Friday, January 03, 2020

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac-*Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘50s Song Night-The Teen Queens’ “Eddie My Love” (1956)- A 55th Anniversary, Of Sorts

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Teen Queens performing the classic Eddie My Love.

Markin comment:This space is noted for politics mainly, and mainly the desperate political fight against various social, economic and moral injustices and wrongs in this wicked old world, although the place where politics and cultural expression, especially post World War II be-bop cultural expression, has drawn some of my interest over the past several years. The most telling example of that interest is in the field of popular music, centrally the blues, city and country, good woman on your mind, hard working, hard drinking blues and folk music, mainly urban, mainly protest to high heaven against the world’s injustices smite the dragon down, folk music. Of late though the old time 1950s kid, primordial, big bang, jail-break rock and roll music that set us off from earlier generations has drawn my attention. Mostly by reviewing oldies CDs but here, and occasionally hereafter under this headline, specifically songs that some future archaeologists might dig up as prime examples of how we primitives lived ,and what we listened to back in the day.

(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 to 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)

If I said teen angst and teen alienation on this one that is all I need to say, right? We all, one way or the other, went through those emotional turmoils whether we knew enough to know about the words alienation and angst or not. And we related to songs, rock, doo wop, or whatever that spoke to those trials and tribulations. Eddie My Love is a classic in that genre. Not one that you and your sweetie would call a favorite, not one that you prayed to the teen music local school dance record hop dee-jay gods to play for the last dance but one that you keep playing to keep your own blues away.

Now the story line here is classic teen angst. I am right this minute constructing a very complicated instrument, a technological marvel of the ages, an angst-o-meter, to give an accurate reading of how high or low each song in this series ranks. This one, with or without, instrumentation ranks high. Why? Eddie, a summer love apparently, has flown the coop and, ah, let’s call her Betty, Betty and Eddy, ya that sounds right is pining away to no avail. Maybe she is thinking about those words from the song Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? after letting Eddie have his way on that sandy beach last summer. And she is now frantic about being left behind just in case. Just in case, you know, she is as we say, euphemistically, “in the family way.” Hell, we are all adults here and it is 2011 so we need not shilly-shally around, and besides no self-respecting child over the age of about eight would be reading this stuff. She might be pregnant. That would account for the distress, duress, and near suicidal frenzy of her plea.

Betty, Betty forget it. Eddie, old two-timing, love ‘em and leave them, Eddie ain’t coming back. Whether you are sinking fast or not. Truth: old Eddie was last seen down in San Juan, Puerto Rico using the name, Juan Cintron, and, Betty, brace yourself, walking, walking very closely with Linda, and she’s a beauty.

But here is my post hoc advice for what it is worth. Why didn’t you decide to go out with steady as a rock Billy, that sensitive, maybe a little nerdy, soul who was pining away for you while you had nothing but eyes for old fast-moving, sweet dual carb, hot rod-driving, fast-talking speedo Eddie? Now it’s too late, girl. Oh, by the way, you were much better off without old petty larceny, world-owes-him-a-living, lamp-shade-on-his-head life of the party that he turned out to be Eddie. And that ain’t no lie.

Happy Birthday To You-Back In Good Ole Boy (And Girl) Television Days- “The Ozark Jubilee”

Happy Birthday To You-

By Lester Lannon

I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.    

A YouTube's film clip of Sonny James performing his 1957 classic "Young Love". Who said technology isn't great.

DVD Review

Hillbillies On TV: The Ozark Jubilee, various artists including host Red Foley, Brenda Lee and “Young Love” by Sonny James, Stamper Records, 1957

Okay, okay laugh at me. What is a certified urban-dwelling boy who gets nervous when he cannot see the bright lights of the city nearby , or the road is not macadam, doing reviewing some Podunk black and white television show featuring Red Foley, Brenda Lee and Rex Allen? That bill of fare is not exacting The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doors and a host of other musicians that I have reviewed in this space.

Well let me say this first for all you “effete” snobs. Many years ago I used to listen to a radio program on Saturday mornings called “Hillbilly At Harvard”. That program featured many of the artists like Norman Blake, June Carter, Townes Van Zandt and a host of iconic figures in mountain music, outlaw country music, folk and other genres that are “hip” today. So to paraphrase an old cliché what is good enough for Harvard is good enough for this reviewer. Got it?

Seriously, though, I picked up this DVD as part of the continuing string of reviews that I have been doing highlighting the mountain music traditions that are part of my heritage that I had previously scorned. However, like many things, not all “mountain” music and musicians are created equal. That, sadly, is the case here as the performances and chitchat of this country variety show format, for the most part, set my teeth on edge. There are two exceptions, one is the performance of a rapid fire traditional banjo player whose name I do not remember and the other is hearing Sonny James doing his 1950s teen hit classic, “Young Love”. Should you get this thing? NO, except the old time commercials for Beechnut gum and Clorets for you breathe seemed really quaint against today’ s high-powered subliminally sex and power -driven attempts to interest you in some product. When I am mentioning the virtues of the commercials I think that tells the tale on this one.

Note: I usually, particularly for the old black and white productions whose graininess and almost amateur production values by today’s standards are part of the visual charm for me, do not comment on the technical quality of a film. However, on this one the lack of quality definitely interfered with the flow of the work.

"Young Love"-Sonny James

They say for every boy and girl there's just one love in this old world
And I know I've found mine
The heavenly touch of your embrace tells me no one can take your place
Ever in my heart
Young love first love filled with true devotion
Young love our love we share with deep emotion

[ guitar ]

Just one kiss from your sweet lips will tell me that your love is real
And I can feel that it's true
We will vow to one another there will never be another
Love for you or for me
Young love first love...

***From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- Out In The Be-Bop 1950s Night- Chuck’s First Car

I have almost endlessly gone on about the 1950s as being something like the golden age of the American automobile. Not, by the way, just to note that many times in those years the poor, dirt poor, Breslin family was without a car, golden age or not. That was our hard luck and no special mercy need be shown on that account. But also to note that the car craze extended right down to junior, a he junior in those days, having maybe for the first in recorded history, recorded teen history, the only history that counted among the corner boys, and wanna-be corner boys of Olde Saco (that is up in ocean side Maine for the interested), the chance to have his own “wheels” to rocket out in the ocean air night.

Usually that first car was a Dad hand-me-down once he, Dad that is, got tired of the old heap (old heap being in those cheap car days maybe four years old) and instead of trading the heap in for the latest step-up like a shiny two-toned Buick he gave the keys to junior. This ritual, and make no mistake that it was a ritual, became a virtual rite of passage as the1950s flew into the1960s as a sign that some families had arrived into that good American middle class night. So you would see guys, ordinary guys, really, maybe football players or playing some sport, maybe just social guys, tooling around Main Street (really U.S.1 but everybody called it Main Street, and in truth for teenagers it was Main Street and the only street that mattered) on Friday and Saturday nights with sharp Buicks, Chevys, a lonely Pontiac or two, maybe some Ford thing (no, not the damn Edsel), or an off-hand exotic import like a British-made MG. Of course even ordinary guys did not want to drive some father-mobile and so once those keys ritualistically passed hands the old heap was converted, disposable income- converted into a “boss” car.

And a “boss” car if you were to have any chance, or expected to have any chance with the twists (local Olde Saco teen corner boy expression for, what else, girls), was what you needed to stay in that breezed out cool night. Otherwise stay home, watch television with the family, and save the gas money for some record you just had to have. Just don’t bother to sit by the phone waiting, midnight phone waiting, for Julie or Molly or Debbie to call because brother they are out riding with real guys with real souped- up cars. And real souped –up meant a few things in that fin-tail age. It meant much fender chrome, it meant serious hubcaps, it meant serious hood ornaments, it meant exotic silky seat-covers, it meant a be-bop sound system that could be heard from about six blocks away to let every girl in the area know “the killer” was on the prowl, and beyond that it meant you had some serious horsepower under that hood that when you cranked it up to one hundred miles per hour (100 MPH for the disbelievers) in sixty seconds on some dark country road that you would blow that dude in that prissy father-mobile Cadillac away, far away. And take his girl as the prize.

So, no way, no way in hell, were you going to let Dad’s old trusty mechanic, some Mr. Bill who ran the Esso station and did oil changes while you waited and had a Coke. A guy who cautioned you every time you went in to "fill ‘er up" and said what a wonderful vehicle it was and warn you against going more than fifty-five miles per hour (55 MPH for disbelievers) because you might ruin the engine. And muttering under your breathe that maybe he should go work on one of Mr. Ford’s Model T, or something. No, any teenage guy, even ordinary guys with preppy sweater and bobby-soxer girlfriends let nobody, nobody on this good green earth get under that hood except Chassis Chuck, yes, Chuck Miller.

