The reinforcement of social antagonisms between proletariat and "bourgeoisie" is creating preoccupations at the front line of the two classes: the reinforcement of repression measures on one hand, and the proletariat's answers to that repression on the other hand. Because if the world-wide crisis exacerbates the competition between the different fractions of the bourgeoisie, there is a sphere where they all do agree: the repression against what will be its gravedigger: the proletariat.
Everywhere, in all States, the repression measures are directed against all the people, all the social activities that disturb "public security", which means the normal course of production and the circulation of commodities. Millions of imprisoned workers are kept in the State's prisons as hostages, to ensure the bourgeois order.
Flying pickets, wild strikes, sabotage actions... all manifestations of strength by the proletariat are condemned by regulations such as the "right to strike", the "right to work", etc. They are considered as "bandit activities" or as some provocateurs' work. All workers' associations are at the mercy of the new "anti-terrorist" repression measures of the bourgeois State. In front of all these bourgeois terrorist campaigns, which direction must the counter-repression measures and the solidarity with/between the imprisoned proletarians take?
Capitalism has only liberated society from the obstacles that prevented the bourgeoisie from developing the exploitation of the working class and improved the institutions bequeathed by the previous ruling classes, such as the prisons, the jails or hard labour...
The bourgeoisie has only taken the heavy and cumbersome chains away from the slaves while it has submitted the entire humanity to the meshes of capitalist production and in the same time the reclusion, the imprisonment, the social exclusions have reached their ultimate development. The State repression has become institutional, permanent and normal thanks to the subtle game of Justice which gives it its apparent exteriority, exclusivity and segregation.
The repression, which is present at all degrees in prisons (isolation, close watch, persecutions, tortures...) has become the guarantee of the general interest! To impose itself to the citizens, to the "free people", as the code of behaviour, the society of commodities needs the speeches of the priests, of the democrats and the humanists, but also needs spaces and special places to learn "freedom", to re-educate to the "civic values", to intimidate and exclude all the unhealthy elements, all the "social misfits"... all those who are suspected of not respecting the laws and rules of the merchant society. Prisons are not only used to withdraw the trouble-makers generated by society but also to persuade the "sane", the "good" and "honest" people of their privilege to live in the best possible world...
Prisons are a necessary condition for the existence of "the best possible world", the prisoner is nothing but the counter-image of the "free man" without which he wouldn't know the price of his freedom, the virtue of his morals and the equity of social Justice!!!
The guardians of peace cannot be but armed guardians: the guarantee of "freedom" depends on the efficiency of the reclusion places... Such is the unbearable and contradictory reality of civil bourgeois society, codified in the penal right and achieved by Justice, its tribunals and its prisons.
It is not in the name of "God's will" but in the name of laws that the bourgeoisie does inflict the measures required for the functioning of civilised society to the working class.
All the proletarians thrown in jails are subject to the most extreme proletarisation and undergo the yoke of the interests of Capital reproduction in some intense social conditions of oppression: reclusion, persecutions (alimentary, sexual...), political and social isolation, total submission, etc.
All of them are used as hostages of the bourgeoisie, entrusted with serving as examples, with terrorising the proletarians who still have the privilege to choose where they are going to sell their working force.
Situating the question of prisoners outside the bourgeois content and against the criterions of innocence or guilt, of justice or injustice as defined by the bourgeoisie itself means in no way to idealise the prisoners and the delinquents, nor to find them in a position of being radical and special revolutionary proletarians, but it means giving to the struggle the fundamental axis on which we must build the proletarian answer to the repression and organise the struggle of all imprisoned workers.
We never situate our criterions of solidarity with the prisoners according to their degrees of criminality, guilt or honesty. Those criterions are initiated by the torturers.
For us the most important thing is to establish a class line between the prisoners and the jailers based on a practice of common reaction against the repression, the persecutions (for example through prisoner associations; through putting prisoner solidarity in direct connection with the taking over and the participation in the various requirements of the struggle against repression; through the fight against repentant denouncers and pressions on the scabs and on the over-zealous warders...).
When it imputes the cause of imprisonment, detention camps, massacres, to the excesses of one kind of government, or of one political gang, or to the misuse of authority of one leader..., the bourgeoisie cleans its dictatorship, the dictatorship of the capitalist social system: democracy.
When the State imprisons, tortures and kills systematically, the bourgeois denounce the errors of management, the illegitimacy of a government, the seizure of a "fascist", a "militarist", a "bureaucratic" clique. When "red terrorists", "hooligans", "subversive" proletarians are imprisoned, tortured or killed, the bourgeois only see a side-slip of democracy, produced by the imperfections of the system and by the unconsciousness of some "trouble-makers".
So the bourgeoisie formally adapts itself to the proletarian claim of freeing the imprisoned militant but it falsifies the sense of that claim and its power completely.
When it claims a special statute for "political prisoners", when it defends the "rights of political prisoners", the bourgeoisie exalts "political prisoners" to some category apart, whose social practice and interests are opposed to the other proletarians' and whose defence has nothing to do with the proletarian interests.
