Civilizing Mission

M. Shahid Alam

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production,
by the immensely facilitated means of communication,
draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization
K. Marx and F. Engels

From get go, this system was built
on carnage. Once capital connected

with power, there was no turning
back. The galleons set sail, guns

blazing at the ports, disembarking
death on the shores of America,

barging into Mocha and Malacca,
and making the return journey,

decks piled with gold and silver,
hulls hoarding cloves and calicoes.

The ships went out again, winged
predators, to the ports of Africa

harvesting her flesh and bones,
African bodies to work a continent,

drained, depleted of native fauna.
The ships still make the round, wide-

bodied, steel-hulled, through air
and water, carrying a new cargo

from ruined lands whose human
detritus is harvested for body parts.

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