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[Culture] [California]
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Culture is a Tool to Direct Society

Culture is something we interact with on a daily basis, and it affects everything we do as well as how we think. Yet it's something most people in u.s. society pay no mind to, or do not think deeply and critically about. Culture is a very powerful instrument of the state. Like a gun, culture can be used for bad, destructive purposes, or for good, liberating purposes.

Culture is something learned in a society. We are not born understanding culture. So just as people and a society can change, so can a culture change. When culture is passed from child to child, or from elderly to children, generation to generation, this is called "enculturation." When someone is "enculturated" it means they learn what is funny in society, what is offensive, when to eat, when to sleep, why to get angry and why to be content. All this stuff we learned through "culture." Everything, like how to sleep, what to struggle for, how to sexually satisfy, all of it is determined by culture. We have learned this stuff as a child. We observe and see what is socially acceptable in this society and at times we learn some of this culture in public schools where the teachers "enculturate" us.

In a society, a culture must determine its food, shelter, laws, education and the arts, as well as the production relations. Here in America the culture is a capitalist culture so everything is based around the profit system. Whether the people go without, suffer or are exploited is beside the point. We learn from public school that America is a liberator (which is bullshit), but we do learn this. We learn that all are equal (except those we call terrorists). We learn all this patriotism about BBQing on the 4th of July, making a turkey on thanksgiving, and adding to the economic stimulus every X-mas by making sure we run down to the mall and purchase lots of merchandise for "X-mas presents." All this is part of capitalist culture in the U.S.

It is so saturated by corporations that even the people are corporate billboards, walking advertisements for corporations. Look on any street or in any public school, and you'll see people wearing shirts with the words "nike," "adidas" "tommy hilfiger," and all the corporate sports teams. This is basically millions of flying billboards where the people are used to advertise products without even realizing it themselves. Even the movies we see coming out are patriotic and glorify the dollar and luxurious living. Music is the same and rap music in particular, for the most part is talking about bling bling and everything revolving around that lifestyle. U.S. society is so saturated with capitalist culture that the vast majority can't even comprehend any kind of culture that is based on the peoples' interests. Most of the U.S. population has never studied revolutionary culture or seen how culture is a tool to direct society, so it is completely outside of their comprehension.

Looking at what shapes culture today particularly in the oppressed nations communities in the U.S. is most definitely the hip hop movement. Rap music is a vital element for young people today in shaping their culture. We saw back in the late 70s when hip hop had kids all across the U.S. walking the streets with boombox radios, in sweatsuits, breakdancing and popping and locking. This cultural phenomenon spread from the ghettos to the suburbs. In the 1980s when Eazy E and NWA came out, people across the U.S. started doing drive-by shootings and drinking Old English 40 ouncers. So this too had a big affect on how kids were acting and the things they were doing in society.

The 1990s saw in the beginning years of hip hop a lot of talk of dope and money, pimping, etc. But toward the end of the 90s, 2pac started bringing a slightly different vibe to music. A more revolutionary scant to his music began developing, and then he was assassinated. So the 2000s came and it's more "bling bling or die trying bling bling" type of music in the hip hop arena. And so kids across the U.S. are once more affected by having gold and diamond encrusted mouths, and driving SUVs with tens of thousands of dollars worth of stereo equipment and accessories. This is the current culture of U.S. society when it comes to hip hop today. Of course there are a small handful of rappers who put out a more progressive form of rap like Dead Prez, Paris, The Coup, etc. But most people haven't heard of these groups because they are not getting the Madison Avenue advertisement contracts and are not getting signed to major record labels that are more corporate-friendly. So a progressive or revolutionary rapper may be from California and have been rapping and selling CDs and tapes since the 80s, yet someone living in Detroit never heard of them.

What makes hip hop so powerful is it attracts so many young people, worldwide. It is thus a vehicle for revolutionary culture and building public opinion. But this is something that not only revolutionaries have noticed. The imperialists are also aware of this. Anything that can potentially threaten capitalist society will be monitored and by any means manipulated.

I just finished reading this book called "Malcolm X: The FBI Files." It was basically a chronology of Malcolm X's life, but the most interesting part of the book, after reading about "white devil" this and "white devil" that, was how the feds sought any Black leaders and written in the feds internal memos, would be things like "do not allow a charismatic leader to unite Blacks, use manipulation, disinformation" etc. So basically this applies to all oppressed nations people: should the people begin to unite or organize, the state would target us for the purpose of destroying whatever we have going. In this book it also had a designation term called a "key figure." Once they designated a person as a "key figure" not long later that person was assassinated. In the book the "memos" on Martin Luther King designated him as a key figure, and soon after he was dead. Malcolm X was designated a key figure and soon after that he was dead. When these memos spoke of a key figure and said it was one who could "electrify" his people and unite them; someone who has an overwhelming influence on the community.

