Apposing The Cannibal

Sometimes, prisoners’ thinking is backward. We might see prisoners rebel in some way and when the authorities respond with repression against the entire population, we have the tendency to blame the rebellious prisoners. After all, if not for their rebellion, the prison administration would not have responded. We see it as cause and effect, the prisoners “caused” the repressive response.

This is not entirely true. Before those prisoners thought about standing up for themselves, and maybe even standing up for the rest of us, the prison administration already purchased pepper spray and riot gear. Shields and helmets were already stored somewhere. The armory was already filled with guns and ammunition. The budget already set aside funds for hazard pay and overtime.

In other words, those who run prisons already knew and expected that the inhumanity they impose would provoke some of us to resist. They plan for that. They know it’s coming. The same way that a serial rapist expects to get scratched and bitten. He prepares for it.

The point, of course, is that the repression, on one hand, and the rape, on the other, were going to happen even before the victim of either had attempted to fight back.

If we’re going to trace cause and effect back to the resistance causing the repression, then, In fairness, we must trace it one step further back and recognize that it was the pre-existing repression that provoked the resistance. In fact, it matters not whether we resist or not, their oppression is coming.

The situation is like being locked in the room with a cannibal. The cannibal is what the cannibal is. The cannibal does what the cannibal does.

You can reason with him. You can bargain with him. You can choose to trust him if you want to.

Go to sleep, it’s all bad.

The cannibal is a cannibal.

If you truly value yourself, there’s really only one reasonable response. You have to do something, whatever it takes, to make sure that cannibal cannot do you harm. Period.

You have to take out the cannibal before the cannibal eats you. Anything less, you’re doomed.

Same here. We are all, collectively, locked in the room with a cannibal. Sooner or later, that cannibal is going to do to us what it is in his nature to do.

No matter what any of us does to diminish the harm the cannibal can inflict, it cannot be wrong.

The wrong response is to do nothing.

The wrong response is to blame those who resist for the repression that follows.

You’re locked in a room with a cannibal. He’s staring at you. He’s waiting.

You better wake up.

Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain

Buckingham Correctional, Dillwyn, VA