The 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy passed us by a few days ago. Rightfully so, his death was heavily commemorated in the media. There was reminiscing over what was during Camelot, what was accomplished, and rumination over what may have been had he lived to serve two terms. Of course, along with the examination of the Kennedy political machine came the rehashing of the endless conspiracy theories that have abounded over the past five decades over what really happened. With my blog titled as it is, I would be remiss not to throw in my two cents worth of conspiracy theory as well.
I was born in the spring of 1965, about a year and a half after the killing of JFK. It would be nearly a decade after I was born that I would fully understand the Kennedy assassination. However, when I came to comprehend what happened, I spent a lot of my time reading about his death, his history and legacy, as well as the countless theories over why he died and who was responsible. Through all of my research and understanding, here is what I believe to have happened. Keep in mind, this is merely opinion I give based on what is known: My conclusions are not new nor ground breaking. It is a theory that is both popular, well discussed and written about. In my opinion, the CIA is responsible for the death of JFK, either with or without the help of the Mafia, and Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman, as concluded by the Warren Commission. I’m not really sure how anyone in their right mind could actually believe that Oswald could be solely responsible.
Believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman is akin to believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I, for the life of me, do not understand how anyone can conclude that Oswald, although an expert sniper trained by our military, could possibly squeeze off three precision shots from such a long distance with his view partially blocked by a tree. Furthermore, I can’t fathom that he was able to accomplish this with a twenty dollar bolt action rifle in under what? Thirty seconds? No one has been able to replicate his shots from the school book depository where he fired from. They either can not perform the actions necessary with a bolt action rifle to fire and reload the chamber three times in that short amount of time, or they can’t achieve it with any kind of accuracy. It’s not doable, it’s just not. You also have to consider this: the wounds taken by Kennedy, as well as John Connally, who was also shot while riding with Kennedy that day were not consistent with the trajectory of the bullets. In fact, films taken of the assassination show Kennedy lurching forward after the first hit, and then violently arcing backward with massive amounts of blood spraying from behind and from the side of his head, indicating that the kill shot would have come from in front of him. So no, Oswald was not alone. He worked in tandem with another shooter, both of whom acted under the orders of the CIA. Why the CIA you ask? Stay with me, I’m getting to that.
The fact of the matter is, by the late fifties/early sixties, the CIA was an operation that reported to no one. They had developed complete and unabashed autonomy. They were directing covert operations throughout the globe, including south east Asia and communist controlled Cuba. The Kennedy’s, both John and his brother Robert, detested the CIA for their actions. They fought them at every turn and rightly believed that if anyone could bring down their administration, it would be the CIA in either a bloodless or bloody coup. They were painfully correct. The history of the malevolence between the CIA and the Kennedy’s is very compelling, which leads me to believe that they were responsible for not only John’s death, but possibly Robert’s as well.
First off, the CIA was furious over Kennedy’s actions (or inactions) during the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. For those of you not familiar, here’s the Bay of Pigs in a nutshell. Not long before Kennedy took office, lame duck president Eisenhower approved a CIA plan to over throw Fidel Castro, and put in place an American friendly government. This invasion was to take place shortly after Kennedy took office, and if needed, military support would be provided. While the invasion did take place, it went horribly wrong, and Kennedy refused to provide the much needed air support to turn it around in the CIA’s favor. In short, the Bay of Pigs was a fiasco, a black eye for the CIA, and to add insult to injury, CIA director Alan Dulles was removed from his post by Kennedy days after the failed coup attempt. Kennedy wanted peace, and he understood that any movement toward Cuba (as well as South East Asia, and Eastern Europe) would not only heat up the Cold War: It would most likely move us into full blown nuclear war with the Soviet Union. As a side note, I find these nuggets interesting: At the time, George H. W. Bush was an assistant director at the CIA. The code name for the Bay of Pigs operation was Zapata (now known as the Harbinger Group), which also happens to be the name of the oil company that Bush owned. In addition, hours after Kennedy was shot, there was a meeting in CIA headquarters in Langley. One of the few attendees of this debriefing was George H.W. Bush.
The next strike from Kennedy against the CIA came in his refusal to provide 140,000 ground troops to Laos. At the time Laos was run by a puppet government controlled by the agency. When this government came under attack by the communist Pathet Lao guerillas, the CIA as well as right wing war hawks demanded that Kennedy provide troops as well as nuclear weapons. His stead fast refusal would lead to the fall of the CIA controlled regime, infuriating both the hierarchy of the CIA and the joint chiefs of staff. Laos was just the tip of the Asian iceburg: Kennedy would vehemently clash with the CIA over Vietnam as well.
The CIA wanted full blown war in Vietnam. They wanted this in order to halt the spread of communism in order to control financial interest for corporate America. Kennedy wanted peace, he had no interest in promoting war for corporate interest, and he wanted nothing more than to end the Cold War and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Kennedy was interested in cooperation with the communist, not competition. He wanted nothing to do with other countries civil wars, and had no wish to see Americans die in someone else s fight. In the latest edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, Robert Kennedy Jr writes of this: He describes how his uncle would only consent to sending a handful of military “advisers” to South Vietnam in order to assist the South Vietnamese army. Upon learning that 100 Americans had died in battle in 1962, JFK swore that American involvement would be reduced to nothing by 1965.
