Readers’ Views on Covid-19 in Prisons; Labor and Capitalism; Weeds and Flowers; Censorship; Politics of Snitching, and Voices from Behind Bars.
Where I work among the homeless on the street, I see the infinite degradation experienced by those discarded by capitalist society and barely surviving on its margins. There were always those who live on the edge. Karl Marx was describing the lack of transparency in social relations: what appears to be a free decision to sell your labor is nothing of the kind. Yet people stay away from thinking about how all labor, even paid labor, is forced labor.
A recent movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of the state execution of Fred Hampton. The state terrorists were so interested in finding a Judas within Fred Hampton’s circle because Hampton was a powerful new young voice for human solidarity between various groups in Chicago.
What is essential for capital to reinforce its authority and what is essential for people to live as human beings are very different things. Seeing through the rhetoric of the “privilege of having a job,” the reality of life under capitalism becomes clear.
In the richest part of the country the Fentanyl epidemic is greater than COVID. What I see on the street every day is what Marx projected: a growing redundant and discarded population.
Three presentations on why Marx’s 1844 Humanist Essays are critical to meet today’s challenges, by a high school student, a former prisoner who participated in the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikes, and a long-time Marxist-Humanist looking at 1844 from a feminist perspective.
A high school student, a former prisoner, and a long-time Marxist-Humanist discuss why Marx’s 1844 Humanist Essays are critical to meet the total challenges to humanity today.
For many New Afrikan Revolutionaries August has a profound significance. For me Black August attempts to set forth a new humanism.
Urszula Wislanka reviews the book “Prison Truth: The Story of the San Quentin News” by William J. Drummond. Prisoners’ humanity is not alone their individual transformation or “personal redemption” as a “human interest” story, as shown by the Pelican Bay hunger strikes.
Ex-prisoner Faruq writes about the meaning of looting in racist, capitalist Amerika where police brutality runs rampant.
Since May 29, there have been ongoing demonstrations sparked by the outrage over the police murder of George Floyd. They spread throughout the many San Francisco Bay Area cities including ones not especially known for activism like Walnut Creek.
What is “visible” to the system is only “economic” activity: earning and spending money. We see that playing out in the debate over opening the economy vs. protecting lives. People’s lives, our humanity, are being pushed aside to continue production for production’s sake.
Faruq reflects on the question of social interaction in the modern capitalist world, seen from the point of view of someone who has spent several years in prison.
Readers’ views on philosophy and the retrogressive changed world; pandemics and social control; mental illness and criminal ‘justice’; culture’s bizarre normal; and voices from behind bars.
Sunday Feb. 16th, 6:30PM 6501 Telegraph, Oakland
We’ll explore the contrast between the practice of revolutionary journalism shaped by freedom as human essence and freedom as a “special privilege” in press freedom under censorship.
Discussion led by: Urszula Wislanka, long-time prisoner-activist, writer/editor for The Fire Inside, publication of California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and journalist for News & Letters.
Faruq, Marxist-Humanist writer-participant in the 2011-2013 hunger strikes at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit.
Former prisoner Faruq writes of how in prison he “figured out how to become truly myself” and how that is manifested while on parole.
In the spirit of Black August Memorial, Faruq talks about the conditions of Black prisoners, the need to break race divisions between them and white prisoners, and the quest for the Idea of Freedom.
Ex-prisoner Faruq takes up the revolutionary history of Black August Memorial and relates it to his life and the historic Pelican Bay Hunger Strike.
Readers’ Views on What is socialism?; Surviving the prison system; Women fight back; and Exploiting prisoners
What does it mean to be paroled from prison? Before release, all I had was time. It was all torture. Now, I don’t have time. The effort to sustain myself takes most of my time and energy. Freedom, for me, means having time to work out who I am, how I want to relate to others.
Readers’ Views on: workers strike back, genocide and Facebook, Mauritius victory, Syrian Revolution under fire, “55 Steps,” debating yellow vests, women’s struggles, and why read News & Letters.
Prisoner Faruq ponders the idea of freedom as an idea that has its own development and, if grasped, will help transcend capitalist relations.