And from here on in this is Chuck’s story. Chuck and his magic greased-up fingers. See Chuck didn’t go to some car company auto mechanics school, or even taken up the trade in high school. But he was the A-One mechanic that every teenage guy in town went to just the same. I know the real story of how he developed his mechanical prowess because Chuck lived down the street from where my family lived, down in the Acre, down on those wrong side of the tracks, and I used to hang out at his“garage” when I was a kid and had nothing else to do. One night he told me the story of his life, of his car-fixing life. It is short so listen up.

Chuck Miller was kind of a“foundling,” at least that was what his mother (not his real mother) called him because she said he arrived at her humble door one day and she just took him in. Now the Acre for those who don’t know, or can’t guess, was in the old days before they put in “the projects” filled with old ratty seen better days trailers of every description, mainly dilapidated. This is where Chuck spent his youth and came to young manhood. So you know, know without me telling, that Chuck was not one of those juniors who had that neat key ceremony when dear old Dad passed the torch to car-hood. Still Chuck was crazy, crazy for cars from about twelve on when some mother’s friend took him to the Bethel Speedway. He was hooked, hooked more than a guy could get hooked over a woman (that’s what he said that night he told me his story anyway). So he started going to junkyards and hanging around older guys with hotrods and learned stuff, learned tons of stuff. Basically learned how to build a car from scratch.

Now Chuck had trophy cars along the way but he only had eyes really for that first one. He described every inch but I only remember the highlights. The engine from an old Chevy, the gearbox from a Studebaker, the chassis from some major wreak on U.S. Route One up in Camden, chrome fenders from some Buick, a real hodge-podge but his for about fifty bucks and ten thousand years of mankind trying to ride faster and get from point A to point B without undue duress. And all done before he was sixteen and could actually legally get a driver’s license. Although, keep this under your hat, he was driving the back roads, the plentiful back roads from about age thirteen.

As you might expect this first Chuck-mobile looked funny, looked kind of contorted so, naturally, the juniors around town razzed him about it, razzed him bad. Razzed him so bad that he challenged the “boss” car leader, Sam Murray and his souped-up ’57 two-toned Chevy, to a “chicken run.” Now Sam was strictly a mild-mannered jock but he had this twist (remember who that designated), this Cathy Bleu, whom he was trying to impress and to keep as his “trophy” girlfriend. So she egged Sam on, egged him hard about what should happen to Acre guys, even Acre young guys. So the“run” was on, on for an October Saturday night.

Oh, for the clueless, or for those not addicted to 1950s teen angst films like James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause a chicken run back then was just two guys (with or without their honeys in the front seat) going down some back road as fast as they could-winner take all. Winner take all meaning the prerogatives of the “boss” car king of the night. On the face of it Chuck was foolish to challenge Sam and Sam was foolish to put his “rep” on the line against some Acre has-been before he was. But twists (damn, now I ‘m saying it) will lead guys, seemingly normal guys, to do strange things.

Naturally Chuck had to relate every detail of the race, from the flash start to the blazing finish, taking far longer to detail the vent that it took to run it. Naturally as well Chuck won, won in a breeze or else he wouldn’t have bothered to tell the story if you think about it. So after that, for a long time after that, Chuck Miller was the king of the “chicken run” night around southern Maine. And every guy, every guy who did not want to sit around waiting for the midnight phone not to ring, including a chastised Sam, headed to Chuck’s garage (really just that run down trailer and a tool shed) when they made their key exchange rites of passage. Oh yah, and after that first chicken run victory, and for several years after, sitting in the front seat of the Chuck-mobile on most Friday and Saturday nights was one Cathy Bleu. Naturally.

Happy Birthday To You-*In The Time Of "The Good Old Boys" (And Gals) - Hillbilly Heaven-Ozark Style

Happy Birthday To You-

By Lester Lannon

I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.    

A  YouTube's film clip of the trailer for "Homemade Hillbilly Jam".

DVD Review

Homemade Hillbilly Jam, various professional and amateur musicians playing old time and modern instruments, First Run Productions, 2005

Well, this traveling American “roots” music caravan that I have been running via the Internet, in this and other “hot” cyberspace spots, has been all over this country. I have been down in the Delta with the country blues artists like Robert Johnson, Skip James and Son House. I have been in those dust-blown Oklahoma hills with Woody Guthrie. I have been out West with the cowboy balladeers. I have been down in the swamps of Louisiana with the Cajun boys and girls, black and white. I’ve have been up in those Kentucky mountains with Roscoe Holcomb. Hell, I have even spent time, an inordinate amount of time, discussing roots music as it filtered through the 1960s folk revival in those rural meccas of New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts. You will agree I have been around. On this stop we go to the hills again this time to the Ozarks to “discover”….hillbillies and their musical traditions.

Now I know that it is hardly news that the term “hillbilly” has, over the last few decades, carried some pretty negative connotations. Hard-nosed 'wild men' truckers and car aficionados , honky tonks and honky-tonk women, “know-nothing” politics, in short, good old boys and girls fully enjoying the benefits of the 19th century in the outback. The truth or falsehood of those characterizations is not at issue here though. What concerns me is the addition of this “hillbilly” flavor to the “roots’ music bandwagon. This is done here, by following the doings, comings, goings and whatnot of three modern “hillbilly” (or at least hillbilly-descended families) musical families out in Ozark country.

Some of this music, the motels, honky-tonks and barns where it is played, and the instruments used to play it are very familiar from other regions like those Kentucky hills mentioned before. This, moreover, makes sense because there are some common Scotch-Irish Child Ballad-like traditions that unite these various strands as the forebears drove relentlessly westward. This region, isolated back in the older times, did develop its own variations but I sense that, good old boys and girls or not, we are on some very familiar ground. And here is the kicker for this reviewer, personally, when it comes to knowledge of this music. Oh sure, as I have mentioned in other reviews, it was in the background in our house from my Kentucky-born father back in my youth. It’s in the genes. But let me tell where I really started to get a better sense of this mountain music. Many years ago I used to listen to a Saturday morning local radio show from the wilds of Cambridge. The name of the show-“Hillbilly At Harvard”. What do you think about that, my friends?

Pretty Saro

When I first come to this country in eighteen and forty nine
I saw many fair lovers, but I never saw mine
I viewéd all around me, I found I was quite alone
And me a poor stranger and a long way from home

My true love she won't have me and this I understand
She wants a freeholder and I've got no land
But I could maintain her on silver and gold
And as many of the fine things as my love's house could hold

Fare you well to old father. Fare you well to mother too.
I'm going for to ramble this wide world all through
And when I get weary, I'll sit down and cry
And I'll think of Pretty Saro, my darling, my dear.

Well I wish I was a poet, could write some fine hand
I would write my love a letter that she might understand.
I'd send it by the waters where the islands overflow
And I'd think of my darling wherever she'd go.

Way down in some lonesome valley. Way down in some lonesome grove
Where the small birds does whistle, their notes to increase
My love she is slender, both proper and neat
And I wouldn't have no better pastimes than to be with my sweet.

Well I wish I was a turtle dove, had wings and could fly
Just now to my love's lodging tonight I'd draw nigh
And in her lily-white arms I'd lie there all night
And I'd watch the little windows for the dawning of day.

Well I strolled through the mountains, I strolled through the vale
I strolled to forget her, but it was all in vain.
On the banks of Ocoee, on the mount of said brow
Where I once loved her dearly and I don't hate her now.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

*From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-In Honor Of The Three L’s-In Honor Of Karl Liebknecht- "Anti-militarism Abroad with Special Regard to the Young Socialist Organizations"(1907)

On The 100th Anniversary Of Newly-Fledged German Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg And Karl Liebknecht-Oh, What Might Have Been-

By Frank Jackman

History in the conditional, what might have happened if this or that thing, event, person had swerved this much or that, is always a tricky proposition. Tricky as reflected in this piece’s commemorative headline. Rosa Luxemburg the acknowledged theoretical wizard of the German Social-Democratic Party, the numero uno party of the Second, Socialist International, which was the logical organization to initiate the socialist revolution before World War II and Karl Liebknecht, the hellfire and brimstone propagandist and public speaker of that same party were assassinated in separate locale on the orders of the then ruling self-same Social-Democratic Party. The chasm between the Social-Democratic leaders trying to save Germany for “Western Civilization” in the wake of the “uncivilized” socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 had grown that wide that it was as if they were on two different planets, and maybe they were.