Further infuriating the CIA was Kennedy’s motions toward ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Without the Cold War, the CIA would probably have been de-funded and ceased to exist. The CIA’s sole purpose at the time was to fight communism and protect American financial interest abroad. Without the Cold War, why would the CIA be needed? While war hawks such as Alan Dulles and Barry Goldwater railed against communist aggression, Kennedy was quietly building trust with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. They corresponded regularly, and were covertly working together to form alliances and peace, not competition and war. Of course there were those in Soviet government who thought like the america right wing extremist at the time. Within a year after Kennedy’s death, Khrushchev was removed from power, and replaced by party puppets Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin. The CIA would live on to subvert other governments, and the Cold War would live on another 25 years after the death of JFK and removal of Nikita Khrushchev. Meanwhile, those who were heavily invested in the finances of the Cold War machine would become filthy rich. Go figure.
So there you have it: My opinion on who killed Kennedy, and why. Like I said earlier, it’s just my opinion based on what I’ve read in the past. I have no proof, and my thoughts are nothing that haven’t been presented before. However, I do feel as if I’m presenting an opinion based on logic. JFK detested the CIA and wanted to bring it to the ground. The CIA hated Kennedy, and had every motivation to remove him from office – remove him for a more CIA friendly president by the name of Lyndon Johnson, who coincidentally hailed from the state of Texas and hated Communism. Hmmmmm.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe that Oswald acted alone? Do you think the Mafia did it? It’s also a plausible theory when you consider that John and Robert were out to destroy the Mafia. Or do you prescribe to another theory? I would love to hear your opinions on the subject!
By the way, the Warren Report is complete and utter bullshit. It was a charade played out in order to placate the public, and bring closure to a horrific and traumatizing event. How can anyone take such a report that was manufactured by a commission in which Alan Dulles sat upon seriously? Chew on that for a minute and get back to me.
- The Kennedy Assassination (November 22, 1963) 50 Years Later (distributedfreedom.wordpress.com)
- Why’d Oswald Do It? (slate.com)
- Jesse Ventura: JFK Assassination (forum.prisonplanet.com)
- CNN finally admits CIA may have conspired to kill JFK (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Fifty years later, J.F.K.’s assassination is the mother of all conspiracy theories – NorthJersey.com (northjersey.com)
- Half a century later, JFK conspiracies still thrive (kansascity.com)
- Six JFK-Assassination Skeptics (nation.time.com)
I’m taking a break from rehabbing the trailer, and checking out some Emma Goldman. Ms Goldman was an Anarchist and world renowned political activist in the late 19th and early 20th century. I came across this essay she wrote from Anarchism and Other Essays, published in 1910. It’s a terrific read, and portrays my attitude toward Anarchism perfectly.
Without further adieu, I share with you:
ANARCHISM: WHAT IT REALLY STANDS FOR
Ever reviled, accursed, ne’er understood,
Thou art the grisly terror of our age.
“Wreck of all order,” cry the multitude,
“Art thou, and war and murder’s endless rage.”
O, let them cry. To them that ne’er have striven
The truth that lies behind a word to find,
To them the word’s right meaning was not given.
They shall continue blind among the blind.
But thou, O word, so clear, so strong, so pure,
Thou sayest all which I for goal have taken.
I give thee to the future! Thine secure
When each at least unto himself shall waken.
Comes it in sunshine? In the tempest’s thrill?
I cannot tell–but it the earth shall see!
I am an Anarchist! Wherefore I will
Not rule, and also ruled I will not be!
THE history of human growth and development is at the same time the history of the terrible struggle of every new idea heralding the approach of a brighter dawn. In its tenacious hold on tradition, the Old has never hesitated to make use of the foulest and cruelest means to stay the advent of the New, in whatever form or period the latter may have asserted itself. Nor need we retrace our steps into the distant past to realize the enormity of opposition, difficulties, and hardships placed in the path of every progressive idea. The rack, the thumbscrew, and the knout are still with us; so are the convict’s garb and the social wrath, all conspiring against the spirit that is serenely marching on.
Anarchism could not hope to escape the fate of all other ideas of innovation. Indeed, as the most revolutionary and uncompromising innovator, Anarchism must needs meet with the combined ignorance and venom of the world it aims to reconstruct.
To deal even remotely with all that is being said and done against Anarchism would necessitate the writing of a whole volume. I shall therefore meet only two of the principal objections. In so doing, I shall attempt to elucidate what Anarchism really stands for.
The strange phenomenon of the opposition to Anarchism is that it brings to light the relation between so-called intelligence and ignorance. And yet this is not so very strange when we consider the relativity of all things. The ignorant mass has in its favor that it makes no pretense of knowledge or tolerance. Acting, as it always does, by mere impulse, its reasons are like those of a child. “Why?” “Because.” Yet the opposition of the uneducated to Anarchism deserves the same consideration as that of the intelligent man.
What, then, are the objections? First, Anarchism is impractical, though a beautiful ideal. Second, Anarchism stands for violence and destruction, hence it must be repudiated as vile and dangerous. Both the intelligent man and the ignorant mass judge not from a thorough knowledge of the subject, but either from hearsay or false interpretation.
A practical scheme, says Oscar Wilde, is either one already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under the existing conditions; but it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to, and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The true criterion of the practical, therefore, is not whether the latter can keep intact the wrong or foolish; rather is it whether the scheme has vitality enough to leave the stagnant waters of the old, and build, as well as sustain, new life. In the light of this conception, Anarchism is indeed practical. More than any other idea, it is helping to do away with the wrong and foolish; more than any other idea, it is building and sustaining new life.
The emotions of the ignorant man are continuously kept at a pitch by the most blood-curdling stories about Anarchism. Not a thing too outrageous to be employed against this philosophy and its exponents. Therefore Anarchism represents to the unthinking what the proverbial bad man does to the child,–a black monster bent on swallowing everything; in short, destruction and violence.
