Review of “Locked Up” by Alfredo M. Bonanno

     I have not been reading as much as I use to.  Probably for a lot of reasons.  But what I have been reading are zines.  My companera suggested that we do reviews of the zines.  One that I just picked up is Locked Up by Alfredo Bonanno, and I couldn’t put it down!  I know that it sounds cliché, but it is true.

It is an amazing blend of conversation, “theory,” anecdotes about prison.  The main theme is an argument between the dichotomy of the abolition of prisons and the destruction of prisons.  The zine is a transcription of a meeting with Bonanno in Bologna, Italy in 1997.

This fact of closing the door is, I believe, one of the most horrifying things that one human being can do to another.  For me someone who holds a key in his hand and locks an human being behind a door, no matter what the latter might have done, for me anyone who closes that door is an absolutely contemptible person, one about whom it is impossible to talk about in terms of human fraternity, human features…

Some back ground on Bonanno: He was born in Catania, Italy in 1937.  He is considered to be an important figure within insurrectionary anarchism.

To understand Bonanno’s mains contention in the text one must understand what he mains by abolition.  “…the abolition of part of something, is an ablation.  In other words, I take part and cut it out.  Society, of which prison is an indispensable component today, should therefore take prison and get ride of it like you do with a rotten piece of something.  You cut it out and throw it in the dustbin.  That is the concept of abolition.  Abolish prison and put some other kind of social organization in its place.”  This is the main point in his argument.

That is, prison is an integral part of sociality.  He says later on that this is not a prison society, it is just society.  He is attempting to clarify that society as it exists today cannot exist without prison.  Therefore, not only is it not enough to reform prison (who are we liberals?!), it is not enough to get rid of prison — at least without getting rid of the whole structure of society.

So in short the destruction of prison is a necessary part of the struggle to change the world we live in for the better.


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