Letter to Occupy from Political Prisoner Sean Swain

Sean Swain is an anarchist political prisoner imprisoned in Mansfield Correctional Institution.

In 2007, in a published interview I observed that if Ohio prisoners simply laid on their bunks for 30 days, the system would collapse. I wasn’t talking about just the prison system, but Ohio’s entire economy.

I came to that conclusion because I recognized that 50,000 prisoners work for pennies per day making the food, taking out the trash, mopping the floors. We produce parts for Honda and other multi-nationals at Ohio Penal Industries (OPI), making millions of dollars in profit for the State. If we stopped participating in our own oppression, the State would have to hire workers at union-scale wages to make our food, take out the trash, and mop the floors; slave labor for Honda and others would cease.

Ohio would lose millions of dollars a day in production. The State’s economy would not recover for a decade.

When I made that observation, I didn’t know for certain that I was right. I suspected I was. But more than a year later, prison officials came to get me. My cell was plastered with crime tape. All of the fixtures, including lights, sink, and toilet, were removed and inspected, something  that I haven’t seen happen in 20 years of captivity. I was taken to segregation and slated for transfer to super-max.

The reason? My observation, in a year-old published interview, that Ohio’s economy would collapse without prisoner labor.

That’s when I knew my observation was right. The enemy confirmed it.

I eventually avoided super-max because my friends and supporters made enough noise, but I am now on a Security Threat Group list even though I have never been part of any organization, and my incoming mail is screened.

I share all of this in order to underscore how seriously and irrationally terrified the Sate is about the possibility of anyone awakening the prisoner population to its own power. The State is hysterically shit-in-their-pants petrified of an organized prisoner resistance, the way plantation owners feared a slave uprising.

I was subjected to repression in 2008. Since then, the situation for the State has become even more dire. Given austerity cuts and privatization of a few prisons, the guard-to-prisoner ration has drastically dropped, leading to more disruption in the standard prison operations. On top of that, the Kasich administration’s efforts to bust public workers’ unions, though a failure, has destroyed the morale of guards and staff, the majority of whom now only care about collecting their pay checks. With each downturn in the economy, the prison system takes more essential services from prisoners—from medical to food to clothes—and thereby increases the hostility and resentment of the prisoner population.

With very little effort, very little money, and a great deal of advanced planning, Ohio’s prison population could be inspired to completely disrupt the operation of the entire prison complex. If such a disruption were to occur, it would cause more than the economic collapse of the Sate the I already discussed. Such a disruption would ultimately seize from the State the power to punish. This would pose more than a simple political problem for the government: in such a scenario, it loses all power to enforce its edicts and impose itself; the government ceases to be the government.

Such a development would be a great benefit to the Occupy Movement. While Occupy directly challenges the crapitalist system, it must be remembered that the global crapitalist Matrix uses governments as factory managers. If you protest private bankers, you get beaten by public cops. Given the recent bail-outs, the public trust is nothing more than a corporate slush-fund. It is nearly impossible in this Blackwater-Enron out-source era to tell where governments end and corporations begin—and vice-versa.

The prison complex is an essential component to the larger crapitalist Matrix. If an Occupy-prisoner collaboration in Ohio could take the prison system out of the enemy’s control—if the Occupation could expand to the prisons—we can collectively create the prototype for the larger movement to replicate, building a momentum that collapses prison complex after prison complex, paralyzing state government after state government, spreading like a computer virus, liberating and de-colonizing the most-essential and intimidating bulwark against freedom the empire relies upon: the prisons.

For those of you who are part of the 99% but don’t really want to identify with this segment of the 99% and object to possibly causing all of these criminals to go free, I remind you: The most hardened and irremediable criminals, the most ruthless killers and rapists, currently run the Fortune 500; they dictate U.S. foreign policy; they drive cars emblazoned with “To Protect and To Serve.” You serve the agenda of those criminals if you turn your back on these “criminals.” Without us, you’re not the 99%. If my math is right, without us, you’re only about 94%.

This 5% is only waiting for the invitation.

You can let your enemy keep his slaves and possibly defeat you over time, or you can liberate his slaves and defeat him quickly.

To me, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a matter of actually living up to what you present yourself to be—something your enemy has never done.

We’re still waiting for that invitation.

Sean Swain

Mansfield Correctional Institution