An early mentor of mine, who sometimes I wish I’d listened to more, was an entrepreneur in the most solid and capitalistic sense, a rugged individualist and fountain of ideas. He promoted concerts, imported wicker baskets from the People’s Republic of China, booked strippers for private parties and generally made money by any means available. I leave the rest of his enterprises to your imagination.
There was however a period where this businessman became fascinated by Marxism. While this did not in any way affect his entrepreneurial skills, he did become well versed in Marxist terminology, and familiar with some of the more authoritarian ideas that V.I. Lenin espoused in his later years. This included the idea that life without subordination and authority is just an “anarchist dream.” *
I was an anarchist at the time, but I turned my back on my anarchist comrades to work with this nominal Marxist, because he was a lot better at making money. I was just a young punk, starting out in life clueless and hungry, and pragmatism won out over ideology.
When the dealings are shady, would-be thugs will at times hire real thugs for the problems that inevitably arise in the course of doing business. These individuals are in themselves problematic; they are hard to control, like to call their own shots, and have little if any loyalty to anyone or anything.
‘Shotgun,’ was this type of individual, older, meaner, perhaps not as bright as the boss, but he in fact did own the weapon that was his namesake, and we had no doubt that he was proficient with it. Shotgun seemed to have no real feelings for anyone except his dog, a hound named “Flash.”
The boss was having a bad day already. Creditors were demanding payments, and collections from various clients and vendors were not going well. His mistress had recently given birth to another man’s baby, yet still demanded his help, using the infant as a bargaining point, saying “it’s for the baby!“
Then the unthinkable happened; while Shotgun was out handling a collection, Flash wandered out through an open door, and was out of sight by the time anyone realized he’d left.
We immediately dispatched a search party, providing them with a car and the instructions not to return without Flash in custody. I was not ordered to take part in this search. I remained by my mentor’s side, having earned the rank of personal driver, #1 flunky, and confidant/therapist by then.
The boss clearly needed to talk to someone, to vent, to show the fear and vulnerability that he could not risk allowing a glimpse of to the outside world. He was near tears.
“Man, if we don’t get Flash back, Shotgun will kill us; I’m serious!” He went on, “F—ing dogs, cats and dogs, and babies, and people with cats and dogs and babies, and ANARCHISTS!”
Flash somehow ended up back in the house before Shotgun returned. I can’t remember how that worked out exactly, but I suspect that he just wandered back in on his own.
Shotgun quit on us later that year, and then came back and robbed us. The heist was inefficient and semi-bungled, netting about 1,100 dollars for him and his two accomplices. He didn’t shoot anyone, and was never seen again. He was not an anarchist, just a person with a dog (and a gun). He’d fallen somehow into a larger category of annoyances, which remained. They seemed to have the commonality of erratic behavior and un-businesslike personal priorities.
These annoyances can be cute sometimes, even anarchists (the teenage ones with skateboards and punk bands, not the bearded guy holding the bowling ball size bomb with the short and burning fuse) but ultimately they do not belong in a professional environment.
In 1981, my mentor’s Marxism went out the window with the Carter administration. Cocaine and bootleg Quaaludes got cheaper and more popular than ever, and it was clear that the revolution was over.
“We’re not trying to do anything except make a lot of money really fast,” my mentor told me at a turning point in my life. We were finally in step with the rest of the DC area.
I was no longer an anarchist, a Marxist or anything else. I’d discovered nihilism, and with it, intravenous drug use. I’d joined an even larger group of annoyances; dope fiends. Dope fiends are even more annoying than cats and babies, but I’ve always liked cats and babies too.
If you have a dope fiend in your life, especially if they are in your house, you have every right to demand that they change their behavior or leave you. This is not the case with cats, dogs and babies. Kicking yourself out can be problematic too if you’re the dope fiend and you’ve run out of other people to blame your problems on.
Of course people with cats, dogs and babies are OK as long as they leave the children and pets at home.
However, much like their pets and children, people are at their most annoying when you don’t feed them (or pay them); they sometimes refuse to go home until you do. In other words, if they get hungry enough, they start acting like anarchists, which can be very annoying indeed.
* V. I. Lenin quoted in “Anarchism in the Russian Revolution” by Daniel Guerin; Chapter “An Authoritarian Revolution”
“To seek to do without ‘authority’ and ‘subordination’ is an ‘anarchist dream,’ he [V.I. Lenin] concluded.” www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1931/guerin/Russia.html#autrev