The Syrian Revolution has been the physical and intellectual battlefield that defines our time. As early as 2012 it was clear that what happened in Syria would determine the next stage of world history.
Prisoner Faruq writes of his pending parole and the obligation to fight the designation that prisoners are the “worst of the worst,” to fight the dehumanization of prisoners; he forwards the importance of prisoner activism in changing draconian conditions.
Prisoner Faruq writes about new beginnings after the California prisoners’ hunger strike and the need for unity for any new movement forward.
Prisoner-columnist Faruq reviews the book “Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy from Below” by Richard Gilman-Opalsky.
Prisoner Faruq writes of “those of us confined behind prison walls [who] recognize the pressing need to unify the prison population in the different prisons.”
Prisoner Stephen Wilson comments on Faruq’s article on the meaning of legal standing before the law and how restorative justice is not enough as the need is for transformative justice which focuses on the structures that create oppression and inequality in the first place.
Readers’ views on: U.S. Racism on trial, the right’s crocodile tears, creeping fascism, climate change, nuclear alarms, teachers as labor, Pat Hunt Presente! and Judy and Dan presente!
The dialectic and the meaning of the Russian Revolution.
Prisoners Faruq and Robert Taliaferro write about the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allowed for prisoners to be enslaved, taking up different aspects of slavery as it appears in prison, in the U.S. and the world.
Black prisoners ponder if Black Lives Matter, as a functional organized entity, can develop philosophically, and thereby become capable of generating something beyond a national discussion of U.S. racism?
Prisoner Faruq writes about the meaning of the fifth anniversary of the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities” that continues to challenge the racism imposed on prisoners in the California prison system and elsewhere. .
Review by a prisoner of the companion book to the documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” on James Baldwin, whose title speaks to the liberation of New Afrikan people in Amerika. .
From a prisoner’s perspective, Faruq reviews “I Am Not Your Negro,” a documentary film and companion book produced by Raoul Peck that concentrates on the writings and life of James Baldwin.
Through the study of theory and philosophy and by solidarizing and striking, prisoners seek a humanist society that rejects Donald Trump, his plutocratic regime and the U.S. criminal injustice system. .
Prisoner Faruq looks at how African-American History Month came to be, stressing the importance of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s vision and how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy included a critique of cultural and social relations as well as race, concluding that history is necessary for formerly enslaved people to move towards freedom.
Prisoner Baridi continues a dialogue about humanism with Urszula Wislanka sparked by California prisoners’ struggle to end the torture of long-term solitary confinement.
Black prisoner Faruq looks critically at Fidel Castro’s legacy, especially his turn to a one party state and the importance of freely associated labor for a true revolutionary process.
Bro. Faruq writes regarding the need of a philosophy of revolution that includes and, at the same time, goes beyond particular emancipatory actions.
Report of a discussion following the showing of the new movie “Concerning Violence” which took on Frantz Fanon and Black movements of the present.
At this moment of rethinking, Urszula Wislanka ask prisoners to share their ideas on humanism, as the Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement Blueprint reasserted the humanism upon which the prisoners’ movement was founded.
Prisoner and hunger striker Faruq looks at the way forward after the historic California prisoners’ hunger strike and emphasizes the importance of “the banner of our humanism that allowed the forging of a tremendous unification across the racial divides.”
Philosophy, theory and News & Letters; Flint Part Ii; Mumia Abu-Jamal; Voices from behind the bars.
readers views, nov dec 2015, part 2
A prisoner speaks about the murders in South Carolina, President Obama’s reaction to them, and the needed philosophical direction for those still yearning for freedom.
A discussion with Philip Zimbardo followed the San Francisco premiere of “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” a movie based on his notorious 1971 experiment. It raises questions about the meaning of being human, which for Marx turned on needing human beings as free beings whose self-determining, free, conscious activity is not a mere means but the first necessity of life.
The thoughts of News & Letters readers on: MARXIST-HUMANIST PHILOSOPHY IN THE WHIRLWIND OF EVENTS; SAVING THE PLANET; and VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS.
Dunayevskaya’s letters on Hegel’s Absolutes; Bhopal toxic disaster; Voices from behind the bars
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 [=>]