A Prisoner Writes:

“The mental chains that are in place on us and that we place on ourselves”

| revcom.us


Editors’ note: We at revcom.us periodically publish letters from prisoners on revolutionary theory and struggle, as well as other aspects of human experience and thought, including conditions and struggle within the prisons themselves. We appreciate and learn from all correspondence from the prisons. The opinions in the letters we publish are those of the writers and not necessarily those of Revcom.us.

From a prisoner in Texas:

The one I wish to speak of is that of religion and the bourgeois culture. To understand these mental shackles, one must go and analyze the root cause of them and the reason for them being there. Analysis shows that both (religion and the bourgeois culture) are so big, and more so with people of color. For one, it was hammered into the minds of our people by the conquerors and slave masters. Secondly, it’s so easy to fall for it because of oppression.

Oppression steers people into the arms and into the mental chains that is religion and also the bourgeois culture. Religion playing the role of the “refuge” and the bourgeois culture playing the role of the “answer to” and “way out” of your oppressive conditions.

Now, you can see how, especially people who are suffering under oppressive conditions can lean on something like religion. I summarize it to people with saying that religion just sounds good; you be going through it, life is fucked up. You can’t seem to understand why your life, why life period, is the way it is. And here comes religion with its “sweet” words and its claims to hold the answers to life, therefore giving it “authority” over life. And for people with daily life troubles, all that religion provides “feel good.” It “feels” as if the troubles and problems go away. But you know something? Drugs feel good too, drugs make you feel as though all your problems and troubles go away and can’t hurt you anymore. It’s a real feeling that you feel, but is it real? NO it’s artificial and your problems are still there, they haven’t gone anywhere. And that’s exactly how religion is. An artificial feeling we feel like we need because we be going through it. And just like dope, religion can’t and won’t solve any problems.

It is a fact that, to solve any problem, you have to identify and understand the problem. You’ll need to seek out the root cause of the problem before you can ever go about solving it. And being under the influence of both dope and religion can make it really hard to go about solving anything. Both dope and religion will have you living in a reality that just ain’t real. Both will have you ignore the problems. Religion straight up tells you to let imaginary forces solve the problems.

You can see why dope and religion are highly prized weapons that the ruling class oppressors use against the people. It is to the benefit of the oppressors for you to be docile and ignorant. That way you won’t approach problems in a way for you to solve them. And one of the biggest problems we as a people face, where many of our problems stem from, is the oppressive system of capitalism/Imperialism. And the way it shapes the way we as a society interact with each other. Without solving that problem (that we organize and model society under the system of capitalism) we won’t be able to solve most problems that plague us as people living in this society. And religion plays a major role in people not being able to identify and solve that problem, or any problems for a matter of fact.

Now, the other mental chain I wish to speak of, is that of the bourgeois culture, which is equally if not the worse one that has plagued society and more so, people of color. What is the bourgeois culture? The bourgeois mind state, it is the mind state of a capitalist. It is having the principles and values of a capitalist. It is warping your mind into believing that the only things of value in this life is that of capital (money) and commodities. Because that is what this society dictates for us to follow and uphold in order for us to survive. And since our people (because of the dynamics of capitalism and its anarchic relationship with society) are condemned to live under such fucked up oppressive conditions. You can see how playing at ruthless capitalism can come off as attractive to people. You can see why someone can believe that one must assimilate to the bourgeois way of life in order to survive and have a place in this society.

Capitalism, by its very nature being negative and selfish, brings out the negative in people and makes them selfish. And if you can get the very people you oppress to act and think like you (the bourgeoisie) how can they ever go against you?

It is why the bourgeois culture, the ruthless capitalist attitude is so heavily promoted among people of color (Black, Latino). It is why our people aspire to accumulate capital by any means necessary and flaunt and give so much value to meaningless consumer commodities one obtains with capital. They see that as solving the problem and leading them out of the fucked up oppressive conditions to which the people are condemned to by this capitalist/Imperialist system.

This mental slavery, the mental shackle of the bourgeois culture mentality prevents people from actually identifying the reason for their oppressive condition. By making them think and act like the enemy. So how can you solve the problem when you both uphold the same principles and capitalistic values as the oppressors. To solve the problem of oppression and our oppressive conditions in society, we must go against that which is the cause of it, which is this capitalist/Imperialist system and the white supremacy which is intertwined with it.

The other day I heard this famous sport player say (and this is the mind state of a lot of people, specifically rich people) that “earning is the best way to beat oppression.” How?? Yeah you beat your oppression but you didn’t beat oppression because oppression still exists since the system that lives off oppression still exists. So what the fuck is you talking about??

It is that type of mind state, those mental chains that have plagued the people and is preventing things to actually change in this world. We must continue to wage struggle within ourselves to do away with those mental chains, and never cease the struggle towards the Revolution that humanity urgently needs.

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

“You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics.”

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE



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