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Criminalizing Defendants for Inability to Pay Court Fees

A couple weeks ago National Public Radio (NPR) aired a series called "guilty and charged" that talked about the way states are charging defendants and even criminalizing them for not paying court fees.

The series followed and interviewed different people who were caught in this cycle of repetitive imprisonment. A couple of facts are worth mentioning, particularly that in New Jersey 4,000 people surrendered themselves to pay for fines. That is, they got arrested for a misdemeanor and can't pay court fees so they get issued a warrant for their arrest. These charges can be settled with a reduced payment or a couple months in jail.

In essence the poor are being not only criminalized and imprisoned for being poor but punished by an injustice system that is not blind! Forty-one states now charge room and board for people in county jails, forty-three states charge a defendant for a public defender. In a supposed democracy where everyone is equal before the law, this is not only a complete farce but a system put in place to check oppressed nations, and more so poor people of oppressed nations. Although mention was given how in 40 years the prison population has boomed 400% and the rise can be attributed to Richard Nixon in the 70s for his "war on drugs," there was not much content on how there is a political context to this high incarceration of oppressed nations.

It's no secret that the poor and marginalized will have a harder time paying court fees, and as mentioned earlier, oppressed Blacks and Latinos are most likely to end up incarcerated, furthering a system of criminalization.

Most oppressed nations know first hand the injustice system in the United $tates. As there is no profit from imprisonment to U.$. imperialism, the rise of imprisonment is not for profits but for political reasons. The high cost of imprisonment is taking its toll on the department of justice, county jails and tax payers. It's likely that defendants will be charged more and penalized even more for not being able to pay these charges.

While agitation, protest and attention should be given to combat this issue along with a long list of other "wrongs," a reformist attitude wil only go so far. People should get into a movement to overthrow this imperialist system and install a more just society in a socialist manner.

[Aztlan/Chicano] [Culture]

World Cup Distinguished Chicanos from Amerikans

Although the World Cup has been over for some time I feel compelled to comment on Mexico's national team.

When Mexico beat Croatia to make it to the round of 16 there were "disturbances" in Los Angeles. As Los Angeles has a high concentration of people who see themselves as Mexicans and not Amerikans, this goes to show that there is a separate, oppressed nation in the United $tates.

But this disturbance alone doesn't prove this. As J. Stalin said, "A nation is formed only as a result of lengthy and systematic intercourse, as a result of the fact that people live together from generation to generation. But people cannot live together for lengthy periods unless they have a common territory."

Mexicans in the United $tates, and especially in California, are distinct from Amerikans as well as from their relatives in Mexico. As Latinos are becoming the largest population in the United $tates it's even more important that a national party be formed to better serve the Latino nation, as the United $tates is incapable and incompetent to serve the needs of the Latino people in North America.

Note: MIM Theory #7, p. 49.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that there is a separate nation within U.$. borders that is comprised of the primarily indigenous people of what was northern Mexico, and includes many descended from immigrants from Latin America as well. Though it is far more complicated than just some World Cup festivities, this comrade is correct that we can see evidence of the separate nation in many areas of culture. We have come to call this nation the [email protected] nation, and this is the subject of a book that is scheduled to be released at the end of 2014: Chicano Power and the Struggle for Aztl├ín. Write to us to get on the list for a copy of this important book.

[Middle East]

Savage Inequalities for Palestine

With the ongoing fighting in the occupied territory of Palestine (Gaza) the death toll rises on both sides. However, there's a savage lopsidedness to it as the Palestinians take the toll of death. Even more savagely is its children and civilians taking the carnage of indiscriminate bombs being dropped by Israel.

In the face of this fighting, U.$. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a press conference in which he more or less stated that, "there can be no meaningful peace without the disarmament of Hamas." Not only is this hypocritical but who in their right mind will lay down what arms they have when faced with an enemy that not only has a standing army but an air force, navy, special forces and drones which lend an uneven hand to the fighting. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) have stated that they will not stop until all of Hamas's underground tunnels are destroyed.

