Political Education has been an integral part of Critical Resistance’s work since the very beginning, from our first founding conference in 1998 when activists and organizers from all over gathered to examine why so many people are in prison, to when our co-founders came together to form an abolitionist organization a few years later.

Over the years, Critical Resistance has created several projects, resources and initiatives for political education in order to develop the strategies, tactics and overall techniques of organizing needed to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC).

In addition to developing political education curricula and resources for our communities and coalitions on different topics related to PIC abolition, CR also develops on-going political education for our members to engage with internally within the organization.

What is Political Education?

By “political education” we mean the collective process of study, research analysis and learning that we need to engage in together in order abolish the PIC and achieve collective liberation. To be effective, we must thoroughly understand the vast complexities of the PIC and its relationship to capitalism and imperialism in order to fully grasp the forces we are up against. We need a just-as if not more thorough familiarity with historic and global strategies and struggles for liberation in order to imagine and create approaches to abolition here and now. Political education is a tool for liberation specific to our work together.

For Critical Resistance, political education is always linked to our mission and vision of abolition, and is about developing a structural and systemic analysis of the prison industrial complex, its purpose, evolution and creating an effective strategy to abolish it.

Political education is not just about a person’s understanding, but more so critically examining how the world works, past and present, so that we can change it. Unlike popular education, with political education, there are clear, agreed upon truths, as well as historical accuracies and inaccuracies.

Most importantly, political education is different than other forms education and learning in that it is an approach; instead of a list of topics to study or discuss, political education is an approach to how we study and engage in principled struggle and discourse together. Political education is:

  • Participatory
  • Develops organizing skills and moves in order to shift power
  • Centers and uses stories of personal and collective narratives with theory and history

Through political education, we are able to build the collective leadership our organization and communities need for self-determination and collective liberation.

Political Education & Revolutionary Struggle

Watch this video of Fred Hampton of the Chicago chapter of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense break down the importance of political education in this video.