Displeased with the direction in which all is developing, I’ve pretty much taken a backseat. I find no pleasure anticipating that all is inevitably doomed to fail—even success in the con- text of our existing demands will be a failure. It is more disappointing that there are others who know this yet manufacture excuses for keeping quiet and supporting the current trajectory.
There is no justification for remaining quiet, or neutral. Neutrality does not in fact exist. This is not philosophic speculation, but philosophic materialism backed by scientific fact. Inaction is in itself action that facilitates both the existing status quo and its direction of development, for even that which appears motionless in its outward manifestation is in fact in a continuing state of perpetual transformation. Simply said, neutrality is an abstract concept devoid of substance.
Our current tactics are idealistic in con- tent and therefore incorrect. The focus on the “form” and “manifestations” is incorrect in that it fails to address the “essential” source of our perpetual isolation—the SHU.
Does an oncologist treat a cancer patient solely by addressing the side effects of cancer? That is, does the doctor treat the cancer patient simply by providing him or her with a wig? Of course not. The patient is given chemo, radiation, and, if it is a viable option, surgery to remove the cancerous tumors.
To reform the validation process, even to eliminate it and other formal manifestations of it, while leaving the SHU facilities intact, is to treat the outward manifestations while leaving the cancer intact. We need to refocus our struggle from primarily the various expressions and side effects of the existence of the SHU. Otherwise the Pelican Bay State Prison officials, the California Department of Corrections, and its army of bureaucrats, will manufacture other pseudo-justifications and excuses to permanently isolate us to indefinite sensory deprivation (social extermination).
To eliminate the SHU as we know it to exist, or to even reduce its isolation, is to effectively deprive CDCR of its current and future excuses for subjecting us to indefinite dehumanization. So long as the SHU exists, however, even within the elimination of the validation process, the state will achieve the same thing by other means. We need to eliminate the SHU internally, as we know it.
Without changing the fundamental five demands, we can incorporate “Association” into demand number three. The demand for Association is a tactic that has been pursued and achieved by various other prisoner rights groups with effectiveness in the past. It garnered significant support internationally, and resulted in group Association of prisoners held in strict isolation, allowing anywhere from 8 to 14 prisoners to spend time together for social intercourse, to develop socially and prevent “social- extermination.”
These tactics were pursued with various degrees of success by the IRA and INLA of Ireland, The Red Brigades of Italy, Germany’s Red Army Faction, ETA of Spain, etc. These are examples we can study and incorporate with our own ingenuity and ap- ply to our own conditions.
We can demand, peripheral to our demand for Association, installation of two (4-man) tables, and a phone in each pod for dayroom time. One tier at a time; total of eight men. Pull up/set up/dip bar for each yard. All of which is accompanied with 10 hours a week time for social intercourse. Potentially other social development fostering aspects, like in general population, the opportunity to check out board games, etc.
What makes a SHU and SHU? Isolation. The goal is to transform the “essential” existence and function of the SHU as it currently exists—a tool of social repression that dehumanizes and socially exterminates the individual identity.
To merely alter the side effects and for- mal expressions of the SHU while simultaneously leaving the SHU intact in its essence is ultimately to fail. Even in the context of what “appears” as a success will ultimately be a failure.
A distinction between strategy and tactics, essence and form, are of absolute necessity for success. This requires a dialectical comprehension of reality, and although centrality of decisions are of necessity, it is also necessary that when we put our ear to the floor, we hear more than our own voices. How effective are centralized decisions when they are not the concentrated expressions of the best ideas and knowledge? Such exclusive methods in themselves are isolating and causes mass support to be replaced with resentment, even if not ex- pressed openly. Such circumstances create the conditions in which right opportunism is bred.
First published in The Rock, Volume 1 #5, June 2012