The Machine Will Never Triumph, part twenty-seven
O start a revolution—
O! start a revolution, somebody!
not to get money
but to lose it all for ever.
O! start a revolution, somebody!
not to install the working classes
but to abolish the working classes for ever
and have world of men.1
If we are to have a revolution, it will first and foremost have to be a spiritual revolution, since there is no point in changing the external world, if we remain greedy and selfish inside. And we should never revolt in the name of any one class. All classes are part of the system. Primitive peoples had no classes. If the poor revolt, they shouldn’t revolt in order to become wealthy, but so that none may be wealthy again, save in the sense that ancient people were all wealthy with the natural abundances of life and earth. Lawrence described precisely the kind of revolution he favored:
The whole scheme of things is unjust and rotten, and money is just a disease upon humanity. It’s time there was an enormous revolution—not to install soviets, but to give life itself a chance. What’s the good of an industrial system piling up rubbish, while nobody lives. We want a revolution not in the name of money or work or any of that, but of life—and let money and work be as casual in human life as they are in a bird’s life, damn it all. Oh it’s time the whole thing was changed, absolutely[…] You’ve got to smash money and this beastly possessive spirit. I get more revolutionary every minute, but for life’s sake. The dead materialism of Marx socialism and soviets seems to me no better than what we’ve got. What we want is life, and trust: men trusting men, and making living a free thing, not a thing to be earned. But if men trusted men, we could soon have a new world, and send this one to the devil.2
Let’s revolt, but for the sake of life, not for the masses, nor for the classes, and never with guns, bombs, and all the evil implements of modern warfare. We must fight, but to fight with modern weapons lowers us, and if we use the tools of the Machine we have already lost. We, instead, have another greater power, namely the power to withdraw ourselves. If everyone withdrew from the system, from the machines, and stopped buying and selling, the whole damn thing would come down, and men would be free once again. This would be a revolution towards traditional ways of living; something old and new at the same time. It is not at all in alignment with the Marxist objectives. As can be seen from history, both Marxist and capitalist regimes were equally guilty of heinous crimes against the earth. It is time to break out of one’s head, to get outside of the ideas that one is used to. Marxism and capitalism are both bad. It is time for something new. Let’s crack our egos to make Rananim:
Man is pot-bound in his ideas. Then let him burst the pot that contains him. […] His roots are choked, squeezed, and the life is leaving him, like a plant that is pot-bound and is gradually going sapless.
Break the pot, then.
But it’s no good waiting for the slow accumulation of circumstance to break the pot. That’s what men are doing today. They know the pot’s got to break. They know our civilisation has got to smash, sooner or later. So they say: “Let it! But let me live my life first.”
Which is all very well, but it’s a coward’s attitude.3
Fight! O my young men—
Fight! don’t you feel you’re fading
into slow death?
Fight then, poor duffers degrading
your very breath.
Open your half-dead eyes
you half-alive young,
look round and realise
the muck from which you’ve sprung.
The money-muck, you simple flowers
of your forefathers’ muck-heap;
and the money-muck-worms, the extant powers
that have got you in keep.
Old money-worms, young money-worms
spinning a glamour round money, and clergymen
lifting a bank-book to bless us!
In the odour of lucrative sanctity
stand they—and god, how they stink!
Rise then, my young men, rise at them!
Or if you can’t rise, just think—
Think of the world that you’re stifling in,
think what a world it might be!
Think of the rubbish you’re trifling in
with enfeebled vitality!
And then, if you amount to a hill o’ beans
start in and bust it all;
money, hypocrisy, greed, machines
that have ground you so small.4
All people: young and old, men and women, should band together to end the vicious circle we are caught in. It is time to end the tyranny of money, and to bring all the world’s pernicious machines to a screeching halt. Lawrence has a direct message to all of us:
to all men who are men:
Be men, be individual men, grounded in your own manhood! Don’t believe in the “working man” or the “average man” or the “good man”. Let every man stand by his own manhood, not be squashed into any sort of mass, nor made to any sort of pattern.
And get clear of the money hysteria. Money is the devil that twists all our tails: twists the rich man, who has more than he needs, and twists the poor man, who is threatened with starvation. Yet money is nothing more than the bogey of fear and greed, inside us.
Men, alert men, should neither live nor work for money. Men must work to produce the food, warmth, and shelter we all need: but that should soon be done. The rest is the great game of living.