More to this unevenness and inequality is the rhetoric spewing from I$raeli and Amerikan media that Hamas is terrorist and is causing the suffering of the Palestinian people. As if Hamas was the one dropping hundreds of bombs from helicopters and jets. Israel is a settler nation and therefore will stop at nothing to see the destruction of Palestine and the ceasing of resistance from the people.

The resistance of the Palestinian people is not without precedent. History has shown what nations that occupy a territory will do: slaughter and genocide of the occupied nation. All media pundits say that I$rael has the right to defend itself, however what about Palestine?

MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that oppressed nations have the right to defend themselves against imperialist agressors. Though we would go even further and say that those oppressed nations don't stand a chance at independence until we can take on the imperialists themselves. The imperialists will not allow individual nations self-determination and independence, even if those nations try to exist without threatening imperialism. Cuba provides a good example of this. But imperialism is building its own demise by putting the majority of the world's people in the camp of oppressed and exploited, with a material interest in overthrowing imperialism. One at a time nations will gain independence, and united these nations will take on imperialism globally.

[Aztlan/Chicano] [National Oppression]

National Struggle or Assimilation

national liberation or assimililation
Reading MIM Theory #7: Proletarian Feminist Nationalism I couldn't help but notice that to date there has been a strong trend of oppressed nationals becoming more and more molded and fitted to U.$. culture and its parasitic ways.

A quote by Malcolm X found in MT7 struck me hard: "I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American."..."No, I am not an American, I'm one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. I don't see any American dream, I see an American nightmare."(1)

I'm hard pressed to find an organization that's "Latino" nationalist and agitating for the emancipation of what is currently the south western portion of the United $tates to become a nation itself.

These days you hear Latinos all throughout the United $tates clamoring for comprehensive immigration reform. Enough of this assimilation, and how about a call for what was once Mexico to return to its people. Whether this emancipated state will become part of modern day Mexico or form its own nation is for the people to decide for themselves. Those same people clamoring for immigration reform, who fail to realize that they are an oppressed nation within an oppressor nation, can't help but feel as if they constitute a part of this oppressor class (white chauvinism). The policies that will be enacted due to their protesting and petitions will only hurt and destroy the Latino communities. As a people who are already stigmatized and oppressed, the crumbs of the white nation are counter to the ultimate interests of Latino people.

It's no secret how the INS and ICE deport huge numbers of Latino people who only come here to make and earn a living. Some might ask: if Amerika is so fucked up why do you want Latinos here? Well if numbers are power then the more people we have the better we are able to form a revolutionary nationalistic party and arouse national sentiment in face of brutality. Moreover as burdensome jobs will go to those immigrants the better it'll be to swell the ranks of the proletariat.

Most people these days are so jingoistic with Amerikanism that at the same time they wave the U.$. flag they wave their country of origin flag too, not grasping how NAFTA and trade relations with "south Amerika" are one sided and are to the advantage of the white U.$. middle class. Even within prison you hear prisoners clamoring of how great the United $tates is.

Oppressed nations must take notice that you are not what the U.$. constitution meant to defend, you never will be and it's futile to think cheering and asking for reforms will free your nation. H. Ford Douglas put it nicely: "There is as much force in a black [Brown, red, etc] man's standing up and exclaiming after the manner of the 'old Roman' - 'I am an American citizen,' as there was in the Irish man who swore he was a loaf of bread, because he happened to be born in a bake oven... I can hate this government without being disloyal, because it has stricken down my manhood and treated me as a saleable commodity. I can join a foreign enemy and fight against it, without being a traitor, because it treats me as an ALIEN and a STRANGER, and I am free to avow that should such a contingency arise I should not hesitate to take any advantage in order to procure indemnity for the future. I can feel no pride in the glory, growth, greatness or grandeur of this nation."(2)

1. Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, April 3, 1964, Cleveland, Ohio
2. Quoted in MIM Theory 7, pg 40.

