Saturday, January 07, 2012


How about we do some theoretical stuff on the weekends, just for fun.

The following is from Antonio Negri.

Communism: some thoughts on the concept and practice

Antonio Negri

At the basis of historical materialism lies the claim that history is the history of class struggle. When the historical materialist investigates class struggle, she does so through the critique of political economy. The critique concludes that the meaning of the history of class struggle is communism, ‘the real movement which abolishes the present state of things' (Marx, The German Ideology). It is a case of being inside this movement.

People often object to this claim that it is an expression of a philosophy of history. But I think the political meaning of critique should not be mistaken for a historical telos. In history the productive forces normally produce the social relations and institutions that contain and dominate them: this is evident in all historical determinations. So why would anyone regard as historical illusion, political ideology or metaphysical nonsense the possibility of subverting this situation and freeing the productive forces from the command of capitalist relations of production (following the meaning of class struggle in operation)? We will try to demonstrate that the opposite is the case.

1) Communists assume that history is always the history of class struggle.

For some this position is untenable because history is determined and now so totally dominated by capital that such an assumption is ineffectual and unverifiable.

But they forget that capital is always a relation of power [force], that whilst it might be able to organise a solid and overbearing hegemony, this hegemony is always the function of a particular command inside a power relation. Neither the concept of capital nor its historical variants would exist in the absence of a proletariat who, whilst being exploited by capital, is always the living labour that produces it. Class struggle is the power relation expressed between the boss and the worker: this relation invests exploitation and capitalist command and is established in the institutions that organise the production and circulation of profit.

Others who claim that history cannot simply be reduced [traced back] to class struggle assume the permanent [persistance/existance] subsistence of a 'use-value'. They qualify this as the value of labour power or as the value of nature and of the environmental surroundings of human labour. This assumption is not only radically inadequate as an explanation of capitalist development, but is also certainly wrong as a description of the current form of capitalism.

Capital has conquered and enveloped the entire life-world, its hegemony is global. There is no room for narodniki! Class struggle develops here, ‘from the premises now in existence', not under different circumstances: class relations are founded on these historical determinations ( historical determinism ) and the new production of subjectivity (of the boss and worker alike).

Firstly, it is of interest to note that there is no longer an 'outside' in this context, and that struggle (not only struggle, but the substance of subjects in struggle) is now totally 'inside'; there is no longer any semblance or reflection of 'use-value'. We are completely immersed in the world of 'exchange-value' and its brutal and ferocious reality.

Historical materialism explains how and why exchange value is so central to class struggle: 'In bourgeois society, the worker e.g. stands there purely without objectivity, subjectively; but the thing which stands opposite him has now become the true community das wahre Gemeinwesen ]', which the proletariat 'tries to make a meal of, and which makes a meal of him' (Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook V, trans. by M. Nicolaus, London: Pelican, 1973, p.496).

Yes, but in this alternative appropriation – that of the capitalists against that of the workers - capital definitely appears as a relation. Communism begins to take shape when the proletarian takes it as her objective to re-appropriate the Gemeinwesen , the community, to turn it into the order of a new society.

Therefore exchange value is very important, it is the common social reality, built and secured so that it can no longer be traced back to the simple circulation of labour, money and even capital. It is surplus value turned into profit, accumulated profit, rent from land and estates, fixed capital, finance, the accumulation of primary sources, machines and devices productive on earth and then launched into space, communication networks, and - finally and especially - money, the great common paradigm: '[Money] is itself the community [Gemeinwesen ] and can tolerate none other standing above it' (Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook II, p. 223). Here lies the historical determination. Exchange value is already given in a common form. As Gemeinwesen . It's here, it's the world, there is nothing else or other, no outside.

Take for instance the example of finance: who could conceive of doing without money in the form of finance? Money has become the common land where once the Heimat [Homeland] lay, the consistency of populations at the end of the 'Gothic period', when possession was organised into commons . Those commons and that land are now exchange value in the hands of capitalists. If we want this land back, we reclaim it in the conditions we find it in: at the apex of capitalist appropriation, soiled by exchange value; under no illusions of purity and innocence.

When Spinoza told us that in the Hebrew state in the year of the jubilee all debts were written off and the equality of citizens restored, or when Machiavelli insisted on the fact that the agrarian laws gave new life to Roman Republic because the plebs' re-appropriation of the land also renewed the democratic process, they were holding onto the illusion that it was possible to go back to nature and democracy (Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourse on Livy , Book I, Chapter 27, London: Penguin, p. 99; Benedict de Spinoza, A Theological-Political Treatise , Chapter XVII, p. 230) .

