This space is dedicated to the proposition that we need to know the history of the struggles on the left and of earlier progressive movements here and world-wide. If we can learn from the mistakes made in the past (as well as what went right) we can move forward in the future to create a more just and equitable society. We will be reviewing books, CDs, and movies we believe everyone needs to read, hear and look at as well as making commentary from time to time. Greg Green, site manager
Saturday, January 03, 2015
Betty’s Tale -With The Teen Queens’ Eddie, My Love In Mind
EDDIE MY LOVE
(Aaron Collins / Maxwell Davis / Sam Ling)The Teen Queens - 1956
The Fontane Sisters - 1956
The Chordettes - 1956
Dee Dee Sharp - 1962
Also recorded by:
Lillian Briggs; Jo Ann Campbell; The Sweethearts.
Eddie, my love, I love you so
How I wanted for you, you'll never know
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
Eddie, please write me one line
Tell me your love is still only mine
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
You left me last September
To return to me before long
But all I do is cry myself to sleep
Eddie, since you've been gone
Eddie, my love, I'm sinking fast
The very next day might be my last
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
You left me last September
To return to me before long
But all I do is cry myself to sleep
Eddie, since you've been gone
Eddie, my love, I'm sinking fast
The very next day might be my last
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
(Transcribed from the Teen Queens
recording by Mel Priddle - May 2006)
…come closer, will you, because I have got a story to tell. Come on over here, here nearer me and get away from that midnight phone waiting, that eternal waiting. Waiting now in vain because if he or she has not called by this hour, nine, on a school night they are not going to call and anyway you don’t need Ma to yell at you about wasting your time waiting for that call when you could be doing homework or something. Yeah, like you could do homework with your head filled with anxiety about that call. What do parents know anyway never having been young, never having been in love. Hey, while I am talking maybe you should put on The Teen Queens’ Eddie My Love like I have on right now or some other teen trauma tune, sad, sad tune to help drown your sorrows while I’m telling the story,
Yes, get away from that midnight telephone call wait by your bedside table and listen up a minute or two because I’ve got a story to tell, a 1950s teen story to tell, or let’s make it a 1950s teen story, and if it works out for 1960s, 1970s, or 2000s teens except for the newer techno-gadgets cellphone, iPhone, smart phone ways to wait, to wait that midnight call that are different, well, well this waiting by the phone hasn’t changed that much since the 1950s when this trend started or reached a certain plateau where waiting became one of the ways that you knew you were a forlorn teen-ager, knew that life was going to be filled with ups and downs and so there you have it.
And let’s make it a boy-girl story, although I know, and you know I know, that it could have been a boy-boy, girl-girl, whatever story and that’s okay by me, except that it wouldn’t be okay, okay as a public prints 1950s story since those kinds of relationships had not been deemed okay to tell except maybe in some North Beach, Greenwich Village, Hollywood hills small print, exotic, erotic small press back door scenario. Mainly those kinds of relationships would be gist for the mill in the snicker of boys’ sports after school gym locker room faggot-dyke baiting and well beyond the sad tale I have to tell.
And let’s make it a Saturday night, a hard by the phone, waiting Saturday night, maybe midnight, maybe not, maybe you cried or brooded yourself to sleep before that hour, that teen dread hour when all dreams came crashing to the floor, like a million guys and girls know about, and if you don’t then, maybe move on, but I think I know who I’m talking to.
And let’s make it a winter night to kind of fit your mood, kind of make you realize that you are totally alone against the elements, yes, a long hard winter night, wind maybe blowing up a little, maybe a little dusting of snow, and just that many more dark hours until the dawn and facing another day without…
And let’s make it, oh the hell with that, let’s make it get to the story and we’ll work out the scenic details as we go along…
I’ll tell you, Betty’s got it bad, yes, Betty from across the way, from the house across the way where right now I can see her in her midnight waiting bedroom window, staring off, staring off somewhere but I know, I know, what ‘s wrong with her. No, not that, no she is not in the “family way,” I don’t think, I hope not, hope not because then she will have to suddenly go out of town to visit some ailing aunt, or something like that. What is wrong with Betty is simpler. Her Eddie has flown the coop, and has not been heard from for a while.
