Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

An important part of the work of revolutionaries and the working class movement is the defence of fellow radicals and other victims of state terror. The fight to defend and free class struggle prisoners serves several important purposes in the proletarian movement. Class struggle prisoners are heroic fighters for the workers or the oppressed who have been railroaded or framed by the criminal injustice system for the purpose of a state and class war on revolutionaries, labor, oppressed minorities, and women. The working class itself must be organized for the defence of these fighters.

The first purpose of the defence of class struggle prisoners is the intrinsic value, the "moral" imperitive to defend your own co-thinkers and actors. To not allow the state bourgeois terrorists to take one inch of ground or one fighter for the cause without struggle. This should be elementary, for to abandon the class struggle at the prison gates or at the court house steps means a great capitulation to the capitalist legal system, oppressors of Blacks, workers, and the poor. One very simple logical justifications for this is that if one wants to encourage solidarity among radicals and the oppressed, then radicals and the oppressed must band together for mutal self defence. If revolutionaries cannot defend themselves against small attacks by the system how can they expect to be able to act to overthrow this same system.

A second important reason to take up class struggle defence is the opportunity which the imprisonment of a "people's tribune" or "voice of the oppressed" creates to spread their word and the word of the socialist movement to the people. When "normal" means of propaganda do not reach or motivate enough people, the victimization of a leader of the oppressed can bring many people into open militant action. When socialism and revolution are scarry or too abstract for the masses, the issue of defending a single class struggle prisoner like Mumia Abu-Jamal or Leonard Peltier can animate youth and the uncommitted through the valor of their stories and struggles.

One might object that this is opportunisticly using one persons suffering to futher your own cause. Yes in a way it is taking advantage of the situation to further the struggle. However it needs to be done in such a way as to further the broad emancipatory goals of the class struggle prisoner.

This struggle must be a united front, and no capitulations from other grous should be asked in order for another groups support. The urgency of this fight must be carried on in a non-sectarian way. This struggle must be entirely for the prisoners benefits and for the benefit of those for whom they have spoken and fought.

Class struggle defence has a long history. Perhapse the best known case was the outpouring of International support for the Anarchists Nicolo Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti falsely accused of armed robbery. However other great traditions include the abolitionist defence and aiding of fugitive slaves, the international outcry over the framing of the Haymarket workers for which May Day is celebrated, the defence of the Passaic Strikers of 1926, the defence of Trotskyists and Communists arrested under the Smith Act, the defence of numerous Black Panthers attacked by the U.S. governments Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) including Abu-Jamal (See, Women and Revolution
no. 45, 1996, p. 24-36).

Currently, the Partisan Defence Committeee, initiated by the Spartacist League, is conducting a campaign to renew and revitalize the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, former Black Panther, MOVE supporter and fighter for Black freedom, falsely convicted of the killing of a Philidelphia cop in 1981. In addition this mobilization is an extention of the fight to end the racist death penalty in this country, a form of legal lynching which rouses race hatred among many whites. The link on this page is to a flier on Mumia. For more information see . Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!


Tony Allen said...

get a clue.

Nicholas said...

I took the time, about an hour, to look into the Daniel Faulker website and this is what I found. This site contains numerous reverent glorifications of the police, the criminal injustice system, and the racist US state, responsible for several genocides. The site does not even admit the possibility of engineered evidence and presents many so called refutations of the “myths” propagated by Mumia supporters. Here are a few examples I found of thier bias.

“Mumia, working with his lead attorney, Leonard Weinglass (Weinglass is also known for his work with attorney William Kunstler and their controversial defense of the Chicago Seven), has been able to bring together a diverse coalition of anti-death penalty groups, left-wing extremists, academics, fools and the misinformed. They have made Mumia their cause célèbre ( ” If this is true then the other side has brought together cops, cop worshipers, right-wing groups, petty bourgeois, religious and racist zealots, and other fools to support all manner of state repression. Answer for yourself which group you would rather be in.

In another statement about the trial “While the jury -- who had lives of their own that they had put on hold (emphasis my own)-- sat waiting in an adjacent room, Sabo, McGill and Jackson spent the better part of an entire day arguing with Jamal about John Africa.” As if to say that these jurors were so inconvenienced to have to wait for something so trivial as a trial for a man’s life!

Finally, even if I found out today that Mumia actually did shoot Faulkner I would still support him on anti-death penalty grounds and to show solidarity with African-Americans constantly persecuted by the US injustice system.

Edie said...

Absolutely I agree with your first purpose listed, that political prisoners must be defended on principle. This does not entail adopting their principles. I think that your second reason is therein flawed. Your second rationale might be described as the opportunistic advantages of pursuing your first. If you take seriously either, it seems to me that a focus on Abu-Jamal is flawed. While he is a well-known political prisoner, this is actually a very long and on-going battle a generation old. In other words, the circumstances in which Abu-Jamal was imprisoned are a bit alienating to youth today. Is the cause at hand the fate of Abu-Jamal? Or is the cause something larger? If the larger cause is broached on principle first and foremost, as you seem to suggest, then why not devote particular attention to the heinous Guantanamo prison camp and the prisoners held there? Why not tie in the criminalization of immigrants? It is dangerously fascistic on its face. As terrible as the Abu-Jamal case is, it seems at this point to be an identity politics diversion to the increasingly dire political situation. We now well on our way to a police state, not as a bourgeois radical exaggeration of the Black Panther political era, but in real, current, objective terms. A coalition of concerned "moral" activists or protestors is not in a position to analyze the situation or defend the working class from the formidable drag-net now being woven. We must be explicitly socialist.

Nicholas said...

In response to Edie,
The defence of Mumia against the racist courts and injustice system is an important issue that is not raised by the issue of the Guantanamo prisoners. Around the case of Mumia the whole history of black oppression and the black struggle for freedom can be raised. His case can be directly related to the lived experience of black people: "driving while black," engineered evidence, stacked courts, corrupt cops etc. This cannot be raised around the issue of Guantanamo, at least for the same people. Guantanamo demonstrates many things: imperialist cruelty, the willingness of the US to shred the so-called rights that they claim to uphold, and racism against colonial and semi-colonial peoples outside the US. But this is not directly related to the unique oppression that African-Americans face. The case of Mumia is one way of raising this issue in conjunction with the logic of partisan defence. Furthermore, in the attempt to gain and keep the attention of workers and the masses we still must preserve a semblance of being committed to the long haul and the long struggle rather than simply jumping to what is new and sexy and abandoning something else because it is "old."

Your suggestion about immigrant defence is great and I will consider that for the next posting.

Kai! said...

Amazing blog. I really like this. It's rare to find people well versed in leftism, socialism and the sort. I, myself, am an anarchist/socialist and I'm glad to find this blog! I would like to add this to my links section in my blog! Thanks!