The affirmative’s critique of state time rejects the possibility of reformism and all legalization—instead we believe that reformism is a necessary tactic and that the demand that the government legalizes only for black people can represent an effective non-reformist reform—a tactical maneuver that enables us to activate “our time”
The negative is a radical critique in favor of reforming drug laws – we believe that drug law reform represents one of many non-reformist reforms that can be used to formulate a decarcerative, abolitionist, and revolutionary strategy—vote negative to endorse this strategy as a better way to activate “our time”
Sudbury 8, Professor of Ethnic Studies
[2008, Julia Sudbury is Metz Professor of Ethnic Studies att Mills College. She is a leading activist scholar in the prison abolitionist movement. She was a co-founder of Critical Resistance, a national abolitionist organization. “Rethinking Global Justice: Black Women Resist the Transnational Prison-Industrial Complex”, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 10, Issue 4]
Chronic overcrowding has led to worsening conditions for prisoners. As a result of the unprecedented growth in sentenced populations, prison authorities have packed three or four prisoners into cells designed for two, and have taken over recreation rooms, gyms, and rooms designed for programming and turned them into cells, housing prisoners on bunk beds or on the floor. These new conditions have created challenges for activists, who have found themselves expending time and resources in pressuring prison authorities to provide every prisoner a bed, or to provide access to basic education programs. As prison populations continue to swell, anti-prison activists are faced with the limitations of reformist strategies.Gains temporarily won are swiftly undermined, new “women-centered” prison regimes are replaced with a focus on cost-efficiency and minimal programming and even changes enforced by legal cases like Shumate vs. Wilson are subject to backlash and resistance. 19 Of even greater concern is the well-documented tendency of prison regimes to co-opt reforms and respond to demands for changes in conditions by further expanding prison budgets.The vulnerability of prison reform efforts to cooption has led Angela Y. Davis to call for “non-reformist reforms,”reforms that do not lead to bigger and “better” prisons.20 Despite the limited long-term impact of human rights advocacy and reforms, building bridges between prisoners, activists, and family members is an important step toward challenging the racialized dehumanization that undergirds the logic of incarceration. In this way, human rights advocacy carried out in solidarity with prisoner activists isan important component of a radical anti-prison agenda. Ultimately, however, anti-prison activists aim not to create more humane, culturally sensitive, women-centered prisons, but to dismantle prisons and enable formerly criminalized people to access services and resources outside the penal system. After three decades of prison expansion, more and more people are living with criminal convictions and histories of incarceration. In the U.S., nearly 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons to the community each year. 21 Organizations of formerly incarcerated people focus on creating opportunities for former prisoners to survive after release, and on eliminating barriers to reentry, including extensive discrimination against former felons. The wide array of “post-incarceration sentences” that felons are subjected to has led activists to declare a “new civil rights movement.” 22 As a class, former prisoners can legally be disenfranchised and denied rights available to other citizens. While reentry has garnered official attention, with President Bush proposing a $300 million reentry initiative in his 2004 State of the Union address, anti-prison activists have critiqued this initiative for focusing on faith-based mentoring, job training, and housing without addressing the endemic discrimination against former prisoners or addressing the conditions in the communities which receive former prisoners, including racism, poverty, and gender violence. Organizations of ex-prisoners working to oppose discrimination against former prisoners and felons include All of Us Or None, the Nu Policy Leadership Group, Sister Outsider and the National Network for Women Prisoners in the U.S., and Justice 4 Women in Canada. All of Us Or None is described by members as “a national organizing initiative of prisoners, former prisoners and felons, to combat the many forms of discrimination that we face as the result of felony convictions.” 23 Founded by anti-imperialist and former political prisoner Linda Evans, and former prisoner and anti-prison activist Dorsey Nunn, and sponsored by the Northern California–based Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, All of Us Or None works to mobilize former prisoners nationwide and in Toronto, Canada. The organization's name, from a poem by Marxist playwright Bertold Brecht, invokes the need for solidarity across racial, class, and gender lines in creating a unified movement of former prisoners. Black women play a leading role in the organization, alongside other people of color. All of Us Or None focuses its lobbying and campaign work at city, county, and state levels, calling on local authorities to end discrimination based on felony convictions in public housing, benefits, and employment, to opt out of lifetime welfare and food stamp bans for felons, and to “ban the box” requiring disclosure of past convictions on applications for public employment. In addition, the organization calls for guaranteed housing, job training, drug and alcohol treatment, and public assistance for all newly released prisoners. 