The Lamp of Mutual Aid

Many nights while walking home 
after work, from downtown to 
an apartment below a market, 

I’d think of Alfred Espinas:
“We do not get together to die,
but to live and to improve life.”

Sudden changes of weather and
contagious diseases nearly broke
the spirits of many friends that

winter, but charmingly we made 
habits of dancing and sharing
meals in our cramped rooms.

Our landlords were thieves and
our bosses were pessimists, yet
we dreamed of a new phase of

civilization, one of kindness and
goodwill. “We need communes,”
Oscar exclaimed. Silvia argued,

“But islands are corpses, let’s think
instead of syndicates.” Mondays 
we’d return to dirty dishes, copy

machines, and dull knives, and 
we spent the next three centuries
doing what we were paid to do.
 

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