Destruction and violence! How is the ordinary man to know that the most violent element in society is ignorance; that its power of destruction is the very thing Anarchism is combating? Nor is he aware that Anarchism, whose roots, as it were, are part of nature’s forces, destroys, not healthful tissue, but parasitic growths that feed on the life’s essence of society. It is merely clearing the soil from weeds and sagebrush, that it may eventually bear healthy fruit.
Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. The widespread mental indolence, so prevalent in society, proves this to be only too true. Rather than to go to the bottom of any given idea, to examine into its origin and meaning, most people will either condemn it altogether, or rely on some superficial or prejudicial definition of non-essentials.
Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition; but that the brain capacity of the average reader be not taxed too much, I also shall begin with a definition, and then elaborate on the latter.
ANARCHISM:–The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.
The new social order rests, of course, on the materialistic basis of life; but while all Anarchists agree that the main evil today is an economic one, they maintain that the solution of that evil can be brought about only through the consideration of every phase of life,–individual, as well as the collective; the internal, as well as the external phases.
A thorough perusal of the history of human development will disclose two elements in bitter conflict with each other; elements that are only now beginning to be understood, not as foreign to each other, but as closely related and truly harmonious, if only placed in proper environment: the individual and social instincts. The individual and society have waged a relentless and bloody battle for ages, each striving for supremacy, because each was blind to the value and importance of the other. The individual and social instincts,–the one a most potent factor for individual endeavor, for growth, aspiration, self-realization; the other an equally potent factor for mutual helpfulness and social well-being.
The explanation of the storm raging within the individual, and between him and his surroundings, is not far to seek. The primitive man, unable to understand his being, much less the unity of all life, felt himself absolutely dependent on blind, hidden forces ever ready to mock and taunt him. Out of that attitude grew the religious concepts of man as a mere speck of dust dependent on superior powers on high, who can only be appeased by complete surrender. All the early sagas rest on that idea, which continues to be the Leitmotiv of the biblical tales dealing with the relation of man to God, to the State, to society. Again and again the same motif, man is nothing, the powers are everything. Thus Jehovah would only endure man on condition of complete surrender. Man can have all the glories of the earth, but he must not become conscious of himself. The State, society, and moral laws all sing the same refrain: Man can have all the glories of the earth, but he must not become conscious of himself.
Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Anarchism is therefore the teacher of the unity of life; not merely in nature, but in man. There is no conflict between the individual and the social instincts, any more than there is between the heart and the lungs: the one the receptacle of a precious life essence, the other the repository of the element that keeps the essence pure and strong. The individual is the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life; society is the lungs which are distributing the element to keep the life essence–that is, the individual–pure and strong.
“The one thing of value in the world,” says Emerson, “is the active soul; this every man contains within him. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth and creates.” In other words, the individual instinct is the thing of value in the world. It is the true soul that sees and creates the truth alive, out of which is to come a still greater truth, the re-born social soul.
Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony. To accomplish that unity, Anarchism has declared war on the pernicious influences which have so far prevented the harmonious blending of individual and social instincts, the individual and society.
Religion, the dominion of the human mind; Property, the dominion of human needs; and Government, the dominion of human conduct, represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement and all the horrors it entails. Religion! How it dominates man’s mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began. Anarchism rouses man to rebellion against this black monster. Break your mental fetters, says Anarchism to man, for not until you think and judge for yourself will you get rid of the dominion of darkness, the greatest obstacle to all progress.
Property, the dominion of man’s needs, the denial of the right to satisfy his needs. Time was when property claimed a divine right, when it came to man with the same refrain, even as religion, “Sacrifice! Abnegate! Submit!” The spirit of Anarchism has lifted man from his prostrate position. He now stands erect, with his face toward the light. He has learned to see the insatiable, devouring, devastating nature of property, and he is preparing to strike the monster dead.
“Property is robbery,” said the great French Anarchist Proudhon. Yes, but without risk and danger to the robber. Monopolizing the accumulated efforts of man, property has robbed him of his birthright, and has turned him loose a pauper and an outcast. Property has not even the time-worn excuse that man does not create enough to satisfy all needs. The A B C student of economics knows that the productivity of labor within the last few decades far exceeds normal demand. But what are normal demands to an abnormal institution? The only demand that property recognizes is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade. America is particularly boastful of her great power, her enormous national wealth. Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soilless army of human prey.
It is generally conceded that unless the returns of any business venture exceed the cost, bankruptcy is inevitable. But those engaged in the business of producing wealth have not yet learned even this simple lesson. Every year the cost of production in human life is growing larger (50,000 killed, 100,000 wounded in America last year); the returns to the masses, who help to create wealth, are ever getting smaller. Yet America continues to be blind to the inevitable bankruptcy of our business of production. Nor is this the only crime of the latter. Still more fatal is the crime of turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron. Man is being robbed not merely of the products of his labor, but of the power of free initiative, of originality, and the interest in, or desire for, the things he is making.
Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in. But if man is doomed to wind cotton around a spool, or dig coal, or build roads for thirty years of his life, there can be no talk of wealth. What he gives to the world is only gray and hideous things, reflecting a dull and hideous existence,–too weak to live, too cowardly to die. Strange to say, there are people who extol this deadening method of centralized production as the proudest achievement of our age. They fail utterly to realize that if we are to continue in machine subserviency, our slavery is more complete than was our bondage to the King. They do not want to know that centralization is not only the death-knell of liberty, but also of health and beauty, of art and science, all these being impossible in a clock-like, mechanical atmosphere.
