Tuesday, 09 October 2018 12:24

To the Wrong-Siders

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in Poetry
To the Wrong-Siders

To the Wrong-Siders

by Chris Norris

There is something in human history like retribution; and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender himself. The first blow dealt to the French monarchy proceeded from the nobility, not from the peasants. The Indian revolt does not commence with the ryots, tortured, dishonoured and stripped naked by the British, but with the sepoys, clad, fed and petted, fatted and pampered by them.

The Tories in England long imagined that they were enthusiastic about monarchy, the church, and the beauties of the old English Constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the confession that they are enthusiastic only about ground rent.

- Karl Marx

dave simonds cartoon on b 001

You've got the dosh, you bankers, but we've got
The hands-on savvy, things we've learned
The tough way, both by catching up with what
Marx had to say, and by hard-earned
Experience; stuff you do, you banker lot,
But seem routinely unconcerned
To figure out because the master-plot
You bank on might be overturned
If word got round and we were primed to spot
The hedge-fund hikes, the bridges burned.

new cabinet

You politicians, you with lots of clout
Who fix things, line your pockets, lie
To save your skins, boss everyone about
Except the boss-class; by-and-by
We're going to kick you scheming bastards out
Because we’ve figured how and why
You came to pull that con-trick off without
Sufficient brain-power to apply
For any sort of job save lobby-tout
Or weapons salesman on the sly.


Then there's all the arms-business CEOs
In league with you who'll trade
With any blood-crazed tyrant (lots of those
Around just now) or any renegade
Regime so long as it's a deal that goes
To further swell the pile you’ve made
From conflicts stoked and armed by devil knows
What back-hand bribes, and with the aid
Of ministers not anxious to disclose
How life-style so outstrips pay-grade.

Trump Inauguration NH 25

We'll hunt you down and then we'll make you pay,
All you sharp-suited types who kill
Or maim kids by the dozen every day
When missiles miss, as missiles will,
Yet put your own kids off the scent when they,
As children do, attempt to fill
The day-job details in: you'll hardly say
'Well, kids, I have this special skill
At mechanized mass-murder, so hooray,
There's always lots more blood to spill!’

anti corbyn tabloids

And then you tabloid journalists, you scum
Who thrive, dung-beetle-like, on fare
Most readers puke at; one day soon we'll drum
You out, announce you've done your share
Of harm already with your drive to dumb
The issues down, so best prepare
To keep the peace, keep noses clean, keep mum,
Or maybe even show you care
By blowing Murdoch Inc to kingdom come
With inside knowledge if you dare!


And what’s to say of you, you Eton-bred
And Oxbridge-educated thick
Rich heirs of rank or privilege who head
For a safe seat, then take your pick
Of cabinet posts, and then go off to bed
With racist nut-jobs keen to kick
The migrants out, deport all Muslims, shred
The social contract, and – to tick
Your last box – have the tabloids seeing red
Should broadsheets ridicule your schtick.

LAzy academic

You academics, don’t imagine you’ll
’Scape whipping or get off the hook,
No matter if you did some out-of-school
Campaigning stuff, or sometimes took
Time off ‘research’ to join a march, retool
Your own self-image, cock a snook
At campus activists or, height of cool,
Now dedicate your latest book
To all those comrades, past and present, who’ll
Find faults they’ll kindly overlook’.

old new labour

And lastly you, the mischief-making clan
Of old New Labour types who've had
A spell in office, sold out, and now plan
Your comeback with some tips to add,
Like ‘send the unions packing when you can’,
‘Keep business sweet’, ‘be quick to glad-
Hand CBI chaps’, and ‘make sure to pan
Those Trots or Corbynistas mad
Enough to still keep faith with what began
When have-nots twigged why times were bad’.

So you're the bunch lined up to get the boot
First off when crunch-time comes, when it's
A case no longer of which lies best suit
Your purpose, or which scam best fits
Your game-plan, but of finding out a route
From what’s long kept us in the pits
Of hope betrayed where slogans substitute
For action to what finally permits
The struggles of the past to bear late fruit
Before the fascist backlash hits.

You’ll need some help, so here’s a few quick tips:
Get out more, change friends, get street-wise,
Read Marx, keep watching politicians’ lips
(They move? You’ll know they’re telling lies),
Learn dialectics, note stock-market dips,
Ignore what trusty guides advise,
Stay tuned, forget old maxims, get to grips
With false ideas, and analyze
Your preconceptions lest they should eclipse
The light that newly strikes your eyes.

Of course we offer no firm guarantees
You’ll make the grade: you may just lack
The brains, or stamina, or want to please
Your latest boss, or soon head back
To old thought-habits, or mislay the keys
Marx gave you, or just fail to crack
The codes that let our class-oppressors seize
Their chance to cultivate the knack
Of catching us in weaknesses like these
That throw us constantly off track.

Yet, not to be excluded, there’s the small
But crucial room for choice by grace
Of which you chronic loiterers might haul
Yourself out of the limbo-space
Where you’ve so long consented to play ball
With fools and rogues. So learn to face
This simple truth: that when the empires fall,
From Rome to Wall Street, there’s no place
For those who hang on till the curtain-call,
With options open just in case.

 Cover Stefan Siegert laughing Marx resized1

 The above image is by Stefan Siegert. It's called Laughing Marx and is on the cover of I’ll have the Last Laugh Yet!,  available online or from bookshops for £8.99 plus p&p.

Read 2199 times Last modified on Monday, 26 November 2018 16:18
Chris Norris

Christopher Norris is Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at the University of Cardiff. He is the author of more than thirty books on aspects of philosophy, politics, literature, the history of ideas, and music.