Money Writes (Native American Books, 1931)

Sunday, July 6, 2008



This entry in Upton Sinclair's "Dead Hand" series focuses on literature - everything from Homer to Shakespeare and Sinclair's contemporaries, taking the same "turn out the pockets" approach of his other books in the series. It is filled with zingers for writers who support and glorify the rich and the elite, and praise for representatives of working people and the downtrodden. It is perhaps the most honest and useful book of literary criticism ever written.

Posted by St. Drogo at 1:59 PM  

37 comments:

* "One great service was rendered to American literature by George Cram Cook. He founded the Provincetown Theatre, and discovered Eugene O'Neill: a wild boy who had run away from home, and shipped as a sailor, and lived a vagabond life in various ports of the world. He happened to be in Provincetown "with a trunkful of plays", when the little group of radicals were trying to start a proletarian drama. So he got a hearing, which the commercial theater of Broadway would not have given him in a thousand years. And so the commercial theatre of Broadway has been mocked.

If you think that my understanding of proletarian art is Socialist lectures disguised as novels and soap-box orations preached from a stage, then let me hasten to say that these early plays of O
'Neill are part of what I want and have got. Here is a man who writes about the sea, from the point of view of the wage-slaves of the sea, with full knowledge, insight and pity; yet, so far as I can recall, there is not one word of direct propaganda, hardly even of indirect. Let a man show capitalism as it really is in any smallest corner - as O'Neill has done in "Bound East for Cardiff" - and the message of revolt rings from every sentence.

And then "The Emperor Jones": the first O'Neill play to reach California, and so the first that I saw on the stage. A rigid Leninist would call that a reactionary play, because it suggests a permanent, hereditary inferiority of the black race. But it is a play so full of pity and terror, of truly magical entrance into the heart of savage humanity, that it operates to humble pride and break down barriers.

And then "The Hairy Ape", which my friend Floyd Dell hailed as definetly reactionary. For my part, I am glad of small favors; I note a short scene in a headquarters of the IWW, in which these men behave exactly as they would have done in reality. Am I correct in saying this is the first and only time this has happened in the acted theater of America?"

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

* "Next I mention John Dos Passos, genial and restless wanderer. He did not like the army, and gave us "Three Soldiers," which is a classic of the anti-militarist movement, the hope of civilization. Recently he published a magnum opus, "Manhattan Transfer", and three days ago he stood on a street corner and listened with great patience while I compared it to a kaleidoscope. He tried to give us, in a series of swift pictures, a sense of the confusion and rush of New York; and for me he gave it too well. There are a dozen characters in Manhattan Transfer whose stories I wanted to follow, but I got transferred from one to another so many times that I lost track of them all. My plea to Dos Passos, standing on the street corner of his bewildering Manhattan, was to write a plain, straightaway novel with the same emotional power and radical insight, and thus join our best-sellers."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

* - on Edith Wharton - "It is only rarely that a member of fashionable society takes to writing; they don't have to, and it hardly seems good form. But now and then one breaks the rules, and then the police reserves have to be called out to handle the mobs in the bookstores. In this case the writer was not merely a member of "real" society but an artist as well; never before had this happened in American history, and it was embarassing for the kept critics. They couldn't call this lady a liar, as they could with all the plebian muckrakers, who were under the necessity of writing for a living. Mrs. Wharton was admitted to know; and here she was declaring, in the "House of Mirth", that really rich and socially prominent people idled and drank and gambled, and that a young girl might be morally ruined while seeking to enhance her charms with fashionable clothes."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

* "This literary world of my youth was dominated by a writer named Kipling, an Englishman, you may remember; he is dead long since, but a ghost of him haunts a manor-house somewhere in Surrey, and squeaks and gibbers on the front page of the "Times" ... whenever the bulldog breed is called out to bite a stranger. This man is one of the tragedies of our literature, because he had so many of the great qualities, energy, storytelling power, singing fervor. But his mind stopped growing, and he stayed a boy - a hateful and dangerous and bloody-minded boy, dreaming of killing all the people whos minds persist in growing beyond his own. He called it the "white man's burden", the task of making all the colored men into his servants; now that colored men all over the world are objecting to being servants, it has become a matter of slaughtering whole populations with machine guns and poison gas and flying machines, and this old ghost of Kipling in Surrey knows nothing else but the jabber of slaughter and the slang of the slaughter-house. It is the point of view of the cocktail-sippers in that Shanghai club which boasts of having the longest bar in the world: class superiority and cruelty, jeering smartness, wit and energy in humiliating your fellow beings; and then the technicalities of the instruments of killing, and of the railroads and steamships and airplanes to take you to the places where your victims live."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

