From the March-April 2021 issue of News & Letters
THE OBJECTIVE MOVEMENT OF HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF EMANCIPATION
“Uncivilized U.S.: Murder of Rev. King” by Raya Dunayevskaya (Jan.-Feb. 2021 N&L) speaks to aspects of today’s reality: the threat of right-wing extremists to the Black Lives Matter movement and the rewriting of King’s legacy to downplay his revolutionary commitment to full Black liberation that is so prevalent now, to name two. I especially appreciated her summation of King’s greatness: “Dr. King had developed to the point where he let nothing stand in the way of the struggle for freedom….His greatness lay in recognizing the objective movement of history and aligning himself with it.”
This speaks to the challenge faced by Black Lives Matter today, not alone the deadly danger from the Right, but the need to fully align with the objective movement of history, and not be diverted into so-called progressive politics. The need is for total social revolution. A new stage of revolt, of which BLM is surely a manifestation, is not in itself a new beginning. A new beginning signifies not only a new moment of practice emerging from below, but as well new categories of thought, new moments in developing a philosophy of emancipation. Seeds for that are being planted, especially by the actions and thought of Black women, feminists, Queer, Trans and straight. How can those seeds be cultivated? Their connection to the great river of Black liberation is one important determinant. As well, I would argue, is the need to forge a living connection with the fullness of Marx’s philosophy of permanent revolution. Here Dunayevskaya’s reading the revolution of Marx’s Marxism can enter.
ELECTRIC CARS ARE NO PANACEA
So many of us want to believe that we can significantly reduce carbon and methane emissions without significantly changing our lifestyle. In my view, the goal should be to reduce total vehicle miles traveled (regardless of fuel). It is simple algebra. Reducing vehicle miles travelled reduces emissions from all energy sources in the transportation chain—from energy production through all types of manufacturing, to actual vehicle emissions. That is why land use planning is a key element. We need to redesign our living spaces to reduce the amount of miles we must travel in our day-to-day living. I am not optimistic.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
PRICING NATURE AND LIVES
Reducing nature to a monetary price is no solution. If we live in a system that makes decisions primarily on monetary value, then the solution is not to rejigger the appraised values but rather to reorganize society so that decisions are made in a really rational way that takes into account the current and future well-being of human beings, nature, and society as a whole. How much is a human life worth? Economic models do put a price on individual human lives that is shockingly low. And what about the “discount rate” applied to the well-being of future generations? The implausible assumption is that the further you look into the future, the richer society will be, so the shortening of many lives a hundred years from now is offset by not spending $1,000 today. So the life of your grandchild is worth a fraction of your own life, and the destruction of the ecological basis of all life seven generations from now is a justifiable price to pay for the obscene profits of today’s oil and coal companies. These economic cost-benefit calculations try hard not to look at who pays the costs (most of us, but especially burdened are those who are already marginalized) and who gets the benefits (mostly the richest and most powerful).
RACISM AND ANTI-RACISM IN THE QUEER COMMUNITY
For the foreseeable future, my column, “Queer Notes” will include at least one piece on racism in the Queer community in the U.S. The re-energized movements against racism demand this. Where is racism being ignored? Where is it being faced and dealt with? Who inspires us to beat down racism?
COVID-19 IN PRISON
I am more than certain that this movement, Karl Marx, Raya Dunayevskaya, News and Letters Committees, have brought a massive amount of change to people’s lives, mine included. I’ve been reading each issue, and I still have the very first issues that were sent to me. I have to give much thanks to this committee, because it has kept me in tune with worldly affairs, even when I’m sitting for long periods of segregation time for political and protective conduct, where prisoncrats feel the rights of those incarcerated are void. I am looking for ways to help others, and you provide many ideas, and knowledge, which again help educate those who are not aware of circumstances. This committee has helped tremendously because I am an inspired political activist and paralegal in training to productively enforce the rights of people around me.
So how has this paper helped? Simply put, it has taken the narrow-minded views I once had and now helped me to make wiser choices that will effectively change lives. I’m encouraged by the positivity that this committee created. And what I am learning, I add to what I have learned. I appreciate it again, and I know some time in the near future, I’ll be able to make a donation. Yes, the pandemic is playing its part on us, but it won’t stop us.
Political activist prisoner
I’d like to express my gratitude for N&L being considerate enough to continue my subscription after the pandemic made this not possible for a while. I also appreciate all of you who are donors for prisoners like me who find it imperative to be informed as well as be exposed to new ways of thinking. Seldom is there a day that goes by that I don’t think of how I can put thought into action. Just the other day I was contemplating the balance in exerted energy in my “pro-action” as opposed to “reaction.” N&L contains jewels throughout the whole paper. Even parts that seemingly might not be akin to my struggle. I use these jewels to take a more proactive stance in prison and also to get an understanding of where the roots of my reactions stem from.
Misinformation is rampant in here. You got prisoners (both white AND other—shaking my head!) who support Trump and his cronies because they’re “gangsters.” I believe it’s nothing for the so-called Left to be manipulated by plutocrats and that capitalism and top-down government is the real root of America’s problem. There needs to be a third party representing the Other and Stacey Abrams’s grassroots work in Georgia may provide some insight into how to get this done on a national level. Let’s Get It Done!!
I really appreciate receiving N&L, and am thankful for you finding a donor to pay the subscription fee for me! I am an inmate at Fort Dix in New Jersey. We have been hit hard with the COVID pandemic. We are staying strong, though: 90% of my building tested positive nearly two months ago. They brought inmates in from FCI Elkton and suddenly the virus was everywhere! Our warden just got re-assigned last week.
Fort Dix, N.J.