From the March-April 2022 issue of News & Letters
ABSOLUTE IDEA AND SELF-LIBERATION
The 1961 letter by Raya Dunayevskaya to Spence (“Absolute Idea and self-liberation,” Jan.-Feb. 2022 N&L) pointed out that we must never counterpose society to the individual. But capitalism does, as we see in people separating their supposed “individual right” not to wear masks or receive the vaccine from the health of society as a whole. Hegel’s concept of individuality is in contrast: the Absolute Idea is the unity of the theoretical and practical ideas where individuality is purified of all that interferes with its universality. Freedom struggles create conditions for total freedom. In our age we had to transcend the mediation of communism to get to Notion, the concept of a new, human society, in which we abolish division between Notion and reality to reach second negativity, the beginning of new human relations. What happens after the revolution is not guaranteed to be progress—as we have witnessed, like the Russian and African revolutions degenerating into authoritarian regimes. These must be transcended before we can achieve positive humanism, beginning from itself.
Dunayevskaya was always prescient. The Sino-Soviet split was huge. Neither the U.S. nor Russia was especially interested in China. Since then, China has become a huge state-capitalist power. The categories in the letter make us realize that revolution is not radical reform. A new beginning is not simple. Everything must be overthrown: ideas, production, social consciousness. These thought categories are essential for that. We don’t want to be in Groundhog Day like the rest of the Left, which keeps coming up with the same answers that didn’t work in the first place.
LABOR AND ECOLOGY
“COP26: Rulers strive to stifle youth response to climate emergency“ (Jan.-Feb. 2022 N&L) tells it like it is. Work supplies a need, no matter what kind. Labor is the prime necessity of life; labor creates the world. Sir Thomas More in 15th-century England wrote, “sheep are eating men.” As wool became a major commodity, the common lands were enclosed for sheep grazing. Opening pasturage in the environment, ending forests, ruins the countryside. We need to think of how our labor affects the environment. To Marx, all labor is forced labor if it’s against your desires. With class society, agricultural labor does change the environment and the factory system created disease and air pollution. It won’t be otherwise unless we end class society. There should be joy and satisfaction but you can’t do it in a class society.
U.S. whites who avoid their race also avoid taking responsibility for racist histories and current goings-on by giving excuses, for example: colonization is OK because it comes from exploration, which is in the human DNA. They give generalizations: because racism happens worldwide, every racist group should make amends and that’s when my group will too. Often white folks in North America are in favor of, say, Germany taking responsibility for the Holocaust but are unwilling to take responsibility for the still terrible treatment of Native Americans. If kids’ feelings get hurt, they will grow by confronting reality. Many children who learn that racism is real will work to end it. Those who mind white kids’ feelings getting hurt by learning about actual history don’t mind children of color’s getting much more than their feelings hurt for centuries.
Haligonian woman of color
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
Nevada, it seems to me, is a “prison for profit” state, and if you have no money you have absolutely nothing. Ely State Prison is a maximum security facility. I spend 23 hours a day in lockdown in my cell with one hour of yard, with no cellmate.
I find N&L to be an interesting view upon real world topics which always hits home. I have been in and out of segregation since 2016 at three of the level-5 camps in Missouri and your publication is the absolute best for in-depth thinking in the box from every corner. Born in Benton Harbor, I never knew the water is contaminated with lead (“Foul tap water in Benton Harbor,” Nov.-Dec. 2021 N&L).
Bonne Terre, Mo.
Convicts with health/mobility issues should have on hand free info from the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division about Americans with Disabilities Act that show things like what cells should be equipped with. Our rights are a work in progress through civil lawsuits forcing the powers that be to do the Marxist humanism thing. I shattered my wrist, spending six months in the hospital in here, and I’m still a gimp today. It wasn’t ADA-compliant at all.
Being incarcerated, N&L has helped open my eyes to how the capitalist state uses our bodies as a commodity to make money, slavery, and takes hostage our families through expensive phone calls, visits, and “services” we “need” to survive, make parole, get medical care or other things. I have long known and watched as our government fails its citizens. Now I know it is purposeful. I am grateful to the donors who have provided this information.
I am a Transfeminine non-binary comrade imprisoned in California. I have been the grateful benefactor of generous subscription donors for quite some time. The writings of Raya Dunayevskaya enlighten me to the Marxist-Humanist perspective. I always sit up feeling educated and more aware after digesting these articles. As a self-proclaimed abolitionist, anarchist comrade, I consider all N&L publications weapons in my arsenal of knowledge that propels me to stand up for my and our rights as humans against all those who oppress us, and in my case our captors such as California’s CDCr. I always enjoy sharing your paper with those hungry as I for more.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
I appreciate the non-censored, unbiased and, most importantly, factual news, unlike the propaganda put out daily by the fabrication machines of the capitalist-imperialist global system. I am a true philosophical believer of revolution or what the right-wingers call radicals. The demise of this corrupted global system will only happen through revolution by us, not them, or fake-ass liberals, or moderates that just make me sick because so many are still uninformed zombies. Thank you for providing me this subscription.
There is not a jail or prison in this nation that is run properly. Most are falling apart—toxic building syndrome; unsanitary substandard living conditions; inadequate nutrition, medical care, and security; numerous policy, procedural, code violations; faulty electrical, plumbing, structural and safety issues, etc. Let’s attack them on everyday compliance issues. When they find it’s going to cost more to fix these facilities than they’re worth, it will cut into their precious profit margins and bleed the beast dry. Closing prisons increases the parole rate, thus reducing the demand for filling bed space. This will also decrease wrongful convictions and may even cause these crooked lawyers and judges to stop the bribery and extortion and actually follow our Constitution.
N&L provides very informative articles you don’t hear about in the mainstream news or media. They like to cover up a lot of the truth about what’s really happening and who is behind the government and large corporations. When I’m released, I’m going to try and donate to help other inmates receive a 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. Prisoners are eligible to continue their free subscriptions when they first get released, a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.