* "The English ruling class had taken upon itself the task of colonizing and exploiting the rest of the world, and the American ruling class was following suit, and Richard Harding Davis became the prophet of both. Throughout Central America, and the West Indies, the process is invariable: American capitalists bribe the governments of these countries and get enormously valuable concessions, then they send in engineers and other handsome young heroes clad in khaki and puttees with automatics in their belts. Those heroes engage the natives of the country to exploit the natural resources and ship out the wealth of the country, to be spent upon monkey dinners at Newport and champagne suppers in Broadway lobster palaces. Sooner or later the natives become irritated at the sight of their natural resources being exported for such purposes, so they revolt against the native government which has sold them to the Yankees. Then the handsome young Yankee heroes draw their automatics and bring up machine guns, and gloriously defend the native government they have bought and paid for."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

* "You note that in all these stories we are dealing with well-to-do people. No other kind of people exist in the world of Henry James. Such highly complicated and subtle aesthetic sensibilities are only possible in connection with large sums of money, freely furnished to the characters without effort on their part. It is impossible to imagine any person in the "third manner" being so vulgar as to make, or even to take money. What they do is spend money elegantly, and when they meet persons who spend it inelegantly, they turn away in dignified disdain. There are only a few passages in which the novelist condescends to be aware of the existence of the lower orders, who by their toil produce the wealth that makes the aesthetic sensibilities possible. We get one such glimpse in "The Princess Casamassima", the hero glances at the women and girls of the working classes, and then:

'What ready but another deluge, what alchemy but annihilation?" He asked himself as he went his way; and he wondered what fate there could be, in the great scheme of things, for a planet overgrown with such vermin, what redemption but to be hurled against a ball of consuming fire.'

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

"Also there was Henry James ... and I read every line of his thirty or forty novels; because I had come to realize that I must know what our ruling classes were like, and James was the man who would tell me. He had the most scrupulous regard for truth - he thought nothing of using up eight hundred pages to find out exactly what had happened in the way of a sexual intrigue between two of his characters twenty years ago...For years I read these rather nasty scandals of the rich, and couldn't understand why it should be of such supreme importance whether she did or he didn't, whether he had or he hadn't. As with everything else in the modern world, it became a mystery until I came to study economics, and realized that under the bourgeois law such old scandals determine property rights. It is upon property that bourgeois society is built, and it is property that decides whether people are worthy of having their scandals pried into and exposed by great geniuses like Mrs. Humphrey Ward and Henry James."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM  

* " ... (Swinburne) was, of course, just as sincere in his praise of Venus and the vine as he was in his praise of liberty; more sincere, in fact, because he practiced what he preached in the former case, but he omitted to go off and die in the cause of liberty as Byron had done. Some of his licentious poetry is perfect from the technical point of view; but, on the hand, "Poems and Ballads" contains the worst combination of words ever put into a poem (lilies and langours..)"

"That is what I would like to point out to young poets who uncritically accept Swinburne as a god. It is possible to be entirely free to do what you please, and yet not to please to do many silly and destructive things."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM  

* - on Nietzsche - "There are two sides to his message, the positive and the negative. On the positive side it is the record of an exalted poet, proclaiming brotherhood, service and consecration. On its negative side it represents the fears and repugnances of an invalid, shrinking from life which was too much for him, and seeking refuge in his own visions, where he could be master without interference from a hostile world."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM  

* - on Tolstoy - " ... it was a cry of anguish of a member of the privileged classes, who realized that his whole life, all his equipment of leisure and knowledge and power, was made out of the blood and sweat and tears of the debased masses of his Russian people."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

"Tolstoi applied that treatment (Gandhi's nonviolent resistance) to the state church and police. Of course, if he had been a peasant or a workingman, or even a poor student or literary man, he would have been beaten to death with the knout or shipped off to Siberia. But he was a member of the nobility, and his family influence protected him, until he became so famous throughout the world he was greater than the Tsardom itself. In his last years he lived as a majestic symbol of the pursuit of the Russian people; he poured out arguments against war, against government cruelty, against landlordism, against priestcraft; and all the powers of darkness in Russia did not dare to lay a finger upon him."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

* "In the whole field of art, there is no spiritual tragedy greater than Dostoevsky's. This man made an attempt in the cause of liberty, and the Tsardom made him a martyr, but he came back, not to be a soldier of enlightenment, but to crawl in the dust and lick the hand which lashed him. He came back as a propagandist of reaction, proclaiming a Russia redeemed by monks. Well, he had his way, and the redeeming monk appeared - Gregori Rasputin by name!"