But for us determining the liberation of the labour force and being communists demands the re-appropriaton of a common reality that is neither original nor democratically desirable, but rather something that stands opposed to us as power after we have reproduced it with effort and blood.
But let us not be discouraged. As Gramsci taught us in his reading of class struggle, historical materialism proposes to grasp the continuous metamorphosis or rather the anthropology of the character of the worker through different experiences of the proletarian use of technologies and capitalist social organisation.

This introduces a new question, because as the worker changes herself in struggle, she imposes a real metamorphosis on capital. If there are epochs or cycles of struggle, their ontological consistency is measured against this anthropological basis. No nature, identity, gender or race can resist this movement of transformation and historical metamorphosis of the relationship between capital and workers. The multitudes are shaped and always re-qualified by this dynamics. This is also valid for the definition of time in class struggle. When class struggle appears as the production and transformation of subjectivity, the revolutionary process assumes a long-term temporality, an ontological accumulation of counter-power, the 'optimism' of the material force of proletarian 'reason', the desire that becomes solidarity, the love that is always rational, and following Spinoza, the related 'pessimism of the will'. ' Caution !', he said, when the passions are mobilised towards the construction of political structures of freedom. Our guide is not the aleatory emergence of rebellions, these divine sparks of hope that can carve paths of light into the night, but the constant and critical effort and work of organisation, the calculated risk of insurrection. Philosophical imagination can give colour to the real but cannot replace the effort of history-making: the event is always a result, never a starting point.

2) Being communists means being against the State. The State is the force that organises, always normally yet always exceptionally, the relations that constitute capital and discipline the conflicts between capitalists and the proletarian labour force.

This being against the state is directed against all the modes of organisation of private property and the private ownership of the means of production, as well as the private exploitation of labour power and the private control of capitals' circulation. But it also against the public , that is, the state and national configurations of all these operations of alienation of the power [potenza] of labour.

Being communist entails the recognition that the public is a form of alienation and exploitation of labour - of common labour, in our case. So what is the public? As the great Rousseau said, the public is the enemy of private property, what 'belongs [itself] to nobody' (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Second Discourse on the Origin of Inequality ). But it is just sophism to attribute to the State what actually belongs to everyone. The State says: 'The common does not belong to you, despite the fact that you made it, produced it in common, and invented it and organised it as common'. The State's manumission of the common, i.e. what we all produced and thus belongs to us, will go under the name of management, delegation and representation ... the implacable beauty of public pragmatism.
Therefore communism is the enemy of socialism because socialism is the classical form of this second model of alienation of proletarian power [potenza], which also requires a distorted organisation of the production of its subjectivity. The perversions of 'real socialism' have neutralised a century of class struggle and dispelled all the illusions of the philosophy of history. It is interesting to see how 'real socialism', despite initiating massive processes of collectivisation, never questioned the disciplines of command, be they juridical, political or pertaining to the human sciences. The institutional structure of socialism and its political polarities was produced by an ideology that arbitrarily opposed private to public - whilst these, following Rousseau, overlap one another - and sanctified a ruling class whose functions of command reproduced the ones of the capitalist elité whilst they claimed to be self-elected 'vanguards'!

Being against the State means, first of all, expressing the desire and ability to manage the entire system of production, including the division of labour and the accumulation and redistribution of wealth, in a radically democratic way - as a 'democracy of all'.

Here it is worth providing new definitions. Historical materialism is also an 'immanentism of subjectivity'. It declares that not only there is no 'outside' to the world we live in, but also that 'from inside' this world the workers, citizens and all subjects are ever-present elements of singular resistance and moments in the construction of a different form of common living.

They are present even when the most grievous and dreariest historical lull is suffocating us. Multitude is a class concept and the singularities that compose it are always nuclei of resistance in the relation of subjugation imposed by capital. The singular obeys because he must do so and cannot do otherwise, but always as a resistance, there, inside the power relation. The breaking of this relation is always a possibility, just as much as the maintenance of the relation of command. Here, outside of any philosophy of history, inside this common phenomenology, we perceive how central and essential the possible indignation against power, its order and abuses and the refusal of wage labour (and/or of labour subjected to the end of reproducing capitalist society) are to the formation of another model of society and the extent to which they point to the present virtuality [virtual presence] of a different order, another prospect of life. These push towards rupture, and can do so because the rupture that is always possible can become real, or rather necessary (and we will come back to the characters of this rupture). There can be revolution.