24 In the context of the war on drugs, many people with felony convictions also struggle with addictions. The recovery movement, which is made up of 12-step programs, treatment programs, community recovery centers, and indigenous healing programs run by and for people in recovery from addiction, offers an alternative response to problem drug use through programs focusing on spirituality, healing, and fellowship. However, the recovery movement's focus on individual transformation and accountability for past acts diverges from many anti-prison activists' focus on the harms done to criminalized communities by interlocking systems of dominance. As a result, anti-prison spaces seldom engage with the recovery movement, or tap the radical potential of its membership. Breaking with this trend, All of Us Or None has initiated a grassroots organizing effort to reach out to people in 12-step programs with felony convictions. This work is part of their wider organizing efforts that aim to mobilize former prisoners as agents of social change. Building on the strengths of identity politics, these organizations suggest that those who have experienced the prison-industrial complex first-hand may be best placed to provide leadership in dismantling it. As former prisoners have taken on a wide range of leadership positions across the movement, there has been a shift away from leadership by white middle-class progressives, and a move to promote the voices of those directly affected by the prison-industrial complex. Politicians who promote punitive “tough-on-crime” policies rely on racialized controlling images of “the criminal” to inspire fear and induce compliance among voters. Once dehumanized and depicted as dangerous and beyond rehabilitation, removing people from communities appears the only logical means of creating safety. Activists who pursue decarceration challenge stereotypical images of the “criminal” by making visible the human stories of prisoners, with the goal of demonstrating the inadequacy of incarceration as a response to the complex interaction of factors that produce harmful acts. Decarceration usually involves targeting a specific prison population that the public sees as low-risk and arguing for an end to the use of imprisonment for this population.Decarcerative strategies often involve the promotion of alternatives to incarceration that are less expensive and more effective than prison and jail. For example, Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, which passed in California in 2000 and allowed first- and second-time non-violent drug offenders charged with possession to receive substance abuse treatment instead of prison, channels approximately 35,000 people into treatment annually. 25 Drug law reform is a key area of decarcerative work. Organizations and campaigns that promote drug law reform include Drop the Rock, a coalition of youth, former prisoners, criminal justice reformers, artists, civil and labor leaders working to repeal New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws. The campaign combines racial justice, economic, and public safety arguments by demonstrating that the laws have created a pipeline of prisoners of color from New York City to newly built prisons in rural, mainly white areas represented Republican senators, resulting in a transfer of funding and electoral influence from communities of color to upstate rural communities. 26 Ultimately, the campaign calls for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing and the reinstatement of judges' sentencing discretion, a reduction in sentence lengths for drug-related offenses and the expansion of alternatives, including drug treatment, job training, and education. Former drug war prisoners play a leadership role in decarcerative efforts in the field of drug policy reform. Kemba Smith, an African–American woman who was sentenced to serve 24.5 years as a result of her relationship with an abusive partner who was involved in the drug industry, is one potent voice in opposition to the war on drugs. While she was incarcerated, Smith became an active advocate for herself and other victims of the war on drugs, securing interviews and feature articles in national media. Ultimately, Smith's case came to represent the failure of mandatory minimums, and in 2000, following a nation-wide campaign, she and fellow drug war prisoner Dorothy Gaines were granted clemency by outgoing President Clinton. After her release, Smith founded the Justice for People of Color Project (JPCP), which aims to empower young people of color to participate in drug policy reform and to promote a reallocation of public expenditures from incarceration to education. While women like Kemba Smith and Dorothy Gaines have become the human face of the drug war, prison invisibilizes and renders anonymous hundreds of thousands of drug war prisoners. The organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) challenges this process of erasure and dehumanization through its “Faces of FAMM” project. The project invites people in federal and state prisons serving mandatory minimum sentences to submit their cases to a database and provides online access to their stories and photographs. 27 The “Faces of FAMM” project highlights cases where sentencing injustices are particularly visible in order to galvanize public support for sentencing reform. At the same time, it dismantles popular representations of the war on drugs as a necessary protection against dangerous drug dealers and traffickers, demonstrating that most drug war prisoners are serving long sentences for low-level, non-violent drug-related activities or for being intimately connected to someone involved in these activities. Decarcerative work is not limited to drug law reform. Free Battered Women's (FBW) campaign for the release of incarcerated survivors is another example of decarcerative work. The organization supports women and transgender prisoners incarcerated for killing or assaulting an abuser in challenging their convictions by demonstrating that they acted in self-defense. Most recently, FBW secured the release of Flozelle Woodmore, an African–American woman serving a life sentence at CCWF for shooting her violent partner as an 18 year old. Released in August 2007, after five parole board recommendations for her release were rejected by Governors Davis and then Schwarzenegger, Woodmore's determined pursuit of justice made visible and ultimately challenged the racialized politics of gubernatorial parole releases. 