Saturday, April 18, 2015


As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Artists’ Corner-Gustav Klimt
 
  

In say 1912, 1913, hell, even the beginning of 1914, the first few months anyway, before the war clouds got a full head of steam in the summer they all profusely professed their unmitigated horror at the thought of war, thought of the old way of doing business in the world. Yes the artists of every school the Cubist/Fauvists/Futurists/Constructivists, Surrealists or those who would come to speak for those movements (hell even the Academy spoke the pious words when there was sunny weather), those who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society and put the pieces to paint, sculptors who put twisted pieces of metal juxtaposed to each other saw that building a mighty machine from which you had to run created many problems; writers of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy and the diplomats and high and mighty would put the brakes on in time, not realizing that they were all squabbling cousins; writers of serious and not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gazebo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do, too much sex to harness to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and by having half-virgin, neat trick, maidens strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos, not the stress and strife of the tattoos of war marches with their tinny conceits; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they would go to the hells before touching the hair of another man, putting another man to ground or lying their own heads down for some imperial mission. They all professed loudly (and those few who did not profess, could not profess because they were happily getting their blood rising, kept their own consul until the summer), that come the war drums they would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist worlds and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels. They would stay the course.  

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, poets, beautiful poets like Wilfred Owens who would sicken of war before he passed leaving a beautiful damnation on war, its psychoses, and broken bones and dreams, and the idiots who brought humankind to such a fate, like e. e. cummings who drove through sheer hell in those rickety ambulances floors sprayed with blood, man blood, angers, anguishes and more sets of broken bones, and broken dreams, like Rupert Brooke all manly and old school give and go, as they marched in formation leaving the ports and then mowed down like freshly mown grass in their thousands as the charge call came and they rested, a lot of them, in those freshly mown grasses, like Robert Graves all grave all sputtering in his words confused about what had happened, suppressing, always suppressing that instinct to cry out against the hatred night, like old school, old Thomas Hardy writing beautiful old English pastoral sentiments before the war and then full-blown into imperium’s service, no questions asked old England right or wrong, like old stuffed shirt himself T.S. Eliot speaking of hollow loves, hollow men, wastelands, and such in the high club rooms on the home front, and like old brother Yeats speaking of terrible beauties born in the colonies and maybe at the home front too as long as Eliot does not miss his high tea. Jesus what a blasted night that Great War time was.   

And do not forget when the war drums intensified, and the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they, other creative souls made of ordinary human clay as it turned out

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, artists, beautiful artists like Fernand Leger who could no longer push the envelope of representative art because it had been twisted by the rubble of war, by the crashing big guns, by the hubris of commanders and commanded and he turned to new form, tubes, cubes, prisms, anything but battered humankind in its every rusts and lusts, all bright and intersecting once he got the mustard gas out of his system, once he had done his patria duty, like speaking of mustard gas old worn out John Singer Sargent of the three name WASPs forgetting Boston Brahmin society ladies in decollage, forgetting ancient world religious murals hanging atop Boston museum and spewing trench warfare and the blind leading the blind out of no man’s land, out of the devil’s claws, like Umberto Boccioni, all swirls, curves, dashes, and dangling guns as the endless charges endlessly charge, like Gustav Klimt and his endlessly detailed gold dust opulent Asiatic dreams filled with lovely matrons and high symbolism and blessed Eve women to fill the night, Adam’s night after they fled the garden, like Joan Miro and his infernal boxes, circles, spats, eyes, dibs, dabs, vaginas, and blots forever suspended in deep space for a candid world to fret through, fret through a long career, and like poor maddened rising like a phoenix in the Spartacist uprising George Grosz puncturing the nasty bourgeoisie, the big bourgeoisie the ones with the real dough and their overfed dreams stuffed with sausage, and from the bloated military and their fat-assed generals stuff with howitzers and rocket shells, like Picasso, yeah, Picasso taking the shape out of recognized human existence and reconfiguring the forms, the mesh of form to fit the new hard order, like, Braque, if only because if you put the yolk on Picasso you have to tie him to the tether too.           

And do not forget when the war drums intensified, and the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they, other creative souls made of ordinary human clay as it turned out sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went to the trenches to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for humankind, of course, their always fate ….            

In Honor Of Russian Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday (April 1870-Janaury 1924)-The Struggle Continues-Ivan Smilga’s Political Journey-Take Three      

 


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman 

 

For a number of years I have been honoring various revolutionary forbears, including the subject of this birthday tribute, the Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin architect (along with fellow revolutionary Leon Trotsky) of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 in each January under the headline-Honor The Three L’s –Lenin, Luxemburg , Liebknecht. My purpose then was (and still is) to continue the traditions established by the Communist International in the early post-World War I period in honoring revolutionary forbears. That month has special significance since every January  

Leftists honor those three leading revolutionaries who died in that month, V.I. Lenin of Russia in his sleep after a long illness in 1924, and Karl Liebknecht of Germany and Rosa Luxemburg of Poland in 1919 murdered in separate incidents after leading the defeated Spartacist uprising in Berlin.

 

I have made my political points about the heroic Karl Liebknecht and his parliamentary fight against the German war budget in World War I in which he eventually wound up in prison only to be released when the Kaiser abdicated (correctly went to jail when it came down to it once the government pulled the hammer down on his opposition), on some previous occasions. The key point to be taken away today, still applicable today as in America we are in the age of endless war, endless war appropriations and seemingly endless desires to racket up another war out of whole cloth every change some ill-begotten administration decides it needs to “show the colors”, one hundred years later in that still lonely and frustrating struggle to get politicians to oppose war budgets, to risk prison to choke off the flow of war materials.  

