The land, thinly populated and producing in wasteful. haphazard
way enormous surpluses of every kind, is deemed by its owners,
a mere handful of men, unable to accommodate not only the starving millions of Europe but our own starving hordes.
A country which makes itself ridiculous by sending out
armed missionaries and missionary drones
to the most remote parts of the globe
asking for pennies of the poor
in order to maintain the Christian work of deluded devils
who no more represent Christ than I do the Pope,
and yet unable through its churches and missions at home
to rescue the weak and defeated, the miserable
and the oppressed.
The hospitals, the insane asylums,
the prisons filled to overflowing.
Counties, some of them big as a
European country, practically uninhabited,
owned by an intangible
corporation whose tentacles reach everywhere and whose responsibilities nobody can formulate or clarify.
A man seated in a comfortable
chair in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, a man surrounded
by every luxury and yet paralyzed with fear and anxiety,
controls the lives and destinies of thousands of men and women
whom he has never seen, whom he never wishes to see and whose
fate he is thoroughly uninterested in.
This is what is called progress in the year 1941 in these United
States of America. Since I am not of Indian, Negro or Mexican
descent I do not derive any vengeful joy in delineating this picture
of the white man's civilization. I am a descendant of two men who
ran away from their native land because they did not wish to become soldiers.
My descendants, ironically enough, will no longer be
able to escape that duty: the whole white world has at last been
turned into an armed camp.
Ohio has given the country more Presidents
than any other State in the Union.
Presidents like McKinley, Hayes,
Garfield) Grant. Harding-weak, characterless men.
It has also given
us writers like Sherwood Anderson and Kenneth Patchen,
the one looking for poetry everywhere and the other driven almost mad by the evil and ugliness everywhere.
The one walks the streets at night
in solitude and tells us of the imaginary life going on behind closed
the other is so stricken with pain and chagrin by what he
sees that he Ie-creates the cosmos in terms of blood and tears. stands it upside down and walks out on it in loathing and disgust.
I am glad I had the chance to see these Ohio towns, this
Mahoning River which looks as if the poisonous bile of all humanity had: poured into it, though in truth it may contain nothing more evil
than the chemicals and waste products of the mills and factories.
I am glad I had the chance to see the color of the earth here in
winter~ a color not of age and death but of disease and sorrow. Glad I could take in the rhinoceros-skinned banks that rise from the
river's edge and in the pale light of a wintry afternoon reflect the
lunacy of a planet given over to rivalry and hatred.
Glad I caught a glimpse of those slag heaps which look like the accumulated droppings of sickly prehistoric monsters which passed in the night.
It helps me to understand the black and monstrous poetry which the younger man distils in order to preserve his sanity;
helps me to understand why the older writer had to pretend madness in order
to escape the prison which he found himself in when he was working in the paint factory.
It helps me to understand how proSperity built
on this plane of life can make Ohio the mother of presidents and
the persecutor of men of genius.
'The saddest sight of all is the automobiles parked outside the
mills and factories. The automobile stands out in my mind as the
very symbol of falsity and illusion. There they are, thousands upon
thousands of them, in such profusion that it would seem as if no
man were too poor to own one. In Europe, Asia, Mrica the toiling
masses of humanity look with watery eyes towards this Paradise
where the worker rides to work in his own car.
What a magnificent world of opportunity it must be,
they think to themselves. (At least we like to think that
they think that way)
They never ask what one must do to have this great boon.
They don't realize that when the American worker steps out
of his shining tin chariot he delivers himself body and soul to the most stultifying labor a man can perform.
They have NO idea that it is possible, even when
one works under the best possible conditions, to forfeit all rights
as a human being.
They don't know that the best possible conditions
(in American lingo) mean the biggest profits for the boss,
the utmost servitude for the worker, the greatest confusion and disillusionment for the public in general.
They see a beautiful, shining
car which purrs like a cat they see endless concrete roads so smooth
and flawless that the driver has difficulty keeping awake; they see
cinemas which look like palaces; they see department stores with
mannikins dressed like princesses.
They see the glitter and paint, the baubles, the gadgets,
the luxuries; they don't see the bitterness in the heart,
tile skepticism, the cynicism, the emptiness, the sterility,
the despair, the hopelessness which is eating up the American worker.
They don't want to see this-they are fun of misery
They want a way out: they want the lethal comforts.
conveniences, luxuries. And they follow in our footsteps-blindly,