What’s Going On

No Romance Here

When I finally got back to the apartment building, I found
the street full of activity. The jet setters, hustles, and
insomniacs, all seemed to congregate on my street. Instinctively, I
knew it would be unhealthy to hang out, especially while tripping on
acid. I was happy to get inside my scurvy apartment, as impossible
as that seemed, but I definitely could not sleep. I didn’t want to
hang with the cat shit, so I climbed through the window at the end
of the hall and went out on to the fire escape. Six floors above the
street, I had the best seat in the house. The longer I sat on my
metal perch, the more I appreciated just how lucky I was to be off
the street.

It was a warm night and tripping on acid made life on the
street seem even more alive than it really was. There were bright
lights, colorful people, and all kinds of lavish automobiles to trip
off of. It seemed that, after the bars closed, all the horny men
would come to my neighborhood to get, or wish for, a piece of ass.
When the rest of the city was in bed, my street was just starting to
swing, and swing it did. The street was covered with shouting people
and directly across from me, on the steps in front of a run down
hotel, seven prostitutes were hanging out. These prostitutes would
strut their stuff and shout at the passing motorists. As the
drivers, one after another, drove their cars slowly down the street,
occasionally, one would stop and bargain with the prostitutes. Every
so often a deal would get struck, and the prostitute and her John
would walk up the steps and into the hotel.

The people on the street were all black. Maybe a few
Chicano’s were among them, but I never saw a white person get out of
his car, at least voluntarily. A white man driving his car up the
street said something to a black man who was driving in the opposite
direction. As traffic came to a stop, the black man jumped out of
his car and ran up to the white man’s car. He pulled the white guy
out of his car and sent him to the pavement so fast I couldn’t even
see how he did it. The black man then got back in his car and drove
away. The cars going up and down the street could not move while
this altercation took place. After the fight was over the cars
behind the black man’s car began to move, but the cars behind the
white man’s car were not so lucky. It took a lot longer for him to
get going. The people waiting were not amused, nor did they show
signs of compassion. In fact, I thought the white guy was lucky to
avoid another beating.

As I was watching all this action take place, I began to
wonder why I hadn’t seen one pig car cruising the street. I guess
the cops figured it wasn’t worth coming into this area, especially
if they valued their lives. My butt was beginning to hurt and I was
thinking maybe the inside of my apartment wouldn’t be so bad. Then,
right below me, another fight broke out. Apparently, a pedestrian
said the wrong thing to a guy in another passing car. Once again the
car stopped. It wasn’t much of a fight, though. This time two guys
beat the crap out of the pedestrian. After that, I began to lose
interest in the mayhem going on below me.

I got off the railing and sat on the metal floor of the
fire escape. Across the street I could still see the prostitutes. A
shiny new Riviera stopped, holding up traffic, and two men got out
and walked over to the prostitutes, and began to bargain with them.
Apparently, the price was too high because one of the men grabbed a
girl and forced her over to the car. When she kicked and screamed,
the man used a little persuasion by twisting her arm almost in a
circle. The girl didn’t have a chance because two more men were
waiting in the car to help restrain her. Once they got her in the
car and started pulling away, she continued to fight and I knew this
because as far down the road as I could see the car swerved from
lane to lane, almost causing two accidents.

Now I knew for positive, I wasn’t enjoying my front row
seat anymore. I was getting sick, and I thought I might throw-up.
Waiting for the feeling to subside, another thought occurred to me.
Whatever it is that is good about class solidarity, it was obvious,
it wasn’t going to show up on my street anytime soon. No way, no
how, was Marx’s kinder, gentler, humanity going to manifest itself
on my street. It would take many more lifetimes before class
solidarity could work its magic on these people. And then, in a
flash of insight, it hit me! All that crap I learned in university
was bullshit. There never would arise, under any conditions, a
benevolent society. The unwashed proletariat with their aggressive,
brutal, and licentious behavior was proof of the pudding. The truth
was that greed, deceit, and lust rules, and no “scientific
socialism” would change that. There would be no fellowship of
equals, no society based on fairness and justice in humanity’s


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to What’s Going On

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    Here’s the last part of the above that didn’t get posted:

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    In the hands of a victorious proletariat, Marx believed modern technology would liberate society from relationships of oppression. That is what Marx wanted to believe. But, nothing, not revolution, evolution, modern technology, nor “the best intentions of man or woman,” could change the heart’s appetite for greed, deceit and lust. True, what Marx said would happen, was happening. Below on the street, I saw in full relief the agony, brutality, ignorance, and degradation that Marx predicted would be capitalism’s gift to humanity. I saw human beings reduced to callous cash payments. I saw naked self-interest substituting for the interpersonal relationships that in the past bonded human beings one to the other. In tribal communities, where the tribe, in order to survive, had to act as one body, human relationships were optimal. As evolution progressed and economies expanded, human relationships disintegrated. With the advent of capitalism, and increasingly since, personal worth has become a dollars and cents measure. Money is not just the concern of the corporate manager; it has now become the first concern of the physician, lawyer, priest and man of science.

    In that instantaneous flash of insight I saw everything. I saw what Marx did not see, what he would not allow himself to see. I saw that capitalism was not going to bring about the end of class antagonisms, nor was it going to transform itself, after the revolution, into a society free of class distinctions, class struggles, exploitation and oppression. Marx was wrong to believe that a consciousness of solidarity would arise phoenix-like from the dark side of human nature. What Marx did not see, which below on the street was so obvious to me, was the inverse relationship that existed between economic expansion and humanness. It was axiomatic: the more wealth in a society, the more inhumane people became. Evolution, real social evolution, had turned the tables on Marxism. Our future was already dealt; playing out the cards was all that was left to chance.

    Marx had some things right, though. He was right about the world being shaped and reshaped by conflict. He believed that because of the scarcity of material goods, societies would always be in the process of developing better ways to extract wealth from their environment and, as a consequence, the haves would always be in conflict with the have-nots. Conflicts between the relations of production in a society and the developing powers within these relations have been, and always will be, in conflict. History, as Marx pointed out, is the story of how the exchange and distribution of goods follows from an insufficient production of goods. Social conditions, social relations, and social structure, all follow from the way goods are produced and distributed. But, Marx was wrong in his belief that this conflict would come to an end with the rise of capitalism. He was wrong to believe that capitalism would produce a revolution, allowing workers to take control of the means of production, thus raising civilization to the next level, a level where society becomes class free and oppressive relationships disappear.

    The liberation that Marx hoped for and anticipated will not happen. Instead, capitalism has become a “fountain of youth” for the purloined heart. Unrestrained greed, hatred, and lust have become this heart’s lifeline. Capitalism has liberated this heartless heart like no other society or economic system could. The god of the all mighty dollar has set this heart free, free to soar without limits!

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