 

I have also made some special point in previous years about the life of Rosa Luxemburg, the “rose of the revolution.” About her always opposing the tendencies in her adopted party, the German Social-Democracy, toward reform and accommodation, her struggle to make her Polish party ready for revolutionary opportunities, her important contributions to Marxist theory and her willing to face and go to jail when she opposed the first World War.

 

This month, the month of his birth, it is appropriate, at a time when the young needs to find, and are in desperate need of a few good heroes, a few revolutionaries who contributed to both our theoretical understandings about the tasks of the international working class in the age of imperialism (the age, unfortunately, that we are still mired in) and to the importance of the organization question in the struggle for revolutionary power, to highlight the  struggles of Vladimir Lenin, the third L, in order to define himself politically.

 

Below is a third sketch written as part of a series posted over several days before Lenin’s birthday on the American Left History blog starting on April 16th of a young fictional labor militant, although not so fictional in the scheme of the revolutionary developments in the Russia of the Tsar toward the end of the 19th century and early 20th century which will help define the problems facing the working-class there then, and the ones that Lenin had to get a handle on.

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Ivan Smilga was persona non grata in Moscow after his sojourn to bloody Siberia and that was the one and only reason he had crossed the country to Saint Petersburg. That and the feeling that he needed a new start, a fresh start. That bloody Siberia sojourn was the result of an unwise decision to right the wrongs of this world, or at least of his world, by conspiring with known radical students and worker militants in Moscow to kidnap various high officials for ransom in order to gain some small rights in return. The whole thing exploded in his face (in their faces) when one of the workmen “snitched” to save his own neck and Ivan got a two year sentence for his mistake (since he was late in on the conspiracy and the idea had come from that workman snitch he was given a lenient sentence. They others received ten to twenty years at hard labor, including ten to Suslov who had expected only two like Ivan. Perfidious Okhrana). After that Ivan swore, swore off of politics as a way to change the world, to change his world. Now that he had applied for and had been taken on as a blacksmith apprentice in the Putilov Ironworks he vowed to keep his hands busy and his head away from the world’s woes. Again Ivan got the job due to his size and strength which the head blacksmith noticed right away when he saw in him in the superintendent’s office and told the metal work foreman to grab him with both hands. Fortunately, fortunately for Ivan (and the revolution) he was able to cover up his two years in Siberia by saying he had gone back to the farm after being dismissed by Smythe and Son and unlike later under Stalin the legal “paper trail” behind him never caught up in sprawling Saint Petersburg where the foreign concessions were not as concerns about paperwork as by ability to adjust to the factory system.
Then Elena Kassova entered, or rather re-entered, his life. He had known her as a fellow-worker, a machine-tender, in the John Smythe and Son textile factory in Moscow where he worked taking the rolls of fabric off the machines, her machine, before he became a gang boss. Since in those days before he was finally laid off as “redundant” by the company he was well respected as a worker and had not taken to drink he was eyed by many young women as a possible “catch.” He had caught Elena’s eye as well although as a pious country girl she had refrained from flirting with Ivan like some of the other girl machine-tenders who practically threw themselves at the giant of a man. Through the vagaries of commerce Smythe and Son had closed their Moscow plant and relocated to Saint Petersburg. Elena had followed having no other recourse or resources in Moscow. While in Saint Petersburg she had applied to the Putilov works in order to better herself. After some time she was employed in the foundry doing small piecework. Ivan and Elena met one evening coming out of the plant, had greeted each other, and Ivan had walked her home.

That story about Elena moving on to the Putilov Works to better herself was just that though, a story. While in Moscow, Elena had joined a readers’ circle not just any readers’ circle, but a Workers Benefit Circle. These circles met ostensibly to read, but were actually organizing committees for establishing Tsarist-banned trade unions. Some had imbibed the new socialist ideas coming from Europe, especially Germany and especially the Marxist wing of that movement. (Other trends the Bakunin and Kropotkin tendencies in anarchism, workers co-operatives, social reformism, Christian socialism translated through the Orthodox religion held by most Russians got some play as well.) Elena had been drawn into the work by some students at Moscow University and had shown so much promise that she was “ordered” to go to Saint Petersburg in order to establish circles in that metropolis where there were many plants, including the expanding Putilov, that needed to be organized.  Her task at the time that she met Ivan was thus to help organize a strike at the Works for higher pay and only half a day’s work on Saturday. After several weeks she tried to recruit Ivan to the work knowing that he was well respected among the apprentice blacksmiths, knowing that he had been the organizer of the “Luddite” operation one Saturday night which wreaked hauling machinery at the Smythe factory in Moscow (it had become common knowledge among the tight-knit working class neighborhoods), and knew he had served “time” (that knowledge coming one night after Ivan had had too much vodka and was trying to impress Elena with his manly prowess).
Ivan turned Elena down cold, told her whatever she thought, that he had learned the error of his youthful ways and was looking to make no waves so that he could concentrate his energies on his dream of becoming a master blacksmith and eventually opening his own shop. Elena, wise to the ways of the world and trained to keep her full motives in check, continued to work on Ivan. Of course unknown to Ivan who thought it was just a matter of gaining higher wages and more time off that drove Elena was the hard fact that she had become a revolutionary, had come to see the trade union struggle as just an organizing tool to a grander scheme.
Then one day the workers on the night shift at the Putilov factory called a strike over the firing of several workers, including a couple of apprentice blacksmiths. The next morning Elena called out the workers in her section on the day shift, mainly women. She then cornered Ivan as he was about to walk into his work shed and told him to join the strike. She said it in such a way that Ivan knew that if he crossed the line that would be the last that he saw of Elena. And he was not finished with Elena, not by a long shot. And so he said this to her, “I will fight to get more money, I will fight for a shorter day and I will fight to get my brothers rehired but that is it. No more politics for me, no more.” Now due to some weaknesses of organization, and some crossing of the lines and increasing police menacing they did not get any more money or less time after that strike but after three days they were able to get those fired brothers back. And Ivan had thought they had done a fine thing. Elena had just scowled.                   
Please, Please, Please Mister Brown-The James Brown Story- Get On Up   

