On Prison and ‘Free’ Society
Throughout our childhood we are conditioned to believe that life’s rewards can be found in toys and tokens.
As we grow older, these notions of pursuing pacifiers are reinforced commercially; only the toys become bigger, more complex, and cater to more “adult” appetites. We thus become content with, and conditioned to, a life of class and economic competition for subsistence, and for mass-produced toys and tokens from the industrial flea market.
In “free” society, (what I call “minimum custody”), there are simply more toys than in prison, (Maximum custody); more manufactured objects and imagery to divert those in minimum custody from the reality of their social, economic, and political oppression under plutocratic Capitalist slavery; i.e., bread and circuses still appease.
As for us in Maximum custody, we are marginalized, demonized, and ostracized, and thereby cut off from the masses “out there” in minimum custody. We are stripped of voice and force, socially, economically, and politically; therefore, the ruling elite’s state enforcers can shed their pretensions, and control us with more direct force and terror than what might be tolerated by those in minimum custody, where the masses cannot be so easily contained.
Those in minimum custody, who do recognize an unsatisfactory existence, still perceive themselves as better off than us in Maximum custody, and greatly advantaged in comparison to the Third World. They then accept the terms of their lesser confinement for fear of losing their perceived social “privileges,” much the same incentive by which children are induced to “behave.”
Who indeed can say they have never violated any of the innumerable laws of the authoritarian state? We are all criminals in this regard (whether intentionally or not). Yet we permit ourselves to be alienated against our peers who have suffered the indignity of having been caught.
At the same time we glamorize, idolize, and romanticize “criminal” characters and elements brought to us by the entertainment industry.
I cannot count the times I have heard prison guards repeat to us in Maximum custody, “I am no different from you, I just have never been caught.”
“Legal” advertisements solicit us to buy the fastest automobiles, while all routes we travel have reduced “legal” speed limits. They confound us by tempting and tantalizing our desires, and then criminalizing the expression thereof.
The difference between Maximum and minimum custody? In Maximum we are regimented by overt terror and force (quite like Orwell’s 1984), while in minimum, the regimentation is with mentally debilitating pacifiers (quite like Huxley’s Brave New World).
The Similarity? We are all doing time.
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is Defense Minister of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party—Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC); no affiliation with the New Black Panther Party. His writings and artwork have been widely circulated in “underground media” and in Right On! (the newsletter of the NABPP-PC). His artwork and selected articles can be seen at www.rashidmod.com; also the NABPP-PC has a website under construction at www.prisonpanthers.com. He is the author of Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Featuring Exchanges with an Outlaw, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).
Write to Kevin at:
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson No. 1007485
Red Onion State Prison
P.O. Box 1900
Pound, VA 24279