But now, everything is work, it is all slavery. Most men are wage-slaves. Under bolshevism, it is pretty much the same: they are still slaves, machine-slaves, party-slaves.
Work should be comparatively a trivial element in a man’s life, and money need not exist. Men must provide food, warmth, and shelter for themselves and for all human beings: for every human being should have warmth, food, shelter, free and without question, whether he works for it and “deserves” it or not.—But this would not be a very tedious or difficult matter. At least seven-tenths of the work of today is waste work: done just because people do not know what to do with themselves: and to get money. It is a form of idiocy.
The real activity of life is the great activity of the developing consciousness, physical, mental, intuitional, religious—all-round consciousness. This is the real business of life, and is the great game of grown men. All that other affair, of work and money, should be settled and subordinated to this, the great game of real living, of developing ourselves physically, in subtlety of movement, and grace and beauty of bodily awareness, and of deepening and widening our whole consciousness, so that we really become men, instead of remaining the poor, cramped, limited slaves we are.
But we must first wring the neck of the money bird, and settle the simple question of food, warmth, and shelter.5
One should never have to fear lack of the basic necessities of life. The base necessities should be freely given, and all people, from the time they are very young, should be taught to be self-sufficient and to be able to live off the land. Only once people are free from having to earn a living may they actually start living. Life is not about work, but about the cultivation of the soul, as Lawrence makes clear above.
No joy in life—
Never, my young men,
you who complain you know no joy in your lives
never will you know any joy in your lives
till you ask for lightning instead of love
till you pray for the right gods, for the thunder-bolt instead of pity
till you look to the right man, to put you into touch.
Then you will hit the Flat-iron Building and flatten it out.
Then you will shatter the Bank.
Then you will settle the hash of Business finally.6
A free man must claim his freedom with his hands. Freedom is almost never given freely. It is time to stop complaining, stop seeking pity, and to instead channel the Gods of power and rage, and to fight alongside them to bring modernity’s entire edifice crumbling to the ground. Part of attaining self-knowledge is knowing who to fight. Some gurus will tell you hatred and anger are evil, negative emotions, but they are wrong. It is good to hate the Machine, and it is a positive thing to have anger and rage towards the machines, the robots, and the rapists of the earth. Perhaps it is time to kneel down before the savage Gods and ask for the permission to perform sacrifices. As Lawrence writes:
And he knew something surging at the bottom of his soul like the depths of a black volcano. Over and over again came up in him a desire for revenge, for revenge on all humanity, this mass of automata inside a corral which they call infinite. The idiotic sheepfold of the Infinite. And the rank, self-satisfied sheep inside it.
A black wave would surge up in him, a desire for revenge, revenge, unending revenge on this foul humanity which refuses life and will not let life be. Invents more tricks of machines and sentimentality, and calls these tricks Life, so as not to let any real life be.
Oh for revenge, for revenge! Oh his terrible hatred of men, his hate of the hearts of men. Oh to be able to strike out their hearts and hold them smoking to the sun, as his ancestors had done in the blood-stinking temples of Huichilobos. To take revenge, a colossal blood-revenge. Revenge is for the gods. But men are executors for the gods. To serve the god of revenge. Only that! Only that! To take an unspeakable revenge on mankind, because of the utter unmanliness of mankind.
Mankind! Mankind! Who is mankind? he asked himself. Are all men mankind?7
For all that.
For all that, life will only be good again when there is a generous,
determined effort among men
To alter the present frame of civilisation
To abolish the tyranny of money.8
One man can make his own life better, a small community can make their lives incalculably better, but to really change the world permanently, many, many men and women need to band together to completely alter the present frame of civilization. Money would need to be abolished, and avarice would have to be banished from the hearts of men. As Lawrence states: “I don’t believe in the world, not in money, nor in advancement, nor in the future of our civilisation.—If there’s got to be a future for humanity, there’ll have to be a very big change from what now is.”9 The fight is not against people as such, but against machines and robotic masses. “[I]t is a battle against the money, and the machine, and the insentient ideal monkeyishness of the world.”10
A sane revolution
If you make a revolution, make it for fun,
don’t make it in ghastly seriousness,
don’t do it in deadly earnest,
do it for fun.
Don’t do it because you hate people,
do it just to spit in their eye.
Don’t do it for the money,
do it and be damned to the money.
Don’t do it for equality,
do it because we’ve got too much equality
and it would be fun to upset the apple-cart
and see which way the apples would go a-rolling.