[Latin America]

Miss Venezuela Media Hype Ignores Biggest Murderer

Much hype and media attention has been brought by the murder of the runner up of the Miss Universe, Miss Venezuela. News pundits like to point out that Venezuela had over 25,000 murders last year and is the world's murder capital. The killing of any person through murder and greed is sad and tragic, but what the media fails to talk about is Amerika's own murder rate.

Statistics for 2010-2011 from the FBI's Crime in the U.S. report has murder and negligent manslaughter at 14,612. This is below the 24,000 murders in Venezuela, but it doesn't account for murders committed by the U.$. armed forces around the globe. In the United States the number of forcible rapes for 2010-2011 was 85,593. This does not account for non-reported rapes as well as rapes in the military.

The government-mouthpiece media in the U.$. viciously portrays other country's problems and flaws in order to keep the prying eyes of the world off the United $tates.

People the world over should strive to end crime in their communities. But most importantly people should understand that the grandfather of all criminals is the imperialist system here in Amerika.

[Culture] [ULK Issue 33]

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

Here's a movie with a good-vibe attitude, very chillback, and the viewer will get a sense that there's not a problem in the world. However, the truth is far from this.

The setting of the movie deals with a womyn in her early 20s who gets involved in college by her petit-bourgeoisie father, who is a professor at the university. Her name is Beca and she likes to DJ and make music. Not willing to participate in any campus activities, her father gives her an ultimatum of trying an activity and if that doesn't work out he'll pay her way to LA to "pay her dues" as an upcoming DJ.

She tries out for the a capella singing group, and to her surprise is delighted by the mix of wimmin she finds herself with. Not really one who had friends, this movie is a good example of the stress capitalist society puts on individuals to "become" something and "fit-in".

While dealing with competitions Beca also confronts her sexuality by a man she becomes friends with named Jessie. Beca doesn't know how to "open up" and let her "guard down," but in a world dominated by patriarchy one can't blame her for closing herself to the world.

During most parts of the movie a lot of music gets played while side stepping the backwardness of some of the movie's song lyrics. It's important to note that culture helps shape peoples' ideology. Revolutionaries should not ignore how important music is to bringing in people to the cause. In other words, music is a great avenue for not only propaganda but also proselytizing. As MIM Theory 13: Culture in Revolution puts it, work should be done to comb through the culture of capitalism, knowing when to "leave hair intact or cut it off," to use this metaphor.

The good thing about this movie is that it shows an outsider coming in to change, and do away with, "traditional" ways of doing things, and shaking things up. On the other hand, as stated in the beginning, the audience will come out with the conception that everything is dandy and to attain one's happiness is the acme of success. This movie is a great example of how music has the power of influence, and more revolutionary culture should blossom to overcome the moribund culture this parasitic society in the United $tates spills out.

[Organizing] [Theory]

Passivity or Activity: Applying Communist Theory to Prison Organizing

Reading the June issue of "The Rock," a recurring theme kept on popping up. That theme was the raising up of prisoners' consciousness. This is a very good thing as the majority of prisoners lack the consciousness and ideology of a revolutionary.

The demands being put out are good, but as a 23-year old prisoner I can't help but shout that the same demands we are asking for we already had, and more so, they shouldn't be privileges but rights! Fighting for positive reforms is good in itself, but one shouldn't miss the forest for the trees. It's said best by Lenin:

"People always were and always would be the foolish victims of deceit and self deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interest of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society that surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle, the forces which can, and owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new."(1)

I quote this in length because it screams at me. "Owing to their social position", and what is our social position? Second, third class citizens? What's to keep prison 'gangs' form forming into political parties? Swapping our old ideas for new ones? To dismantle our old selves and transform into a force of change not only in prison but society at large?

