’s “felony murder” law, whereby all participants in a robbery, even if they are unarmed and non-shooters, are equally responsible for all deaths that occur. While in prison, he’s been a pioneer for peer education on AIDS and has continued to write and advocate against oppression. He’s been involved with the annual Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar since 2001 and has written two books from prison that are available from Kersplebedeb: No Surrender and Love and Struggle, as well as the pamphlet Our Commitment is to Our Communities: Mass Incarceration, Political Prisoners and Building a Movement for Community-Based Justice.

You can write to David at:

David Gilbert #83A6158
Wende Correctional Facility,
3040 Wende Road
Alden, New York 14004-1187


Looking at the U.S White Working Class Historically can be ordered from here

Or order from AK Press here, or here

The press sheet for this book (pdf) can be downloaded here

Herman Bell’s charges dropped and moved to Shawangunk

October 7, 2017

Herman Bell now in general population! He was told that the charges will be dropped! From Herman (written earlier) with many thanks for all of our efforts:

September 27, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for the outpouring of cards, letters, healing-love and energy that you sent me in response to the unprovoked brutal assault on me by NYS prison guards at Comstock, NY – a vicious slap aside the head from behind and shoved to the ground. I protected myself as best as I could. I sustained multiple kicks, punches to the face and eyes, repeated head slams into concrete, and 2 cracked ribs. They tried to bury me with raining blows, not knowing that I am a seed. But the burning pepper spray sprayed into my eyes and mouth is what did me in – and yet, here I am.

Now I know why visitors bring flowers and candy to the hospital. I was immediately sent, however, not to a hospital but to the Box for “assault on staff,” so the cards and letters and love you sent me were my flowers and candy. You did great!

I was astonished, not by the outpouring of your support, but by the enormity of it.

People are coming together and are standing up. They are finding that they are not entitled to the rights and freedoms they think they have as americans. Instead of the consideration americans – many of them voters – deserve, they are ignored by authoritarian and elected officials.

They lack healthcare, suffer from unrestrained police violence, mass incarceration, lack a living wage, experience poverty and homelessness, and suffer from a toxic environment. People are standing up against these injustices, insisting that their demands be respected and addressed.

The social injustice, jackboot repression, racist attacks, discrimination, wealth disparities, unemployment, lack of affordable housing (the list doesn’t just end there), creates waves of fierce discontent which ls gaining steady momentum, becoming a full-blown cleansing tsunami, the force of which is irresistible.

And that force is you, the People, coming together and taking a stand. My flowers and candy is your outpouring of support for me, our political prisoners, the mass incarcerated and the voiceless.

To write each of you (I’ve literally received hundreds of letters) a personal “thank you” at this time would be impossible. So, I send this “thank you!” instead.

Thank you! I thank you deeply one and all for the empathy, outrage, love and support you’ve expressed in the face of the assault on me. May our resolve to produce social change remain unshakeable.

Herman Bell
​Shawangunk Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, New York 12589

Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted

September 11, 2017

Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5, 2017.  While being “escorted” by a guard back to his housing unit, a guard struck Herman, age 69, in the face causing his glasses to drop to the floor.  This same guard then repeatedly punched Herman about the face, head and body.  Responding to a commotion, 5-6 other guards arrived and joined in the assault.  One of them was able to knee Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs.  Another guard took out a bottle of mace and sprayed it all over Herman’s face, eyes and mouth.

Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary.  X-rays have confirmed fractured ribs.  Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows.  He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a sign of a possible concussion.

Herman Bell has now been charged with “assault on staff”.  Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him.   He did this, they claim, in a location out of the view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is now in the Special Housing Unit (box) at Five Points Correctional Facility where he was transferred after the incident.

Herman Bell has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years.  He was scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over 2 1/2 years.  In addition he is to appear before the parole board, for the 8th time, in February 2018.

Herman has, however, been the target of guard harassment due to his political background.  Visitors report that guards processing them and in the visiting room comment that they are visiting a “cop killer” or “terrorist”.  Some guards have been seen passing around the book “Badge of the Assassin” written by Herman’s prosecutor.

At this time, we are encouraging everyone to take the time to write to Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are paying attention and are concerned for Herman. Stay tuned for updates as we develop this campaign.

Herman Bell’s new address is:

Herman Bell #79C0262
Five Points Cor. Fac.
P.O. Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541​

Drop Charges Against all #J20 inauguration protestors

August 30, 2017

On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, D.C. to oppose the inauguration of Donald Trump.A wide variety of demonstrations countered the spectacle of the inauguration, making it clear to the world that many of us reject Trump’s cruel and divisive leadership.

A day of defeat became a moment of resistance, and set the stage for the travel ban protests that followed. While Trump and his army of trolls have encountered few meaningful obstacles in the halls of power, grassroots resistance has persisted.

Unfortunately, with resistance comes repression. After terrorizing protesters (including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities) with pepper spray and ‘stinger’ grenades, DC police cordoned off an entire city block and mass-arrested more than 230 people.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff (under the authority of U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips) later sought an indictment charging more than 200 people with at least eight felonies each—for rioting, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot, and property destruction—punishable by up to 75 years in prison.

With these unprecedented, excessive charges, the state is cracking down on dissent – allowing Trump to pursue his agenda challenged only by symbolic hand-wringing. This strategy corresponds with a broader wave of repression, from arrests and grand jury investigations of Indigenous water protectors at #StandingRock, to the demonization of #BlackLivesMatter.

Just as our struggles are connected, these arrests represent a threat to all people fighting for true freedom, dignity, and autonomy. 

Join the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and other civil liberties advocates in standing with the J20 defendants.

Call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to immediately drop all charges.


Learn more at

Please follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and share this petition with your friends and family! (and use #dropj20 !)

This petition will be delivered to:

  • US Attorney for the District of Columbia,
    Channing Phillips
  • Chief – USADC Felony Major Crimes Section
    John Gidez
  • Head – DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility
    Robin Ashton

Postcards to support Jaan Laaman, currently held in segregation

July 7, 2017

We have been sharing updates on our editor, anti-imperialist political prisoner Jaan Laaman, who has been held in segregation for over three months.

You can help by contacting the prison administration, and by writing to Jaan to let him know he’s in our thoughts. You can also spread the word to supporters in your community by ordering these beautiful postcards from our friends at Prison Radio:

Postcard to BOP in Support of Jaan Laaman

Solidarity Postcard to Jaan Laaman


Kevin Rashid Johnson Snatched from Texas Prison

June 27, 2017

We have received word that Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, prisoner-organizer and revolutionary has been moved from Texas! He was picked up by his Virginia DOC officials (he was on an interstate transfer). Rashid is a very good organizer and he was moved from Red Onion State Prison because of his influence and leadership. It seems now that Texas also could not handle his principled determination.

Supporters learned that he is being held at a reception center in the state of Florida. We will forward additional information as soon as we know it. 

Transfers have been opportunities for prison officials to arrange for violence and abuse. Rashid was beaten and had his locks shaved when he was first brought to Texas, and lost much of his property. We are concerned about prisoners’ rights and basic human dignity and we will take action to make sure this does not happen again!


Who to call

Mr. Terry Glenn, Interstate Compact Supervisor
Virginia Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 26963
Richmond, VA 23261-6963
Phone: (804) 887-7866
Fax: (804) 674-3595

Call Script

I am calling on behalf of Kevin Johnson, Virginia inmate number 1007485. I am a friend of Mr. Johnson’s, and am highly concerned for his well-being and safety. I understand that he was recently taken by Virginia Department of Corrections from Clements Unit in Amarillo, TX.

Where in Florida is he being taken? Is he being returned to Virginia where his family would be able to visit him?

I demand that Mr. Johnson be moved to Virginia, that ALL of his property, including ALL his legal materials and his typewriter, be given to him upon his new location, and that his transport be safe and humane.

Please let us know immediately if you find out any information on Rashid.
Additional Resources

Rashid’s Website
Facebook Event to Call for Rashid

Rashid is Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter); he is a Virginia prisoner organizer and revolutionary communist. As a result of his organizing he has been repeatedly transferred out of state, under a setup called the “Interstate Compact” which is used to remove rebellious prisoners and exile them to locations where they have no friends, support, etc. For the past four years Rashid has been held in Texas, where he has been beaten, threatened, had his property confiscated, been set up on bogus infractions, and more — nonetheless, he used his time there to forge connections with other prisoners and to write a series of powerful exposés about violence, medical neglect, abuse, and murder in the Texas prison system.

He has also been targeted because of analysis and belief organizing across boundries of race and class. Look carefully at his latest artwork, this is what the state finds dangerous:

Thank you for calling and taking action.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight, we win!

Noelle Hanrahan
Director, Prison Radio

Take action now! Political prisoner Jaan Laaman still in segregation, threatened with transfer to CMU

June 26, 2017
Dear Friends,

As of today, Monday, June 26, 2017, Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, is still locked down in segregation (minimum of 23 hours locked down in a 6×9’ cell).  Jaan has been in “segregation” for three months simply for issuing two statements, a clear violation of free speech and human rights. He is being threatened with transfer to a Communication Management Unit (CMU) or Special Management Unit; punishments that are not appropriate for a prisoner of Jaan’s age, and would be a violation for practicing free speech.

After a prison hearing on May 4, 2017, Jaan was found to not have violated prison regulations regarding “misuse of mail,” but was found to have violated prison regulations concerning “misuse of  the telephone,” for speaking on the phone to a friend and conveying his support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017), and his feelings about the death of his friend, Attorney Lynne Stewart. Jaan was sanctioned by losing 10 days good time credit and by loss of the telephone for 6 months (in addition to the loss of email access which was imposed without a hearing one year ago). Jaan is currently appealing this ruling. Meanwhile, Jaan is still in “segregation,” and still being threatened with transfer to a CMU.

CMUs are prison units designed to isolate and segregate prisoners. People locked up in the CMUs are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends, and other types of communication are also severely limited, including interactions with non-CMU prisoners and phone calls with friends and family members. For more info see:

How you can support Jaan:

Write/call/email the Bureau of Prisons Regional Director and ask her not to transfer Jaan to a Communication Management Unit.

Please remind her that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you are concerned about his health in segregation and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to a Communication Management Unit.

Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Dr
Stockton, CA 95219
Regional email:   wxro/

Send a message through the Bureau of Prison (BOP) website here:

– Select ‘USP Tucson’
– Send a message that includes his name and number: ‘Jaan Laaman #10372-016’

Please be polite but firm in your letters and send the responses you get to

Write to Jaan and let him know he’s in our hearts and on our minds.

Jaan has no access to news and access to phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news and messages of solidarity and support. Let the jailers see that Jaan has support from the community and cannot just be left in segregation or silenced.
Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734

Background Information

Jaan is imprisoned at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson in Arizona, and is one of the last two remaining Ohio-7 political prisoners still locked up. The Ohio-7 were convicted in 1986 of direct actions to protest U.S. support for the white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, illegal U.S. attacks on Nicaragua, and repression against advocates for Puerto Rican self-determination.

Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two short messages: one in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio. Lynne Stewart, revolutionary peoples’ lawyer passed away on March 8, 2017. When the NYC ABC magazine arrived by mail to the prison, Jaan was promptly placed in solitary confinement. Prison officials charged Jaan with “threatening the security of the prison” because of these First Amendment protected statements.

No one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment Rights. The United States District Court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in a case involving efforts to censure Mumia Abu-Jamal:  “A past criminal offense does not extinguish a person’s constitutional right to free expression. The First Amendment does not disappear at the prison gate.”

Pattern of Increasing Repression

Being placed in segregation is the latest act of repression by the prison administration, following increasing actions against Jaan. Over a year ago, the prison shut down Jaan’s access to email, and they have been censoring him in various ways since then, including withholding his mail and limiting access to his lawyer.

Jaan was placed in segregation on his birthday and has been there ever since. There is a growing consensus as to the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement. In 2011 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes torture and can cause irreversible harmful psychological effects.

Jaan previously wrote about the increasing censorship he has been facing, here. Jaan has been writing reflections about global events since he was first captured in 1984, so this level of censorship is certainly something new and different.

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman.

Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman

Twitter: @4StruggleMag

Public Demonstration, Rally & Vigil to Liberate “Xinachtli” Luna Herdandez: June 9

June 7, 2017

Friday, June 9th, 2017, Austin, Texas



is calling for a Public Demonstration,

Rally & Vigil to Liberate “Xinachtli”


We will gather on the 20th Year Anniversary of Texas Political Prisoner Alvaro “Xinachtli” Luna Hernandez’ wrongful conviction, to make public contact and protest statement for his excessive punishment of a 50-Year Sentence & Felony Conviction for Aggravated Assault, for disarming a sheriff in 1997, who had threateningly drawn his revolver after Xinachtli challenged his authority to arrest him without a warrant on suspicion of Aggravated Robbery, a bogus charge, at his home.


“Xinachtli, is an Aztecan ‘Nahuatl’ name meaning, if literally translated into English, is “Germinating Seed, “ and is how he prefers to be called. He is an Anti-Imperialist, Chicano-Mexicano, Human Rights Activist, and former Union Organizer and Civil Rights Advocate for his Community, and is in our opinion, and many of his support base around the world, a victim of an abusively cruel & overused Solitary Confinement form of isolation as ‘rehab’ or security, on the pretext of maintaining an orderly smooth-functioning prison facility.


As opined in a 1978-79 Prisoner Class Action, Ruiz v. Estelle, 550 2d 238, legendary Texas Jurist, U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, for the Eastern District of Texas stated. . .”the conditions of imprisonment within the TDC (now TDCJ) Prison System constituted Cruel and Unusual Punishment in violation of the United States Constitution.” “Xinachtli” has endured twice the maximum limit of this (20) year period that Wayne Justice figured as a cutoff point before the degrading conditions of ‘solitary’ would manifest into dis-ease and loss of sanity. This August, it will be (15) consecutive years of being subjected to this form of Texas Torture and sensory-deprivation they call “Administrative Segregation.”


By quarantining political dissidents like “Xinachtli,” they’ve labelled and denigrated as “trouble-makers,” and the 125 or so other recognized PP’s across this country in a similar manner, and in his case, all due to a damaging false accusation of an informant that said “Xinachtli” was responsible for a prison gang ‘hit,’ someone he didn’t even know; Texas’ ‘Control Units’ have become a sad reflection of a society that’s bottomed-up, by allowing these tax-payer-funded “Houses of Horror” to continue to maim and destroy human lives. LIBERATE “XINACHTLI” –GIVE HIM A NEW DATE IN COURT & ABOLISH SOLITARY CONFINEMENT NOW FOREVER!!

♦  At 12-Noon – to – 1 PM  ♦

At the Texas Capitol ‘South Steps’ Entrance – at the “T” & 11th & Congress Avenue


John S. Dolley, Coordinator: Committee to Free Alvaro “Xinachtli” Luna Hernandez ♦ We will be free to speak with media at this time – Contact: twitchon@gmail.com

Political prisoner Jaan Laaman is still being held in segregation

May 25, 2017

Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, is currently in segregation (minimum of 23 hours locked down in a 6×9’ cell).  Jaan has been in segregation since his birthday on March 21, 2017, over two months now,  simply for issuing two statements, a clear violation of free speech and human rights. He is being threatened with transfer to a Communication Management Unit or Special Management Unit; punishments that are not appropriate for a prisoner of Jaan’s age and would be a violation for practicing free speech.

Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two short messages he released: one in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio. When the NYCABC update arrived by mail to the prison, Jaan was promptly placed in solitary confinement. Prison officials charged Jaan with “threatening the security of the prison” because of these First Amendment protected statements.


How you can support Jaan:

Write/call/email the Bureau of Prisons  and ask them to end the repression against Jaan!

Please write and call the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials below and ask that Jaan:

1- Be released from segregation & placed back into general population immediately.

2- That he not be moved to a Communication Management Unit or punished further for exercising free speech.


3- Have his phone and email privileges be restored immediately.

Please remind them that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you are concerned about his health in segregation and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to a Communication Management Unit.


Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Dr
Stockton, CA 95219
Regional email:   wxro/

Phone: 209-956-9700
Fax: 209-956-9793


BOP Central Office, DC

Phone: 202-307-3198

United States Penitentiary – Tucson
9300 South Wilmot Road
Tucson, AZ  85756
Email: TCP/
Phone: 520-663-5000
Fax: 520-663-5024

Send a message through the Bureau of Prison (BOP) website here:  

– Select ‘USP Tucson’
– Send a message that includes his name and number: ‘Jaan Laaman #10372-016’

Please be polite but firm in your letters and send the responses you get to


Write to Jaan and let him know he’s in our hearts and on our minds.

Jaan has no access to news and access to phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news and messages of solidarity and support. Let the jailers see that Jaan has support from the community and cannot just be left in segregation or silenced.

Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734


Background Information

Jaan is imprisoned at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson in Arizona, and is one of the last two remaining Ohio-7 political prisoners still locked up, (the other is Tom Manning). The Ohio-7 were convicted in 1986 of direct actions to oppose U.S. support for the white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, illegal U.S. attacks on Nicaragua, and repression against Puerto Rican freedom fighters.

Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two messages: “Day Without a Woman Strike,” and “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart.” Lynne Stewart, revolutionary peoples’ lawyer passed away on March 8, 2017.

No one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment Rights. The United States District Court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in a case involving efforts to censure Mumia Abu-Jamal:  “A past criminal offense does not extinguish a person’s constitutional right to free expression. The First Amendment does not disappear at the prison gate.”

Pattern of Increasing Repression

This is the latest act of repression by the prison administration, following increasing actions against Jaan. Over a year ago, the prison shut down Jaan’s access to email, and they have been censoring him in various ways since then, including withholding his mail and limiting access to his lawyer.

Jaan previously wrote about the increasing censorship he has been facing, here. Jaan has been writing reflections about global events since he was first captured in 1984, so this level of censorship is new and different.

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman.
Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman
Twitter: @4StruggleMag

TAKE ACTION for Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner Jaan Laaman, Locked in Segregation and Facing Repression for Speaking Out for Human Rights

May 8, 2017

Jaan Laaman, Currently in Segregation

Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, is currently in segregation. Jaan has been in segregation since his birthday on March 21, 2017 simply for issuing two political statements, a clear violation of free speech and human rights. [More details below.]

How you can support Jaan:

Write to Jaan and let him know he’s in our hearts and on our minds.

Jaan has no access to news and almost no access to phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news.

Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734

Write and call the Warden and ask him to end the repression against Jaan.

Please write and call the Warden at USP Tucson and ask that Jaan be released from segregation and that he not be punished for expressing his support for women’s rights and for writing a statement mourning the passing of his friend, Lynne Stewart. Remind the Warden that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you’re concerned about his health in segregation and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to another prison.


United States Penitentiary – Tucson
9300 South Wilmot Road
Tucson, AZ  85756
Email: TCP/

Phone: 520-663-5000
Fax: 520-663-5024

You can also contact:
Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Dr
Stockton, CA 95219

Regional email:   wxro/

Thomas R. Kane,  Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Central Office HQ
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534

Background Information

Jaan is imprisoned at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson in Arizona, and is one of the last two remaining Ohio-7 political prisoners still locked up. The Ohio-7 were convicted in 1986 of direct actions to protest U.S. support for the white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, illegal U.S. attacks on Nicaragua, and repression against advocates for Puerto Rican self-determination.

Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two short messages: one in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio. Lynne Stewart, revolutionary peoples’ lawyer passed away on March 8, 2017. When the NYC ABC magazine arrived by mail to the prison, Jaan was promptly placed in solitary confinement. Prison officials charged Jaan with “threatening the security of the prison” because of these First Amendment protected statements.

No one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment Rights. The United States District Court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in a case involving efforts to censure Mumia Abu-Jamal:  “A past criminal offense does not extinguish a person’s constitutional right to free expression. The First Amendment does not disappear at the prison gate.”

Pattern of Increasing Repression

Being placed in segregation is the latest act of repression by the prison administration, following increasing actions against Jaan. Over a year ago, the prison shut down Jaan’s access to email, and they have been censoring him in various ways since then, including withholding his mail and limiting access to his lawyer.

Jaan was placed in segregation on his birthday and has been there ever since. There is a growing consensus as to the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement. In 2011 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes torture and can cause irreversible harmful psychological effects.

Jaan previously wrote about the increasing censorship he has been facing, here. Jaan has been writing reflections about global events since he was first captured in 1984, so this level of censorship is certainly something new and different.

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman. Reach us at On Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman; Twitter: @4StruggleMag.

The Context for the Trump Phenomenon

March 18, 2017
BY David Gilbert 

The bizarre and dangerous rise of Donald Trump did not just pop up out of the thin air. The very foundation of the U.S. is white supremacy. This country is, at its core, imperialist, patriarchal and based in a range of ways human beings are delimited and demeaned. Nor are the specific and terribly virulent politics of racial scapegoating brand new. Always a part of U.S. culture, that approach became more central in mainstream politics, with various ups and downs in the rhetoric, since the end of the 1960s. A stable imperialism prefers to rule by keeping the population passive, with large sectors at home placated by relative prosperity. But when the system is in crisis, those running the economy often resort to diverting anger by scapegoating the racial “other.” The sectors of the population who buy into that get the “satisfaction” of stomping on their “inferiors,” which is a lot easier than confronting the mega-powerful ruling class.

The eruption of mass protest against Trump has been exciting, and so far it’s been sustained. People seem to have a feel for the critical need for ongoing education, organizing, and mobilization. The movement also has to be prepared, both psychologically and in terms of legal and support networks, for greater repression, both state and extralegal.

The Democrats in blaming “those damn Russkies” are deflecting attention away from the real reason they lost: they represented the prevailing global capitalism and all the associated frustrations of the decline of U.S. manufacturing and the erosion of job security. Trump spoke to those anxieties – in a totally demagogic and dishonest way. For example, during the campaign he railed against Goldman Sachs as the prime example of how Wall Street banks screw the working man; then, as president he selected seven of his top economic appointments from the ranks of Goldman Sachs. The Democrats could not provide a compelling alternative to this racist scam artist because they too are fully based in the long bipartisan history of white supremacy, capitalism, and wars of aggression.

Regardless of these questionable charges, Russia can’t hold a candle to the U.S. when it comes to interfering in other countries’ elections, let alone more intrusive and violent means of regime change. The big push by the Democrats and allied sectors of the security apparatus for confronting Russia is not only unjustified bat also runs the risk of leading to a horribly destructive war. As much as we’re scandalized, and rightly so, by Trump‘s more blatant racism and misogyny, we need to look at the continuities as well as the departures.

