Walt Whitman: Thought (Of Equality)

(Credit: Ohio Wesleyan U., Bayley Collection)


Of Equality–as if it harm’d me, giving others
     the same chances and rights as myself–
     as if it were not indispensable to my own
     rights that others possess the same.

                        –Walt Whitman

Paulo Freire: Enemies Who Must Be Watched

(Image credit: Slobodan Dimitrov)
The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort,” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious,” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.

–Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Karl Marx: Nothing to Expect but a Hiding

He, who before was the money owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but–a hiding.

                      –Karl Marx, from Capital

Chomsky: Power Used Wisely

(Image Credit: Duncan Rawlinson)

It is only in folk tales, children’s stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful and dedicated ignorance to fail to perceive them.

–Noam Chomsky, from a talk given at Tufts University in 2001

Eugene Debs: I am my brother’s keeper

(Eugene Victor Debs. Nov. 5, 1855-Oct. 20, 1926)

A little break from my usual poetry posting. Eugene V. Debs. Labor leader. Five time Socialist Party candidate for U.S. Presidency. Much of what he said still burns with his original intensity, and is as true today as when he said it:

Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself, but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.
Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe to myself. What would you think of me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.
                                 –Eugene Debs, from his 1908 speech “The Issue”


    Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone!
                                             –Allen Ginsburg
Drilling   spilling   pumping
removing every mountaintop
to find the pearl
of great price
casting the star
named Wormwood
into every river
made bitter
unwilling to say—Enough!
until every son and every daughter
has passed through the fire . . .
I stand off
and see the smoke of burning,
and the circle-jerk
of those who wax rich
through the abundance
of her delicacies.
O God!                         We all
(yes, stupid fuckers one and all)
invoked this beast insatiable
him from the smoky pit in order
to have our way with him,
this pet that does not merely
bite the tit
that feeds it—
it devours all
sometimes slowly
                              over time
                   in one huge gulp.
Tonight is beat poetry at dVerse MeetingtheBar. Even if you aren’t up to writing tonight, you owe it to yourself to head on over to read Gay’s informative article. I took inspiration tonight from Ginsburg, John of the Apocalypse, Jeremiah the Old Testament prophet, and human greed and stupidity. Seemed like a good blend for a beat poem to me.

Chris Hedges: War’s Crusade

Once we sign on for war’s crusade, once we see ourselves on the side of the angels, once we embrace a theological or ideological belief system that defines itself as the embodiment of goodness and light, it is only a matter of how we will carry out murder.   

                       –Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning