This article explores the implications of a 1974 political debate between the radical priest Daniel Berrigan and the revolutionary theorists James Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs regarding support for the political prisoner Martin Sostre, as well as the meaning of the designation political prisoner itself. To begin, the article outlines and contextualizes their opposing positions—Berrigan’s view, common among radicals at the time, that all imprisonment is political, and the Boggses’ fear that lumping together political and nonpolitical prisoners would result in theoretical and political miscalculations, such as mistaking the rebellion of the most oppressed for fundamental revolutionary change. Such analysis highlights the stakes of these characterizations for revolutionary struggle. In particular, the dialogue between Berrigan and the Boggses reveals the limits of static definitions of political subjecthood and shows how studying and learning from these historical debates can help to create more nuanced, flexible, and capacious political visions and practices.

You do not currently have access to this content.