Anarchism cannot but repudiate such a method of production: its goal is the freest possible expression of all the latent powers of the individual. Oscar Wilde defines a perfect personality as “one who develops under perfect conditions, who is not wounded, maimed, or in danger.” A perfect personality, then, is only possible in a state of society where man is free to choose the mode of work, the conditions of work, and the freedom to work. One to whom the making of a table, the building of a house, or the tilling of the soil, is what the painting is to the artist and the discovery to the scientist,–the result of inspiration, of intense longing, and deep interest in work as a creative force. That being the ideal of Anarchism, its economic arrangements must consist of voluntary productive and distributive associations, gradually developing into free communism, as the best means of producing with the least waste of human energy. Anarchism, however, also recognizes the right of the individual, or numbers of individuals, to arrange at all times for other forms of work, in harmony with their tastes and desires.
Such free display of human energy being possible only under complete individual and social freedom, Anarchism directs its forces against the third and greatest foe of all social equality; namely, the State, organized authority, or statutory law,–the dominion of human conduct.
Just as religion has fettered the human mind, and as property, or the monopoly of things, has subdued and stifled man’s needs, so has the State enslaved his spirit, dictating every phase of conduct. “All government in essence,” says Emerson, “is tyranny.” It matters not whether it is government by divine right or majority rule. In every instance its aim is the absolute subordination of the individual.
Referring to the American government, the greatest American Anarchist, David Thoreau, said: “Government, what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instance losing its integrity; it has not the vitality and force of a single living man. Law never made man a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made agents of injustice.”
Indeed, the keynote of government is injustice. With the arrogance and self-sufficiency of the King who could do no wrong, governments ordain, judge, condemn, and punish the most insignificant offenses, while maintaining themselves by the greatest of all offenses, the annihilation of individual liberty. Thus Ouida is right when she maintains that “the State only aims at instilling those qualities in its public by which its demands are obeyed, and its exchequer is filled. Its highest attainment is the reduction of mankind to clockwork. In its atmosphere all those finer and more delicate liberties, which require treatment and spacious expansion, inevitably dry up and perish. The State requires a taxpaying machine in which there is no hitch, an exchequer in which there is never a deficit, and a public, monotonous, obedient, colorless, spiritless, moving humbly like a flock of sheep along a straight high road between two walls.”
Yet even a flock of sheep would resist the chicanery of the State, if it were not for the corruptive, tyrannical, and oppressive methods it employs to serve its purposes. Therefore Bakunin repudiates the State as synonymous with the surrender of the liberty of the individual or small minorities,–the destruction of social relationship, the curtailment, or complete denial even, of life itself, for its own aggrandizement. The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice.
In fact, there is hardly a modern thinker who does not agree that government, organized authority, or the State, is necessary only to maintain or protect property and monopoly. It has proven efficient in that function only.
Even George Bernard Shaw, who hopes for the miraculous from the State under Fabianism, nevertheless admits that “it is at present a huge machine for robbing and slave-driving of the poor by brute force.” This being the case, it is hard to see why the clever prefacer wishes to uphold the State after poverty shall have ceased to exist.
Unfortunately, there are still a number of people who continue in the fatal belief that government rests on natural laws, that it maintains social order and harmony, that it diminishes crime, and that it prevents the lazy man from fleecing his fellows. I shall therefore examine these contentions.
A natural law is that factor in man which asserts itself freely and spontaneously without any external force, in harmony with the requirements of nature. For instance, the demand for nutrition, for sex gratification, for light, air, and exercise, is a natural law. But its expression needs not the machinery of government, needs not the club, the gun, the handcuff, or the prison. To obey such laws, if we may call it obedience, requires only spontaneity and free opportunity. That governments do not maintain themselves through such harmonious factors is proven by the terrible array of violence, force, and coercion all governments use in order to live. Thus Blackstone is right when he says, “Human laws are invalid, because they are contrary to the laws of nature.”
Unless it be the order of Warsaw after the slaughter of thousands of people, it is difficult to ascribe to governments any capacity for order or social harmony. Order derived through submission and maintained by terror is not much of a safe guaranty; yet that is the only “order” that governments have ever maintained. True social harmony grows naturally out of solidarity of interests. In a society where those who always work never have anything, while those who never work enjoy everything, solidarity of interests is non-existent; hence social harmony is but a myth. The only way organized authority meets this grave situation is by extending still greater privileges to those who have already monopolized the earth, and by still further enslaving the disinherited masses. Thus the entire arsenal of government–laws, police, soldiers, the courts, legislatures, prisons,–is strenuously engaged in “harmonizing” the most antagonistic elements in society.
The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation.
Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime. What does society, as it exists today, know of the process of despair, the poverty, the horrors, the fearful struggle the human soul must pass on its way to crime and degradation. Who that knows this terrible process can fail to see the truth in these words of Peter Kropotkin:
“Those who will hold the balance between the benefits thus attributed to law and punishment and the degrading effect of the latter on humanity; those who will estimate the torrent of depravity poured abroad in human society by the informer, favored by the Judge even, and paid for in clinking cash by governments, under the pretext of aiding to unmask crime; those who will go within prison walls and there see what human beings become when deprived of liberty, when subjected to the care of brutal keepers, to coarse, cruel words, to a thousand stinging, piercing humiliations, will agree with us that the entire apparatus of prison and punishment is an abomination which ought to be brought to an end.”
The deterrent influence of law on the lazy man is too absurd to merit consideration. If society were only relieved of the waste and expense of keeping a lazy class, and the equally great expense of the paraphernalia of protection this lazy class requires, the social tables would contain an abundance for all, including even the occasional lazy individual. Besides, it is well to consider that laziness results either from special privileges, or physical and mental abnormalities. Our present insane system of production fosters both, and the most astounding phenomenon is that people should want to work at all now. Anarchism aims to strip labor of its deadening, dulling aspect, of its gloom and compulsion. It aims to make work an instrument of joy, of strength, of color, of real harmony, so that the poorest sort of a man should find in work both recreation and hope.