The insistence on indignation, refusal and rebellion must be able to translate into constituent power . The struggle against the State and against all of the constitutions that organise and represent it must also contain the ability to produce new power by means of new knowledge. You can never grip a lightening bolt with bare hands, only the multitude, the history of rebelling class struggle, can do so. But the relation between the historical circumstances and the production of subjectivity keeps changing. As we said earlier, this is one of the realms of development of this continuous metamorphosis of the anthropology of the worker. The technical composition of the labour force is in constant motion and corresponds to an always adequate, and different, production of subjectivity. This is a politicalcomposition that must find concrete forms of expression and desire for revolution in its present circumstances.

The production of subjectivity and new political composition can also anticipate the historical and social conditions in which the revolutionary process is constructed, but there is always a dialectical link between the material determination and the revolutionary tension of collective desire: an elastic band that might snap but remains itself. As Lenin said, dual power is always short-lived, rebel power must hold back the time of history in subjective anticipation (the pushing forward of subjectivity). Constituent power is the key to anticipating and realising revolutionary will against the State.

In traditional State theory, anarchy and dictatorship are the opposite extremes of all possible forms of sovereign command, but when we speak of communist democracy against the State, we do not do so on the grounds of a possible mediation between anarchy and dictatorship., on the contrary. We propose the overcoming of this alternative because revolutionary struggle not only has no outside but the inside that it defines knows a subversive power, that is, a 'below' that is opposed to the 'above' of sovereignty. Communist being is realised from this 'below', from the turning of constituent desires into expressions of power and alternative contents. So there can also be a revolution, as Gramsci taught, 'against Das Kapital '.

3) Being communists means building a new world where the exploitation of capital and subjection to the State are eliminated. Starting from our present circumstances, realistically, from the historical determinations that characterise our current condition, how do we move forward towards the realisation of communism?

First of all, let us say that this determinism can be broken and overcome only by building a force that is superior to that of those in command. But how do we do that? As we said, political rupture seems necessary once indignation, refusal, resistance and struggle have produced a constituent power that wants to realise itself. Only force makes this move forward, this constituent rupture possible. From strikes, industrial sabotage, the breaking and piracy of systems of domination, migrant flight and mobility to riots, insurrections, and the concrete configurations of an alternative power: these are the first recognisable figures of a collective revolutionary will.

This shift is fundamental - communist imagination is exalted in the moment of rupture. Higher wages against labour exploitation, universal income against the financial crisis, a democracy of all against dictatorship: these are the outcomes of a history that produces constituent will. But this is not enough; even if the cause is insufficient it does not make it less necessary, less sine qua non . It is not enough because there is no revolution without organisation, just as the exaltation of the event was not enough, the resorting to myth, or the mystic reference to the bareness of bodies, to a threshold of poverty opposed to the ubiquity of oppression - none of this is enough because there still is no rational design that invests and involves the movements of rupture with the power of organisation.

As Spinoza wrote: “ Cupiditas, quae ex ratione oritur, excessum habere nequit ” [Desire which springs from reason cannot be excessive] (Spinoza, Ethics , Part IV, Proposition LXI, New York: Dover Publications, 1959, p. 229), which thus prohibits any definition of desire that arrests itself [censors itself] with (supposedly objective) limits. What I mean to say is that when we think about and experiment with this framework, no teleology or philosophy of history is at play, only a collective desire that, with force, builds up its organised surplus throughout the entire aleatory process of struggles: the surplus of communism in relation to the dull repetition of the history of exploitation. To this end, communism is closer to us today (which doesn't mean that it's around the corner) because the surplus labour extracted from labour power - as it changes with the cognitive metamorphosis - is only with difficulty translated and turned into that surplus value that the capitalist organises into profit. Cognitive labour is terribly indigestible to capital.

But, as some tell us, there is no evidence to claim that the relation between subjective excess and the communist project is given through the subversive and insurrectional movements of the multitude. This is true. But we would respond that historical materialism and the immanence of the revolutionary project show us a subject that goes against capital and a multitude of singularities that organises into anti-capitalist power [forza], not formally, as a party, a mature and accomplished organisation, but, by virtue of its existence, as a resistance that is stronger and better articulated the more the multitude is a whole of singular institutions in itself. The latter include forms of life, struggle, economic and union organisation, strikes, the rupture of social processes of exploitation, experiences of re-appropriation, and nodes of resistance. At times they win in great clashes on issues that are central to the capitalist organisation of society, at other times they lose, though always keeping levels of antagonism that function as residues in new modes of subjectivation.

