From the May-June 2016 issue of News & Letters
WOMEN AS REASON
“Women Battle War, Terrorism and Anti-Abortion Fanatics” by Terry Moon (March-April N&L) gives a good panorama of women’s struggles for freedom. The struggle of domestic workers shows us how even in jobs with “seemingly impossible organizing opportunities,” women are fighting back. The alliance between Trust Black Women Partnership and Black Lives Matter shows the struggle against racism and the struggle for women’s reproductive justice are merging in reality. At the International Women’s Day event in Mexico City women workers were at the front, along with Indigenous women and mothers of disappeared people, as well as some youth and students. All these dimensions are united as women.
I would have spent more time on the self-movement of the struggles from below than on critizicing the laws regarding abortion, which consumes a major part of the first half of “Women Battle War, Terrorism and Anti-Abortion Fanatics.” Yes, the positive arises from the negative, but can’t this negative be the critique found in the actions of the movements themselves, and not just an “external” critique of reactionary laws?
Terry Moon’s lead in the last issue shows she is a hell of a writer, and she kicked butts in that lead even more. I’ve shared the article with some guys in this prison to mixed reviews per facial expressions. I think she hit a nerve that was close to home in some of them.
I was really happy with the announcement that Harriet Tubman would be featured on the new $20 bill. Her Undergound Railroad work alone makes her one of the greatest heroes of U.S. history, and she went on to champion women’s rights against those who said it should only be “the Negro’s hour.” Now a mob of racists are calling her a “terrorist”! Some of these people must think that the abolition of slavery was an undue interference in the “free market.” To them, slavery is freedom.
RACISM AND INTERNATIONALISM
“Racism, Workers and Freedom Ideas” by Raya Dunayevskaya (March-April N&L) speaks to revolutionaries in the “developed” countries, who should have a deep view in order to work together with “their” masses to support immigrants in their own countries, as well as workers in “underdeveloped” lands. It points to the need for a sharp critique when middle-classers and workers are seduced by racist speeches, as is happening now in the U.S. and Europe, just as Marx critiziced English workers who rejected supporting the Paris Commune. Finally, it speaks to revolutionaries in the “underdeveloped” countries who should have a broad view that allows us to work together with “our” masses, not against masses in the developed and richer countries, but together with them, trying to build the so needed internationalism of the 21st Century.
The Bisexual community is marginalized within the Queer community. Part of the Bisexual Health Awareness Month observance in March was a report, “Health Disparities Among Bisexual People,” revealing their healthcare needs are not being met. Incorrect assumptions about Bisexual people by straight and Queer people, including those in the healthcare fields, are addressed in the report, which advocates for more education of healthcare providers. The Bisexual Resource Center ran a month-long campaign aimed at promoting programs, policies and services that can prevent or decrease the social, economic and health issues among Bisexual youth.
TRANS LIBERATION AND FEMINISM
We are having an open dialogue on “Transgender liberation and feminism” for women only. For me, the value of such a group is that through an honest and open dialogue, Trans women will come to recognize their oneness with the feminist movement and feminists will come to appreciate that the movement for Transgender liberation, like the movement for women’s liberation, is ultimately about creating a new society free of transphobia, sexism and patriarchy. This dialogue is particularly important at a time when certain “radical feminists” are promoting an anti-transgender campaign, in some cases in alliance with reactionary lawmakers.
New York City
CHINESE STATE VS. WORKERS
I heard two visiting Chinese workers recount a remarkable aspect of the 1995-2005 wave of strikes by workers at state-owned enterprises during the ownership reform. Most of the benefits offered by the state were revoked by the “reform.” According to the Chinese constitution, workers are “the ruling class.” In reality they only have their labor power and nothing else. The stated reasons for arresting workers were 1) that by surrounding the police station they were interfering with its emergency response capabilities, and 2) as punishment for striking. So much for workers being “the ruling class”!
No fan of state-capitalism
NUCLEAR ARMS THREATEN ALL
The news that the U.S., Russia and China are now engaged in a new Cold War style arms race to create smaller and hence easier to use nuclear weapons is totally frightening. This new arms escalation needs to be met with a strong and sustained response from all the forces of peace worldwide. We should not deceive ourselves: nuclear weapons are not keeping peace in the world; rather, they are greatly contributing to the atmosphere of despair, anger, terror, and hopelessness crippling the soul of people all over the world. There is no more urgent task for the world than to be freed from this constant threat of instant global annihilation.