To achieve such an arrangement of life, government, with its unjust, arbitrary, repressive measures, must be done away with. At best it has but imposed one single mode of life upon all, without regard to individual and social variations and needs. In destroying government and statutory laws, Anarchism proposes to rescue the self-respect and independence of the individual from all restraint and invasion by authority. Only in freedom can man grow to his full stature. Only in freedom will he learn to think and move, and give the very best in him. Only in freedom will he realize the true force of the social bonds which knit men together, and which are the true foundation of a normal social life.
But what about human nature? Can it be changed? And if not, will it endure under Anarchism?
Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet, how can any one speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed?
John Burroughs has stated that experimental study of animals in captivity is absolutely useless. Their character, their habits, their appetites undergo a complete transformation when torn from their soil in field and forest. With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities?
Freedom, expansion, opportunity, and, above all, peace and repose, alone can teach us the real dominant factors of human nature and all its wonderful possibilities.
Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.
This is not a wild fancy or an aberration of the mind. It is the conclusion arrived at by hosts of intellectual men and women the world over; a conclusion resulting from the close and studious observation of the tendencies of modern society: individual liberty and economic equality, the twin forces for the birth of what is fine and true in man.
As to methods. Anarchism is not, as some may suppose, a theory of the future to be realized through divine inspiration. It is a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions. The methods of Anarchism therefore do not comprise an iron-clad program to be carried out under all circumstances. Methods must grow out of the economic needs of each place and clime, and of the intellectual and temperamental requirements of the individual. The serene, calm character of a Tolstoy will wish different methods for social reconstruction than the intense, overflowing personality of a Michael Bakunin or a Peter Kropotkin. Equally so it must be apparent that the economic and political needs of Russia will dictate more drastic measures than would England or America. Anarchism does not stand for military drill and uniformity; it does, however, stand for the spirit of revolt, in whatever form, against everything that hinders human growth. All Anarchists agree in that, as they also agree in their opposition to the political machinery as a means of bringing about the great social change.
“All voting,” says Thoreau, “is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” A close examination of the machinery of politics and its achievements will bear out the logic of Thoreau.
What does the history of parliamentarism show? Nothing but failure and defeat, not even a single reform to ameliorate the economic and social stress of the people. Laws have been passed and enactments made for the improvement and protection of labor. Thus it was proven only last year that Illinois, with the most rigid laws for mine protection, had the greatest mine disasters. In States where child labor laws prevail, child exploitation is at its highest, and though with us the workers enjoy full political opportunities, capitalism has reached the most brazen zenith.
Even were the workers able to have their own representatives, for which our good Socialist politicians are clamoring, what chances are there for their honesty and good faith? One has but to bear in mind the process of politics to realize that its path of good intentions is full of pitfalls: wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success. Added to that is a complete demoralization of character and conviction, until nothing is left that would make one hope for anything from such a human derelict. Time and time again the people were foolish enough to trust, believe, and support with their last farthing aspiring politicians, only to find themselves betrayed and cheated.
It may be claimed that men of integrity would not become corrupt in the political grinding mill. Perhaps not; but such men would be absolutely helpless to exert the slightest influence in behalf of labor, as indeed has been shown in numerous instances. The State is the economic master of its servants. Good men, if such there be, would either remain true to their political faith and lose their economic support, or they would cling to their economic master and be utterly unable to do the slightest good. The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.
The political superstition is still holding sway over the hearts and minds of the masses, but the true lovers of liberty will have no more to do with it. Instead, they believe with Stirner that man has as much liberty as he is willing to take. Anarchism therefore stands for direct action, the open defiance of, and resistance to, all laws and restrictions, economic, social, and moral. But defiance and resistance are illegal. Therein lies the salvation of man. Everything illegal necessitates integrity, self-reliance, and courage. In short, it calls for free, independent spirits, for “men who are men, and who have a bone in their backs which you cannot pass your hand through.”
Universal suffrage itself owes its existence to direct action. If not for the spirit of rebellion, of the defiance on the part of the American revolutionary fathers, their posterity would still wear the King’s coat. If not for the direct action of a John Brown and his comrades, America would still trade in the flesh of the black man. True, the trade in white flesh is still going on; but that, too, will have to be abolished by direct action. Trade-unionism, the economic arena of the modern gladiator, owes its existence to direct action. It is but recently that law and government have attempted to crush the trade-union movement, and condemned the exponents of man’s right to organize to prison as conspirators. Had they sought to assert their cause through begging, pleading, and compromise, trade-unionism would today be a negligible quantity. In France, in Spain, in Italy, in Russia, nay even in England (witness the growing rebellion of English labor unions), direct, revolutionary, economic action has become so strong a force in the battle for industrial liberty as to make the world realize the tremendous importance of labor’s power. The General Strike, the supreme expression of the economic consciousness of the workers, was ridiculed in America but a short time ago. Today every great strike, in order to win, must realize the importance of the solidaric general protest.
Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual. There a hundred forces encroach upon his being, and only persistent resistance to them will finally set him free. Direct action against the authority in the shop, direct action against the authority of the law, direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code, is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism.
Will it not lead to a revolution? Indeed, it will. No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. People are either not familiar with their history, or they have not yet learned that revolution is but thought carried into action.