Looking at hip hop again in a new light, we can see how hip hop can indeed "electrify" the people and unite different levels of society. We had a 2pac who practically every kid in the U.S. listened to, and who influenced all these people in the U.S. As he began to become more politically conscious in his music, waking up even suburban kids to some of our political prisoners, I could imagine thousands of white suburban kids at the dinner table after listening to Pac ask their parent, who may be in law enforcement, or even a fed, "what's a political prisoner?" We can see how the state can see someone like 2pac as a possible rising figure a vehicle to help build revolution in the U.S. We can also see how if someone in the hip hop community like 2pac took on a real revolutionary stance in his music, it could have made millions conscious of what this country is really about. Public opinion would have received a major thrust forward. This could have changed hip hop culture into revolutionary hip hop where all major rappers began to speak reality, opening up more minds to real struggle. The possibilities are endless. Hip hop plays a major role here in the U.S., as the youth, the oppressed nations, and the lumpen will be the backbone of the revolution in this country.

To get an idea of what revolutionary culture would look like one need only look to China under Mao, 1949-1976. In Chairman Mao's Peoples Republic, China underwent dramatic change from and in all areas of life. China's past was one like most third world countries, where exploitation was considered the norm, peasants were worked to death by the greedy landowners, children were sold to pay off debts, prostitution ran wild, opium was as common as cigarettes are today, women were property, illiteracy was the norm if you weren't wealthy... Basically the majority was ruled and exploited by the few.

When the revolution came, Chinese society was transformed. All areas of life, entertainment (culture), were now in the interest of the people. The peasants no longer toiled the fields for 18 hours, or in some cases 20 hours a day, to pay off a debt to the landlord. Now peasants worked half days in the land they were given, or in the collective farm, and the rest of their day they went to school to learn to read, write and discuss revolutionary theory. Thousands of teachers and doctors from the cities volunteered to go out to the country or the mountains where the peasants had never seen a teacher or a doctor. They did this not for better pay or a nicer neighborhood. Instead they did it to help, or as Maoists say, serve the people. The ballet and opera no longer showed plays of a capitalist nature. Now the ballet and opera showed plays of the people struggling for revolution. In the school children no longer learned poison, as today's U.S. children learn: that murderers, rapists, and genocidal psychotics like Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortez, or Amerigo Vespucci were American heroes.

Instead, in Mao's China, children learned who the exploiters were and who were the real peoples' heroes, as well as the many revolutionary leaders worldwide, and political theory. Unlike in U.S. prisons where every prison cellblock has 30 bibles in the dayroom or half the prison yard is christian or muslim, and religious chaplains make their rounds door to door, in Mao's China every prison cell had a stack of revolutionary books of leading theoreticians so that prisoners could learn of many struggles taking place all over the world. This was provided by the revolutionary government. Every day prisoners were allowed to participate in a large study group where they would discuss what they were reading and grapple with theory. Even in the factories the workers would take breaks to rest and discuss political theory in groups. Women with children were provided collective childcare in their neighborhood free of charge so they would work half day and partake in study the other half to contribute to the revolution. This was the environment in Mao's China, and this is the revolutionary culture we can look forward to. In revolutionary culture everything is done to advance the revolution. In this type of environment the people will give their all as they know their comrades right beside them are doing the same, not for personal gain or money but for the people.

Today's culture in the U.S. is all about money and everything is done with personal gain as motivation. So a revolutionary culture in this country would reverse all of this and every sphere of society would be contributing to the people. En la lucha.

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[Culture] [California]
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What is Culture

A people's culture is as important to their survival as food is. Without the guide-posts and direction signs that a culture offers to its adherents, they can soon become disillusioned, confused and easily led into self-detrimental paths. That "lostness" is what is being demonstrated by the hip hop culture of today. Obviously, hip hop has taken on the 'look' of a culture, but what kind of culture is it? From this writer's perspective, it is for the most part, a very negative and rebellious way of life. Make no mistake, the dominant culture that we live in here in Amerikkka is definitely not the way that we are supposed to and should live, but with that clearly understood, to put in it's place the glorification of violence and the degradation of your women, is just as bad!

