Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Last Days of Humankind 3

[Selects another newspaper clipping.]

Herewith, the richness of gratitude with which Austria-Hungary rewards a few of its treasured "patriots":

"In the first year of this glorious Great War, news reports inform us: Fanto, Inc. --- 74 percent net profit. An oil refinery --- 137 percent net profit. Kreditanstalt Bank --- 20 million Marks net profit."

And for this, my friend, and not only you, but millions, were forced to wallow four years in glory, mud, filth, lies, rats and lice, forcibly separated from the solace of home, hearth, letters, books, friends, loved ones. Naturally, my friends, you were intended to live: there were, after all, banks and stock exchanges unlooted, lies unprinted, widows and orphans unfilled with sorrow, human beings not yet dazed, confused, beaten, whipped --- still a pittance, at least, of petty malice and vicious incompetence not yet excused by war, and still to be measured out.

Friend! Comrade! Buddy! Pal! You were sentenced to four years on death row for this? You there and we here, like sheep for the slaughter, like the Serbian grandfathers forced by their Austrian executioners to dig their own graves, then to stand and wait, stand and wait, stand and wait, staring into their own graves, condemned for the simple reason of being merely Serb and therefore expendable in a Greater Cause.

Friend! Comrade! Buddy! Pal! I see the leaders of this global holocaust, the leaders who always seem to survive to retire, warlords who always seem to ride away into the sunset, gently "fading away" astride their fine horses, those cowards who command from far behind the front lines, I see them fallen into our hands, digging their own graves, I see them standing and waiting, standing and waiting, standing and waiting, staring into their own graves like Serb grandfathers, waiting for the blossom of pain in the back of the neck.

But then: Don’t kill them!

Slap their coward’s faces and rub their coward’s noses in the world they’ve made: Children crying for milk, horses crying for grain, the dying crying for water, prisoners crying for mercy, mothers crying for children, wives crying for husbands, orphans crying for fathers, each crying for one another, the hero’s death, the heroine’s sorrow, and nothing left in the world but screams and cries, curses and sorrows, and … certain favored bank accounts forever feeding and fattening on misery and despair.

My friend, comrade, buddy, pal: Murdered, silent, seldom daring to revolt for certain knowledge you’d be murdered by your own commanders. Silent and unrevolted in the face of a social and economic order which would condemn all humanity hereafter to “scraping by”. Murdered, silent, and unrevolted when the imperatives of public hatred murdered dreams of private happiness.

“There was a war on. There is a war on. There’s a war coming”.

Fear, flags, lice, anthems, hunger, slogans, murder, honor, poverty, glory, massacres, refugees, lies. Humanity enslaved by greed and shame.

Softened up by a constant bombardment of Sunday Editions, we learned to hate in all the languages of Babel. The press didn’t make the war, only helped our masters rob us of all imagination and knowledge, ‘til we dared not even imagine our own self-extermination.

“In the beginning was the Word”.

In the end, we had surrendered all words.

And, in all this, hardly any of you who were murdered in the trenches dared say a word, dared repent of nationalist hatred, dared turn against our masters and help us free ourselves and you from the governance of lies.

Instead, you cowered on barren ground amid barbed wire, huddled in trenches, lay in stinking hospital trains, naked and defenseless before cannon fire and journalists.

“Excuse me, my friend. Please tell me, for the Evening Edition and the Public’s Right to Know: What’s it like to die?”

You lived and rotted in hell, only to prolong our common hell, and then you died.

But rest assured: You didn’t die in vain!



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