Moloch (HaMavet); or, Another Note on Death Drive and Capitalism in the 1950s
From David Engerman, Modernization From the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development (Cambridge: Harvard, 2003).
Alexander Herzen in From Another Shore (1850): “Nature never makes one generation the means for some future end”; humans should follow suit.
“Who is this Moloch who, as the toilers approach him, instead of rewarding them, only recedes and as a consolation to the exhausted, doomed multitudes crying ‘morituri the salutant’ (we who are about to die salute you), can give back only the mocking answer that after their death all will be beautiful on earth. Do you truly wish to condemn all human beings alive today to the sad role of caryatids supporting a floor for others some day to dance on… or of wretched galley slaves, up to their knees in mud, dragging a barge filled with some mysterious treasure and with the humble words ‘progress in the future’ inscribed on its bows?
From Allen Ginsberg, “Howl” (1955) (published 1956; note the year: compare with Swados, “Myth of the Happy Worker,” 1957).
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!