(By the way I am almost embarrassed to mention the term “socialist revolution” these days when people, especially young people, would be clueless as to what I was talking about or would think that this concept was so hopelessly old-fashioned that it would meet the same blank stares. Let me assure you that back in the day, yes, that back in the day, many a youth had that very term on the tips of their tongues. Could palpably feel it in the air. Hell, just ask your parents, or grandparents.)

Okay here is the conditional and maybe think about it before you dismiss the idea out of hand if only because the whole scheme is very much in the conditional. Rosa and Karl, among others made almost every mistake in the book before and during the Spartacist uprising in some of the main German cities in late 1918 after the German defeat in the war. Their biggest mistake before the uprising was sticking with the Social Democrats, as a left wing, when that party had turned at best reformist and eminently not a vehicle for the socialist revolution, or even a half-assed democratic “revolution” which is what they got with the overthrow of the Kaiser. They broke too late, and subsequently too late from a slightly more left-wing Independent Socialist Party which had split from the S-D when that party became the leading war party in Germany for all intents and purposes and the working class was raising its collective head and asking why. 

The big mistake during the uprising was not taking enough protective cover, not keeping the leadership safe, keeping out of sight like Lenin had in Finland when things were dicey in 1917 Russia and fell easy prey to the Freikorps assassins. Here is the conditional, and as always it can be expanded to some nth degree if you let things get out of hand. What if, as in Russia, Rosa and Karl had broken from that rotten (for socialism) S-D organization and had a more firmly entrenched cadre with some experience in independent existence. What if the Spartacists had protected their acknowledged leaders better. There might have been a different trajectory for the aborted and failed German left-wing revolutionary opportunities over the next several years, there certainly would have been better leadership and perhaps, just perhaps the Nazi onslaught might have been stillborn, might have left Munich 1923 as their “heroic” and last moment.  

Instead we have a still sad 100th anniversary of the assassination of two great international socialist fighters who headed to the danger not away always worthy of a nod and me left having to face those blank stares who are looking for way forward but might as well be on a different planet-from me.  

Markin comment:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Karl Liebknecht
Militarism & Anti-Militarism
II. Anti-Militarism
2. Anti-militarism Abroad with Special Regard to the Young Socialist Organizations
(Part 1)

The anti-militarist movement in capitalist countries other than Germany is for the most part strong and lively. This is especially true of the Latin countries such as Belgium, France and Italy, but also applies, though more recently, to Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, and even to Holland, though anti-militarism is only just beginning to show itself there.

Special anti-militarist propaganda was started in Belgium in 1886, when the army made large-scale interventions in strikes, as we have already seen. After leaflets had been distributed to remind the soldiers of their duty towards their working-class brothers [1] two anti-militarist newspapers were founded: Le Conscrit and La Caserne (The Conscript and The Barracks). [2] The first always appears in January (before the drawing of lots in February), the second in September (before the recruits are called up on October 1). Both appear in Flemish as well as French (De Loteling and De Kazerne [3]). In 1896 the Party handed over both newspapers to the National Federation of Young Guards, founded in 1894. [4] But they remain under the control of the Party centre, to which the National Federation of Young Guards has sent delegates since 1896-7. The Young Guards were founded in 1893-4, though there were individuals in Brussels as early as the eighteen-eighties, mainly engaged in election work and in special anti-militarist propaganda. Since 1902 this has changed. The disappointments of the second general strike have caused the workers to go more carefully and slowly, and to pay great care to maintaining the roots of organization and propaganda. The aims of the Young Socialist organizations were broadened, and the development of education given first place – undoubtedly the more solid method of anti-militarist propaganda, or rather that which best prepares the ground for it. As far as these organizations are concerned, it is impossible to deal full with their history here, tempting as this may be, though they are also closely linked with the anti-militarist struggle. [5]

A few words only, then: since 1896 the monthly journal Avant Garde, organ of the students and Young Guards, has been appearing in Brussels. Since 1900 the Antimilitariste, monthly organ of the National Federation of Young Guards, has also been appearing. [6] Since 1903 this federation has also published the illustrated monthly La Jeunesse Socialiste. This will be replaced in 1907 by the monthly journal La Jeunesse c’est l’Avenir (Youth is the Future) [7], now controlled by the Walloon Federation of Hainaut and Namur. It has already been appearing since 1906 in Charleroi. [8] Both journals were and are full of anti-militarist material. The same is true of the Flemish De Zaaier (The Sower), an illustrated monthly which has been published since 1903 on behalf of the Antwerp Federation of the Jonge Wacht. It was amalgamated in 1906 with the general Flemish language Party paper De Waarheid (published since 1902 at Ghent), but forms a special part of this journal with its own title. De Waarheid has a circulation of 3,000, La Jeunesse c’ est l’Avenir of 5,000.

Some local organizations of the Young Guards – especially the Antwerp and Ghent Jonge Wachten – are engaged in vigorous anti-militarist activity of a literary kind, etc. The Antwerp group for instance published the paper De Bloedwet (Rule of Blood) in 1900, in order to agitate among conscripts (it has the same aim as La Caserne). It has also published the bi-monthly Ontwapening (Disarmament) since May 1, 1901, and finally, since 1905, De Vrijheid (Freedom). These papers all spread the anti-militarist word with great skill and enthusiasm. Hectographed bulletins are also produced. The Young Guards also do good work of course with leaflets and posters, mostly illustrated. [9] These are sometimes addressed to young workers and sometimes to conscripts and soldiers. Much useful literature in pamphlet form is also produced. Cheap postcards with an anti-militarist message, mostly illustrated, are sold in large numbers.

In Belgium more than half the young men liable to bear arms escape through the system of drawing lots. About 13,000 are called up every year. Around 60,00 copies of Le Conscrit and La Caserne are published altogether in the two languages. [10] They are normally specially posted to the recruits, whose addresses can easily be obtained. Then personal contact can be made with those recruits who have been singled out.

Meetings of recruits regularly take place in January and September, as well as fêtes, street demonstrations and other actions.

Contact is not lost with proletarians who have entered the army. In some Guards’ groups a system of aid is organized, and an allowance made to members of the Guards who have been called up during the time of their service. This allowance varies with the amount of time for which a member has belonged to the group and with the amount he has subscribed. Such members have to provide regular reports on their experiences in the barracks, and remain in personal touch with the Guards. If such a member serves in a different locality from that of his organization, he is put in touch with the local group. We cannot go into more detail for obvious reasons.

The agitation carried out in the barracks plays an important role in Belgium. There are about 15 soldiers’ organizations (soldiers’ unions) at present, which work closely together. An effort is of course made to eliminate these dangerous organizations. But although they are often suppressed, they always reappear, for their roots are too strong to be pulled up. Up to two-thirds of the men in a single regiment have been recruited. Some of the unions are closely connected with the Social-Democratic Party.

Propaganda literature is brought into the barracks in large quantities, and is also distributed to soldiers in the streets and other public places. Meetings of soldiers take place. Many anti-militarist songs have been widely circulated.

The Party itself of course carries on strenuous anti-militarist agitation, and the women and girls take an active part too, in particular by helping the Young Guards in their agitation in the barracks. These efforts have met with great success. The pamphlet Le catéchisme du conscrit (The Conscript’s Catechism), which appeared in several editions in 1896, is worthy of note. It resembles the French Manuel du soldat, and has been similarly subjected to fierce criminal prosecution.

Anti-militarist propaganda, indeed, comes up against severe persecution. This point can of course only be supported by an examination of the generally advanced political conditions in Belgium. In 1886 Anseele was condemned to six months’ imprisonment for an appeal to mothers published in the Vooruit to bring up their sons in such a way that they would never turn their guns against the people. Le Conscrit and La Caserne are constantly brought before the courts. Since their foundation heavy sentences have been pronounced every year in connection with their publication, and the same thing of course has happened since the publication has been taken over by the Young Guards. The first case was that against Le Conscrit in 1897, when two comrades were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. In 1904 Coenen, secretary of the National Federation of Young Guards, was called with five others before the jury in Brabant in connection with the appearance of posters appealing to recruits. The same thing was soon repeated, this time involving Coenen alone, because of an article which had appeared in La Caserne. But he was acquitted. [11] The sentences passed on Troclet in the middle of the eighteen-nineties on account of Le catéchisme du conscrit are also noteworthy.