As far as hip hop having a revolutionary value that can generate a positive environment that is conducive to rearing a nation that is capable of taking control and making manifest Justice and Equality for all, this has yet to be demonstrated. This culture-of-death that we operate in today has taken complete control of the hip hop movement and any signs of life; any signs that hip hop may have some redeeming values is quickly put to death through this culture's use of materialism and ruthless violence!

The awakening to our true culture is going to happen and a Hip-Hop culture that is dominated by artists such as: KRS ONE, DEAD PREZ, ASKARI X, etc., will play an important role in that culture!

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's critique of hip hop today as needing to take up more revolutionary politics and disavow glorification of violence and degradation of wimmin. See our article on hip hop for a more complete critique.

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[Legal] [Abuse] [California]
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Wasting Money Prosecuting Lifers in California

I would like to shed some light on a scam being run by the establishment here on level 4 SHU yards in California. I'm certain if tax payers knew how their money was being wasted they would have a problem. People here in the SHU with life sentences already are getting taken to court for frivolous prosecution for knives, mutual combat, participating in riots, crap like that.

Now if a person with life doesn't murder anyone you can't upgrade his time so the question arises, why are they trying lifers for petty crimes? Then it dawned on me, these capitalist crooks don't pass up a chance to make a dollar, even if they have to waste resources. California is broke, but the pig has the audacity to waste money on frivolous prosecution, just so they can boost their conviction rate and feed that propaganda to the public about how awful prison is. And in doing so the public is not paying attention to the wastefulness and lies of the establishment. I thought I'd share this fraud with the brothers locked in the struggle.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner exposes a good example of the criminal injustice system creating reasons to pass around the profits of imperialism and keep the prison system growing. This is very wasteful, but we are under no illusions that alerting the tax payers to this waste would rally them to join the fight against the criminal injustice system. Even in this economic downturn, Amerikan tax payers are benefiting from the profits of imperialist exploitation of the majority of the world's people. And the prison system is a tool of this imperialist system. A majority of Amerikans will continue to support that system even when presented with evidence of it's abuses. Just like a majority of Amerikans support the imperialist wars that murder innocent people around the world and cost billions of dollars.

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[International Connections] [California]
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Migrants Treated Unequally

I start off by writing that I will not be using the term "illegal aliens" as a way to refer to my people. As it is only used by oppressors to debase emigrants. It is senseless to have such a label since this country was formed on migrants. Furthermore CA was one of the many states tripped from Mexico. Indeed. That clear, I move on to the issue at hand, non-citizens contributing to the growing prison population. I use my personal story as a foundation to paint a bigger picture.

I was born in Mexico, at the age of four. Regardless of what your native country may be, we all seem to paint a wonderful picture of what the U.$. has to offer us. Yet it is completely the opposite of what we dream. When we arrive to the "land of opportunities" we are welcomed with degrading and low wage jobs. Due to us being migrants we are forced to accept these conditions. Victims of oppression, we work for the rich while they gain from the poor.

Some of my fellow migrants realize this, but go about it in the wrong manner, i.e. committing crimes. Being victims of oppression does not justify participating in or conducting illegal activities, but does in fact play a role with why we end up incarcerated. The government magnifies crimes committed by migrants to form stereotypes that all illegals come to the U.$. with the intention of committing crimes, which is not true.

Until everyone is treated equally and with dignity, the prison population will continue to grow. While the bourgeois injustice system is in effect, we can expect no such change. While we live in an imperialist state we can expect no change at all.

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[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Fighting Abuse of Authority in Texas

I am currently fighting a battle in court regarding the abuse of authority and unconstitutional treatment of prisoners here in Donovan. I currently have the court ordering RJDCF an informal response to my allegations. It is due July 23rd and it's July 19th.

I have been housed in administrative segregation for 14 months awaiting a non-adverse transfer to a lower level institution. Ad-seg is for prisoners who are serving a period of disciplinary detention for committing wrong acts. I have not done any wrong. I have been in adseg because of someone else's security concerns.

So here I am 14 months later, unfairly without any privileges I have rightfully earned. I lost my paying job, my ability to attend religious services, go to normal yard, socialize with friends, regularly attend law library, lost my property because staff failed to pack it up as required. The guards constantly degrade us and call us names. They threaten us, and harass us, feed us portions of food not suitable even for a small child. They act as if their shit don't stink and like they're better than us. I don't like it and I have decided to take it to the courts. But as you likely know, it's the legal system. The injustice system. I don't expect to win. But I sure am going to try. It's just sad that most of the other prisoners are too chicken to do anything about it.

