Letter from a Prisoner:

The Importance of the Special Revolution Issue on the First Stage of the Communist Revolution

March 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


We received this from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF). The online version of the special issue of Revolution that the prisoner refers to can be found here.



As always I hope this letter finds you and all the PRLF staff in good health and in high revolutionary spirits.

Coming soon as an expanded e-book!

Click to read the special issue

I'm excited about the special issue that is projecting the truth about the first stage of socialist revolution: “You Don't Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future.” 

A lot of harm is done by distortions and attacks on the history of socialist revolutions. Vilifying the history of socialist revolutions does more than keep people from learning about some interesting historical facts, it objectively robs us of hope and of the immensely better future that we could have if only we understood the role we should play in making revolution. I think understanding what communism actually is and learning the truth about the history of socialist revolutions has everything to do with that, it makes all the difference between people being inspired to carry on that struggle or becoming dejected by false solutions. A lot of "well-intentioned" activists are leading people, (while claiming to shun leadership) away from the only hope we have for a better world. Revolutionary potential is being veered off the path to communism by slanders on the socialist revolutions of Russia and China coming from people who seem to be very dedicated to radical change.

From talking to many prisoners I've come to realize that many of us come to hate the hypocrisy of the U.S. ruling class without even being exposed to radical literature. Like other prisoners I've met throughout the years, I hated the way low-income people were looked down upon and blamed for being poor. The middle-class lifestyle that flashed through our TV screen, and supposedly was characteristic of life in the U.S. stood in stark contrast to the reality around us. The pigs heaped one abuse after another upon the people in our neighborhoods and the media always justified those abuses. It's not difficult to recognize that same pattern on a much greater scale when we hear from these same propaganda organs about the lack of “democratic values” in the Third World. The exceptional “can-do spirit” that makes America great is just absent in these lesser countries and their peoples. Much like the local pigs patrolling our neighborhoods are the good guys doing the best job possible considering the dangerous drug-ridden areas they have to work in, so too are the imperialist armed forces who have no choice but to bomb, invade and occupy weaker nations and brutalize their people because they serve as bases for global terrorism or some other ridiculous cover for the real imperialist motives or crimes.

I found all this very sickening long ago and I had a favorable view of communism for no other reason than it was something the ruling class hated. But then I came to prison and read things by people who, as BA has said of Slavoj Žižek and others, “go around saying that they're anti-capitalist, but really they hate communism much more than they hate capitalism, and they're much more willing to accommodate to capitalism-imperialism than they are to fight for communism, which is the only real radical alternative to it.” (from WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, pg.35) Their anti-capitalist rhetoric appealed to me but they also vilified communism and the first stage of socialist revolution. I was influenced by these people because they railed against something I wished with all my heart I could tear down but by slandering the experience of the Soviet Union and China when they were socialist, they also turned me away from the only real radical alternative there is to capitalism. The more I struggled to understand how unrealistic, dead-end solutions could work, the more disillusioned and uninspired I became.

Like many prisoners who have been exposed to that same kind of literature but who have a sense that nothing less than an all-out revolution will change anything, I saw nothing that I could do that would make any kind of difference. I didn't want to struggle for anything that left this system intact. I didn't want to dedicate my life to reforms or a culture of endless protest that allowed the imperialist machine to continue humming in the background. I wanted to fight back but the most revolutionary-minded people I could find weren't willing to take responsibility for leading a revolution, they didn't aim to take state power, and they had nothing but negative criticisms for the most successful revolutions so far.

A friend of mine was released a few years ago after doing well over a decade in prison. His views were similar to mine before I had been introduced to BA. He initially had a favorable view of communism for the same reasons I did, but was later taken in by the argument that attempts to get to communism could only result in utter failure. It was clear to me that he wasn't going to consciously conform and “play by the rules.” I didn't want him playing into the hands of the pigs again so I struggled with him over the viability of revolution and the role he could play in making that happen. I couldn't convince him to make his life about something that even I was having a hard time believing was possible. He got pulled back into the life he was living before going to prison almost immediately after being released. The last I heard of him he was back in the county jail fighting 25 to life.

The point I want to make is that superficial analyses and condemnations of communism and socialist revolutions have real consequences. Too many people who could be led to be the backbone for revolution are having their sights lowered by those who pose as serious radicals dedicated to revolutionary change but who are much more willing to accommodate to capitalism-imperialism than fight for communism. This is why I recognize the importance of getting the special issue of Revolution out there and spreading it as widely as possible as well as directly taking on people like Slavoj Žižek.

Thanks again for the literature. I'll study it and spread the understanding I gain from it as widely as possible like I always do with everything you send. Keep up the great work.

In Solidarity,

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.