The chief crimes for which penalties are imposed are the following: calls to disobey orders, insulting the army (six months’ imprisonment is the minimum punishment!), and the infamous atteinte à la force obligatoire des lois – attack on the principle that the law is binding. Where more than five people are shown to have conspired together the punishment is doubled. Every year sentences of imprisonment averaging from two to three years are passed. In 1903 the secretary of the National Federation was sentenced to three years in prison. It is true, however, that half of the accused are acquitted. The system under which the prisoners live is harsh. No distinction is made, on principle, between political and non-political prisoners.

Treatment accorded to anti-militarist soldiers is cruel, at least by Belgian standards. Those opposing militarism are threatened with three to five years’ prison in the harsh correctional system. For the slightest offence the barbarous medieval punishment called the cachot is inflicted. The prisoners must lie in irons in an unheated cell, and are fed on bread and water. The cells are built over water, are damp, and in winter a spell in them can be dangerous to life. This goes together with the ill-treatment dealt out by the N.C.O.s, who are themselves given this job as a disciplinary punishment.

The extent of the growth of Belgian anti-militarism, in spite of its struggle against fire and sword, has been shown elsewhere, and can be said to be an almost complete success. In the critical year 1902 the whole population took such an interest in the propaganda that officers attempting to stop the agitation which was carried on openly in the streets among the soldiers were often attacked.

We must also mention the Groupes des Anciens Militaires (ex-soldiers’ groups). They were formerly organized as a national federation, but are now flourishing as local organizations and publish a newspaper. Anti-militarist propaganda in the reserve and the militia, as well as agitation against the bourgeois military societies, are their chief tasks.

A few words must be added on the attitude taken by Belgian Social-Democracy, as far as tactics are concerned, towards militarism.

On the question of war, and above all on the tactics to be adopted if a war breaks out, there is no unanimity of opinion. Only three facts can be mentioned here:

The Party Congress at Ghent in 1893 expressed its enthusiastic approval of a telegram from the anciens soldats of Amsterdam which expressed the hope that the Congress would sanction the calling of a military strike in case of war, as the Dutch Socialists had suggested. The Louvain Congress of 1899 simply endorsed the proposal of De Winnes that to make propaganda for socialism was the best way of fighting the growth of military armament and of ensuring world peace. In 1905 the Socialist Federation of the Charleroi district resolved that in order to prevent war it was necessary:

1.To prevent troop mobilization by calling a general strike of railwaymen;
2.To organize a general strike in the coal mines in order to deprive the belligerent powers of the fuel necessary for the navy and for troop transport;
3.To stop work in the docks, arsenals and munitions factories.
The history of the Young Guards also throws an interesting light on the subject. Their congress in 1897 decided among other things to induce the Socialist Parties of other countries to organize their young people on an international and anti-militarist basis in order to make war impossible. The proceedings of the Brussels Congress of 1903 were also important. Two sharply opposed views were more or less equally represented. One view strongly defended, especially by de Man, used Hervé’s [1*] arguments to propose the declaration of a military strike (collective refusal to serve), a general strike and revolutionary agitation in case of war. The other view was put by Troclet and Fischer, who simply endorsed the resolutions of the international congresses. The Troclet-Fischer resolution was passed by seventeen votes to fifteen, with two abstentions. [12]

At the Ghent Congress of January 1906 a sharp departure was made from anarchist tactics, and individual refusal to serve was repudiated. A motion put by de Man suggests that to snatch the means of power in the form of the army from the ruling classes it is necessary to awaken proletarian class consciousness among the soldiers. Another of de Man’s motions describes the army in its role against the enemy at home. The soldiers are advised to conduct themselves as properly as possible in the interests of anti-militarist agitation. The anarchistic dross was thus eliminated and things cleared up considerably.

In France anti-militarist propaganda began long ago and is very vigorous but not so well organized as in Belgium, nor does it follow the same tendency.

In 1894 the 12th Congress of the Socialist Revolutionary Labour Party (P.O.S.R.) at Dijon passed a specially noteworthy resolution against militarism in its two forms, emphasizing the harm done by militarism and the general danger it presented to the proletariat. The end of the resolution says: “In peacetime the standing army serves a police role, acting as a shooting machine. It drowns in blood the struggles of the miners and factory workers for their rights, the proletarian soldier in absurd anger raising his hand against his brother on strike.”

Not only Social-Democratic anti-militarism but also the anarchist form developed in France, together with the specifically French tendency of anti-patriotic Socialist anti-militarism (which however later left its mark in Italy and even in Switzerland).

Anarchist and semi-anarchist anti-militarism was supported chiefly by the weekly journal Les Temps Nouveaux (Modern Times) and its numerous and often clever publications. These, like the paper itself, are for the most part based on a proletarian standpoint. They contain valuable material contributed not only by men like Kropotkin [2*] but by syndicalists, especially P. Delesalle. There are also the publications of the individualist paper Libertaire. French anarchists were also responsible for the foundation in 1902 of the International Anti-militarist Federation, and rather earlier of the Ligue Internationale pour la Defense du Soldat (International Soldiers’ Defence League) with headquarters in Paris. The leading thinkers of this league – which seems to have disappeared – were the anarchists Janvion, Malato, then Georges Lhermite, editor of the radical paper L’Aurore, and Urbain Gohier. Their programme aimed at the abolition of standing armies, the abolition of the system of military justice and material improvements and guarantees for the soldiers. But their activity went far beyond this programme. The postcards, pamphlets and posters, often powerfully illustrated, which were published by the League continuously repeat the slogan “A bas la justice militaire!” (Down with military justice!) and the calls “Down with war!”, “Down with militarism!”, “Long live peace between nations!” But its influence could not extend beyond the borders of France.

The agitation for individual and collective refusal to serve and for desertion forms a large part of this propaganda, which of course is quite uneven. According to Kropotkin the military strike to be called against war is not to be merely passive but to go hand in hand with the social revolution and the defence of the revolution against the enemy abroad. [13] This is to rebate the chief objection to anti-patriotism, or as the Temps Nouveaux calls it, anti-nationalism. It is well-known that Emile Henry, the anarchist and terrorist, threw his famous bomb at Carmaux in August 1892 as a warning in order to try to prevent a repetitition in the miners’ strike of the Fourmies massacre which had taken place the year before. [14]

The anti-patriotic Socialist current of anti-militarism, which displays many anarchist traits [15], is supported on the one hand by the Yonne Federation of the United Socialist Labour Party (the Yonne being an almost completely agricultural department) [16] and on the other by a strong current within the anti-parliamentary trade unions. Anti-patriotism of course does not play such an important role in the trade unions, which are faced with the struggle against militarism on the home front, the most cruel and powerful enemy of workers on strike.

Since 1901 the Jeunesses Socialistes, the youth organizations of the Yonne, have published, in accordance with a resolution passed in 1900, a newspaper called Pioupiou de l’Yonne. [17] Originally it appeared bi-annually, then quarterly, and it is designed, as stated at the head of the first numbers, “for those called up to join their regiments”. All the reactionary forces at the state’s disposal were let loose against the Pioupiou, which was distributed free to all the conscripts of the department. Legal prosecutions literally rained from the sky [18], though they generally ended in acquittal. This in spite of the fact that the call to disobey if ordered to use arms against strikers was explicitly made. Pioupiou, still published by Moneret in 1905, was strongly influenced by Hervé, who, with Yvetot, was and is the leading figure and organizer of anti-patriotic anti-militarism. His work Leur Patrie contains a detailed and clever exposition and formulation of his ideas, and since the middle of December 1906 he has been publishing in Paris a weekly paper, La Guerre Sociale (The Social War), which renders vigorous aid to anti-militarism. To any war, however it might have started, he knows only one solution: plutôt l’insurrection que la guerre, and he fiercely attacks the attitude of the leaders of German Social-Democracy to aggressive wars. [19] He is very far from supporting individual refusal to serve. In his case the struggle against militarism at home is relegated somewhat to the background. We shall deal elsewhere with Hervéism, which carries on its struggle with noteworthy tenacity and readiness for sacrifice.

As far as the form of Hervé’s propaganda is concerned, the events of September 30, 1906 are characteristic. Hervé and a band of his supporters went to a fête at the Trocadero given by the Republican Youth of the 3rd arrondissement and by the French Educational League in honour of those called up to serve in the army. They made a demonstration against the patriotic-military event, came into collision with the police and were arrested.

As far as the anti-patriotic anti-militarism of the trade unions is concerned, the report laid before the Dublin Conference of trade union secretaries by the Confédération Générale du Travail gives a good idea of its character. In striking contrast to Hervéism, it unilaterally underrates the significance of “militarism abroad”.

