On Content and Form: A Proposal to the HS Leadership

“Whoever doesn’t find a way to struggle against this situation is destroyed—the situation controls him and not the other way around.”
– The Red Army Faction, 1975

It is necessary to understand that the universe and its innumerable forms of matter are in ceaseless flux and ever- changing. Therefore if we are to formulate an accurate analysis of our circumstances, we must first begin with the recognition that technically speaking, reality does not consist of “things”, but of processes and endless transformations.

All form is the outward manifestation and the appearance of a given object or process. And in fact, form is a symptomatic pathology of an “essentially” deeper con- tent from which form follows. In the essence and form of any object or process are not separate aspects that are mechanically juxtaposed one alongside the other, but are the interpenetrating characteristics inherent of all phenomena and in many cases per- ceptually indistinguishable. As V.I. Lenin said, “Essence appears phenomenally, phenomenon is essential.”

Much like the cover of a book, the essence of its content is only partially revealed  in  the  written  summary  and  title of its outside cover. We are restrained and drawing accurate conclusions based exclusively upon their formal manifestations and their external appearances.

The full essential content of the book it- self, and is driving force of internal contradictions, can only be revealed within its pages.

And although essence is not fully revealed on the surface, it is nonetheless for the most part, the dominating and decisive factor  that  determines  the  overall  direction and development of a given phenomenon. And as the driving force of any given phenomenon — organic, inorganic, social phenomenon, even our current struggle to end the state’s campaign of social extermination — the goal of both all science and philosophy is, as Marx wrote, “to reveal essence, the internal, deep and underlying process behind the multitude of phenomena, outward sides and features of reality.”

In order to furnish a solution to any di- lemma, a correct interpretation of reality is required. And this necessitates the application of dialectical materialism. Having said that despite the reciprocal influence that both form and essence exert upon the other and their mutual development as one, we must recognize form for what it is — a side effect manifesting from an essential source. Our current struggle — as tactics currently exist — is objectively incorrect. A true “qualitative” transformation, such as an end to our perpetual isolation and the social extermination resulting from it, can only come from an “essential” transformation, not a “formal” one.

The validation process is a side effect, the  manifestation  of  an  essential  source of oppression — the SHU. And so long as we continue to focus our struggle on the validation process (and the five commands which also address the formal effects of the SHU) while allowing the primary source of our essential oppression to remain intact as it is — the SHU facilities — the state will continue to manufacture pseudo-justifications and illegitimate security threats to isolate us indefinitely.

We must adhere to dialectical materialism’s and its teachings that the basis of change comes not from those external forces and influences outside of a given phenomenon but within it.

External forces and influences can only create conditions necessary for transformation. In our current circumstances, the states increasingly oppressive practices are the contradictions necessary for transformation. It is up to us to cultivate a collective consciousness of resistance and trans- form the SHU as it currently exists from within the SHU itself, if we are to end our perpetual isolation.

It has been said before that we are “social animals”. This is an essential truth, not an empty cliché. It is inherent within our DNA and coded in our genes — literally! We must feed, clothe, procreate, and shelter ourselves, requiring that we also cooperate, organize, and coordinate our labor, and this necessitates various degrees of “social intercourse” between us. It is in the process of social intercourse that we develop our individual personalities as distinct identities defining us as uniquely human. Yes, we are truly social animals.

The group expresses itself through the individual and each individual is shaped and molded by the groups multiple individuals. Both the collective and the individual create the conditions for the other’s existence in an inseparable struggle of reciprocity, where each influences the development of the other, as one whole. Marx captured this dialectical relationship in his observation

“the  human  being  is  not  merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society … And isolated individual outside society … Is as much of an absurdity as the development of language without individuals living together.” (Grundrisse)

To isolate us indefinitely is to artificially separate us from the collective and deprive us of the social conditions necessary to develop our identities as distinct individual social beings. It is a process of dehumanization. To elevate our political conscious- ness to a level necessary in order to wage a successful struggle, it must be understood that a campaign against indefinite isolation is a campaign against “social extermination.” Long-term isolation is a state method of assassination while keeping us alive as living, breathing, biological individuals.

We must comprehend that the prison sys- tem is a microcosm of the economic and social inequalities inherent within society itself. It is a political – economic phenomenon.

For those of us who have endured years of sensory deprivation have been denied our identities. At this stage are only means to develop our identity is to develop a political identity forged in a context of a political struggle to end our indefinite isolation and achieve social intercourse.

I do not propose that we abandon our current five commands, but that we recognize there “formal” character and under- stand that the validation process and the five commands are side effects manifesting from an “essential” source — the SHU as it currently exists.

So long as the SHU exists, the C. D. C. will subject us to perpetual isolation, whether under the guise of validation STG, program failure, etc., or any other creative pseudo-justification the state prisoncrats conveniently manufacture.

As we know, the basis of all change and his transformation is internal. We must not only attack the SHU itself as a source of our “social extermination”, we must trans- form it from “within”. I propose that we demand, and struggle for, “association” in groups of no less than eight. “Association” as a means to implement social intercourse for the healthy psychological development of the individual. Our identities would be facilitated with our right to cellies according to the same criteria and frequency that general population receives them, the installation of two (four – man) tables in each pod, along with a phone, and one tear out for day-room at a time.

A concrete transformation of the SHU it- self would render all of the state’s excuses for confining us permanently, obsolete. Transforming the validation process alone, will only result in a new excuse to permanently isolate us, so long as the SHU facilities exist as they currently do. We must transform them. For

This may seem out of reach, but not only is it a potential reality, “association” is a tried and tested tactic that is been achieved on various occasions by politically conscious prisoners subjected to isolation and sensory deprivation units.

Our struggle for the five commands must continue forward unabated on both the domestic and international fronts. Although our primary struggle must be for the realization of Association if we are to achieve essential transformation. At this stage, we cannot afford to fail, which calls into question our particular tactics and the possibility of [peaceful and lawful yet] drastic actions.


First published in The Rock, Volume 1 #6, June #2, 2012

Chad LandrumChad LandrumChad Landrum

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