From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
UNCHAINING THE DIALECTIC
Raya Dunayevskaya’s 1953 breakthrough on Hegel’s Absolute Idea enabled her to illuminate a path not traveled by previous generations of revolutionaries. She is quite emphatic in raising the importance of “Unchaining the Revolutionary Dialectic” (May-June 2014 N&L), and capturing what Marx’s critique of the Hegelian dialectic meant: an extension of the dialectic in terms of the unification of thought and reality. In other words, thought not as a disembodied process, but as the internal reflection engendered by man’s engagement with external reality. Thus, human beings in their complete awareness of the fact that it is the consciousness of human beings that is uniquely responsible for shaping reality. Human beings duly armed with such an awareness of their own potentiality could finally throw off the mental shackles that bind them to the dead-end decadence of bourgeois electoral democracy. If we are ever to get to a new society, transcending capital relations will entail the process of a new humanism reflected in a ceaseless correlation of thought and reality.
Raya Dunayevskaya wrote: “not even Absolute as combining theory and practice, i.e., as a totality, really answered the task. The task first begins, or to put it the way we expressed it in Chapter 1 of Philosophy and Revolution: It is Absolute Idea as New Beginning.” All of this is really “who we are and what we stand for,” and must be projected concretely to everyone we meet.
Susan Van Gelder
We all live in our own particular realities of politico-economic and socio-cultural environment, and we all read the same Das Kapital of Karl Marx. Humanity likes to read and interpret theories and practices to suit one’s needs. But in reading the truth of things around us, the dialectics of the subjects of revolution, the one who needs and will eventually contribute to the new humanism that Marx taught us resides in each one of us. Comrade Dunayevskaya has that highest honor of honing again all our previously established theories of change closer to that dialectical truth of appreciating things and being part of it. In this time of imperialist globalization of hunger and injustices, we in the Philippines stand fast to that liberating praxis of philosophy and revolution where all of us struggle closer to the freedom of humanity.
Cainta, the Philippines
CAPITAL AND NATURE
It is bad enough that the Navaho Power Plant was given the name of Navaho against the wishes of the Tribe. Then it was allowed to be filthy because it is out in the desert and “nobody lives there”—except saguaro cactus, which it is killing, and other desert creatures that King Coal never heard of, and, of course, Indians. For its entire existence the plant has been destroying one of the greatest sources of earth’s history, the Grand Canyon. What are we thinking to allow oligarchs to destroy our heritage and the earth this way?
Recently I traveled from New York to Chicago in a train that arrived five hours late. Another person who came from the West Coast said that his train was nine hours late. Why? The truth, the train crew said, is that our trains had to stop to let freight trains go by. In the federal rail system, freight traffic, that is commodities, has a priority over human traffic, that is people.
This reminds me of what Marx wrote in Capital: dead capital (things or commodities) always has a superior position in the capitalist mode of production over living capital (people).
Former train rider
Tokyo Electric Power Company asked to keep dumping radioactive water into the ocean from the meltdown of the Fukushima reactor. This is three years after the meltdown! And they don’t want to stop nuclear reactor production. It’s madness!
GLOBALIZATION IN PHILIPPINES
If there are families and children who lack food, it is an inhuman society and justifies social struggles for human freedom and revolution on the part of the poor and oppressed to put an end to this capitalist greed and madness and chart their own destinies for a more humane society. This is the state of the Philippine economy in the midst of globalization. Foreign and local big capitalist corporations maintain cheap-labor policies resulting in barely minimum wages—stripped of job security and benefits—job contractualization, underemployment and unemployment.
WAR ON DETROIT, WAR ON THE WORKING CLASS
I think this “Grand Bargain” that the Detroit Emergency Manager cooked up is some kind of setup. If you read the section on the Detroit Institute of Arts, it seems that if anyone doesn’t do what is planned, the deal is off.
The group that checks it is all the same people, so they have set it up to fail and not pay. Like if the city with “Mayor” Duggan doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, then the funding parties—people like Dan Gilbert’s minions at the Community Foundation—can decide not to pay.
If you fill in the parties in the plan with the actual people, they are all on the same side. It is a little beyond my financial level to really see through it clearly, I just know it’s like a house of cards set up to raid your fund.
Mad as hell
Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s was a good place to grow up. We were a major producer of cars and other goods for the U.S. and the world. But from 1980, when Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO (air traffic controllers) workers and broke their union, capitalism found another way to do it—globalization.
We need the $15 hourly minimum wage! When people go on strike against McDonald’s or Walmart, they are literally in a fight for life. Poverty doesn’t always kill in a hail of bullets. Sometimes poverty kills slowly as stress and worry wear down a person’s immune system, inviting multiple health problems that overwhelm the body and our inadequate public health system.
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
Prisons are often test beds of the instruments of government abuses prior to them being used in the community at large. From testing the limits of subtle or open racism, to testing what techniques can best be used to “legally” break a person’s mind, prisons reflect society at large, especially in the way that the prison industrial complex conducts its business.
Black River Falls, Wisc.
In this Texas-style slave labor concentration camp, the amount of food each prisoner is given was cut. Whether this is to force an increase in prisoners’ purchases from the commissary, I do not know. What I do know is that prisoners who are indigent are getting thinner and starting to get that “look” about them that I always saw in Central America in the faces of poor kids. I have been noticing more and more prisoners with sores and red splotches on their arms, legs and faces, and anyone who gets a scratch, nick, a cut, talks about it taking a very long time to heal, if it does at all. I am not a doctor, but I believe I am seeing mass malnutrition and borderline scurvy.
Man in a Cage
I had to neglect my correspondence to my friends and comrades in N&L due to illness. I have sued the prison system and am trying to force the district court to issue an order directing prison officials to correct my condition through surgery. As soon as I am able I can have my relatives or friends send you some money for a regular subscription and for Marxism and Freedom, which I have never read. After all, I owe my re-education to my comrades at N&L, for which I am deeply grateful and hopefully in the near future we can continue the necessary correspondence.
Terre Haute, Ind.
I am a Gay communist prison inmate. I really love to read N&L newspaper. I do appreciate the fact that your organization has provided a nice donor in order for me to receive this excellent newspaper.
I truly enjoy N&L. It’s nice to know that people care what us prisoners think. It’s rare that women lifers get to voice our opinions. Thank you on behalf of us knowing we can always count on you.