From the March-April 2020 issue of News & Letters
PHILOSOPHY AND THE RETROGRESSIVE CHANGED WORLD
Viewing “Crises of the Retrogressive Changed World” by Raya Dunayevskaya (Jan.-Feb. 2020 N&L) from today, despite the decline in union membership, teachers’ strikes have won fair demands and workers’ struggles have won minimum wage increases in many places. These are only temporary solutions. Ideas of freedom cannot coexist with actual exploitation, racism, and sexism. It is a matter of life-and-death struggle to release totally new dimensions such as the climate movement of the youth, Black Lives Matter and women’s uprisings against sexism and inequality. As Dunayevskaya pointed out, separation between “immediate” and “ultimate,” put off for the “day after,” dooms the revolutions the day before. Despite setbacks, the potentiality of the working man, woman and child for a freer world has to be in the forefront of our consciousness.
Dunayevskaya was really on point when she called Reagan “King” because he was putting troops all over the world for regime change. (See “Crises of Retrogressive Changed World,” Jan.-Feb. 2020 N&L.) Trump is the same; he is pushing the limits of presidential powers. How can a president ignore subpoenas? The beat goes on. Trump is getting away to the point that he out-Reagans Reagan. I am reminded of a quote: “The United States is a republic—as long as you can hang on to it.” The House of Representatives is smoldering—I don’t know why it doesn’t burst into flames.
PANDEMICS AND SOCIAL CONTROL
The coronavirus pandemic is an example of why the U.S. needs universal healthcare and decent sick time for U.S. workers. Without paid sick time, millions of workers are too poor to take off work when they are ill. Instead, they will come to work and, if they have the virus, will spread it. Universal healthcare would mean that sick people could be taken care of in a timely fashion instead of putting off going to the doctor and, again, spreading the virus. Treating workers poorly and having health care as a luxury, not a right, is a great way to spread more illness.
We have seen only the tip of the iceberg of Chinese government massive repression of human rights (affecting 60 million) in the name of quarantine. The disastrous economic and social consequences have only begun. We can certainly expect a faster spread and more deaths in the world’s population of homeless, refugees, and impoverished peoples in general. Even if cures and vaccines are developed, these people are the least likely to benefit, as with the continued spread of AIDS in Africa. There are no simple fixes: there are always enough people who defy authoritarian conditions to prevent total control of a disease, even when those measures are known to prevent suffering and death. Besides, do we really want such measures to become the new normal means of controlling all social problems, especially aimed at revolutionary movements against capitalism and for a more human society?
MENTAL ILLNESS AND CRIMINAL ‘JUSTICE’
My son Charles, who was a senior at University of Illinois-Chicago, had a meltdown due to his bipolar disorder, and approached a campus cop with a metal tent pole. Instead of using his taser, the cop shot him without Charles actually attacking him. This officer was trained to deal with people with mental illness and ignored his training. Charles survived with a collapsed lung and other injuries. He disappeared right after getting out of the hospital and was found in a field alive two weeks ago. Even though he did not attack the officer, Charles was arrested and charged with attempted murder and other offenses. The campus cop that shot him got off. Charles has been unable to get adequate help for his mental illness in jail and more meltdowns are likely. I fear for his life.
Father in fear
CULTURE’S BIZARRE NORMAL
Faruq made some acute observations after spending 40 years in California’s gulag, including 20 in its infamous torture of perpetual solitary confinement. (See “A ‘Free World’ View,” Jan.-Feb. 2020 N&L.) When he described how he had to mediate between those on the street suffering severe deprivation and those in the “hip” counterculture, I was incredulous. All I could think of was Hegel’s description of self-alienating “pure culture” as the “absolute and universal inversion and alienation of the actual world and of thought,” calling it appropriately a “nihilistic game which it plays with itself.” Faruq, who has experienced the power of thought over the actual world in the prison movement that ended perpetual solitary confinement, has a fresh view of the bizarre “normal” in the commodity culture and work world on the streets of San Francisco.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
There are a lot of Native Americans in South Dakota, but nobody reports on the injustices here. Jeff Davis was the presiding judge in the 7th circuit court. It was found out that he was giving Native Americans, Blacks, and other minorities harsher sentences than white people. He has been doing that for years, and when he was caught, he wasn’t fired or punished. They just demoted him to a regular judge instead of presiding. Nobody cares about South Dakota, so there’s no coverage.
I was convicted of “destruction of an energy facility” or destroying a coal-fired power plant. Capitalism will literally burn through all the natural communities on earth within a few generations. Capitalism: turning living communities into dead communities. The Dept. of Justice tried to place a “terrorism enhancement” on me at sentencing. They failed! And yet, the Bureau of Prisons placed a terrorist management variable on me in order to place me in a medium/high security violent prison run by racially motivated gangs fueled by rampant drug addiction and readily available drugs in a prison the guards control.
Revolutionary greetings! I did not receive the Nov.-Dec. N&L, which means the fascist system here at CCI Portage, Wisc., confiscated and destroyed it. N&L shines the light on issues and conditions that the mainstream media ignores. It puts a human face on the Queer struggle, it’s the voice of the voiceless. Though I am Muslim, I recognize the humanity in all oppressed nationals both in the U.S. and abroad. And as a true revolutionary it’s incumbent upon me to lock arms with anyone who despises fascism, imperialism, racism and capitalism and at the same time longs for true justice and liberation. If they come for you tonight, they will come for me in the morning. May the people’s revolution be with you.
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