"Mind you, I do not quarrel with Dostoevsky because he portrayed the lost and abandoned, the hopelessly sick and tortured souls he knew. I do not object because his characters are feverish and hysterical ... I am willing to read these things, but I want to read them from the point of view of a scientist who can interpret them, or an economist who can remedy them; I do not want to read about them as an apotheosis of idiocy. I do not want them composed and idealized to prove the divine nature of epilepsy."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

* "The teaching of Sartor Resartus is entirely negative; and when you ask what Carlyle has to contribute to constructive thinking about our hateful social system, the answer is: nonsense."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

* " ... Such is the art of Theophile Gautier and his successors, who have made French literature a curse for a hundred years. This literature possesses prestige because of it's perfection of form; therefore it is important to get clear in our minds the fact that the ability to fit words together in intricate patterns is a thing ranking very low in the scale of human faculties. The feats of art-for-art's-sakers are precisely as important as those of the man on the stage who balances three billiard-balls on the end of his nose ... Get it clear in your mind that external beauty is entirely compatible with deadly cruelty of intellect and spirit. A tiger is a marvelous product, from the aesthetic point of view, and offers a superb theme to poets as Blake has shown us. But who wants this gold-striped glory in his garden? In exactly the same way there is a mass of what is called literature, possessing the graces of form - and using all those virtues, precisely as the tiger uses his teeth and claws, to rend and destroy human life."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* "Note that every one of these images appeals to reactionary emotions, fear or sensuality. By sensuality the reason is dragged from it's throne; while fear destroys all activity of the mind, causing abasement and submission. Moreover ... almost every image in this poem turns out on examination to be a lie. There is no such place as Xanadu, Kubla Kahn has nothing to teach us but avoidance, his pleasures were bloody and infamous, and there was nothing stately about his pleasure-dome. There never was a river Alph, and the sacredness of any river is the fiction of a priestly caste, preying on the people."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* "Shakespeare was a man of refinement, he loathed brutality and cruelty. That was a part of his propaganda, the hatred of power blindly used ... but ... with him it is all a family matter, inside the leisure class. Bad member must be replaced with good member. When aristocratic friends failed him he wrote a Timon of Athens or King Lear or Measure For Measure in a rage, but when they flopped on the stage he went back to his sweet romantic comedies"

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* "Shakespeare's first plays are romantic comedies in the style of the time ... everybody is young, everybody's occupation is falling in love with some other pretty body, and problems exist only to be solved in the last act."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* - on Euripides - "This man looked at the Greek legends and decided that they were not true. He looked at Greek institutions, private property and state patriotism, and the sovereignty of old men in family and tribe, and decided these were not necessarily wise and permanent arrangements." "...jeering at militarism, false patriotism, denouncing slavery and the subjection of women in the home, rebuking religious bigotry, undermining the noble classes. A play in which the women get together to rebel against the war!"

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* - on Sophocles - "He is the perfect type of ruling-class artist that achieves perfection without strife, because he is completely at one with his environment, identifying the interests of his class with the will of the gods. We shall encounter a line of such poets - Virgil, Spenser, Shakespeare, Racine, Goethe, Tennyson. They move us to grief and awe, but never to revolt."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

* - on Homer - " ... ruling-class propaganda, written to glorify the ancestors of powerful chieftains and fighting men, and to inculcate the spirit of obedience and martial pride in the new generations...the Homeric heroes...are frequently demigods, the result of some mood of dalliance on the part of one of the high gods of Olympus...This divine illegitimacy entitles the heroes to the center of the stage, and they take it. They are a set of extremely greedy, jealous, vain and capricious school-boys; and what is more significant, their gods, the highest ideal they could conceive, are exactly as greedy, jealous, vain and capricious.

We are accustomed to use the words Homeric and epic to signify something vast, elemental, portentous. How is it that Homer secures his characters this "heroic" effect? By causing all the rest of the world to bow to their pretensions, by interesting the gods in their fate - and, above all else, by portraying them as unrestrained in their emotions and limitless in their desires. Those are the familiar devices whereby aristocracy signifies itself.