IRELAND’S RED BANNER
Please find enclosed issue 63 of Red Banner—the final issue. We would like to thank you for sending us N&L for many years now, and we hope that the exchange of our publications has been as fruitful and interesting for you as it has been for ourselves. Our website will continue a shadowy existence as a very gradually expanding archive of our 63 issues. We have every intention of doing whatever further service we can to the cause of socialist revolution in thought and deed. Like the man said, our last word will always and ever be: the emancipation of the working class!
REMEMBERING OLGA DOMANSKI
I regret learning about the death of Olga Domanski. I corresponded with Olga and was very much educated by her responsive letters. Olga as a Marxist-Humanist revolutionary intellectual remained very close to the masses throughout her life and made enormous contributions toward developing their movements towards full and complete theoretical-practical expression. The whole of life is also a preparation for death. Olga prepared as a Marxist-Humanist without exception.
Terre Haute, Ind.
Olga Domanski was a significant influence on my life and social activism. Of course Raya Dunayevskaya was a focus for everyone’s attention, with strikingly original thought, but Olga was also a meaningful revolutionary of consequence! She was a dedicated and sincere correspondent with me, even in recent years. She did not hesitate to give advice to a younger activist, and I always found it to be invaluable! Olga did not maneuver people, she did not manipulate people, as if they were nothing but mechanistic robots. Her advice was from conviction and friendship. Organizing and preserving her letters to me would be the best memorial I could make for her. I hope I may continue the work.
HAGGARD BUT NOT TIRED
The late revolutionary George Jackson wrote that Merle Haggard’s music was what the white prisoners at San Quentin listened to, and reactionaries like Nixon wanted to claim him for their own benefit. But we lost a mighty voice in the tradition of Jimmie Rodgers and Lefty Frizzell with the death of Haggard on his 79th birthday. “If We Make It through December” seemed to be on the radio both times I was laid off in November. That song and “In My Next Life” still relate too well to ongoing factory shutdowns and farm bankruptcies, and “Sing Me Back Home” makes a Death Row prisoner’s last day just as human a moment as a love song.
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
I am a Transgender prisoner at a state prison in Pennsylvania, in the struggle to end all types and forms of oppression. Many organizations focus on prison reform, to make the prison system more humane and rehabilitative. I admire their efforts and intentions, but as with capitalism, it must be completely demolished so we can start from scratch. As a Humanist, it sickens me to witness the inhumane treatment being forced on myself and my fellow prisoners on a continuous basis. Oppression in the maximum manner possible is the norm in prison life. It is sickening how prisoner unity is virtually nonexistent. It is a common theme for prisoner to oppress prisoner by degrading, slandering, fighting and bickering with each other. What is needed is a radical transformation in the way prisoners think and perceive things.
I am a Mexican American from Susanville, Calif. I read about N&L in a prisoner resource directory and would like a subscription. I am also a published writer. Please let me know if you accept written submissions as well.
Editor’s note: Yes, one of our principles is presenting the voices of prisoners, workers, oppressed people, participants in freedom struggles—all in the context of the articulation of a philosophy of revolution. While we cannot print everything we receive, please send us your reports. You don’t have to be a published writer to write for N&L.
It’s not only the sort of information provided by N&L I find useful, but the revolutionary perspective that it actualizes. In comparison to, say, the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA), I think that the Marxism represented by N&L is far more authentic to the basic philosophical precepts of Karl Marx, as it concretely seeks to actualize a truly liberating praxis. I respect the fact that you publish in your paper the thoughts of prisoners. I myself would like to contribute towards such a project. There’s a battle of ideas that must be fought between incarcerated revolutionaries and those prisoners who wish to maintain the gang life. Marxist-Humanism must become more available to prisoners so they can break with the gang illusions and actively embrace a liberating praxis in order to change as they also struggle to change the world.
We are denied our rights and mistreated at Macon State Prison, next to the Buckeye Paper Mill, which is one of 182 exposed asbestos sites in Georgia. When you live in Georgia, if you are poor, you don’t get good legal representation in court and there are no programs to help inmates. The officers mistreat us and get away with it.
Greetings Comrades, thank you so much for your timeless services on behalf of the prison populace and the subscription to N&L, which is priceless beyond measure. I would appreciate if you can continue my subscription.
Could you put me on your subscription list, and also send the pamphlet Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers? I sure would appreciate it. I’m indigent and can’t pay for it. I have no one in the free world.
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, a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.