28 While the number of women imprisoned for killing or assaulting an abuser is small—FBW submitted 34 petitions for clemency at its inception in 1991, and continues to fight 23 cases—FBW's campaign for the release of all incarcerated survivors challenges the mass incarceration of gender-oppressed prisoners on a far larger scale. FBW argues that experiences of intimate partner violence and abuse contribute to the criminalized activities that lead many women and transgender people into conflict with the law, including those imprisoned on drug or property charges, and calls for the release of all incarcerated survivors. Starting with a population generally viewed with sympathy—survivors of intimate partner violence—FBW generates a radical critique of both state and interpersonal violence, arguing that “the violence and control used by the state against people in prison mirrors the dynamics of battering that many incarcerated survivors have experienced in their intimate relationships and/or as children.” 29 Intheorizing the intersections of racialized state violence and gendered interpersonal violence, FBW lays the groundwork for a broader abolitionist agenda that refutes the legitimacy of incarceration as a response to deep-rooted social inequalities based on interlocking systems of oppression. By gradually shrinking the prison system, Black women activists involved in decarcerative work hope to erode the public's reliance on the idea of imprisonment as a commonsense response to a wide range of social ills. At the other end of anti-expansionist work are activists who take a more confrontational approach. By starving correctional budgets of funds to continue building more prisons and jails, they hope to force politicians to embrace less expensive and more effective alternatives to incarceration. Prison moratorium organizing aims to stop construction of new prisons and jails. Unlike campaigns against prison privatization, which oppose prison-profiteering by private corporations, and seek to return imprisonment to the public sector, prison moratorium work opposes all new prison construction, public or private. In New York, the Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project (PMP), co-founded by former prisoner Eddie Ellis and led by young women and gender non-conforming people of color, does this work through popular education and mass campaigns against prison expansion. Focusing on youth as a force for social change, New York's PMP uses compilations of progressive hip hop and rap artists to spread a critical analysis of the prison-industrial complex and its impact on people of color. PMP's strategies have been effective; for example, in 2002 the organization, as part of the Justice 4 Youth Coalition, succeeded in lobbying the New York Department of Juvenile Justice to redirect $53 million designated for expansion in Brooklyn and the Bronx. 30 PMP has also worked to make visible the connections between underfunding, policing of schools, and youth incarceration through their campaign “Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” By demonstrating how zero tolerance policies and increased policing and use of surveillance technology in schools, combined with underfunded classrooms and overstretched teachers, has led to the criminalization of young people of color and the production of adult prisoners, PMP argues for a reprioritization of public spending from the criminal justice system to schools and alternatives to incarceration. 31 Moratorium work often involves campaigns to prevent the construction of a specific prison or jail. In Toronto, for example, the Prisoner Justice Action Committee formed the “81 Reasons” campaign, a multiracial collaboration of experienced anti-prison activists, youth and student organizers, in response to proposals to build a youth “superjail” in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. 32 The campaign combined popular education on injustices in the juvenile system, including the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Aboriginal youth, with an exercise in popular democracy that invited young people to decide themselves how they would spend the $81 million slated for the jail.Campaigners mobilized public concerns about spending cuts in other areas, including health care and education, to create pressure on the provincial government to look into less expensive and less punitive alternatives to incarceration for youth. While this campaign did not ultimately prevent the construction of the youth jail, the size of the proposed facility was reduced. More importantly, the campaign built a grassroots multiracial antiprison youth movement and raised public awareness of the social and economic costs of incarceration. Moratorium campaigns face tough opposition from advocates who believe that building prisons stimulates economic development for struggling rural towns. Prisons are “sold” to rural towns that have suffered economic decline in the face of global competition, closures of local factories, and decline of small farms. In the context of economic stagnation, prisons are touted as providing stable, well-paying, unionized jobs, providing property and sales taxes and boosting real estate markets. The California Prison Moratorium Project has worked to challenge these assertions by documenting the actual economic, environmental, and social impact of prison construction in California's Central Valley prison towns. According to California PMP: We consider prisons to be a form of environmental injustice. They are normally built in economically depressed communities that eagerly anticipate economic prosperity. Like any toxic industry, prisons affect the quality of local schools, roads, water, air, land, and natural habitats. 