Homer serves these purposes because he gives the aristocratic mind what it craves."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

* "That....is what we call a tropism, an impulse to move in a certain direction. In this case it is a heliotropism, an impulse to move toward light.... some day we shall understand human tropisms in this way, and by chemical agents be able to change the thing we call human nature."

"The arts of producing social tropisms have been enormously developed in modern civilization, but the developments are so recent that we do not realize them as yet. We are used to hearing about "mob emotions"; but the fact is, this stage of human life is gone forever. No longer is the public permitted to originate it's own tropisms, and run wild; the social mind now has masters. Shrewd gentlemen sit in swivel chairs and consult with subordinates as to what tropisms they desire to have created; and either these tropisms are created, or the masterful gentlemen find more competent subordinates.

These artificially created tropisms constitute everything really significant in present-day life. "World's Series" tropisms and prize fight tropisms, evangelistic tropisms and moving picture tropisms, chewing-gum and safety razor tropisms, Harding-Coolidge tropisms, anti German Russian and Mexican tropisms - do you think I exaggerate in saying that such mass-emotions are now made to order, by means of so-and-so many gallons of tincture of gold? Consider, for example, the ancient national antipathies; it used to be the case that these emotions had vitality enough to run themselves; but look at the urchins of France, how completely they were possessed, ten years ago, by an anti-German tropism, and how this has given way to anti-American, anti-British and anti-Italian tropisms! Any social chemist, knowing the formulas of tinctures, can explain to you that the French owners of iron have made a deal with the German owners of coal, and so have canceled their orders for anti-German tropisms, and called instead for tropisms against American bankers and British oil concessionaires and Italian traders in Tunis."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

* "What is the most important single fact about American civilization? The answer is: economic inequality. There has been inequality in other times and places; the poor have been equally poor, but never in history have the rich been so rich, or so secure in their riches, never have they built so elaborate a machine for flaunting their riches before the eyes of the poor. In this statement we put our finger upon the solar plexus of America: the land of a million rich engaged in devising new ways of exhibiting wealth; and of a hundred and twenty million poor, engaged in marvelling at the achievements of the wealth exhibitors.

There have been great empires prior to capitalist America; the number of them is buried under the sands of the ages. But we may safely make this assertion, that never in all history, or pre-history, has there been an empire in which the victims of exploitation were kept so continually face to face with the evidences of their loss. Now, as ever, the poor are huddled in slums, far from the palaces of the rich; but now, for the first time, the rich have been vain enough - future times will say insane enough - to devise "Sunday supplements", "tabloids", and "home editions" to enable the poor to share imaginatively in the lives of the rich....The factory slave...spreads before his eyes a magic document - the twenty-four hour record of all the murders, adulteries, briberies, betrayals, drinking, gambling and general licentiousness of the exploiters of the world. It is all made as real as life to him - the palaces and shining motor-cars, the soft-skinned "darlings of luxury" in their ermines, and also in their lingerie; their elegantly groomed escorts in opera costume, and also in their underdrawers-no intimate details are spared."

"So now we can understand these tropisms which dominate the American soul. They are mass-impulses, having the intensity of frenzy, because they represent the aggregated terror of millions of little fishes, fleeing from the big pike, each jamming the others out of the way, each snapping at the next one's tail, as a means of evolving into pikehood. Each one suffers agonies of pain and fear, but has no time to feel sorry for himself, because he has been taught to believe that this is the proper and necessary mental condition for little fishes....firmly persuaded of his destiny for pikehood, and rapt by the vision of glory that awaits him."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

* "There are in America two hundred thousand persons cherishing aspirations towards the "settin' down job" of authorship, and the high schools and the colleges add ten thousand new recruits every year. I know with reasonable accuracy, because they send me their manuscripts and write me letters telling the story of their lives. Each candidate strives with feverish intensity for some new "line", some variety of "charm", some local color that has never been exploited, some plot that has never been unravelled. And meantime, upon the watchtowers of several thousand newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and theatrical producing offices sit men with spy-glasses watching for new talent, and when it appears, they grab it and concentrate all the arts of civilization upon the task of coining it into the greatest possible number of dollars in the fewest possible number of days."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

