From the May-June 2021 issue of News & Letters
A COLOMBIAN VIEW: WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
Thanks for the document you sent on socialism (the Spanish translation of What Is Socialism? A Marxist-Humanist Symposium). In Colombia the discussion is between reformism and socialism. It has been difficult to achieve a practical and theoretical unity of revolutionaries. The repression of social movements and political organizations has been terrifying. This frightened the population, a victim of massacres, and the Left, a victim of disappearances and assassinations.
The world ignores the heinous crimes committed against the Colombian population. Paramilitary groups control the neighborhoods. Drug trafficking is powerful in society and present in all state institutions. The Right achieved great popular sympathy as a result of manipulation. One has to understand the county’s reality.
Let’s not lose the socialist North, but try to understand Marx’s concept of permanent revolution. It is necessary to fight the dogmatism that shaped revolutionaries of the 20th century and their vanguardist, mechanistic conceptions. They believe the future is written and it is enough to unfold the parchment of destiny to find socialism, going back to the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. This moment is interesting.
Gay teenager Trevor Wilkinson, suspended from Clyde High School (Jan.-Feb. 2021 N&L, Queer Notes, p. 9), and all students at Clyde won a victory. The school board voted unanimously to end the sexist dress code. All students may now wear makeup, nail polish, jewelry and piercings. The petition for Trevor amassed over 400,000 signatures in the end. I’m so glad for this victory.
DETROIT SCHOOL FIGHT
Since “Reopening schools mirrors class divide” (March-April N&L) was posted, I learned that in the Detroit Public School District, if too few teachers return to the classroom, they will teach on a big screen and the children in the room will be under the supervision of school support staff. Vaccination priority for them is not even discussed. Paraprofessionals are no way adequately compensated for skills, commitment and compassion they bring to classrooms where they were never meant to be the sole adult in the room. How can the in-person aide coordinate with the remote teacher to facilitate effective learning? COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in Michigan; Detroit high school students have been infected through after-school sports. Yet Gov. Whitmer has steadily eased social distancing restrictions, and as of March 26 stated that she has no plans to reimpose them. The state budget is being held hostage by the Republican-controlled legislature, which promises to withhold school funding if the state’s reopening does not continue. They have already made it illegal for Michigan’s state and local health departments to issue public health restrictions.
Susan Van Gelder
When considering the mammoth ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal, there is an internal economy of scale issue involved that conflicts with the external costs. The internal matter is that direct benefits involve volume while direct costs involve the surface of ships, a quadratic relationship that favors size. But oil tankers ran into the externality decades ago with the Exxon Valdez failure, with its billions of dollars in liabilities for ExxonMobil. This did not carry over to vessels just carrying “containers,” eight of which were stranded in the Suez Canal with live animals aboard. At the time it was unclear how long it would take to move the “Ever Given” ship. I read that among all other items that were delayed for delivery, perhaps the most impacted and crucial is wood pulp for making toilet paper. So, yes folks, if this had not been resolved, we may have had yet another global run for toilet paper.
WHAT PRISONERS WANT
I strive to self-educate with relevant knowledge and stay current on world events. N&L expands my intellect with like views. N&L improves my mind to self-advocate. I appreciate the intellectual journeys N&L takes me on.
One cannot add to the only paper that brings prisoners and others news that would otherwise be left unspoken, but ask for more information on places the U$ is at war with, why, etc. and revolutions in said place for the people. One can simply ask for more places to be covered.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
I would love to continue to receive N&L as well as to thank all donors who help people in prison like myself to receive it. You share what mainstream media is too scared to, is told not to, or has a special interest regarding what’s shared. As a poor minority in prison, I am usually affected by laws I have no power to change. I am a negative statistic. “Prisons enable COVID” by Robert Taliaferro (March-April N&L) relates to me. COVID-19 has limited programming. As of late we’ve been out to the yard about two times in over two weeks. Any time an officer gets sick, it ruins programming for the entire facility regardless of where that officer works. If there are actually any inmates sick, it forces us to be on “modified” program, aka lockdown, for a longer amount of time.
I’m here in a Maximum Security prison, doing a life sentence in Colorado. I appreciate N&L because it gives me a wider and honest view of what’s really going on in the world. Unlike most newspapers and news channels, it is not full of fascist propaganda. I want to thank N&L for coming into my cell and being a part in the rise and revolution of my people.
Cañon City, Colo.
Well, first off, I love your publication. Thank you for telling us the truth of what’s going on all around the world and locally. Being aware is power, a power to help others with knowledge that’s up to date. Sharing together in working toward liberating people. This publication unites us all inside prison with the people outside these walls. I cannot afford to subscribe myself and wish I could. I as well as a few others who care and treasure being informed share this publication in my unit. If you would please find a donor to help me receive a renewal, I would greatly appreciate their contribution more than they could know.
Your paper is a blessing to dozens of us. We share it and read it, and discuss it until the pages are worn thin. Please find a donor to pay for my 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, a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.