Yes, Betty’s got it bad, and it’s too bad because she deserves better. Let me tell you the story behind the story, although I can already see that you might know what’s coming. I had noticed Betty’s change of behavior but was not sure what it meant. It first started when she did not return my wave when I waved across the street to her, then she would hang her head down walking like some zombie in the movies. So one day I asked her about what was up and she said she did not want to talk about it, made a serious point to me that she did not want to talk about it when I pressed the issue so I let it drop. Yes, so the way I know the story is because Betty’s best friend, Sue, gave me the details when I saw Betty continue moping around, moping around day after day like there was going to be no tomorrow, especially after leaving school with her head down, arriving home with her head moping down even more after the mailman came. I contacted Sue to see what she knew, knew from those little afternoon girl chatting calls or maybe from that mandatory Monday morning before school in the girls’ “lav” talkfest.
Yes, I know, I know Sue, old best friend Sue, is nothing but a man-trap and has flirted with more guys in this town than you could shake a stick at, including Eddie a couple of times when Betty had to go out of town with her parents (keep that between us, please). Hell, now that I think about it, I’ll get this thing all balled up if I tell it my way what with what I know, or people have told me about Sue and I want you to get the straight dope. Let Betty, old true to Eddie, Betty tell her story herself, or at least through Sue, and I’ll just write it down my way, and you be the judge:
“Last summer, oh sweet sixteen last summer, old innocent girlish sweet paper dream last summer, Eddie, Eddie Cooper, Eddie with the hot cherry red, dual exhaust, heavy silver chrome, radio- blasting, ’55 Chevy (my brother Timmy told me about cars and their doo-dads, I just like to look good in them and the ’55 is the “boss”), that I knew I would be just crazy to sit in, and give the “look”, the superior “I’m with a hot guy, and sitting in a hot car , bow down peasants look,” came rumbling and tumbling into town.
Summer beach time, soaking up the sun down between the yacht clubs beach time, summer not a care in the world time , Sue, my best friend Sue, my best friend Sue and all that stuff they say about her and the boys is just fantasy, male fantasy, and I were sitting just talking about this and that, oh well, about boys, and I was telling her the latest about Billy, Billy from the neighborhood, who I had been going out with for ages, more or less, Billy with the reading too many books and wanting to talk poetry or “beat” stuff, Billy, Billy with the no car, or sometimes with car, father’s old run-down jalopy which might or might not work like happened one night and it was a close thing that I was not grounded for coming in so late, but no “boss” car, never, when Eddie, Eddie, Edward John Cooper, parked his honey Chevy and came over to us, through all that sand and all,
Eddie gave Sue the “once over,” like guys will do automatically with any girl something about their genetic make-up drives them that way and Sue adds her part by always looking like she has either just finished a roll in the hay or would not mind being talked into it but that is just her come-hither “style” and like I said before don’t make too much of it. Yeah, she knows sex stuff, a lot from what she tells me but mostly it’s to aid that come-hither thing she has with guys.Besides whatever Sue has, or thinks she has in the guy department I secretly thrill to know that that “once over” is just a game because even as he came over the sand I could see he had eyes, big blue eyes, for me, only me, We talked, idle talk, sex in the air flirty talk, don’t talk sex straight out but weave all around it talk, the mating ritual I guess they call it, still a lot of talk for a summer beach day, and I knew, I swear I knew he wanted to ask me out for later, or maybe right there to ride in his car but three’s company, and for once I couldn’t shake Sue, my best friend Sue, Sue with the million boyfriends so she says, who I could see was taken in by his big blued-eyed, black haired, tight tee-shirt, blue jean charm too.