33 California PMP opposes prison construction at a local level by building multiracial coalitions of local residents, farm workers, labor organizers, anti-prison activists, and former prisoners and their families to reject the visions of prison as a panacea for economic decline. 34 In the Californian context, where most new prisons are built in predominantly Latino/a communities and absorb land and water previously used for agriculture, PMP facilitates communication and solidarity between Latino/a farm worker communities, and urban Black and Latino/a prisoners in promoting alternative forms of economic development that do not rely on mass incarceration. Scholar-activist Ruth Wilson Gilmore's research on the political economy of prisons in California has been critical in providing evidence of the detrimental impact of prisons on local residents and the environment. 35 As an active member of CPMP, Gilmore's work is deeply rooted in anti-prison activism and in turn informs the work of other activists, demonstrating the important relationship between Black women's activist scholarship and the anti-prison movement. 36 Many anti-prison activists view campaigns for decarceration or moratorium as building blocks toward the ultimate goal of abolition.These practical actions promise short and medium-term successes that are essential markers on the road to long-term transformation. However, abolitionists believe that like slavery, the prison-industrial complex is a system of racialized state violence that cannot be “fixed.” The contemporary prison abolitionist movement in the U.S. and Canada dates to the 1970s, when political prisoners like Angela Y. Davis and Assata Shakur, in conjunction with other radical activists and scholars in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, began to call for the dismantling of prisons. 38 The explosion in political prisoners, fuelled by the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) and targeting of Black liberation, American Indian and Puerto Rican independence movements in the U.S. and First Nations resistance in Canada as “threats” to national security, fed into an understanding of the role of the prison in perpetuating state repression against insurgent communities. 39 The new anti-prison politics were also shaped by a decade of prisoner litigation and radical prison uprisings, including the brutally crushed Attica Rebellion. These “common” prisoners, predominantly working-class people of color imprisoned for everyday acts of survival, challenged the state's legitimacy by declaring imprisonment a form of cruel and unusual punishment and confronting the brute force of state power. 40 By adopting the term “abolition” activists drew deliberate links between the dismantling of prisons and the abolition of slavery. Through historical excavations, the “new abolitionists” identified the abolition of prisons as the logical completion of the unfinished liberation marked by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which regulated, rather than ended, slavery. 41 Organizations that actively promote dialogue about what abolition means and how it can translate into concrete action include Critical Resistance (CR), New York's Prison Moratorium Project, Justice Now, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Free Battered Women, and the Prison Activist Resource Center in the U.S. and the Prisoner Justice Action Committee (Toronto), the Prisoners' Justice Day Committee (Vancouver) and Joint Action in Canada. CR was founded in 1998 by a group of Bay Area activists including former political prisoner and scholar-activist Angela Y. Davis. Initially, CR focused on popular education and movement building, coordinating large conferences where diverse organizations could generate collective alternatives to the prison-industrial complex. Later work has included campaigns against prison construction in California's Central Valley and solidarity work with imprisoned Katrina survivors. CR describes abolition as: [A] political vision that seeks to eliminate the need for prisons, policing, and surveillance by creating sustainable alternatives to punishment and imprisonment … . An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead the average person to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives. 42 In this sense, prison abolitionists are tasked with a dual burden: first, transforming people's consciousness so that they can believe that a world without prisons is possible, and second, taking practical steps to oppose the prison-industrial complex.Making abolition more than a utopian vision requires practical steps toward this long-term goal. CR describes four steps that activists can get involved in: shrinking the system, creating alternatives, shifting public opinion and public policy, and building leadership among those directly impacted by the prison-industrial complex. 43 Since its inception in the San Francisco Bay Area, Critical Resistance has become a national organization with chapters in Baltimore, Chicago, Gainesville, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Washington, D.C. As such, CR has played a critical role in re-invigorating abolitionist politics in the U.S. This work is rooted in the radical praxis of Black women and transgender activists.