President Obama, with his kinder and more inclusive rhetoric, provided trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. He presided over seven wars (drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians and are acts of war under international law). His administration deported a record number of immigrants. In his last year, Obama sought to burnish his legacy around climate change and mass incarceration. He issued a record number of clemencies, but earlier took legal action to keep far more in prison. After Congress passed a law somewhat reducing what had been draconian sentences for crack cocaine, the Justice Department went to court to prevent any retroactive application, and thus kept some 6,000 people behind bars. Similarly, Obama issued a number of executive orders, most of which can be readily reversed, to modestly rein in greenhouse gases. But earlier his administration played a key role in sabotaging the 2009 Copenhagen Conference of Parties, which was the best chance to get a binding international treaty with some teeth in it, at a time when Democrats held a majority in Congress.

Recalling these dire problems is a reminder of how much the most basic issue is the very nature of the system. Nonetheless, there is something new and particularly threatening about Trump’s election: the way he has enlarged, energized and emboldened an active and aggressive base for white supremacy. Immigrants, Muslims, Native American water protectors, Black Lives Matter activists, women who’ve faced sexual assault, LGBTQ folks, those who can’t afford health insurance, and more all feel under the gun. The prospect of an unbridled pouring of more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is terrifying.

We can’t forget that an imperialism in crisis will turn to racist mobilizations to supersede obstacles to continued domination and expansion. The U.S. hasn’t yet reached that dramatic turning point, but it has been teetering in and out of economic and political crises since 1971. And on top of that, we now are on the brink of environmental disasters that can’t be resolved under capitalism.

As of this writing (February 2017) major sectors of the ruling class are still wary of Trump as too much of a loose cannon. They are making an effort at least to rein him in if not bring him down, although leading with the very dangerous push toward greater confrontation with Russia. It remains to be seen if Trump’s amalgam of billionaire businessmen and ultra-Right white nationalists can provide a coherent program or even hold together. Whatever happens with his presidency, we likely are in for a burgeoning of white supremacist movements. If Trump’s economic policies appear to be successful (possible in the short run of a couple of years but, if so, with giant dislocations and problems in the longer run), he’s a hero to those embittered sectors of the white working and middle classes who voted for him. On the other hand, if his administration implodes, millions of his fervent supporters will see it as the “elites” bringing down their champion. In either case our job, our challenge, is to build a strong movement that can articulate the real issues and clearly present humane, international and sustainable alternatives.

There’s been an outpouring of Left analysis on who voted for Trump and why. Some of it is very helpful about race, class, and the economy. From what I’ve seen there’s been very little that puts all that in the global context, with the U.S. as the premier imperial power but in decline. Nor has there been enough that has rooted Trump’s rise in the developments of the past 45 years. This is the challenge for our ongoing project of analysis and activism.

David Gilbert #83-A-6158
Wende Correctional Facility
3040 Wende Road
Alden, New York 14004-1187

“Day Without a Woman Strike” Statement

March 8, 2017

by political prisoner Jaan K. Laaman

A salute of Solidarity and Support on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017 from political prisoner Jaan Laaman

Allow me to send warm, positive, hopeful and militant solidarity and revolutionary support to all the women leading, pushing, planning and participating in the very necessary ongoing freedom and justice struggles all across the US and around the world.

From the dynamic and historic marches of January 21 to the “Day Without a Woman Strike” today, March 8, women have been leading and advancing the overall freedom struggle just when this has been most needed.

Even behind these prison walls, the insight, fighting spirit, and direction you sisters are providing is seen and felt. We need this, and all of you, more than ever.

Let me close with the words of a fierce revolutionary, Marilyn Buck: “I thank all of you who struggle for a day, for a year, for a lifetime.”

And I send this out in the spirit of Lynne Stewart, our fearless Peoples’ Attorney, and dear friend, who just yesterday passed away.


Lynne Stewart in dire health – Send her love and donations!

March 7, 2017

A message from Bob Lederer – Please forward widely and share Facebook post to encourage donations

Ralph Poynter told me the following very sad news last night, and has authorized me to distribute it publicly:

Our beloved People’s Champion (and WBAI Local Station Board member) Lynne Stewart suffered a major stroke last Wednesday, the latest complication from the cancer that has now spread throughout her body and invaded her brain. She is resting comfortably at home and is not in pain, but can only speak sporadically. Her doctor has said she does not have much time left.

Ralph and Sister Betty Davis are of course taking good care of her, as are her doctor-daughter Zenobia Brown and long-term friend of 63 years Virginia Gernes. Ralph welcomes your emails (at ). Because of the high expense of Lynne’s ongoing care, Betty has launched an online fundraising campaign.Please donate generously.

I learned all this minutes after Ralph accepted an award for Lynne at a major public event by the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, which honored a large group of lawyers and doctors who have supported U.S. political prisoners. As we know, for years Lynne went out of her way to provide strong representation to a pantheon of dedicated radical activists facing prison — before she herself suffered a similar, cruel fate.

Let’s all send Lynne, Ralph & Betty our hugs, love, and best wishes for this final journey. Such a heroic fighter – Lynne, we love you!

P.S. Ironically, her latest stroke occurred hours after a New York Times article appeared based on an interview with her, which noted that she had survived 3 years beyond the compassionate release granted her (on Dec. 31, 2013), following a statement by her prison doctor that she would not likely survive beyond 18 months:

Ms. Stewart said in a 12-page handwritten letter to the judge in 2013: “Isolated, in hospital, as I now am, I have time to contemplate life and death. I do not intend to go ‘gently into that good night,’ as Dylan Thomas wrote. There is much to be done in this world. I do know that I do not want to die here in prison — a strange and loveless place. I want to be where all is familiar — in a word, home.”

This is a fitting reminder of that people’s victory 3 years ago, brought about by Lynne’s will of steel, Ralph’s indefatigable barnstorming, and the movement’s rallying behind her.

Herman Bell: 43 Years and still in

March 6, 2017

I’ve lived in this cell longer than I’ve lived on the streets.  Its metal locker where I keep my food from the mice, the toilet and face bowl, the bed, the floor, the cell bars and metal clothes rack all have come to know some part of me.  I want to talk about me today.

Through and beyond the iron-framed windows before me, I see blue sky and the free world where I yearn to rejoin my family and community, wherein with just a single click serrated metal handcuffs produce extreme pain, and rattling gate keys may at any moment echo chain-like rushing down prison corridors often resulting in broken bones, bruised bodies, and affronted dignity.  Prison is a dangerous place.  And in a courtroom, whose words bear more weight — the prisoner’s or the prison guard’s?  Here, you may live or you may die; a prisoner awakens, a prison guard leaves home for work, both may never do so again.  At the edge of some distant tomorrow, I may walk free out the front gate.  I am 69 years old and my youthful and optimistic heart and good intentions have not gone unchallenged.

I remember back-in-the-day when I was a small boy in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn.  The neighborhood boys and I used to hang out at the local grocery store on Saturday morning helping mothers carry their groceries so that we could earn movie money.  I recall helping one mother lug her bags up tall flights of stairs to her apartment, and when she got them all in she smiled, thanked me, and closed the door in my face.  For her, that was perfectly fine – after all, my face is black.

Throughout the ensuing years, I have occasionally wondered about that.  Racial abuse, stereotyping and bigotry are deeply rooted in u.s. society.  Even as an adolescent, I’ve felt like a stranger in my own country, and I’ve not been given reason to feel much different today.  I’ve often been made to feel invisible, uncomfortable, out of place.   A black face, especially a male black face, automatically prompts suspicion.

While blacks and Native Americans in particular have long been excluded in u.s. society, they are inextricably linked to its origins and know too well its violence and bigotry.  No amount of native blood could quench the white settler’s thirst for native land, and the Afrikan whose slave labor largely built north america fared no better.  Wealth generated from this enforced labor profoundly transformed the u.s. and sowed the seeds of the modern world.  Slave owners drove their slaves from dawn to dusk into the tobacco and cotton fields, the mines, the rice paddies, the woods, sawmills and brick kilns.  This back-breaking labor, therefore, is what bind u.s. blacks to this land, and in a way, I believe, Native Americans can understand.  Not forgetting what the Buffalo Soldiers were ordered to do to them out West.

Yet despite this, slavery’s legacy endures.  It prevails not only in the U.S. Constitution as regards U.S. prisons, providing for “involuntary servitude,” where a disproportionate number of Afrikan-Americans now find themselves on “modern plantations,” but also in u.s. institutions and culture.  The ravages of slavery transformed the Afrikan into a nameless, stateless being bereft of tongue and cultural memory, and of some means to cut through the agony of his desolation and despair.  This bode ill for his descendants.  I am one of them.

As a young man, my thinking changed when I discovered my people in history.  Their significant contribution to the advance of human civilization amazed me.  This and their historic struggle to reclaim their rightful place under the sun affected me profoundly.  It changed the course of my life as well as that of many young people of my generation cognizant of this history.  Accordingly, we became advocates in the long-denied and unrecognized black struggle for social justice in the u.s.  The white power structure felt threatened by this advocacy, by its assertiveness and growing confidence.  Rather than with reason and fair treatment as its response, it chose a stick disguised as law enforcement.  Unfortunately, violence ensued and some of us went underground, some of us were subsequently murdered, imprisoned, or both.  As time passed, a few among us were released and have gone home.  But I and those left are still in after over 43 years.

Imprisonment exacts an incalculable toll on the body and mind and is the closest descent into Hell as one can imagine.  The warders aim to impress that every part of your being belongs to them.  If not now, then soon or soon enough, that time is on their side.  Whether you do or don’t know how to hate, they will teach you.  If God does not exist, in here, you may wish that he or somebody like him did exist to intercede and comfort you.  For you will presently discover that you and you alone are all there is in here.  Enduring prison is one thing, surviving it is another.

The alchemy of a prison sentence transforms a person into an “alien” or social outcast, which exempts him from the rights, privileges, and tender mercies that are commonly accorded to the non-sentenced person.  He is inventory on a shelf, color-coded, numbered, thrown in a cell and counted several times a day.  His mail is delivered with neither a smile nor eye contact.  He’s a blank face to be treated with studied aloofness.

All sentenced prisoners have experienced this.  Though our black faces abound inordinately in here, each prisoner is viewed up close as he steps inside the prison.  And while the government seem never to run out of money for guns, bombs and planes, prisons seem never to run out of cells to put somebody in.  Like shaking hands with the Devil, I found coming to terms with being in a cell to be quite the experience.  It bears a distinct quality with which one has to reconcile.  When you’re engaged in constructive activity in the cell, it seems less confining than it actually is.  Yet its distinct mind-squeezing quality applies especially when you brood, do nothing, indulge in self-pity, and see the space as having no possibilities.

Visualize a cell wall with a poster of an old tree-lined street, a bustling flower garden, a towering bridge and cityscape lighting up the night — those are portals through which I can be elsewhere whenever my mind falls upon them.  And when they are packed away for a cell move, the cell reverts to its dead, steely, cavernous state, echoing what it hears, and maybe could use a little paint.

