Thursday, August 25, 2011

For Those Who Scoff at Heels and Sneaks

Nazim Hikmet in 1931


If there are those
who'd call
"an enemy
of a clean shirt,"
they should see a picture of my great teacher,
The master of masters, Marx, pawned
his jacket,
and he ate maybe one meal every four days;
his awesome beard
down a spotless
starched shirt ...
And since when did pressed pants get the death sentence?
Wise guys
should read our history here, too:
"In 1848, as bullets parted his hair,
he'd wear
pants of genuine English wool
in true English style,
creased and waxed
à l'anglaise -
the greatest of men, Engels ...
When Valdimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin stood
like a fire-breathing giant on the barricades,
he wore a collar
and a tie as well ..."
As for me
who's just another proletarian poet
--Marxist-Leninst consciousness, thirty kilos of bones,
seven liters of blood,
a couple kilometers
of blood vessels,
muscles, flesh, skin and nerves,
the cloth cap on my head
doesn't tell
what's in it
any more than my only felt hat
makes me a tool
of the past that's passing ...
if I wear a cloth cap
six days a week
it's so that once a week
when I'm out with my girl
I can wear
my only felt hat ...
why don't I have two felt hats?
What do you say, master?
Am I lazy?
To bind pages twelve hours a day,
to stand on my feet
till I drop,
is hard work ...
Am I totally stupid?
For instance,
I could hardly be
as backward
as Mr. So-and-So ...
Am I a fool?
completely ...
Maybe a bit careless ...
But all the time
the real reason is that
I'm a proletarian,
a proletarian!
And I'll own two felt hats
- two million -
only when,
like every proletarian,
I own - we own-
the textile mills of Barcelona-Habik-Mosan-Manchester!
And if n-o-o-o-o-o-t,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reading Z in 1936

This year New Directions reissued Louis Zukofsky's massive poem "A." I can't speak to the whole, but the first hundred pages deliver complex and, for Qlipothim, congenial compositions on revolutionary art and politics. Several times I have thought I should post passages here. But extracts from such a long and complex poem lose meaning in isolation.

But today I was reading those comments on the rebellions in England by the renowned Zzk. And thinking about how vacuous the self-packaging of the image-commodity celebrity leftist'is. Particularly it's self-celebration of the psychoanalytic complexities of its own relationship to corporate image-commodities, to misogynist movies and racist jokes, and its disappointment in the vulgar desires for tangible commodities evident in the rebellion.

Then I read Zukofsky, who has this to say in 1936:

Untiring action, but free
From the lie that it can take the place
of mass action.
We are not Xerxes who had the sea
scourged with chains.
But to determine the facts does not
mean to give up the struggle.
Learn, learn, learn!
Act, act act!
Be prepare, well and completely prepared
To make use, with all our forces,
Of the next revolutionary wave.
That is our job.

Good day,
The 'left' really
Thinks the International is a faithful Penelope.
Well, our International does not weave
during the day
To undo its work during the night. -
Thanks for such Marxism
Which immediately attributes all society
To its economic basis.

And I mistrust the sexual theories of the articles,
dissertations, pamphlets ..
In short that .. literature which
Flourishes in the dirty soil of society,
I mistrust those who are always contemplating
The several questions, like the Indian saint his
Arbitrary hypotheses .. personal need
To justify personal abnormality .. before
Middle class moralitym and to entreat its patience.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sheer criminality

A Fine Lung on the current outburst of free private enterpr Thatcherism deregulated shopping shocking, inexplicable selfishness in England:

You start with a society in which material wealth is the only way to get ahead. You follow with a culture in which fame and money dominate. You bombard people with images of luxury goods that you tell them they must have. You create a society in which the wealthiest 1% own 20% of the country’s wealth whilst the least wealthy 50% own just 7%. You make that gap wider. You tantalise and take away.

You remove educational allowances from the young. You put a higher percentage of them out of work than at any time in the last century. You tell them that they must sustain £30,000 of debt to go to college to get a degree that isn’t even likely to get them a job. You spend ten billion on a sports event a few miles down the road that they cannot afford to even attend. You talk of Olympic Dreams (TM) as you close their sports facilities. You cut local services and their parents’ jobs to pay for the debts and disasters of your banks. You condemn their lives through your economic ideology as you sit in your cabinet of millionaires. You criminalise them for socialising in groups that you say are ‘anti-social’. You stop and search them over and over and over again and when they react you punish them. You turn one against another. You individualise and marginalise and alienate them from their neighbours. You talk of community but make it an illusion. You give no hope.

You do all this.

And when they come out of the estates to which you confine them, to take the goods they cannot afford, from the shops that won’t let them in, on streets denied to them by the police who harass them, in defiance of the politicians who condemn them, organised on social networks and media from which you have made millions, filmed by your cameras for your corrupt media companies for our consumption; when they do all this, all you can say is: ‘This is sheer criminality’.

You bet it is.