Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Reply to: Guards, Victims or Villains?

I've sent for a copy of the September 1991 issue of "Blueprint for Social Justice" and read both articles in it as you suggested. While the authors of these articles divulged some good points concerning the behavior of prison guards, their superiors and the psychology of prisondom, I think that they are lacking in the sense that they attempt to paint guards (in their capacity as guards) as innocent employees of the state, who if guilty of anything, are guilty of allowing themselves to be indoctrinated and used by the state in the brutal control and subjugation of prisoners. But, this is far from the truth. Prison guards are tools of the bourgeoisie and its state - the ruling class. They are members of an armed organization of the state, i.e., the armed forces, national guard, police forces and prisondom, who are entrusted with the chief responsibility of enforcing the rule of the owning class. True, many of them become prison guards out of dire need to help feed, clothe and house or take care of their families, but their marriage to their job as guards or service to the state is a part of their oath and commitment to remain loyal tools of it: 1) to guard it; and 2) to oversee the exploitation of us as state slaves. In carrying out this responsibility they use endless oppressive and repressive schemes to achieve this end. The result is the annihilation and dehumanization of most of us.

A.C., Angola, LA

[Editor's Note: A.C. responds to a review of the above publication in the December 1991 issue of PLN. While prison guards, the military, etc., are the tools by which the ruling class maintains its dominant position in society (i.e., by armed force), this is not a constant. Soldiers, the police, prison guards, etc., are members of the working class who are working against their own class interests for one reason or another, be it economic necessity, misguided ideals, etc. Lenin, in "The State and Revolution," analyses this and notes that for any radical change to take place in society the armed might of the current ruling class and their state must be eliminated. Any effort to effect such a change will start from a position of weakness. Historically we have seen that where dramatic changes have taken place the enemy forces are not defeated by military might alone, rather it is through attrition enhanced by desertions, internal collapse and such that hasten victory. Examples of this are the victory of the Chinese Communists where the Kuomintang dissolved and fled to Taiwan, in Cuba this collapse was even more pronounced.

Anyone seeking progressive change must realize that the forces of repression are not a homogenous lot and be prepared to take advantage of this. The recent gulf war showed a great number of soldiers refusing to fight, deserting, etc., and that is an example of this. While such contradictions may not affect the prison struggle until there is an advanced revolutionary struggle outside, the principles enunciated by Lenin are still valid today and should be studied. Marxist-Leninist literature is available free to prisoners from: MIM Distributors, P.O. Box 3576, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.]

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login