Don’t do it for the working classes.
Do it so that we can all of us be little aristocracies on our own
and kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.
Don’t do it, anyhow, for international Labour.
Labour is the one thing a man has had too much of.
Let’s abolish labour, let’s have done with labouring!
Work can be fun, and men can enjoy it; then it’s not labour.
Let’s have it so! Let’s make a revolution for fun!11
If there is going to be a revolution for life, it must be a revolution full of life. A Lawrencian revolution would see the blossoming of multitudes of creativity from all walks of life; it would be a revolution with people singing and dancing in the streets, and it would be a revolution without guns and bombs, since Lawrence abhorred all those modern means of death and warfare. If two men need to fight, let them fight with knives, or with their bare fists. Rather than having a revolution to change the system, let’s have a revolution to end all systems forever! In order to do so, there must be a change in consciousness, a change that would entail nothing less than a religious epiphany. This spiritual awakening would not, however, be an awakening away from the body, but an awakening to the body. Lawrence writes:
[A] new religious inspiration, and a new religious idea must gradually spring up and ripen before there could be any constructive change. And yet he felt that preaching and teaching were both no good, at the world’s present juncture. There must be action, brave, faithful action: and in the action the new spirit would arise.
“You see,” he said, “Christianity is a religion which preaches the despising of the material world. And I don’t believe in that part of it, at least, any longer. I believe that the men with the real passion for life, for truth, for living and not for having, I feel they now must seize control of the material possessions, just to safeguard the world from all the masses who want to seize material possessions for themselves, blindly, and nothing else. The men with soul and with passionate truth in them must control the world’s material riches and supplies: absolutely put possessions out of the reach of the mass of mankind, and let life begin to live again, in place of this struggle for existence, or struggle for wealth.”12
How welcome death would be
if first a man could have his full revenge
on our castrated society.13
Lawrence could almost be said to have been born into poor health. He was never very strong physically, and from his earliest years he was plagued with severe chest colds. Once he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he defied all of the expectations of his friends and doctors, and without anything in the way of scientific treatment he managed to live many years through sheer power of will and a miracle granted from the Gods. Lawrence was a man without fear, specifically fear of death, and though he knew his life would be short, he lived it to the fullest. He knew he did not have long in the world, but he certainly had his revenge on this, our castrated society. His writings are a testament that have the power to change the world, and in that sense, Lawrence was a great revolutionary. Change is never easy, and while things are still functioning we may, wrongly, decide to strive for sustainability, rather than tearing the entire superstructure down, but Lawrence replies with wise words: “It’s much easier to point to a wrecked house, if you want to build something new, than to persuade people to pull the house down and build it up in a better style.”14
Race and battle.
The race is not to the swift
but to those that can sit still
and let the waves go over them.
The battle is not to the strong
but to the frail, who know best
how to efface themselves
to save the streaked pansy of the heart from being trampled to mud.15
We can never defeat the Machine using its own tactics, and even if we tried, we would lose our souls in the process. Instead, we must lie still, with the peace and stillness of the heart, and be patient, for the Gods are on our side. Fighting a battle that one knows is lost is a waste of life. It is better to withdraw. Ultimately, though the world is worth fighting for, there comes a time when a man must focus on the salvation of his soul and in doing so turn away from the world and to the great Gods. As Lawrence so clearly writes:
Sometimes I feel I’d give anything, soul and body, for a smash up in this social-industrial world we’re in. And I would. And then when I realise people—just people—the same people after it as before—why[…], then I don’t care any more, and feel it’s time to turn to the gods[…] I leave mankind to its own contrivances, and turn to the gods.16
Lawrence, D. H. Kangaroo. Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 2018.
———. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Edited by Michael Squires. London: Penguin Books, 2009.
———. Quetzalcoatl. Edited by Lois L. Martz. New York: New Directions, 1998.
———. Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays. Edited by Michael Herbert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
———. The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Edited by James T. Boulton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 392–93.
D. H. Lawrence, The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. James T. Boulton (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 427–28.
D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, ed. Michael Herbert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 206.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:396.
Lawrence, The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, 428–29.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:419.
D. H. Lawrence, Quetzalcoatl, ed. Lois L. Martz (New York: New Directions, 1998), 115.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 1599.
D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, ed. Michael Squires (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 277.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:449.
D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo (Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 2018), 109–10.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:543.
Lawrence, Kangaroo, 237.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:568.
Lawrence, Kangaroo, 183.