Why The Scum?
The question that should be rising to your lips, dear reader, no matter when you found this. The bile should be rising in your gorge, the veins in your eyeballs popping out in cold rage.
After all, you are not scum. You are a hard working responsible citizen. You work in a garage/office/home/factory/field. You bring home the bacon, clean the house, raise the kids, watch your five hours of TV, and toddle off to bed. You are not scum. You’re upright hard working Americans.
Bullshit. You aren’t the backbone of this country. You aren’t the salt of the earth. You’re the steaming feces that drop out the bottom of this shiny country.
Or so the enemy* believe. So the rich and powerful and beautiful and controlling believe. They will never admit it, never even whisper it in their darkest dream, because to say it, to intimate it, to breathe it in word or gesture is to bring ruin. The Scum will tolerate whips, they will tolerate poverty, but the Scum are proud. Of what, we couldn’t tell you. It’s nothing really, not when the television and the news and the billboards show us a world shut off to us. But it’s ours. Our little family, our little jobs, our little towns, or apartment buildings or streets or whatever. It is ours, goddamnit. And we will tolerate your whips and we will tolerate your endless petty abuses, and we will even tolerate your indifference.
But there is no power on earth that can make us tolerate your laughter.
I choose the term Scum as our badge of pride for the same reason that black people say “nigger” and gay people say “fag.” It is reclaiming a term, in a way. More properly, it is reclaiming a mindset, a way of thinking that holds us back. The idea that the powerful have that we are the “great unwashed,” that we are swayed easily by lies and Madison Avenue. That we are Scum. So I put a name to that vast and patronizing attitude. The Scum, that’s who we are. That’s who we are to them. And I want to reclaim that name, that name they give us in the deep places of their hearts and ram it down their throats, and let them know who we are. We are Scum, and we are proud.
We are, in a strange way, the great repressed majority. The people in power, the people who are above the scum…well, it depends on how you want to count them. Worldwide, one or two million people or so have real, true power…presidents, vice presidents, representatives of one type or another, CEO’s, CFO’s, Rupert Murdoch etc. etc. ad nauseum. They have power. Maybe a billion, hell, let’s be generous and say two billion, are not Scum. They’re people in one of those nice neat economic brackets.
That means more than two thirds of the people are just plain Scum. We suffer, we bleed we starve, we beg, we labor, we sweat for those above us. So why aren’t we running things? Why isn’t healthcare free for the worker, and ridiculously expensive for the rich? Why aren’t the projects in the ghettos beautiful enriching uplifting places to work and live?
Why aren’t things better? It’s the silent scream of people the world over, a question so basic, so fundamental, we laugh at those who ask it. After all, don’t you know? It’s the way of the world. An old proverb, cruelly true, reads “The rich get their ice in the summer, and the poor get theirs in the winter.” Or in other words; it’s the way it is. Now shut your mouth and get to work.
That’s what it means to be scum. And because sheer numbers are dangerous, they chop us up. African and European. East and West. Red-state, Blue-state. Yankee’s Vs. Red-Sox. Christian vs. Muslim. They take us and we fit into our groups and we don’t trust each other and we vote because if we don’t Obama will kill babies and McCain will bomb Iran and the terrorists will get us in our beds and the Great Satan will destroy our culture and every other stupid bullshit reason you’ve ever heard that We are different from Them.
And we get divvied up and we vote for the right people and shout the right slogans and forget that the poor fucker on the other side of the street is just as tired and fucked up and downright scared as we are.
I make it sound like a conspiracy. Like there is some secret cabal that meets under Mount Rushmore and says, “Ok, you get the blacks, we get the White Christians, you get the treehuggers, we get the farmers.” I wish it were. I wish it really was like the days before the revolution in France, where there really was one group actively working to keep everyone else down. I wish there were five or ten or twenty or ten thousand people I could tell you about, tell you, there they are. That we could sweep them out and put in our own and it’s all the big rock candy mountain from here on out.
But that just isn’t so. It would be nice to think that it was so, that this was being done to us. But it’s our own damn fault. The powerful and rich just follow along with what we want, and then tell us what we want, and then follow along with what we want…over and over again, until we can’t tell whose pulling and whose being pulled.
We’ve forgotten the most basic lesson. Every religion or belief has it at the base. We are one blood, you and I. Whether it’s Adam and Eve created by the loving hand of God Almighty, or prehistoric slime crawling onto the land…we’re all the same. Same goddamned people, same goddamned planet.
We’re the New Scum. The self-aware Scum. We don’t have much, we don’t quite know what’s going on, but we’re proud. And all we have is each other, because that’s who we’re stuck with. It’s up to you to decide what that means.
*I need a name for these people, the rich and powerful and oppressive. The opposite of Scum, really. I could steal a line form an old Peter Tosh song, and call them Downpressor Men. But I think what they are is tied to what we are. If the Scum are the people getting Fucked, they are the people Fucking us. The Scumfuckers, I think, works nicely to remind us of what they are and what they do.
Stay tuned for the next installment: Know Your Scumfuckers! Plus, at some point, real news, I swear.