The Death Ship (Lawrence Hill Books, 1991)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Picture a darker version of Moby Dick, more focused on class struggle, and you have The Death Ship. Possibly enigmatic anarchist author B. Traven's finest novel, and at the very least his most popular, this is the story of a sailor who becomes an unperson in every European nation when he loses his sailing card and passport, and can find a home only on the smuggling ship Yorricke working under brutal conditions for nearly no pay. An excellent blend of free-wheeling adventure story with a critique of the hard realities of life at the bottom of industrialized capitalist society, and the insanity that governmental bureaucracy is capable of.

Posted by St. Drogo at 10:13 AM  


P. 216 - "Why passports? Why immigration restrictions? ... for what reason? Only to show the omnipotence of the state, the bureaucrat. Bureaucracy has come to stay, it has become the great and mighty ruler of the world. It has come to stay to whip human beings into discipline and make them numbers ... the next stage will be the branding of registration numbers upon the back, so that no mistake can be made as to the true nationality of the insect ... Expanding markets and making large profits are a religion. It's the oldest religion perhaps, for it has the best-trained priests, and it has the most beautiful churches; yes,sir."

St. Drogo said...
June 4, 2008 at 10:20 AM  

P. 272 - "...If the capitalists would know the truth about communism, I feel sure they would adopt this system overnight to meet their fear of depressions. Of course, it is by far better they do not accept it; they sure would spoil the whole thing just as much as the original Christian ideas were spoiled the very moment an emperor made them his state religion."

St. Drogo said...
June 4, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

P. 165 - "I shall not be a gladiator ... I spit right into your face, Imperator Ceasar Augustus. You have lost one of the slaves who greet you: "The moribund salute you, hail!" Save your soap and crash it down your wind-pipe. I do not need it any longer ... I spit at you and your whole damn breed. Swallow that. I am ready now for battle."

St. Drogo said...
June 4, 2008 at 10:24 AM

St. Drogo said...
June 4, 2008 at 10:28 AM  

P. 184 - "Of course, sir, I can work here all right. Others are working here. Why can't I do the same? Man's aptness for imitation makes slaves and heroes. If that man yonder is not killed by the whip, then I won't be either. So let him whip. 'Look at that fellow there. My, what a brave guy! He goes straight into machine-gun fire just like that. There is a great man. You are not yellow, are you?' Others do it, so I can do it. That's the way wars are fought and death ships are run. All after the same idea. No invention of new ideas or new models is necessary. The old ones are still working smoothly."

St. Drogo said...
June 6, 2008 at 12:27 PM  

P. 198 - "No use to preach to the working-man courtesy and politeness when at the same time the working-man is not given working consitions under which he can always stay polite and soft-mannered. One must not expect clean speech from a man compelled to live in filth, always overtired and usually hungry. Well fed, and sitting in a deep soft seat in an Episcopalean church, it is a godly pleasure to listen to a high-powered sermon about the wickedness of an ever unsatisfied working class. Make all the wicked sailors and the restless workers, after a good meal, sit in the same soft church seats, and they will listen with the same joy as do the others to the sermon about the lost proletarians who won't believe in God or heaven."

St. Drogo said...
June 6, 2008 at 12:30 PM  

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