Emerging from the cell heading own the tier and stairway out into the corridor towards the mess hall, an interview room or an assigned program area, regardless what jail I happen to be in, it’s “just another day at Flat Rock.”  This contrived routine often leaves me feeling like a mouse running a maze.  Often enough, I’ve had to re mind myself that in this maze, I can become lost to family and friends and the outside world, that as I navigate this space of endless tomorrows, continuous close contact with them is imperative.  Their presence in my life is what keeps me grounded, keeps my mind and hope alive.

I’ve been in a lot of prisons.  The older ones where I’ve been held most – Clinton, Attica, Comstock – their worn-down stone steps stand out, and if they could speak, I’ve often wondered what would they say about the men who trod on them, about what they dreamed, their life’s ambition, what went wrong.  One can but assume that their crimes were mostly economic ones.  If poverty generates obesity in that people eat what they can afford, the same may be said of certain crimes, because the vast majority of people in prison are poor and marginally educated.  Poverty, ignorance, and desperation are no strangers to crime.  It’s not uncommon for people in dire circumstances to commit illegal acts that they might otherwise refrain from committing.  When all else fails, people will desperately resort to doing whatever it takes, including crime, to support themselves and their families.  For taking a crust of bread, the police will pursue a poor man to the ends of the earth and turn a blind eye to a rich man’s theft of millions.  In the aftermath of the 2008 financial ruin of countless u.s. citizens, none of the Wall Street bankers and traders rushed for the exit doors.  Rich people, educated people, seldom go to prison or go to prison for very long.  And as the “race card” plays out, whites in general who do land in here get better job assignments than do people who look like me.

The box (solitary confinement) is another nasty lil spot to avoid in here if you can.  Rich people are seldom found in these places, because they are so good at escaping.  I’ve been in the box more than a time or two, though less so lately.  It’s a cheerless, unpleasant place, and it smells bad.  It brims with the sins and crimes committed against helpless men that can never be atoned for.  In this world I live in, you have to make the best of what’s before you.  Laughter, for example, is “on the house,” and no laughter is quite like the laughter you encounter in prison, often because we have little else.  Sometimes, when we’re feeling up to it and “on the down low,” we talk so bad about a guard’s momma, his fat kids, his big-nose wife with one eye, til if he knew, we’d never make it out the box alive.

One time I was in the box, they gave me a blanket that covered only half my body.  The guards were amused.  I was pissed!  But after several days, they gave me a full one, just to keep me quiet.  Each time in the box, its cold, gray, cheerless atmosphere packs me down inside myself, affording no relief except what I create for myself.  So I would save my dry breakfast cereal and seek a trade with the guys.  The haggling excited some – how many tiny boxes of cereal to trade for a piece of fruit, a chicken leg, or for something else?  Others never saved and therefore had nothing to trade.  From a sheet of writing paper, I would create a chessboard, write numbers on the squares, and fashion chess pieces with sliced bread.  Push-ups and sit-ups, jogging in place, and taking naps were a fixed part of my daily routine.

During the night and early morning, I would sometimes lie awake, feeling the silence and its peace wash over me.  Throughout the day, one can write but so long with a pen the length of my middle finger, read but so much “piss-poor” material that’s almost like not reading at all, do but so many exercises.  And my naps had to be sparing, otherwise my nights would be restless.  Our rations were meager, and our hunger the day long.

Indeed, a routine in the box is imperative – making a way out of no way – and is as basic and urgent as a desperate gasp for air around something lodged in your throat.  Some days I feel my blood racing to the stout beat of my heart; my thoughts refuse to be still.  I want to shut down, but there’s no off-switch.  My years in the box were long, hurtful, mentally exhausting, and they may put me there again.  What happens to men confined this way, for decades, often without feeling or seeing sunlight and devoid of meaningful human contact?  When retribution becomes torment, prison conditions often teach men to hate.  I ponder this in general population as I walk lock-step down prison corridors with other men.

As these years trickled by, photos of family and friends show that they have aged.  My own face, hair, declining agility, show that I, too, have aged.  A new world is out there now.  It’s as though I’ve hibernated these past 40+ years.  So much has changed; so much to learn anew.  The guards and prisoners I see now were not even born when I started this sentence.  I was brave and brash back then.  I was bold and presumed to know more about life and people than I had a right to.  My aging journey has taught me that youth and ignorance often pave a thorny path.  It’s just as thorny as the one laid out for those who fight for social justice and what they believe is right.

Forty-three years in prison?  Someone may wonder do I ask myself, “What am I doing here?”  Or ask, “What’s this prolonged imprisonment all about?”  Save the occasional visit and phone call, my children, and now my grandchildren, have spent only a bit of time with me.  Holding everything together while I’m away, my wife has suffered throughout all this. Family pressure, prolonged separation, all too often break up families.  Thus, new relationships may form, and the prisoner may find himself even further removed from his family than he was before.  A harsh penalty on top of his sentence.  He himself may sometimes wonder:  “Does anyone care?”  His children, his grandchildren might sometimes ask, as do mine, “Why you, Dad; why you, Grampa?”  Or wonder to themselves, “Why couldn’t someone else take his place?”  Questions born of love and earnest desire to have me home, not out of selfishness.

I serve an indefinite prison sentence and hope to survive it, but the parole board or you, my supporters, will decide my fate.  Sensitive to both political pressure and “special interest groups,” the Board’s decisions are widely regarded as arbitrary and capricious.  Because I’m a political prisoner, the Parole Board is far more predisposed to releasing an apolitical (or social) prisoner on parole than it is to releasing me.  Otherwise, I would have been home years ago.

It maintains that its decisions are impartially made after an interview.  Myself and others are persuaded that their decision is made prior to the parole interview.  Before commencing the interview, Board commissioners rifle through their papers, which I think is mostly theater.  But it’s the only time you get to size them up; and they in turn take a quick peek at you.  Though now most interviews are done by teleconference, seldom in person.  They talk to you and you to them on video-screen.  A panel of three usually conduct the interview, though sometimes two does it.  They are ex-prosecutors, state investigators, and retired police.  They will interpret and even twist every explanation of insight and expression of remorse offered by a prisoner.  They ignore favorable psychological evaluations, rob prisoners of hope, promote despair, discourage personal growth, and strip us of incentives.  They are well practiced in manipulating human emotions.  They open with pummeling questions about your offense, rake up your “criminal history,” pick and pause over reports on your prison activity.  They then make you wait five to six days before sending you their decision, which almost always is a denial.

“If the envelope bearing your decision is thick,” guys used to say, “you’ve been denied, and if it’s thin, you’ve made it.”  And there are those who say theirs were “thin” and they were still denied parole.  Obviously, size doesn’t matter.  You simply know when you know!  As the guard callously opened the envelope from my last Board appearance, “the appeal form” fell out before I could read the decision.  I had only waited 40 years for it.  Still, I read it, looking for some sign of hope.  Accordingly, guys are reluctant to open a parole board decision.  Having complied with all the rules and satisfied all structural requirements, how would you feel having to tell your mother, wife, and children that you’ve failed them!?  You smother your disappointment and wish that you could shield them from that feeling, too.

The thought of spending the rest of my days in prison is despairing.  I’ve not begun to think that yet and hope I never shall.  Nowadays, people my age say, “Due to terminal illness or incapacitation, write a will and tell how you wish your remains disposed of.”  Talk like that makes me nervous.  Before and during these 43 years in prison, I’ve lived according to my beliefs, fought for myself-respect, my community, and for social justice; along the way I’ve helped people where I could and have striven to make myself a better human being.  I’ve kept faith with the belief that we humans are responsible for each other and for the welfare of all.  So what to make of these long years in prison, I cannot say, I’m still here.

All Power To The People!

Herman Bell
Great Meadow Correctional Facility
11739 State Route 22, PO Box 51
Comstock, NY 12821-0051

Governor Cuomo: Don’t Restrict Visits in NYS Prisons!

February 6, 2017

Governor Cuomo has just proposed to limit visiting at New York State maximum security prisons to 3 days a week instead of the current 7.

If passed, this measure will cause suffering and separation for thousands of imprisoned people and their loved ones.

PLEASE sign this petition and call Governor Cuomo TODAY at (518) 474-8390 to insist that the Governor retract this proposal.

Restricting visits is regressive, counterproductive, and cruel. Family visits are often the only ways people in prison can maintain connections with children, spouses, elderly parents or grandparents, and other family and friends. These ties are crucial for loved ones on the outside, as well as for people to survive their incarceration with their health and well-being intact and to successfully navigate their eventual return home after prison. Evidence has long shown that enhancing family and community connections is not only extremely valuable for people incarcerated and their loved ones, but also increases safety in prisons and improves people’s success after their release.

It is already incredibly difficult for family and friends to visit their loved ones in prison in New York. Governor Cuomo’s proposal to limit visiting at maximum security prisons to just the weekends instead of the current policy of visits on any day of the week will both restrict the ability for people to visit and impose unnecessary burdens on weekend visit days. Under the current seven day system, already visitors often wait two to three hours to see their loved ones – typically after traveling for hours. With reduced days, the wait will be longer, the visitor rooms more crowded, and the visiting days and hours even more limited. This will be terrible for everyone and impossible for many visitors.

While in other contexts the Governor claims to want to support compassionate policies and reduce mass incarceration, his visit reduction proposal will seriously escalate suffering and family disruption, as well as have a negative impact on prison safety and people’s success upon release. Governor Cuomo must withdraw this proposal, and instead take steps to further expand access for people to visit their loved ones in prison.

You can also write to Governor Cuomo opposing the cutback in visiting hours at NYS max prisons.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Surplus Absorption, Realization Crisis, and Imperialism

February 5, 2017


David Gilbert, a political prisoner held in New York State since 1981, wrote the following text in 2015, examining the the ways in which capitalism is confronted by, and contends with, crises in surplus absorption and realization, in the imperialist age.

David was not entirely satisfied with this text in the end, however here at Kersplebedeb i thought it actually was pretty thought-provoking and useful, so he agreed that i could put it online, which is what i am doing. For more information about David, including his contact information, please click here



Left authors often describe various political developments as resulting from the economic imperative for “surplus absorption”—without much further explanation. This paper seeks to ground that phenomenon more explicitly in mature capitalism’s chronic and mounting “realization crisis”—the difficulty in selling what’s produced, at least at the expected price. There are two main reasons for developing this analysis: 1. This approach emphasizes that whatever wasteful methods capitalism generates, the system still totally depends on the exploitation of labor, especially on the high rates achieved through imperial expansion and through women’s un- and under-waged work. 2. Highlighting such realization costs provides one indication of modern capitalism’s colossal wastefulness, politically critical in an era when environmental destruction has become an urgent front-line struggle.


When writers on the Left refer to economic drives and contingencies behind various political changes, they often cite the compelling need for “surplus absorption.” That formulation draws on Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s seminal 1966 book, Monopoly Capital, and also on many subsequent essays in Monthly Review (MR) magazine. Monopoly capitalism generates vast profits which are difficult to profitably re-invest due to a chronically stagnant economy. That problem within what was called “the industrialized countries” led to a mushrooming of certain sectors that previously were not seen as productive: the frenetic sales effort, the military industrial complex and many other state expenditures, the burgeoning of the financial sector. Their analysis, among other contributions, underscored the wastefulness of modern capitalism, along with providing an early alert about the dangers of the dizzying upward spiral of financial speculation.

