Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (Conclusion)

My freewheelin’ days in the Bronx days were now over. Squeezed economically (between the unchallenged economic power of U.S. landlords to keep charging monthly rents for the slum apartments in the apartment buildings they were still allowed to own and the unchallenged economic power of the personnel offices of U.S. private and public business, media, government, health care and educational institutions to deny wage work opportunities or welfare benefits/food stamps to U.S. citizens who required the money that a paycheck or welfare check/food stamp coupon would provide to pay their rent and obtain food), I had been forced back onto the streets. And the freewheeling lifestyle of “emancipated poverty” in which I wished to live during the 1970s in the USA (and in which working-class youths who were on the dole in the UK and other Western European countries--where social democratic reforms and welfare state concessions had previously been won through mass struggle—were still able to live until the late 1980s) had been crushed by powerful U.S. economic and powerful historical forces beyond my control.

In the nearly 7 years since the 1964 Berkeley Student Revolt and Free Speech Movement [FSM] spokesperson Mario Savio’s assertions that the end of history has not been reached and our generation “would rather die” than be unfree and historically irrelevant had inspired my own spirit of rebellion against the System, I had managed to escape the chains of the public school and college and university classroom cages, as well as the chains of the Vietnam Era War draft and U.S. military war machine.

But for an individual U.S. working-class person in the 1970s, escaping from the economic chains of classism, wage-slavery, corporate exploitation, landlordism, unemployment, poverty and capitalism for more than brief periods of personal freedom, had proven to be a much tougher set of chains to escape from. And since large numbers of U.S. working-class people still felt it was more practical economically to remain chained to their 9-to-5 wage-slave jobs or “careers” in the 1970s than to collectively cut their economic chains and drop out economically enmasse until the classist U.S. economic system was radically transformed and democratized economically, escaping from the chains of U.S. capitalism for most U.S. working-class rebels during the rest of the 20th century and early 21st-century now seemed like more of a remote prospect.

And although I had managed to create, from a revolutionary left anti-imperialist political and artistic perspective, some protest folk songs between 1965 and 1971 (during periods when I wasn’t involved day-to-day in New Left political activism), the white upper-middle class gatekeepers who decided whose protest folk songs were going to be allowed to reach the ears of the U.S. working-class masses did not appear likely to ever allow any of the songs I had written to impact on the consciousness of most U.S. working-class people.

So when my freewheelin’ in the Bronx days ended in August 1971, I felt, in some ways, that the personal rebel identity that I had developed for myself since leaving my parents’ apartment in 1965 existed no longer. But my understanding of the level of U.S. working-class oppression in the United States had deepened dramatically over what it had been when I was still attending college and living day-to-day within the fantasy world of a white upper-middle-class U.S. campus enclave scene.

The real world of Off-Campus Amerika in 1971 was, indeed, a Death Culture for U.S. working-class people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. And this Death Culture would probably always end up starving out (or eventually roping back into some 9-to-5 prison or 9-to-5 coffin) any individual U.S. working-class male or female youth who became too freewheeling and “uppity” in his or her personal aspirations during the remainder of the 20th century and early 21st-century. (the end)


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