Tag Archives: Sean Swain

On Chasing Paper

Still we lampin’ still clockin’ dirt for our sweat
A ballot’s dead so a bullet’s what I get
A thousand years you had the tools, we should be takin’ ’em
Fuck the G-ride, I want the machines that are makin’ ’em…
–from “Down Rodeo,”
on the CD ‘Evil Empire’
Rage Against the Machine    

Chasing paper. Many of us who are locked up were chasing paper, and we chased it right through the prison gates and into the cells we now occupy.     We use our time in lock up to scheme and dream and come up with new strategies for chasing paper. We get money tattooed all over us. We listen to songs that will motivate us. We develop our visions. We identify our competition. We build our networks, our empires.

Maybe we don’t think about how we are plotting and sweating and bleeding to get portraits of faces of former slave-owners, plantation masters who got rich by taking hostages and exploiting them for their sweat and blood. We don’t stop to think that those dead slave-owners continue to take us hostage– in a new way –and trick us into chasing them, collecting them, worshiping them.    

If we stopped to think about it, to really think about it, we’d ask ourselves why we value the money that someone else prints. We’d wonder why we let them print it and distribute it and decide who gets more and who gets less. Why aren’t we printing the money? Instead, we get tricked. We spend our lives and blood and sweat chasing paper and serving the system, the scheme of those who put the paper out.    

How many of us catch it? And for how long?    

If we stopped to think about it, we’d see that we really don’t want their paper. What we want is the happiness and freedom that we see others have, others who have paper. We want nice things. A good house, a new car, the best clothes, great food, comfort. We want friends and loved ones who love and respect us. We want lives of purpose and meaning and importance.    

What if I told you that we could all have that, if only we were the ones with power to print the paper… and to get that power, we must take it from the ones who currently have it?    

The ones who turn some of us against the rest, so we kill each other and save them time and bullets…    

The ones who decide where the factories and jobs go…    

The ones with the planes bringing the drugs into the country…    

The ones who hand out the sentences…    

The ones who count the votes.    

They run things. They run us. They are our enemies, with happiness and freedom at our expense… living off of our sweat and blood. They’re not special or smart or more deserving than we are, and we can be just as happy and just as free as they are, if only we spend our sweat and blood chasing revolution like we’ve spent it chasing paper.    

There’s only one thing that they have that you don’t: They know a powerful secret.    

And now you know it too.

–Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain.