[This interview by Jared Ware with an organizer from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is re-posted from Shadowproof. The Abolition collective aims to amplify the voices of incarcerated folks who are organizing the prison strike from August 21st to September 9th.] A little over one week …
by David Gilbert, political prisoner
The bizarre and dangerous rise of Donald Trump did not just pop up out of the thin air. The very foundation of the U.S. is white supremacy. This country is, at its core, imperialist, patriarchal and based in a range of ways human beings are delimited and demeaned. Nor are the specific and terribly virulent politics of racial scapegoating brand new. Always a part of U.S. culture, that approach became more central in mainstream politics, with various ups and downs in the rhetoric, since the end of the 1960s. A stable imperialism prefers to rule by keeping the population passive, with large sectors at home placated by relative prosperity. But when the system is in crisis, those running the economy often resort to diverting anger by scapegoating the racial “other.” The sectors of the population who buy into that get the “satisfaction” of stomping on their “inferiors,” which is a lot easier than confronting the mega-powerful ruling class.
by Anastazia Schmid (artist/activist/scholar, currently incarcerated at the Indiana Women’s Prison)
Captive women were the prime candidates for experimental gynecological surgeries due to their invisibility, and due to the voicelessness of their social position. …
The violence, sexual abuse, medical experimentation, sterilization and death of a few hundred captive women in the 19th century laid the foundation for the field of gynecology to expand into evolving eugenics practices (albeit in more clandestine forms) across time. Our nation’s first women’s prison housed only 17 women when it opened in 1873, today there are over 115,000 women incarcerated nationwide. One out of every three women incarcerated in the world is incarcerated in the U.S. Numbers fail to illustrate the sobering reality of incarcerated women’s lived experience and loss of humanity.
An open letter to Warden Parker of Vaughn Correctional Center:
“We, as inmates, know that when we are incarcerated, we lose certain “civil” rights. What we do not lose and what should not be taken away from us are our “human” rights. Under no circumstances should we be treated as less than human beings, nor shall we be expected to settle for such treatment.”
– by David Gilbert, political prisoner –
Many of the examples of Marxist-Leninist formations make it tempting to echo Marx in saying, “I’m not a Marxist.” I’m not if Marxism is understood as a pat dogma, as small sects vying to claim leadership of the movement and carrying out political debates by citing opposing quotes from old texts, and especially when it’s used as a “revolutionary” rationale for continuing white and male domination. At the same time, I would encourage today’s activists not to lose a treasure trove in both method and many specifics of analysis by dismissing Marxism out of hand.
A blanket dismissal of Marxism runs the risk of losing some important building blocks for analyzing the nature and vulnerabilities of capitalism. In addition, my experience during more than 50 years in the struggle has shown that those who were able to sustain activism over the long and difficult haul often had some foundation in theory and in a sense of history.
What follows is not an argument for or against Marxism as the defining framework, and it certainly isn’t an attempt to provide an overall or in-depth explanation. Instead I want to talk about a few broad concepts which I found very useful and still seem very relevant today. Often these ideas are markedly different from the more visible versions put forward by various predominantly white and male Marxists.