Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2012-2013
Counter-revolution’s rise shows need for a total philosophy
This special issue carries our Draft Perspectives Thesis, part of our preparation for the national gathering of News and Letters Committees. We publish it because our age is in such total crisis, facing a choice between absolute terror or absolute freedom, that a revolutionary organization can no longer allow any separation between theory and practice, philosophy and revolution, workers and intellectuals, “inside” and “outside.” Join us in discussing these Perspectives.
Editor’s Note: “On political divides and philosophic new beginnings,” written 25 years ago, is the last writing of Raya Dunayevskaya, who died on June 9, 1987. It was first published in the In Memoriam special issue ofNews & Letters, on July 25, 1987. Footnotes have been added by the editor.
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The abysmal lower depths that the Reagan retrogression has sunk the world into throughout the seven years of this decade have polluted the ideological air, not only of the ruling class, but have penetrated the Left itself. Such a deep retrogression urgently demands that, along with the economic and political tasks facing us, we look for philosophic new beginnings.
In the midst of the work I am doing on my new book, Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy, I have been digging into research on two opposed forms of organization, that is, our opposition to the vanguard party-to-lead, and our support of forms of organization born out of the spontaneous activity of the masses. Suddenly I realized that the relationship between these two opposed forms was exactly what I had posed back in 1982, on the eve of the publication of my third book, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution. I then (September 1982) added a paragraph to chapter 12 of that just-completed work. It was this articulation, which I reached only after the book was completed, that made me feel that the process of working out such questions demanded a book unto itself.
Woman as Reason
Adrienne Rich–a voice for freedom
by Olga Domanski
The world lost a passionate, beautiful voice for freedom and self-determination with the death of the feminist Lesbian poet Adrienne Rich on March 27. Whether it be the precision of her poetry or essays, what is always inescapable is that Rich not only spoke for herself, but articulated the desire of legions for a different, a profoundly human existence.
Rich’s death took me back to the letter I received from her the week Raya Dunayevskaya, whose secretary I had been, died unexpectedly in 1987: “I have been thinking about all of you who were her close co-workers and had the privilege of knowing her as a person. I had been hoping to meet her. I feel keenly the loss of that opportunity. But how much she left behind, for all of us to draw on and pursue in our several ways!”
Spy on workers, but overlook patients
by Htun Lin
If time is money, hi-tech forces us to count time down to the millisecond. The stock exchange on Wall Street is now controlled by super-fast computers making automated billion-dollar trades in a split second by counting differences of fractions of a penny in the price per share. We’re constantly counting so much that our world has lost sight of what really counts.
At the HMO where I work, our company has invested billions of dollars in a super computer system which is able to count everything, from how many pieces of gauze are used on a patient to how much nurse-time each patient expends. Everything is tracked for cost control, up to the minute and down to the penny. An obsession with quantitative measures predominates, but because of state regulations the company pretends to monitor “quality” of healthcare.
Voices from the Inside Out
Sham response to prison hunger strike
Pelican Bay, Calif., April 2, 2012
After we read the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) “Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” we had a tier discussion of it. To a man, we believe that document is nothing more than a public relations stunt by CDCR to regain public support.
Justice for ALL the Trayvon Martins
Los Angeles–Protests against the murder on Feb. 26 of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., exploded across the U.S. Zimmerman, who remained free for weeks, claiming he killed Martin in “self-defense” and hiding behind Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, was finally arrested for Trayvon’s murder on April 11.
There were many protests in Los Angeles, including at Leimert Park in a Black community, and downtown. On April 9, a crowd of about 500 Blacks with support from white and brown activists gathered in Persian Square downtown. We listened to music, signed letters of protest, had small discussion groups and heard speakers, including activists from different organizations, and several Black actors. We marched for six blocks in silence to City Hall where a short rally was held. A woman organizer said: “This is not just a march, it’s a movement!”
Security Housing Unit prisoners react
Pelican Bay, Calif.–Last October, California prisoners again suspended the hunger strike that they had begun on July 1 when prison authorities promised to review all the Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners’ validations based on new “behavior model” criteria (see News & Letters coverage: “Pelican Bay SHU on hunger strike,” July-August, “Pelican Bay SHU struggle continues!” and “Hunger striker speaks,” September-October, and “SHU prisoners: We want to be treated like human beings!” and “Voices from Pelican Bay SHU hunger strikers“, November-December of 2011). The review process was to start at the beginning of the year.
In March, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) finally released a proposal for a new policy: “Security Threat Groups, Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy.” We visited Pelican Bay SHU prisoners a few days later.
Stop service cuts! Keep our home care!
Chicago–About 35 people participated in a lively rally beginning at SEIU headquarters on March 28. We then marched through downtown Chicago to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where we chanted to protest proposed drastic cuts in the Home Services Program. The rally and march were organized by The Taskforce for Attendant Services and Chicago ADAPT, a direct action disability rights group.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange was targeted because they are one of several corporations who received very large tax break packages from Illinois, while Governor Patrick Quinn has introduced a budget that will block thousands of people from receiving home care. Also at stake are service cuts to 14,000 people in the home care program, stopping services to families with youth under the age of 18 and blocking the Home Services Program for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities.
World in View
Syrian cry for solidarity
by Gerry Emmett
It comes as no surprise that Bashar al-Assad’s word means nothing. He has already violated the April “ceasefire” he promised Kofi Annan and the UN, first by leaving his troops in place in Syria’s cities and villages. With his rule at stake, Assad will not allow peaceful protests to resume.
Further, his forces have continued to murder the Syrian people in full view of the world. Assad’s slaughter even spilled outside the borders of Syria itself, with murderous attacks on refugees in Turkey and Lebanon. “The ceasefire is the new joke” read protesters’ signs in the streets.