Monday, March 24, 2008

Sacrifice of the Common Man*

On the same day that President Bush stated that the "outcome" of the Iraq occupation would make the deaths of 4000 soldiers worthwhile, a news story also revealed that Chevron was in negotiations with Iraq to tap oil there.* These stories should be understood together, so that people know who is being sacrificed (working-class people) and for what reason (corporate oil profits). Julian Tuwim's poem, The Common Man, has just as much meaning today as it did almost 80 years ago.

The Common Man (Julian Tuwim, 1929)

When plastered billboards scream with slogans
'fight for your country, go to battle'
When media's print assults your senses,
'Support our leaders' shrieks and rattles...
And fools who don't know any better
Believe the old, eternal lie
That we must march and shoot and kill
Murder, and burn, and bomb, and grill...

When press begins the battle-cry
That nation needs to unify
And for your country you must die...
Dear brainwashed friend, my neighbor dear
Brother from this, or other nation
Know that the cries of anger, fear,
Are nothing but manipulation
by fat-cats, kings who covet riches,
And feed off your sweat and blood - the leeches!
When call to arms engulfs the land
It means that somewhere oil was found,
Shooting 'blackgold' from underground!
It means they found a sneaky way
To make more money, grab more gold
But this is not what you are told!

Don't spill your blood for bucks or oil
Break, burn your rifle, shout: 'NO DEAL!'
Let the rich scoundrels, kings, and bankers
Send their own children to get killed!
May your loud voice be amplified
By roar of other common men
The battle-weary of all nations:

*for a review of Chevron's oppressive human rights and environmental record, including illegal payouts to Saddam Hussein in 2001 and 2002, go to

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