 
 
 
 
 
DVD Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman, a Jagger Production, yeah Mick Jagger the guy with the James Brown moves on the concert stage so you know the James Brown we are talking about, 2014  

Hear Me Out. In the beginning was the word. Hear me out. Yeah, probably it was the gospel word, but in certain quarters, in certain off-beat corners that word needed fortification, needed something (besides Eddy’s home-made liquor come Saturday night, that would come later) to sanctify it up good and so some very high heaven gospel songs praising high holy Jehovah and begging him (assuming it was/is a him) to come and free his benighted people. Good old gospel singing getting through the rough spots of slavery and then Mister James Crow’s go heres and go theres. And from the gospel out in the country, out in the Delta (and not only the Delta but let’s use that example here), came the first inkling of the blues, the blues to put a man-make name to the miseries, Mister’s plantation miseries (or really his Captain’s, the overseer), that James Crow thing, a good woman on a man’s mind, or a bad man or woman who done somebody wrong. Then the blues got dragged to the cities in the great migration, got some electricity to reflect the faster pace and from there it was only a short haul to rhythm and blues and its off-shoot, now called the classic age of rock and roll. All of this to introduce the subject of this biopic, Mister James Brown, in the Mick Jagger production of Get On Up.              

See I needed to trace the roots, the roots of what James Brown was all about, all about what for lack of better name became the genre of soul music. No just because he was the “godfather” of that type of music but because when he came on the scene in the 1950s with Please, Please, Please he brought something new to the American songbook. Not classic rock and roll, no way it was a different beat that we grabbed onto, surely not folk, not be-bop jazz then in its heyday, none of those things but something more primitive, good roots primitive, going back to some mist of time Mother Africa beat that got passed on through the generations to Mister James Brown. So that was how rooted he was, that roots stuff was the stuff that was running through his brain as he tried to take that beat in his head and make people jump, to celebrate, at first mainly blacks down South and then once white kids got hip to his sound the whole freaking world, the world that counted anyway.           

From the biographical flash-back scenes interspersed with the music presented in the film it was a very close question about whether an uneducated (formally anyway) black kid growing up in the post- World I South, out in the country, in the countryside outside of Augusta, Ga, an Army town (oh yeah, and the town where the then very white Masters Golf Tournament only is held), to a derelict wife and child beating father and a ill-fit mother would make it to twenty-one never mind becoming a world famous celebrity. But see Mister Brown carried that beat in his head, carried it right to the end and he never let go of that notion. Of course there are many stories about musical performers who almost had it but for some ill-omened reason fell short so some luck was involved. Finding a big time friend, Bobby Byrd, who got him out of jail and a guy who knew enough to latch onto James’ wagon and go as far as he could with him despite his own considerable lead singer dreams. Being at the right place at the right time when the first record producer insisted to his bewildered boss that he knew what he was doing by letting James let it rip his own way on Please, Please, Please and the rest is history.  Although not without the problems of keeping high-strung musicians satisfied, drugs, financial difficulties, martial problems, and loss of friends and fellow performers for lots of reasons, mainly because he was number one and there was no number two really in his company. No question Mister James Brown had a very clear perception of who he was, how he wanted to handle everything from finances to his image and stage presence that came through in Chadwick Boseman’s performance.          

A couple of personal points not directly connected to the film but since James Brown is part of the scenery of the life of my 1960s generation they can be tacked on here. First a few years after James Brown released his Please, Please, Please in the 1950s I was at a high school dance where the DJ played that song and I, spying a girl I had been eyeing all night until my eyeballs were sore, when over to her and lip-synched  James’ song and it worked. Second, after Eddie Murphy had started his “Free James” campaign when Brown was in jail I was working with a group of young college students who I had assumed would not necessarily know who he was when I shouted out “Free James” to see if I would get any reaction. Jesus, all of a sudden there was a hall full of kids shouting back “Free James.” Yeah, get on up.          
I Did It My Way-With Bob Dylan’s Shadows In The Night In Mind



 

 

 

 


Recently I did a review of Bob Dylan’s latest CD brought out in 2014, Shadows In The Night, a tribute to the king of Tin Pan Alley songwriter fest Frank Sinatra. In that review I noted that such an effort was bound to happen if Dylan lived long enough. Going back to the Great Depression/World War II period that our parents, we the baby-boomers parents slogged through for musical inspiration. Going back to something, some place that when were young and immortal, young and thinking that what we had created would last forever we would have, rightly, dismissed out of hand. And since Dylan has lived long enough, long enough to go back to some bygones roots  here we are talking about something that let us say in 1970 I would have dismissed as impossible, dismissed as the delusional ravings of somebody like my brother who hated almost everything about the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s, had been ready to spill blood it seemed to cut off the heads of anybody who wanted to breathe a new fresh breath not tinged with our parents’ worn out ways of doing business in civil society.

