Tuesday, October 05, 2010

from: Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead

Vampire Capitalists

Marx was the first white man La Escapìa had ever heard call his own people vampires and monsters. But Marx had not stopped with accusations. Marx had caught the capitalists of the British Empire with bloody hands. Marx backed every assertion with evidence: coroner's reports with gruesome stories about giant spinning machines that consumed the limbs and the lives of the small children in factories. On and on Marx went, describing the tiny corpses of children who had been worked to death - their deformed bodies shaped to fit inside factory machinery and other cramped spaces. While the others dozed, La Escapìa sat up in her seat wide-awake. She could not get over the brutality and all the details Marx had included. She could never have imagined tiny children wedged inside the machinery just to make a rich man richer.

El Feo was sent by La Escapìa's elder sisters to take stock of her political views. El Feo wanted to know how she knew this man Marx wasn't a liar like the rest of the white men. La Escapìa shrugged her shoulders. She wasn't trying to convert anyone. Tribal people had had all the experience they would ever need to judge whether Marx's stories told the truth. The Indians had seen generations of themselves ground into bloody pulp under the steel wheels of ore cars in crumbling tunnels of gold mines. the Indians had seen for themselves the cruelty of the Europeans toward children and women. That was how La Escapìa had satisfied herself Marx was reliable; his accounts had been consistent with what the people already knew.

From that point on, the words of Marx had only gotten better. The stories Marx related, the great force of his words, the bitterness and fury -- they had caught hold of La Escapìa's imagination then.

La Escapìa used to walk for hours around and around downtown Mexico City, in a daze at what she was seeing -- at the immensity of wealth behind the towers of steel and concrete and glass, built on this empire for European princes.

In the filthy, smog-choked streets with deafening reverberations of traffic jammed solid around her, La Escpaèia had laughed out loud. This was the end of what the white man had to offer the Americas: poison smog in the winter and the choking clouds that swirled off sewage treatment leaching fields and filled the sky with fecal dust in early spring. Here was the place Marx had in mind as "a place of human sacrifice, a shrine where thousands passed yearly through the fire as offerings to the Moloch of avarice." La Escapìa really liked the way Marx talked about Europeans.

El Feo kept quiet but nodded vigorously at the right places. La Escapìa was going to make him pay through the ears for acting as go-bewteen for the elder sisters. The elders just wanted the land back; they didn't want to hear about "revolution." While he was listening to La Escapìa talk about Marx and the cities of werewolves and England's dead children, El Feo had already been formulating his report to the elder sisters. He would advise them to listen: La Escapìa was on to something important.


  1. Great passage. I also love the description of Marx's style: "Marx had gathered official government reports of the suffering English factory workers the way a tribal shaman might have, feverishly working to bring together a powerful, even magical, assembly of stories. In the repetition of the workers' stories lay great power; workers must never forget the story of other workers...No factory inspector's “official report” could whitewash the tears, blood, and sweat that glistened from the simple words of the narratives."

  2. thanks pauly

    I was hoping someone would comment to this post.

    " workers must never forget the story of other workers"

    this is really key; the obligation to learn history, transmit history, tell the truth about history.

  3. Looking at your BB makes me think Tim Roth should play him in the biopic

  4. Thanks for publishing this passage. This book has haunted me for years,it is truly one of the most amazing novels of the 20th century. A lyrical fugue that rips and gnashes at the fabric of what we take to be reality. In this regard it is not unlike the work you do in your blog. I admire and appreciate your careful decoding and unmasking of the academic, media mediated information that gets passed off as truth or worse reality. Cheers.

  5. Hey Thanks Nicole.

    "This book has haunted me for years,it is truly one of the most amazing novels of the 20th century."

    Yeah me too - this writing can really change the reader.