We imagine the police. William Wall

In the dark times, will there also be singing?

Yes, there will be singing

About the dark times.

Bertolt Brecht, ‘Motto to the ‘Svendborg Poems’

we imagine the police

cameras catching other people

doing things that irritate us

in their cars

this is the police state

of mind

as we shop in the late evening

in the supermarket

that never closes

not even for God

& we try to remember what we want

& we try to buy only what we need

& desire keeps getting in the way

we genuflect

before other people’s shopping

in aisles sacred

to the memory of home

cooking & detergent

& the kind of things your mother baked

& as we are occasionally electrocuted

by the metal

we begin to believe

that bread belongs to today

that there are different qualities of white

that there are no preservatives

that the meat

is prime

& the supermarket cares for us

& that every little helps

it is chip & pin

in the late evening

under the watchful eyes

we imagine

people using our cards

to buy things we would never buy

in places we have never been

on a day or days

without our express


this is the police state

of mind

as we drive home in the night

with a car full of things

we scarcely believe are real

our past haunted by

kitchen paper rolls

cans of asparagus tips

stick & click LED lights

mosquito candles in case

we get global warming soon

disposable barbecues

fruit psychosis

& probiotic yoghurt

& canned salmonella

& thawing petits-pois

& lawn weed ‘n’ feed

& a nest box

& a special kind of notepaper

that has forget-me-nots

& a memory stick

& a device for opening

reluctant cardboard cartons

& a fold up tent

for when we fold our tent

& a wallet-full of promises

that there will still be shopping

no matter how dark the time


13 thoughts on “We imagine the police. William Wall

  1. Bill what about: “try something different today”. (and then the ugly fat face of Jamie Oliver and his crusade of mediterranean cusine)

  2. Ciao Will, ma hai dimenticato! Vivo in Irlanda! A. I don’t have TV B. Jamie Oliver is BBC, I think. But more seriously, I think I might add that line somewhere in the next revision – it’s a beauty. The trouble is we are surrounded by empty language. We could (and shoul) write a book on it.

  3. This obsession with commodities and shopping is the absolute prerequisite of the police state, and the police state is the absolute guarantor of the commodity fetish. Shopping is repression not freedom. We serve our time picking objects up, putting them in bags, driving them home, removing them from bags and putting them in their new places, using them (or not), separating them for recycling and driving them to the recycle points or putting them in bins where we pay for them to be recycled into different products that are essentially sub-species of the same thing. All of this is freedom, guaranteed by the invisible hand of the market, protected by the police state of mind, the subject of fake competition between monopolies. Welcome to the end of capitalism.

  4. Will, are you suggesting to return to a primitive way of living? , where you could be pick up stuff from trees?

  5. Ciao Will. Come sai, not much grows on trees any more, and those trees mostly belong to somebody. But I think thinking small and local makes a difference. Anyway, capitalism is not a perpetuum mobile. At the moment, for example, there are extraneous factors that are unpredictable in their effect. What will happen to capitalism under the pressure of (i) Global Warming (ii) declining oil stocks (iii) declining foodstocks (iv) the crisis in money and credit (v) the imperialist wars? Nobody knows. In the mean time, as a great Irish socialist once said, hold onto your rifles.

  6. Bill, I do agree with you. But here I reckon the question is what will happen to us? not capitalism !-as we are into it.
    May be our friend Vocativo who loves Latouche is right.
    We, and I say “we”, not the big corporates- we re-shape the approach in terms of de-growing (de-crescita).

  7. What does de-growing mean? It sounds interesting. I’m not familiar with Latouche. Can you give me some references? I also like Gramsci’s idea of the two senses – ‘common’ sense which is the understanding of the world given to people by those in power, and a contrapuntal ‘good’ sense which is the sense by which people live together and support each other, and which runs completely contrary to the received narrative.

  8. In few words, latouche’s theories could be summed up: “against growth for growth’ sake”. It’s hard to translate the word “decroissance” or “decrescita” in english. The word “degrowing” sounds not very good. I think it could lose some aspects of the whole sense.
    Anyway Latouche himself complained about the difficulty to translate the word in a not-neolatin language.

    His theory is a utopian one, but if we look at it as an instrument to provoke, well, it isn’t useless and could inspire some illuminated governors (I don’t know if there are illuminated governors, but I think we need illuminated new-generations, so it’s important to spread this theory of an alternative world, not based on the totem of economy).

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