Revolution #181, November 1, 2009
Get the Word Out… Get Ready…
Upcoming Issue of Revolution on Prisons and Prisoners
Last issue we announced the upcoming issue of Revolution on prisons and prisoners. This special issue (#183) will be published on November 9, 2009.
This issue will expose the horror that prisoners face behind the penitentiary walls and in the jails across this country. The United States now has five percent of the world's population, but nearly twenty-five percent of its prisoners. There are literally tens of thousands of prisoners who are in long-term solitary confinement. There are more women prisoners in this country (per capita) and in absolute numbers than in any other. One in eight young Black men in this country is imprisoned. And across this country, there are hellhole detention centers which incarcerate, in the most inhumane conditions, immigrants whose only crime is crossing the border to survive.
But this issue will not only expose the horrors, but demonstrate how a section of prisoners are fighting back and transforming into emancipators of humanity. As a centerpiece of this issue, we will feature letters from prisoners themselves. Prisoners who have written in response to the call from Joe Veale ("The Revolution Needs You," Revolution #173, August 16, 2009) to respond to the statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," and to consciously and actively join the struggle to initiate a new wave of communist revolution in the world. Listen to two:
"And those who can fight their way through this madness out in society as well as the 2+ million held in concentration camp like dungeons supermax gulags and endure the psychological torture and not only 'stay strong' but go past that and learn the history of this country's vileness as well as the theoretical sciences that can change the political landscape and the relations we have today. Our revolutionary spirit can flourish in even the most draconian deprivation tanks—this is dialectical materialism! Marxism in action. Those of us in prisons need to manipulate our confinement to build revolutionary minds! We cannot sit around waiting for the state to help us understand how to struggle for liberation, we must find ways to teach ourselves and then teach others!
"As the article says 'fight the power and transform the people for revolution.' Well what this means is the power is the ruling class, the imperialists, transforming the people is changing this bling bling society, the slave mentality, the heavy chain of religion, the self destruction that is planted in our minds as youth from this society, the defeatism all this needs to be shown to the people and not only telling them 'that's wrong' but showing them why that's wrong thinking, and then showing them what a better more revolutionary way of going about it is needed. Where does this culture come from? And who benefits more out of it? These questions need to be grappled with so the people can see the truth, the righteousness of where you're coming from and in this way you will transform the people so that revolution is possible.
"In the article it speaks of 'for a revolution, there must be a revolutionary people among all sections of society but with its deepest base among those who catch hell every day under this system...'"
"I might be imprisoned, but the mind & soul are eternally free to imagine, express and influence the physical realm. And in society and in prison, there is a fear, a tendency to avoid tapping into and developing our unlimited power and potential...
"I was once told that, 'when something does not change, it does not grow.' We must awake others to change our ways of thinking, to finally give ourselves a real/true chance to grow. A small mind will always think that something is impossible. Our mind is the tool to make choices in this life, but many fail to see how crucial their turn is away from the true way by the personal biases in their minds, and the individual warps in their vision. Our vision is what keeps us out of the dark, we are defenseless without it. It's not much to ask that we push perseveringly down our own pathway, instead of capitalism/imperialism that is leading us down this dark tunnel of destruction, and castration!"
These are men and women who brave what might seem to be insurmountable odds to speak out from the dungeons where America has locked them up and locked them down. These are human beings who refuse to be destroyed, mentally and physically—and grapple with the biggest questions of the revolution. And who put pen to paper in order to communicate with each other, and even more, the world. And these are voices which need to be amplified and heard everywhere. No one should underestimate the impact it can have—and what it means—for people of all classes and strata to read and hear what these prisoners are writing. As one Black woman who came to a recent fund-raiser for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) said, "This is amazing. The prisoners are so smart and thoughtful and write so well. These are our people saying these beautiful things. It gives me hope."
Maximize the Impact of Revolution
This issue of Revolution needs to be spread far and wide. It needs to reach out to and inspire youth in the ghettos and barrios who are trapped in that dog-eat-dog kind of thinking and need to get up out of it. The reality of what America does right here in this country to millions of people—and the ways in which they refuse to bow down to all that—needs to impact students on the campuses. This issue needs to reach out to clergy and professors, to prisoner support organizations and lawyers. It needs to find its ways into the hands of the families and friends of prisoners who line up each week and travel long distances to visit their loved ones. This issue needs to reach out to veterans of the '60s and remind them of the heroism of prisoners in those years, and compel them to revive their hopes and/or come out of premature retirement. And it needs to reach far beyond these groups of people to others whose views of those incarcerated have been colored and poisoned by watching the endless news and cop shows which degrade and criminalize a whole generation. And the dynamic which will be unleashed between all these different forces can greatly maximize the revolutionary message of this issue.
The prisoners who read and write to Revolution have a crucial role to play in speaking to the many thousands to whom we are bringing "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" (Revolution #170, July 19, 2009). The publication of this issue on prisons and prisoners is an integral part—and a nodal point—in mounting this campaign. Beginning now, we must actively and broadly get out the word of this coming issue and raise funds so that many thousands of papers can be distributed across this country—and as we do so, organize and build up networks of people who will actively take up the distribution of this paper. Think creatively! And, pay special attention to seeking out lawyers, prisoner support groups, clergy (especially those who minister inside the prisons) and community organizations which can and should be unleashed to support and distribute this paper! Get the word of this issue out on radio shows, including those which prisoners listen to.
Revolution newspaper—and the writings of Bob Avakian—are now a lifeline to hundreds of women and men in America's dungeons. And there are many hundreds more who write to us requesting literature. Many hundreds more who could—and should—be joining in and finding the ways to contribute to this revolutionary movement, writing to our paper and inspiring others to stand up and join the revolution. As we go out broadly to enlist people in this effort, we should also be winning them to contribute generously to the PRLF.
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature.
The main requests received by PRLF from those behind bars are for complimentary subscriptions in Spanish and English to the weekly newspaper Revolution* and for revolutionary and other books, including ones highlighted in the newspaper. Through providing this literature, PRLF provides an educational opportunity for prisoners to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions of the day from a unique revolutionary perspective, including discussions of morality, religion, science, and the arts. Every week prisoners can delve into the urgent and lively news and debate about unfolding political and social struggles, and can critically think about and dissect the current state of society as well as search for an alternative.
PRLF works to counter increasing censorship that seeks to deny prisoners access to Revolution newspaper and the other revolutionary literature requested.
* published by RCP Publications (www.revcom.us)
PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code (www.IHCenter.org.) Checks should be made payable to IHCenter/PRLF and mailed to:
To volunteer or reach PRLF, please write us at the Chicago address, call us at (773) 960-6952, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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