From the March-April 2018 issue of News & Letters
Charles Denby (see p. 5) did not accept exploitative and racist conditions in Detroit’s auto factories, but became an organizer against these conditions of alienated human labor in the shops, and also in wildcat strikes against the labor union’s bureaucratic leadership. When white workers in the auto factory joined Black workers on a strike, it showed Denby’s ability to articulate labor issues in such a way as to unify Black and white labor despite their differences. As Marx stated: “Labor in the white skin will never be free as long as labor in the Black skin is branded.”
JUSTICE AND ‘JUSTICE’
In “(In)justice system confronted” (Jan.-Feb. N&L), Wislanka criticizes that “some activists consider concrete as the opposite of ‘ideal.’ The ‘ideal’ may be prison abolition, but the practical and concrete is advocating for prison reform.” Because prisoners are demanding concrete resolutions, and not social uprooting, one may consider them “reformists.” However, as Wislanka states, “What makes prisoners’ demands aspects of the same struggle is their spirit. The spirit of the hunger strike, for example, was a cry for recognition that prisoners are human beings.” Thus, the concrete already contains the “ideal” within it. A dialectical view allows us to see both dimensions as a unity, so that we can help develop the concrete until it reaches its full universal expression: a new human society.
Before my sentence in Colorado’s Dept. of Corrections, I was working in medical device engineering, helping folks live a better life. Our niche was mostly with dialysis and the needs of end stage renal failure. My research was fruitful and beneficial to the medical community. It’s a shame how much human potential is wasted in the name of justice. It’s shocking how we administer “justice.” As a nation, we do need more corrections, but it will not come from mass incarceration. Our model of justice fails when we fuel it with revenge and hate, while also allowing others to profit from the warehousing and servitude of what is most precious, our citizens. There is a better way.
Canon City, Colo.
YOUTH IN ACTION
Indiana University hosted a speech by Elliott Abrams, the dirtbag who helped the Contras kill thousands of people in Central America, and who was then convicted of lying to Congress about his involvement. It was a Koch Brothers funded event. I was part of a protest group who sought to respond; the university structurally prevented comments and questions so our group did a walkout. Many of us were people of color and foreign students from countries affected by these policies, and they were concerned that their visas would be affected, so I volunteered to post signs outside the room in a manner visible inside the room during the talk. Not a huge chance of arrest, but a way I could flex my privilege so that it amplified their voices.
Alexei Wood, along with six co-defendants, was acquitted on all charges related to Inauguration Day 2017 protests. Though only reporting, Wood faced up to 61 years in prison. Trump dares speak of a witch-hunt against his criminal self, while his Justice Department undertakes witch-hunts for the sole purpose of suppressing freedom of the press and freedom of speech in protests.
FIGHT PRISON CENSORS!
I am writing to share information regarding issues raised in the last N&L. 1. Censorship. To withhold N&L from us, every gulag has written rules pertaining to publication screening. It’s our responsibility to challenge them to validate the rationale for censorship. The law on this is quite clear and I would suggest that your readers head to their gulag’s law library and research the issue.
2. Virginia’s Inmate Savings Account. A complaint was raised that there was no transparency as to the monies held in this account or their disbursement. Here I would suggest that the writer check out the state’s Freedom of Information Act laws as to what he may obtain through these laws. I have used Illinois’s Freedom of Information laws to obtain many useful documents.
Greetings from one of California’s southern prison facilities. I would like to receive N&L. I am well aware of what I am by rights allowed to receive in the mail, even if prisoncrats do not like the material, as long as it does not advocate any violation of laws, or harming another, etc. (CCR Title 15 Article 4. Mail section #3135 and Article 1 Behavior section #3996) I am not one of those prisoners who just let such things go.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
In prison the majority of TV time is spent on programming other than news. When I first began reading N&L, I would notice a TV newscaster make a passing reference to an item I recalled as having been covered more extensively in N&L. It then occurred to me that if not for your articles I’d have no idea what the TV newscaster was talking about. One of the standards for proper treatment of prisoners is to keep them informed of current events and important items of news. N&L meets this requirement.
I already subscribed to N&L but we had a hurricane and we had to evacuate the prison we were in. Now I’m at a new prison unit inside the Texas prison industrial complex. I lost all my back issues as well as all my other literature since we weren’t allowed to bring anything on the bus with us. I would like to update my information so I can start receiving N&L again. Also, if you happen to have any back issues that would be amazing as I use them to educate other prisoners to open their eyes to the struggle.
Revolutionary salute! I relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago in 2006 and after a short time I was arrested on trumped-up charges and sentenced under the state’s draconian three strikes law to 86 years to life of imprisonment. I have been languishing behind bars for the past 11 years and engaged in a protracted struggle to try to overcome my captivity. As a descendant of slavery, my happiness begins with freedom. I really enjoy reading N&L to stay abreast of all the national and international news pertaining to the human rights demonstrations and freedom struggles out there in the world. I share every issue with all of my fellow prisoners. I hope to continue to receive N&L with a donor subscription.
I am a member in good standing of the IWW and have been incarcerated for 34 years. Recently I came across an old issue of N&L for the first time and was impressed by its scope and treatment of Marxist theory and current issues affecting us all. I would greatly appreciate a free subscription.
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.