The distinction between pragmatism and radicalism is false – our strategy holds them in creative tension to generate a strategic launchpad for the politics of abolition – it strategically hijacks particularist demands while refusing cooption
[2013, Dan Berger is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington Bothell, “Social Movements and Mass Incarceration: What is To Be Done?”, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 15, Issue 1-2, 2013, pages 3-18]
The strategy of decarceration combines radical critique, direct action, and tangible goals for reducing the reach of the carceral state. It is a coalitional strategy that works to shrink the prison system through a combination of pragmatic demands and far-reaching, open-ended critique. It is reform in pursuit of abolition. Indeed, decarceration allows a strategic launch pad for the politics of abolition, providing what has been an exciting but abstract framework with a course of action. 32 Rather than juxtapose pragmatism and radicalism, as has so often happened in the realm of radical activism, the strategy of decarceration seeks to hold them in creative tension. It is a strategy in the best tradition of the black freedom struggle.It is a strategy that seeks to take advantage of political conditions without sacrificing its political vision. Today we are in a moment where it is possible, in the words of an organizer whose work successfully closed Illinois's infamous supermax prison Tamms in January 2013, to confront prisons as both an economic and a moral necessity. 33 Prisons bring together diverse forms of oppression across race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship status, HIV status and beyond. The movements against them, therefore, will need to bring together diverse communities of resistance.They will need to unite people across a range of issues, identities, and sectors. That is the coalition underlying groups such as Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), the Nation Inside initiative, and Decarcerate PA. The fight against prisons is both a targeted campaignand a broad-based struggle for social justice. These movements must include the leadership by those directly affected while at the same work to understand that prisons affect us all. This message is the legacy of prison rebellions from Attica in 1971 to Pelican Bay in 2012. The challenge is to maintain the aspirational elements of that message while at the same time translating it into a political program.Decarceration, therefore, works not only to shrink the prison system but to expand community cohesion and maximize what can only be called freedom. Political repression and mass incarceration are joined at the hip. The struggles against austerity, carcerality, and social oppression, the struggles for restorative and transformative justice, for grassroots empowerment and social justice must be equally interconnected. For it is only when the movement against prisons is as interwoven in the social fabric of popular resistance as the expansion of prisons has been stitched into the wider framework of society that we might hope to supplant the carceral state. There are many obstacles on the path toward decarceration; the existence of a strategy hardly guarantees its success. Until now, I have focused largely on the challenges internal to the movement, but there are even taller hurdles to jump in encountering (much less transforming) the deeply entrenched carceral state. Perhaps the biggest challenge, paradoxically, comes from the growing consensus, rooted in the collective fiscal troubles of individual states, that there is a need for prison reform. In that context, a range of politicians, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations—from Right on Crime to the Council on State Governments and the Pew Charitable Trusts—have offered a spate of neoliberal reforms that trumpet free market solutions, privatization, or shifting the emphasis away from prisons but still within the power of the carceral state. Examples include the “Justice Reinvestment” processes utilized by states such as Texas and Pennsylvania that have called for greater funding to police and conservative victim's rights advocates while leaving untouched some of the worst elements of excessive punishment. These neoliberal reforms can also be found in the sudden burst of attention paid to “reentry services” that are not community-led and may be operated by private, conservative entities. 34 Perhaps the grandest example can be found in California, where a Supreme Court ruling that overcrowding in the state's prisons constituted cruel and unusual punishment has been met with a proposal for “realignment,” that shifts the burden from state prisons to county jails. 35 A combination of institutional intransigence and ideological commitment to punish makes the road ahead steep. Even as many states move to shrink their prison populations, they have done so in ways that have left in place the deepest markings of the carceral state, such as the use of life sentences and solitary confinement, and the criminalization of immigrants. Social movements will need to confront the underlying ideologies that hold that there is an “acceptable” level of widespread imprisonment, that there is a specter of villainy out there—be they “illegal immigrants,” “cop killers,” “sex criminals”—waiting in the wings to destroy the American way of life. 36 There is a risk, inherent in the sordid history of prison reform, that the current reform impulse will be bifurcated along poorly defined notions of “deservingness” that will continue to uphold the carceral logic that separates “good people” from “bad people” and which decides that no fate is too harsh for those deemed unworthy of social inclusion.This, then, is a movement that needs to make nuanced yet straightforward arguments that take seriously questions of accountability while showing that more cops and more (whether bigger or smaller) cages only takes us further from that goal. 37 At stake is the kind of world we want to live in, and the terms could not be more clear: the choice, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, is either carceral chaos or liberatory community. The framework of community—as expressed Decarcerate PA slogan “build communities not prisons” and the CURB “budget for humanity” campaign—allows for a robust imagination of the institutions and mechanisms that foster community versus those that weaken it. It focuses our attention on activities, slogans, programs, and demands that maximize communities. In short, it allows for unity. If the state wants to crush dissent through isolation, our movements must rely on togetherness to win. Solidarity is the difference between life and death. State repression expands in the absence of solidarity. Solidarity is a lifeline against the logic of criminalization and its devastating consequences.For the most successful challenges to imprisonment come from intergenerational movements:movements where people raise each other's consciousness and raise each other's children, movements that fight for the future because they know their history. Here, in this pragmatic but militant radicalism, is a chance to end mass incarceration and begin the process of shrinking the carceral state out of existence.
Even though the legal system is stacked against black people, every tactic must be on the table in revolutionary movements – to rule out demands for legal reform is a recipe for political failure
[March 1968, Robert F. Williams was a civil rights leader and author, best known for serving as president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in the 1950s and early 1960s. Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton cited Williams’s Negroes with Guns as a major inspiration. “Reaction Without Positive Change”, The Crusader, Volume 9, Number 4, http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC513_scans/Robert_F_Williams/513.RobertFWilliams.Crusader.March.1968.pdf]
Next to naked violence and unmitigated terror, racist America's bigoted court system is the cardinal scourge of the powerless Black and white masses. The constitutional myth about "trial by one's peers" is a cardinal sacrilege against the sacredness of truth. When a Black man is a defendant in Americanism's dock of Anglo-Saxon law he is pretty much in the same position as an humble lamb on an altar of sacrifice.White America's savage culture erects a pious facade of devotion to the rule of law rather than of man and hypocritically attempts to project the ritualistic victimization of the Black man to some remote and spiritual realm of divinity above and beyond the tawdry arena of satanic man. To proclaim Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence to be a rule of law; and to allow its application to be left to the whim of insensate brigands is tantamount to casting pearls before swine. The kangaroo court system in racist America is the most archaic of reactionary institutionalized injustice. Some phases of society modernizes and advances. Certain aspects of culture are in a constant state of transition, but to and behold Anglo-Saxon law doggedly clings to a Magna Charta steeped in the traditions of a Middle Ages mentality. Why does this so-called rule of law so readily invoke the heritage of ancient vanity in justifying modern injustice predicated on feudalistic logic and morality? Why is it so inclined to look backwards instead of forward? Why is it a quilted patchwork of sham reform rather than a bold new uniformed structure created out of sociology's up-to-date discoveries and premises? It is because it is an instrument of social reaction in the employ of reactionaries hell-bent on preserving an ante-bellum and vulturous power structure frenetically trying to maintain its encircled and battered position. Tyrants do not change of themselves. The pressure of the people stimulated by the enlightenment derived from their social being is the driving wheel that propels the vehicle of change. The Black and the powerless, who face the wrath of so-called Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, must come to realize the futility of leaving their fate to the rule of law as implemented by puppet judges who pander to the savage emotions of a cold blooded aristocracy. The true power of the state derives from the people. The weakness of the people in a confrontation with state tyranny evolves from the apathy, confusion, demoralization, disunity and ignorance of their own power. All over degenerate and fascist America today the most complimentary citizens of a civilized society are being railroaded to prison, are being removed from a decadent and sheepish society that is in dire need of highly moral and resistant fiber. These courageous and upright citizens constitute the last thin line between regression and progression. They are the sparse in numbers but firm pillars that so precariously prevent the society from plunging into the tragic and chaotic depth of despotic fascism. America's jails are teaming with principled Black Nationalists, freedom fighters, war resisters, peace advocates, resisters of false arrest, those forced into crime as a means of survival, the penniless and powerless guilty of minor infractions, but unable to pay