Yet there’s a problem in how this analysis has been used by some writers in citing “surplus absorption” without more careful and detailed analysis. By itself the phrase can conjure up an image of simply disposing of the surplus in any old way—even in economic boondoggles or perhaps dumping it in a hole in the ground. In contrast, we need to be clear that for capitalism the compelling drive always is to make a profit, which entails exploiting labor along with, in a stagnant economy, finding ways to sell goods and services in order to realize the potential profit embodied in the results of earlier labor. This overriding need to always create and reap more profits makes the continued imperial expansion, with its very high rates of exploitation of labor and the extraction of resources, crucially important. (In addition to direct, poorly paid workers, imperialism extracts value from the global South’s small farmers and agricultural workers whose products sell on the world market for way below the value of the labor that went into them.) Similarly women’s unwaged labor in the domestic sphere to cheaply raise the next generation of workers (and thereby lowering the subsistence wage), along with their under-waged labor in social production, is also crucial. A major development in the current “globalized” stage of imperialism is the creation of hundreds of millions of workers in the informal sectors. E.g., a family may scour a garbage dump, despite the high toxicity, to find items that can be re-sold. Analogous to domestic labor, those cheap recycled goods can lower the survival costs for wage workers.

What’s crucial here is that stagnation does not eliminate but rather heightens capitalism’s compulsion to exploit labor. At the same time the increasing portion of society’s efforts that goes into realization, to finding ways to sell previously created products rather than create new value, is one measure of how scandalously profligate modern capitalism is, a major factor hurtling humanity toward the cliff of multiple ecological catastrophes, most dangerously global warming.

This paper is an attempt to re-root surplus absorption in realization crisis and thereby highlight the relationship to imperialism, the oppression of women, and the exigent environmental crises. First, though, I want to offer a brief personal note and then a word on method.

Personal Note

In the late 1960’s my analytical work focused on imperialism, consumerism, and growing waste in the economy. Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital was a welcome advance. At the same time I wanted to develop an analysis that closely related growing waste with the imperatives of imperial expansion. But by the late 1960s, the high tide of struggle in the streets, and then my joining the underground resistance in 1970, meant that I never fully developed, let alone wrote up, my approach. I haven’t returned to that type of work since. Some 45 years later, without ongoing study of the literature, I obviously can’t offer any rigorous exposition of what’s commonly called “Marxian economics.” (I use quotes because for Marx economics can’t be neatly separated out from the broader relations of production and the class and social struggles they engender.) Nonetheless, recent examples I’ve seen of using “surplus absorption” in isolation have led me to feel it might be useful to engage some of the broad concepts involved. My following word on method argues for a framework that avoids narrow economism.


To me, the best starting point for analyzing a society is Marx’s “the sum total of the relations of production” (from the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy). He focused on, but did not reduce it to, wage-labor and capital, which were playing an especially dynamic role in the Europe of his day.

But we need to be clear that capitalism also subsumed the preceding foundation of patriarchy, using that to impose the massive exploitation of women’s un-waged reproductive labor (caring work), as well as lower pay for women in jobs. Homo- and trans-phobia have been key means for building and enforcing patriarchy, along with terribly pervasive violence against women. Imperialism, with its super-exploitation of the labor and resources of entire nations and continents, including the internal foundation of white supremacy in building and structuring this country, is a completely central and defining relation of production. And while I’m not sure exactly how to put it, ecology, imperialism’s rapacious plunder of humanity’s common wealth in nature, is also critical to defining today’s social and economic reality.

The validity of the following analysis does not depend on accepting my exact formulation above, as long as there is broad agreement that patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism and ecology are all of crucial importance and, while overlapping in many ways, not completely reducible one to the other. This paper doesn’t attempt to develop a comprehensive analysis of the economy as shaped by that set of relations, but rather that’s the context for examining the particular issue of surplus absorption.

A Few Building Blocks

People familiar with Marxian economics have undoubtedly seen the famous formula for the rate of profit, s/c+v. The rate of profit is of crucial importance because the only reason that capitalists invest is to make a profit. If the rate goes down for a company or for an entire industry, that will deter new investment and new economic activity in those areas. If it goes down for the economy as a whole, investments could dry up, leading to an economic contraction and even a depression. Marx created this formula as a way to show a powerful and disruptive tendency in the capitalist economy. Subsequently this formulation has been terribly misused as a kind of talisman directly precipitating economic crisis.

“v” stands for variable capital, the wages the capitalist pays to workers. “c” is constant capital, the investment in producer goods such as plant, equipment and raw materials.

Constant capital has been purchased at a price that covers both the wages of the workers who made it and the profits realized when it was sold. The new profits generated, “s” for surplus, come from the difference between what the workers produce and what they receive. Thus, s is directly proportional to v, but capitalists strive to make that ratio of exploitation as steep as possible by minimizing wages. s/c+v gives the overall profit rate, but not for each particular firm since those with market advantage extract some surplus from weaker ones; landowners and financiers also appropriate a portion of surplus. But it does give what will be the average rate of profit for society as a whole.

A contradiction arises from how c becomes disproportionately larger as capitalism develops. Each unit is compelled to “accumulate, accumulate, accumulate” (to quote Marx) on pain of extinction, especially to invest in machinery that raises productivity. The first firm that does so can make bigger profits by underselling competitors, some of whom will go under while others manage to catch up. After a while the industry as a whole evens out at a new level of constant capital, productivity and price; but, these dynamics entail a major increase in c. Since s is proportional to v, a growing c with all other things being equal would make s/c+v go down, for a falling rate of profit.

Unfortunately many Marxists parlayed this into an iron law that led to inevitable depressions. Marx himself, as a historical materialist, understood that the contradictions of capitalism got fought out in the arena of class and related political struggles. The rate of profit and the state of the economy depend on a number of factors like the length of the working day, battles over wage levels, new areas for exploitation, wars, and more.

Nor did his economic analysis hinge solely on s/c+v. There are many possible counter-tendencies. A key one, as it turns out, is that increases in productivity can mean that a smaller portion of what workers produce can be adequate for their survival and continued ability to work; thus, the rate of exploitation can go way up. To take a striking example, the mechanization of cotton production in California meant the labor that went into producing a bale of cotton went down from 423 hours in 1940 to 26 hours in 1960. This means a lot smaller proportion of labor time—or the wages needed to cover that—is required for workers to buy the clothes they need. While c continues to grow, s/v isn’t static and might rise at an even greater pace, keeping s/c+v high.

Other tensions, however, can create contradictory pressures. In Vol. II of Capital, Marx devoted considerable attention to the two main departments of production: I. — goods and services that go into production; II. — goods and services for final consumption. They have to complement each other in proper proportion for supply and demand to balance and to afford the basis for continued economic growth. But there’s a problem, a contradiction between what capitalism needs in production and what it needs for consumption. In production the capitalist seeks to maximize profits by minimizing labor costs, or v. But on the consumption end the vast majority of goods are purchased by the working class. Sure, the bourgeoisie is known for lavish luxury, but when you’re worth, for example, $30 billion, even buying 1/2-dozen mansions doesn’t make much of a dent. The capitalists accumulate such vast wealth mainly for purposes of investment. The working class and poor constitute the vast majority and are the main source of consumption.

On the production end the capitalists are hell bent to minimize wages, but on the consumption end it’s hard to sell all that’s put out, especially as productivity rises, with wages so constricted. There are conceivable mathematical solutions, but they don’t work in practice. The capitalist could invest almost all their profits into making new producer goods, but such investments lead to more consumer goods, already hard to sell. They could keep consumption apace by passing on all productivity gains to the workers in the form of higher wages, but they won’t do that because of the impact on class struggle. Workers who are that highly paid would be in a position to take time off or readily quit a job they didn’t like, thus undermining the class discipline so essential to continued exploitation.

This growing tension means that capital is caught in a kind of scissors, closing down as productivity rises, where moving away from one blade pushes them closer to the other. If they lower v to raise their profits, they have trouble selling enough consumer goods; if they raise v to boost consumption, they threaten profit and class discipline. Even this “scissors” isn’t any kind of inexorable iron law, but it does help illustrate capitalism’s instability and can be a catalyst for a range of class and social struggles.

In early, competitive capitalism when new productivity led to lower prices, economic crises often started with declining profits.
With the development of monopolies (really “oligopolies” with a few giant firms dominating, which leaves some aspects of competition) that can keep prices high, problems of selling all that was produced at the expected price became endemic. Thus capitalism’s mania to increase productivity at a faster rate than wages leads to “overproduction”—not in terms of human needs but rather for what a constricted market will bear for the products offered.

Historic Stages

Capitalism, with its compulsion to accumulate, is a system that powerfully channels society’s resources toward the rapid expansion of the means of production. For society that means—or meant 200 years ago—new factories and more powerful machines and processes.

Without at all forgetting the brutal human costs and the now accumulating environmental dangers, we can recognize that the drive to accumulate played a certain role in increasing the means of production. (Even in the attempt at a noncapitalist route to rapid industrialization in the Soviet Union, Stalin ruthlessly pushed to maximize the portion of value that went into developing means of production.)

That channeling of resources plays a partially productive role when infrastructure is being newly constructed. It takes a lot of capital—even before any consumer goods come out—to build a factory from scratch or construct a network of railroads to transport those goods. Capitalism is still uncoordinated and unstable, but the maximizing of investment does not directly lead to overproduction.

However, once that basic infrastructure is established new investment more immediately leads to new output of consumer goods; at this point the drive to minimize wages, restricting what working families can buy, becomes a crimp on what can be sold, thereby limiting the outlets for new, productive investment. That leads to stagnation, a chronic slowing of growth. As MR has elucidated often and so well, monopoly capitalism has a long-term and growing tendency toward stagnation.

Some economic historians mark the period of 1870-1900 as when the basic infrastructure was built. That makes sense to me because this period was the takeoff point for some major, structural changes: 1. Oligopolies became dominant in the economy. 2. Government and its role in the economy expanded qualitatively, in part to maintain standing armies but also with other expenditures to help bolster demand. 3. While capitalism always depended on the plunder of the global South, the form changed, as outlined by Hobson and Lenin, to center on finance capital and direct control of the subject economies. That need engendered fierce inter-imperialist rivalries leading to world wars. (Imperialism has in many ways entered a new stage since the 1970s, which I won’t address here. The above changes that started with mature capitalism are part of what has led to a new stage and continue to create mounting problems of surplus absorption today.) 4. The sales effort moved from a minor complement to production to becoming a major sector of the economy, leading to today’s giant scope of advertising, style changes, planned obsolescence, the manipulative creation of pseudo-needs, and the proliferation of luxury items. 6. Finance began its transformation from a small adjunct of production to becoming the largest, most dominant sector.

Surplus Absorption / Realization Crisis

Mature capitalism means that the system’s compulsion to maximize investment generates chronic stagnation. Economic tendencies are not fixed inevitabilities, and there are possible counter forces. For example Baran and Sweezy point to the impact of an epochal new invention, like the automobile, which can stimulate massive investment in new infrastructure such as roads. But such a stimulus is very unusual; even computers today do not call for such massive new infrastructure, and stagnation tends to be chronic and growing.

Thus the greatly increased rate of exploitation, a rising s/v, promises greater profits, but they can’t be realized due to constricted consumption, creating a growing problem of surplus absorption. Here, “surplus” is not the same as the total of surplus value created by exploiting labor, but rather the portion of the latter that can’t be reinvested productively. Still, from the capitalists’ point of view the only thing that matters is how to make a profit. Even parasitic sectors can’t snatch profits out of thin air; the surplus value had to be created somewhere. The capitalist imperative to maximize profits requires either the creation of new value or at least a recouping of surplus value created by social labor but not realized if the goods can’t be sold at the expected price. To me, realization has become a core problem within the centers of imperialism, one that has driven the explosion of waste in the contemporary economy.

How do we define “waste”? Here we’re not delving into the (completely apt) critique of capitalism’s totally backward social and environmental character. Socialism will be qualitatively different in that production will be determined by (democratically decided) use values—what’s useful to human beings—rather than the current basis of exchange values, what can sell for a profit. Here though, for the more limited purpose of highlighting some internal contradictions and the historic decadence of capitalism, I’ll define productive as all that contributes to future production. That very much includes the goods and services needed to reproduce the work force, to provide for their lives and ability to work and to raise a new generations of workers. (Today such consumption is also intertwined with much that is wasteful or even harmful.) Luxury goods and services for the bourgeoisie or other nonworking classes are not productive, even when provided by a company making a profit.


Many authors would argue that the old distinction between productive and non-productive labor no longer applies in our post-industrial economy. After all, finance, advertising, and military industries are some of the most profitable sectors today. Also, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate out the categories. Workers need footwear—but that doesn’t account for most of what’s spent on getting the latest Nike Jordans. Computers may be helpful in developing a modern work force, but not at the rate of the 47 million discarded a year in the U.S. Similarly, “government expenditures” can’t all be lumped together. Funds going to health and education help reproduce the work force; expenditures for wars and repression don’t.

As interpenetrated as this all is in the advanced economies, to me the distinction between producingsurplus value and realizing it is still critically important. The massive economic activity that doesn’t add to production exposes how capitalism is a decadent system even relative to its own claim to fame of expanding the forces of production. All of that waste, at the same time that basic human needs are not being met, is another count in the long indictment of this system’s rapacious destruction of human life and the environment. In addition, for analytical purposes, calling out the waste necessitated by mounting realization costs clarifies that the direct exploitation of labor—including the high rates achieved through imperial penetration and through the oppression of women—is the fundamental basis for generating surplus value.

The areas that bloomed under mature capitalism are mainly about realization. The one trillion dollars a year spent on marketing in the U.S. is primarily about promoting sales of other goods and services. A multi-million dollar aircraft carrier doesn’t add to production, regardless of whether it sits in a harbor or launches lethal attacks. Today’s financial frenzy is in large part an effort to make money independent of, really appropriated from, production, and has created a mountain of debt that is four time GDP. (It’s worth noting that consumer debt is a way to expand working class consumption beyond what can be covered by wages … at least until the credit bubbles burst. The imposition of irrational debt on many of the poorest countries has been a primary weapon for imposing “structural adjustment programs,” painful austerity measures, the project most destructive to human life and the environment in the world today.) Since areas like advertising and the military don’t involve the output of either producer or consumer goods, I believe (as Baran and Sweezy also posited) that they constitute a third department, one defined by waste. Within the U.S. it’s probably now bigger than either of Marx’s original two.

Let’s look at advertising. It functions like c in that it enables the firm to fight for market advantage and doesn’t raise the wages of production workers. But unlike productive investment, it doesn’t increase the output of the goods involved or raise productivity. On the consumption end it works like v in putting more money in circulation, which then can be used to buy consumer goods. Much of that is in the form of wages to workers, but not to those producing the goods involved. Rather than enhancing labor’s bargaining position, this different layer of jobs creates more stratification within the work force. (In my view, these nonproductive workers are still part of the working class because their families live by the sale of their labor power, but their role and status contribute to the very harmful divisions that have made it so hard to forge a conscious, international proletariat.)

Stagnation and Profits

Expenditures such as advertising, taxes and interest payments bolster consumption and thereby facilitate realization—but at a cost. What’s the impact of the mammoth realization efforts on profits? Please bear with me as I use some unfamiliar nomenclature, which hopefully helps clarify but is not essential for the concepts involved. To apply Marx’s s/c+v given stagnation, we need to distinguish sr for realized surplus value, from sp for potential surplus value. With stagnation and the challenge to realizing s, the gap between sp and sr, between potential and actually realized profits, grows. Now let’s call what goes into realization, our third department, “k”; k is a cost of production, whether in the form of marketing costs, taxes or interest payments, but it doesn’t generate new value the way productive investment in new c and v would. In other words, instead of our having a new s/c+v, k is an added cost to what was already produced. In terms of profit, it would be added to the bottom, with sr on top, and change it to sr/c+v+k, lowering the rate. But that’s not the only impact. To the degree it is successful it adds to what is realized, which I’ll call “kr.” So the way to express the profit rate under stagnation is sr+kr/c+v+k. That formulation doesn’t provide a predetermined mathematical result that covers all inputs. But the way it has generally worked under real world conditions is to provide a higher profit rate than would sr alone, but a significantly lower one than if sp could be fully realized without the costs of k at the bottom. Thus, to finish up with these formulas, under most real world conditions, sr+kr/c+v+k will be larger than sr/c+v, but smaller, and increasingly so as stagnation and waste mount, than sp/c+v.

Letters and subscripts aside, the point is that the bigger k is the further the economy is from its productive potential. Also, the way k bolsters realized profits but causes them to become progressively lower than potential profit rates is another indication of the continued importance of productive labor.

Here are some of the political implications of this analysis:

  • The ongoing creation of new surplus value via productive labor is still essential. Imperialist penetration is a cutting edge for that as is women’s un-waged and under-waged labor.
  • Clearly defining the now colossal Department III, the sectors of the economy devoted to realization, as waste helps to spotlight how capitalism has become a decadent system—even relative to its own claim to fame of developing the productive forces. The centrality of such waste can be an impetus for arenas of political struggle such as anti-consumerism and ecology.
  • Capitalism’s inherent drive to expand is incompatible with having an environmentally sustainable society. At the same time the colossal level of waste shows us that we can radically cut back on the energy and resources we use, still have considerable productive capacity to take major steps toward the long-range project of repaying the debt to people of color and the poor throughout the world, and still have a good—in many ways better—quality of life.


Economic tendencies are helpful to indicate possible tensions—but the outcomes are products of class and related social struggles. The system we face is built on the super-exploitation of the labor and resources of entire nations and continents, on the imposition of un- and under-waged labor of women, on the labor and abuse of a wide range of workers, and now on the rapacious destruction of the environment, an existential threat to humankind. These essential and overlapping relations of production—patriarchy, class rule, imperialism/white supremacy, and ecocide—are enforced through the incredibly pervasive use of force and violence, along with incessant cultural and political offensives. The summary term that I prefer for the system is “imperialism,” to emphasize its global nature along with the intense oppression and leading examples of resistance of 3/4 of humankind. But no single word is adequate unless it clearly and fully includes all these fundamental relations of production.

All these structures and dynamics overlap and reinforce each other in major ways, but they can’t be reduced to one or the other. If we gloss over the differences, we won’t be fully equipped for the complexity of building principled alliances or for the depth of struggle needed against these forms of oppressiveness within us.

Recognizing the power and scope of these interlocking structures makes the challenges we face far more daunting. At the same time, that reality expands the range of people in fundamental contradiction to this system and gives us all so much more to win.

Thank You Sisters! Statement on the Women’s March

February 1, 2017

Thank You Sisters!

Listen on Prison Radio: “Thank You Sisters!” (5:51) by Jaan Laaman

We all should thank the women who put out the call and organized, coordinated, led, spoke at and participated in the January 21st “Women’s March.” Truly sisters, your insight and effort created a tremendous result, literally unlike any event(s) we have ever seen in this country.

The huge central march in Washington, and the 600-plus rallies in cities and towns across all 50 states, brought out 2 to 3 million people, and maybe more. These marches were ver positive and heartening and definitely very necessary. As a long held political prisoner, I was up early and spent most of the day in the cell block TV area, watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC. Even the Republican Party sycophants at Fox News admitted that huge numbers of protesters were marching across the country.

As many have chanted in past marches, el pueblo unido, jams sera vencido – the people united, can never be defeated, yesterday, we saw the reality of unity and power. Let’s be clear, these marches and rallies across the United States, were unlike any other public protests ever seen in the country. Of course there have been previous marches that were very large, coordinated and occurring in multiple cities simultaneously. As a lifelong revolutionary activist, since the 1960s, I have taken part in huge marches, peaceful rallies, civil disobedience and street fighting. Let me tell you, what we saw on January 21st, has never happened before in the U.S. Thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands marchers gathered in cities in all 50 states, united in positive determination for women’s rights, human fights, for justice, equality and much more.

Historically and around the world, much smaller numbers of protests and protesters have led to regime change and the launching of revolutions. Of course the purpose and plan of yesterday’s massive outpouring of young and old women, men and children, was the peaceful but determined expression of a wide range of people, telling this new government and the world, that justice, equality, freedom and basic human rights were realities that must be upheld. The many, and also very large, rallies in other countries, London, Berlin, Paris, Sydney, Rome, etc., showed that people in the U.S. were not alone in standing up for these very important rights and principles. These international marches also showed that Donald Trump and his new government were causing concern and worry around the world, and not just for us here in the United States.

International solidarity is great, but the real strength and significance of January 21st, was the massive outpouring of all kinds of people across the USA. This huge historic statement is the ground on which the Trump government begins operating. As powerful as the marches were, I’m sure few of us doubt that Trump and his government will soon still begin its assaults on various groups within the U.S. public.

While many dynamic and significant organizations and women were responsible for calling and coordinating the rallies, no one organization or leadership did it all. Many groups and organizers worked together and huge numbers of women heeded the call and came out. Now, the really important steps ahead are how to maintain this unity and build on the powerful momentum of January 21st.

As a man sitting in a federal prison cell, it is not my place or ability to tell all you good activists, organizers and people of conscience, what do to and how to keep the momentum going and growing. What I do know and have already heard expressed, is that marchers have been urged to go back home and connect with activist groups in their communities, as well as larger formations and national organizations. Many paths and efforts are and will be put forth. Reformist electoral organizing, beginning with local elections; work towards new parties – a labor party; grassroots community programs and organizations; building and joining with national left/labor organizations; joining with or creating caucuses at work or school. No one size or strategy will be enough. The important point I would urge, is for all the marchers, and those concerned people who did not actually get to a rally, to join with others in building for the principles and goals you marched for. We have to use the energy and power of this historic mobilization and upsurge of so many people, to be ready to stand up to and confront Trump as we know we soon must. Even more importantly, we really should build and create life and hope centred efforts and momentum to not only stand up to bigotry, war, misogyny, injustice and other hateful policies, but to go beyond Trump. It might take 4 years to be rid of Trump, but we can already be working on and creating a more just, equal, peaceful and life centred society from our neighbourhood up. The time for that is now and yes, we will, no doubt also need to get out into the streets in all our numbers and even more, to stop at least some of the attacks Trump has in store for us, the people of the United States.

Let’s remember –

Unity brings strength,

brings hope,

brings change!

Freedom is a constant struggle!