Strange as it may seem to a generation, the generation of ’68, today’s AARP generation, okay, baby-boomers who came of age with the clarion call put forth musically by Bob Dylan and others to dramatically break with the music of our parents’ pasts, the music that got them through the Great Depression and slogging through World War II, he has put out an album featuring the work of Mr. Frank Sinatra the king of that era in many our parents’ households. The music of the Broadway shows, Tin Pan Alley, Cole Porter/Irving Berlin/ the Gershwins/Jerome Kern, have I mssed anybody of important, probably, probably missed some of those Rogers and Hart Broadway show tunes teams, and so on. That proposition though, at least as it pertains to Bob Dylan as an individual, seems less strange if you are not totally mired in the Bob Dylan protest minute of the early 1960s when he, whether he wanted that designation or not, was the “voice of a generation,” catching the new breeze a lot of us felt coming through the land. (In the end he did not want it, did not want to be the voice of a generation, although he liked and wanted to be king of the hill in the music department of that generation, no question. Wanted too to be the king hell troubadour entertaining the world for as long as he drew breathe and he has accomplished that.)

What Dylan has been about for the greater part of his career has been as an entertainer, a guy who sings his songs to the crowd and hopes they share his feelings for his songs. As he is quoted as saying in a recent AARP magazine article connected with the release of his Frank Sinatra tribute what he hoped was that like Frank he sang to, not at, his audience. Just like Frank did when he was in high tide around the 1940s and 1950s. That sensibility is emphatically not what the folk protest music ethos was about but rather about stirring up the troops, stirring up the latter day Gideon’s army to go smite the dragon. Dylan early on came close, then drew back, and it is hard to think of anybody from our generation except maybe Joan Baez and Phil Ochs who wrote and sang to move people from point A to point B in the social struggles of the times.

What Dylan has also been about through it all has been a deep and abiding respect for the American songbook that he began to gather in his mind early on (look on YouTube to a clip from Don’t Look Back where he is up in some European hotel room with Joan Baez and Bob Neuwirth singing Hank Williams ballads or stuff from the Basement tapes where he runs the table on a few earlier genres). In the old days that was looking for roots, roots music from the mountains, the desolate oceans, the slave quarters, along the rivers and Dylan’s hero then was Woody Guthrie. But the American songbook is a “big tent” operation and the Tin Pan Alley that he broke from when he became his own songwriter is an important part of the overall tradition and now he has added his hero Frank Sinatra to his version of the songbook.

I may long for the old protest songs, the songs that stirred my blood to push on with the political struggles of the time like With God On Our Side which pushed me into the ranks of the Quakers, shakers, and little old ladies and men in tennis sneakers in the fight for nuclear disarmament, songs from the album pictured above, you know Blowin’ In The Wind which fit perfectly with the sense that something, something undefinable, something new as in the air in the early 1960s and The Times Are A Changin’ stuff like that, the roots music and not just Woody but Hank (including an incredible version of You Win Again, Tex-Mex (working later with George  Sahms of the Sir George Quintet, the Carters, the odd and unusual like the magic lyric play in Desolation Row, his cover of Charley Patton’s Highwater Rising or his cover of a song Lonnie Johnson made famous, Tomorrow Night, but Dylan has sought to entertain and there is room in his tent for the king of Tin Pan Alley (as Billie Holiday was the queen). Having heard Dylan live and in concert over the past several years with his grating lost voice (for me it was always about the lyrics not the voice although in looking at old tapes from the Newport Folk Festival on YouTube his voice was actually far better then than I would have given him credit for) I do wonder though how much production was needed to get the wrinkles out of that voice to sing as smoothly as the “Chairman of the boards,” to run the pauses and the hushed tones Frank knew how to do to keep his audience in his clutches. What goes around comes around.             

The Latest From The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) Website- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc. From Afghanistan! -Hands Off Syria! No New War In Iraq- Stop The Bombings-Stop The Arms Shipments To The Kurds And Shia-Stay Out Of The Civil War! No Intervention In Ukraine! Defend The Palestinians! No U.S. Aid To Israel! No One Penny, Not One Person For Obama’s War Machine!
 


Click below for link to the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) website for more information about various anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist actions around the country.


Markin comment: 
 
A while back, maybe last year as things seemed to be winding down in the Middle East, or at least the American presence was scheduled to decrease in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and before  Ukraine, Syria, Gaza and a number of other flash points erupted I mentioned that every once in a while it is necessary, if for no other reason than to proclaim from the public square that we are alive, and fighting, to show “the colors,” our anti-war colors. I also mentioned at the time that while endless marches are not going to end any war the imperialists decide to provoke the street opposition to the war in what appeared then to be the fading American presence in Afghanistan or whatever else the Obama/Kerry cabal has lined up for the military to do in the Middle East, Ukraine or the China seas as well as protests against other imperialist adventures had been under the radar of late.

