The Real Crime
The articles “Juvenile Lifers’ Last Chance” and “Women Without Parole” in the July 3/10 issue broke my heart. I teach in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the cities used in the past by big business, then left to deal with the subsequent poverty after being abandoned for another community. My students know people in prison, often family members. Many have been approached by gangs, and some actually assume they will end up in jail or dead at some point before age 20. It is so easy to blame kids for the neglect and violence dumped on them by adults. I cry out for the imprisoned souls we put away and would rather forget. Please follow up on this in future issues.
Strunk & White’s Rule 17: “Omit needless words.” Maybe we should quit calling it the criminal-justice system and just call it the criminal system.
Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Naomi Klein wisely writes about the need to change the system rather than work within the neoliberal paradigm [“Daring to Dream in the Age of Trump,” July 3/10]. Yet it’s insufficient to say that Trump is simply the logical progression of a greedy culture dominated by the market and money. One might better say Trump partially represents the natural progression of a system in which political power builds on the accumulation of economic power.
In that same issue, D.D. Guttenplan writes that “our power comes not from…financial leverage” [“A Party for the People”]. But we must ask how we can systematically accumulate power if we neglect the logic of economic accumulation, i.e., control over technology, manufacturing, economic decision-making, and procurement power. Klein discusses “democratic worker co-ops as the centerpiece of a green jobs program” as well as “humanizing and democratizing new technologies and global trade.” Yet larger movements of the left are far more concerned with personalities or identities than industrial policies, citizens’ banks, or consumption networks that might promote economic democracy. Economic democracy is clearly a dependent variable, dependent on various strategies which the larger movements of the left are not very interested in. Rather, the left has helped sustain the very silo politics Klein criticizes.