SG50: Who really built S’pore?/ A poet for S’pore?

In Economy on 07/07/2015 at 5:02 am

Certainly not Harry, nor the old guard. They played their part in building S’pore.

It was the common man* (and woman with apologies to JG and Passerby) who did it, and are still doing it despite not being paid million-dollar ministerial salaries, and despite being cursed by cybernuts for being slaves.

This has always been the case: the ordinary people did the great deeds that “great” men are credited with.

So said Bertolt Brecht  a leading 20th century German poet, playwright, and theatre director. He was a transforming playwright, and theatre director. He was also the kind of guy our Harry would have had locked up: he was a Marxist even if he had problems with the East German authorities. (Btw, he was Hollywood screen writer when he gled to the US to escape the Nazis. He returned to East Germany after WWII)

A Worker Reads History

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.

It’s the common man (and woman with apologies to JG and Passerby) that does great deeds.

Another poem that is very relevant here what with the still very liberal immigration policies:

“Die Lösung” (The Solution), a disillusioned Brecht writes:

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in theStalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.

Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Related post:


*To be fair to the PAP administration, the Pioneer Generation is getting some decent goodies. My ninety something mum (property, share owner) is still marveling she only gets charged $7  when she goes to a polyclinic for her regular check-up and medicine. But then there is a GE coming. But to be fair, her shares and property have done well because we had Harry as the boss for a long time.


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