Over the summer there had been a small uptick in street protest over the Zionist massacre in Gaza (a situation now in “cease-fire” mode but who knows how long that will last) and the threat of yet a third American war in Iraq with the increasing bombing campaign and escalating troop levels now expanded to Syria. Although not nearly enough. As I mentioned at that earlier time it is time, way beyond time, for anti-warriors, even his liberal backers, to get back where we belong on the streets in the struggle against Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama’s seemingly endless wars. And his surreptitious “drone strategy” to "sanitize" war when he is not very publicly busy revving up the bombers and fighter jets in Iraq, Syria and wherever else he feels needs the soft touch of American “shock and awe, part two.”

The UNAC for a while now, particularly since the collapse of the mass peace movement that hit the streets for a few minutes before the second Iraq war in 2003, appears to be the umbrella clearing house these days for many anti-war, anti-drone, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist actions. Not all the demands of this coalition are ones that I would raise, or support but the key ones of late are enough to take to the streets. More than enough to whet the appetite of even the most jaded anti-warrior.


And as we hit the fall anti-war trail:

As Obama, His House And Senate Allies, His “Coalition Of The Willing”    Beat The War Drums-Again- Stop The Escalations-No New U.S. War In Iraq- No Intervention In Syria! Immediate Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops And Mercenaries!  Stop The U.S. And Allied Bombings! –Stop The Arms Shipments …

Frank Jackman comment:

As the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, U.S. President Barack Obama, abetted by the usual suspects in the House and Senate as well as internationally, orders more air bombing strikes in the north and in Syria,  sends more “advisers” to “protect” American outposts in Iraq, and sends arms shipments to the Kurds, supplies arms to the moderate Syrian opposition if it can be found to give weapons to, guys who served in the American military during the Vietnam War and who, like me, belatedly, got “religion” on the war issue as a kneejerk way to resolve the conflicts in this wicked old world might very well be excused for disbelief when the White House keeps pounding out the propaganda that these actions are limited when all signs point to the slippery slope of escalation. And all the time saying the familiar (Vietnam era familiar updated for the present)-“we seek no wider war”-meaning no American combat troops. Well if you start bombing places back to the Stone Age, cannot rely on the Iraqi troops who have already shown what they are made of and cannot rely on a now non-existent “Syrian Free Army” which you are willing to get whatever they want and will still come up short what do you think the next step will be? Now not every event in history gets exactly repeated but given the recent United States Government’s history in Iraq those old time vets might be on to something. In any case dust off the old banners, placards, and buttons and get your voices in shape- just in case. No New War In Iraq –Stop The Bombings- No Intervention In Syria! 
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Here is something to think about:  

Workers and the oppressed have no interest in a victory by one combatant or the other in the reactionary Sunni-Shi’ite civil war. However, the international working class definitely has a side in opposing imperialist intervention in Iraq and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and mercenaries. It is U.S. imperialism that constitutes the greatest danger to the world’s working people and downtrodden. 
 
Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc. From Afghanistan! Hands Off Syria! No New War In Iraq- Stop The Bombings-Stop The Arms Shipments To The Kurds And Shia-Stay Out Of The Civil War! No Intervention In Ukraine! Defend The Palestinians! No U.S. Aid To Israel! Not One Penny, Not One Person For Obama’s War Machine!

BostonUNAC.org | 781-285-8622 | BostonUNAC(S)gmail.com
   
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Friday, April 17, 2015


As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Artists’ Corner-Otto Dix  



In say 1912, 1913, hell, even the beginning of 1914, the first few months anyway, before the war clouds got a full head of steam in the summer they all profusely professed their unmitigated horror at the thought of war, thought of the old way of doing business in the world. Yes the artists of every school the Cubist/Fauvists/Futurists/Constructivists, Surrealists or those who would come to speak for those movements (hell even the Academy spoke the pious words when there was sunny weather), those who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society and put the pieces to paint, sculptors who put twisted pieces of metal juxtaposed to each other saw that building a mighty machine from which you had to run created many problems; writers of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy and the diplomats and high and mighty would put the brakes on in time, not realizing that they were all squabbling cousins; writers of serious and not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gazebo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do, too much sex to harness to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and by having half-virgin, neat trick, maidens strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos, not the stress and strife of the tattoos of war marches with their tinny conceits; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they would go to the hells before touching the hair of another man, putting another man to ground or lying their own heads down for some imperial mission. They all professed loudly (and those few who did not profess, could not profess because they were happily getting their blood rising, kept their own consul until the summer), that come the war drums they would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist worlds and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels. They would stay the course.  

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, poets, beautiful poets like Wilfred Owens who would sicken of war before he passed leaving a beautiful damnation on war, its psychoses, and broken bones and dreams, and the idiots who brought humankind to such a fate, like e. e. cummings who drove through sheer hell in those rickety ambulances floors sprayed with blood, man blood, angers, anguishes and more sets of broken bones, and broken dreams, like Rupert Brooke all manly and old school give and go, as they marched in formation leaving the ports and then mowed down like freshly mown grass in their thousands as the charge call came and they rested, a lot of them, in those freshly mown grasses, like Robert Graves all grave all sputtering in his words confused about what had happened, suppressing, always suppressing that instinct to cry out against the hatred night, like old school, old Thomas Hardy writing beautiful old English pastoral sentiments before the war and then full-blown into imperium’s service, no questions asked old England right or wrong, like old stuffed shirt himself T.S. Eliot speaking of hollow loves, hollow men, wastelands, and such in the high club rooms on the home front, and like old brother Yeats speaking of terrible beauties born in the colonies and maybe at the home front too as long as Eliot does not miss his high tea. Jesus what a blasted night that Great War time was.   

