From the July-August 2012 issue of News & Letters:
Readers’ Views, July-August 2012, Part 2
RICH AND DUNAYEVSKAYA: A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
Thanks for your In Memoriam to Adrienne Rich. It revealed a dimension that many who were appreciative of her poetry and feminism may not have known—Rich’s exploration of Marx’s ideas through her reading of Raya Dunayevskaya. One piece Rich wrote was titled “Dunayevskaya’s Marx.” It was crucial how you documented the impact of Dunayevskaya’s concept of “revolution in permanence” on Rich’s thought. As you put it, that was “the vision that Adrienne Rich kept alive throughout her own life.”
I like your website and want to follow up the news and vogue in literature. I’m grateful for your endeavor. It’s a pleasure to keep in contact with you.
I’ve been reading N&L for a couple of years and found the issues to be relevant in building an alternative to capitalist hegemony. I just read your Draft Perspectives and liked the emphasis on reconstituting the subject through philosophical struggle combined with the practical struggle for liberation. Your outline of struggles that have occurred was also sharp. However, I was disappointed at the conclusion. There seemed to be little in practice for making Marxist-Humanism real to those in struggle.
WORKERS’ OPPRESSION & REVOLT
In Englewood, N.J., nearly 200 protested on June 7 against the Board of Education decision to fire all school secretaries and paraprofessional aides in the hopes of saving $2 million. The new outsourced staff would receive lower salaries, no benefits and they could be moved from position to position. Teachers, parents and students were outraged, arguing that the educational quality of the district would suffer. Paraprofessional aides usually come from the same community as the students, and provide support and bridging between the community and the professional educators in thousands of ways, not easily quantified or measured on a statewide test.
The May-June Workshop Talks column shows that workers controlling automation is an illusion. Technology is just another tool the bosses use to exert pressure on employees. In Capital Karl Marx said a worker manipulating a machine is an appendage of it. When nurses and doctors feel “hurried, harried and harassed,” the consequences of dead labor’s domination over living labor are disastrous for both patients and healthcare workers.
There has been a fundamental change in the U.S. working class. It has become far more multinational and N&L should reflect this by having a page in Spanish. Here in New York City, the real working-class organization is being done among Hispanic workers because they are exploited the most. Spanish is becoming a revolutionary language. Publications without a Spanish section are cutting off tens of millions of workers from exposure to new and revolutionary ideas.
New York City
I understand the need for radical unions to adopt a structure that will take on corporations. However, I think that unionization must happen alongside more autonomous worker actions in order for us to advance the struggle away from worker movements that mimic state power. I am not against “organization,” but I don’t think that leaving decisions up to union leaders, who often sell out workers, will lead to revolutionary gains. As with the ILWU international leadership during the December West Coast Port Shut-down—who told rank-and-file workers not to trust Occupy activists—or the recent sell-out of the Millionaire’s tax by CTA leadership in order to make a horrible compromise with Jerry Brown, we run into the same walls time and time again if we put our trust into a concentration of power.
WAR ON WOMEN AND QUEERS
Thanks for your coverage of the war against women. We had 250-300 people (probably 25-30% from Memphis!), at our Unite Against the War on Women demonstration in Nashville on April 28. There was great spirit and over a dozen speakers. Like so many, we felt this was the start of something, not the finish.
Thank you for Adele’s review of the book Captive Genders (May-June N&L). Transgendered/gender non-conforming people are treated terribly in the U.S. prison system. In Chicago, Trans prisoners are placed with their chosen gender only if “surgical intervention” has been completed. Trans prisoners must be placed according to their own gender self-identification AND where they choose to be placed. So, yes, a radical Queer liberation movement is very much needed!
On April 2, I witnessed a federal raid on the Oaksterdam medical marijuana dispensary. A crowd of about 100 protestors followed the police agents, chanting, “respect our rights!” and “have compassion!” One man told me he needed medical cannabis because of his exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. Two women cancer patients said they use it to increase appetite and for pain management; another spoke of needing it for fibromyalgia. All fear losing access to medication that they need.
Obama originally indicated that he would respect the rights of those with medical needs. The raid was part of the escalation of the already-failed “War on Drugs.” Polls show a majority of Americans favor legalization of the medical use of marijuana. The outpouring of support for patients and for freedom of choice on this long-running Prohibition is growing.
VOICES FROM THE INSIDE
I can definitely relate to the freedom struggles in prison and in the outside world, and all the great articles in N&L about human beings standing up for their rights. What I love best are the articles about world events that the capitalist media suppresses. Please keep up your great work and keep us informed.
You are unmatched among the media. One radio station in Houston presents labor, indigenous, prison, immigrant, gay, economic, women’s and children’s issues from their oppressed perspectives. The only other that comes close is The Abolitionist, published by a Maoist group, which attempts to publish theory. N&L has it all in one place with accurate, in-depth news reporting. The analyses by all your writers are concise, clear and incisive.
I recently realized that the Readers’ Views part is not like the aloof, detached commentary found in many papers. Here it is an integral part of the revolutionary dialog necessary to create and support the ongoing revolution. Writing to N&L is a duty for all serious revolutionaries.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate the price of a sub ($5) for a prisoner who cannot pay for one? It will be shared with many others.