In this report the methods of anti-militarist educational work are divided into:

1.Solidarity work:
•“The soldier’s penny” (“Sou du soldat”);
•Reception and care of soldiers as guests in the trade union homes;
•Solidarity with those comrades who evade military service or who are victimized for rebellion against discipline.
2.Propaganda work: public meetings, social evenings, send-offs for recruits, demonstrations, posters, manifestoes, pamphlets, leaflets, the special annual illustrated number of the paper La Voix du Peuple (Voice of the People), the widely-circulated organ of the French Trade Union Federation, and finally the new soldiers’ handbook (Nouveau Manuel du Soldat), which had already been circulated in 100,000 copies in 1903. It led as everyone knows – and with the approval of the ex-Socialist Millerand – to the vigorous intervention of the administrative and judicial authorities.
The Manuel du Soldat was published in accordance with the decision of the trade union congress held at Algiers on September 15, 1902, by the Federation of Trade Union Houses. A second edition appeared in the same year, and a third in 1905. It ends with an appeal to the soldiers either to desert or to make anti-militarist agitation in the barracks, and to those on active service not to fire, even when ordered, on the so-called “enemy at home”, their brother workers.

The former organ of the Socialist Revolutionary Labour Party, La Lutte Sociale (The Social Struggle) ought to be mentioned here. It was published, probably for the first time in 1904, for the Union Fédérative du Centre by Allemane and Hervé, and was devoted to anti-militarist propaganda.

In 1905 the Socialists and syndicalists together [20] published the red poster which appealed to the soldiers not to turn their weapons against the proletariat, and if ordered to do so to turn them instead against their commanding officers rather than their class comrades.

Finally, anti-militarist propaganda is one of the main tasks of the French Young Socialist organizations. Until 1903 each of the three French parties had its own special organization (Jeunesse Socialiste). Since 1902 the Jeunesses Syndicalistes, supported by the revolutionary trade unions, have appeared on the scene. At the moment they are in a rather chaotic situation.

The activity of the Young Socialist organization of the Yonne has already been mentioned. Since 1900 the Conscrit, still going in 1906, has appeared as the organ of the Revolutionary Young Socialists, and the paper La Feuille du Soldat (The Soldier’s Paper) as the organ of the Union Fédérative des Jeunesses Socialistes du Parti Ouvrier (Federative Union of the Labour Party Young Socialists). Both call on proletarians in soldier’s uniform to fulfil their duty to their class comrades. La Feuille du Soldat calls on them plainly to refuse to obey if ordered to turn their weapons against the working class, and to take part in the general strike when it is proclaimed. Le Conscrit emphatically rejects individual revolt as useless.

At the Congress of French Trade Unions in Amiens in October 1906 Delesulle was able to point out quite correctly that earlier trade union congresses had declared themselves for anti-militarist and anti-patriotic propaganda, and he announced that this position had been unanimously endorsed by the Committee. At the same congress a resolution moved by Yvetot was adopted, though opposed it is true by a large minority, calling for an intensification of anti-militarist and anti-patriotic propaganda. It was obvious that the minority was not opposed to anti-militarism or to an increase in anti-militarist propaganda but simply to the stress laid on anti-patriotic propaganda. The same thing was evident at the Congress of the French United Socialist Party held at Limoges in November 1906. The Hervé resolution, put forward by the Yonne Federation, got only a few votes. It formulated the anti-patriotic point of view, and appealed to the comrades to reply to every declaration of war, from whichever side it might come, by a military strike and an insurrection. But the resolution put forward by Guesde, emphasizing the organically capitalist character of militarism and which considers that anti-militarism can only be furthered in the context of general Social-Democratic propaganda, was also voted down, though the minority was three times larger. It demanded in the short term a reduction in the length of service, the refusal to vote military credits and the introduction of a citizen army. Vaillant’s resolution, moved by the Seine Federation, was adopted. After stating the principles adopted by the international congresses it demands international action against war and makes it a duty to use every kind of action, from parliamentary intervention and public agitation and demonstrations to the general strike and insurrection, according to the needs of the situation. At the beginning of 1906 Vaillant, as we know, published in Le Socialiste his famous proclamation on the occasion of the outbreak of the Morocco conflict, which ended with the cry: plutôt l’insurrection que la guerre.

No decision was reached regarding militarism at home, but many other indications are available which make the attitude of French Social-Democracy quite clear. The watchword is an appeal to the soldiers not to obey when they are used against strikes and against the working class. The Manuel du Soldat addresses the following words to the soldiers: “If they try to make you into murderers it is your duty to disobey! If you are sent against strikes, you will not shoot!” The famous words “Vous no tirerez pas” – used by comrade Meslier in the great trial of anti-militarists in December 1905 are therefore only an echo of the general cry of the class-conscious Socialists or syndicalists.

The appeal to conscripts issued jointly by Socialists and syndicalists in 1905 and mentioned above contains a drastic and fearless solution of the problem, calling on soldiers not to use their weapons against the working class, but rather to turn them against the officers who gave them that order. When this appeal was discussed in the Chamber, Sembat, in the name of the Socialists, declared: “I am asked what my opinion is regarding the advice to fire on officers. My answer is that when an officer has given the order to fire on strikers, I approve of this advice. And Lafargue has repeatedly endorsed this standpoint in L’Humanité in short, sharp terms.

The numerous trials of anti-militarists in France, which until recently almost always ended in acquittal, were a considerable help to propaganda. The Pioupiou trials have been dealt with above. Yvetot, having been acquitted ten times, was eventually convicted by a jury of the lower Loire in 1904 in connection with an anti-militarist speech and sentenced to – a fine of 100 Francs. But later he too became acquainted with prison life. In 1905 two anarchists were arrested in Aix. One of them was condemned to three months’ imprisonment for an anti-militarist manifesto which had been posted up on the walls of Marseilles. Morel and Frimat were also imprisoned, and prison sentences were also passed in Brest, Armentières and Limoges. [21] In the spring of 1906 convictions followed in Toulon and Rheims. The special number of the Voix du Peuple printed for recruits has been repeatedly seized. In October 1906 the editor, Vignaud, was arrested. Above all we should note the great anti-militarist trial in Paris in December 1905, at which Hervé and 25 others were sentenced to prison terms totalling 36 years, together with fines amounting to 2,500 Francs. But these severe sentences were not fully enforced.

Anti-militarist propaganda has a massive pamphlet literature at its disposal. Apart from the Temps Nouveaux, there are the Librairie & Propagande Socialiste, the Société nouvelle do Librairie et d’Edition (Georges Bellais), the Librairie die Parti Socialiste (S.F.I.O.) and the Stock publishing house which have made a specially important contribution to the publication of such pamphlets.

The successes of anti-militarist propaganda in France are considerable. In this connection we must not overestimate the significance of the fact that here and there an officer openly expresses anti-militarist opinions and takes the consequences in a spirit of great selflessness. [22] Such individual acts are not of great interest in connection with a purely proletarian class movement such as we take anti-militarism to be in France (as opposed to Russia). More important is the fact that the number of cases of desertion, of soldiers who refuse to serve or obey orders and who make anti-militarist demonstrations is on the increase. Very harsh sentences are sometimes passed in these cases [23], on other occasions sentences which, from the standpoint of German conditions, are amazingly mild. Thus two marines were sentenced in October 1906 to 15 and 60 days’ imprisonment respectively by a court martial in Cherbourg for having exclaimed in front of a patriotic monument: “Down with the army, down with the officers, we don’t need an army!”

We will give only a few details here. On May 3, 1905, 61 men of the 10th Company of the 32nd Infantry Regiment simply left the barracks for a place nearby because of bad food and ill-treatment. In September 1906 the soldiers arranged a demonstration in connection with the suicide of a reservist in the Compiègne garrison, sang the Internationale and insulted the officers. At the beginning of August 1906 the Eclair published a circular of the War Minister Etienne addressed to the corps commanders. He informs them that the N.C.O.s leaving the infantry school at Saint-Maixent [24] had expressed anti-militarist ideas and explained that they were remaining in the army in order to win over adherents to their ideas. Above all we must draw attention to a number of strikes – for example at Durtkirk, Le Creusot, Longwy (Merrheim!) and Montceau-les-Mines – when the soldiers called in to intervene declared their solidarity with the strikers. It is no wonder that the Nouvelliste do Rouen treats the effect of Social-Democracy on the army as “a very dangerous wound on the body of France which requires the most drastic treatment”. [25]

In comparison with German conditions the War Minister Etienne used very moderate terms in the above mentioned circular when speaking of the danger of anti-militarism and the methods of fighting it. And it cannot be denied that in France great scope has been given to anti-militarism with regard to the constitutional right of free expression of opinion. The reports of the trials of anti-militarists are very instructive in this connection. We remember how a few years ago the Socialist Fournière was permitted to lecture on social politics to the Polytechnic officers’ school. And quite recently the lectures for officers at the School for Social Studies in Paris, in which Captain Demonge spoke quite openly and even in revolutionary terms against militarism, caused the flesh of our strict and narrow-minded militarists to creep. If we add the impending limitation of the scope of military justice and of the biribi, together with the government bill concerning the shortening of the term of service for the reserve and the militia (though it is true that this was rejected), and finally Picart’s plan for the democratization of the officer corps by the realization of an unité d’origin of officers and non-commissioned officers [26] – then France might appear to be an El Dorado of militarism. The position of Clemenceau [3*] towards anti-militarism – he is the president of a ministry in which sit two “Socialists”, once amor et deliciae of all social optimists – shows that it is not a question of a fundamental change in militarism, but simply of a change in form, due for the most part to anti-clericalism.

The Italian labour movement in its different tendencies bears some resemblance to the French movement. Here too, together with the normal political party movement, we find anarchist offshoots and an anti-patriotic syndicalist movement which is anti-parliamentary and closely related to anarchism. The anti-militarist movement is also divided according to the same criteria. It goes back some time, but has only recently been systematically taken in hand by the Party. We must first mention the Young Socialist organizations and above all the Federazione Nazionale Giovanile Socialism, with headquarters in Rome, and to which a number of provincial federations are affiliated. [27] It published the Gioventu Socialista (Socialist Youth), edited by Paolo Orano, and has been active from the outset in the field of anti-militarism, like the Belgian Young Guards. [28]

In 1905 the Leghe delle Futture Conscritti was founded as a special anti-militarist organization, subsidiary to the National Federation with which it is closely connected. Both organizations are recognized by the Party.

At a session of the Party executive in Rome in October 1905 the following resolution moved by Ferri was passed, with only one vote against:

The Party executive protests against police prosecution of Socialists and of their press in connection with the recent anti-militarist demonstrations. It notes with satisfaction the enthusiasm with which the Young Socialist organizations have carried on the anti-militarist agitation called for by the Party, and resolves that the whole Party, with the help of the executive, is to take part in this agitation. The aim is not merely to enlighten public opinion on the fact that huge amounts of state money are being wasted on the military administration, but above all to persuade the recruits and soldiers that, without ignoring their duty to defend the country, they should not co-operate in the murder of workers. These murders, in their frequency and cruelty, are an insult to our land.

Apart from this, the Rome Party Congress of October 1906 gave an idea of the general way in which anti-militarist propaganda is carried on in Italy. Anti-militarism was a special item on the agenda. Two motions were presented. That of the syndicalist Bianchi read : “The ninth Congress of the Socialist Party, in the discussion on militarism, approves the activity and propaganda methods used by the Italian Young Socialist organizations.” The other motion was presented by Romualdi, editor of Avanti, and states: “Congress endorses the Party’s anti-militarist traditions, and considers it necessary – in view of the refusal of the bourgeoisie to recognize that the army must stand on a position of genuine neutrality in the struggle between labour and capital – that, in order to prevent the murder of workers and the breaking of strikes, an agitational movement should be started with the aim of dissuading the young workers from taking up their arms in such situations and becoming strike-breakers. At the same time Congress considers it necessary to make propaganda among the workers for the idea that they should not use violence against the troops, both in order to avoid a reaction on the part of the soldiers and to prove that a common bond of brotherhood unites the striking workers and the soldiers.”

Anti-patriotic as well as anarchist anti-militarism was represented in the discussion, but the strictly Social-Democratic variety was dominant, while anti-militarist agitation among the soldiers was only opposed by a few delegates using arguments similar to those heard at the 1904 Bremen Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party. The representatives of the Young Socialist organization explained that their comrades did not carry on anti-militarist propaganda according to Hervé’s method, but in order to reduce the army bill and to awaken a sense of solidarity between soldiers and workers. Finally it was decided not to put the motion of Fend and Turad to the vote, but to remit the question to the Party executive for consideration. At the same time it is very important to note that Ferri’s integralist resolution, which was adopted at the Congress by an overwhelming majority, contains the following passage:

The Party is developing political activity whose object is: to intensify anti-clerical and anti-monarchical propaganda in view of the present situation and of the growing clericalism of the government; to intensify anti-militarist agitation, whose aim is the education of Italian youth in socialism, in order to neutralize the tendency of the ruling classes to use the army as an instrument of coercion against the proletariat.

In Italy too anti-militarist agitation has made the army unreliable as a weapon against the so-called enemy at home. But in Italy also class justice has been wed, in the form of numerous trials and the infliction of severe punishments, to attack anti-militarists both inside and outside of the army. The Turin events of 1905 are well known.

Anti-militarism has made great strides in Switzerland, together with the ever more frequent use of soldiers in strikes.

At the Conference of the Swiss Social-Democratic Party held at Olten in October 1903, a resolution was drafted which takes up the standard position towards war and demands a military constitution which “clearly determines the rights and duties of the state and of its citizens”, and declares that the use of the army in strikes cannot be tolerated.

Dissatisfaction with this resolution led in April 1904 to the convocation of the Lucerne Congress, which set out, among others, the following demands:

A considerable reduction in military expenditure, the people to decide on questions of expenditure above a total of one million Francs, an improvement in the military and economic position of the soldier, abolition of military justice, prohibition of the use of troops in strikes.

The conference described it as the duty of the Party to use every means available to attain these goals, but without any more definite indication of those means.

The intervention of the military in strikes at La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Ricken made greater activity necessary, as well as the adoption of a clearer slogan. Heated discussions took place in meetings. The Federal Committee of the Trade Union Federation published a leaflet on September 15, 1904 which contained the sentences:

In all cases we must try to persuade the soldiers not to fire on their fellow workers, not to use their weapons against them, and not only to refuse to obey on these occasions but also to attempt with every means to prevent such murder. Only then will they be acting in the spirit of our Federal Constitution, which states that the soldier in uniform is first of all a citizen.

The Party Conference which took place soon after at Zurich passed the following resolution:

The Social-Democratic Party calls upon the soldiers, when they are mobilized against strikes, to bear in mind their solidarity with the workers and not allow themselves to be used in actions which would vitiate the right of their class comrades to strike and hold meetings.

The following Party Conference at Geneva instructed the Party executive to draft a resolution on the military question for the next conference.

In the meantime anti-militarist agitation was being organized and systematized. In 1905 a Swiss Anti-militarist League was established, whose object is:

1.To enlighten the workers to the fact that in bourgeois society the army acts as a hindrance to the liberation of the working class;
2.To use all means suitable in rendering the army harmless as far as its use as a means of power by the capitalists is concerned.
The first congress was held in October 1905 and the League has grown rapidly since then. It issues leaflets to the workers’ organizations and pamphlets addressed to agricultural and industrial workers, and displays considerable activity. Among the pamphlets we must make special mention of the widely circulated and almost classic text, The Watchdog of Capitalism.

In accordance with the decision of the Lucerne Congress of January 1906 preparations were put in hand for a central library, as well as for a translation of Hervé’s Leur Patrie. The League also publishes the Vorposten, which is devoted, and with great skill, to anti-militarist agitation. [29] As far as the question of militarism abroad is concerned, the League takes up the standpoint which has been much argued over: that although only the victory of socialism can abolish war, something must be done while this victory is not achieved to prevent the “mutual slaughter of and by those without property at the command of those who possess it”, and that the only thing that is of use in this connection is the “withdrawal of military labour power”, that is, the military strike. As far as the question of militarism at home is concerned, they of course make the appeal: “Vous ne tirerez pas!” [30] The second proposal is naturally much more disagreeable to capitalism, especially in Switzerland, than the first. But it is still a fact that a favourite manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie is to try to work its mill of counter-agitation with “patriotic” wind, which it endeavours to raise by stamping this tendency as “unpatriotic”, “treacherous” and resulting in the “disarming of the nation in the face of the enemy abroad”. [31]

The Party Conference at Aarau held in February 1906 was the occasion of a very interesting anti-militarist debate. It came to light that in Switzerland too the idea of the military strike and of a refusal to take part in army service against other countries has its supporters. The following important resolution was passed.