I have a small group (6) who have joined my fight because they get the same treatment. I have tried to get more and still am, but most of them fear the likely retaliation from the guards. I only have just under 12 months left. I'm tired of their (the guards) shit and how they get away with it because they keep scaring people from stepping up to the plate. I'm going to do this. I want to prove to them that they are no better than we are.

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[National Oppression] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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Update from Killer Kern Valley State Prison

As expected brothas are still struggling against the oppressive administrators here, and when I say brothas I'm talking Black-Africans. We're now coming up from a race based lockdown where all Blacks were locked down for being Black.

K. Harrington (the Warden) said it was because members of the "Black population" had assaulted C/Os on two different occasions. As if the Black population was a gang or organization where one or two individual's actions are a reflection of the mass, and is to be responded to as such.

Almost any other prison you go to in California, individuals are held accountable for their own actions, or those in which they are affiliated. For instance, if a Crip does something out of the administrators regulation, they hold the CRIPs or the individual Crip gang at fault. Not the whole Black population.

But you know this Department of Corruption, they have tactics for everything they do. My theory on our situation here is the inciting of violence. Whether it be against them (pigs) or us (prisoners).

At this time, the California Correctional and Police Officer Agency can use a little publicity on reasons why California tax payers and makers shouldn't start firing their asses left and right, starting from the top. All they need is a few riots to crack off, they'll then call up the local news and have them come out and throw it on the news basically painting to the general public: "see, this is why you all need us." California is in a bad position again, and they can't just build new prisons to put themselves in a better one.

The pigs aren't giving us canteen, the food portions have been reduced and it's the pigs do more taunting towards the Blacks for us to make a move. And a lot of the brothas here don't even see what it is that is taking place, they fall right into the plans of these capitalist pigz.

The water is still contaminated with arsenic lead and they've said nothing about it although when I appealed it they responded to me saying that it'll be fixed by the second quarter of 2009. Well it's now the 5th, making this the third quarter. I'm going to the courts about the issue but I have plenty more so I have to move slow.

Brothers here seem to do a lot of mumbling about the problems, but they refuse to unite and address the issues for fear of being sent to the SHU or ASU for standing up for their rights. Although they (the administrators) already have us all labeled as united "Black Population".

Only the strong survive.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter illustrates the type of racial profiling and pitting of oppressed nations against each other that goes on in the criminal injustice system and on the streets. However we would go further than this author and argue that singling out lumpen organizations (LO) is another aspect of the same problem. The prisons decide who to validate as gang members, often putting people in groups with which they have no affiliation. And the prison administrators pit LOs against each other and selectively punish one or the other to increase the violence and repression in prisons.

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[Spanish] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 11]
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El Agua Contaminada es Buena por CDCR

Hoy recibí la respuesta a mi Apelación de la Administración (602) del Director de las Correcionales de California en relación al agua contaminada de aquí, y ellos sin duda alguna la negaron, diciendo que los niveles de arsénico en el agua no son lo suficientemente altos como para poner en peligro y en riesgo nuestra (los prisioneros) salud y como para proveernos (prisioneros) de agua limpia para consumo humano. Yo digo que eso es una tontería!

La primera vez que me di cuenta de los altos niveles de arsénico en el agua de la prisión de Kern Valley fué a travِés de la Red Institucional de Televisión. Ellos habían publicado un memorándum de CDC diciendo que el agua de las prisiones estaba contaminada con arsénico por sobre los niveles límites y legales del EPA's, y que las personas que beben agua de este tipo podrían ponerse en riesgo de contraer cáncer. [Los prisioneros en Kern Valley han estado peleando ésta batalla más de un año.]

[En otras noticias]...Al principio de ésta semana los cerdos se enojaron conmigo porque estoy ayudando a un amigo para que pueda recibir su pago. Los cerdos se equivocaron y pusieron a un prisionero de nivel cuatro dentro de una celda de nivel tres, el prisionero de nivel cuatro terminó atacando al del nivel tres, entonces yo decidí ponerlo al tanto de como obtener dinero de estos cerdos.

Ellos intentaron jugar conmigo y con mi compañero de celda tratando de ponernos en contra de nosotros mismos. Dañaron sus artículos personales, dejando mis cosas intactas tal como estaban. Pero nosotros sólo gozamos de esa mierda. Nosotros sólo miramos lo que ellos hacen desde lejos, y la lucha continúa. Ellos no pueden detener nuestra moción de avance ni nuestro desarrollo.

