From the September-October 2018 issue of News & Letters
THE NEEDED RETURN TO MARX’S HUMANISM
When reading Raya Dunayevskaya’s “A return to the Humanism of Marx” in the July-Aug. 2018 issue of N&L, I thought of the Arab Spring and what is happening in Idlib, Syria. She writes of an age where our consciousness is preoccupied with human freedom; and that two features are key: “a new subject is born to respond to the objective pull of history” and “a new relationship between theory and practice is forged.” The Arab Spring revealed new subjects for freedom, especially the women but really all those in the Squares who worked out new human relationships on the ground. But where one sees the lack of a new relationship between theory and practice is in how so much of the Left has reacted to the struggle for freedom in Syria. Rather than taking their cue from the movement for freedom against the deadly regime of Bashar al-Assad, so much of the Left got hung up on fantasized U.S. “support” for some Syrian rebels. That was all it took for so many to either support Assad outright or become apologists for him and his deadly regime. This reality brought home to me what Dunayevskaya meant when she wrote that “a viable philosophy must be capable of meeting the challenge of human experience, of the new revolts symbolic of the lack of specific freedoms.”
“A Return to the Humanism of Marx” is timely on this 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth. Not so much to show Marx as a humanist, which Dunayevskaya demonstrated time and time again in her writings; rather, the power of this piece, and the thrust of her continual discussion of the humanism of Marx, was to show the ongoing power of Marx’s concept of humanism. It was to show that humanism as central to Marx’s creation of his philosophy of revolution in permanence—and the need to recreate that concept of humanism within today’s reality. For her day, Dunayevskaya expressed that in the Hungarian Revolution and the Black struggle for freedom. Can we not find it today in such struggles as the new moments within Women’s Liberation and in the struggles for migrant rights worldwide?
At the same time, Dunayevskaya pointed out that the founding of an original philosophy of human liberation is a rare creation. Marx’s humanism was such a creation. To speak of the need for “humanism” in confronting global capitalism must of necessity mean a grappling with the totality of Marx’s humanism, and recreating it for this moment. Anything less is to reduce humanism to ideology rather than the needed philosophy of human emancipation.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
I have become convinced that our current consumerism monster must go. It breeds slavery and contempt for our fellow man and has brought us to environmental suicide.
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I am a Buddhist and Humanist-Communist and your newspaper speaks a beautiful language. I have recently been relocated to the max security side because I refused to work for this human warehouse and support its capitalist ways. Your newspaper is shared and is very helpful. Can I please receive a free copy of the Constitution of News and Letters Committees?
Thanks for treating me as a human being and not a number or a throwaway of society. I committed my crime, deserved to come to prison. But I have learned from my wrongs and words can’t begin to describe the sorrow I feel. I hope one day I may get a second chance at life. I will make the best of it and help others.
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If I get out, I’ll write to have my subscription started for one year as you suggest in your newspaper. It is outrageous and as corrupt as it gets when an ex-convict is required to register as homeless if not living at his address for four days in a seven-day period—regardless if this is consecutive or not. Going on vacation or a camping trip makes him or her automatically guilty and they have to serve five years back in prison if they are gone for over 72 hours. This is a fact in Washington State and I am doing five years for being gone from my lawful residence for two weeks.
I’m wrongfully convicted and serving a life sentence for robbery and 30 years for armed “criminal action” which I am not good for. I don’t have an attorney that will fight for me. I have no family or friends. I’m by myself inside this belly of the beast so I know exactly how it is and what it feels like to be alone, by myself, in an everyday struggle trying to remain sane and fighting for not only my freedom but my sanity in this corrupt environment, a pit full of snakes, lost souls and misguided, miserable, lonely, diabolical, evil-hearted, racist, struggling, emotional, gay, misunderstood, depressed, sad, confused individuals. I deal with racist/prejudiced or biased people on a daily basis. I’ve been assaulted and abused by staff and lied to as well as retaliated against by them. Both my children have been taken from me and it’s just a bunch of wrongful injustice towards me and several others here as well. Some of my friends have even been deported. I appreciate you all and all the donors.
Jefferson City, Mo.
I just finished my first issue of N&L and truly enjoyed it and was happy to know that I can send stamps as a donation so that I can keep receiving this wonderful piece of knowledge. I have a story to tell too about how cruel they can be here. They are notorious for forcing us to go without teeth for years. I wrote a grievance about this and their answer was that their policy gives them the right to refuse me partial dentures for five years. Is this crazy or what? I could see a year to 18 months; but five years? That is just cruel. I bet they wouldn’t go a week without making an appointment to see a dentist. I know I’m an inmate doing 40 years but I’m not an animal, I’m a human being with basic rights but that doesn’t even come close to applying at Mountain View Correctional. If anyone has any ideas how we can correct this problem I would love to know. They already have lawsuits against medical and dental policies but they don’t seem to help; they just laugh about it and keep doing as they please.
Spruce Pine, N.C.
I’m 55 years old. I’ve been locked up since 1993. I will max out my sentence next June. They took my life for a non-violent crime of theft of $365. They’re just going to kick me out with nothing and nowhere to go. Thank god it will be summertime. I’d like a copy of your paper.
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