* "The use of the arts in the glorification of depravity is covered by a formula : it is "What the Public Wants." You hear that formula every ten minutes in the office of every yellow journal and tabloid in America....It used to be a question of what the public wanted-until the science of psychology was put to practical use in the advertising business. Now, with "salesmanship" taught in several thousand schools, colleges and universities of commerce in the United States, every corner grocery has an expert who knows how to make the public want whatever he wants it to want. The presumptuous impulse of the public to do it's own wanting is known to these ad men as "sales resistance" and they lie awake nights figuring ways to batter it to pieces. They have laid down so many advertising barrages they have entirely destroyed the line between necessities and luxuries, and now in America everyone has to have everything all the time."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

* "Then came the war; and the manufacture of mass-tropisms, which had been a semi-criminal activity of bankers and big businessmen, became all at once the service of the Lord, carried on by the organized respectability of the country, with the whole power of the Federal government behind it. Just who was to blame for the world war is a question which will not be settled in our generation, if ever; but this much has become clear, history will not acquit any nation of guilt, and the diplomatic conspirators of France and Russia will carry the heaviest load. I am one of the hundred and ten million suckers who swallowed the hook of the British official propaganda, conducted by an eminent bourgeois novelist, Gilbert Parker, who was afterwards knighted for what he did to me. Now he grins at me behind the shelter of his title, and my only recourse is to call upon the workers of Britain to wipe out that title, and the system of caste banditry upon which it rests.

Meantime, here we are, the hundred and ten million suckers, doing everything we were officially told to do: eating rye bread instead of wheat, calling sauerkraut "liberty cabbage", saving our tinfoil and old newspapers, contributing to the Salvation Army, buying liberty bonds, listening to four minute orators, singing "Over There", spying on our German neighbors, lynching the I.W.W. We sent a million men overseas, and they showed themselves heroes, and we who stayed at home showed ourselves the prize boobs of history, and taught our money-masters that there is literally nothing that we cannot be made to believe.

Then came the Russian revolution, and gave our predatory classes the greatest shock of their lives. Before that, a Socialist had been a long-haired dreamer to be smiled at good-naturedly. The present writer, a queer, excitable youth had even been permitted to publish two Socialist articles in Collier's Weekly. But now all that was ended overnight. A Socialist was a bloody bandit, who wanted to kill all the capitalists and nationalize all the women; the new art of manufacturing tropisms were turned from the Germans to the Russians and today, ten years later, there are patriotic societies, having millions of dollars to spend convincing the members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union that Jane Addams is a Soviet agent, and the child labor amendment to the Constitution a Moscow plot to undermine our young people ... the earnest and credulous church people of this country are taught just exactly that, and by propaganda societies which big business maintains and pays for that job and no other."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

* "As I write, we are preparing to undermine the workers' government of Mexico, we are waging a war to keep our bankers in control of Nicaragua, and we are letting the British imperialists lead us blind-folded into a war to defend the right of their merchants to poison a hundred million Chinese with opium raised by the labor of famine-haunted Hindoo peasants."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

* "This so-called realism of the Russian writers was the spiritual reaction to Tsardom. The Russian did nothing but get drunk and consort with prostitutes for the very good reason that if they did anything else they were arrested by police agents and shipped in a convict caravan to Siberia .... The case of Dostoevsky tells the story - a young man full of hope and enthusiasm, they treated him to a nerve shattering experience which you may read about in his "Memoirs of the House of the Dead". Whereupon he submitted himself to his holy masters, and wrote about nothing but prostitutes, drunkards, epileptics and religious mystics, and now the British bourgeoisie, impersonated by Arnold Bennett, hails him as the greatest of all novelists"

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

* "And what is the purpose of this new idolatry? Simply, that the money-masters may keep the power to give orders and be obeyed. Constitution-worship means that a group of elderly corporation lawyers, known as a Supreme Court, have power to make the law of the land anything the corporations want it to be; the existing law they interpret to suit the money-masters, and when the people protest and pass new laws, they call these laws "unconstitutional", and the people believe it. Behind this regimen of the dead hand, works the living fist of big business, collecting from a pious and diligent working class the heaviest tribute that has ever been taken at any part of the earth at any period in history. This fist is armored with the clubs of policemen and rifles of militia, with the latest devices in armored cars and machine guns and poison gas bombs. Behind the fundamentalist cassock you find the strangling power of ostracism, plus the blacksnake whip and the lynching noose.

