Dialectical materialism teaches us that the external world (matter) is reflected by our brains through our five senses- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. What is first perceived through the five senses is “perceptual knowledge.” When enough perceptual knowledge has accumulated in our brains, perceptual knowledge leaps to “conceptual knowledge” (the formation of ideas, theories, plans, measures, etc.); that is, from objective matter to subjective consciousness, from existence to ideas.
We then test the “truth” of our ideas by putting them into practice; that is, transforming subjective consciousness back into objective matter, from ideas back into existence. Those ideas that fail to correspond with the external material world are incorrect and untruthful, while those ideas that do meet with success and correspond with the external world are correct and truthful. What this demonstrates is that “truth” is not an idea that exists only in our minds, but that truth exists independently of our minds and is found in the external world. This also demonstrates that consciousness development first begins with matter. Matter came first and without matter, which is translated in our brains in the form of ideas, there can be no consciousness. Consciousness is a product and reflection of matter, and our brains are nothing more than highly developed matter with the ability to consciously reflect and transform the material world around us.
Opposing this truth is the philosophy and thought of “idealism,” which turns truth upside down on its head and falsely contends that consciousness came first, that is, consciousness is the creator of matter. The existence of a god who created the universe (matter) and everything in it being the most extreme expression of this backwards assertion. Consciousness did not and cannot create matter because without matter consciousness cannot exist.
Though most are unaware of it, our ways of thinking are dominated by one of two camps, idealism or materialism, and idealism is the prevailing mode of though within prison society. This “convenient” way of thinking is not only incorrect because it doesn’t correspond with the external world; it’s self-deceiving and destructive to us as a population. For example, we conveniently convince ourselves that we’re warriors, soldados, etc., and that we can do life in solitary confinement. “Cause nobody can break us,” “We know how to do our time,” etc., etc. In part this may be true for many, but regardless of what we conveniently convince ourselves of, “truth” is found in the external world and exists independently of our minds, and the truth is, we’re still being oppressed when we’re subjected to a lifetime sentence of solitary confinement behind fabricated and frivolous information, no matter what we convince ourselves of. Once we deceive ourselves with convenient excuses in an attempt to justify our inaction, we’re essentially laying down in defeat and accepting our conditions. Idealism and the defeatist poison it spreads must be discarded as a way of thinking if we are going to improve our living condition. We are not who we are because we convince ourselves that’s who we are. It is our interaction with the external world and those around us which determines who we are, and inaction does not make us soldiers. It makes us accomplices of the C.D.C. and contributors to our own oppression.
This article first appeared in Prison Art Newsletter