Truce, Sue truce, as we walked home, Eddie-less, a few blocks away. I left Sue at her house. Truce still, except that I heard a big engine, a big “boss” car engine, coming up behind me as I hit the sidewalk in front of my house, and dream, dream wake me up, it was Eddie, Edward John Cooper and that cherry ’55 Chevy. He said, and I will never forget this, “Hop in,” and opened the door. I was supposed to have a “date,” some dreary poetry reading date with Billy, ah, Billy who. We were off as soon as I closed that cherry red door.
And we were off, off for a sweet summer of love, ’55 Chevy love and okay, truth, because I know that Sue probably blabbed it around but I let Eddie take me to the back seat of that warm-bodied Chevy one night, and some nights after that. But let me just tell you this about Sue, my best friend Sue, honest, she’s the one who told me what to do with a boy, yah, she told me everything.
Late August came as summer beach love drew to an end and those damn school bells seemed ready to ring, Eddie, out of school Eddie my love, told me he had a job offer in another state and he needed to take the job to support his mother and his ’55 Chevy.
I started crying; crying like crazy, trying to make him stay, stay with his ever-lovin’ Betty but no he had to go. He didn’t know about a phone, or a phone call, but he said he would write and I haven’t heard from him since even though I wear out the mailman every day”…
Christ my heart bleeds for Betty every time I think about what Eddie had done, and see, I know Eddie, no I don’t know Eddie personally but I know Eddie stuff, stuff that has been going on since Adam and Eve, hell, probably before that.
Betty, Betty, sweet Betty, I hate to break it to you but Eddie, Edward John Cooper ain’t coming back. And old Eddie ain’t writing and it ain’t because he doesn’t have the three cents for a stamp, no Eddie, well, enough of that, let's just say Eddie’s moved on to greener pastures. (I heard later when I asked about it, asked some guys who had known Eddie when he worked at Smitty’s Garage last summer while he was with Betty that Eddie had left for Florida, had a new girl there, or maybe an old girlfriend who had some kind of spell over him but all of that was just guys talking one night. But you never know with Eddie guys.)
Betty, Betty hold onto your Eddie My Love dream for a moment. But Betty, tomorrow, not tomorrow tomorrow but some tomorrow you‘ve got to move on. Betty then why don’t you call up your Billy. I’ll be here by the phone, the midnight phone…
Veterans For Peace applauds the decision by the Allied War Veterans Council to allow OUTVETS, a fledging new LGBT veterans group, to walk in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
The LGBT community has been denied participation in the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for over twenty years. This certainly signals a step in the right direction.
It is wonderful that this group can participate. Now what about the rest of the LGBT community and area peace groups? “Now may be the time to invite Veterans For Peace and all the other LGBT groups and peace groups to participate in the celebration of Saint Patrick on this very special day,” stated Pat Scanlon, a Vietnam Veteran, and the Coordinator of the Boston area chapter of Veterans For Peace.
Veterans For Peace is a national veterans organization with headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri. The organization has 140 chapters and 4,000 members across the country. One of the largest and most active chapters is known as the Smedley D. Butler Brigade right here in the Boston area. Several members of the local chapter are life long residents of South Boston yet are not allowed to march in the traditional parade because they advocate peace.
Veterans For Peace is the only veterans organization in the country that opposes war as an instrument of national policy, and advocates exhausting all avenues of diplomacy and negotiations before sending our young men and women into battle. Because of this stance veterans who have dutifully served this country, many who have experienced the horrors of war, are not allowed to participate in this historic parade because they now advocate peaceful resolution to conflict.
Five years ago Veterans For Peace applied to walk in the traditional parade and were denied. The stated reason for the denial was that the parade organizers “did not want the word peace associated with the word veteran.”. For the past five years Veterans For Peace have organized their own “Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade, the alternative parade for Peace, Equality, Jobs, Environmental Stewardship, Social and Economic Justice, that follows the same route as the first parade, but a mile behind. “Our parade is welcoming and inclusive of all groups especially the Boston area LGBT and peace groups because of their past exclusion,” added Scanlon. Last year the Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade had two thousand participants, eight divisions, eight bands and a lot of Irish revelry celebrating the patron saint of Ireland.
We think that the time has come to combine both parades and have one inclusive welcoming parade for all those wishing to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Maybe this is year,” concluded Scanlon.
Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-In Honor Of The Frontline Defenders Of The International Working Class-From Our Forebears The Diggers Of The English Revolution-The World Turned Upside Down
A YouTube film clip of Billy Bragg (Known In This Space As Narrator Of Woody Guthrie And His Guitar: This Machine Kills Fascists )performing The World Turned Upside Down.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The International Working Class Everywhere! ******** Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule! ******** A Five-Point Program As Talking Points
*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement going back to the 1930s Great Depression the last time that unemployment, under-employment, and those who have just plain quit looking for work was this high in the American labor force, although it is admittedly down from the Great Recession highs. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay is a formula to spread the available work around. This is no mere propaganda point but shows the way forward toward a more equitable distribution of available work.
The basic scheme, as was the case with the early days of the longshoremen’s and maritime unions, is that the work would be divided up through local representative workers’ councils that would act, in one of its capacities, as a giant hiring hall where the jobs would be parceled out. This would be a simpler task now than when it was when first proposed in the 1930s with the vast increase in modern technology that could fairly accurately, via computers, target jobs that need filling and equitably divide up current work.
Without the key capitalist necessity of keeping up the rate of profit the social surplus created by that work could be used to redistribute the available work at the same agreed upon rate rather than go into the capitalists’ pockets. The only catch, a big catch one must admit, is that no capitalist, and no capitalist system, is going to do any such thing as to implement “30 for 40” –with the no reduction in pay proviso, although many low–end employers are even now under the “cover” of the flawed Obama-care reducing hours WITH loss of pay-so that to establish this work system as a norm it will, in the end, be necessary to fight for and win a workers government to implement this demand.
Organize the unorganized is a demand that cries out for solution today now that the organized sectors of the labor movement, both public and private, in America are at historic lows, just over ten percent of the workforce. Part of the task is to reorganize some of the old industries like the automobile industry, now mainly unorganized as new plants come on line and others are abandoned, which used to provide a massive amount of decent jobs with decent benefits but which now have fallen to globalization and the “race to the bottom” bad times. The other sector that desperately need to be organized is to ratchet up the efforts to organize the service industries, hospitals, hotels, hi-tech, restaurants and the like, that have become a dominant aspect of the American economy. Support the recent militant efforts, including the old tactic of civil disobedience, by service unions and groups of fast-food workers to increase the minimum socially acceptable wage in their Fight For 15.
Organize the South-this low wage area, this consciously low-wage area, where many industries land before heading off-shore to even lower wage places cries out for organizing, especially among black and Hispanic workers who form the bulk of this industrial workforce. A corollary to organizing the South is obviously to organize internationally to keep the “race to the bottom” from continually occurring short of being resolved in favor of an international commonwealth of workers’ governments. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.
Organize Wal-Mart- millions of workers, thousands of company-owned trucks, hundreds of distribution centers. A victory here would be the springboard to a revitalized organized labor movement just as auto and steel lead the industrial union movements of the 1930s. The key here is to organize the truckers and distribution workers the place where the whole thing comes together. We have seen mostly unsuccessful organizing of retail stores. To give an idea of how hard this task might be though someone once argued that it would be easier to organize a workers’ revolution that organize this giant. Well, that’s a thought.
Defend the right of public and private workers to unionize. Simple-No more defeats like in Wisconsin in 2011, no more attacks on collective bargaining the hallmark of a union contract. No reliance on labor boards, arbitration, courts or bourgeois recall elections either. Unions must keep their independent from government interference. Period.
* Defend the independence of the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. In 2008 and 2012 labor, organized labor, spent over 450 million dollars respectively trying to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats (mainly). The “no show, no go” results speak for themselves as the gap between the rich and poor has risen even more in this period. For those bogus efforts the labor skates should have been sent packing long ago. The idea in those elections was that the Democrats (mainly) were “friends of labor.” The past period of cuts-backs, cut-in-the-back give backs should put paid to that notion. Although anyone who is politically savvy at all knows that is not true, not true for the labor skates at the top of the movement.
The hard reality is that the labor skates, not used to any form of class struggle or any kind of struggle, know no other way than class-collaboration, arbitration, courts, and every other way to avoid the appearance of strife, strife in defense of the bosses’ profits. The most egregious recent example that I can recall- the return of the Verizon workers to work after two weeks in the summer of 2011 when they had the company on the run and the subsequent announcement by the company of record profits. That sellout strategy may have worked for the bureaucrats, or rather their “fathers” for a time back in the 1950s “golden age” of labor, but now we are in a very hard and open class war. The rank and file must demand an end to using their precious dues payments for bourgeois candidates all of whom have turned out to be sworn enemies of labor from Obama on down.
This does not mean not using union dues for political purposes though. On the contrary we need to use them now more than ever in the class battles ahead. Spent the dough on organizing the unorganized, organizing the South, organizing Wal-Mart, and other pro-labor causes. Think, for example, of the dough spent on the successful November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio. That type of activity is where labor’s money and other resources should go. And not on recall elections against individual reactionaries, like in Wisconsin, as substitutes for class struggle (and which was overwhelmingly unsuccessful to boot-while the number of unionized public workers has dwindled to a precious few).
*End the endless wars!- As the so-called draw-down of American and Allied troops in Iraq reached its final stages back in 2011, the draw- down of non-mercenary forces anyway, I argued that we must recognize that we anti-warriors had failed, and failed rather spectacularly, to affect that withdrawal after a promising start to our opposition in late 2002 and early 2003 (and a little in 2006).As the endless American-led wars (even if behind the scenes, as in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other proxy wars) continue now with a new stage against ISIS (Islamic State) in Iraq we had better straighten out our anti-war, anti-imperialist front quickly if we are to have any effect on the U.S. troop escalation we know is coming before that fight is over. Not Another War In Iraq! No Intervention In Syria! Stop The Arms Shipments To The Middle East! Stop The Bombing Campaign! Defend The Palestinian People-End The Blockade of Gaza. And as always since 2001 Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan!
U.S. Hands Off Iran! Hands Off Syria!- American (and world) imperialists have periodically ratcheted up their propaganda war (right now) and increased economic sanctions that are a prelude to war well before the dust has settled on the now unsettled situation in Iraq and well before they have even sniffed at an Afghan withdrawal of any import. We will hold our noses, as we did with the Saddam leadership in Iraq and on other occasions, and call for the defense of Iran against the American imperial monster. A victory for the Americans (and their junior partner on this issue, Israel) in Iran is not in the interests of the international working class. Especially here in the “belly of the beast” we are duty-bound to call not just for non-intervention but for defense of Iran. We will, believe me we will, deal with the mullahs, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Islamic fundamentalist in Iran in our own way in our own time.
U.S. Hands Off The World! And Keep Them Off!- With the number of “hot spots” that the American imperialists, or one or another of their junior allies, have their hands on in this wicked old world this generic slogan would seem to fill the bill.
Down With The War Budget! Not One Penny, Not One Person For The Wars! Honor World War I German Social-Democratic Party MP, Karl Liebknecht, who did just that in 1915 in the heat of war and paid the price unlike other party leaders who were pledged to stop the war budgets by going to prison. The only play for an honest representative of the working class under those conditions. The litmus test for every political candidate must be first opposition to the war budgets (let’s see, right now no new funding in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran preparations, China preparations, etc. you get my drift). Then that big leap. The whole damn imperialist military budget. Again, no one said it would be simple. Revolution may be easier that depriving the imperialists of their military money. Well….okay.
*Fight for a social agenda for working people! Free Quality Healthcare For All! This would be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The health and welfare of any society’s citizenry is the simple glue that holds that society together. It is no accident that one of the prime concerns of workers states like Cuba, whatever their other political problems, has been to place health care and education front and center and to provide to the best of their capacity for free, quality healthcare and education for all. Even the hide-bound social-democratic-run capitalist governments of Europe have, until recently anyway, placed the “welfare state” protections central to their programs. Be clear Obamacare is not our program and has been shown to be totally inadequate and wasteful however we will defend that program against those who wish to dismantle it and leave millions once again uninsured and denied basic health benefits.
Free, quality higher education for all! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! One Hundred, Two Hundred, Many Harvards!
This would again be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The struggle to increase the educational level of a society’s citizenry is another part of the simple glue that holds that society together. Today higher education is being placed out of reach for many working-class and minority families. Hell, it is getting tough for the middle-class as well.
Moreover the whole higher educational system is increasing skewed toward those who have better formal preparation and family lives leaving many deserving students from broken homes and minority homes in the wilderness. Take the resources of the private institutions and spread them around, throw in hundreds of billions from the government (take from the military budget and the bank bail-out money if you want to find the money quickly to do the job right), get rid of the top heavy and useless college administration apparatuses, mix it up, and let students, teachers, and campus workers run the thing through councils on a democratic basis.
Forgive student debt! The latest reports indicate that college student debt is something like a trillion dollars, give or take a few billion but who is counting. The price of tuition and expenses has gone up dramatically while low-cost aid has not kept pace. What has happened is that the future highly educated workforce that a modern society, and certainly a socialist society, desperately needs is going to be cast in some form of indentured servitude to the banks or other lending agencies for much of their young working lives. Let the banks take a “hit” for a change!
Stop housing foreclosures and aid underwater mortgages now! Although the worst of the crunch has abated there are still plenty of problems and so this demand is still timely if not desperately timely like in the recent past. Hey, everybody, everywhere in the world not just in America should have a safe, clean roof over their heads. Hell, even a single family home that is part of the “American dream,” if that is what they want. We didn’t make the housing crisis in America (or elsewhere, like in Ireland, where the bubble has also burst). The banks did. Their predatory lending practices and slip-shot application processes were out of control. Let them take the “hit” here as well.
*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Karl Marx was right way back in the 19th century on his labor theory of value, the workers do produce the social surplus appropriated by the capitalists. Capitalism tends to beat down, beat down hard in all kinds of ways the mass of society for the benefit of the few. Most importantly capitalism, a system that at one time was historically progressive in the fight against feudalism and other ancient forms of production, has turned into its opposite and now is a fetter on production. The current multiple crises spawned by this system show there is no way forward, except that unless we push them out, push them out fast, they will muddle through, again.
Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Socialism is the only serious answer to the human crisis we face economically, socially, culturally and politically. This socialist system is the only one calculated to take one of the great tragedies of life, the struggle for daily survival in a world that we did not create, and replace it with more co-operative human endeavors.
Build a workers’ party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed. None of the nice things mentioned above can be accomplished without as serious struggle for political power. We need to struggle for an independent working-class-centered political party that we can call our own and where our leaders act as “tribunes of the people” not hacks. The creation of that workers party, however, will get us nowhere unless it fights for a workers government to begin the transition to the next level of human progress on a world-wide scale.
As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):
“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.”
Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!
In this series, presented under the headline Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here.
THE FOLLOWING IS A SONG BASED ON THE DIGGER EXPERIENCE IN 1650
If John Milton was the literary muse of the English Revolution then the Diggers and their leader, Gerrard Winstanley, were the political muses.
The World Turned Upside Down
We will not worship the God they serve, a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve.
In 1649 to St. George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people's
They defied the landlords, they defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.
We come in peace, they said, to dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common and make the waste
This earth divided we will make whole
So it may be a common treasury for all "**
The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy or sell the earth for private gain
By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command
They make the laws to chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven, or they damn us into hell
We will not worship the God they serve,
a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve
We work and eat together, we need no swords
We will not bow to masters, nor pay rent to the lords
Still we are free, though we are poor
Ye Diggers all, stand up for glory, stand up now!