the court's tribute money and the state's bribery. America's racist courts have assumed the despotic posture of institutionalized lynch mobs enjoying the sanctimonious solicitude of the state's ritualistic buffoonery. This inhumane and oppressive situation can only be rectified by an aroused, united and determined citizenry.The power of the enraged masses must be arrayed against this Anglo=Saxon kangarooism.We must strive to create more favorable legal conditionsto disrupt the orderly and uninhibited process of perennial racist kangaroo justice.A life-and-death struggle must be waged to break this antiquated first line of the reactionary power structure's defense of its fast eroding position. Science changes, medicine changes, education changes, customs change, styles change but the archaic courts still arrogantly pride themselves on the fact that they are the true and noble hermits from the dark ages. In our life-and-death struggle, we must convert everything possible into a weapon of defense and survival.We must not be narrowminded and sectarianin our scope. When possible we must use the ballot, we must use the school, the church, the arts and even the evil legal system that we know to be stacked against us.We must fight in the assemblies, we must fight in the streets. We must make war on all fronts. We must use the word as well as the bullet. We must not only master the techniques of our enemy, but we must surpass him in a technique that will serve our cause of liberation rather than his cause of slavery. A liberation struggle cannot afford to hamper its possibilities of success by straddling itself with narrow limitations, by limiting itself to only one method of struggle. While the gun is essential and basic, it must be supplemented by actions, sometimes less dramatic, less decisive.
The affirmative is a project of infiltration—universalist prescriptions that isolate ourselves from the institutions that exercise power militates against revolutionary movements—becoming acquainted with the methods of American racist Kangaroo justice is specifically key to develop tactics and strategies for bringing about the end of the world
[Summer 1969, Robert F. Williams was a civil rights leader and author, best known for serving as president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in the 1950s and early 1960s. Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton cited Williams’s Negroes with Guns as a major inspiration. “The Deprived: Rebellion in the Streets”, The Crusader, Volume 10, Number 02, http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC513_scans/Robert_F_Williams/513.Crusader.Vol.10.2.Summer.1969.pdf]
INFILTRATE THE MANS INSTITUTIONS: Black youth should not commit the catastrophic error of seeing things simply in black and white. That is, of seeing things as all good or all bad.It is erroneous to think that one can isolate oneself completely from the institutions of a social and political system that exercises power over the environment in which he resides.Self-imposed and pre- mature isolation, initiated by the oppressed against the organs of a tyrannical establishment, militates against revolutionary move- ments dedicated to radical change. It is a grave error for militant and just-minded youthto reject struggle-servingopportunitiesto join the mans government services, police forces, armed forces, peace corps and vital organs of the power structure. Militants should become acquainted with the methods of the oppressor.Meaningful change can be more thoroughly effectuated by militant pressure from within as well as without. We can obtain invaluable know-how from the oppressor. Struggle is not all violence. Effective struggle requires tactics, plans, analysis and a highly sophisti- cated application of mental aptness. The forces of oppression and tyranny have perfected a highly articulate system of infiltration for undermining and frustrating the efforts of the oppressed in trying to upset the unjust status quo. To a great extent, the power structure keeps itself informed as to the revolutionary activity of freedom fighters.With the threat of extermination looming menacingly before Black Americans, it is pressingly imperative that our people enter the vital organs of the establishment. FIGHT KANGAROOISM: Inasmuch as the kangaroo court system constitutes a powerful defensearm of tyranny, extensive and vigorous educational work must be done among our people so that when they serve on jury duty they will not become tools of a legal system dedicated to railroading our people to concentration camps disguised as prisons. The kangaroo court system is being widely used to rid racist America of black militants, non-conformists and effective ghetto leadership. These so-called courts are not protecting the human and civil rights of our people; they are not dis- pensing even-handed justice,but are long-standing instruments of terror and intimidation.Black Americans must be inspired to display the same determination in safeguarding the human and civil rights of our oppressed people as white racists are to legally lynch us. No matter how much rigmarole is dished out about black capitalism and minority enterprise, the hard cold fact remains that it is as difficult for a Black American militant to receive justice in America's tyrannical courts as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Black people must be brought to see their duty as jurors as an opportunity to right legal wrongs not to perpetrate shameful obeisance to tyranny and racism.Youth should mount a campaign relative to this social evil that will by far ex- ceed the campaign of voter registration.