The multitude is a group of institutions that takes on different political compositions time after time and in relation to the shades and vicissitudes of power relations. They are more than the elements of technical composition of the proletariat, and more than the aleatory and/or conjunctural organisations of the oppressed: they are actual moments of political recomposition and coagulates of the subversive production of communist subjectivity. Cupiditates ! (TR: Passions, longings, desires, eagerness!) Instances of these are different and diversified relations between the expressions of a desire for emancipation (wage labour, social movements, political expressions) and the demand of political and/or economic reform.

From the standpoint of contemporary biopolitical society, the relation between reform and revolution is different from that of industrial societies. The transformation that has intervened is substantial and can easily be verified by an analysis of the generalisation of the methods of governance in the exercise of sovereignty, in the current weakening of the classical forms of government. The flows, pressures and alterations of governance relations in post-industrial societies show a new terrain where the collision between movements and governments unfolds with alternate outcomes. But they always all reveal the multiplication of assets for the struggle and organisation of reform proposals and subversive tensions that give shape to and internally articulate the multitude. Here we start glimpsing the newinstitutions of the common .

This process is set off from below. It is a movement that is affirmed with force. Rather than dialectics, what describes it is its will to affirmation. It is not teleological, unless we charge the materialist theory and subversive practice of Machiavelli with ethical and historical finalism. Instead, the multitude is immersed in a process of transition , that started when 'one divided into two', when, as we said earlier, it is difficult to turn the surplus labour of the cognitive proletariat into profit and the latter reveals itself as revolutionary surplus [excess]. Rather than a transition from one stage or mode of production to another, this is a change that unfolds inside the multitude itself, it exposes and acts on the web that links the anthropological metamorphoses of subjects to the changes of society and politics, and thus to the possibility of communist emancipation. The society we live in has been really and fully subsumed in capital. We call this command capitalist biopower . But if biopower is the product of the activity of capital even when its hegemony is global, this still needs to be based on a relation: the capital relation, always contradictory and possibly antagonistic, placed inside the biopolitical realm where life itself is put to work and all of its aspects are invested by power; but also where resistance is manifest and the proletariat is present in all of the figures where social labour is realised; where cognitive labour power expresses the excess of value and the multitude is formed. This multitude is not disarmed, because all of these processes that traverse it also describe its institutional articulations and accretion of resistance and subjective emergences.

As we said, the multitude is a totality of desires and trajectories of resistance, struggle and constituent power. We also add that it is a whole made of institutions. Communism is possible because it already exists in this transition, not as an end, but as a condition, it is the development of singularities, the experimentation of this construction and - in the constant wave of power relations - it is tension, tendency and metamorphosis.

4) What is a communist ethics? As we have seen, it is an ethics of struggle against the State because it moves from the indignation towards subjection and the refusal of exploitation. On the node of indignation and refusal lies the second element of the definition of a communist ethics, which is that of militance and the common construction of struggle against exclusion and poverty, alienation and exploitation.

These two elements (struggle and common militance) already open onto a new plane: that of a whole of singularities that, withdrawing from solitude, work to make themselves multitude - a multitude that looks for the common against privacy. Does this mean to achieve a democracy? For almost three centuries we have conceived of democracy as the administration of the public good, the institutionalisation of the state appropriation of the common. If we seek democracy today, we need to radically rethink it as the common management of the common. This management entails a redefinition of (cosmopolitan) space and (constituent) temporality. It is no longer the case of defining the form of a social contract where everything is everyone's and thus belongs to no one: everything, as it is produced by everyone, belongs to all.

This shift will only occur in the name of organisation. The whole history of the communist movements regarded the issue of organisation as fundamental, because organisation is a collective-being-against, a principle of institution, and thus the very essence of making-multitude. The facts of the crisis of neo-liberalism, the cultures of individualism, the natural refusal of solitude of human beings who are born and grow up in society, the recognition that solitude is death, manifest themselves as an organisation of resistance against the new reduction to solitude that, in individualist morality, capital tries to re-impose upon subjects.