Such is Fascist America; and these masked forces confront the young writer, and say to him, with the utmost politeness and amiability, write what we want written, and we will heap upon you all the honors that your talents deserve. The young writer, being for the most part guileless, and utterly untaught in public affairs, believes the great statesmen and the great judges and the great editors and the great preachers of his country. He lets them take him into war to validate the loans of J.P. Morgan and Company; and then, when he discovers how he has been bunkoed, he takes to booze and motor-cars and jazz parties and the writing of "smart" conversation."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

* "How could I have been trapped into supporting the war? I thought that Woodrow Wilson really meant his golden, glowing words; I thought he was in position to know what I couldn't know, and would take the obvious steps to protect us against diplomatic perfidy. I knew nothing of the pre-war intrigues of the French and Russian statesmen against Germany, which had made the war inevitable, and had been planned for that purpose; I knew nothing of the secret treaties which bound the allies for the war. When the time came for us to enter, I sent President Wilson a telegram, urging him to condition our entry upon the agreement that all territories taken from the central powers should be neutralized and placed under international guarantee. If that policy had been followed, the ghastly farce of Versailles would have been avoided; in fact we would never have entered the war, for the allied rascals would have been exposed, and forced to make peace by the public sentiment of their own peoples.

We went in; and the story-writers and poets and illustrators and actors and musicians of America were set to work to do their part in making the world safe for democracy. They wrote patriotic songs and red cross appeals, and spied on their foreign-born neighbors, and drew posters and made speeches selling liberty bonds, and went overseas and sang and danced for the boys. And while they were in the midst of it, the Bolsheviki broke into the strong boxes of the Tsarist diplomats, and published to the world those secret treaties which showed our precious allies in a series of bargains to loot the world, in defiance of President Wilson's promises to the German people. And what did the literary vigilantes make of that? The answer is that very few of them knew anything about it, because the newspapers of America suppressed this most vital news of the whole war. Only the "New York Evening Post" published the treaties, and straightaway it was driven to the wall, and purchased by a member of the House of Morgan. What the vigilantes chose to believe were the "Sisson documents", forgeries which the Russian reactionaries palmed off on an American editor who had turned amateur diplomat, and proved himself more silly that anything he ever printed in the "Cosmopolitan Magazine".

My quarrel with Woodrow Wilson is not because he caused me to make a fool of myself, but because he fumbled the greatest opportunity that any statesman had in all history, and wasted the efforts of a whole generation of his countrymen...We Americans went into this hideous adventure, because the House of Morgan and its allied banks had backed the wrong horse, and stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. At any time in the future that it becomes necessary for us to validate bonds held by the House of Morgan, we will go into a war with any nation whatsoever, big or little, Haiti or Nicaragua, Mexico, China, Japan, Russia, France or Great Britain; and when that time comes, the great chains of newspapers and magazines and publishing houses and moving picture producers, all now tied up tight with the financial system, will see to it that you, the writers and artists of America, regard it as a war to make the world safe for democracy, and repeat all the antics you performed in 1917-18; just as now they cause you, reading this statement of plain historic facts, to become indignant and call me harsh names."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

* "But books do not count for much; what rules the thinking of Americans are moving pictures, radio, Sunday supplements and popular magazines which circulate by the millions every week and month. All these great capitalist institutions are now agencies of propaganda, and all writers who serve them are henchmen of big business, making war upon the new freedom in the interest of the old slavery...making America attractive, and distracting the masses with jazz and sex and luxury and fashion and crime and mystery and every conceivable form of futility. The individual writer or artist may have no idea what his work means; but rest assured that the masters of the payroll know, and select our cultural diet with care and definite purpose."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

* "After the lapse of seven years we can say - with the backing of a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court - that the nomination of Harding was a conspiracy to loot the oil reserves of the United States navy, as carefully planned and definetly criminal as any pirate raid. Harding was the chief of the "Ohio gang", and he was put in to let that gang loot the nation, as previously he had let it loot Ohio. The oil men put up the money to carry the Republican convention, upon the understanding that they would get the cabinet positions necessary for the stealing of the naval reserves. To elect their chosen one, the plutocracy contributed the biggest campaign fund ever known in our history; and this money was spent according to the new arts of propaganda learned in the war days...here was another time to rally the writers and artists, the furnishers of ideas and inspirations, to persuade the American voters to turn over their government to a pirate band."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