Complete rejection of institutional logic of civil society crushes their politics
Kimberle CRENSHAW Law @ UCLA 88 [RACE, REFORM, AND RETRENCHMENT: TRANSFORMATION AND LEGITIMATION IN ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAW 101 Harv. L. Rev. 1331 L/N]
Questioning the Transformative View: Some Doubts About Trashing The Critics' product is of limited utility to Blacks in its present form. The implications for Blacks of trashing liberal legal ideology are troubling, even though it may be proper to assail belief structures that obscure liberating possibilities. Trashing legal ideology seems to tell us repeatedly what has already been established -- that legal discourse is unstable and relatively indeterminate. Furthermore, trashing offers no idea of how to avoid the negative consequences of engaging in reformist discourse or how to work around such consequences. Even if we imagine the wrong world when we think in terms of legal discourse, we must nevertheless exist in a present world where legal protection has at times been a blessing -- albeit a mixed one. The fundamental problem is that, although Critics criticize law because it functions to legitimate existing institutional arrangements, it is precisely this legitimating function that has made law receptive tocertain demandsin this area. The Critical emphasis on deconstruction as the vehicle for liberation leads to the conclusion that engaging in legal discourse should be avoided because it reinforces not only the discourse itself but also the society and the world that it embodies. Yet Critics offer little beyond this observation. Their focus on delegitimating rights rhetoric seems to suggest that, once rights rhetoric has been discarded, there exists a more productive strategy for change, onewhich does not reinforce existing patterns of domination. Unfortunately, no such strategy has yet been articulated, and it is difficult to imagine that racial minorities will ever be able to discover one. As Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward point out in their [*1367] excellent account of the civil rights movement, popular struggles are a reflection of institutionally determined logic and a challenge to that logic. 137 People can only demand change in ways that reflect the logic of the institutions that they are challenging. 138 Demands for change that do not reflect the institutional logic -- that is, demands that do not engage and subsequently reinforce the dominant ideology -- will probably be ineffective. 139 The possibility for ideological change is created through the very process of legitimation, which is triggered by crisis. Powerless people can sometimes trigger such a crisis by challenging an institution internally, that is, by using its own logic against it. 140 Such crisis occurs when powerless people force open and politicize a contradiction between the dominant ideology and their reality. The political consequences [*1368] of maintaining the contradictions may sometimes force an adjustment -- an attempt to close the gap or to make things appear fair. 141 Yet, because the adjustment is triggered by the political consequences of the contradiction, circumstances will be adjusted only to the extent necessary to close the apparent contradiction. This approach to understanding legitimation and change is applicable to the civil rights movement. Because Blacks were challenging their exclusion from political society, the only claims that were likely to achieve recognition were those that reflected American society's institutional logic: legal rights ideology. Articulating their formal demands through legal rights ideology, civil rights protestors exposed a series of contradictions -- the most important being the promised privileges of American citizenship and the practice of absolute racial subordination. Rather than using the contradictions to suggest that American citizenship was itself illegitimate or false, civil rights protestors proceeded as if American citizenship were real, and demanded to exercise the “rights” that citizenship entailed. By seeking to restructure reality to reflect American mythology, Blacksrelied upon and ultimately benefited from politically inspired efforts to resolve the contradictions by grantingformal rights. Although it is the need to maintain legitimacy that presents powerless groups with the opportunity to wrest concessions from the dominant order, it is the very accomplishment of legitimacy that forecloses greater possibilities. In sum, the potential for change is both created and limited by legitimation.