Shine the Light of Revolution Behind Prison Walls

Revolutionary Worker #1260, November 28, 2004, posted at

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) recently put out a call for prisoners to be part of larger discussion on the writings and leadership of Chairman Bob Avakian. The PRLF received many letters in response to the call. What follows is first an excerpt of a longer letter speaking on the essay by Chairman Avakian, "Materialism and Romanticism: Can We Do Without Myth?" The second is a full letter commenting on the piece "Democracy: We Can and Must Do Better than That" by Chairman Avakian which appeared first in A World To Win magazine and was recently reprinted in the Revolutionary Worker.

Dear XXX,

Is it ignorant of me to be attracted to practices of prayer/meditation, fasting, and righteous principles? Am I compromising my integrity by going to church while having a Socialist/Communist heart? (Sometime I feel like I am.) Is it wrong of me to want companionship among the few brothers who are trying to live a wholesome life practicing honorable principles and virtues? Eventually I know that I will leave the church. I can’t be a part of an institution that supports this Capitalist system and aligns itself with the Corporate Politicians, the empirical warmongers and neo-fascists who are destroying this world. The conflict continues.

This is the conflict I find myself in today. My internal conflict is a main reason why it took me so long to respond to your letter. If I would’ve answered your letter without sharing the above eight pages of information I would have felt like I was betraying your confidence in me. Furthermore, I was afraid that you may reject me if you knew that I was such a mess. I truly cherish your correspondence and admire the RCP.

Much of my internal conflict is becoming clearer thanks to my studies and reflections of "objective reality" and materials like the RW. I recently read an article written by Chairman Bob Avakian titled "Materialism and Romanticism: Can We Do Without Myth" and it clarified a lot of things for me. The article is a main reason why I found the courage and need to finally respond to your letter. (Please forgive me for taking so long and for writing such a long letter. I want you to know that I too want our correspondence to continue and deepen.)

Chairman Bob spoke to the "longing" that I feel "for something with 'heart' in a world that seems increasingly heartless. For a positive connection with other people, in opposition to the increasing atomization and competitiveness that is promoted by the workings of the prevailing order." He is "on the money!" My whole life I’ve felt a need to "link" and "bond with something beyond" myself. My yearning to bond has lead me to people and places I didn’t belong, i.e., gangs and religious organizations. The yearning has deepened for me in the last eight years or so because of the inherent oppressive nature of the prison system and the loneliness that engulfs me.

I am so sick and tired of the "selfishness and narrow interests" that surrounds me (in the prisons) and the "dog-eat-dog mentality" of my fellow man. The majority of people around me just can’t wait to go home and get rich or get over on somebody. One person expressed his "parasitism" by saying, "one person’s stupidity is another person’s opportunity for a dollar." It makes me sick to hear the "expressions of parasitism of these people, a group of people experiencing the "objective reality" of this parasitic capitalist system up close and personal.

Here we are in prison as legal slaves, (13th Amendment) targeted because of our class and color and the "seal of parasitism" continues among prisoners. Here we are victims of a system that imprisons one for life for possessing two ounces of cocaine while allowing corporate crooks like Kenneth Lay to get away stealing the 401Ks of thousands of workers. Here in New York state the corporate thieves at MCI along with the Department of Corrections are "sticking up" our families daily through their outrageously rapacious telephone surcharges. Our constant denials of parole release by a totalitarian Parole Board (specifically for those who have transformed their lives and are community ready) is economically and politically motivated. This, in direct contradiction to the so-called "Due Process Law" (providing that U.S. Democracy is only for the few elite families). The "parasitism of imperialism" contributes to our physical imprisonment and in ignorance we perpetuate our own parasitic acts. Some justifiy their parasitism through religion.

I’m learning first hand what Chairman Bob said about religious organizations. Religious organizations provide only a certain "salve" without really requiring people to make any transformation in their individual lives nor in society. Prisoners look for that "salve" in religious groups seemingly escaping reality without giving up their parasitic positions. Furthermore, they never struggle to "overturn the exploitative and oppressive relations in society as a whole." I can’t even count how many times I’ve shared the many injustices of the Parole Board with the religious volunteers who come in every week. They say that they want to become active by confronting the injustices and we discuss the problem and some ideas for solutions and nothing happens. The religious prisoners are no better than the clergy and lay clergy. The average prisoner was a mental slave prior to physical imprisonment and seeks only an "opiate as opposed to `breaking the chains.’ "



This CRC document [referring to the document by K. Venu that was criticized in the polemic by Bob Avakian, "Democracy: We Can And Must Do Better Than That"] claims that the dictatorship of the proletariat only really means the dictatorship of the Party with the masses becoming "mere" cogwheels. So are we, the masses to do away with a vanguard party as well as a revolutionary leader such as Chairman Avakian? Hell No! First of all let’s look at the situation here in America, for this I must quote Chairman Avakian from the book Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, "In all bourgeois-democratic countries—and this is no exaggeration from the very earliest age, through the educational system, the media and in other ways, the people are systematically misinformed and lied to about every significant question of current political and world affairs and of world history and are systematically indoctrinated and imbued with an upside down worldview and errant methodology."

With this being the case, it would be backwards as hell for us to even entertain the thought that the masses will somehow become political and class conscious and even wage an effective revolution without the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard party. It is important for us to understand that the dictatorship consists of democracy for the masses and the suppression of the bourgeoisie; however, it’s also important to quote Chairman Avakian here; "while we must be firm about the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat does not and should not only mean outright suppression but should include a wrangling spirit and approach in handling the contradiction and struggle between different ideas and world outlooks."

Under the dictatorship of the proletariat there is going to be the contradiction between the productive forces and productive relations, between the old and the new, between correct and incorrect ideas, and even between the leadership and the led. The struggle arising from these contradictions will continue being the motive forces in society’s further development. We can only reach this stage of the dictatorship of the proletariat through revolution led by the RCP, and once we reach this stage it will be important for us to continue making qualitative leaps forward towards our final aim of abolishing all forms of dictatorships, all states and "hierarchal" structures, if not, then the restoration of capitalism will become inevitable! Chairman Avakian is a true revolutionary leader for our time, he is going to keep us on the Revolutionary Path, bringing the best out of all of us. So let’s not water this shit down, the RCP needs us just as much as we need them!

In Unity-Struggle-Unity XXX