“We gather together today not to praise capitalism, but to bury it.” An Anti-Eulogy
We recently held an important funeral here in Oakland: for capitalism. There weren’t any tears that I could see. Paul Dalton, one of the organizers—and a former AK Press collective member—wrote a moving “dyslegy” (anti-eulogy) for the not-so-dearly departed. Read it and don’t weep. I’ve also included a short video of the event. You can hear/see Daphne Gottlieb reading Paul’s words toward the end…just before the grave dancing begins.
Daphne and Paul lead the procession
This is dedicated to everyone who made today possible. To, the Diggers and to General Ludd. To the IWW and the 1st International. To the peasants retaking their fields and the workers occupying their factories. To the philosophers and the saboteurs. To the anarchists in Greece and the Egyptians in Tahrir Square. To Phoolan Devi and Lucy Parsons. To Alexander and Emma. To the Black Panthers and the Young Lords. To the autonomen in Germany and the radical student in South Korea. To those who sat at segregated lunch counters. To those who organized farm workers. To those who have perished, and those who survived. To those who took to the streets, and, yes, those who took up arms. To everyone who stood up and took a stand against an unjust and corrupt system. And last, but certainly not least to you, my fellow fighters, the courageous and spirited voice of the 99%—a voice that cannot and will not be silenced.
We gather together today not to praise capitalism, but to bury it. Rejoice, the great god greed is dead! It lived far too long. Now, its chains have been broken, its tentacles severed. The world is free to breathe again—to grow, to flourish—no longer weighed down by this most voracious monster.
Nobody knows its exact birthday. Sired by mercantilism, midwifed by banking, and nurtured by imperialism, Capitalism’s life was built upon a simple, but powerful lie. An early acolyte, one Adam Smith, proclaimed that material wealth could be conjured by alchemy of hoarding and gambling. Logic and history be damned! No longer did riches need to be stolen, pillaged, spirited away in the night. Now, material wealth could magically appear—like pennies (and pounds, and rupees and dinars) from heaven.
Yet, even as the monster gestated, signs of discontent emerged: textile workers went on strike, farmers claimed their land from its lords, even some men of the churches inveighed against its excesses.
From its earliest days, it showed a mighty appetite—gorging itself on the fruits of others’ labor. Quickly, it grew fat and strong. Like the royalty it emulated, it surrounded itself with sycophants and sidekicks; bodyguards and nannies. It hired bards to sing its praises, and historians were commissioned to celebrate it every accomplishment.
Of course, not everyone delighted in this hungry beast. Many saw Mr. Smith’s lie for what it was—a deception inside a prevarication soaked in the blood of untold millions.
Although it grew large, it was never very healthy. Insatiable, it required ever more and more just to stay alive, leaving storehouses and fields barren in its wake. When its demands couldn’t be met, its fragility was plain to see—as when rampant speculation in tulips collapsed the Dutch economy in 1638, an event echoed by economic bubbles bursting from the South Seas Company in the 18th Century to the Great Depressions of the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries.
Each bout of illness gave it greater resolve. It sent its minions out to find new fields to pluck, new forests to level, new fodder for its machines. It conquered new lands and people, and took all they had to give—and much, much more.
As it grew larger and more unstable, it developed great skill in the art of distraction. When it faltered in one place, it shifted to another. It was as creative as it was destructive. It gave us our bread and our circuses. It let us eat our cake. It assigned value to things where none existed, made virtue from vice, sacrament from sin.
Of Capitalism’s many children, Industrialism deserves special note. With its machines and interchangeable labor, it took what was old and made it seem new. The production of things was transformed into the manufacturing of profit. It sullied the air, poisoned the water and ravaged the soil. All the time, it remained unperturbed. As long as it got it succulent feasts, it cared not for the ingredients, nor for the cooks.
For a brief moment it faced off against some formidable foes. With names like Marx and Bakunin, Goldman and Luxenburg, Hill and Debbs, groups of fighters emerged, shouted the truth to power, laid bare the lie and said we’d all be better off once we put this behemoth down. Too quickly, capitalism used brute force and ingenuity to crush those who opposed it and turn those who survived into sad, and sickly junior partners—frightening sidekicks. It turned those visions of liberation into the suffocating gray bureaucracies of the so-called communist countries and the simpering unions, stripped of their purpose and their power.
But today we can rejoice in Capitalism’s demise. It has finally succumbed to its own weakness and the strength of its enemies, who are legion. The workers threw monkey wrenches into the gears. The farmers gave food to the hungry. Students took over their classrooms. Capitalism’s gilded gates were torn down. Its thugs were disarmed, its statues toppled.
The lie rejected, the corpse of the leviathan lays steaming, the stench of its decay as sweet as honeysuckle. Now, farmers are free to tend to the field, nurturing rather than ravaging them. Workers can run their workplaces. We can reclaim Capitalism’s ill-gotten gains, and to share them fairly. We can use its machines for our benefit, and dismantle those that don’t serve us. We know our health comes not from the endless gorging by the few, but by the nurturing sustenance of the many.
We slayed the beast and now we come to dance on its grave.
And dance we will. For we have no reason to mourn, only to celebrate and revel in the joy of possibilities—of a world where monsters don’t enslave us, don’t steal our food, don’t kill us when object too loudly to our suffering or in any way interfere with its rapacious plunder.
We have surely suffered enough, but we know Capitalism’s legacy will haunt us. But ghosts only have the power we give them, and they can be exorcized. Each following generation will benefit more than the last. Our triumph is that we overcame, our legacy a world free of this scourge.
So, let’s dance, be merry, celebrate, rejoice! Soon we must get to work, begin rebuilding our new world in the shell of the old. Let us remain ever mindful that the germs of capitalism—greed, destructiveness, violence—reside within us. We must keep them at bay with the medicines of solidarity, mutual aid and love; love of each other and the world which has always sustained us, even under Capitalism’s relentless attack.
Let our final words to Capitalism be: you won’t be missed, nor forgotten. Killing you has made us strong and remembering your avarice will help us avoid our own downfall. May you rest forever, in OUR peace—the peace we have made by ensuring your demise. We have felled the beast, let it never rise again!
Rejoice, the great god greed and its monstrous child capitalism are dead. Let the celebration begin!