We have the 'fuck you attitude,' we have brass, now the question is do we have the will to organize, agitate, analyze and act? To learn something you don't know is a difficult task, I could attest to that. Putting a burden on us (prisoners) more so is the culture we cultivate and the ideology that we act out. That is the coming up on people; robbing, selling drugs and trying to conquer every female we come across. The majority of the time when we do this we do it to people who are in our same "social position." They're in the pit just like us.

Good thing for us there's the ability in humans to change, whether it be consciously, mentally, spiritually or ideologically. The main thing though is to bring it into practice. Karl Marx observed that "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness."(2) Again what is our "social being?" Bluntly, it's shit! We need only to look at the environment we grew up around. Liquor stores are in overstock, drugs are roaming freely, homes have no foundation or stability. most have grown accustomed to this way of life. With this deadly (literally) way of thinking, it ain't no surprise our consciousness is lacking in many areas of life.

There's a striking notion that says prisoners now-a-days lack the backbone their predecessors have. Sad to say this statement is slightly true. I have numerous books, but urban novels and novels period got a strong hold on my brethren. Many feel that there is no oppression, genocide or killing of our people and other acts of aggression from the government, but just as one sees a movie or TV show and can't see the camera, that doesn't mean it's not there.

Taking a passive or neutral stance is taking a stance on the side of the oppressor, it seems that you're OK with the status quo. Activity and agitation is taking the side of history as Marx viewed, "...freedom is the recognition of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it's not understood."(3) As history shows times always change. We could look at it as it passes by, we could hop on board or we could go even further and build the vehicle of change, start it up and drive it. Closing my humble thoughts, I'll let Karl Marx do it, as he said it well: "There is no royal road to science [or learning] and only those who don't dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits."(4)

1. V.I. Lenin, On Marx and Engels (foreign language press Peking. 1975) First addition pg 68
2. Ibid, pg14
3. Ibid pg10
4. Capital. Vol 1 (International publishers, NY 1967) Preface to the French edition. pg 21.

[Organizing] [California]

Division or Cohesion

With the upcoming stoppage of food and work what stance will the Special Needs Yard (SNY) take? One of solidarity or one of indifference?

As numbers are straight we can use all the able bodied men to join ranks in our battle for dignity. The strike is more than the demands being met. This is also a call for we, as prisoners to be treated with respect and humanity. However, the consensus is that a good portion of SNYs feel like this battle doesn't pertain to them. News flash, it does! I came to realize the dumbness of judging someone by a "classification" as GP, SNY, active or non-active. These are labels that have been placed on us to further divide prisoners as a whole. Someone's character is a better yardstick to measure them. The guards have no difference or division of opinion when it comes to fucking us up, so why should we when it's time to battle with them?

Simply put, I ask that prisoners on "that" side choose the side that is with them in this fight. Join the stoppage in work and food. Rise above the labels and make a better place for all prisoners, and more so, the world.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's position that the classifications handed out by the prison system should not be the basis of our judgement of prisoners. SNY status, validation status, and other labels are far less important than the actions people take. We should judge individuals by their actions. Those who take up the cause of the majority of the world's people, anti-imperialism, are on the side of the people.

[Economics] [Culture]

Book Review: The Economics of Integrity

Economics of Integrity
The Economics of Integrity
By Anna Bernasek
Harper Collins Publishers
NY (2010) 195pp

This book is a perfect example of a culture obsessed with subjectivism and idealist philosophies. The book demonstrates the lack of integrity of people (bankers, stock brokers, etc.), claiming that it was the main reason the economy crashed in 2008.

In the prologue we read: "my father, a native of Czechoslovakia, risked his life to escape from communism in 1949..."(p3) Here we go again with the vilifying of communism well past the "cold war." The author even points to the subjectivism and individualism mentioned above, saying "This book pays tribute to the spirit of this nation, a spirit of optimism and idealism."(p3) And no wonder, a nation that's imperialist would send the message to its parasites that there would be food for all, just wait till we steal it from Third World, poor, semi-colonial nations!