Anarchism, the great leaven of thought, is today permeating every phase of human endeavor. Science, art, literature, the drama, the effort for economic betterment, in fact every individual and social opposition to the existing disorder of things, is illumined by the spiritual light of Anarchism. It is the philosophy of the sovereignty of the individual. It is the theory of social harmony. It is the great, surging, living truth that is reconstructing the world, and that will usher in the Dawn.
- Can an Anarchic Nation Exist? (caeconomics.wordpress.com)
- Anarchism as Institution (dingpolitik.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Sam Mbah: Towards an Anarchist Spring in Nigeria (bayareaintifada.wordpress.com)
- What is Anarchism? (bokmassamalmo.wordpress.com)
Today is International Women’s Day. In honor of the day (as well as Women’s History Month), I thought it would be fitting to offer a up a brief bio on the first woman to serve in both the U.S. house and the senate, Margaret Chase Smith.
Born in 1897 in Skowhegan Maine, Margaret grew up in a large family of 6 children: Only 4 of which would survive childhood. Growing up under modest means, she began working at the age of 12. After graduating high school in 1916, she met local politician and future husband Clyde Smith, her greatest influence to her future political career.
During the roaring 20′s, Smith became heavily involved in local and state politics. Championing women’s issues, she would co-found the Skowhegan chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and later served as president of the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club. After marrying Clyde Smith in 1930, she was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee, a position she would hold until 1936.
In 1937, her husband Clyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives: He served until 1940, the year he died of a massive heart attack. After Clyde’s death, Margaret ran for his 2nd Congressional District seat, and was elected unopposed. While becoming a fixture on the House Naval Affairs committee, she was a Republican moderate known for voting her conscience. She supported much of FDR’s New Deal legislation, and in her later years as senator, she vehemently opposed Joseph McCarthy‘s communist witch hunts. In 1950 as a U.S. senator, she would deliver on the senate floor her speech
Declaration of Conscience, in which she would roundly condemn McCarthy and his unfounded attacks.
As previously mentioned, Ms Smith served on the House Naval Affairs Committee during the war, as well as the House Armed Services Committee. During her tenure in congress, she sponsored legislation that would give women permanent status in the military in 1948, and became known as the mother of the Navy Waves.
In 1948, she decided to run for the senate: she won easily, receiving more votes than her three opponents combined. She would serve there until 1972, when for the first time, she lost an election. Her time in the Senate, may have been her most noteworthy: She was mentioned by many as a possible running mate for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. In 1964, she ran for president, becoming the first female to place herself in nomination. She placed 5th at the Republican National Convention.
In addition, her time as senator from Maine would include the chair of the Senate Republican Conference. Known for her staunch support of the military, she was also firmly in favor of the space program. She was a charter member of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Committee, and was a primary driving force in NASA putting a man on the moon in 1969. Ms Smith was also a firm supporter of educational funding, civil rights, and Medicare.
After she lost the election of 1972, she would live out her remaining days in her hometown of Skowhagen. She died in 1995 from a stroke, at the age of 97. In 1989, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1995, she was awarded the Naval Heritage Award for her long history of supporting the Navy as well as the WAVES. In addition, Ms Smith was the longest serving female senator until 2011, when Barbara Mikurski surpassed her with her election to her 5th term.
There you have it: Margaret Chase Smith was a woman born of modest means from a small town in Maine, and grew up to become one of the most influential women in American politics for over 3 decades. She was a politician and pioneer, paving the way for aspiring women politicians who serve our country today. Though a Republican, she voted her conscience and was not afraid to support legislation generated from both sides of the aisle. Mother of the Waves, and champion of the space program, she was her own woman who gracefully forged her way down a path dominated by men. She stood up to Joe McCarthy, and almost landed a seat in the White House- twice. She was a remarkable woman, recognized by the single red rose she wore daily pinned to her lapel.
Thank you Margaret Chase Smith for all that you have done. You may no longer be a household name, but when I think of today’s best and brightest women in politics, I will think of you.
I hope that powerful women such as Hillary Clinton, Claire McCaskill and Elizabeth Warren hold your name dear in their hearts.
I know I do.
When I started this blog two years ago, I had very little expectation. I figured I would write about what interests me, and put it out on the intertubes for whoever else would care to read it. Hell, I’m surprised I’ve managed to stick with the blog this long. I never imagined that my blog would ever attract this much attention, as modest as that attention may be.
The blog recently passed the 100,000 view mark, and I want to thank everyone of you who support BTTFH. It’s been a lot of fun putting myself out there, as well as meeting and interacting with so many cool people!
To celebrate, I thought I would share links to my 5 favorite posts, as well as the top 5 posts by view. I hope you enjoy!
Top Five All Time Fan Favorites:
#5 Naked Family
A pic of a family in anatomically correct naked costumes. What’s not to like?
#4: I Got Nothing
Who knew bitching about school and writer’s block, would generate so much interest?
#3 Beneath The Tin Foil Hat Goes Global: My Interview On Russia Today
Like everybody else, I wrote a series of posts about Anders Breivik and the Utoya, Norway massacre. Somehow, my posts caught the attention of a producer on the Russian news network, Russia Today. The interview went horribly wrong, thus ending my brief career as a Russian TV pundit.
It was still fun as hell though!
#2 Dear Republicans
A meme I shared that highlights just how much today’s GOP dislikes – well, they dislike everybody.
#1 From Mittens To Kittens
I posted this shortly before the election, just to put a little irreverence into a tense atmosphere. Who knew so many people like pictures of cats?
My Top Five Favorites
#5 Angry Poetry Week: Howl – Allen Ginsberg
One of the best poems written by one of the best writers to ever walk the face of the earth!
