You Don’t Need Prison Walls

the words You Don't Need Prison Walls above a line of spiked wire

The following is an excerpt from Beyond Amnesty, an anonymous text from the UK. it is an exploration of the politics of self harm, an examination of the concept of ‘prison society’ and the trauma of living in advanced ‘privileged’ capitalism.
trigger-warning: depression, suicide, self-harm

Sometimes I catch myself laughing … and the sound of joy in the dead, walled space that is the civilized world catches in my throat. Is it provocative or contentious to say there are times when I long for an enemy I can see? That my soul yearns to be a guerrilla, an insurgent, to experience insurrection, and with that, I also accept that my friends or I might be injured, imprisoned, or die in battle; but that we do this with the joy of clear-cut lines and the sense that something better than this might follow? My body longs to fight and to free itself. To move. To climb. To dance. To make love. To push past and through. To run. To smash.

I long to live amongst people who know there is a war on. A war against life. Against spirit. I want to live amongst people who don’t look down at their hands or take their eyes away from yours when you talk of struggle and of insurrection because they know in their hearts they have acquiesced, and because — maybe, just maybe — they never really hated the system. Amongst people who haven’t been bought out. Who didn’t take the pills offered because they preferred to struggle with their feeling of dis-ease than to live in the dead zone. Who don’t pretend they are still fighting when it is obvious that they are making a garden out of a battlefield. I wish to be where the war is admissible.
I see someone I haven’t seen for five years. We talk about the people we share and some we don’t — how they are doing, what they are up to. Many of them are broken. Depressed, lost, on the edge. Some have committed suicide. Still others have settled down and found contentment, striking an emotional compromise with the system because, as a friend wrote, if it was easy they wouldn’t call it struggle and sometimes you just get too tired to fight the phantom anymore.

You don’t need a gun to kill someone.

You don’t need prison walls to make a prison.

Two hands bound together with barbed wire.