The New Scum
That isn’t my phrase, I stole it from Warren Ellis’s comic, Transmetropolitian. In the story, the futuristically fucked up lowlifes that are the teeming masses, are referred to as “The New Scum” by a would-be president. And the term sticks, a badge of pride for the people whos lot in life isn’t describable in normal economic terms. The people that don’t fit that happy ladder of “lower class,” and “upper class” and “upper middle lower middle class” or whatever new rapist abomination the desperate world of 24 hour journalism has unleashed on the English language.
The New Scum don’t fit. They aren’t counted, aren’t called for their opinion on the bailouts, or Iraq or any other of the dozen desperate issues that catch the spotlight and pass on. CNN will never claim that Obama is polling well among hookers, that pimps vote McCain, or that the druggies are voting in a solid block for flying purple people eaters.
And hookers, pimps, and druggies are just one tiny facet of the world of the New Scum. The barriers, the buffers, in a way. The obvious social ills. The people that you can rail against, attact with impunity. The easy targets when the real problems get to big. But the New Scum are every so much more than our most visible members.
Sure, the pimps and whore and junkies are the New Scum. But so are you. The college student, who just realized that the best use for their diploma is as the most expensive ass-wipe you’ll ever enjoy. The blue collar worker who just realized that his boss just realized that some other Scum, Mexican or Indian or Chinese Scum, can do his job for less money, and churn out more product without those inconvenient “labor laws.”
And we hunch over for the new arrivals, the NEW New Scum, perhaps? For our new brothers, the bankers and investors who have just seen their years of work and investment, their carefully preserved, carefully delineated rung on the ladder rot from under them, splashing them down into the muck with the rest of us.
We’ve always been here. Hunter Thompson reported on some of us, the “Freak Power” movement that nearly unseated Nixon, years before his mad hubris hurled him from his pedestal down here into the muck.
But there’re more of us now, more of us and we’re more powerful than ever before, more diverse than ever before. We jabber in a dozen languages, from Pakistani and Spanish to Mississippi mush-mouth, and I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is harder to follow. And we are powerful. The latest election was a touch of that.
Remember that feeling, dear reader? Remember the rush of being there, of seeing the election results? Remember the waiting in lines for hours to see Obama? Remember going to DC on inauguration day, just to see a 20 minute speech? Or did you watch from your living rooms? Did you cheer hope and change? Did you lose yourself for a moment, just a moment in the hope that things really would get better, forgetting for a moment the bills on the table, the layoffs at work, the weird rattle in the car that you can’t even afford to get checked out?
And do you remember coming down and realizing that we’re still fucked? And did it make it worse? Did for me. Nothing like being Scum and seeing the stars and realizing that they’re all the way up there and we’re all the way down here.
And that’s who we are, friends. The New Scum. The people who get fucked, no matter who’s in power or what letter they have after their name. The people who get fooled, who get told that we’re different, because I believe in Gay Marriage, and you believe in The Family. Who tell us we’re different because I’m white and you’re brown or black, or I’m Black and you’re Mexican, or I’m Puerto Rican and You’re Cuban. Who build us our own ladder out of Scum and tell us that We are here and They are down there.
Did you ever wonder why they did that, dear reader? Did you ever wonder why they split us up? Why we get polled as “Black Males” or “NASCAR Dads?” It’s because they are scared of us. Power has a long memory, and they remember. They remember the Scum in France getting together, and dragging a king off of his throne. They remember German scum three hundred years before that decided “fuck the Pope” and broke the back of the Catholic Church.
And they remember a little batch of colonies scattered along a scraggly shore-line of some second rate land in a third rate part of the world that was good for a few fast bucks and for dumping the Scum. And they remember those 13 little shit kicker colonies, FILLED with the Scum of Britain, deciding that they wanted freedom. They wanted their own representation by god, and they took it.
The whip-scars never fade on the backs of the losers. They remember the power in our unity. So they divvied us up. White man against Black Man against Hispanic Man against Uppity Woman Against Blue Collar against College Educated. And the people at the top picked their teams, as surely and as deliberately as the NFL draft picks.
And we bought it. We’ve been buying it. Buying that because I’m a White, Evangelical Christian Male from Austin, Texas, means that I have nothing in common with a Black Steel-Mill Worker from Detroit. Means that because he votes for one pigfucker and I vote for another, that he’s trying to destroy America and I’m trying to save it. Us vs. Them. Believing that anyone cares what we believe, what we think, what we hope and pray for. Believing that if we vote for the swine with the D’s after their names, we’ll get health care, and if we vote for the ones with the R, we’ll end abortion.
And they throw us a bone and we roll over and get our bellies scratched, and every now and then, a hometown boy makes good and claws his way up the halls of power, and we believe the system works.
And we forget who we are because we don’t want to remember. We are the New Scum, and they don’t give a fuck about us. Forget eighth grade social studies. Forget all the stupid fucking commercials you see around election day. Your vote means shit. You mean shit. As far as the powerful go, you are shit.
So here is your truth for the day. The president doesn’t care. You’re congressman doesn’t care. The CEO of the company you work for doesn’t care. The universe doesn’t care, and the world is a mean unforgiving place that will break your back and move on without even wasting the energy to eat you.
But all of us, together. We are powerful. We have made kings and emperors, and we have torn them down. The New Scum. That’s what you are, that’s what I am. And we should be proud of that. All the good ideas have come from Scum. DNA and cellular life was invented in some pond scum a few billion years back. Fire was some Neanderthal Scum trying to keep warm. Writing was designed by Mesopotamian Scum who needed a way to count sheep. Penicillin is nothing but applied extract of Scum. Rice, the most popular and useful food on the planet, is grown in Scum. And that’s what we are. The New Scum. The Bipedal Scum. The worthless, ignored, trampled and regularly fucked masses. And without us, the world is nothing. Without us, the busses don’t run, the trains stop, the crops rot, the assembly line slows, the streets fill with trash and horror of horrors…the rich have to scrub their own fucking toilets.
So wear it like a badge of honor. I’m here because I know what I am. I’m here because your newspaper has a business section filled with stocks you can’t buy, companies you don’t work for, and bailouts you aren’t getting. This is news for you, as seen and filtered by one of your own. I’m going to read their stories, and their crimes, and the endless shit spew of information our fathers couldn’t dream of. I’m going to do this, chew it up and vomit it back at you. The news isn’t a pretty thing. It’s the world, and the world isn’t pretty but it’s there. And you need to know.
I’m one of you. I’m the New Scum. And it’s about time we figured out what that means.