From the March-April 2017 issue of News & Letters
HEGEL´S DIALECTIC AND TODAY’S RETROGRESSION
“Why Phenomenology? Why Now?” by Raya Dunayevskaya (Jan.-Feb. N&L) speaks volumes to what we face today. The retrogression of the Reagan years pales by comparison to what the new U.S. cabinet members envision, and the ideological pollution of that time is aggravated now in a Left which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite his crushing the Syrian revolution. No less is the Left posing old solutions (“call your congressperson”) in its scramble to harness the spontaneous yet thoughtful mass outpourings since the election. What they miss is that despite the multitude of “issue” actions and demonstrations, speakers and the participants themselves recognize that they are all connected and that we need to support each other. I think a lot of people now could understand that total negation of capitalism is needed, but only to make way for a second “positive” negation, what Hegel and Marx called the ”self-production of man…true actual man, as the result of his own labor.”
WHY READ N&L?
I would very much like to continue to receive N&L. As a revolutionary Marxist who’s been locked up for 11 years, N&L is one of the best papers I’ve encountered. It not only represents a clear revolutionary philosophy but also struggles indefatigably to actualize such philosophy. This is the coherent unity between theory and practice—world and consciousness. And, of course, this is essential for any critical understanding of the world. Since I’ve been here in the hole, I’ve made an interesting acquaintance of another prisoner who happens to share the same vent as I, through which we speak to each other. He’s an individual with an open and searching mind, as I’ve learned through our discussions touching upon several political subjects. It gives one immense hope that prisoners can develop a strong political consciousness, and N&L performs a good job in providing prisoners a critical perspective on both national and international issues. Keep up the good work. The future belongs to the people.
LA RAZA UNIDA
We as a Raza Mexicana can contribute—each in our own way, in our own right, in our strength of our own Raza Mexicana, and with our own group of gente, with whom we are associated. We do not have to change those things provided we recognize that we are all part of one worldwide Raza. Our own inner unity, if recognized, is more powerful than our outer “differences.”
We have to give children a sense of the real world and the importance of their fight for their future. The elephant in the room is racism, the lack of concern for urban youth. Black children are not needed anymore; so they are just put in prison. Despite recent studies showing that charter schools are abysmal failures nationwide and that vouchers result in no improvement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is going full steam ahead on them. With vouchers, districts take a child out of his or her environment. They want that money but are not about to validate that child’s experience.
Retired Spanish teacher
It is so inspiring to read J.G.F. Héctor’s article (“Letter from Mexico: Teachers and Indigenous Congress,” Nov.-Dec. 2016 N&L) about the teachers in Mexico fighting for the quality, purpose and philosophy of education, despite the horrendous persecution they suffer. In the U.S., the fight to keep education public has left little space to discuss education’s content, principles and purpose.
RACISM IN BURMA AND U.S.
Htun Lin’s article on Burma’s treatment of the ethnic Chinese (“Workshop Talks: Roots of Trumpism in swamps of history,” Jan.-Feb. N&L) is a very good piece as far as it goes. Your analysis should include the Democratic Party and their racist policies including internment of the Japanese during World War II, and the refusal to accept Europeans fleeing the war (many of them Jews).
Upstate New York
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
I have been fighting the prison system in the legal arena, both for myself and my fellow inmates (an often thankless endeavor) for the entirety of my last 30 years, but I have never been very politically minded. I was raised in a liberal, activist household, yet I often find myself of two minds on a number of issues. However, I have come to realize that unbridled capitalism is responsible for a great number of the social ills plaguing this country, and has exacerbated many of those it is not directly the cause of. Prison profiteering has brought this truth home to me in a very personal manner.
There is nothing more reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany than the thought of people in uniform ransacking a library and destroying books. (See “Books destroyed,” Nov.-Dec. 2016 N&L.) This was done primarily as an act of racism toward Blacks and secondarily as an attempt to immunize the authorities against lawsuits. They don’t want inmates to be smart. Why? Knowledge is power, and that is the one thing they fear the most. There are so many racists that work in corrections (I’ve heard them use racial slurs talking among themselves multiple times) that they’ve begun to enact racist doctrines like the ones stating that slaves shouldn’t be allowed to read or write. I’m white but that doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. When I hear about correctional officers of this kind (the kind that abused me and smiled about it) doing this kind of stuff I become absolutely full of rage. Those books were precious and now they are gone, all because of the fruits of capitalism, fascism and bigotry.
We at the Louisiana state prison at Angola have a struggle going on right now and it is a big one. I have been down 17 years. I have been in a lockdown cell for all of these 17 years. I have been fighting to get out of this cell but they will not let me out, so now I am going to court about the matter. Thank you and I will be waiting to get my N&L from you all.
The struggle continues and it’s publications like N&L that aid us in getting the truth out to an otherwise unsuspecting public. We all anticipate changes for the worse with the incoming administration’s policies that have yet to be unveiled. If some of the local and federal courts’ modified rules for indigent prisoners are any indication of things to come, then I suspect more voices will be heard in this never-ending challenge to attain and retain our rights.
Prisoner in SHU
To Our Readers:
Can you donate $5 for a prisoner who cannot pay for a subscription to N&L? A $5 donation makes it possible to give a subscription plus the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers pamphlet to a prisoner where it will be widely shared.