We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Liberals: One Good Lob of the Molotov

In B. Traven’s novel, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927):

“All right,” Curtin shouted back. “If you are the police, where are your badges? Let’s see them.”

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and chinga tu madre!”

The line was popularized by John Huston’s 1948 film adaptation of the novel, which was altered from its content in the novel to meet the Motion Picture Production Code regulations severely limiting profanity in film. In one scene, a Mexican bandit leader named “Gold Hat” (portrayed by Alfonso Bedoya) tries to convince Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) that he and his company are Federales:

Dobbs: “If you’re the police, then where are your badges?”

Gold Hat: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

So they call you in for a little talk. No worries, just come on in and we need to talk. No bothering to bring in anything with you. Nor anyone else shall be here to bear witness.

Door closes. Hands crossed. Little envelope in hand. You sit there, wondering how an old white woman with a slew of white women in her stable can come at a black woman and begin to lecture on the tone of things.

It’s one half degree removed from being called an uppity black woman.

Imagine this, and you attempt to hold your ground – self-advocate as we tell all our vulnerable clients to do so – and then each smart retort to the fool’s reasoning for terminating gets her louder and louder.

You’ve got that smart phone recording it, the crescendo of someone who is supposed to be superior, going white old woman Trump on you. Except, oh, these faux liberals make fun of Trump, but the perversion is their leader, really, the realm of any Trump their fathers, uncles, ministers, former bosses, et al.

You try and get some rational reason for the sack, for taking away income and health insurance. For stripping clients of their social worker. Why oh why is this system so flawed, non-profits the real culprits, self serving, self aggrandizing, self loathing, self important, all in one giant spasm of a faux supervisor sacking instead of shooting for something else. Personal improvement plan? Working with massaging language?

Or, how about this change/fix, instead of a pink slip: Hiring some African American diversity expert to teach the entire white mess of non-profits what it means to be white and privileged and black and emancipated in a racist/white supremacy country, state (Oregon)?

Your heart sinks, age thirty-two, single parent, black woman looking at the hour glass of white man/woman time. You wonder how these so-called Hillary liberals turned into human wrecks, snitches, mean and recriminating and downright against what it is to be heading up a social services agency.

You do not bend or compromise, and the flagging white woman is phlegmatic, unstoppable, insane. Mean, punishing, a sad commentary on so many levels of what it means to be a worker in society lorded over by the lesser ones. Little Eichmanns, money chasers for the poverty-insanity-social work pimping.

Daily, these non-profits going through wads of cash for marketing and branding, for building and maintenance, for the pomp of appearing to be modern, new, cutting edge.

Branding while workers are stressed, under huge case loads, under the smear of money out the window for new vehicles and endless wasteful highly-paid conferences, junkets, trainings.

While workers with degrees are lining up for food boxes. Three to a couch. What have you.

This is Portland, this is SF, this is LA, this is Phoenix, this is Chicago, this is America the morning after being screwed for decades by the shekel stampers, all those effete soldiers of finance. All that numbers and data collecting. All these endless ways to make social work or teaching or medicine one giant Excel Spreadsheet.

We can spell it with a p and a r and an e . . . . PRE-carity. Constant fight or flight of the mind. Hobbled by one paycheck away from poorhouse, one crappy supervisor making one of a million crappy management (sic) decisions away from pink slip.

This is my day and a life as a social worker. What sort of hostile work environment is it when one of the team is sacked within minutes of a day’s start?

I’ve been pink slipped, frog marched out of a cubicle or office. These levelers and these places are cesspools of injustice and retribution and small-mindedness.

Shift now to the large frame, thirty-five thousand feet up:

Precarity, lack of safety nets, zilch for social services paid for and delivered for-by-because of the people. Over and over, the same problem we have in USA – privatization of everything EXCEPT the external costs of corporations doing the business of polluting air, water, land, neighborhoods, economics, cultures, families, ecosystems, education, culture, art, space, public will – is moving like a plague through the rest of the exceptional white world of Canada-Europe-Australia-UK. Variations on a theme, and we are all lobotomized, horned into cognitive disassociation, as if six decades of Stockholm Syndrome have begotten the current shits of the world, from Kissinger to Reagan to Bush-squared to Clinton semi-squared, from Trump to Obama.

We actually listen to the media and to the Paul Ryans and the Donald Trumps and all the amazingly perverted and sick people in and around him or those on the other side of the Wall Street-Military Industrial Complex hallway, Democrats. Ad nauseam, these so-called progressive magazines, radio stations, book writers, intellectuals, pundits.

Amazing, they just blather on and on about geo-politics or the kabuki of DC or the power of China (no why’s) over the intellectual and economic slid of the EU or USA; all of them, from lobbyists to the very elite, even the lefties have very little backbone to be for and by the people.

I am finding very few “college educated” and “business schooled” people knowing shit about what it is to be precarious and on the edge of bankruptcy. Living a life of one eye on the want ads. Each job is temporary, and the attitudes and directives and actual practices of whatever social justice cause might be applied, all of it is measured by the fear and paranoia and dissatisfaction of the worker.

Managers are monsters, and the media, well, they are the monster protectors.

