The line of the buildings stood clear-cut and black against the sky; here and there out of the mass rose the great chimneys, with the river of smoke streaming away to the end of the world.
It was all so very business-like that one watched it fascinated. It was pork-making by machinery, pork-making reduced to mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the pigs; they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly and they were so very human in their protests--and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury as the thing was done here--swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without a pretense at apology, without the homage of a tear. Now and then a visitor wept, to be sure; but this slaughtering-machine ran on, visitors or no visitors. It was like some horrible crime committed in a dungeon, all unseen and unheeded, buried out of sight and memory.
They use everything about the hog except the squeal.
So from the top to bottom the place is simply a seething cauldron of jealousies and hatreds; there is no loyalty or decency anywhere about it, there is no place in it where a man counted for anything against a dollar.
To be tracked by bloodhounds and torn to pieces is most certainly a merciful fate compared to that which falls to thousands every year in Packingtown--to be hunted for life by bitter poverty, to be ill-clothed and badly housed, to be weakened by starvation, cold and exposure, to be laid low by sickness or accident--and then to lie and watch, while the gaunt wolf of hunger creeps in upon you and gnaws out the heart of you, and tears up the bodies and souls of your wife and babies.
He forgot how he himself had been blind, a short time ago-after the fashion of all crusaders since the original ones, who set out to spread the gospel of Brotherhood by force of arms.
Jurgis had learned to think of the government as an affliction like the lightning and the hail, something that was there, and had been there and would be there forever, leaving a man nothing to do but to keep out of its way.
Here is a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances, immorality is exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it is under the system of chattel slavery.
This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat will be shoveled into carts and the man who did the shoveling will not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one.
They put him in a place where the snow could not beat in, where the cold could not eat through his bones; they brought him food and drink-why, in the name of heaven, if they must punish him, did they not put his family in jail and leave him outside-why could they find no better way to punish him than to leave three weak women and six helpless children to starve and freeze?
He had no wit to trace back the social crime to its far sources-- he could not say that it was the thing men have called "the system" that was crushing him to the earth that it was the packers, his masters, who had bought up the law of the land, and had dealt out their brutal will to him from the seat of justice. He only knew that he was wronged, and that the world had wronged him; that the law, that society, with all its powers, had declared itself his foe. And every hour his soul grew blacker, every hour he dreamed new dreams of vengeance, of defiance, of raging, frenzied hate.
The young fellow had an amused contempt for Jurgis, as a sort of working-mule; he too had felt the world's injustice, but instead of bearing it patiently he had struck back, and struck hard. He was striking all the time--there was war between him and society. He was a genial free-booter, living off the enemy, without fear or shame; he was not always victorious, but then defeat did not mean annihilation, and need not break his spirit.
Ah what agony is that, what despair, when the tomb of memory is rent open and the ghosts of his old life comes forth to scourge him!
All of these agencies of corruption were banded together, and leagued in blood brotherhood with the politician and the police; more often than not they were one and the same person,--the police captain would own the brothel he pretended to raid, and the politician would open his headquarters in his saloon.
All day long the blazing midsummer sun beat down upon that square mile of abominations: upon tens of thousands of cattle crowded into pens whose wooden floors stank and steamed contagion; upon bare, blistering, cinder-strewn railroad tracks and huge blocks of dingy meat factories, whose labyrinthine passages defied a breath of fresh air to penetrate them; and there are not merely rivers of hot blood and carloads of moist flesh, and rendering-vats and soup cauldrons, glue-factories and fertilizer tanks, that smelt like the craters of hell--there are also tons of garbage festering in the sun, and the greasy laundry of the workers hung out to dry and dining rooms littered with food black with flies, and toilet rooms that are open sewers.
There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where things are behind bars, and the man is outside.
When people are starving and they have anything with a price, I guess you ought to sell it, I say.
To you, the toilers, who have made this land, and have no voice in its councils! To you, whose lot it is to sow that others may reap, to labor and obey, and ask no more than the wages of a beast of burden, the food and shelter to keep you alive from day to day. It is to you that I come with my message of salvation, it is to you that I appeal.
In a society dominated by the fact of commercial competition, money is necessarily the test of prowess, and wastefulness the sole criterion of power.
Government oppressed the body of the wage-slave, but religion oppressed his mind, and poisoned the stream of progress at its source. The workingman was to fix his hopes upon a future life, while his pockets were picked in this one.