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Literary Sluts

Literary Sluts

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Published by davidwalters

What This Great Nation of Ours needs is another Federal Writers Project!

What This Great Nation of Ours needs is another Federal Writers Project!

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Published by: davidwalters on Aug 01, 2013
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09/15/2013

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Louis Blanc
LITERARY SLUTS
 BYDAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
What This Great Nation of Ours needs is another Federal Writers Project 
!I received some rather rude but honest criticism from an Internet reader. Hiswords have haunted me for two years now. He called me a "slut" for giving mybest work away on the Internet."There is no discipline in being a slut," he said. "It makes you sloppy. You'reconsistently good, but you're wasting your talent here. Nobody is going to pay foryour work after you give it away on the Internet."
 
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"Hell, I'm no whore!" I thought to myself. "Money is power, and once you startcharging, you have to sell your conscience to get it. And then there's the politicsof getting fame and fortune. I'd rather be free and become the greatest authorthe world will ever or never know - it's up to them - let them take it or leave it."Now that I am nearly flat broke, almost homeless, and looking an early death inthe face, my attitude has become a little bit more flexible! Not that I would writeneoconservative propaganda. Today I just heard about a New York journalist,some fellow named Fraser or Frazer, who got homeless people involved in aworkshop "to bring out the writer" in them. Some of them were saved from drugsand the like, and now a book is out or coming out -
Food for the Soul 
. Well, Isacrificed the good life to become a writer; I do not drink or use drugs; I might beneeding a soup line any day now! Maybe I should write a book about that, called,'Food For Fools.' When love's for sale at my age, who will buy? Maybe it's too latefor me already. I may be a late bloomer, but I'm no Colonel Chicken, at least notyet - eating chicken is against my religion."What we need in this country is another WPA Writers Project to save sluts lestwe become whores or go down the tubes!" I told myself yesterday. "The Internetfreed us from the greedy political gatekeepers, but it does not make even the bestof us who need food and shelter a living! It's the same old story - you have tohave money to make money. You have to have money or a publisher with moneyto make a splash. Otherwise, you have to be very, very lucky and somehow get abreak."Writing is not the oldest profession in the world. Charging for it and hitting it big isa relatively recent phenomenon. Long ago, when books used to costs as much asa house to produce, an author was lucky to get a pittance for his work let alonenaked credit. Fame had to suffice to satisfy a writer's vanity even some time afterthe printing press was invented. The printers might pay something for an originalmanuscript by a famous author; but the author had to keep producing neweditions since other printers would start running copies of the first edition. Menof letters like Desiderius Erasmus had to literally beg patrons for their subsistence.There were no copyright laws, hence every writer considered it his duty to grabthe best ideas and claim them as his own. In fact, a large number of French wordswere stolen by Chaucer and now appear as good English.
 
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A few readers of socialist bent may have heard of a French journalist named LouisBlanc. He's one of the fellows the communists called "utopian socialists." Actually,he was a practical man. His book,
Organisation du Travail',
created quite a stir: itwas THE revolutionary book of the 1848 Revolution. Blanc was an excellentthinker and writer. His socialist ideas were of course a product of his times; someof them are obsolete today and seem ridiculously wrong, while others arestandard operating procedure today and are hardly associated with "socialism."Blanc played an important official role for organized labor during the revolution;but he had to get out of town quick as the right-wing generalissimo massacreddemonstrators. Blanc was not a communist or a proponent of state-capitalism.His métier was cooperative workshops. He wanted to do something about thesevere unemployment and horrendous conditions workers suffered in those days.He figured everybody had a right to the dignity of a job, a right to workcorresponding to the duty to work. Not that the state should hire chronicallyunemployed people for make-work jobs. No, the state would instead make capitalavailable for investment in industrial workshops.If they liked, private investors could invest money in the social-workshop. Blancexpected the social-workshops to be so productive that they would eventually runprivate businesses out of business. The social-workshop workers would get paid athird, another third would go to social security, the other third would go back intothe business. Some workshops, of textile weavers and the like, were capitalized,did well and survived for years.Blanc was keenly aware of the predicament of writers and he thought hisworkshop concept could serve their needs very well. We may take issue withwhat he said on the subject, but much of it makes good sense. At least those'Information Age Revolutionaries' who believe good ideas should be free to thepublic to examine and to disseminate will find some of his notions quite palatable.Yet others will find them not only self-contradictory but morally reprehensible,and will come up with answers opposite to the ones he expected at the time. Inany case, I believe we might find food for thought in his considerations; perhaps amorsel or two that might be nourished and cultivated for our present benefit.Hence I conclude with the pertinent excerpt from
Organization du Travail 
, astranslated by J.A.R. Marriot:

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