From the May-June 2017 issue of News & Letters
WOMEN VS. REACTION
“Women take the lead against world retrogression” (March-April N&L) stresses the importance of philosophy as a needed foundation for a movement. Without that you can be someone who goes into thoughtless action. My friends and I went to a protest because it was advertised as a women’s rally, only to find that it was run by a group we would never want to join.
The article takes up events not only as demands to stop specific actions or legislation. It reveals the underlying humanism that makes the movement revolutionary. Trump expresses an ideology that sees women as objects to be manipulated. That ideology is at the forefront in a new way, and yet it is the ruling ideology of this country from its beginning. Opposing that puts you on a collision course with the basis of the whole system. The relationship the article takes up between philosophy and the movement is necessary when groups like ANSWER say they are for women’s rights, and yet are silent about the struggles of women in countries that they think of as anti-imperialist.
I just read the March-April N&L and was moved by many articles but especially page two and the articles “Prisoners: ‘Shout Their Names’” and “The Disappearing L.” The other parts of the paper were also moving. I want to echo Adele’s statement on “the importance to all women of preserving ones’ history.”
Battles over high school dress codes have become a national phenomenon, with students as young as nine years old being sent home or suspended for “inappropriate” clothing. One school in Massachusetts even tried to ban women students from wearing headscarves, a decision that was reversed. But the battle goes on. Students are learning to use social media to bring these atrocious actions to the attention of the public and to shame the school administrators responsible for them.
WOMEN AND PHILOSOPHY
N&L is the only revolutionary Left paper I’ve read. I understood and appreciated Dunayevskaya’s “Women’s Liberation in Fact and in Philosophy.” Susan B. Anthony was a singular person, for women’s rights only.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Women’s Liberation in fact and in philosophy” (March-April N&L) speaks of the need of developing an emancipatory philosophy together with revolutionary action. We cannot “pick up philosophy en route” or we will end up picking up aborted revolutions. Philosophy may seem scary. However, there is an emancipatory philosophy that helps us unite revolutionary practice and theory—a unification needed if we want to give birth to a new society. Dunayevskaya refers to this as: “the kind of philosophy we have that will determine if we constantly check ourselves to see what has to be opened up, and enable us to see ourselves not as the fragmented people class society makes of us.” This emancipatory philosophy achieves its greatest power when it is “adopted by”—or arises from—the movements from below. The role of intellectuals is to help this philosophy come to life from within the actions and thoughts of the subjects in resistance. The organizational practice of intellectuals, consisting in developing such a political-philosophical relationship with the movement from below, is crucial. I think that is what Dunayevskaya is encouraging us to do, so that we don’t leave philosophy out of the revolutionary equation.
SYRIA AND HUMANITY
Your web statement “Trump won’t smash Assad’s genocidal regime—support the Syrian Revolution!” is
important because it supports the human social revolution ongoing in Syria, despite massive brutal repression. The mainstream media fail to distinguish between “the rebels”—revolutionaries fighting against Assad’s brutality and for human values—and the reactionary ISIS that wants to turn Syrian society into a theocracy. A lot of people are not aware of the “two worlds” within the Syrian civil war. Some people I talk to question Trump’s motives, yet still defend Assad and question the veracity of the gassing reports. There is also a lot of disgust with anti-war protests that excuse his regime. Even though the mainstream media keep pointing out that there will be no retaliation against the use of conventional murder weapons, they are still silent about the death toll from recent attacks by the U.S. and Russia and the proxy regimes in Iraq and Saudi Arabia against their own citizens.
SUPPORT TRANS CHILDREN!
I’m outraged that numerous Transgender and gender nonconforming children in supportive homes are removed by Child Protection Service organizations. Often neighbors and others report the children are being neglected or abused. Therefore, I was heartened to learn of a protest organized by Trans Liberation Collective with the supporters of a Chicagoland Transgender girl and her family. They demand she be returned home and that she and her family be treated with dignity. Judge Balanoff, who oversees this case (currently in continuance), the State’s Attorney, the Cook County Guardian’s office, and Cook County DCFS rep Halema Townsend all misgendered the girl. Townsend testified that the mother was forcing her child to identify as a girl. The defense has not, so far, been allowed to testify. The girl is being forced to live as a boy and away from her family. Many families are selective about whom they talk to because they are afraid that Child Protection Services will remove their children. I encourage readers to go to www.familydefensecenter.net to learn more about how to stop these removals.
ANIMALS AND US
The meat we eat is compromised by antibiotics, insect poisons, and hormones to speed animals’ growth and swell their muscles. Animals that should roam are kept in pens, pollute neighborhoods in factory farms, require about nine times more water per pound of food than grains—and even more than that for grass. The grains they are fed make them sick, thus contribute to global warming because of massive belches and farts—just like what happens to us when we eat something that we incompletely digest.
