From the September-October 2015 issue of News & Letters
DIALECTICS OF PHILOSOPHY AND OF FORCES OF REVOLUTION
We had a very lively discussion on Dunayevskaya’s book Marxism and Freedom. When we talked about the idea of Black Masses as Vanguard, a Black person gave her opinion that the use of the word “Black” to denote all Black people, objectified them; she preferred the term “Black people.” Another participant who was brought up in a racist household related how racism permeated his family but that reading Malcolm X’s Autobiography made him realize the absurdity of racism. Two other participants asked about the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and Marxist-Humanism in Eastern Europe, and about McCarthyite repression of News and Letters Committees. The conversation continued after the meeting, and everyone said they would return next week. Our goal is to cover the whole of Marxism and Freedom.
“No discontinuity can really achieve [a] new epochal ‘moment’ unless it has established continuity with the historic course of human development.” This quote (see “The meaning of revolutionary archives,” July-Aug. N&L) summarizes the essence of dialectics and helps us understand specifically the continuity within the discontinuity of the two parts in which the Marxist-Humanist archives are divided: 1) Marxist-Humanism in its origin as the theory of state-capitalism, and 2) its development as organization and as philosophy.
In the 1940s, when Dunayevskaya was studying the Russian Five-Year Plans, she was at the same time deeply involved with philosophy, which she saw “as inherent in new revolutionary forces: labor, Black, women, youth.” Like Marx, Dunayevskaya did not stop at the economic analysis or critique of capitalism, but saw within it the self-development of the masses who will destroy it. In other words: just like Hegel in his Science of Logic, Dunayevskaya let the subjectivity emerge dialectically from the objectivity, without separating both, or seeing them as absolute opposites. She went on to formulate a complete philosophy of human emancipation based on the actions and thoughts of the masses giving birth to a new world.
Medical tests, done only after the relentless demands of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s supporters, show that he has Hepatitis C, causing open wounds, skin rashes and the swelling of his lower extremities. Prison personnel knew that Hepatitis C was afflicting Abu-Jamal for over five years! The prison is refusing to treat him, so his legal team is going to court to seek proper medical care. To join in the fight to save Abu-Jamal’s life and get him the care he needs, go to www.free-mumia.org.
FEDERICO ARCOS, 1920-2015
I remember Federico Arcos as a friend, a compañero, a philosopher, a fellow anarchist, poet, social activist, and a multi-dimensional autodidact. Federico grew up in the old CNT districts of Barcelona in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a member of Los Quijotes del Ideal in the Barrio de Gracia in revolutionary Barcelona in 1937. Unlike many of the Iberian anarchists who survived the Spanish Civil War and the total fascist oppression which followed, Federico did not spend all of his time grieving the horror of the Spanish tragedy. He understood that the struggle for freedom is permanent. He did not hesitate to involve himself with the New Left anarchists of the generation of the 1960s and 1970s, my own generation. Forced out of Spain, Federico worked much of his life in a Ford factory in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He was a respected rank-and-file union comrade, participating in the historic 110-day Canadian Auto Workers strike in Windsor in 1955. He was also a behind-the-scenes theoretician and supporter of the anarchosyndicalist-involved MEI strike in Duluth, Minn., and a point-of-production sympathy strike, in Mezzomerico and Novara, Italy, in 1999-2000. Federico never failed to give us aid, answer our questions, calm and balance our jitters, give us thoughtful advice. He understood the true meaning of the word solidarity. Federico could quote large amounts of poetry by heart. Indeed, he believed in the power of the word, just as he believed in the power of freedom. As a poet myself, I was thrilled by his meditations on the human condition and his life, a life of meaningful dedication.
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
I learned from my friends at News and Letters Committees that Marx’s philosophy of revolution, the Marxian dialectic, is the essence of world history from primitive societies to present-day capitalism and in the constant battle of ideas. News & Letters is the only leftist newspaper that can play a key role in the future political and social transformation that remains on the working masses’ agenda. We must explore and find ways and means for News & Letters to become the newspaper of the working masses.
Terre Haute, Ind.
I ran across an article in the San Francisco Bay View by Urszula Wislanka a few years ago. It spoke differently, in a way I had not heard before. Sometime later, I got a copy of News & Letters that was passed around. Here again was the voice I had not heard. I read it cover-to-cover. And though I didn’t understand a lot of things, I knew I needed to understand it.
What was different about it from the other “progressive” or even “radical” voices was that it seemed to focus not just on how bad things are but what would make a difference, how to go about making that difference. So I stuck with it. When I began reading it, I was barely literate. Now I read all the time. I am a different person, ready to prove it “outside.”
I have been in an isolation cell since April 15: no running water 24/7, lights on 24/7, on camera 24/7, a generator runs 24/7 so loud the lights are rattling out of the ceiling. The lights, no sleep and water are the worst. I have been on a hunger strike on and off for 90 days. I’ve lost 64 pounds so far. I was on a hunger strike in 1981-82 for nearly 70 days, and almost died. This state of New Jersey is a slave state.
Your paper is informative and up to date. We all learn from what is printed in this paper. Please keep me informed.
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, at a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.