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little less than a year ago these cards were me, and they'd been me for over twelve years before that or for just about one third of my life. I got them both at the same time and from the same man, when I was twenty years old and fresh out of a California penitentiary. This one here is the card that says I was a longshoreman on the San Francisco waterfront every day of those dozen years. And this one says I was a member in good standing of the American Communist party, when I was just that, up until I became twenty-four or five, and it didn't seem to make much sense for me to renew my membership. Now, both of these cards were given to me by the same man, or, I should say, by the associates of the same man--Mr. Harry Bridges, who I'm sure all you members of the working proletariat know to be the head of the San Francisco longshoreman's union, as well as a radical champion of all workers' rights.

"What I'm driving at is that neither of these cards is me anymore. Oh, they still have my name on them all right, but they ain't me no more--no way! The reason they no longer are, is a long, long story which I'll shorten by simply reachin' its conclusion for you. But I want you to all understand that I didn't jump to no quick conclusion then, when I actually canceled both of these cards out of my life forever. It was a goddamn long-drawn decision I made after tryin' to work within their confines for all those years of my youth. I didn't jump to no fuckin' conclusion! I thought about it slowly for a long time--too long!

"Anyway, the reason I gave up my card-carrying membership in both these organizations was I realized they were full of shit, and I didn't want to be a part of that shit. Part of the lie that says all socially relevant change is brought about through the power of the working class. You see, I really want to do something to change this goddamn system we got here, and when I realized that I really, really did want to do something relevant to change the miserable way most people live in this fuckin' world, I knew I had to stop kidding myself by going to monthly Party meetings, while at the same time earning over three hundred dollars in take-home pay every week. I mean, I had no real beef with anything, really, as long as the two hundred dollars for my thirty-five hours' work was coming in every week. And it was basically those wages that made me see that my involvement with the Communist Party, U.S.A. was nothing more than an elitist hobby that made me feel self-righteously good once a month, that's all, and did nothing for no one. One day, I just looked 'round at all my friends who were all playin~ the same [end page 397]


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