From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters
Readers’ Views, Part 2
PHILOSOPHY, ACTIVITY, ORGANIZATION AND SOCIALISM
I appreciate how Dunayevskaya relates Hegel’s Absolutes with the concrete tasks of building a revolutionary organization. History is the process of becoming. Hegel said that Being and Nothing are abstractions, whereas Becoming is everything. To say that something is says nothing. To say that something is becoming is to open the door to the dynamic notion of history and social life. Revolutionaries do not accept the way things are. We push on to the way things should be. I don’t believe philosophy should be reduced to an auxiliary to revolutionary action, but rather is its comrade in struggle. Reading Hegel deepens our awareness of what he called the need to unite the theoretical and the practical. One thing I like about News and Letters Committees is that it does unite both, whereas other groups are “practical” but their theory is just a watered down version of 1902 Leninism or 1967 Maoism.
As we can see in the first part of Dunayevskaya’s 1953 letter about Hegel’s absolutes (Sept.-Oct. N&L), she is not opposed to the idea of leadership within the organization, nor to the idea of different levels or its structure. However, she always relates the party with the general idea of human liberation—and with the actions of the masses outside the party. Furthermore, she states that the party has its own dialectic, and that its different levels are the result of it, in which subjectivity and objectivity are related to one another as one and the same thing. In that sense, an organization becomes the particular mediation between the universal idea of a new society and the individual realization of it (carried out by the masses). This discussion is important because, at the same time that it points out the real meaning of an organization, it determines the limits of it, avoiding the fetishism of organization—coming from below or from the vanguard parties. The party, in its dialectic sense, is the mediation in which theory (elaborated by the leaders, but being itself a form of practice) and practice (coming from below, but being itself a form of theory) merge.
Who is going to define Socialism? Marxist-Humanism, which is what we call ourselves in News and Letters Committees, is not only obscure, but also somewhat vilified. We need to confront this head-on. The essential problem is to bring the Marxist-Humanist version of Socialism to everyone who can possibly understand leadership from below and not from above. Our concept of the humanness of everyone and protection of our earthly compatriots must be brought before everyone we can influence. It’s important to nip vanguardism in the bud because it is counter-revolutionary and will lead straight back to a society of power, money and corruption.
AFRICA AND THE PLANET
I take this opportunity to thank the forest people’s program and friends of the Sengwer people for what you are doing to assist my community to defend itself from the powerful forces in Kenya. (See “People’s climate march,” Sept.-Oct. N&L.)
Kenneth Kipkeiyo Kipketer
Scientists created an Ebola vaccine a decade ago. It proved 100% effective in monkeys, but no one would cough up the billion dollars needed to bring it to market. Compare it to the billion dollars spent every 13 HOURS on the U.S. war machine. Or the same amount raked in from the first three days of sales of Grand Theft Auto V. Or two days of spending on advertising. Capitalism has its priorities, and the health of Africans is not one of them.
“Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior,” in The Atlantic, Sept. 24, highlighted the stark contrast between Scandinavian and Amerikan prisons. The root difference is restorative vs. punitive justice. Restorative justice’s principle is that human beings can be redeemed despite criminal offense. Decades of research show that prison size is not determined by crime rates but what states decide to treat as crime. In the U.S. the prison industry is fomenting a demand for punishment. Its success is determined, in part, by whom the voters imagine this punishment will affect. This is taking place today as New Afrikan and Latino young men are criminalized and locked up. It is also the underlying reason for California’s high recidivism rate.
Corizon is a private company that works for the Department of Corrections (DOC) and gives offenders in Indiana medical treatment. Nine years ago when I was at Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana, someone put a loaded syringe in my mattress. It poked me in the chest and I ended up with Hepatitis C. I have an inflamed liver because of it, but Corizon is telling me that I’m not sick enough for the treatment. I have filed a grievance with the DOC; but you know where it got me? Nowhere. At first I was ashamed about this disease. But now I’m just pissed off. I want the world to know about it because I don’t know what else to do about this but scream, from my cell, for help! Anyone!
Doug Sanders, 123978-N-215-U
WUCF, P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle, IN 47838
The mail situation here is becoming intolerable: 1) delays and obstructions of U.S. mail going out; 2) the Lapeer Post Office’s spurious requests for additional postage causing mail to be returned to the prison where it is opened and inspected (read); 3) mail returned to sender without notice; and 4) mail disappearing. This problem is being experienced by the majority of prisoners here, so a complaint to the postal inspectors will be much appreciated.
Why are so many prisoners in the SHU Chicano? Progressive groups should conduct studies on why Chicanos in California prisons are tortured more than others. Is this trend spilling into the Federal prisons? Does this affect issues concerning the social forces in U.S. borders? How should the Chicano nation proceed in our efforts for social justice? Many of us see the New Chicano Movement being injected with a new wave of revolutionaries from within today’s prisons. The struggle to Free Aztlán continues, except the path to liberation today is a Socialist one that will break free of the bourgeois nationalism of the past.
Crescent City, Calif.
I have been receiving your newspaper as a gift for some time. I read it cover to cover. I always pass it on so it gets read multiple times. This will be the last time that I write you with a request to extend my gift subscription. The reason is that I don’t have the 58 cent postpaid envelopes to continue doing so. Since I’m not due to be released until 2053, and am in no danger of having a change of address, I’m requesting that you extend my subscription for as long as possible without requiring any further communications from me. In exchange, I will continue to make sure your paper is read by as many eyes as possible.
Editor’s note: Phil’s subscription costs through 2053 would come to $195. Can you donate whatever you can afford so that he, and other prisoners like him, can continue to read News & Letters? As his letter attests, one issue is read by many.