#4 Why God Hates Al Gore: Judeo-Christianity and Ecology.
A small history lesson concerning religion, and it’s sense of entitlement to all things big and small on our planet.
#3 My Response to Republicans Over SB5? F*ck You!
This is me doing what I do best.
#2 The Pueblo Indians of The 17th Century.
Another history post: This one is about those naughty Pueblo Indians.
#1 Where is The Angela Davis of Today’s Generation? She Never Left!
What can I say? I’m a history geek.
Once again, I want to thank everyone who continues to support my little piece of crap blog. I love you all!
- Cat in the Tin Foil Hat (itinerantneerdowell.wordpress.com)
Here’s a cool infographic posted by Michelle Schusterman at the Matador network. It’s based on Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, Which talks about how our drug war has created a new caste system in America. It’s long, but well worth the time to read.
I really can’t add anything to this meme. It conveys what many of us have been thinking and saying for years. Of course, if your an athiest like me, you understand that we need only to look in a mirror to pass any type of judgement.
tip of the tin foil hat to Being Liberal for sharing.
Wow, what an emotional roller coaster of a night it was. I’m still having trouble gathering my thoughts. With so many “swing” states so hotly contested last night, both my partner and I collectively held our breaths for hours. It wasn’t until the west brought Obama close that I started to mildly relax: It wasn’t until Ohio was called shortly after 11, that I could even think about going to bed. I even got up in the middle of the night to double check the results. It was that kind of night for my partner and I.
However in the midst of all the fretting and fussing, the teeth gnashing, the hand wringing, the nail biting, I noticed, as did many of you, that we the people were delivering a succinct message: The hate has to stop, that extremism is not appropriate, that intolerance is not to be tolerated. Take a look at what transpired last night, then try to tell me I’m wrong:
Amidst the conservative anti-feminist movement, 19 female senators were elected, which is the most ever. There were some very notable, hard fought campaigns:
- In Missouri, Claire McCaskill shut that whole thing down by trouncing Todd Akin.
- In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin beat career politician Tommy Thompson, and became this country’s first openly gay Senator.
- In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren beat corporate favorite Scott Brown.
In a lot of congressional and senate races, progressives won out over big money, including:
The Tea Party was also on the ropes:
-Allen West lost his congressional seat in Florida.
-Michele Bachman nearly lost hers.
- In heavily Republican Indiana, Joe Donnelly beat right wing nut Richard Mourdock.
Marriage equality received a big boost. Maine, Maryland, and Washington all voted to legalize same sex marriage, while an anti-marriage equality amendment in Minnesota was voted down. Overall, this election has been a boon for not only women, but also for LGBT Americans.
In the west both Washington and Colorado voted to legalize Marijuana, giving new meaning to Rocky Mountain high. It’s about time that people start realizing that Marijuana is a good thing, and not the falsely accused gateway drug that alcohol and tobacco fat cats make it out to be.
But what about Obama? What kind of mandate did his election deliver last night? Although the electoral vote was a landslide (303 to 206, with Florida still undecided), he won the popular vote by less than 3 million. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. I saw a lot of red states for Willard last night. Fortunately, they weren’t heavily populated states. So what happened?
For starters, I think social issues played a bigger role than what the GOP was planning on. The Republican party has lost touch with the country in this aspect. They alienated half of this country with patriarchal, elitist hate rhetoric, and most of us are just tired of it. They went after the rich white Christian vote, and motivated millions of people in most every densely populated area to come out and wait hours in line… to vote against them. This election was more about fighting class warfare and conservative extremism than following Obama’s plan. Picking an old rich white guy to represent the GOP to deliver their message of extreme christian values and austerity was a huge mistake, and in the long run, it has and will cost the Republicans dearly.
In my opinion, our country is heading in the right direction (for now) both socially and economically. However we have a long way to go. Unemployment is still way too high, the cost of living is still outpacing wage growth. DOMA must be repealed, while marriage equality must be nationally recognized. There is more work to be done to level the playing field for Women, LGBT Americans, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, both the poor and the middle class, and the elderly. Obama and the Democrats can get us there, and a lot of people cried out last night that this is what they want. He must listen to that message, he must act on our demands. In turn, the GOP must listen to our message as well, and react in kind. We expect and demand that the parties work together. It could be a pipe dream, but I don’t believe that in Obama’s America, that the dream is unrealistic.
To wrap it up, I want to say how proud I am of everyone who stood in line for hours to vote, however you voted. It means that each and every one of us understands how important it is to this country to do our civil duty, and cast our ballots. I also want to give mad props to the volunteers who manned the precincts: it was a long night for all of you, and you did your country proud.
Like most of us, I’m exhausted, yet I’m exhilarated at the prospects. Today, I’m proud to be called an American.
What a refreshing change.
One more thing: Donald Trump, you are an insufferable prick. Take your hate rhetoric spewing, paranoid delusional baggy white ass, and crawl under some gilded rock somewhere. You’re bad for this country, you’re bad for America. You’re bad for humanity. Shut the fuck up, just saying.
It was 44 years ago today when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis Tennessee. “I’ve Been to The Mountaintop” was Dr King’s last sermon before his murder. He delivered it at the Mason Temple (Church of Christ Headquarters) on April 3rd, In Memphis.
Without further adieu, I share with you
“I’ve Been to The Mountaintop”
Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.
Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there.
I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn’t stop there.
I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there.
I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there.
I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there.
I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there.
I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there.
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.”
Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.
Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”
And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.
And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis.
I can remember — I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world.
And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying — We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.
Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.
Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that. That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn’t get around to that.
Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be — and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation: We know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.”
Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn’t stop us.
And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we’d go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we’d just go on singing “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ‘em off,” and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.” And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we’ve got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.
Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we’re going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, “When God speaks who can but prophesy?” Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,” and he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”
And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he’s been to jail for struggling; he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren’t concerned about anything but themselves. And I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry.
It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively — that means all of us together — collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.
We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy — what is the other bread? — Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town — downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.
But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something that we don’t do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”
Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base….
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.
Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.
But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.
It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply,
Dear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.”
And she said,
While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.
And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.
If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.
And they were telling me –. Now, it doesn’t matter, now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”
And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
- Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated (oup.com)
- Walking in Memphis (sheilahurst.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Legacy Of Courage & Hope… (eof737.wordpress.com)
- Resolution Naming Memphis Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial City (wireblog00.wordpress.com)
Angry poetry week wraps up with perhaps the most popular and certainly one of the most controversial works of the Beat Movement: Howl, by Allen Ginsberg. Written in 1955, and published in 1956 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poem was deemed obscene, and would lead to Ferlinghetti’s arrest for making the material public. At the conclusion of this landmark court case, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that the material was not obscene, and could be published unaltered. When you read this wonderful poem, you can see why it would create such a stir in what was on the surface, a very conservative time in America’s history. In my opinion, as well as many others, Allen Ginsberg was arguably the best and perhaps the most meaningrul writer of the Beat Movement, and Howl may be the pinnacle of what is simply an amazing body of work.
Without further adieu, I share with you:
For Carl Solomon
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping towards poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost batallion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railway yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the universe instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving nothing behind but the shadow of dungarees and the larva and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but were prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver
—joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hungover with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open full of steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the appartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of the Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts, who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for an Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturerson Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with the shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,
Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally *****, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger on the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soulbetween 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death,
and rose incarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
What sphinx of cement and aluminium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgement! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovas! Moloch whose factories dream and choke in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisable suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstacies! gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland
where you’re madder than I am
I’m with you in Rockland
where you must feel strange
I’m with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I’m with you in Rockland
where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries
I’m with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humour
I’m with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I’m with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio
I’m with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses
I’m with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica
I’m with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx
I’m with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of actual pingpong of the abyss
I’m with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse
I’m with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void
I’m with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha
I’m with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb
I’m with you in Rockland
where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale
I’m with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep
I’m with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we’re free
I’m with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night
- Daniel Radcliffe Spotted As Allen Ginsberg In New York (inquisitr.com)
- Poet Allen Ginsberg remembered 15 years after he dies (blogs.jta.org)
- Get Beat! Beat Generation Night at Saint Poem (saintpoem.wordpress.com)
- Meet the Beats (neatorama.com)
Today’s poem was written by the iconic feminist poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Rich’s literary works inspired countless feminist authors and activists over several decades. Rich was revered for her social commentary as well as her deeply moving personal reflections.
She lived and wrote openly as a lesbian for most of her adult life, beginning in an era when homosexuality was condemned by more than just knee jerk christian conservatives. As an author and activist she fought bravely for not only the rights of women, but for all who are disadvantaged in our society.
Her list of works and awards span over 7 decades, and she is one of the most anthologized authors of the 20th century. Although her writing style may have not been the in your face, bludgeon you with a hammer type poetry that’s been featured this week, her message was always loud and clear, and succinctly relevant. I would be remiss if I didn’t honor her today by sharing with you one of her poems.
Sleep well dearest Adrienne; You are cherished by many, and you are already missed.
Without further adieu, I share with you:
Powers of Recuperation
by Adrienne Rich
A woman of the citizen party—what’s that—
is writing history backward
the chair she sits in
to be abandoned
The old, crusading, raping, civil, great, phony, holy, world,
second world, third world,
cold, dirty, lost, on drugs,
infectious, maiming, class
war lives on
A done matter she might have thought
ever undone though
from before her birthyear
and that hyphen coming after
she’s old, old, the incendiary
whose warped wraps you shall find in graves and behind glass
Streets empty now
her figured shirt pulls on her dark generic garment
watch, rings, ear studs
now to pocket her flashlight
her tiny magnet
shut down heater
finger a sleeping cat
lock inner, outer door
key in crevice
listen once twice
to the breath of the neighborhood
take temperature of the signs
a frost settling
… you left that meeting around two a.m. I thought
someone should walk with you
Didn’t think then I needed that
years ravel out and now
who’d be protecting whom
I left the key in the old place
Spooky those streets of minds
shuttered against shatter
articulate those walls
pronouncing rage and need
fuck the cops
blow me again
Citizen walking catwise
close to the walls
heat of her lungs leaving
its trace upon the air
fingers her tiny magnet
which for the purpose of drawing
particles together will have to do
when as they say the chips are down
Ministers-in-exile with their aides
limb to limb dreaming underneath
conspiring by definition
in shelter rendezvous
two banks to every river
to every bridge
every built thing has its unmeant purpose
Every built thing with its unmeant
every unbuilt thing
child squatting civil
by kerosene flare in mud
carves in cornmeal mush
canals by index finger
all new learning looks at first
the tiny magnet throbs
in citizen’s pocket
Bends under the arc walks bent listening for chords and codes
bat-radar-pitched or twanging
off rubber bands and wires tin can telephony
to scribble testimony by fingernail and echo
her documentary alphabet still evolving
Walks up on the bridge
wind-whipped roof and trajectory
shuddering under her catpaw tread
one of seven
built things holds her suspended
and the massive figure on unrest’s verge
1pondering the unbuilt city
cheek on hand and glowing eyes and
skirted knees apart
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