Mowgli Rudkus left the forests of Lithuania to venture off to the Jungle, in search of the Jungle Dream. He followed in the footsteps of his countryman Baloo Bear, who had crossed the ocean many years before. Instead of fortune, what Mowgli found was a wilderness of dirty two-story tenements, smoke-spewing chimneys and the distant lowing of ten-thousand cattle.
Mowgli was able to make a down payment on a hut Back of the Yards, but was tricked into signing an unfair contract by Tabaqui the Jackal; ownership of the hut came with all sorts of hidden costs. Mowgli’s job only paid five cents per hour (no different from the average earnings of the 1.5 million boys and girls laboring in the Jungle at this very moment), and one missed payment on the hut would mean being thrown out on the forest bed, and in the dead of winter, too!
When Mowgli realized that he did not earn enough money to cover his expenses, he was not discouraged.
“Why, I’ll just have to be the hardest working boy in the Jungle!” he thought.
Mowgli’s work in the killing beds was hard. The Jungle plant’s foreman, Shere Khan the Tiger, ground his workers down by speeding them up, and when workers came down with the consumption, Shere Khan simply threw them to the wolves. Bagheera McFinnigan, the Irish Panther, pressured Mowgli to join the union, an idea that sounded better each day.
For his part, Baloo Bear tried to convince Mowgli to simply walk away from the job and the hut in favor of hoboing around the country in an existence free from the exploitative ecosystem. For though Mowgli’s body was strong now, Baloo Bear insisted one day it would break, and then Mowgli would be discarded.
Baloo Bear proffered a bottle of whiskey to Mowgli.
“Look for those, bare necessities, the simple bare necessities,” Baloo Bear urged Mowgli with bloodshot eyes. “Forget about your worries and your strife.”
Mowgli began to suspect that Baloo Bear had become one of the anarchists that all the creatures were buzzing about. At the very least, the bottle had taken a toll on Baloo Bear’s mind, for how could anyone forget about worries or strife, in the midst of such hunger?
This is how food was processed in the Jungle: vegetation gave life to vermin such as cockroaches and worms, which crawled all over the plant floor. Swine then fed upon the vermin, giving host to the fleas and tics, which fed the birds that flew freely around the Jungle and defecated upon all the creatures, creating an environment conducive to no-good dirty rats. Politician Snakes then ate the rats. The snakes in turn lived in the pockets of the Beef and Railroad Trusts.
At any one time, the carcasses of these beasts could be found rotting right there on the plant floor, liquefying atop the very same vegetation that fed the whole system! And what’s more, the Jungle’s inhabitants sometimes fed upon rotting and diseased meat right alongside fresh meat, being none the wiser!
Mowgli was so beaten down by the corrupt world of the Jungle that he finally turned to hard drink and crime to get through the day, even going so far as to sell himself to the other animals.
And the words of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the Socialist Mongoose struck Mowgli like a flash of lightning, revealing the way before him. The scales fell from Mowgli’s eyes. No longer would he work as a scab and drink his days away! Comrade Mowgli took his place in the army of his brothers and sisters—the millions of Jungle boys and girls who shared the curse of the wage slave. The Sher Khans of the world would soon see defeat at the hands of the class-conscious international proletariat! Rikki-Tikki-Tavi had lifted Mowgli out of the Jungle and set him upon a mountain top from which Mowgli could survey the great wilderness he’d wandered for five years. Mowgli would no longer be a boy of circumstance; he would be a man, with a will and a purpose; he would have something to fight for, something to die for!
Comrade Tavi’s words echoed through the forest like thunder, the band started in on “The Parade Song of the Camp Animals,” and the crowd rose to its feet and began to chant:
“The Jungle will be ours! The Jungle will be ours! THE JUNGLE WILL BE OURS!”