You know, social workers, teachers, workers, far and wide. The allure of getting an Amy Goodman on the air, or even Joseph Stiglitz or Ralph Nader or Chris Hedges, that is, having their voice boxes and literary spasms be “the all” defining voice of the opposition is more dangerous than any phalanx of Trumpies getting on the air or in the bed of the enemy, whomever that is (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, et al).

How many poor teachers and social workers and others in the trenches get on those liberal shows? Think, zero!

Here’s why – the benefactors of the left-wing are afraid of their own shadows, and believe the ideology of well-tossed Molotovs is worse than anything the corporations in cahoots with the government (politicians) are setting the world up for. We are not talking about non-violent economic and structural “violence,” but a systematic violent attack on all fronts – education, culture, economics, through public space, the commons. This indebtedness we all barely breathe under is worse than Molotovs tossed at a Bill Gates compound or some satellite guided yacht.

They are the controlled opposition – these idiots yammering on and on about Trump this and Trump that — when the entire ranch – capitalism and demented democracy – is on the chopping/auction block.

The vagaries of my life in real time, just over the course of one year, from age 59 to now 60, with a bloody (in the British sense of the word bloody) road-map of twists and turns throughout my adult life, seem to infect what I thought would be a new way to frame the unfolding events of history and my own life evolving. In one sense, validation is the real time of precarity I am living through. The terminal velocity free-fall toward bedlam or extinction has been duly captured here at DV as the editors have graciously published a good chunk of my life going way back to 2006 — “This Land is Your Land, and We All Are Illegal Aliens“.

Daily, though, there are a thousand cuts, death by a million drops to the forehead, each new day of not just silliness of the marketing/popular consumer-art-thinking kind, but each minute monetized to put billions into penury and perpetual debt, and each nanosecond plotted to take from the majority, from the people, from cultures still vibrant and firmly NOT American.

I would have to say a year has brought me to tears and to the armor of steeled resoluteness of a warrior, and for fuck’s sake, there are good warriors and bad ones, to be sure. Some days it’s Willy Loman, then Walter Middy, then Ted Kaczynski, then Diego Rivera, then Che and then just plain old tree hugging vegetarian former English teacher and reprobate journalist.

Luckily, a 21 year old daughter is in the mix, and a significant other and her daughter, a load of friends, and my own precarity like a punch drunk dance in the middle of a hay field with a five gallon bucket of napalm!

Mamma said that when I would enter a room, the entire place would know it was me coming in. She was right, from age four, “here comes the little man,” to my twenties and thirties, “every-man,” and then forties “man’s man,” and fifties like a bush fire in the Amazon – fecund, multilayered, full of the lust of life. Throughout the slipstream of life, I’ve been everyone’s brother, every student’s uncle, every girlfriend’s rock, and every wife’s dervish.

Irish-German-Scot – born in San Pedro, lived in the Azores and then moved to Canada, then Paris, then, well, from Arizona to the over-thrust of Mejico and the hot lava of the central plains. This or that Isthmus, impenetrable thinker, tinker, troubadour.

This bearing witness now, aged 60, well, it makes sense that the way of the Molotov is the only way for some of us. Now what does this mean, “way of the Molotov”? Is it emblematic or symbolic or allegorical? What does it mean to witness all the rapes and murders, daily, minute to minute, through the rampage of bureaucracies of punishment and the debt-plague of the monied elite?

We can rebuke and rebuff, these systems of anti-humanity. We can placate our own measly existences, and bargain with this or that lesser devil or angel. It’s what we do, even the deplorables of the Trumplandia disease do their bargaining. We have to bargain life and bargain how much we can commit to a cause or to the revolution, set against the revulsion they all precipitate: Hollywood to Walton to Zuckerberg to Obama to the mercenaries of industry to the faux pundits and communicators of our own cultural anti-culture context.

No matter how one square’s it all, though, the pain of those sackings and firings, and the insipidness of the controllers and lesser ones supervising the greater ones, it’s still nerve wracking and despicable.

This is not a time to throw one’s hands in the air. It is a time of revolt. And that is not the seminarian revolt, no sirree. We don’t need no stinkin’ badge or no stinkin’ intellectual or no stinkin’ commentator to tell us how to rebel and why we should revolt. All those people wielding power, and they tap dance and soft shoe their way into their corners of lies.

It’s only going to take old men and young women, kids and Latinos/as. It’s only going to take retirees and students. It’s only going to take workers and middlings. Farmers, drifters, ex-cons, the homeless, the smart, the downtrodden and the entire precarious class. People of color. Molotovs tossed at the ramparts — JP Morgan Chase, Walmart, McDonalds, Starbucks, Amazon-dot-com. Simple street skirmishes, against the material battering rams the elites and controllers have shoved down our throats and the throats of the yet to be born.

How many laws and regs and written-down rules and courses on how to build consensus and make nice will it take to finally strip away the nanny state syndrome and create real revolutionary girls and boys, street people and coders.

Add to that the beautiful things. Serendipity. Nirvana.

Each intersection with humanity I have, daily, I mean to engender a serious spark or galvanized human exchange . . .  and I mean to have each one of those humanity moments flutter into my mitochondria, to stay with me until the blast furnace of death overcomes me.

I want my own terminal velocity to be accompanied by the memories of so many interludes with humanity, in struggle, to be sure, but in their beauty to survive-resist-rebel.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.