From the men of property the orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers'
Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn
They were dispersed - only the vision lingers on
Ye poor take courage, ye rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
All things in common, all people one
They came in peace - the order came to cut them down
WORDS AND MUSIC BY LEON ROSSELSON, 1981
*A Communist Before His Time –Gerrard Winstanley and the Digger Colonies in the English Revolution
Winstanley, starring Miles Harriwell, directed by Kenneth Brownlow, 1975
The time of the English Revolution in the 1640's, Oliver Cromwell's time, as in all revolutionary times saw a profusion of ideas from all kinds of sources- religious, secular, the arcane, the fanciful and the merely misbegotten. A few of those ideas however, as here, bear study by modern left-wing militants. As the film under review exemplifies, True Leveler (a. k. a. Diggers) Gerrard Winstanley's agrarian socialist utopian tracts from the 1640's, the notion of a socialist solution to the problems of humankind has a long, heroic, and storied history. The solutions presented by Winstanley had and, in a limited sense, still do represent rudimentary ways to solve the problem of social and economic distribution of the social surplus produced by society. Without overextending the analogy Winstanley's tract represented for his time, the 1600's, what Communist Manifesto represented for Kaarl Marx's time-and ours-the first clarion call for the new more equitable world order. And those with property, those who controlled and gained from the means of production, hated both men with the same amount of venom, in their respective times.
One of the great advances Marx had over Winstanley was that he did not place his reliance on an agrarian solution to the crisis of society as Winstanley, by the state of economic development of his times, was forced to do. Marx, moreover, unlike Winstanley, did not concentrate on the question of distribution but rather on who controlled the means of production a point that all previous theorists had either failed to account for, dismissed out of hand, or did not know about. Thus, all pre-Marxist theory is bound up with a strategy of moral as well as political persuasion as a means of changing human lifestyles. Marx posed the question differently by centering on the creation of social surplus so that under conditions of plenty the struggle for daily survival would be taken off the human agenda and other more lofty goals put in its place. Still, with all the True Levelers' weaknesses of program and their improbabilities of success in the 1640's militants today still doff our hats to Winstanley's vision.
Notwithstanding the utopian nature of the experiment discussed above the filmmaker, Kenneth Brownlow, and his associates here have painstakingly, lovingly and with fidelity to the narrative and detail that are known from the researches of the likes of Christopher Hill and George Sabine, among others, that make for an excellent snapshot of what it might have been like up on Winstanley's St. George's Hill long ago. Two things add to that end.
First, the use of black and white highlights the bleak countryside (after all although the land was "common" it was waste that the landlord did not find it expedient to cultivate) and the pinched appearances of the "comrades" (especially the deeply-farrowed expressions of Miles Harriwell as Winstanley). Secondly, the director has used to the greatest extent possible Winstanley's own pamphlets that dealt with what was going on in Surrey and what his political purposes were (expressed as almost always in those days in religious terms- but taking land in common for use rather than profit is understandable in any language. I might add that the attempts to replicate the costumes of the period, the furnishings and the music round out a job well done.
Note: Part of this DVD contains a section on the hows and whys of the making of the film, including in-depth coverage of its making and commentary by Mr. Brownlow. You are getting this film for the Winstanley reenactment but this section is interesting if you are interested in filmmaking as well.
HONOR THE THREE L’S-LENIN, LUXEMBURG,
LIEBKNECHT-Honor The Historic Leader Of The German
JANUARY WE HONOR LENIN OF RUSSIA, ROSA LUXEMBURG OF POLAND, AND KARL LIEBKNECHT
OF GERMANY AS THREE LEADERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT.
