Monday, January 16, 2012

Spiritually Dead

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death". Martin Luther King, Jr - April 4, 1967

45 years later, we have reached official spiritual death. When the official voices of the United States of America openly celebrate and justify torture, assassination, unprovoked aggression, endless war and prison without charges or trial, when the ruling class breaks laws with impunity while the working class is imprisoned for owning plants or other trivial offenses, then we have reached spiritual death.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, the US still pretended to believe in the rule of law, elected officials tried to avoid appearances of impropriety, there were very few lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and the President called for a Great Society, in which the poor would be uplifted. There were about 500,000 Americans in prison. Now there are over two million. In the 90s, millions were thrown off welfare, and now they are going after the safety net for the elderly.

Now the President only speaks of the "middle class", while cynically appointing bankers to his cabinet, including the new Chief of Staff, who bet against homeowners during his time at Citibank.

I heard a speech by the ex-president of Amnesty International. He said that people asked him how he could continue day after day, while being overwhelmed by the evidence of torture around the world.

Because, he said, history is never over.

Yes, they told us in the 90s that history was over, and the US had won, and there was now a New World Order, in which the US reigned supreme and would forever rule all the peoples of the world. And, for good measure, space.

And yet, history has moved on, and the US has turned on its own people now.

We need a rebirth of values. We need to start talking again about peace and justice and freedom, We need to talk about economic democracy and how to build a great society without oppressing or killing other people or the ecosystem.

We need to talk about living more lightly on the planet, without destroying the surface on which we evolved to get to the last bits of fossil fuels, and minerals. We need to live on what we have, even if it means changing the American lifestyle.

I know that Dick Cheny said that the American lifestyle was untouchable, but he's wrong. Anyway, how many Americans can fly on private jets to kill animals in Texas, Alaska and Wyoming, and then fly to Europe for lunch? Oh, that's right. 1%.

How many Americans can shoot someone in the face without repercussion? OK, the police, but only when they're on duty.

We can make a better world. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for a more just society, but he was one of many people.

Langston Hughes was a great African American poet, and he spoke for a better America-

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!


silvioafonso said...


Adorei o blog e só por isso
eu vou segui-lo. Faça como
eu, siga o meu também...



Anonymous said...

The authoritarian right wing characterize the lefties as dirty hippies with irrational hopes of peace and love. The anti-hippies are just loving war/aggression and hate...with some kind of message that the world would be wonderful if only the liberals and union-types were gone. The most irrational of all are the second coming nuts that think everything America does is under God's control. Pity the youngsters who are fed this continual tripe of hate.

You are such a good writer.

wagelaborer said...

Thank you. You're right, we are being fed continual tripe.

It's actually amazing how many people manage to resist.

Anonymous said...


The information in your latest script contains a lot of truly terrifying statements. I, like you, tend to believe there are no limits to the bestial behaviour that homo sapiens is capable of but I would like to ask you how you verify the veracity of your assertions. It is true a lot of the historical outcomes you mention are self evident but how do you actually check them ?

I would really like to know.

Whether you bother answering me or not I remain an ardent admirer of you and your words. Such a refreshing change from the usual american "tripe".

Hard and depressing as current events may seem, may your chin stay firmly up.

p.s. I heard your wonderful president on the radio this morning confirming the use of "drone" aeroplanes to bomb Afganistan. It was comforting to hear how these courageous weapons only kills Al- Qaeda members and that no civilians were hurt. Bloody clever these warmongers.

Your respectfully, Peter Banks

wagelaborer said...

I also heard Obama claim that his drone strikes only kill terrorists who want to harm Americans.

Amy Goodman corrected him by pointing out that many innocent victims, including children, have been killed.

We don't know how many people have been killed. Our psychopathic leaders express no interest in their body counts.

As I said, we are spiritually dead.

Anonymous said...

Wage, Where you been?--Marlin

wagelaborer said...

lbendet and I got banned.