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150th Anniversary Of Communist Manifesto


illustration by IAN MOORE

On the 150th anniversary of

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis: none of the shells contains the pea. And these end-of-millennium pyramid schemes to plunder whole nations of their meager margin are mere revisitings of Aguirre’s journey. In this post-modern Eldorado, though, Indians, jaguars and macaws have been scattered, their bromeliad forests shattered and burned to grow freeze-dried hamburgers for our astronauts – and by the trillions, mind you, there’s progress yet. Now that the difference between tragedy and farce has long withered away, you can locate the prophets and disciples on line at some obscure British Museum in cyberspace, just keystrokes from the global porno village and the daily listings of profit and price.

Stadiums and spectacles! Half the proles in prison, the rest gone shopping, destiny dispensed from slot machines. Looters great and humble now gnaw their booty in the cellar of the self, while dynasties conjured and deleted in a day tornado overhead, the serpent endlessly swallowing its tail. Faulty wiring in the cooling towers,
more tumors in your scan, the last songbirds ignited on an electrified fence to keep the barbarians out. Your birthplace bulldozed, finally, to save it, or to build the cineplex where you can gaze as peripheries melt down, metropoles give way, and slaves squabble murderously for an extra stripe.

Carlos, Federico, listen: different specters haunt us now – laboratory plagues and wild weather, myriad revenge of the manufactured ecstasies,of wonders too wonderful, too technologically sweet, that once slumbered in the lap of social labor. And this coming mutual ruination of the classes, contending or not contending, general contamination of both paradise and hell. Prehistory, history, post-history: another conundrum, new gigawatt empires resemble the old. The hunger the same, and the rage, the despair, the everlasting uncertainty and agitation, the human sacrifice and idiocies of urban life. Pharaoh clones skate across the cracking, disintegrating ice of what was once thought solid, while someone’s young kids still slave in the mills and mines, barefoot, ravenous, under the whip, nothing to lose but their chains – and a ruin to win.

David Watson

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New Internationalist issue 307 magazine cover This article is from the November 1998 issue of New Internationalist.
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