Jaan Laaman – anti-imperialist political prisoner

January 22, 2017

Write to:

Jaan Laaman #10372-016

U.S. Penitentiary Tucson

P.O. Box 24550

9300 South Wilmot Road

Tucson, AZ 85734

Prison Activist Gassed in Clements Unit Prison, Texas Law Enforcement Is Violently Out of Control

December 29, 2016

4strugglemag’s resident artist, Rashid Johnson, urgently needs your help.

Sign this petition to demand that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice complies with the following:

1. Immediately provide medical attention to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson before returning him to a decontaminated cell
2. Immediately return/replace his stolen legal materials and commissary items
3. Prosecute the guards who gassed Kevin “Rashid” Johnson for neglecting post-contamination procedure
4. Protect Clements Unit guard Britta Townsend from physical and administrative retaliation
5. Stop the gassing of prisoners at Clements Unit

Why is this important?

On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, a prisoner at the Texas Clements Unit, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, was gassed in his cell while handcuffed from behind. A letter written by Mr. Johnson to a supporter, dated December 22, 2016, reported that his gassing was “all retaliation for my involvement in exposing the foul abuses here.” Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a well known scholar and prison activist who has dedicated his efforts to exposing the civil and environmental injustices behind bars.

His most recent letter also reads:
“I’m in a gas-covered cell now. The law requires that they decontaminate a prisoner and his cell anytime they spray gas on him/her. They refused in my case. My sheets and bedding are covered in bright orange gas, underwear too, as is the cell wall.” According to the supporter who received Rashid’s letter, she could smell the toxic gas as soon as she opened the envelope.

The vicious treatment of Mr. Johnson is part of a clear pattern. There is evidently a culture among prison staff that encourages such sadistic behavior. What they have done and continue to do — both to Mr. Johnson and to thousands of other victims — constitutes a clear violation of basic human rights.

A signed statement from prison guard Britta Townsend corroborates that Mr. Johnson was confined to a gassed cell that was not decontaminated and forced to sleep with sheets covered with the bright orange gas. According to Mr. Johnson, Ms. Townsend now fears that she will be targeted by her peers and higher ranking officers.


Help former political prisoner Barbara Curzi deal with cancer!

November 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

Carol Saucier, Ray Luc Levasseur and I write today to ask that you help our dear sister and former co-defendant, Barbara Curzi. Barbara is a former political prisoner, one of the Ohio 7, who, after their arrests in Ohio in 1984, went on trial for actions by the United Freedom Front against corporations who upheld apartheid in South Africa and contributed to the wars in Central America. (Please donate).

Unfortunately, Barbara was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She is beginning an intensive six-month chemo regimen and then is expected to undergo surgery, possibly followed by radiation. Barbara lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts with her cats and dog and hopes she can keep her home while she fights this terrible disease. Barbara hasn’t been well for a while most especially since she lost her beloved son, Ricky (whose father is political prisoner, Jaan Laaman) five years ago. The more health problems she had, the more she has struggled financially to keep a roof over her head and is now dangerously close to losing that.

She was about to get a part-time job just before her diagnosis,to supplement her disability check but now instead finds herself way behind not only on her mortgage and utilities, but can’t get Internet and phones services back until she pays them off completely. Fortunately, the amount to keep her in her home and get her back to functioning, is not so insurmountable that we can’t raise enough to at least take those worries away from her. Once caught up, Barbara would still need some support to keep up with her monthly expenses, while waging this battle. Her struggle will be compounded by additional expenses related to trying to get better, including travel and integrative treatments, among other things. Suffice to say that she is in dire straits and those of us who love and respect her, want to reach out to others who can chip in whatever they can to help alleviate her burdens.

Barbara served 7 years of a 15 year sentence she received after conviction in Brooklyn, New York for Conspiracy. She returned to Massachusetts after her release from the federal prison system to rebuild her life with her children. As many former prisoners, and especially political prisoners, Barbara has struggled to find work and survive, but she is still deeply committed to the struggle for justice.

If you would like to contribute to the effort to minimize the stress for Barbara, and help her make it through this battle, please see the linked “Go Fund Me” page at:

A “Lotsa Helping Hands” page has been set up to help organize care and comfort for Barbara, so if you think you can help with practical matters or would like to follow Barbara‘s progress, please see:

Donations received will go directly to Barbara to help alleviate her troubles. Please spread the word by sharing this email and contribute whatever you can. Thank you.

Pat (Rowbottom, formerly Levasseur)
Carol (Saucier, formerly Manning)
Ray Luc Levasseur

Support Bo Brown!

October 6, 2016

Long time revolutionary , and former Political Prisoner, Bo Brown‘s health
is declining.

Bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that is not as well
known as but very similar to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s however it is very
likely that this will soon lead to Parkinson’s. Some of the unfortunate
features of Bo‘s medical condition are falling due to a lack of awareness,
fainting, and then there’s the seizures. Bo has had eight seizures since
January of this year. Also, Bo has made it very clear that she’d like to
live at home for as long as possible. The current shower at her house is a
bath tub, shower combination, and the tub has a high wall, so the need for
a new shower to suit Bo‘s needs is now an urgent issue.
With the unfortunate news of Bo Brown‘s diagnosis and all that comes with
it, there are plenty of individuals doing what we can to support Bo
through these tough times. There are medical expenses that the funds here
will be directed to as well as the very specific shower that is more
conducive then her current one to her condition.

It is so important that we support our comrades through the tough times.

Bo Brown has worked tirelessly against racism, sexism, homophobia,
transphobia, and has brought awareness and attention through all means to
the plight of the prisoner. She hasn’t forgotten about the Political
Prisoners either and we definitely should not forget about the current
Political Prisoners or the former. Prison is a tough road to travel , and
then there’s the weeks , months and even decades that pass in the post
prison period, but the prison experience doesn’t ever leave. From growing
up in Klamath Falls to the federal prison time in Alderson , WV to the
current struggles that she now faces in Oakland CA where she resides, Bo
has been fighting all her life.

Help us show Bo the kind of support that she deserves. Let’s raise this
$10,000 for her!

Thank you so much! We’re going to need all the help we can get!

Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for September 9, 2016

September 6, 2016

Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

In the 1970s the US prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, people were standing up, fighting and taking ownership of their lives and bodies back from the plantation prisons. For the last six years we have remembered and renewed that struggle. In the interim, the prisoner population has ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their stability.

Prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay. That is slavery. The 13th amendment to the US constitution maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in US prisons. It states “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.” Overseers watch over our every move, and if we do not perform our appointed tasks to their liking, we are punished. They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.

Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America. This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action. To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement.

This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.

Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals to participate in prison routines and needs have increased in recent years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have gathered the most attention, but they are far from the only demonstrations of prisoner power. Large, sometimes effective hunger strikes have broken out at Ohio State Penitentiary, at Menard Correctional in Illinois, at Red Onion in Virginia as well as many other prisons. The burgeoning resistance movement is diverse and interconnected, including immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons and juvenile facilities. Last fall, women prisoners at Yuba County Jail in California joined a hunger strike initiated by women held in immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado and Texas.

Prisoners all across the country regularly engage in myriad demonstrations of power on the inside. They have most often done so with convict solidarity, building coalitions across race lines and gang lines to confront the common oppressor.

Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand. We hope to end prison slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.

To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside. Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.

Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against post-release controls. When we abolish slavery, they’ll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves.

Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.

Step up, stand up, and join us.
Against prison slavery.
For liberation of all.

Find more information, updates and organizing materials and opportunities at the following websites:

Prisoners’ voices blocked and censorship in U.S. prisons

June 15, 2016

By Jaan Laaman

 The United States is often called the country of prisons because we are five percent of the world’s population, but the U.S. holds 25 percent of all the prisoners in the world. Recently we have heard talk from the White House and Congress about the need to reduce this huge prison population, which is costing the taxpayers billions.
            Occasionally you might hear a prisoner’s voice on some media platform, usually a Human Rights or community outlet. These present words are written by Jaan Laaman. I am a long held political prisoner presently locked up in the U.S. Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona. Let me be very clear, prisoners have a hard time getting our words and thoughts out from behind America’s many, many prison walls. While prisoners do have a legal right to express their thoughts and report on issues and abuses, actually getting your words out is often very hard or impossible.
            All incoming and outgoing prisoner communication, postal mail, phone calls and some restricted email services that some prison systems allow, are all opened and monitored. This is authorized by regulations and law. Further censorship and outright blocking of communications and publications, also routinely occurs in prisons throughout this country.
            Letters, magazines and books critical of government policies and wars are often not delivered, even if official policy states that prisoners are allowed these materials. Sometimes a prisoner has all his or her phone or email communications arbitrarily shut off for months. While an official appeal channel is usually available, these are biased at best and could easily be labelled a kangaroo court process. Communications would be shut down for months, even if the prisoner ultimately wins appeal and has his or her communications restored.
            Censoring, restricting and flat out blocking communications, especially of political prisoners, is a harsh and dangerous reality going on now, in prisons all across this country. My own voice, which has previously been heard on radio and in print over many years, has been almost totally cut off since February. No official explanation has been given, other than, that prison authorities do not like my commentaries and essays. Freedom of speech—Freedom of expression, for America’s prisoners is a constant struggle!
            These words are from Jaan Laaman and I hope I can, once again, speak more directly to you in the future.
Jaan Laaman (10372-016)
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734 USA

Free Herman Bell

February 13, 2016



More than 2.4 million human beings are imprisoned in the US.


This massive incarceration-overwhelmingly aimed at people of color and criminalizing youth makes the US by far the greatest purveyor of punishment in the world.


Among these millions are a number of political prisoners, and among these courageous sisters and brothers is Herman Bell. Herman Bell has been a political prisoner in the US for nearly 40 years. When national liberation and revolution rocked the world in the 1960s and 70s, Herman was active in the social justice movements of those times, particularly the Black Liberation movement and the Black Panther Party.

Support Herman’s parole here:

Statement from Marius Mason for the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity

January 22, 2016

January 22nd 2016

Happy New Year, Family and Friends!  Many, many thanks for so much support
and care over this year from both long-standing friends and new pen pals.
I feel very grateful and am always humbled by the encouragement and
resources sent my way by folks who are doing so much already to increase
our collective chances for survival. The news has been full of stories
about someone winning the big money pool that has accumulated for the US
Lotto – but the most important “win” has nothing to do with money. I am
betting on the movement to win big this year: in getting more control over
their communities and defending against police brutality and racial
inequality, in winning more victories for animal and in the defense of
wild spaces, in creating social relations based on respect, dignity and
compassion for all people….irregardless of their race, orientation,
creed or gender presentation.

Thank you for coming together today, to hold up those members of our
community who struggle so hard behind walls to keep their sense of self
intact. Sovereignty over our selves, our bodies is essential for any other
kind of liberty to be possible. By reaching out to trans prisoners, you
affirm their right to define themselves for themselves – and defend them
against the overwhelming voices who claim that they do not exist, that
they must allow others to define them. In the isolating environment of
prison, this is toxic and intimidating, and amounts to the cruelest form
of psychological torture. By offering your help and solidarity, you may
just save a life. I know that for thelast year and a half, as I have
struggled to assert myself as a transman, as I have advocated for the
relief of appropriate medical care for my gender dysphoria – it has been
the gentle and loving reminders of my extended family of supporters who
have given me strength and courage to continue. Please join me in offering
this help to so many others who need it to keep going. Never underestimate
the healing power of a letter, those letters have kept me going…and I
want to pass that gift on, if you will help me.