One would expect that with economics in it, some portion of this book would discuss political economy. Not the case here, but with vulgar economics the author separates the political from the economy, when in fact the two are intertwined. Instead we are told "to be true to that spirit [optimism and idealism], my focus isn't on what went wrong. I am not primarily concerned with scandals, fraud and cheating."(p5) Again, "the economy isn't some dirty game where all the players are only out for themselves, trying to make their names and their fortunes."(p5) Wow! A guest commentator on CNN, CNBC spewing this bullshit, shouldn't be a surprise anyway.

The author basically negates the whole point by saying she is not concerned on what went wrong. The problem is that the whole damn game (capitalism) is in for itself. With one company/corporation trying to maximize their profits how can they not be out for themselves? But with such phrases as "...integrity unlocks enormous opportunities for wealth creation..."(p5), and "It is shared assets that make us wealth."(p13), or "for without integrity, the economy would not function"(p13), we shouldn't expect much of an analysis.

The author goes on to propagate the notion that integrity prompts companies to profits, not exploitation. She gives examples like milk production, taking money out of an ATM, Toyota, LL Bean, and banks. Besides some interesting factoids about these corporations (Of the world's official gold holdings (March 2009), Amerika holds 27%, Germany 11%, IMF 11% (p67). The top 3 brands and their wealth is as follows 1) Coca-cola - 66,667 (U$) 2) IMB-59,031(U$) 3) Microsoft -59,007(U$) (2008 brand values (millions)) (p124).), the book is a joke.

What the author fails to realize is that integrity does not create wealth in itself. Surplus value is the source of wealth. Not from First World world workers but from Third World proletarians who are paid less than the value of their labor for their productive work. Hopefully the author can come to grips with classes and national oppression more easily than pseudo vulgarist economy. What this simply amounts to is an apology for the loss the parasites in the U.$. felt during the 2008 meltdown.

[Elections] [ULK Issue 31]

Obama's Rhetoric in State of the Union

The president, commander-in-chief of the greatest empire on earth, the U$A, gave the yearly "state of the union" on February 12, 2013, as required by the U.$. constitution.

Funny thing is that while I sit in prison and know first hand that what he says is crap, I couldn't help laughing at the contradictions in his speech. Let's start off with this: "...kept the promises we made." Well, let's go to the obvious and talk how the U.$. broke most, actually all, of its treaties with the First Nations. They promised them a specific amount of land and agreed to leave them alone. But then the U.$. took more land thereby shrinking the "Reservations."

The pre$ident said this is the "greatest nation on earth." Third World nations and oppressed nations within the U.$. know this is BS. This nation was founded on genocide and continues its tradition of destruction and death with wars in the Middle East. Keep an eye out for the United $tates's next deployment of aggression and occupation on other nations or, as they say "humanitarian missions."

Obama talked about "Peoples' government." As a settler nation, this Euro-Amerikan population has no legitimacy to rule, govern or even be on this continent. This is not a government for all people, but a select few who rule over the rest, while buying off most Amerikans to complicity (i.e. the labor aristocracy).

Obama spoke about "respect[ing] the fundamental rights of people." If the United $tates had an ounce of respect for rights they wouldn't have the largest percentage of its population in prison of any country in the world; 2.3 million locked away, most Latino and Black. Singling out certain nationalities for imprisonment is not respect, but oppression. If the United $tates respected fundamental rights of people why did it invade Iraq? No proof of weapons of mass destruction were found. Why does it sanction torture? Why is the white nation in Amerika better off than the oppressed nations, not to mention Third World nations?

Finally Obama talked about "fundamental rights of democracy [and] the right to vote." He never mentioned anything about prisoners and how they can't vote. This is a clear example of a deliberate policy of outcasting certain people.

Obama's speech offers lip service to the ideas of equality and representative government, possibly tricking the colonized into thinking there is some hope of making this democracy work for them. But Amerika remains an imperialist nation whose wealth is built on the exploitation of the Third World peoples. Those who sweat and die to supply the cushy lives of Amerikan citizens do not get a vote in this "democracy."

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