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Sunday, March 18, 2018

THE ANARCHIST MEETS THE GANGSTER

    I am not writing this on a Sunday afternoon to bitch about such petty matters as how often things stink on ice. The reason I am writing it is to convince you to engage in the violent overthrow of the capitalist system. I might be joking, but only if the justice department gets tired of pursuing the gangster class. I'm no gangster. What I am is a revolutionary mofo, a dashing daredevil of a roustabout who thinks "Wild Thing" by the Troggs represents the complete and total spirit of life on this madly spinning orb, who believes in love as the ultimate force for change, who had the unearned privilege of spending the important part of his life with Lisa Ann, who has squandered most of his other privileges over the years (including some--let's face it--considerable writing talent, long-winded though that magnificent gift might be; never met a sentence yet I couldn't elongate with a semi-colon or two), and who loves those he loves with a sacred intensity and mentally disembowels those who cross him with evil intentions (and if you doubt this last point, check with a former high school English teacher, a former manager at American Express and a former Hertz employee, to name only a very few). 
   To repeat, I came from some degree of economic privilege, perhaps not in the same stratum as a well-known real estate fraud turned politician, but until I blew my largesse on wine women and song, I never wanted for anything. Being a proud underachiever, if not a card-carrying pragmatic anarchist, then certainly a member of a shrinking group of fifty-somethings whose liberal arts education led them to suspect that everything everyone from Walter Chronkite to Lester Holt ever said was nothing more or less than a meaty tranquilizer, I have come to have faith in the concept that each woman and man has a responsibility to prove John Donne's meditations correct when he wrote 

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.    

The bells are clanging in all their tintinnabulating glory. Open your windows, play Woody Guthrie, bring Robert Altman back from the grave (little bit of danger in that last point because it was the Lazarus miracle that got Jesus killed, after all, and as Bob Dylan pointed out, you ain't Him) and in essence wake the fuck up. The bells are going mad. It's just hard to hear them over all the purposeful distractions the gangsters bang in our ears.
    I haven't the time to worry over symbolic bullshit such as Trump and Putin because real as they very well may be, they remain figureheads for a more severe malaise and its name is gangster capitalism, a term coined and misapplied by Michael Woodiwiss in his book by that name. Admittedly, as figureheads go, these two wield more power than Queen Elizabeth, a lovable and simpleminded wretch if ever one lived. But Putin and Trump, murderers both, are just freaks of nature, soulless imps whose skins hold back mountains of puking maggots. 
   The real gangsters are not on cable news. The real gangsters are cable news. The real gangsters own the music business. The real gangsters own your favorite ride sharing company. The real gangsters own the GMOs and drugs you buy to get healed from the effects of the GMOs. They own the trees and the water and the air that we breathe. 
    I should say, they think they own these things. The reality is that we own them by virtue of our virtue. They own them by right of their wealth and the limited smarts to know how to use it. We own them by virtue of our virtue. 
   But virtue is not virtue unless from time to time it slams up against vice. 
   That is where I come in quite handy.
   You reading this (for which I do thank you--these words mean nothing without you perceiving them, and while I'm about it, thanks to Descartes as well) know which camp you live in. You may have been imbued with the glow from whatever brand of spiritualism caught you in dire need. You may have inspired yourself from readings of suffrage or the Wobblies. You may tell jokes in a nightclub act while wondering if anything matters. You may have lost everything in this stinking rotten sinkhole of a world that ever mattered to you and wile away the hours trying to decide between a Phil Ochs hanging and a Marilyn Monroe overdose. I have done all of those things and more and I'm not even half as good as you. 
   But as you lie back loving the shit out of such pathetic self pity, you could decide which side of the battle you are on. As I see it, three sides exist.
   Side one: The virtuous side, those whom I presume will inherit the earth after sides two and three have wiped one another out. These are the adherents of the non-revisionist New Testament Jesus, of Gandhi, of King, and of thousands more whose names have washed away with the changing of a TV channel.
   Side two: The vice side, those who will perish in whatever conflagration comes from such beauty as the repeated bombing of Chicago's Haymarket statue (the city finally had to hide the damned statue to keep people from blowing it up); the early labor organizers who beat the bile out of the white cops who were doing their job even though their job was against their own best interest and therefore in these parts had every stitch coming; the women of the early 20th century who defied their own fears and faced down unimaginable ridicule for the right to vote in meaningless elections; the Nat Turners, the John Browns--in short, the people who make the work of the Jesuses and Gandhis and Kings possible. 
   Side three: the people whose souls get gobbled up by the gangster capitalists. Around here we call these people idiot consumers, those who fight for their right to party, those who may be irked by the status quo but who, when the rubber meets the diaphragm, will sell you out for a prime spot in line at Wal Mart on Black Fucking Friday.
   You have some kind of special talent yourself. You can do one or more things better than other people. That's great. Congratulations. What matters is using it, be it virtuous or vicious in its implications. While you're deciding, Exxon is melting the ice caps. And they think it's funny.

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