Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

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Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

Reading the June issue of "The Rock," a recurring theme kept on popping up. That theme was the raising up of prisoners' consciousness. This is a very good thing as the majority of prisoners lack the consciousness and ideology of a revolutionary.

The demands being put out are good, but as a 23-year old prisoner I can't help but shout that the same demands we are asking for we already had, and more so, they shouldn't be privileges but rights! Fighting for positive reforms is good in itself, but one shouldn't miss the forest for the trees. It's said best by Lenin:

"People always were and always would be the foolish victims of deceit and self deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interest of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society that surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle, the forces which can, and owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new."(1)

I quote this in length because it screams at me. "Owing to their social position", and what is our social position? Second, third class citizens? What's to keep prison 'gangs' form forming into political parties? Swapping our old ideas for new ones? To dismantle our old selves and transform into a force of change not only in prison but society at large?

We have the 'fuck you attitude,' we have brass, now the question is do we have the will to organize, agitate, analyze and act? To learn something you don't know is a difficult task, I could attest to that. Putting a burden on us (prisoners) more so is the culture we cultivate and the ideology that we act out. That is the coming up on people; robbing, selling drugs and trying to conquer every female we come across. The majority of the time when we do this we do it to people who are in our same "social position." They're in the pit just like us.

Good thing for us there's the ability in humans to change, whether it be consciously, mentally, spiritually or ideologically. The main thing though is to bring it into practice. Karl Marx observed that "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness."(2) Again what is our "social being?" Bluntly, it's shit! We need only to look at the environment we grew up around. Liquor stores are in overstock, drugs are roaming freely, homes have no foundation or stability. most have grown accustomed to this way of life. With this deadly (literally) way of thinking, it ain't no surprise our consciousness is lacking in many areas of life.

There's a striking notion that says prisoners now-a-days lack the backbone their predecessors have. Sad to say this statement is slightly true. I have numerous books, but urban novels and novels period got a strong hold on my brethren. Many feel that there is no oppression, genocide or killing of our people and other acts of aggression from the government, but just as one sees a movie or TV show and can't see the camera, that doesn't mean it's not there.

Taking a passive or neutral stance is taking a stance on the side of the oppressor, it seems that you're OK with the status quo. Activity and agitation is taking the side of history as Marx viewed, "...freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it's not understood."(3) As history shows times always change. We could look at it as it passes by, we could hop on board or we could go even further and build the vehicle of change, start it up and drive it. Closing my humble thoughts, I'll let Karl Marx do it, as he said it well: "There is no royal road to science [or learning] and only those who don't dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."(4)


Notes:
1. V.I. Lenin, On Marx and Engels (foreign language press Peking. 1975) First addition pg 68
2. Ibid, pg14
3. Ibid pg10
4. Capital. Vol 1 (International publishers, NY 1967) Preface to the French edition. pg 21.

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