And do not forget when the war drums intensified, and the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they, other creative souls made of ordinary human clay as it turned out

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, artists, beautiful artists like Fernand Leger who could no longer push the envelope of representative art because it had been twisted by the rubble of war, by the crashing big guns, by the hubris of commanders and commanded and he turned to new form, tubes, cubes, prisms, anything but battered humankind in its every rusts and lusts, all bright and intersecting once he got the mustard gas out of his system, once he had done his patria duty, like speaking of mustard gas old worn out John Singer Sargent of the three name WASPs forgetting Boston Brahmin society ladies in decollage, forgetting ancient world religious murals hanging atop Boston museum and spewing trench warfare and the blind leading the blind out of no man’s land, out of the devil’s claws, like Umberto Boccioni, all swirls, curves, dashes, and dangling guns as the endless charges endlessly charge, like Gustav Klimt and his endlessly detailed gold dust opulent Asiatic dreams filled with lovely matrons and high symbolism and blessed Eve women to fill the night, Adam’s night after they fled the garden, like Joan Miro and his infernal boxes, circles, spats, eyes, dibs, dabs, vaginas, and blots forever suspended in deep space for a candid world to fret through, fret through a long career, and like poor maddened rising like a phoenix in the Spartacist uprising George Grosz puncturing the nasty bourgeoisie, the big bourgeoisie the ones with the real dough and their overfed dreams stuffed with sausage, and from the bloated military and their fat-assed generals stuff with howitzers and rocket shells, like Picasso, yeah, Picasso taking the shape out of recognized human existence and reconfiguring the forms, the mesh of form to fit the new hard order, like, Braque, if only because if you put the yolk on Picasso you have to tie him to the tether too.           

And do not forget when the war drums intensified, and the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they, other creative souls made of ordinary human clay as it turned out sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went to the trenches to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for humankind, of course, their always fate ….            

In Honor Of Russian Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday (April 1870-Janaury 1924)-The Struggle Continues-Ivan Smilga’s Political Journey-Take Two      

 


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman 

 

For a number of years I have been honoring various revolutionary forbears, including the subject of this birthday tribute, the Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin architect (along with fellow revolutionary Leon Trotsky) of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 in each January under the headline-Honor The Three L’s –Lenin, Luxemburg , Liebknecht. My purpose then was (and still is) to continue the traditions established by the Communist International in the early post-World War I period in honoring revolutionary forbears. That month has special significance since every January  

Leftists honor those three leading revolutionaries who died in that month, V.I. Lenin of Russia in his sleep after a long illness in 1924, and Karl Liebknecht of Germany and Rosa Luxemburg of Poland in 1919 murdered in separate incidents after leading the defeated Spartacist uprising in Berlin.

I have made my political points about the heroic Karl Liebknecht and his parliamentary fight against the German war budget in World War I in which he eventually wound up in prison only to be released when the Kaiser abdicated (correctly went to jail when it came down to it once the government pulled the hammer down on his opposition), on some previous occasions. The key point to be taken away today, still applicable today as in America we are in the age of endless war, endless war appropriations and seemingly endless desires to racket up another war out of whole cloth every change some ill-begotten administration decides it needs to “show the colors”, one hundred years later in that still lonely and frustrating struggle to get politicians to oppose war budgets, to risk prison to choke off the flow of war materials.  


I have also made some special point in previous years about the life of Rosa Luxemburg, the “rose of the revolution.” About her always opposing the tendencies in her adopted party, the German Social-Democracy, toward reform and accommodation, her struggle to make her Polish party ready for revolutionary opportunities, her important contributions to Marxist theory and her willing to face and go to jail when she opposed the first World War.


This month, the month of his birth, it is appropriate, at a time when the young needs to find, and are in desperate need of a few good heroes, a few revolutionaries who contributed to both our theoretical understandings about the tasks of the international working class in the age of imperialism (the age, unfortunately, that we are still mired in) and to the importance of the organization question in the struggle for revolutionary power, to highlight the  struggles of Vladimir Lenin, the third L, in order to define himself politically.

