From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters
WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? WHAT IS REVOLUTION?
This excellent piece of writing by Dunayevskaya, “What Is Philosophy? What Is Revolution?” (Nov.-Dec. 2020 N&L) comes to a point near the end where she is dissecting Hegel’s philosophy. In the process she compares Hegel’s Divine (maybe: religious force) to human thought. Then she says that human reason is superior as the motive force in history. I don’t understand why she finds the distinction necessary. Is Divine so limited as not to embody Reason?
“What Is Philosophy? What Is Revolution?” is a sober reminder of the organic link between the dialectic (emancipatory philosophy) and the actuality of revolution. It was not alone an excursion into the relation of philosophy and revolution at the time of the French Revolution, the 1848 Revolutions and the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917. Nor alone a look at the greatness and limitations of Lenin, Trotsky and Luxemburg in relation to Marx as philosopher of permanent revolution. Rather, What Is Philosophy? What Is Revolution? were questions of Dunayevskaya’s day when a narrow anti-imperialism was being substituted for the possibility of uniting philosophy and revolution.
What of our day and the near-fascism of Trumpism and, at the same time, the rise of new passions and forces for the reconstruction of society on human foundations, as with Black Lives Matter and its allies? But have we begun the needed full discussion of emancipatory philosophy that, in fusion with such passions and forces, can lead to the fullness of revolution? It is here where Dunayevskaya’s provocative discussion can be of great service.
PRISONERS’ QUEST FOR SELF-DEVELOPMENT
We are all part of society, whether living in the free world or behind the walls. As part of society, our voices and votes deserve to be heard. The time has come for disenfranchisement of the incarcerated masses to end!
I am an avid student of history, social sciences, economics and metaphysical thought and practice. I read excerpts from the writings of Marx, Hegel and Raya Dunayevskaya, but often feel I have gained an incomplete review. My desire to gain an understanding which will influence my life is genuine. To do this I need more access to credible, logical and detailed thinkers and writers who engage in subjects unpopular to the masses.
N&L has helped me mature in a broken system that sends juveniles to die in prison. I, too, was a part of the majority of prisoners that get lost in the hate and violence of this place and take it out on fellow prisoners. Now I understand that this system was built just for that, to keep us apart. It is when we unite that they get scared. And thanks to y’all, I now see the real Amerika. Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth of the world. ¡Que viva la revolución!
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
At Crowley County Correctional Facility, run by CoreCivic, a private for-profit company, the kitchen is run by Trinity Services. Other than Trinity employees, all the workers are prison slave laborers, forced to work in the kitchen. If a prisoner refuses a kitchen “job” when ordered to work there, he is written up, put in orange pants, and has privileges restricted as punishment. Trinity Services is owned by the Compass Group in the UK. On their website is a statement that the company is opposed to slavery. Can you say hypocrisy?
Olney Springs, Colo.
What about letting more lifers out without being so restrictive? There are a lot of us who have changed but are continually denied parole. They keep using the insight to our behavior as a reason. I have shown them in my board hearing but I am being denied because I haven’t voiced it the way they want to hear it. It’s called articulate?
It is funny how one prison in California allows property but at the next prison you’re forced to take what you just bought or received and give it away because the prison does not allow it. However, we are all subject to the state corrections department rules in every prison. This only screws the inmates and their families for money and hardship.
The fiscal misery of prisoners’ families has become a cottage industry. California prisoncrats created a program with JPay, which is owned by Securus (see “ACCESS/KEEFE robs prisoners’ families,” May-June 2018 N&L), which is owned by Abry Partners. CalPERS, the pension fund for California public employees including prisoncrats, has over $40 million invested in Abry. Prisoncrats set up a very lucrative scheme in which JPay extends its carceral conglomerate tentacles even further into the pockets of prisoners’ families and friends. Securus is already the leading telecommunications company to prisons and jails in the U.S. Now prisoners for a fee can receive or send email to “approved” family and friends. JPay provides the primary screening of all such communications and “intelligence gathering”! Prisoners will be allowed to purchase what media prisoncrats decide to allow. Sadly, the profitability of managing to maintain large prisoner populations draws substantial investment that has made many very wealthy, adding to the continual promotion of mass incarceration.
Brian Keith Barnett
WHY READ N&L?
Your paper is a deep educational paper. I have been locked in a cell and even though I am aware of what’s up in the world I still would like to know more especially how this new administration is treating my Latina Sisters and Latino Brothers as well as my African Brothers and Sisters. I like to be ahead of the oppressor mentally and physically.
For a long time I have viewed the capitalistic nature of this country and the consumeristic nature of many of its citizens. As a Buddhist, I denounce both but have learned that I stand for a new Humanism. As such, I was hoping you could send me a copy of the Constitution of News and Letters Committees. Under its barbaric rule, the Dept. of Corrections has taken new steps intended to make getting mail harder.
I’d like you to keep me on your mailing list, because it’s an enlightening and knowledgeable paper to keep me up on issues, as well as give me positive motivation to self-advocate. Thank you for the support, love and concern.
Thank you, N&L, also all the donors who make this paper happen. We look forward to every issue. I’m not going anywhere for the next few years and would like to keep growing with you.
Thank you for your continuing coverage of world events from the Marxist-Humanist perspective, which is invaluable and refreshing. Please divide the enclosed money order for a subscription renewal for me plus a subscription for a prisoner who cannot pay. The insightfully multi-dimensional, multi-perspective, oft thought-provoking publication is invariably a pleasure.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5 for a prisoner who cannot pay for a subscription to N&L? It will be shared with many others. A donation of $8 pays for a subscription plus the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers pamphlet to be sent to a prisoner. Prisoners are eligible to continue their free subscriptions when they first get released, a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.