The Modern Juggernaut

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Taken from The Beacon, Nov 1st, 1893 (Melbourne)

Juggernaut was a god of India, a monsterous idol, whose huge nostrils loved the scent of the blood of human sacrifice.

When his great chariot was rolled through the streets, men and women in adoration flung themselves beneath its wheels and were gloriously crushed to death.

While the victims thought to gain thereby eternal joys and a paradise of indolent repose, their shrieks and groans sounded sweet in the great god’s ears, or, rather, in those of the fat priests who tended him, and who leered horribly at one another, knowing that such mad self-immolation assured them in their bloody offices. For it was the priests that fostered the worship of the beastial image, since to them fell the stripping of the slain and the toil-won offerings of superstitious devotees.

Such was the god of India, and like to him is the great idol of this land. Not Juggernaut is he called, though his attributes and worship are much the same. Our god demands the human sacrifice, and, at the bidding of fat priests, superstitious devotees fling themselves beneath his chariot wheels. He, too, heeds not the groaning of his victims , and wherever he rides for thin pomp desolation is attendant on him; the road that he passed is marked by many a skeleton, and watered by many a tear. Victoria’s Juggernaut has his slaughter houses where are huddled the men, the women, and the children that are his prey. He heeds not their moans, their prayers for air, for light, for bread. What are their sufferings to him, when the damps of starvation and death are the accustomed breath of life in the nostrils; as well ask the hangman to shed tears of pity on the scaffold or the murderer to weep for his prey.

Such is our Juggernaut; and yet louder and louder his fat priests cry, “Great and good is our god!” “Great and good is our god!” cry the butcher like priests as they seize in his name the pauper’s last penny, and, as recompense, fling him beneath the chariot wheels.

Should a heretic arise to denounce their awful cruelties, they are lashed into fury, crying, “What doubt you the settled religion of this country? Down, down beneath the triumphal car of Juggernaut and render thanks for his loving kindness

Whence sprang the worship of our woe-glutted idol; whence these awful sacrifices? From ignorance, from greed, from trust in lying promises. A paradise was assured all devotees, and the priests, capable double-faced, and insatiable, bound them fast in the great god’s chains. And a strange spaciousness was theirs, for while ostensibly they fed their victims, they secretly bled them to death. “Worship our god”, they cried, “and toil will cease”. And so the toilers listened, bowed the knee, and were given awhile fair dreams to amuse them.

But all is now changed, for the terrible voice of Necessity is calling to the toilers – “Awake!” At the call they are rousing from their dreams and feel the pressure of the vampire lips that suck and suck at their life-blood. The mask is being torn from the face of the Juggernaut, like the veil of the prophet Khorassan; it hides features horrible enough to strike aghast even the fanatic worshipper could he behold them aright and see their naked hideousness. The victims for the human sacrifice are crying to the fat priests, “Why pleaseth our god that we starve to death; hath he only power to destroy and none to save?” The priests in their turn are beginning to tremble lest they lose their dear bought perquisites; lest the truth be revealed and they and their teachings be accursed for ever. And so they shriek for fresh sacrifices to appease the wrath of their god.

Shall they be granted? Shall the voice from our Juggernaut’s slaughter houses – the sweating dens, the huddled cribs of the poor, the ruined homesteads, the bankruptcy court-be unheaded; or rather shall not our Juggernaut – the Corporation – be for ever dethroned, despite the wailings of the fattened priests?

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