Below is a second sketch written as part of a series posted over  several days before the anniversary of Lenin’s birthday on the American Left History blog starting on April 16th (see archive) of a young fictional labor militant, although not so fictional in the scheme of the revolutionary developments in the Russia of the Tsar toward the end of the 19th century and early 20th century which will help define the problems facing the working-class there then, and the very problems that Lenin had to get a handle on.
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“Big Ivan” Smilga (called such for obvious reasons, well over six feet tall, well over two hundred pounds and thus big for a Ukrainian farm boy) had been out of work, steady work anyway, the best part of a year after he (along with his work crew) had been laid off by John Smyte and Son, the English textile firm working under license from Tsar in Moscow. He had been called “redundant” (and of course the crew as well) after the job he held as lead-man on a work crew that took the rolls of finished fabric off the bobbing machines for further processing and transport had been replaced by a machine which did the task automatically. Ivan and that crew in “Luddite” fashion had one Saturday night after a heavy day of drinking had smashed the machine in expectation that that action would get their jobs back. That course of action pursued, a Luddite caper, in which he and his crew snuck into the closed Smiley factory one Saturday night and wreaked the hauling machinery only to find that next Monday morning that it was replaced by an exact replica. Fortunately he and the crew were never discovered and nobody snitched to the Okhrana or he/they would be in Siberia just them. (Luddite being an English moniker well known to the Smythes as a moniker used for “anarchists” who went around smashing machines in England in the early part of the Industrial Revolution for the same reasons as Ivan and his crew and with the same results. Ivan had been befuddled by the term when it had appeared in the pro-Smythe Moscow Gazette until the term was explained to him and he responded with a big laugh saying something like there really wasn’t anything ne win the world.) He had sulked and drunk himself silly for a while (a man who before the trek to the city had been a very modest vodka drinker by Ukrainian standards) and then grabbed any work he could find as he was running out of funds. Grabbing whatever work he could find entailed moving down the working-class scale as his once substantial stash of cash was dwindling and as he came in contact with more nefarious types at the workingmen’s taverns that he then more frequently hung out at to kill time.

One night at the Golden Eagle Tavern (rough Russian translation and allegedly named in honor of the Tsar but maybe just named to curry favor with the police inspectors who were prowling around such working-class haunts ever since labor agitation not unlike in the rest of Europe had started in the Saint Petersburg factories) Ivan ran into some workmen whom he knew and a few who were not working men but students, maybe from Moscow University, who were talking in the back room, talking quietly although not attempting to cover their voices or the door which led into the back. One of the workmen, Vladimir Suslov, known to him from his time at Smythe and Son, motioned him to come join the group. This Suslov knew of Ivan’s ill-fated attempt to wreak the machinery at Smythe from one night when Ivan had been too talkative and he had overheard Ivan speaking of the attempts. What Vladimir, and one of the students, Nicolas Kamkov as he found out later, had to say was that things had become intolerable in Russia, that the sons and daughters of the land needed a reprieve, that the growing working- class needed relief and that the students (they called themselves the “intelligentsia” and maybe they were but around the peasantry, and those who had roots in the peasantry like Ivan, using that term was quickly squashed once they found out that the peasantry associated all intellectuals with the court and government) needed to be able to breath and say whatever they wanted. And this motley group of students and workmen had a plan to solve this problem.

Nicolas let Suslov tell the broad outline of the plan. The idea, like something out of the People’s Will movement of blessed if now distant memory, was rather than try to assassinate governmental officials like in the wild old days, instead to take them hostage, hostages to be returned for various grants of relief for peasants, workers and students. Suslov looked directly at Ivan when he asked who was in and who was out. Ivan nodded, or half-nodded, that he was in. (He later said he feared some Suslov indiscretion more, especially if he was caught, more than the very real doubts he initially expressed about the plot). Since everybody in the room expressed an interest they began to plan. The main idea for hostage number one, the Tsar’s finance minister who was in an entourage along with foreign investors and factory owners headed on a train into Moscow within the next few days according to some inside information the group had, was that Ivan was to do the strong-arm work one evening at the minister’s hotel disguised as a hotel employee. So the planning went on over the next few days. Then just as quickly it was over as a knock came on Ivan’s door one night and when he opened it there was Daniev, the local Okhrana official with Suslov in tow. Suslov had betrayed him (and the others), in order to get out from under his own hard time as a ring-leader. Ivan was thereafter banished to Siberia for two years, a hard two years, for even thinking about the idea of kidnapping the Tsar’s minister.        
From The Marxist Archives On The Communist International (1919-1943) -A View From The Left 

German Novelist Gunter Glass Passes



Frank Jackman comment:

All kinds of people, personally good or bad, hypocrites or truth-tellers, have created great world literature. And that accrues to the benefit of humankind. Leon Trotsky, the great Russian revolutionary and no mean man with a literary pen noted that someone like Celine had written a great book in the case of Journey To The End Of The Night even though his abhorred his politics. That is the case with Gunter Grass and The Tin Drum and his other works. His late revelation that he was a member of the Waffen SS, an elite organization that you just did not walk into off of the street and join without being vetted is another matter. Perhaps they should have made more room in Nuremburg for those like Grass and his ilk who did the dirty deeds of war and then walked away scot-free. History will not be kind to his memory.     


 







 
The Fight For $15 Continues In Boston

The Struggle For Black Liberation Continues In Boston


No Justice, No Peace- Black Lives Matter- You Have Got That Right Brothers and Sisters-Speaking Truth To Power-The Struggle Continues 

A lot of people, and I count myself among them, see the new movement against police brutality and their incessant surveillance of minority youth, mainly black and Latino, that seems to be building up a head of steam to be the next major axis of struggle. The endemic injustices are so obvious and frankly so outrageous that the pent-up anger at the base of society among we the have-nots is so great that it needed visible expression. The past six months have given us that. Read on:
 

       


The Day Of The Jackal, Indeed-Frederick Forsyth’s Day Of The Jackal

 
 
 
 
 
DVD Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Day of the Jackal, starring Edward Fox, from the novel by Frederick Forsyth, 1973  

One of the interesting things about having a healthy regard for the history of cinematography is to be able to date the films from a look at their production values, at least since the close of the silent era. Those early black and white films with their grainy flickering quality later refined to some very dramatic and story enhancing shadowing that made many a film better than its story line or acting. A bit later the surprisingly liquid-ish quality of the first color films (I still am amazed though by the purity of that dazzling snow-drenched mountain in the Paramount logo when one of their products hits my screen) and how the digital age has refined that process to a greater sharpness. We can also, and the film under review, The Day Of The Jackal, is a prime example of this, pretty much date the time when a film took place by such things as the cars used, the kinds of travel, the fashions, and technology used at the time.

