from "I" to "we" in tough times

Posted on: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 15:05 By: Tom Swiss

If you haven't read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, you oughta. Not just because it's a great book, but because it might be the best way to understand the current political climate, where the investment classes use astroturf movements, big lies, and media manipulation to prey on the fears of working people and actually get them to argue against their own interests, to set the ordinary citizens fighting each other so that they will be too busy to throw off the aristocrats and parasites. The one-percenters read Steinbeck's warning and took it to heart:

Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate -- "We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket --take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.This is the beginning -- from "I" to "we."