by rolling an enormous stone
to the peak of a steep hill's crown
and every time he'd reach the top
the stone quickly rolled back down.
* * * * ! * * *
Throughout the Dark Ages of Europe
the mass of the medieval population
became the virtual slaves of the rich
through the process of feudalization.
In return for their lord's protection
serfs had the right to work his estate,
but they never could leave his service,
making them HIS from cradle to grave.
In such a subsistence economy
you produce just what you need to survive.
Since there was no upward mobility
there was nothing for which to strive.
But after this had gone on for awhile
the feudal overlords began realizing
there was more money made in wool than in farms,
so they began medieval downsizing.
They enclosed the bulk of their estates
with "moats" of protective hedges,
used fewer serfs to raise sheep than to farm,
and left the poor to their own defenses.
Then after the rent wars and food riots
the rich installed capitalism
and got the poor to buy it by saying
they could rise from their servile position
in society by amassing money
and manufactured material goods.
Thus the quest for economic imitation
of the rich was begun by the poor.
By using the carrot of future reward
to tempt an upwardly mobile donkey,
and constantly moving the tasty bait forward
you create a consumption-based economy.
Capitalism requires constant purchases
of industrial goods made to self-destruct
so the people who bought them are forced to buy more.
! making sure the consumer is continually plucked.
To maintain this perpetual demand
is the Sisyphean task of the consumer
to afford and religiously buy
the industrial output of the producer.
The Upper Classes insure this by dangling
their lifestyle carrot in the face of the poor,
convincing them that conspicuous consumption
is what all REAL Americans strive for.
Advertising unrelentingly describes this
in magazines and on TV and in movies
as the possessions required for inclusion
in respectable American society.
(Note that after 9/11 we were urged to consume
as our patriotic American duty.)
But deep down we know real imitation
is just our own improbable hope
and the odds o! f winning the economic lottery
make it a particularly sadistic joke.
So when we finally admit "trickle down"
does NOT raise all economic boats,
what we see is more like the story
of the sparrows, the horse and the oats.
You feed all the oats to the horse,
but the sparrows are not supposed to feel cheated,
because they get all the leftover oats
when the horse's digestion's completed.
This creates more than a desire to be rich.
It creates resentment and anger and envy
in the poor rolling rocks up the hill
with Sisyphus for all of eternity.
Other Poems by Vi Ransel