The Structures of Class

When a few men establish
a government to rule the life of many,
they lay down rules, choose leaders, pass laws,
construct machines to implement their power;
embody their principles in a constitution,
decide on the balance of power, the values and the
All this is devised and ordered in accord with their own
as they control everyone’s comings and goings.

Although it would be rational to suppose
that the wisest policy is justice—
equality for all in an association of brothers—
what happens is the very opposite
and to the man who sees clearly, the world is upside
The few who organized these institutions
take care to reserve the privilege for their class, signing
                    away the heritage of all others.
“There you are, and here we are”—a king’s decree
proclaims the boundary lines, the limits of class.

In time, cities arise,
places of learning hold up a golden torch,
he who would gather knowledge must enter these
but few can pass without a loaded purse,
and once inside, their minds will be exposed
to those who, void of warmth, in all their arrogance,
will try to warp even the purest heart,
and burn incense to their own brand of dubious hero.

They build a place of worship,
a temple “dedicated to God,”
setting up an image with a woman’s face, a lion’s body;
whoever fails to worship and pay her tribute, will never
                        get to heaven.
Men are completely terrorized,
made to believe there was no heaven on earth, only
                        crosses to bear.
Those who long for mysterious redemption
must give riches and land to Mammon,
must buy even immortality with prayers and gold.

For those who are determined to be absolute rulers,
good faith, tradition, a people’s history are not needed.
Courthouses are built, judges and officials with no
            semblance of heart are chosen.
The character of the defendant is no part of judgment;
while biased justice says that equal punishment will be
                meted out, according to law,
it casts a net from which the big fish escape, in which
                    the little fish are caught,
and mercy can be bought with silver.

The crowning infamy
of this law of “tooth for tooth”
is prison—that desolate cavern,
that living grave for men of health and courage—
            equally with villains and imbeciles—
here the vengeance, the fear and hatred
of society, is centered in all its ferocity,
here one without guilt toward man or God is tortured,
and prison is a fortress of horror
where hangmen wreak havoc in the dark and
                undermine reason.

Now, when the day of judgment comes,
and the mighty have been leveled;
(but only if the persecuted open their eyes,
only if they arise and sweep away the few)
the edifice of privilege will crumble,
and in the ashes a new temple will arise;
a new rampart, a new flag, a trumpet of promise
that the nation will grow, out of the people’s hope, out
                of their faith in their own leaders.