* "Also I have been present while Charlie Chaplin was selling the fruit of his genius to the traders; at least, I haven't actually been there, but Charlie has enacted the scene for me, and that is the same thing. He is under contract to make a two-reel picture, and out of his spiritual overflow he has made eight or ten - it is "The Kid". And the traders come, great hulks of flesh rolling out of their limousines, and they sit slouched in their chairs, and the reels are unrolled before them, and the sensitive artist sits quivering - he can't keep still, his hands become frantic, he must hear you speak. "What do you think of it? Is it good?" But the traders do not speak, they understand how to wring the artist soul. How Charlie loathes them - his form swells to greater bulk as he enacts them, his face becomes a grim mask; there come a grunt, from under the chest, and one great hog looks at the next great hog, and at last a verdict: "Vun million is enough, huh?" And the other grunts, "Vun is too much."

Such is the life of artists under capitalism. And do not think that I am lacking in pity for any artist - my harshest words are merely an effort to goad him into class consciousness. For it is not merely his individual life that is at stake, not merely his art, but civilization. "If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?"

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

* "The bourgeoisie is that class which, all over the world, takes the sceptre of power as it falls from the hands of the aristocracy; which has the skill and cunning to survive in the free-for-all combat which follows upon the political revolution. Its dominion is based upon wealth; and hence the determining characteristic of the bourgeois society is its regard for wealth. To it, wealth is power, it is the end and goal of things. The aristocrat knew nothing of the possibility of revolution, and so he was bold and gay. The bourgeois does know about the possibility of revolution, and so it is that Gertrude Atherton finds that American literature is 'timid'. She finds it 'anemic', simply because the bourgeois ideal knows nothing of the spirit, and tolerates intellectual activity only for the ends of commerce and material welfare. She finds also that it 'bows before the fetish of the body', and she is much perplexed by the discovery. She does not seem to understand that the bourgeois represents an achievement of the body, and that all that he knows in the world is body. He is well fed himself, his wife is stout, and his children are fine and vigorous. He lives in a big house, and wears the latest thing in clothes; his civilization furnishes these to every one - at least every one who amounts to anything; and beyond that the bourgeois understands nothing - save only the desire to be entertained..."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

* "The struggle of the disinherited of the earth against their oppressors has been going on for a long time; and history makes clear it is no joke to be on the side of the oppressed. The masters will crucify you, as they did Jesus, or stab you to death as they did the Gracchi and Wat Tyler. If you are a great writer they will exile you with Dante and Hugo, or throw you into prison with Tasso and Dostoevsky and Ernst Toller and Ralph Chaplin. Since it is difficult to be sure which side is going to win, there is a tendency on the part of writers to say "A plague on both of your houses" and withdraw into an ivory tower of art.

And since, whatever men do, they have to make it seem noble and sublime, there arises a cult of haughty superiority to political problems; the artist becomes a semi-divine being, engaged in an activity of permanent significance, and the polishing of one of his phrases becomes more important than the fate of an empire. Such an artist will be an exponent of technique, a painter of the outsides of things; and necessarily, he will work to please the rich. Ivory towers cost money, and the artist must find patrons enough to pay the upkeep, and the wages of the cook and the gardener and the chamber-maid and chauffeur and the doctor and the dentist and the bootlegger."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

* "....when you get your training in an art school, and are obsessed by color and form and the external details of things, and devoting your life to fixing them in words, to be printed on book paper and bound in expensive form and sold to rich people, in order to teach them how to spend their money upon color and form and the external details of things, in order that you, the ivory tower artist, may have great sums to spend in the same way. And do not think that I am being mean - I am merely summarizing the artist's own statement of his interests and activities."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

* " When I read a novel by any of the new men, I get at least some facts about the world I live in; but in a new poet I find a creature spinning a cocoon out of his own juices. Sometimes he imitates the poets of the past, figuring out ways to vary their phrases; or else he makes a desperate effort to be different, and succeeds only in being odd. This is an age of material glory, and the first condition of true poetic impulse is revolt. But there is no way for rebel poets to get a comfortable living, and nobody in America is willing to live any other way; so, with two or three exceptions that I can think of, our rebel poets are dead, or silent, or turned into fat poodles, lapping cream in bourgeois drawing-rooms."

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

* http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=GT7Y34PDq_gC&dq=%22money+writes%22+upton+sinclair&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=Eouc6ZPyCE&sig=30jsPz1V0NreJVQD6VwRGrZQvEg#PPP1,M1

St. Drogo said...
July 12, 2008 at 1:27 PM  

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