So the "common criminals" are considered as victims of the vice, the perversion and the selfishness that dominate them, while "political prisoners" (in default of being the victims of those victims whose evils they try to remedy) are considered as the victims of Authority, of the lack of tolerance, the lack of democracy, of the rigour and the heaviness of the State.
The first ones deserve their punishment and have no perspective but to expiate and venerate the courage and the loyalty of their big "political" brothers.
The second ones are the scapegoats, the martyrs, the "free-thinkers" and deserve, while waiting for the amnesty, a privileged lot. For the bourgeoisie's survival, for the maintenance of pacific coexistence between fractions of the bourgeoisie and between bourgeoisie and proletariat, it is necessary to admit philosophical, political, religious, economic or social "opposition" in the society, which undergoes a permanent reform and, through its contradictions, brings about an unceasing class struggle.
The political prisoners recognised by States and by their humanist' organisations are the victims of that permanent overthrow, the victims of the State limits of tolerance towards its reformers. The political statute of prisoners has the function of providing the proletarians with martyrs of the revolutionary faith, martyrs of the people's cause, of the struggle for "work, peace and freedom": they represent the injustice that falls down on the men of good will, who, here below, believe in a quiet development of progress and who, in front of the capitalists' difficulty in facing the crisis, propose remedies : new governments, news plans of reorganisation... in order to conciliate the class conflicts, to recompose the nation, etc. There is consequently no political statute neither for the combative proletarians nor for the communist militants condemned because of their class belonging and actions. Only those who disown the reasons for their condemnation have the right of getting that statute: all the democrat rascals, the unionists... who only preach for the liberty of being exploited.
The champion of the organisations defending the political statute for prisoners, the famous Amnesty International, supplies by itself the whole anti-proletarian meaning of the political prisoners' statute. In order to benefit from the support of this organisation, one must not "have done anything against the security of the State and never have used violence".
Falling in with the defence of the human bourgeois rights, and so invariably on the side of the bourgeois State, this organisation takes a direct part in the very democratic repression against the proletariat... By organising the spectacular defence of the "innocent" victims of the social injustice, it contributes to the killing of thousands of proletarians "guilty" of having violently fought against the abject capitalist exploitation of the proletariat. It is not only the division between "common criminals" and "political prisoners", "guilty" and "innocent", "defensible" and "not defensible" that the defenders of the political prisoners' statute claim and organise but also the division between "prisoners" and "free men".
Within a relation of force that is not in favour of the bourgeoisie, at a time of important class movements, the political amnesty is nothing but a juridical manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie trying to integrate what is happening in the street and what it cannot avoid (see the latest struggle in Bolivia and the liberation of hundreds of imprisoned workers), all this within the legal context of the democratic State, of the bourgeois policy.
The bourgeoisie's aim is clear: turning a relation of force that is in favour of its historical enemy into its contrary, by taking control of the situation. The amnesty can also achieve a reversal of the relation of force in favour of the bourgeoisie once a State has succeeded in imposing its power, its terror, the hostages are freed and this amnesty gives a new credibility, a new strength to the bourgeoisie.
It is only through a real action against the State, through the application of the working class terror, that the imprisoned and the "free men" defend and support the struggles in prisons. Any manifestation from "outside" showing that the prisoners haven't lost the "freedom" of the "free men" but that those "free men" reject the so-called individual and privative privileges by revolting himself and fighting against the State, its system of wage slavery, austerity and rigour: such manifestations give the prisoners the strength of not getting destroyed, broken, overwhelmed.
Spreading communist perspectives for the struggle means in no way retreating into an ivory tower and taking an indifferentist position such as: there is no proletarian prisoner to defend because none of our own militants is imprisoned; or: we can do nothing before there exists a social movement capable of freeing our imprisoned comrades! The revolutionary movement is not a factory of martyrs, its development depends notably on its capacity to preserve its forces, its communist militants from the repression. The repression by bourgeois State is a selective one (even in its massivity), it tries to isolate the avant-garde of the class, to imprison the proletariat in some respective roles the active are inevitably oppressed and the passive are eternally oppressed...
The dead are the evidence of its determination, the prisoners are its hostages, and, above all, it demonstrates to the petrified class the helplessness and the isolation, or worse, the incoherence and the irresponsibility of any revolutionary perspective. By imprisoning communist militants, combative proletarians, the bourgeois State fights the revolutionary movement on its ground. But if it is obvious that communist militants run the risk of repression, we must work in order not to give the State the possibility of restricting our struggle ground nor the initiative of suffocating us on its own ground by limiting the revolutionary activity to the support of imprisoned comrades (see the R.B. in Italy) and/or worse, the possibility to dislocate the proletarian organisations. How many "revolutionary" organisations do abandon the fight by joining some front of bourgeois organisations, by integrating and standing for campaigns of the democratic State, under a pretext of solidarity (to free their militants...)? How many organisations do find in the strength of the State some encouragement to preserve themselves by denouncing working class terrorism (which is directly a support to pacifism), or inversely believe that the best way to make common cause with their imprisoned comrades is to join armed struggle?
