Hal Draper

Come to Think of It

There Is No Power Can Beat Us

(12 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 32, 12 August 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Atomic power is a wonderful topic of conversation. Not that it will ever out-talk the weather, but the atom’s got a lot of advantages.

In the first place, it’s practically a dead certainty that the other fellow knows as little about it as you, so there’s no holds barred.

In the second place, you can always start off with “I see in the papers today ...”

So, like I was saying, I see in the papers today how the American Speleological Society has come out with a plan. Tuck that word “speleological” away. in your bonnet. It means the society studies CAVES, and I just learned It too.

But to get back to the A.S.S., which we will call Jack for short. Every man-jack of them offers his services to the government, free, to make a survey of all “caves, caverns and natural cavities” in the earth, for the purpose of relieving the expected housing shortage when the atoms begin to pop in World War Three.

I know this is a heck of a thing to talk about just when there’s a big peace conference on with 21 nations giving their delegates expense money and everything, but I’m assuming that Labor Action’s customers are grown up and know all about the birds and sons of B’s.

Now as a matter of fact, it was my friend Paperhead Pete that brought this news item to my attention, and he thought it was a swell idea.

“It’s all up with the human race,” he said. “And as for your revolution,” he said, “all they’ll have to do is drop a capital A on your boys and the revolution’s over. Squish – like that. You can’t beat it. Me, I’m getting a farm in Oregon and raise squash and zucchini.”

“I see you’re in a pessimistic mood today,” I said, “I don’t like squash and zucchini.”

“It’s not pessimism,” says Pete,”the big boys got the upper hand now. You’ve got to face the facts. We’ll make it sweet potatoes and bell peppers.”

Now I could have told Paperhead Pete why an atom-bomb can squish a riot or a putsch, but not a mass revolution. But when a fellow says,”I’m licked,” he IS licked, whether he’s licked or not. And if you got lost in that sentence, it’ll clear up as soon as I explain what else the A.S.S. reminds me of.

That, namely, was a real jackass called Blackie who was my pack burro when my wife and I took a trip over the High Sierras in Yosemite in 1944, and he was the first burro I’d ever come close to.

The stable-man picked him out, turned the lead-rope over to me, and said “He’s all yourn.” That’s all right with a sack of groceries but a burro is different. I got as far as the end of the rope. But there were the stableman and my wife watching, so I jerked the lead in my masterful way and sternly yelled, “Get going, ya black devil.” Blackie got going. He lit out the other way and then started circling the corral with me hanging on to the rope. I lost ground at the rate of about five miles an hour, and it wasn’t all on my feet.

It also wasn’t dignified.

When Blackie stopped, the stableman just said, “That ain’t the way,” which was something in the line of understatement. He showed how.

Now how do you move a burro when the beast goes on strike? I’d like to see the man that can pull a burro forward when he’s got his forelegs planted down. The answer is: you don’t even try.

Instead you take a short grip on the lead and jerk his head SIDEWAYS. That’s all? It doesn’t move him an inch yet, but it does one other thing.

It convinces the burro that you’re his master. He’s defeated, he gives in. And then you walk off with him. And he never knows that he’s stronger than you. Because he’s a dumb beast.

The paperheads who love to yell “There’s no use,” have got to learn some time that there is no power in the country that can lick the organized working class if it realizes its own strength – not the atom bomb, not the lynchers or union-busters, not the N.A.M. or the National Guard – not if Labor stands on its political and economic legs and says.”We’re not going to be led by the nose any more. We built this country and we want it back.”

The fellow who says “What’s the use of fighting?” is nothing but a ________. Well, I won’t be calling names, but after all, Blackie WAS a jackass.

Last updated on 26 May 2019