The first three elements of a communist ethics are: revolt against the State, common militance, and production of institutions. Clearly these are traversed by two fundamental passions: the passion that pushes from natural neediness and economic poverty towards a power of labour and science freed from capital's command; and the passion of love that from the refusal of solitude leads to the political constitution of the common (unsurprisingly religion, bourgeois aesthetics and all new age ideologies try to recuperate, mystify and neutralise these passions). By coming together, developing new forms of common coexistence in resistance and organisation the constituent power of communism is invented. This concept of constituent power has nothing to do with the constitutional structures that capital and its State have organised. At this point, the power [potenza] of labour power, the invention of the multitude and the constituent expression of the proletariat on the one hand and capitalist power, the disciplinary arrogance of the bourgeoisie and the repressive vocation of the State on the other are not homologous. Because the constituent ethics of communism runs much deeper and invests the biopolitical dimension of historical reproduction, and as class struggle makes historical being, it is now going to spread inside the determinations of our age onto the whole set of biopolitical dispositifs. Here communist ethics touches upon the great issues of life (and of death) and takes on the character of great dignity when it appears as the generous and creative articulation of the power [potenza] of the poor and the common desire for love, equality and solidarity.

We have now come to the point where the idea of a practice of 'use-value' re-emerges. This use-value is no longer outside but inside the history made by struggles. It is no longer a remembrance of nature or the reflection of a presumed origin, nor an instance in time or an event of perception, but an expression, a language and a practice.

Finally, under no circumstances is it an identity, a reflection on the concrete characters assumed as the point of the insertion in a universal, but a mixture, a communal, multitudinal, hybrid and mongrel construction, the overcoming of everything that was otherwise known as identity in the dark centuries that precede us. The man emerging out of this ethics is a multicoloured Orpheus, a poverty that history returns to us as wealth rather than origin, as desire to-come rather than misery. This is the new use-value: the common . Our existence signals a series of common conditions that we keep wanting to emancipate by withdrawing them from capitalist alienation and State command. Use-value is the newly acquired form of the technical composition of labour, as well as the common political dispositif that lies at the foundation of the practices of constitution of the world in history. The new use-value consists in these dispositifs of the common that are opening up new paths for the organisation of struggle and the forces of destruction of capitalist command and exploitation.

London, March 14th 2009
Translation by Arianna Bove

Friday, January 06, 2012


Political prisoner friday is back at SCISSION.  I believe it is of utmost importance that we never forget our POWs and political prisoners.  They are a part of us.  We should all be doing what we can to support them and to help gain their freedom.

The struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico has produced scores of male and female heroes.  Oscar Lopez Rivera is one of them.  Oscar is serving 70 years in the prisons of his islands colonizers and masters.   The Denver Black Cross writes:

In 1975, Oscar was forced underground, along with other comrades.  The FBI claimed that he was one of the leaders of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a Puerto Rican nationalist clandestine group that fought for the independence of Puerto Rico.  Oscar has neither confirmed nor denied his involvement in FALN and out of principle has refused to denounce armed struggle as a legitimate means to gaining independence.
On May 29, 1981 Oscar was captured in Chicago after five years underground.  Oscar was found guilty on five counts involving seditious conspiracy, armed robbery, weapons violations and interstate transportation of stolen property.  He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Political Prisoner Status
At the time of their arrest Lopez Rivera and the others declared themselves to be combatants in an anti-colonial war against the United States to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. domination and invoked prisoner of war status. They argued that the U.S. courts did not have jurisdiction to try them as criminals and petitioned for their cases to be handed over to an international court that would determine their status. The U.S. Government, however, did not recognize their request.
The sentences received by Lopez Rivera and the other Nationalists were judged to be “out of proportion to the nationalists’ offenses.” Statistics showed their sentences were almost 20 times greater than sentences for similar offenses by the American population at large.
For many years, numerous national and international organizations criticized Lopez Rivera’ incarceration categorizing it as political imprisonment. His disproportionate sentence, the targeting of him and others by the FBI beforehand, the nebulous charges of conspiracy, the political nature of the charges made against Oscar, and the intentional isolation and long-term confinement he has endured all make it clear that Oscar Lopez Rivera is not simply a prisoner, but a political prisoner.


The following is from the ProLibertad Freedom Campaign. 

What is The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign?
Who are the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners?
Friends of ProLibertad
Prisoner's Writings
Puerto Rico's Colonial Case
Despierta Boricua: ProLibertad's Radio Show
El Coqui Libre Newsletter
Calendar of Events
Solidarity Links
ProLibertad Multi-Media Page


Oscar Lopez Rivera was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico on January 6, 1943. At the age of 12, he moved to Chicago with his family. He was a well-respected community activist and a prominent independence leader for many years prior to his arrest. Oscar was one of the founders of the Rafael Cancel Miranda High School, now known as the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School and the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center. He was a community organizer for the Northwest Community Organization (NCO), ASSPA, ASPIRA and the 1st Congregational Church of Chicago. He helped to found FREE, (a half-way house for convicted drug addicts) and ALAS (an educational program for Latino prisoners at Stateville Prison in Illinois).

He was active in various community struggles, mainly in the area of health care, employment and police brutality. He also participated in the development of the Committee to Free the Five Puerto Rican Nationalists. In 1975, he was forced underground, along with other comrades. He was captured on May 29, 1981, after 5 years of being persecuted by the FBI as one of the most feared fugitives from US "justice".
Oscar, who has a daughter named Clarissa, is currently serving a 55-year sentence for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was convicted of conspiracy to escape along with Jaime Delgado, (a veteran independence leader), Dora Garcia, (a prominent community activist) and Kojo Bomani-Sababu, a New Afrikan political prisoner.
Oscar was one of 12 Puerto Rican political prisoners offered some form of leniency by the Clinton Administration in the fall of 1999. According to the Chicago Sun Times, he "declined the president's offer, which still would have him left with 10 years to serve on conspiracy to escape charges. Now he faces at least 20 more years in prison. His sister, Zenaida Lopez, said he turned the offer down because he would be on parole. 'Accepting what they are offering him is like prison outside of prison,' she said. Zenaida Lopez said her brother 'was in total agreement' with the decision of the 11 others to take the conditional clemency." Oscar is presently in prison in Terre Haute, Indiana and his release date is 7/27/2027.

Before you write the prisoners:

It is important to know that it takes time for your letter to reach a prisoner and to receive a response from him or her. If you do not receive a quick response, do not give up!! Continue to write to him or her until you receive a response.

If you are going to send a prisoner money for his or her commissary, it must be in the form of a money order (Postal or Western Union) with their name and prisoner number. Do not send cash and avoid sending them personal checks.

If you are going to send them reading materials (Books or magazines); you must make sure that it is a paperback edition. If you are sending a magazine you must remove all the staples and metal clips. The envelope you send it in must have the staples and metal clips removed as well.

Oscar Lopez Rivera
FCI Terre Haute
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN, 47808

Before you send money to the Prisoners:

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has changed the guidelines for sending federal prisoners commissary. If anyone wants to send money to our patriots, it must be sent to the following address and in the following manner:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
(Prisoner’s name and Prison Number)
PO Box 474701
Des Moines IA 50947-0001

You must send all funds to the mailing address (above) and adhere to the following instructions:

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will only approve/accept the following items, which it calls “Negotiable instruments”: Money Orders, government checks, Foreign Negotiable Instruments or Business checks. NOTE: No Personal Checks; they will be sent back to you.

Print the prisoner’s committed name and register number (prison number) on the funds.

The name and return address of the sender must appear in the upper left hand corner of the envelope to ensure that funds can be returned when necessary.

Don’t send items other than funds top the above provided address. The BOP will discard letters, pictures and anything else you send.

Contact ProLibertad at: * 718-601-4751


Ever heard of Gordon Hirabayashi?  Me neither?  That's a shame and it is just wrong.  Gordon Hirabaysahi took a courage stand against tyranny at a time that so many simply did not.  He challenged the might US Government and made a difference.

Somewhere in the south of Arizona there is a recreatjion site named after him.  Why, because it is not far from there that he spent years in a prison camp 5,000 feet up in the Catalina Mountains. for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Gordon Hirabayashi should be a civil rights icon.  He didn't refuse to give up his seat on the bus.  He refused to get on the damn bus...with other Japanese Americans who were being taken off to be interred.  One of only three Japanese Americans to defy President Roosevelt's orders of exclusion, he surrendered to the FBI.  

“I wasn’t a rebel looking for a cause,” says Hirabayashi. “In fact, I was preparing to go. But in the days before I wassupposed to leave, I realized that I couldn’t do it.”
He was tried and convicted but still didn't go easily or quietly into the night.

