This is Dystopia, lady!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 January, 2012 - 12:50

What world is this, sir?

This is Dystopia, lady!

World of hallucogenic sights

And waking nightmares;

Realm of Dire Remembrances

And of things seen in our Bleak Imaginings.

Strange ancient worlds still are threaded in

This ending-time of mankind’s long pre-history:

See it through the lenses of its parts,

Its smaller, true and fancied,

Past and present, parts,

And of its pasts,

If you would see it plain,

And know what centuries this is:

Here old and new combine;

Progress and regress intertwine.


This is the Great Dalek Civilisation,

Run by little shrivelled, dishrag things, strutting

Inside a big, relentless blind machine.

This is the Western Town

In the cowboy picture: robbers rule here,

The sheriff and the hangman work for them;

Crooks make and break the Law.

This is the village in the “Seven Samurai”:

Bandits force tribute

From starved and half-starved people,

Indifferent to the hunger cries.

Here, the educated, knowing, clever

Thinkers, teachers, writers, philosophers,

Pundits, seers, prophets,

Humanity’s recusant effete elite,

Gang with the bandits

To rob the hungry villagers:

To the bandits’ primal theft and force

They add their own anointing weasel cries.


Here, Freedom and Equality thrive:

The poor as well as the rich are free

To sleep out in winter city streets.

All alike are barred by law

From robbing banks,

Save only those with wealth enough

To pay the licence fee

For stark impunity,

To loot and rob within the Law.

Those who rob banks with guns are jailed;

Those who use banks like guns

To rob and ride the people, rule

The jails, the Cortes, Senates, Commons,

Assemblies, Reichstags, Dumas, Knessets, Dails.

New little thieves are jailed

Or have their hands cut off

By the Thieves Who Rule

Heir to the greater thieves of old,


This is a place that Thomas More,

Lord Chancellor of England knew:

Government is a “perpetual conspiracy

Of the rich against the poor”.

This is Imperial Rome:

Here, the Presidency of the World

Is sought and sold and bought, auctioned,

And, four years on, is sold again,

(Democratically) by the very rich,

To the very rich, for the very rich.

This is a Henry Ford Democracy:

You can choose the colour of your rulers,

Provided it is a shade of the colour bourgeois.

This is a world ruled by Public Opinion,

Where Public Opinion is ruled by venal

Journo servitors of the ruling rich.


Lady, this is the place of Swift’s imagining,

Babies, millions from every crop,

Are staked out on the unhealing,

Unsustaining, stark, barren rock, die

To feed the Lords of Money, Law and Life.

Ours, is a world rich

In its Doctors Mengele,

Experimenting endlessly,

Generation upon generation,

To find how much

In food and medics’ care

Children can lack, and live.

Here, Citizens Procrustes and Moreau

Run the schools: children are maimed,

Have hopes, propensities, aspirings

Hacked away,

As once they broke the limbs of beggar kids

And re-set them, all awry;

Are shaped and schooled

To make them fit to live

In their allotted place,

To fill and till their social slot

And let their lives be filched

By the ruling lout elite

Lady, this is Bram Stoker Territory:

Here, if they can, they drink your blood.


Here, God serves Satan:

The priests of the high Morality go in lockstep

With the brigands, hangmen, bagmen, murderers and Thieves.

Commerce and its Conveniences,

Are fountain alike

Of Law, Morality, Art;

The Stockholder, his priest,

Lawyer, spin-liar,

And his hacking journalist,

Are Moses, Marx, Mohammed, Christ.

The Money-Changers own the Temples:

Usurer-scourging Christ is jailed

As a hooligan, and crucified

For lèse Majesty, and lèse God.

Not “Do to others as you

Would have them do to you”,

But “do to them as they

Might do to you, and do it first”.

Thievery, robbery, chicanery,

Grown old and blindingly familiar,

Nest deep within the social seed:

Few now will call the Great Thieves, “thieves”

Or name Big Thievery, “theft”.

Falling fine acidic rain,

The moral culture eats

At the ties and fabrics of the society

That makes, remakes, sustains and poisons it.


Lady, this is a world ruled-over,

By Conquistadors:

Entrenched, still looting predatory victors,

And their victims, vanquished

In savage old class wars,

That change in form, but do not cease:

A war of social worlds rips and rages.

This is the world of Spartacus:

Freedom and slavery entwine, symbiotic still;

The pitiless chains,

Less visible, and longer now,

Are forged and reforged, relentlessly.