(1) The Social-Democratic Party strives together with the Social-Democratic Parties of other countries to eliminate all possibilities of war among the civilized peoples as well as all instruments of war. It demands that international conflicts be settled by arbitration.

(2) As long as this state of affairs has not been established among the peoples of central Europe, the Party recognizes only a citizen army whose sole purpose is to protect the country from external attack.

(3) The Party protests against the use of soldiers in strikes. Since this misuse has in fact taken place in recent years, it demands guarantees against its repetition. As long as these guarantees are not forthcoming, the Party advises the soldiers to refuse to obey when ordered to attack workers on strike or to draw weapons against them. The Social-Democratic Party will in such cases attempt as far as possible to aid the individual concerned and his family with regard to the financial consequences, and for this purpose will get in touch with the trade union organizations. The Party considers that the best guarantee against the use of troops in cases of strikes lies in the strengthening of its political power at commune and state level.

(4)The Party demands an army organization which is based upon general military service, which is in harmony with democratic institutions and does not come into contradiction with the principle that all have equal rights under the constitution. It demands the reduction of military expenditure and opposes all expenditure not absolutely necessary for national defence.

As a consequence of this resolution it was decided to establish a fund for the support of army resisters.

The first, second and fourth paragraphs of this resolution practically cover the draft resolution submitted by the Party executive. [32] The Party Conference however inserted paragraph 3 in the draft resolution, the passage which calls on soldiers to disobey orders in the event of intervention in strikes. The conference also made the wording of the resolution sharper and more definite, in accordance with the demand made in the Vorposten.

The Social-Democrats of the Grütli, as is known, take up for the most part a thoroughly petty-bourgeois attitude to militarism. They condemn for example the refusal to vote for the budget! It will not be surprising if on the military question they are found to be so light in weight that they will be blown out of the Party like chaff. The new Party split which was rumoured to be going to take place at the Aarau conference has so far been avoided, in spite of the vigorous anti-militarist position taken up by the conference.

The publications of the study group of the workers’ circle of Saint-Imier are also noteworthy. Among them one can find the useful pamphlet The Army and Strikes. The Young Socialist organizations, which probably only exist in French Switzerland, also play a certain role. The journal La Jeunesse Socialiste has been published in Lausanne since 1903 by a number of these organizations, but recently it has lost the character of a Young Socialist paper. We must also mention the Youth Society founded and directed in Zurich by the comrade and pastor Pflüger.

It is evident that in Switzerland too anarchism directs its attention to anti-militarism. There is an anarchist anti-militarist group in Geneva, apparently the only group in the whole of Switzerland which is affiliated to the International Anti-militarist Association, which we shall speak of later. The anarchist paper Weckruf, which is published in Zurich and has been appearing since 1902, considers anti-militarist agitation – in the anarchist sense, of course – as one of its main tasks. We should not overlook the fact that it is at least a kind of proletarian anarchism which is being put forward here – or rather, that the anti-militarist arguments put forward by Weckruf have a largely proletarian character. The successes of Swiss anti-militarism, shown especially by the Geneva and Zurich strikes, have already been mentioned, together with the subsequent memorable action of the system of justice. In addition let us note the fact that many proletarian members of the militia refused to march against the masons’ strike at La Chaux-de-Fonds. In spite of the “sympathy” of so-called public opinion, severe sentences were passed on six of the militiamen by military justice. [33]


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1. We have before us one of the leaflets issued by the Antwerp branch of the Socialist Labour Party in 1886. It goes straight to the essential point, calling on the soldiers to refuse to obey an order to fire on the people.

2. In regard to this activity see La procès de la caserne, Volksdrukkerij, Ghent 1905.

3. De Loteling and De Kazerne since 1887, Le Caserne since 1893, La Conscrit since 1899.

4. The Flemish papers were placed under the control of the Flemish Federation of the Socialist Young Guards in Ghent.

5. Cf. Housiaux in Die Neue Zeit, April 23, 1904, vol.2, pp.110ff., and the scattered congress reports. Three provincial federations exist: the Flemish (about 1,000 members), the Brabant (about 500 members) and the Walloon (about 8,000 members). The last was founded in September 1905. The Liege Congress of 1905 dissolved the National Council, which was reconstituted in rather different form in 1906 – the Flemish and Walloon Federations each elect a representative, and the National Congress elects the third (the National Secretary).

6. We need not consider the Etoile Socialiste here.

7. Its predecessor was the journal Contre le militarisme, pour le socialisme.

8. In 16 pages!

9. During the process of the drawing of lots in 1906 the streets were plastered with some 20,000 explanatory posters and 80,000 illustrated posters.

10. In 1906 the print of La Conscrit was over 68,000, that of Do Loteling about 30,000, La Caserne slightly less. In 1905 100,000 copies of La Caserne were distributed for special purposes.

11. Cf. La procès de la caserne.

12. On the debate, in which Vandervelde’s intervention was decisive, see Mouvement Socialiste for August 15, 1903, pp.594 if., and La Jeunesse Socialiste for August 1903.

13. Les Temps Nouveaux, October 28, 1905.

14. In this connection see the pamphlet Le patriotisme, Libertaire Publications, Paris.

15. Les Temps Nouveaux takes a very friendly attitude towards it.

16. Leur Patrie, p.246. This is the explanation of the objection frequently made against Hervé that his support in the Yonne is to be explained by the old and deeply-rooted dislike of the peasants for military service.

17. Pioupiou – a popular expression for “recruit , with a certain affectionate and familiar connotation.

18. Cf. La Pioupiou en cour d’Assises (The Recruit before the Jury), Auxerre 1904.

19. On Hervé’s anti-parliamentarism, see La Vie Socialiste, pp.97ff. In Mouvemont Socialiste, June 1, 1905, Fages says that the so-called campagne antipatriotique is in reality a campagne anticapitaliste.

20. With the co-operation of the Association Internationale Antimilitariste.

21. Cf. Les Temps Nouveaux, no.12, 1905. On the prosecutions against Loquier and Lemaire at Epinal and Amiens, see ibid., no.26, 1905.

22. The case of Merrheim deserves special mention. At a strike at Longwy he made a direct appeal to his infantrymen to use no violence against the strikers even if they should provoke or attack the soldiers.

23. Especially in Algiers the death penalty is imposed for the slightest offence! Cf. the Besançon affair, L’Humanité, December 11, 1906.

24. Whose abolition is planned.

25. Cf. von Zepelin in the Kreuz-Zeitung, December 23, 1906.

26. They want first of all to put the military schools on the same basis. There will be only one school for each branch of the army, to be attended by both officers and N.C.O.s. This of course brings horror to our reactionaries (Deutsche Tageszeitung, December 22, 1906).

27. At the Milan Congress in September 1906 5 provincial organizations and 24 sections from northern Italy were represented, comprising 2,400 members.

28. In this connection see the proceedings of the Milan Congress.

29. The League has a very good song which goes to the tune of Heil dir im Siegerkranz.

30. Cf. Vorposten, The Draft Resolution of the Party Committee.

31. See the Leipziger Volkszeitung, January 30, 1906, A Split in Swedish Social-Democracy?

32. On the struggles in the Party Committee over the drafting of the proposed resolution, see the Leipziger Volkszeitung, December 28, 1905.

33. Cf. also Leo Tolstoy’s An die Soldaten und jungen Leute, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1906, pp.15-16 (cases of individual refusal to serve), and Les Temps Nouveaux, no.26, 1905 (four months’ imprisonment without deduction of time spent in custody, and two years’ loss of civil rights).


Additional notes by the translator
1*. HERVÉ, GUSTAVE (1871-1944). A university teacher, he was forced to leave his post as a consequence of legal proceedings arising out of his anti-militarist opinions. Founded the paper La Guerre sociale. Later became an ardent patriot, left the Socialist Party in 1916, supported Clemenceau. In 1927 created the fascist National Socialist Party in France.

2*. KROPOTKIN, PRINCE (1842-1921). Russian revolutionist, and a so-called scientific anarchist. Welcomed the First War, believing it would destroy the obsolete nation-state form. Hostile to the Bolshevik revolution.

3*. CLEMENCEAU, GEORGES (1841-1929). Radical, French Minister of the Interior from 1906. Became known as the strong man of French politics, especially because of his use of the army in social conflicts at home and his support for the general strengthening of the armed forces. Headed the French government from 1917 to 1920.

Via "Boston IndyMedia"- The First Shout-Out Of The New Year-The Struggle Continues!- May 1 International General Strike! Occupy May Day!

