Revolution #183, November 15, 2009
From a Former Prisoner:
This Paper Has an Awakening Effect on People
We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.
The following is from a reader of Revolution newspaper who spent many years in prison:
Revolution newspaper is very important to those locked up. When you read the letters from prisoners you can see how this paper is a catalyst that is opening up minds and these people are thinking about things you don't normally be thinking about in prison. That is what is so good about it. Reading this paper, especially the articles by Bob Avakian, make things clear and it will change you. That's what's happening with me. This is very good.
These cats (prisoners) are individuals, very different in ways, but when they start reading that paper and spreading it to other inmates, they are in a process that can build up a revolutionary movement and change their lives. You can see it in their letters. The paper has an awakening effect on people. They start struggling against the old ideas they use to have and they start seeing the world in a different way. The newspaper gives you the idea that the world can be changed and you can change.
When I first tried to understand what Bob Avakian was talking about with the two outmoded ideologies and systems, Islamic Fundamentalism and Imperialism, I said "Damn!" this is something. And Islamic Fundamentalism, I really didn't understand what that was until I started reading Revolution. The oppression of women, backward ideas, fighting to go back not forward, reading what was in the paper really helped me. This is not a national liberation struggle or something good. It's not part of any solution for humanity. And, imperialism is not only no better, it's even worse. We need to put communism and real revolution on the map. This is something way different from Imperialism and Islamic Fundamentalism. Where are you going to find out about this, not in the Daily News or the New York Times, or these other movement newspapers. People, and not just people locked up, need Revolution and Avakian's leadership. I felt I can explain it to people. It's clearer now.
People think about all kinds of mad crazy shit in prison. Believe me. The newspaper gives people humanity to think about, it helps you understand what's going on, and gives you something to grab hold to. Is this system really doing this shit to people and it doesn't have to keep going like this? If yes, then we should stop it. One person is saying (in his letter) that he has learned that everything is interconnected. That is in the letter by the cat who likes science. Well that is science what he's saying. Everything is interconnected. In prison they give you nothing good to think about. But this brother is reading Bob Avakian and Stephen Hawking, in prison! This is real hope for the future.
I read a few books on Mao. I read all this crap, "Mao killed 50 million, 70 million," it was confusing. It kind of made me lose my faith in a way, my belief that communism could work. I don't mean faith in a religious way. I mean hope that we could change things. I came into contact with people outside of prison who call themselves socialists and they didn't have answers. They did not see that we need a new wave of communist revolution. I don't think they think real revolution can be made. I was thinking about how do you argue against people who say that socialism can't work—it failed in the Soviet Union—it failed in China. You hear this and you start questioning yourself. Is this true? It made you feel like throwing your hands up sometimes. I was influenced by this stuff. I guess my Marxism was eclectic.
Not too long ago, in the last year, there were these articles about China and Mao in Revolution and that helped me a lot. I learned that revolution did not fail, it was defeated, and there is a big difference between the two, but if you are not reading this paper, you won't know this. You will get pulled backward. I started reading Conquer the World?, and From Ike to Mao, Ruminations, and the new Manifesto. I've learned a lot. Now I feel like I can answer some of the shit people have been brainwashed to believe.
I used to always have trouble with leadership and I was influenced by other lines there too. One of the most important things I've learned from Revolution is that you need leadership. I heard people say there was a cult of personality around Bob Avakian. I'm thinking, that's not good. I mean that is what some people say. But I started reading the paper and talking to people with the RCP, and looking at the world, and watching the DVD, and reading BA, and looking at what other political lines have to say, and I came to the conclusion myself. This dude Bob Avakian is more knowledgeable than the average cat on the streets, or the average leader. He really is on a different level. No bullshit. He's into it, he learned from the BPP, he was digging into all about Mao and past revolutions, and how communism can go even higher this time. He's in a better position than me and anybody I know to lead a real revolution. He went from Ike to Mao and he stayed with this shit. One of the key points to putting Bob Avakian on the map is that people have to see that there is leadership. And we are not talking about that "slave feet" leadership that marches people in circles to let off steam and then go home. Avakian is about trying to figure this shit out. There is no denying that this brother's got a handle on what's going on and he can make it clear to you.
If communism is hanging on by a string in the world right now, if it is that serious and I believe it is, it's the RCP and Bob Avakian that can get us in a stronger position so we can have more revolution. I can see that.
I used to think revolution and communism was inevitable. It's gonna happen someday. All I got to do is lay back for the right time… But if you are reading From Ike to Mao, Ruminations, and the newspaper, you can see that this ain't a waiting around kind of party. You have to fight for revolution. You can't sit back. You got to wait like a crouching tiger. The RCP got a group of dedicated people, really, really working hard for this. I think that is part of the scaffolding for revolution too. More people got to join this or it could be lost. That's scary.
I spent a lot of time reading, studying, and thinking about all this. It has been a long journey from the first political book somebody handed me in prison, Soledad Brother, to now and I have to go further.
I want to say to all prisoners as somebody who has spent a good portion of his life behind bars, and as somebody who reads this newspaper every week, study this newspaper, spread it, be around revolutionary minded people while you are inside. Get even more into revolution when you get out. I know for a fact if you don't get more into revolution this system can pull you back into the very shit you don't want to do or be. Get with the organization that is providing real leadership when you get out. Get with the Party. And for humanity's sake, let's make revolution as soon as we can.
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