Readers’ Views (Part 2)
SYRIA AND WORLD POLITICS
The recent arrangement regarding the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons points to renewed tensions between a resurgent Russia and a U.S. increasingly unsure of how to relate to the opposition movement. The threat of a “limited” strike on Syrian military facilities— without simultaneously formulating an analysis of how this would impact upon Assad’s campaign—reflects the White House’s frustration and lack of confidence with the opposition, which thus far has failed to manifest a political stance conducive to U.S. imperialism’s interests. As long as the rebellion—which started as a secular, pro-democratic movement—retains genuine revolutionary aspirations, the U.S. will always hesitate to assist it, even in the face of the Syrian regime’s brutality.
Congratulations to Syrian dictator and mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. He has successfully united the Right-wing Tea Party and the Left-wing progressive/liberal/Left against those pesky “terrorists” who thought they could overthrow him and get some international help. He is winning!
How can genocide be justified? Some in the Left justify it the way they always do: by claiming that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They stop at this first negation. When they can’t bear to look at what they’re really saying, they send former Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney over there to say she didn’t see any homeless people in Damascus, despite the hundreds of thousands of homeless and internally displaced.
WARS PAST AND PRESENT
The first Black U.S. president to visit Rangoon (on the “road to democracy”) is also a U.S. president who preaches the spread of an “American tradition,” by supporting two sets of generals from the juntas of Burma and Egypt. This administration refuses to call a coup a coup in Egypt while, at the same time, celebrating General Thein Sein’s media coup by awarding him a White House reception and promises of U.S. trade deals, while Kachin Christians and Rohingya Muslims continue to be slaughtered by helicopter gunships.
Dunayevskaya’s “Detroit 1967: ‘Law and Order’ from the Barrel of a Gun” (Sept.-Oct. 2013 N&L), brought in specific details of the movement to reach for the philosophic essence. The kind of thinking allows the reader, not just to read and “absorb,” but to think and see new horizons and connections. One could see key criticisms of Johnson’s war in Vietnam in 1967, as well as the precursors of George Zimmerman vigilantism in 2013. As terror was being spread by endless U.S. napalm bombs in Vietnam, what Dunayevskaya was describing about the terror campaign in Detroit at the same time was not just about Detroit. I hear her philosophic voice bringing in echoes of a similar campaign halfway across the globe.
Glenn Greenwald wrote for The Guardian about Edward Snowden as a whistleblower. His partner was arrested and interrogated for nine hours before being released. The Egyptian military arrested and detained a Canadian photographer who happened onto the military beating and killing of protesters. They are criminalizing whistleblowers for telling the truth.
PHILOSOPHY AND MASSES
There are endless articles in many Left publications that focus on activity, where theory and philosophy are relegated to a few throwaway concluding phrases. It is presumed that “theory and philosophy” are something the big-(European)-man of letters does, not workers, youth, women, people of color. These people will act, we will tell them what their practice means. What makes N&L precious to me is that philosophy is part of the organic whole. The transcendental is immanent in the kind of empirical detail and the way it is chosen. The universal is in the particular.
One of the most striking things that I have noticed in distributing N&L is the interest in Marx. I wore a Karl Marx T-shirt, and a good number of people stopped and asked if N&L was a Marxist newspaper and then asked for a copy. One student said, “Anything about Marx interests me”; an older man in the South Bronx asked if I was a Marxist and said he wanted a copy of the paper; a woman and man in the South Bronx, hearing this was a revolutionary newspaper, said that they wanted to read anything about revolution; another woman whose daughter was “in the movement” asked for a copy for her and one for her daughter. It pays to be bold in flying your revolutionary colors.
New York City
PRISONERS READ & SPEAK
When people ask why I am a Marxist or why I am involved with News and Letters Committees, I simply point to the fences topped by razor wire. I refer them to the amount of money that a prisoner is charged for canteen items, well beyond what people in the community pay. I point to the injustice of a man who—though innocent of the crime— was forced to do 23 years before he was finally exonerated thanks to groups like the Innocence Project. I refer to the self-perpetuation of the system by way of an antiquated, biased parole system governed by a political agenda, rather than one that is truly rehabilitative. N&L does not exclude ideas based on who expresses them. Because of this, the depth of the knowledge shared is second to none.
It is always distressing to hear of the banning of written material anywhere. It is especially distressing to hear of it in prisons. Our prison system is so unjust and inhumane; prisoners benefit from knowing what’s happening in the world. N&L presents the news from a humanist perspective. So, my heartfelt wish is that it will be allowed again to be distributed among California prisoners, and soon.
Thank you for shedding light on the many struggles of our day, for educating the masses about our responsibilities as human beings, and, lastly, for keeping it real. Your paper has kept me on my feet throughout the years. I did 14 years in solitary confinement/Administrative Confinement. Your paper kept me alive and gave me new ideas regarding the collective betterment and upliftment of my people and all oppressed nationals. Prisoners/Kaptives make up many of the 99% and your paper, its ideas ranging from the Queer Struggle to the Black Struggle all the way to the prisoner’s struggle, affects our struggle in a tremendous way. Our struggle is one struggle.
It is good to hear voices within this publication speak out and state the obvious without disinformation, lies and illusions. Daniel Boorstin, a former Librarian of Congress, once said, “We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that we can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on earth.” Thank you for printing the facts without illusions.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5, the price of a sub, for a prisoner who cannot pay for one?