REPRESSION VS. JUSTICE
I can relate to the article “Parole is broken” by Robert Taliaferro. We have a similar issue here in Corruptorado. At each parole hearing only about 4% of the eligible will be paroled. Those paroled are mostly young, with violent charges—the ones most likely to return to prison via new charges. Those over 50 years old are seldom given parole, as, I believe, the parole board knows that they seldom re-offend and go back to prison. The real majority in the U$ is composed of Black, Brown, Native American, LGBT and poor people. But as all too many of them don’t vote, then they allow the labor aristocracy, old white heterosexuals and almost all white rich people to control the vote, putting fascists like Trump in office. So the U$ is not a democracy, and the government/politicians do not want a real one.
Olney Springs, Colo.
The Alabama Senate approved legislation giving church “police” the same powers as real ones. A megachurch with police powers. Mike Pence and Donald Trump already pretty much have that at the federal level, but for Alabama to do this in such a literal way—wow! Will the church police arrest pregnant women who they learn may be considering abortion? Will they put a gun to the head of an unmarried, pregnant teen and force her into marriage; conversion therapy at gunpoint? A Black kid with a hoodie walks in to pray? What would these people who support this do if a mosque requested their own police force. What about historically Black churches, like the one where white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine? Hmmm. What about synagogues that are under attack? How eager would these congressmen be then to pass such a law?
WHY READ N&L?
N&L gives voice to the concerns of the underdog and the underserved, and all those issues that provide little or no financial or moral incentive to mainstream media. In N&L those concerns of the layman that mainstream media gloss over in abstract and impersonal statistical brushes are given a tangible touch that’s instructive and comprehensive on their interaction and effect on the lives in question. As a prisoner, I know that feeling of hopelessness that N&L works so hard to banish.
I enjoy your articles; they are always informative. It is touching to say the least that the world is full of people of every creed and color who are lacking advantages and being oppressed by the rulers. It is even worse for those who find ourselves incarcerated. Thank you for being our voice and continue to speak loudly and proudly for all of us in the struggle.
Bowling Green, Fla.
N&L relates a lot to me and not only because I find myself without my freedom. It lets me be aware of the things that are going on around the world with big government that takes people’s freedom away and they don’t even know it. It lets me be aware that the struggles don’t just end when one leaves prison; that it’s a lifelong battle to a better life for future generations. On behalf of the Native American people in here, I thank you for your N&L. =OHO=
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
Since being fortunate enough to come in touch with N&L, I’ve truly become a politicalized prisoner. Anyone who reads your periodical can’t help but do the same. It’s a pot of gold in its national and international perspective. If I must ask something be added, it’s coverage of the use of indefinite solitary confinement. Being a Georgia state prisoner of torture for the last 15 years, I’ve found it’s a very overused form of torture. Many use all forms of actions—courts, violence—to get out, but the saga continues without an end in sight.
Editor’s note: Although we cannot print all articles we receive, we urge you to write us what you want to say. Your experience can tell us what solitary confinement really means, as another prisoner has done with regard to prison censorship (p. 5).
The Lifers’ Group, Inc. (L.G.I.) is seeking information from other states pertaining to commutations/compassionate release/elderly release. Once compiled, this information will be posted online. See other L.G.I. reports at: www.realcostofprisons.org/writing. (Out of state inmate-to-inmate correspondence is okay. If you are seeking a response and cannot receive inmate correspondence, please provide an alternative address.) Contact:
Daniel L. Holland, c/o Lifers’ Group
MCI-Norfolk, 2 Clark St., Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056-0043.
My time incarcerated has left me aware that there can be no justice where the interaction between government and the people is guided by a profit motive. I have already watched a friend die because medical care was withheld from him, and no amount of money will ever restore his lost life. I have been in solitary confinement for three months with no hearing or release date. Inmates in solitary get less than one hour out of their cells a day. I haven’t seen the sun since April 2016. Please allow me a subscription to N&L, it will be shared and adored by others in a similar situation.
To our readers in prison—
Prisoncrats sometimes choose to return an issue to us undelivered, but if you have been moved—to another prison, or within the same prison—the USPS will not forward newspapers. Help us keep N&L in your hands by letting us know your change of address, including when you are released. When you leave prison your donor subscription can continue to your new address for one additional year.
We welcome your contributions to N&L and for our website. There are some things we cannot provide. We do not match up pen pals. N&L cannot help prisoners with individual legal cases, and we cannot offer legal advice or access to attorneys. We don’t have the resources to do that work. But this paper is a place where the voices of people engaged in struggles inside and outside prison walls can be heard speaking for themselves.