At the very least, “communism” is the name for the only sort of utopianism available today that does not involve any religious or New Age ideas of perfectibility, redemption, and salvation. For communism is rather something much more down to earth. Communism has to do, pragmatically as well as etymologically, with a sense of “the common”.
The common is neither “public” nor “private,” but rejects both sides of this binary opposition. The common rather has to do with the fact that individual creativity is itself possible only in the context of all the linguistic, cultural, scientific, and technological heritage of humankind. As Isaac Newton famously said, he was only able to see further than others because he stood on the shoulders of giants.
Today, more and more of our common heritage is being privatized, copyrighted, and patented by multinational corporations. Political struggle must involve taking back what is common to all of us. From this perspective, communism doesn’t mean giving up on our inner lives, but creating an environment in which such lives might flourish. And, in this humane sense, the idea of communism is not really a political notion, although politics is undoubtedly a large part of what might be needed to get there.
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (via muddybootsrn)
“Don’t you know that slavery was outlawed?”
“No,” the guard said, “you’re wrong. Slavery was outlawed with the exception of prisons. Slavery is legal in prisons.”
I looked it up and sure enough, she was right. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Well, that explained a lot of things. That explained why jails and prisons all over the country are filled to the brim with Black and Third World people, why so many Black people can’t find a job on the streets and are forced to survive the best way they know how. Once you’re in prison, there are plenty of jobs, and, if you don’t want to work, they beat you up and throw you in a hole. If every state had to pay workers to do the jobs prisoners are forced to do, the salaries would amount to billions… Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.