And in the case of political thrillers like Jackal the police procedures. While the film was released in 1973 the time line of the story is set in 1963 in France just after then President Charles de Gaulle agreed, reluctantly agreed, to Algerian independence (the massive resistance led by the Algerian National Liberation Front had a lot to do with that fact as did the ferocity of the struggle they lead and the French reaction as poignantly shown in a film like Battle of Algiers). Naturally, as we witnessed in the United States in the wake of our own Algeria-like fight in the former French possession of Vietnam not everybody was happy about that outcome, especially among some elements of the French military who had actually fought and bled in those battles. I have never seen or heard of anything similar here by the military around the defeat in Vietnam, at least that has been exposed, but in France some elements decided to do something about the matter and formed a secret organization, the OAS, to overthrow the de Gaulle government.

In the normal course of events such operations usually are exposed, are usually thwarted in their attempts and that is that. For the most part that is what happened with the OAS using its own personnel to create chaos in due course and the leaders and ranks were rounded up. So those still left on the outside of prison or of the country decided to hire a professional, a “hit man,” somebody outside the organization to assassinate de Gaulle. The thread of the rest of the story goes on from there.

Of course to hire the services of hit man (we will use “hit man” here because as we find out in the end who knows what his real name was), a man of such specialized skills who would need to retire after such a kill means providing enough dough to do that. And that is really where the whole project comes unglued since OAS agents are forced into a series of large scale bank robberies to finance the caper, some getting caught and if not informing then the police had an idea that something was being planned by the organization. Those actions set off the various police agencies under the direction of the Ministry of Interior who were monitoring OAS activities to try to find out what they were up to, why they needed so much money. It is that old-fashioned process of tracking down the hit man (played by Edward Fox) which dates this film. The almost painful use of registries and other archival documents to trace who might have come into the country at a certain point and where, where he might have stayed, who he might be once the police decided it was not a French national, to speak of the untold number of man hours in such searches almost seemed comical some fifty plus years later. Today all that could have been gleaned from some international centralized computer base in about an hour and that would be that. Or maybe a quick check of the NSA vacuum cleaner operation.                                   

Well not quite because old-fashioned paper hunts or digital speed our hit man is quite the professional, knows enough to keep ahead of the police through most of the two hours of the film and the remake does that with a more modern hit man (Bruce Willis). One would think our hit man would also have competing technologies to keep himself in the game. What our hit man, our hit man, needed to be then, or now, is a ruthless stone-cold killer to carry out his mission and along the way use and discard (kill) anybody and everybody who could possibly identify him. So our hit man had good run but as we know, or should know by now, President de Gaulle died in his bed so you know stone-cold killer or not he ran out of luck. All in all though still a pretty good film. 
For The Frontline Defenders Of The Working Class!-Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up!”


 


An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The International Working Class Everywhere!
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Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
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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 Obamacare 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!
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Bob Marley Get Up, Stand Up Lyrics

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!


Preacher man, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
'Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!

Stand up for your rights. come on!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!

Most people think, Great god will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.

But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. jah!

Get up, stand up! (jah, jah! )
Stand up for your rights! (oh-hoo! )
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up! )
Don't give up the fight! (life is your right! )
Get up, stand up! (so we can't give up the fight! )
Stand up for your rights! (lord, lord! )
Get up, stand up! (keep on struggling on! )
Don't give up the fight! (yeah! )

We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty god is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah! )

So you better: Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up! )
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights! )
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! (don't give it up, don't give it up! )
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up! )
Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up! )
Get up, stand up! (... )
Don't give up the fight! (get up, stand up! )
*************
We Don’t Want Your Ism-Skism Thing- Dreadlocks Delight- “One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley And The Wailers”- A CD Review       

One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley And The Wailers, Bob Marley And The Wailers, UTV Records, 2001
 

Admit it, back in the late seventies and early eighties we all had our reggae minute, at least a minute anyway. And the center of that minute, almost of necessity, had to be a run-in with the world of Bob Marley and the Wailers, probably I Shot The Sheriff. Some of us stuck with that music and moved on to its step-child be-bop, hip-hop when that moved on the scene. Others like me just took it as a world music cultural moment and put the records (you know records, those black vinyl things, right?) away after a while. And that was that.

Well not quite. Of late (2011) the Occupy movement, the people risen, has done a very funny musical thing, at least funny to my ears when I heard it. They, along with the old labor song, Solidarity Forever, and, of course Brother Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land , have resurrected Bob Marley’s up-from-under fight song, Get Up, Stand Up to fortify the sisters and brothers against the American imperial monster beating down on all of us and most directly under the police baton and tear gas canister. And that seems, somehow, eminently right. More germane here it has gotten me to dust off those old records and give Brother Marley another hear. And you should too if you have been remiss of late with such great songs as (aside from those mentioned already) No Woman, No Cry, Jamming, One Love/People Get Ready (ya, the old Chambers Brother tune), and Buffalo Soldier. And stand up and fight too.