Dear Dirty America


The McCarthy Era

January 28
22:23 2013

“Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WIS)”

When I was a boy, & unaware of it
American communists
& those who sympathized with their program
then, or 10 or 20 years previously—
whether dupes of Stalin & his croneys
& unaware of the purges, show-trials, executions
& the mass starvations & genocides
& the gulag of Siberian slave camps—
or just people who wanted industrial laborers
to live more decent lives
& Blacks to be treated no worse than other human beings—
& who realized or not
that while among capitalists were entrepreneurs
whose innovations were blessings for the rest of humanity
many others were just people who started with more
& who used what they had & their contacts
to extract more & more from whoever couldn’t prevent them—
were persecuted, prosecuted, slandered, intimidated, silenced.

I was a boy in elementary school—
I didn’t know that I was getting only a fragment of history—
that something essential was being withheld from me—
allies, however imperfect—
something essential withheld, like vitamins & minerals
or awareness
of how the legal or medical or educational systems operate
or of the existence of bacteria & viruses—or of paleolithic pre-history.

I didn’t know that the newspapers I read or the newscasts I watched
had no input from those most sensitive to human suffering—
whether weak-minded or tough-minded—
that I was only getting the story
weak-minded & tough-minded employees of capitalists
would tell me—
that I was being handicapped
& everyone among whom I was living was being handicapped—
that almost none of us would ever even realize what had happened
to those purged from various agencies of government
from politics & film-making & journalism & novel publication—
or what they saw in Marx’s analysis, if they read it—
he was as brilliantly on & off target as geniuses tend to be—
who had been starved to death
or driven into bitter hunkering down
doing whatever small tasks they were allowed to do for money
careful not to screw it up by saying something taboo
til they died—
who had been a fool & who had been relatively wise & compassionate
& who was running roughshod over whom
unchecked by those purged or prevented from entry into competition.

Everything from then on was skewed—
oh, of course, it wasn’t the first time
& it wasn’t only in America
& something similar is going on even now, here—
something similar happened in Europe
under governments subsidized by the American Marshall Plan
the CIA & various military so-called intelligence agencies played roles—
in Latin America & Asia & Africa, too—
&, of course, the so-called Communists of Russia & China
did worse, & in China they keep doing worse
in Russia, too, where the tyrants no longer call themselves communists—
& likewise in many places
those previously colonies
where communism & capitalism aren’t the primary poles of debate
& those previously colonial powers
where communism & capitalism aren’t the primary poles of debate, either—
but the rich—among whom a minority are benefactors—
keep extracting more & more from the poor—
maybe sour, maybe bitter, but industrious, alert, & creative—
or punch-drunk, or parasites addicted to hand-outs
who persecute the industrious, alert, & creative among them.

Those who can
suppress the ideas of those who can’t prevent their doing so—
& the children in schools & in their parents’ rooms & yards & cars
& most of their teachers & parents, too
& most of those reporting the so-called news
& those carrying out government policies
& even those making most government policies
& even most of the articulate dissidents
don’t realize that they are reaching conclusions
& making decisions based on essentially incomplete information—
that they have been manipulated
without their manipulators even having to be aware
of their particular existence.

Knowedge enables—okay—now, what can you or I do?

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written hereSee also, There’s still a little breath in the old American RevolutionOn Job Creationand Stalin.

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