For all those reasons, we must do everything in our power to make sure that a minimum of militants be imprisoned and that a maximum escape from repression, so that the State will not be able to isolate us and to take the avant-garde of the movement as hostage.
We must criticise the irresponsibility of organisations that do not take elementary defence measures for their militants and for the other class militants: those who do not prepare some practical dispositions to give the militants the possibility of escaping from justice and to continue their revolutionary activity. At the same time we must criticise the erring ways of direct action, of working class violence by clarifying the proletarian struggle methods and by placing them in a general vision of the evolution of the struggle relation between classes. Apart from the case of revolutionary movements in which the class power imposes the liberation of imprisoned comrades and in which their interest is to claim for their actions, we know that the proletarian prisoner is most of the time alone in front of the State. In conditions as we live everywhere in the world today, an imprisoned militant finds himself in a situation similar to that of a revolutionary proletarian who is alone to continue the struggle in a sector being totally under Capital counter-revolutionary power (quiet factory, disciplined regiment...). His atomisation only expresses the general class atomisation and puts him on the ground of Capital. Therefore when a comrade falls in a time of such struggle, his interest is not to play the martyr or to revendicate his actions, but to deny them. His interest lies in using all possible ways to get out of prison: sickness, vice of procedure, use of humanitarian supports, use of the "U.N.O. refugee" statute, of "political refugee" statute, use of amnesty actions... This does not mean supporting the bourgeois institutions politically or the democratic campaigns or the reforms of justice. Nor does it mean making front with them. We must help the imprisoned militants, but we must know and say that it is not the class struggle ground but the ground of Capital. We can't say that such defence is a proletarian class struggle for it is only the extreme weakness of the class. Our main support is the organisation of the fight against repression on the basis of class struggle methods... The liberation of prisoners is not in itself a victory for the proletariat: it all depends on what class it reinforces. We cannot separate the prisoners' liberation and the methods used to that purpose. Concretely the first task is to destroy the wall of silence of the bourgeoisie, the State lies and the "anti-terrorist" propaganda that assimilate working class actions with gangsterism. And this means spreading all the information, all the manifestos, all calls for solidarity with imprisoned proletarian militants between the groups. It also means supporting the resistance actions of the imprisoned against repression by organising solidarity with the movements happening outside. The minimum to do while the prisoners have to keep their mouth shut in front of the judges, is, for the organisation', to defend their actions in front of the working class.
It is because the proletarian organs support the prisoners' working class actions that they can keep quiet in front of justice, risk less trouble and can keep confidence in the struggle for the destruction of all class violence.
During periods of social open fights, some struggle organs act against repression: this is where communists must act and develop some personal struggle methods: direct action, terrorism against the tormentors...
Let's take the examples of prisoners' struggles and resistance during the late years: successive occupations of roofs in France; strikes in Spain and Italy; riots, strikes and uproars against torture and imprisonment conditions in Italy; sieges of prisons and liberations by force, in opposition to amnesty, of prisoners in Argentina (at Villa Devoto prison in 1966) and lately in Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan...; liberation by force of Neapolitan proletarians who, imprisoned for their participation in important struggle movements consecutive to the earthquake, were liberated by a mobilisation, which central and anti-democratic watchword was: "we are all subversive"; and more other struggles in prisons in Turkey, Iran, Iraq... of which we have had very little echo...
If communist militants are constrained to have relations with some State procedures and/or if bourgeois democrats help to save the life of a few militants, no revolutionary militant can oppose himself to that; but what is inadmissible is when "revolutionaries" pay for their freedom by deserting the working class struggle and by joining their torturers' ranks.
There is a limit beyond which talking about class struggle and solidarity means bourgeois solidarity, defence of bourgeois perspectives and interests. The fact of consciously and voluntary getting into action together, towards one common social perspective, essentially contains the consolidation of solidarity relations between those who act in this movement, the class solidarity is the relation around which the proletarians associate and unite.
Solidarity is the dialectical relation of the communist militant in relationship with the revolutionary movement. An imprisoned militant who refuses to give any information about his comrades to his tormentors acts by solidarity with the working class struggle that exists beyond his own personal existence. And the revolutionaries who organise solidarity with him from the "outside" do it because his life carries the movement further, because the movement that is developing means "life" to this comrade. On the ground of democracy, there is no possibility for the proletarian solidarity to take place; the State doesn't tolerate any other community but its own, in which men are only what they return, in which men are but exchangeable value. The prisoners who are freed by the State and protected by its regulations only count as exchangeable money. The prison is a destruction tool used to dislocate the revolutionary movements. We must organise ourselves to escape from this but also to support any expression of life in the working class. We must organise ourselves outside and against all democratic "front" campaigns and reinforce, spread, preserve and develop any theoretical, practical, organisational contribution consolidating class solidarity. Today, some combative proletarians and militants are imprisoned: our task is to organise solidarity and to prepare the working class riposte against repression.
Prisons against the proletariat