Thank you again for coming together on this day, for connecting to those
on the inside who truly need you, who need you to see them as they really
are and striving to be. Until the prisons are gone, we need to work hard
to support those of us inside – especially those of us who are not always
as visible to the rest of the world. We are always stronger together.

Marius Mason
January 2016

Syria — ISIS: some anti-imperialist observations and analysis

December 20, 2015
With the mid-November ISIS claimed terrorist attacks in Paris, and even more since the California shootings, there has been a constant stream of reports, official government statements and politicians remarks, about ISIS and the civil war in Syria.  There have also been reports of French, U.S., Russian and Syrian government air bombing raids on ISIS targets in Syria.  In the U.S. corporate news media, many of these reports and most of the analysis have been driven and limited by ideology and are often incorrect.  This weak and misinformation is created to fit the U.S. government line on what is going on in Syria and with ISIS.  The fact is ISIS, Al Qaeda and other jihadist forces have mostly maintained, and in some areas even strengthened, their presence in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Why is the U.S. government and its major allies, seemingly unable to contain and limit these jihadist groups and their increasing attacks on people outside the Middle East?  From where, and how did these jihadist groups first spring up?  It is important to trace some of this history, in order to more clearly see what might be more effective in stopping these jihadist attacks and terrorism.  And to be clear, by terrorism, I am using the actual definition of the term, that is, the indiscriminate use of violence against civilians in order to pressure the government and ruling powers.

Allow me to go back and lets begin with Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden pulled Al Qaeda together in the 1980’s in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the then Soviet Union supported secular and progressive government of President Najibulah in Afghanistan.  At that time, the USA government, completely caught up in cold war anti-Soviet Union ideology, created the most expensive CIA operation in history.  The U.S. government supplied huge amounts of weapons and money to Al Qaeda and other jihadi and warlord groups fighting the progressive Afghan government.  Readers might remember or could easily find, rather famous photos of Ronald Reagan meeting with some of bin Laden’s top lieutenants at the White House.  At that time President Reagan called these jihadists “freedom fighters”, not terrorists, even though they were killing people in Afghanistan in the same manner as people were killed in Paris and San Bernadino recently.

Once the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda turned its sights on the United States.  A year after the 9/11 attacks, then President George Bush, pushed and dragged the U.S. into invading and occupying Iraq.

The lies and fabrications Bush and his government used to justify the war against Iraq are now well known.  There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  There also, was no Al Qaeda in Iraq, under the secular and nationalist Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.  There were no bombs going off in Iraq, nobody was getting their head cut off, there was no warfare between various Iraqi communities and cities.  In fact Iraq had a middle class level of lifestyle.  Women went to school and work, were doctors, professionals and served in government positions.  Iraq had a lot of oil and sold it on the world market.  President Saddam Hussein’s government was sometimes labeled authoritarian and maybe rightly so.  But there were no active or known terrorist groups in Iraq until the United States invaded that country, overthrew its legitimate government and imposed a 10 plus year occupation.

During the years long U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq came into existence, expanded and later part of it morphed into ISIS.  During this same period, other Sunni jihadi groups sprang up, along  with some large and well armed Shiite militias.  When the U.S. finally withdrew its army from Iraq, these armed jihadi groups, territorial and religiously based militias and terrorist organizations took increasing control of parts of Iraq.

In 2011, the U.S.,NATO, Qatar and other oil kingdoms launched an air war against Libya and its long standing official government led by Muammar Qaddafi.  Under the pretext of protecting Libyan people, these countries bombed and attacked the secular nationalist state of Libya.  The country of Libya, like Iraq, was also rich in oil and gas.  Libya readily sold its oil and gas, at market prices, to all buyers.  Qaddafi made sure the Libyan people shared in the countries wealth.  Libya had the highest Human Development Index ranking in all of Africa.  Libya was also a firm and long time supporter of national liberation and freedom struggles, from Ireland to Palestine, South Africa and more.  Like Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Qaddafi and Libya were long on the enemies list of U.S. imperialism.

Since the death of Qaddafi and the overthrow of his government, Libya has not had a functioning national government.  There is ongoing war and conflict and jihadist forces, including Al Qaeda and ISIS have established themselves in parts of Libya.  They have carried out terrorist attacks against Egyptians working in Libya, as well as against many Libyans.  Four years after the U.S. led war overthrew the Qaddafi government, Libya is basically a failed state.  There is no central government, competing forces control sections of Libya and ISIS and Al Qaeda are openly active.

After the U.S. led effort that overthrew the government of Libya, the U.S. turned its sights on SyriaSyria, like pre-invasion Iraq and Libya, is an independent secular nationalist state.  Syria had long had a well functioning government and civil society.  Syria is composed of many religious and ethnic communities.  The largest group is Sunni Muslims.  There are also large minorities of Alewite (Shiite related) Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Armenians.  Syria, for years, has also been the home of a large number of displaced Palestinians who have had to flee Israeli wars and occupations.  While Syria has been close to various upheavals, like the U.S. invasion of Iraq, several Israeli wars, civil war in Lebanon, etc. through out this time it has remained a functioning state, with law, commerce and relative stability.

Many decades ago, the previous president, Hafez al- Assad, was faced with a jihadist type Sunni uprising in the city of Hama.  The Syrian army and security agencies forcefully put down this rebellion.  For the past 40 years Syria has been a country where people of all religions and ethnic groups co-existed.  Nobody was getting their heads cut off, no churches or mosques were being bombed.  Damascus and other cities were thriving centers of business.  Women were not restricted in education, business or employment.  As already mentioned, Syria hosted large communities of Palestinian refugees.  Elections are routinely held and Bashir al-Assad, an Alewite Muslim, is the elected president.

The Syrian government has always been very strict about not allowing sectarian or religious violence.  The U.S. has often labeled the Assad government as authoritarian.  There also are some exile  Syrian groups who are critical of the Assad government.  But up until about 4 years ago, Syria was a functioning successful multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.

As an anti-imperialist and a life long revolutionary activist, I totally recognize the right of all oppressed and exploited people to speak out and struggle for justice.  This includes the right, and when necessary the need to demand and fight of change against the government and system.  Ultimately all people have the right to change and overthrow a system that oppresses and exploits them.

There is a big difference between a people’s  right to a freedom struggle against what they see as their oppressive government, and foreign powers and imperialist states interfering in the internal affairs and struggles within a sovereign country.  The U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc., have no legal or moral right to demand the overthrow and removal of President Assad and the Syrian government.  Nor do they have any moral or legal right to arm, train, pay for and advocate the overthrow of the legally constituted government of Syria.  This is just naked aggression and imperialist domination of a small independent nation by the major imperialist power in the world — USA imperialism.

During the past 5 decades, the secular nationalist government of Syria, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, has been viewed as an obstacle and enemy, by the U.S. government, for its policies in the Middle East.  Syria has been a steadfast opponent of Israeli expansionism and a firm supporter of the Palestinian people.  It has refused to sell out the Palestinian people and their struggle for nationhood, or to accept dictates from  the U.S. government.  Syria has long had friendly relations with Russia and previously with the Soviet union.  All this has permanently placed the Syrian government in the crosshairs of the U.S. government.

In 2011 street protests flared up in the Middle East.  Within weeks, two U.S. allied governments, Mubarak in Egypt and the government in Tunisia, were overthrown by huge rallies of people.  Some months later there were demonstrations in Syria too.  They weren’t huge or nationwide, but many people did protest.  Some of these demonstrations were met with police repression.  Very soon after the police crackdown, well armed attacks sprang up in some Sunni areas.  It has been documented that millions in money, arms and even training, was going to these rebel forces in Syria.  Most of this aid, especially from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, went to extremist jihadi forces, especially Al Nusra and ISIS.  Turkey kept an open border for foreign fighters to travel into Syria.  This is how the Syrian civil war developed and even today continues to exist.

There was no ISIS in Syria until U.S. and western European imperialism, Saudi and other Persian Gulf oil kingdoms and Turkey began supporting and supplying these jihadi forces that have now seized territory in Syria.  In the past year the U.S. and some other countries have begun bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.  Damage has certainly been done, but ISIS and Al Nusra remain in place.  Kurdish forces and in some sectors Syrian government forces have successfully pushed ISIS out of a few areas and contained them in other locations.

Some months ago Russia joined this fight against ISIS and other jihadists in Syria.  Russia announced and advanced its plan to support and join with the Syrian government and its armed forces, against the jihadist and anti-government rebels.  By all accounts, the major rebel forces are all jihadist — ISIS and Al Nusra being the largest organizations.  The Russian strategy understands that aerial bombing alone, will not defeat the anti-government forces.  There have to be land forces to fight, take ground and hold areas.

From an anti-imperialist perspective, we can see that Russia’s direct support of the Syrian government, is not only international solidarity, but Russia is acting in its own material interests.  The fall of the Syrian government would mean the loss of Russia’s main long time Arab ally.  Further, the spread of ISIS activities would put Russia’s internal security at greater risk.  The Russian strategy to support and add to the military strength of the Syrian government and its armed forces, is a realistic strategy that can defeat ISIS and the other jihadi groups.

Even now, as ISIS expands terrorist attacks beyond Syria and Iraq, the U.S. government is still calling for the removal of the Syrian president and his government.  Imagine how many more people would be dead if the Syrian government had fallen four years ago, when the U.S. first began demanding and working for the overthrow of President Assad?  Imagine what all of Syria would look like today if there was no Syrian government?  Syria would look like Libya, but even worse because there would be a lot more dead Kurds, Christians, Alewites, Armenians, Palestinians, Yazidis.

The United States has no legal or moral right to demand the overthrow of the Syrian government or president.  The U.S. has even less right to fund, arm and train Syrian or mercenary forces to try to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.  The U.S. has no right to invade or occupy Syria and we, the American people, have to be extremely clear that we do not want the U.S. government to invade Syria, to send any U.S. troops into Syria.  Actually even the U.S. aerial bombing of ISIS targets in Syria is illegal by international law.  The U.S. should work with, coordinate with, the Syrian government if they are interested in having U.S. aid, in any bombing raids it conducts within that country.

Syria is a sovereign nation.  Whether the U.S. government likes its president or not, violating the sovereignty of a country, whether sending warplanes on bombing raids or landing an invading army, is a violation of international law, is an act of war.

The government of the United States has consciously and/or unwittingly helped create the conditions for the rise of organizations that today are called armed jihadi terrorists.  Specifically the U.S. government and its wars and invasions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now in Syria, have led to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Superpowers and empires, throughout history, believe they can manipulate and control events and even countries.  Sometimes they create or facilitate the rise of forces that they lose control over or that turn against them.  In recent history, in the 21st century, a clear case can be made that the political managers of the U.S. state/empire (elected and appointed government leaders) have made many mistakes and created wars and other situations that they lost control of, or that led to results that have been harmful to U.S. government and corporate interests, let alone to the American people.  And of course, it is always the U.S. public who pays for the wars, in money and blood, even though the people have very little input and control over what the government does in our name.  It is important that we the American people, become more familiar with the real facts and realities in Syria and the Middle East.

(Readers interested in a more detailed elaboration on the declining ability of U.S. imperialism, should check out my essay “Decline of Empire?“, in issue 23).