Karl Liebknecht Thumbnail
The son of Wilhelm
Liebknecht, one of the founders of the SPD, Karl Liebknecht trained to be a
lawyer and defended many Social Democrats in political trials. He was also a
leading figure in the socialist youth movement and thus became a leading figure
in the struggle against militarism.
As a deputy in the
Reichstag he was one of the first SPD representatives to break party discipline
and vote against war credits in December 1914. He became a figurehead for the
struggle against the war. His opposition was so successful that his
parliamentary immunity was removed and he was imprisoned.
Freed by the November
revolution he immediately threw himself into the struggle and became with Rosa
Luxemburg one of the founders of the new Communist Party (KPD). Along with
Luxemburg he was murdered by military officers with the tacit approval of the leaders
of the SPD after the suppression of the so-called “Spartacist Uprising” in
************** Markin comment:
Karl Liebknecht- A
This comment was
originally written in 2006 in the American Left History blog but the main points hold true today:
I recently (2006) have received a comment
from someone whom I took earnestly to be perplexed by a section of a commentary
that I had written where I stated that the minimum necessary for any anti-war
politician was to vote against the Iraq war budget in a principled manner. Not
the way former Democratic presidential candidate Massachusetts Senator John
Kerry’s (and others) dipsy-doodled votes for and against various war budgetary
requests in 2004. And certainly not the other variations on this theme
performed recently by aspiring Democratic presidential candidates Senators
Obama and Clinton in the lead-up to 2008. Nor, for that matter, the way of
those who oppose the Iraq war budget but have no problems if those funds were
diverted to wars in Afghanistan, Iran , North Korea, China or their favorite
‘evil state’ of the month. What really drew the commenter up short was that I
stated this was only the beginning of political wisdom and then proceeded to
explain that even that would not be enough to render the politician political
support if his or her other politics were weak. The commenter then
plaintively begged me to describe what kind of politician would qualify for such
support. Although I have noted elsewhere that some politicians, Democratic
Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts and presidential candidate
Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich stand out from the pack, the real
anti-war hero on principle we should look at is long dead-Karl Liebknecht, the
German Social-Democratic leader from World War I. Wherever anyone fights
against unjust wars Liebknecht’s spirit hovers over those efforts. Here is what I had to say in part about that revolutionary politician:
"…I do not believe we are lacking in
physical courage. What has declined is political courage, and this seems in
irreversible decline on the part of parliamentary politicians. That said, I
want to finish up with a woefully inadequate political appreciation of Karl
Liebknecht, member of the German Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag in
the early 1900’s. Karl was also a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, who had been a friend of Karl
Marx and founder of the German Social Democratic Party in the 1860’s. On August
4, 1914, at the start of World War I the German Social Democratic Party voted
YES on the war budget of the Kaiser against all its previous historic positions
on German militarism. This vote was rightly seen as a betrayal of socialist
principles. Due to a policy of parliamentary solidarity Karl Liebknecht also
voted for this budget, or at least felt he had to go along with his faction.
Shortly thereafter, he broke ranks and voted NO against the war appropriations.
As pointed out below Karl Liebknecht did much more than that to oppose the
German side in the First World War. That, my friends, is the kind of politician I can support. As for the rest-hold their feet to the fire.
"One of the problems with being the son
of a famous politician is that as founder of the early German Social Democratic
Party Wilhelm Liebknecht's son much was expected of Karl, especially on the
question of leading the German working class against German militarism. Wilhelm
had done a prison term (with August Bebel) for opposition to the
Franco-Prussian War. As for Karl I have always admired that famous picture of
him walking across the Potsdam Plaza in uniform, subject to imprisonment after
loss of his parliamentary immunity, with briefcase under arm ready to go in and
do battle with the parliamentary cretins of the Social Democratic Party over
support for the war budget. (That photograph can be Googled.) That is the kind of
leadership cadre we desperately need now. REMEMBER HIS FAMOUS SLOGANS-
"HE MAIN ENEMY IS AT HOME’-‘NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE PERSON (updated by
writer) FOR THE WAR." Wilhelm would have been proud.