And we should remember him and honor his name.

The following is from Rafu Shimpo.

Hirabayashi Remembered for His Courage

Gordon Hirabayashi, who passed away on Monday at age 93, is being hailed as an American hero.
As a 24-year-old student at the University of Washington, he violated curfew and exclusion orders directed at Japanese Americans on the West Coast. He appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him. For refusing to report to an internment camp, he did jail time in Seattle and at a federal labor camp in Arizona.
Gordon Hirabayashi was a student at the University of Washington when he challenged the government in court.
In the 1980s, his case was reopened, along with those of Fred Korematsu and Min Yasui, and his conviction was overturned in federal court. It was ruled that the curfew and internment were based on race, not military necessity, as he had maintained from the beginning.
On Feb. 11, the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law will hold a day-long event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hirabayashi’s legal victory. The event will feature multiple panels and an exhibit. For more information,
Hirabayashi, who taught sociology at the University of Alberta in Canada, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the final years of his life, according to his son. A Quaker memorial meeting will be held Friday at the Edmonton Japanese Community Association.
Survivors include his wife, Susan Carnahan; his daughters, Marion Oldenburg and Sharon Yuen, and his son, Jay, all from a previous marriage; a sister, Esther Furugori, also known as Tosh; a brother, James; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. His former wife, Esther Hirabayashi (nee Schmoe), also passed away on Monday at age 87.
Following are reactions from community organizations and leaders.
• Rodney Kawakami, lead attorney for Hirabayashi’s 1980s legal team: “Gordon Hirabayashi was a principled man of peace who, with the courage of his convictions, left us with an enduring legal and social legacy. He inspired us to remember that our constitutional rights come with a price and that we have an obligation to be constantly vigilant to protect these cherished rights by speaking out in times of crisis, even when unpopular.”
• Bruce Embrey, co-chair of the Manzanar Committee (Los Angeles): “With the passing of Gordon Hirabayashi, we have lost a true hero, a true champion of civil rights. Asking for nothing more than equal treatment under the law, and demanding his constitutional rights, he made history. His historic stand in defense of the Constitution, and against the incarceration of the Nikkei community, serves as an inspiration to all who cherish democracy and human rights. On behalf of the Manzanar Committee, I want to extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones. He will be sorely missed.”
• Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), whose husband, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, was a member of the Korematsu legal team: “Gordon Hirabayashi was a courageous individual who stood up against injustice in a time of great fear, hostility, and danger. He believed in protecting our rights as American citizens, and willingly put himself on the line in order to challenge the unconstitutionality of the Japanese American internment.”
• Jeanne Sakata, author of “Dawn’s Light,” a one-man show about Hirabayashi: “Today we mourn the loss and honor the memory of Gordon Hirabayashi, who challenged America to be its best and brightest even in some of its darkest hours. We thank you, Gordon, for your gentle and courageous light. For daring to say yes to America when it said no to you and your fellow Nisei, for daring to say yes to an America that was yet to come.”
• Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education (San Francisco): “The Korematsu Institute mourns the loss of Gordon Hirabayashi and his former wife, Esther Hirabayashi, who both passed away Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Gordon Hirabayashi, along with Min Yasui and Fred Korematsu, were three of the four brave individuals who challenged the U.S. incarceration of Japanese Americans before the Supreme Court in the 1940s. Forty years later, these three men reopened their cases and continued to fight for justice. We remember an American hero today.”
(Editor’s note: The fourth Supreme Court case involved Mitsuye Endo, who demanded that she either be charged with a crime or released from camp. The court ruled in December 1944 that the government could not continue to hold a citizen whose loyalty was not in question. This hastened the closing of the camps, but the court never ruled on the constitutionality of the internment itself.)
• Frank Abe of Seattle, director/writer/producer of the documentary “Conscience and the Constitution”: “Gordon was not only a constitutional test case, he was a Nisei draft resister like the Heart Mountain boys. His case, along with those of Korematsu and Yasui, was opposed by National JACL because, as Mike Masaoka says on our new DVD, ‘they were criminal cases,’ and JACL favored its own habeas corpus case fronted by Mitsuye Endo.”
• John de Graaf, producer at KCTS-TV in Seattle: “I had the honor of making a film, ‘A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi v. The United States,’ about Gordon for PBS in 1992. It was moving to know him and hear his stories. He understood the meaning of both true patriotism and citizenship. He will be deeply missed.”
