Language use in ULK

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Language use in ULK

I received your writer's guide for Under Lock and Key and appreciate the very informative July/August and September/October issues of ULK. I strongly agree with your views regarding dialectical materialism and communist philosophy. I also relate to the social struggles of oppressed peoples everywhere. But I would like to express my legitimate concerns about political satires and proletarian language.

Because of a socialization effect, most oppressed people in this country believe that western values are superior to other social values and world views. What i believe this means is that because ruling class values dominate the societal infrastructure (i.e. religion, education, economic, media), they have lots of influence on cultural values, norms, attitudes and other meaningful symbols that shape human behavior, transmitted from one generation to the next.

What I'm saying is that most oppressed people in America are not politically or socially conscious about other world views or the ideologies of other social systems. Therefore people must be introduced to new ideologies gradually to begin to understand that they're living in an individualist, racist and fascist western bubble. I believe the most effective way to educate people is by educating them in a system they're already familiar with. I personally don't disagree with political satire and proletarian language. I just believe that when you're trying to attract a new or wider audience to your views, it has to be something culturally accepted. I believe if potential readers don't understand the reasons for satire and proletarian language, they won't take the material seriously.

Those are my thoughts, and I choose to write to the mainstream audience for the above reasons, I am fully in the struggle, and I will continue to educate myself, teach, and learn from other people.


MIM(Prisons) responds:
We welcome discussion like the above about our use of language in Under Lock and Key and other literature. This comrade correctly points out that people in Amerika have been educated within a culture that has taught them both language and history. What this comrade doesn't mention, that is an even more powerful force for Amerikans, is the wealth and comfort that Amerikans enjoy just by virtue of their accidental citizenship. The culture of Amerika is a product of this privilege. And it is true that many Amerikans are going to be turned off by the language that we use.

But we have to keep in mind that we do not see the majority of Amerikans as our audience. We are targeting a small minority of oppressed, specifically prisoners. And this oppression helps people see the reality of the imperialist world they live in in a way that most Amerikans won't because they have no reason to want to see it. While we could definitely attract a wider audience by toning down our language, this would require us to also tone down our political line, and effectively give up our goals altogether. And we are not willing to stop calling Amerika imperialist or kowtow to the democratic party, to gain more supporters. We are saying things that no one else in this country is saying, and it's important that this political message get out there, even if only a few people will listen right now. We speak the truth, and know that most Amerikans will not listen.

MIM(Prisons) uses language to make a political point. It is not satire when we spell Amerika with a 'k.' We are making a political point about this country and the politics of imperialism. We use "womyn" to make a point about gender and our opposition of seeing wimmin as derived from men.

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