Announcement :: International : Labor

May 1 International General Strike! Occupy May Day!
by Common Struggle

Email: boston (nospam) (verified) 31 Dec 2011

*Which way forward for the 99%? *
*Build Power & Show Power through Mass Participatory Bold Action*
*By Occupy May 1st*
*Which way forward for the 99%? *
*Build Power & Show Power through Mass Participatory Bold Action*
*By Occupy May 1st*

There have been a wave of repressive attacks on, and evictions of, various Occupy camp sites throughout the country including where the movement started in Zucotti (Liberty) Park. But even before the evictions and repression escalated to the current levels, questions were being asked: what’s the way forward for the movement? Already there have been glimpses of organizing and action that are leading the way and shining a light for the rest of us to follow: the Oakland General Strike, Occupy Foreclosures, and other actions. These actions show that, fundamentally, all of the strategic questions revolve around the question of power. The power of the 99% vs. the power of the 1%

Although the 99% holds enormous power -all wealth is generated, and the current society is built and maintained through, the collective labor (paid
and unpaid) of the 99%-, we do not frequently exercise this collective power in our own interests. Too often we fight amongst and scapegoat each other as the source of the problem through: racism, patriarchy,
xenophobia, occupational elitism, geographical prejudice, heterosexism, and other forms of division, oppression and prejudice. This is necessary for the 1% to maintain control because their power is only exercised by different segments of the 99% actively oppressing and working against other segments of the 99%, in addition to us neither being fully aware of, nor organizing to utilize, the collective power we have. The result is that many segments of the the 99%- people of color, women, GLBTQ, immigrants, those with less formal educational credentials, those in less socially respected occupations or unemployed, the homeless, and others- deal with overlapping forms of oppression and societal prejudice; all of us remain divided amongst each other; and the 1% continues to increase their power and wealth because of this.

Currently, the state of the economy has hit all of us (some facing overlapping prejudice and oppression, harder than others). There are too many people out of work; our pay has barely or hasn’t kept up with rising costs; our social services have continued to be cut; our influence on government has eroded; and our civil liberties have been attacked. This has been going on while the elites of this country have captured an increasing share of wealth; have had the highest decreases in the amount of taxes they pay; have attacked our social services and organizations of popular defense (such as our unions and community organizations); and have consolidated to an even greater degree their power over politics. The Business Insider- ironically- provides one of the more useful series of charts that root the Occupy movement’s concerns in the sobering historical fact that we experience. [1]

The way forward must involve building and showing our popular power against
that of the elite. But the form of our power must be different from theirs: we must fight fire with water. Where they exercise hierarchical power over us to dominate, control, exploit and oppress; we must build and exercise horizontal, bottom-up power with each other to cooperate, liberate
and collectively empower each other. We need to organize ourselves autonomously from all forms of hierarchical power relations in our communities, schools and workplaces to fight collectively for our
interests. This must include a rejection of attempts to divide and rule us; a rejection of racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, elitism and other forms of oppression; a rejection of attempts by electoral parties, powerful special interest groups and others to co-opt and control our movement.

The camp occupations built the movement and brought global attention to the
variety of concerns of the 99%. They inspired many; provided a sense of hope and solidarity; brought economic justice and the problems of power inequality back into spotlight of national conversation; highlighted the need for cultures, societies and institutions of direct democracy based on "power with"- not "power over"- each other; served as a spaces of convergence for sharing ideas and planning action; and in some camps, they even provided a temporary space for those who needed a home and a community
where folks could face less harassment than they normally faced. The camp occupations have served a fundamental role in the movement; but it’s time to move beyond them.

We need to develop the movement beyond the camp because the majority of the
99% can’t camp out in a city center. The majority of the 99% have obligations and vulnerabilities that prevent them from such
time-consuming, geographically-specific action including: work, school, responsibilities in caring for children or other dependents, particular health needs, etc. So in order for us to truly exercise our power as the 99% and to truly be participatory, we need to find ways where all of us can participate, and be valued, in whatever capacity and with whatever time we have to contribute. We need our action to be as participatory, diverse and widespread as possible. We must boldly show and build our collective power.

*Show Power*

To show our power, on May 1st, 2012, we will be organizing for such a mass participatory and bold collective action: a national general strike, mass boycott, student strike/ walk-out and mass day of action. We will be organizing within our unions- or informal workplace organizations where there’s no union or the union isn’t supportive- to hold a one-day general strike. Where a strike is not possible, we will be organizing people to call in sick, or take a personal day, as part of a coordinated “sick-out”.
Those who are students will be walking-out of their schools (or not
showing up in the first place). In the community, we will be holding a mass boycott and refusing to make any purchase on that day.

This action will necessarily be a symbolic show of power because any decrease in economic activity that day will likely be compensated for by purchases and extra work activity the days before and after May 1st. But it will be symbolic in the way a cannon shot across the bow of a ship is symbolic: it doesn’t do any damage; but it warns our opponent that we are willing and able to damage their boat if necessary. And perhaps just as important as the day itself, the massive organizing and outreach efforts in the months leading up to May 1st will allow us the opportunity to talk to our co-workers, families, neighbors, communities, and friends about the issues of the 99%, the source of our power, the need for us to stand up to the attacks we are facing, the need to confront the various oppressions that keep most of us down in one way or another (some of especially so) and all of us divided, and the need for us to stand in solidarity with each other to fight for our collective interests, which is structurally, and therefore inherently, against the interests of the 1%. We can build our collective consciousness, capacity, and confidence through this process; and come out stronger because of it.

*Build Power*

In addition to showing our power on May 1st, we need to build bases of popular, bottom-up, collective, anti-oppressive and anti-hierarchical power
in our workplaces, communities, and schools. So we will be doing a variety
of workshops, building a variety of organizing campaigns, and engaging a variety of actions on the local level to contribute to the building of such
collective power. Some of the workshops, campaigns and actions that we will develop and engage in include: organizing new unions, becoming more active in participatory unions; making our hierarchical unions more participatory; occupying foreclosures; building tenant unions; blocking evictions; preventing foreclosures; and creating solidarity networks, to name a few. We will not be co-opted by electoral parties, or hierarchical organizations looking to use the movement to serve their interest while diffusing our power. Instead we will organize, educate, and agitate where we are at to build power with each other and to fight directly for our interests: the interests of popular power against the interests of elite power. All of us must contribute for this effort to be effective; but, to the greatest degree possible, those contributions must be collective in nature because our true power is in our solidarity with each other.

Through this effort we are looking to offer real solutions to addressing issues of immediate concern where each of us is at, through direct collective action from the bottom-up. The goal is to continue the ongoing shift currently happening within the movement from just mobilizing, to organizing (or to move from mobilization, to massification [2] ). Mobilizing is necessary, but it is not enough. We can’t just call people out to engage in action. We need to build the networks, organizations and campaigns that provide the opportunities for an ever greater number of people to participate in the decision-making process and functioning of the autonomous popular organizations we are creating. Our movement is leaderless, which also means that we all must be leaders. But the leadership we build is again, *with, *not *over*, others. We need to all truly listen to and support each other in developing our consciousness, capacities and confidence. We need to see the fights against the various oppressions which keep folks down and divide the 99% against itself, as central to, not distractions from, the effectiveness of our struggle. We must discourage and isolate egotistical, self-serving and movement-killing tendencies we encounter while encouraging and developing collective, liberatory and movement-building tendencies. Our participatory, bottom-up networks, organizations and campaigns will be the way through which we build our power and make small gains in the medium term. But they will also serve as the basis for a new world that we are building toward.

This new world in our hearts that we are building and showing, within the shell of the old one that we are confronting, is one in which people share power with, not over, each other. It's where workers themselves
democratically control their workplaces; where everyone can find
meaningful, socially-useful and balanced work that is carried out in comfortable conditions. It's where those who aren't able to work (or who have put in their share of their lifetime) are taken care of by society; where we abolish rulers over us and instead societies directly decide for themselves how to live, develop and grow. It's where our environments are healthy, beautiful and sustainable; where we all have the educational and social opportunities to develop and contribute our full capacities to our families and societies. It's where people can live in nice homes and safe communities, get their health needs fully taken care of, eat healthy and well, and not have to worry about meeting their needs or the needs of their
families; where we can all have time and resources to enjoy life; and where
the global human society is driven not by competition, oppression, exploitation, domination and war; but by love, freedom and solidarity. We,
the 99%, will build our power and show our power until we've occupied our workplaces, our communities, our schools, our lives, our world... until we've occupied everything!



See also:

This work is in the public domain