Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"I'm Spartacus”. “ No, I am Spartacus..."

The jokes, whimsy, anger, bitterness and bafflement that together comprise my posts tend to obscure the fact that I am a deeply political animal.

I often see this as a genetic curse; I am a carrier of the "martyr gene". It is all too easy for me to take a stand and go down struggling, regardless of the detrimental consequences. Pragmatism is a philosophy that I have always tried to understand but largely failed.

This is why I have spent so long in prison. I deliberate, decide whether something is right or wrong, then stick to my course. It is a moral imperative to try to do what is right, no? Granted, I should have done this before I killed my victim but I wasn't one of those precocious 14 year olds who appreciated the finer points of political or moral philosophy. That I came to it several months too late is a strong motivation as to why I have adopted such a hard line on these matters ever since.

It is both a liberator and a curse. It liberates, because for much of my life I have felt able to act in the way I thought was right with little concern for whether it would cost me in terms of physical comfort or earlier release. After all, a principle is hardly that if it is abandoned at the first whiff of difficulty.
It has helped that I am blessed, by coincidence, by a broad indifference for authority. A person may have a truncheon, handcuffs and the power of the State behind him, but that doesn't impress me one iota. Never has. I talk to Governors as I do my peers; probably with less respect..

And this is a curse, because if I see something wrong then I feel compelled to intervene. No deliberate choice has to be made here, it is my default position. If a screw, a Governor, some random stupid order is being used to beat down a fellow con then my support can be taken for granted.

Being in an institution based utterly on power, you will appreciate that any prisoner who fails to be overwhelmed by that power and who may stick his head above the parapet to point out wrongdoing is a prisoner who will spend a long time in confinement. And for no reason, really, other than the institution's unthinking urge to destroy. A prisoner who fails to show obeisance before the Leviathan is a provocation and one that cannot be allowed.

When people ask why I am still in prison, I recall a Governor who once furiously screamed in my face, " We will let you go when we have broken you." That was 21 years ago.

Which, bear with me here, brings me to the Prisoner's Union...


  1. I can relate to all that you say here Ben, the quote "bury me standing" comes to mind here.

    It is probably applicable to you and me both!

    Good luck with everything Ben, with all you endeavours.

  2. I can also relate to all that you say here Ben - it is the same out here - have a view and keep to it and the people in power hate you. You keep strong and I hope you will keep some sort of blog going when you do get out.

  3. In light of ZanuLabour leaving us with 'anonymous' police informant lines: "He's Spartacus!"


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.