• Karen Kai and Robert Rusky of San Francisco, members of the Korematsu legal team who also helped with the Hirabayashi and Yasui cases: “Gordon was a man of extraordinary intellectual strength, philosophical principle and moral courage that guided him throughout his life. Even as a 24-year-old student, Gordon understood the importance of standing up for our nation’s professed values. Gordon reminded us of what America could be at its best, and we were privileged to know him as a friend. This is truly the passing of an era, and we will miss him greatly.”
• Lorraine Bannai, professor of legal skills and director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law and a member of the Korematsu legal team: “It’s been a very sad day in the wake of Gordon’s passing. Fred, Min, now Gordon – three men who taught us so much about courage in the face of adversity – now gone. Those of us who worked on their coram nobis cases have been forever changed by the opportunity we had to work with them and for the cause they started to fight decades ago.
“Gordon, like Fred and Min, taught us much about generosity of spirit; the imperative to abide by one’s convictions, and the personal cost one sometimes must pay as a result; and the need to work for justice and the public good. Gordon took abstract principles, like what it means to be an American, what it means to be a member of a community, and what must be done in the name of peace, and gave them life and meaning through his actions and deeds. His quest for justice during World War II and in reopening his case decades later made him larger than life, but, in so many ways, he was just like a wise uncle teaching the ropes to young, upstart Sansei.”
• Peter Irons, retired UC San Diego political scientist, author of “Justice at War,” and the attorney who reopened the Korematsu, Hirabayashi and Yasui cases (quoted in the Los Angeles Times): “What Gordon should be most remembered for is taking a stand on a matter of principle at a time when hardly anyone — not only within the Japanese American community but the nation at large — sided with him or sympathized with him. It wasn’t at all like the civil rights movement where thousands of people engaged in demonstrations and civil disobedience. It was a very lonely stand.”
• Floyd Mori, JACL national executive director: “Gordon was a personal friend, and his passing has been a loss for the nation. He was a humble person who never glorified in the international notoriety he received. His legacy will continue to motivate civil rights activists for decades to come and will give us the strength and courage to continue to carry the torch for justice. The principles for which he stood are very relevant in today’s fight to maintain and uphold the basic due process rights of citizens and non-citizens alike. His fight, like today, pointed out that race alone should not be criteria for guilt. We offer our sincere condolences to the Hirabayashi family.”
• Dale Minami of Minami Tamaki LLP in San Francisco, lead attorney in the Korematsu case: “Gordon was a true American hero patriot who taught us that dissent is not disloyalty but the highest form of patriotism, especially when you are defending the Constitution and willing to go to jail for your conscience. He was one of the most principled people I have ever met and has been an inspiration to a whole new generation.”
• Kathryn Bannai, senior employment equity specialist at Rutgers University and co-team leader of the Hirabayashi legal team: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Gordon Hirabayashi, who profoundly influenced me and so many of my generation. In addition to my appreciation for Gordon’s publicly acknowledged contributions and remarkable character, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work closely with Gordon on his coram nobis case. Gordon’s vision, open-mindedness, and principled approach to the issues that arose during the case constituted an ongoing source of inspiration and guidance.”
• Tom Ikeda, director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project (Seattle): “Twelve years ago I remember feeling nervous about doing an oral history interview with Gordon Hirabayashi. In preparation I studied his story of opposing the government’s World War II racial curfew and exclusion orders targeted at Japanese Americans and I couldn’t help but put Gordon on a pedestal. As a college senior at the University of Washington, his reasoning was crisp and courageous to oppose the mass removal and incarceration based on democratic ideals and using a non-violent, direct approach grounded in his confidence in the Constitution. I knew I would soon be talking with a historical giant who took a principled stand and fought to improve civil rights in America.
“To my surprise, instead of finding a fiery civil rights activist, I discovered Gordon Hirabayashi, the teacher, who used intelligence, humor, and moral integrity to guide me. At first, in awe of him, I was unstructured and overly deferential, which led to a rambling conversation, whereupon Gordon gently prompted me to clarify the purpose of the interview. A second interview went much better with Gordon suggesting ideas to discuss. By the fifth session I finally felt much more relaxed and confident, and now realize how much Gordon helped me not only to become a better interviewer, but to enjoy the process.
“Thank you, Gordon.”
To hear National Public Radio’s interview with Hirabayashi’s nephew, UCLA professor Lane Hirabayashi, click here.