MIM(Prisiónes) añade: Una vez más, empleados estatales están tratando de promover la violencia en las prisiones del estado y los camaradas de MIM(Prisiones) están evitando conflictos, mientras luchan por justicia. La CDCR dice que censurará a MIM(Prisiones) porque somos una amenaza a la seguridad. Si los prisioneros ya no pueden ser manipulados por el Cuerpo de la Administración para que peleen en contra de ellos mismos la seguridad de la Institución está en peligro según la lógica de la CDCR.

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[Political Repression] [California]
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Prisoner Punished for Seeing Things Greater than Himself

... All of [my grievances against censorship are] of course used against me. In my annual review report it was written that, "He does display some twisted thinking with moral reasoning... When the topic goes too close to personal issues, [XYZ]'s defense is to move the discussion to grander political issues." The institution that I'm in would have me believe that my being incarcerated had all to do with poor decision making skills. How I wish it was that simple.

When I look at my community I can see that everyone I knew had a family member who was doing or did time. Going away to do time was deemed normal, and I don't say that to minimize my own actions. You do better once you know better, but yet here I am attempting to learn better but they're refusing me that knowledge. Why? Because knowledge turns into wisdom and wisdom is authority.

Well, here I am comrades, inside of one re-education camp of America. A place where they attempt to teach me that my community is fine, the system works, it's me that has the problem. They want me to get out and worry about myself. Get all the nice things that money can buy, so that I can sit in luxury and watch my people suffer inside of poverty. They can keep attempting, because I will not reform. I will fight the battles in my reach to continue our progression, and that will be until victory or death.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of how bourgeois society pushes individualism on people, and how psychology serves that purpose. The so-called "corrections" profession in amerika would have you believe that they are doing the objective work of punishing those who did "bad." But to those in the system, it is much clearer what is really going on. And when people start to develop consciousness of how the system works, the system does all it can to keep people thinking in narrow individualist terms.

Individualism serves the capitalist system where few prosper and many suffer. The system is threatened when the oppressed masses act as a united majority instead of as individuals going up against powerful institutions all alone. The individualist world outlook has repercussions that go much further than the u$ injustice system. It is crucial for all aspects of maintaining a system where a few nations benefit off of the many. That is why we struggle for a socialist society, where re-education camps actually encourage people to look at the systematic level and see things from a perspective much greater than themselves. Only by building on the accumulated knowledge of our whole society can we progress to a more peaceful, harmonious world.

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[Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 9]
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Contaminated Water OK by CDCR

Today I received a response to my Administrator's Appeal (602) on the contaminated water here, from the director of California Corrections and they denied it of course, stating that the levels of arsenic in the water here are not high enough to pose a threat that'll put our (the prisoners') health at risk enough to grant the prisoners clean drinking water. But I say it's bullshit!

I first found out about the high levels of arsenic in the water here at Kern Valley State Prison from the Institution TV Network. They had released a CDC memo stating that the prison's water was contaminated with arsenic and lead levels that are over the EPA's legal limit, and some people who drink such water may be put at risk of having cancer. [Prisoners at Kern Valley have been fighting this battle for over a year.]

[In other news]...Early this week the pigs got mad at me because I'm aiding and assisting this brother to get paid off. The pigs fucked up and put a level 4 prisoner in the cell with a level three, and the level 4 attacked the level three, so I put him up on the game of getting free money from these pigs.

They tried to play me and my cellie against each other by tearing up his personal property and belongings, then leaving my things as they were. We just laughed at the shit though! We see what they were doing from a mile away, and the struggle goes on. They can't stop our forward motion or development.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Once again, state employees are trying to promote violence in state prisons and comrades of MIM(Prisons) are avoiding conflict, while struggling for justice. The CDCR claims to censor MIM(Prisons) because we are a threat to security. If prisoners can no longer be manipulated by staff into fighting each other then the security of the institution is at risk according to the CDCR logic.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [California]
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I Stand Tall

I'm a mortal man
I do what I can
Just to withstand
The pressure I feel
From those who wanna steal
All that is real
Through my sensory loss
Attempting to toss
Silence across
My very existence
Waning resistance
Till I break down
Wearing a frown
All beaten down
But I simply refuse
To let them abuse
And give me the blues
I will stand tall
Not ready to fall
That is my call
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