The means of life,

The work of nature,

And of the generations,

Are held by a few,

Run by mercenaries,

Guarded by scribblers, lawyers, prattlers, cops:

The rest must pay eternal dues

To the Lords of Life, who make the Law.

You must work, wage slave,

Unpaid for part of each long day

For masters of land, bank, plant,

Or they won’t let you work at all.

Most hire out their labour power,

A few sell body parts outright,

Many sell their own starved red blood.

Here they treat most of the people

Most of the time

As farmers treat their beasts.

This is the Theatre of the Absurd:

Here the rich and their ticket-touts

Have pre-booked all the good surveying seats.

This is the land in the cowboy picture

Held by the half-mad cattle baron

Against diggers of the soil

And their need

To grow food and people.

This is the world of the lotus-eaters,

The Realm of Amnesia:

Here you are induced to forget

Who you are, and what,

And what you and yours might be.

Humankind is snared

In a world-enmeshing web

By the busy, spid’ring bourgeoisie:

Lives are drained, reduced, shrivelled,

Made senselessly arid, emptied, numbed.

This is the planet in Star Trek

Ruled by Doctor Frankenstein,

Here, they steal your kidneys,

Your hands, your eyes, your heart,

For spare part surgery on prospered citizens.


Here we pray to The Three Malignant Gods,

Hope-of-Wealth, Wealth, Profit,

And Their anointed Saints and Holy Souls,

In whom the quest for wealth

Ended with their birth.

Here footballers and singers

Athletes, musicians, models,

Disc-jockeys, psychics, gurus

Are adored, are amongst the richest of the Age,

Our spiritual out-reach; our epitome.

Here live olympian Hero-Drones

Of conspicuous consumption

And their attendant swarms

Of addled Cargo Cultists.*

Here, too, reign Pearly Kings and Queens;

Shimmering tinsel is worn,

Not with shame but pride:

The cherished wealth is glittering nothingness.

A Princess Di is Queen of Hearts,

A Paris Hilton Queen of Heaven

To mesmer’ed, would-be clones

Who browse, voyeur, gawp and gasp, eternally

Wishing, hoping, lusting, longing,

Imagining, miming: helpless

Before the Great Shop Window

And its mincing manikins.


This is the world and this the Age

Of humankind’s Great Fear:

Of immanent, close-crowding doom

And all-pervading guilt;

The dawning, gnawing sense,

That humankind has fouled its nest;

An Age of surging, burgeoning Fear

Before the looming shadow

Of the Tsunami Times coming;

Engulfing tidal nature waves,

And waves of man-made social devastation.

This is an Aztec world, Lady,

Moored and mired in blood-drenched Faith:

Here beating human hearts

Are ripped out of the living flesh,

And sacrificed to the ravening Market-God,

Without whose favour nothing moves.

Humanity’s heavy-dragging tail

Rises up, again, and again, to strike

At its all too-slow-advancing head.

This is the world of The Big Sleep:

Of murk, enshrouding fog,

And deep, self-multiplying mystery:

Even the authors lose the shape of this mad tale!


This, Lady, is Caveman Planet:

Here bones and toxic dung and dirt

Pile up over the years; except,

We have no other cave to move on to.

And this... Lady... This is…

Sir, it is all these things, you say,

Metaphorically — but what is it,

Beyond analogue and metaphor?

Why, Capitalism, Lady, Capitalism!

This is a state of society

In which the process of production

Has the mastery over humankind

Instead of being controlled by us.

Relentless mills of commerce grind:

In a world of finite things,

In-built, Incessant Waste

And pre-set built-in early obsolescence,

The ruin-price we pay

Our all-devouring, all-deciding,


Paramount God: Profit.

Lady, this is Animal Farm:

The pigs rule here!

But, sir, will things always, here, be so?

No, lady. No. Hell, no!

And, sir, what should I do in Dystopia?

Sean Matgamna

* Cargo Cult: during World War Two, the setting up of a US south Sea island base kept in supplies by planes, produced amongst the stone-age level native people of the island a cult of the cargo. Supernatural, the planes disgorging their wonders seemed to them; and so they ceased economic activity and instead took to aping the behaviour of the in-comers and praying and sacrificing to the God of Airborne Supplies, looking for the magic that would bring cargoes to them too...

“The Treason of the Intellectuals, and other political verse” by Sean Matgamna

A collection including items previously published in Solidarity and forerunner publications over the last 25 years.

Available soon on or at ÂŁ9.99 post free from AWL, 20E Tower Workshops, Riley Rd, London SE1 3DG (order at

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