You know who I'm talkin' about - the one who oppresses by means of capitalism.
The man charges you $1050 for a crappy 3-bedroom apartment because he can.
The man charges you $3.00 for a gallon of milk that expires tomorrow.
Instances of "the man": Newt Gingrich, Bill Gates, Pat Robertson.

Also used to describe someone who is exceedingly cool or has done something amazing, as in, "You are THE MAN!"

"The Man" is the character played by Tommy Chong in most of the Cheech and Chong movies. He is not referred to as such in the movies, as his name is never really said, but that is how the character is referred to in both the movie credits and on the Cheech and Chong records.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys:
Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches, and obedience
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanized automation.


I found this poem in the forward an interesting book on anarchism, called The Black Flag of Anarchy: Antistatism in the United States, by Corrine Jacker. A good read if you can find it (the first and only printing to my knowledge was in 1968), I was lucky enough to find it at my highschool's library, where I promptly stole it.

"The Man", is the name of a hot sauce invented by the owner of a barbecue restaurant called "Dixies", in Seattle, WA. The Man is dispensed to your food by the owner via an eye-dropper because two or three drops of the stuff is all that is required to burn the taste buds right off of your tongue. (I seriously think they put battery acid in it or something)

After you have eaten a sandwich with this possibly toxic liquid on it, you are said to have "met The Man".

Warning!- Side effects of meeting The Man include the following: Blisters on the tongue and roof of mouth, draining of all fluids from the face, nausea, indigestion, and burning stools.

Could it be that the origin of this phrase has to do with Heidegger's idea of "Das man"? (Translation from German: "The man")

For Heidegger, Das Man was not a person, but a metaphorical place human beings get lost in on their way to coming to grips with their own their own Being.((Sein) It is the sphere of human values, assumptions, projects, expectations.

     "The Man" is an intangible bugaboo that masterminds the hardships and tragedies of that thing we call life. Being technologically superior, he can morph into anything he wants- your boss, the local authorities, the president, your parents, a lawyer, the guy that signs your inadequate paycheck, etc. You can use that last sentence as a mad-lib for added effect.

     When you work 13 hours, come home at 8:00PM to realize that you locked your key in the apartment- blame it on "The Man"- because he made you do it. When it takes another 2.5 hours to get some scab to open your apartment door for you- blame it on "The Man"- it is all his fault. When the scab requires 20 bucks to open your apartment door, beat the crap out of the scab, because he is "The Man". But defiling the scab/"Man" apparition will be to no avail because, by the time your finished teaching the scab 'the true meaning of sorrow', "The Man" will be somewhere else already- probably stealing your loved one's monogamy.

     But don't be fooled, "The Man" can be in multiple places at once just as easily as you eat a Twinkie in just four bites. He can simultaneously be controlling the red stoplight you run, in his secret hideout faxing your brain the endorphins that result in deviance, AND in the cop car that catches you do it.

Tragically enough- our modern society would not exist were it not for "The Man".

     Let's outline a single "Man" scenario. It starts with the workplace- something common to almost everyone. First, "he" assumes the role of your boss. You have to work superhuman hours to keep your job. You are not paid enough to live the life "he" puts on your TV (excluding The Simpsons and Married With Children- these are actually documentaries on reality, but you think they are "comedies"). You can only afford to eat food prepared in less than 8 minutes. Enter McDonald's and Taco Bell. These generate more jobs where "he" is still your boss. "The Man" sprinkles saturated fats, cholesterols, and carcinogens into the menus. Heart disease and cancer become commonplace. Since "he" uses all of your time for unrewarded grunt work, computers are implemented into his 'toolbox of terror' in hopes of squeezing all the productivity out of your cellulite that he can. Entertainment such as the internet is added to computers so that you will waste half a year's pay to have one in your home. "He" gratuitously distributes hard drive failures, Microsoft products, lightning, and the ability to go obsolete in just one week. "He" assumes the role of that voluptuous member of the opposite sex that you meet one Friday night. While breaking the ice, your contraceptive fails and you get AIDS.

Now you know. Sorry, but the truth is out there, and its name is "The Man"



-Crazyman of Afrosquad.com
Many of our current conceptions about the nature of 'The Man' come down to us from the Blaxploitation movies.

Many of these movies featured a sinister force that was ultimately responsible for distributing drugs to the ghetto. It was insinuated that if you saw beyond the local pimps and pushers, and if you peeled away the layers of Mafia and other bad guys, you would get to the real power broker that was pulling the strings and victimizing the city. It was vague, but 'the man' was certainly in league with the government and rich folk.

The hypothesis itself originated with black nationalist rhetoric, and entered the mainstream through movies. Now almost anyone can complain "The man is keeping me down."

Interestingly, a similar bizarre alliance of the 'gubmint', the Mafia, Cuban exiles, and local bad asses is thought by many to be responsible for the Kennedy assassination, and, as a recent series of articles in the San Jose Mercury-News showed, the CIA was indeed engaged in flooding the inner city with drugs. So at least someone way back knew what they were talking about!

The original incarnation of that infamous term, 'The Man' was born out of the system of debit and credit that arose from reconstruction in the southern region of the United States. The term was probably coined by black tenant farmers, a shortened version of the eras usual term, "The Furnishing Man." To understand the significance of the word we must consider the system of tenant farming that grew up in the south.

Some economic historians have made the argument that the system of tenant farming, an arrangement more properly called crop lien, could have actually worked (that is to say, not screwed the poor). However, several conditions ruined the potential of the system to work for the farmers who became entrapped in its grasp.

  1. The south continued to grow cotton, most farmers were not allowed to grow anything but cotton under the contract they held with their creditor. During the civil war, the souths largest foreign consumer of raw cotton, England, found alternate sources of cotton such as Egypt (one of the reasons why the so called "King Cotton Diplomacy" of the confederacy failed). Thus there was a glut in the cotton market, driving prices down to abysmal levels.
  2. A prolonged drought, unusually bad weather conditions.
  3. A promotion of racial conflict by the southern financial interests to separate poor whites from who should have been their natural economic allies, poor blacks.

Thus, the tenant farmer served two masters in a system which was roughly equivalent to a Russian serfdom. The land owner, and of course, The Furnishing Man. The Furnishing Man provided seed, farming tools, food, clothing, and other necessities on credit which often held interest rates as high as 60%. At harvest, the Land owner would receive up to half of the tenant farmers crop as payment of rent for use of the land, and the 'Furnishing Man' would take the rest in payment for the farmers debt. Under the contractual obligation of the lien, the farmer would go deeper into debt every year. Thus it may have seemed to the poor tenant farmer that the Furnishing Man was taking more than furnishing anything. The man was truly holding down the serfdom of the south.

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