Showing posts with label anti-capitalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-capitalism. Show all posts

Saturday, August 17, 2019

*From The Archives -Obama-Immediate Uncondtional Withdrawal From Afghanistan- Gearing Up For The Fall Anti-War Season-An October 7 Anti-War Action

Click on title to link to site that has in the past covered the opposition to the Bush/Obama Afghan War policies. This site is linked for informational purposes only.

Below is information, recently received by e-mail, pertaining to some upcoming Fall 2009 actions planned by forces sympathetic to various United For Justice With Peace (UJP)organizations. I am passing it on for informational purposes only. I do not, make that definitely do not, agree with UJPs premises, slogans or strategy. The only agreement I have at this point is on the need to take to the streets to oppose the Obama war policies, including this latest round of escalations in troop numbers (as well as the projections of Afghan Commander General McCrystal for more troops). The time to give Obama a pass on his war policies is long over. Forward.

Peace NO War Network
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
Not in our Name! And another world is possible!
Tel: (213)403-0131

Please Join PeaceNoWar Listserv, send e-mail to:

End the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan!
Change ≠ War!

President Barack Obama was elected on a platform of CHANGE and with hopes for diplomacy, not war! As the war in Iraq winds down, more troops have been sent to Afghanistan. Some in the Pentagon are calling for more!

Now, 54% of the people believe the Afghanistan war is a mistake. The peace movement is challenged to organize the hope for CHANGE into a movement to end the war in Afghanistan as one of the big steps towards addressing the crisis in our communities.

Our best interests and the interests of the Afghanistan people lie in the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces. With every bomb dropped and every civilian and military death, we are no closer to helping the Afghan people and the region to grapple with their problems. In fact, the U.S. presence is the biggest obstacle to doing so.

On October 7, the beginning of the 9th year of occupation and war in Afghanistan, we must mobilize nationwide a call for diplomacy, not war. Change ≠ War!

United For Peace and Justice is calling on the grassroots movements for peace and economic and social justice to gather in their cities and towns on October 7 for action, dialog, and reflection on the 8 years of death and dying in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan.

United For Peace and Justice is calling on its member groups across the country to initiate local actions or educational events in your community on October 7:

Teach-Ins on the costs, human and economic, of the occupation and war in Afghanistan and impact on the region.

Vigils, pickets and delegations to Congressional offices, as well as faxes, emails and calls.

Rallies, demonstrations, vigils and marches to bring the peace and justice message into the streets.

House parties to raise money for Afghanistan relief or other aid to the Afghan people.

Creative actions to highlight the devastating effects of the Drone air strikes.
In the month of October, many activities are being planned here and around the world. On October 5, a coalition led by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) will have a procession to the White House, deliver a petition and hold a non-violent direct action in Washington, DC. It is urgent that we also bring our message to Washington and we hope you will join this initiative.

The Iraq Moratorium has called for local actions on October 17 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War Moratorium. The Iraq Moratorium says, "Over 2 million people participated in thousands of communities [during the Vietnam War] and brought the anti-war movement into the political mainstream of American society. The lessons from that event in 1969 can help us strengthen the antiwar movement today."

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- On The Cententary Of His Birth-Remembering Woody Guthrie in the age of Obama By Lamar W. Hankins / The Rag Blog / July 19, 2011-This Land Is Your Land- If You Fight For It

Markin comment:

This Land Is Your Land- If You Fight For It- By Any Means Necessary

Remembering Woody Guthrie in the age of Obama By Lamar W. Hankins / The Rag Blog / July 19, 2011

Woody Guthrie, the song writer, musician, social philosopher, and populist extraordinaire, would have turned 99 this past week (July 14) had he lived. He died of Huntington's disease in 1967. He wrote perhaps thousands of songs, some of which continued to be sung after his death by popular performers, including Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, his son Arlo Guthrie, and many others.

Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma, traveled to California with migrant workers during the dust bowl and then all over the country. He hosted a live radio program in California that was very popular for a few years, but Woody did not take kindly to being told what to do or whom to associate with or what he could say, so that job ended.

In 1941, he was hired by the Department of the Interior to write songs about the Columbia River and the dams being built there in connection with a documentary project. Producing electricity from the flowing waters of the Columbia caught his imagination.

When he saw an item in the newspaper that offended his sense of social justice, he was inclined to write a song about it. That's how "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos" came to be written. A group of Mexican migrant workers were killed as they were sent back to Mexico after harvesting crops in the western U.S. He lamented how these people were used to put food on the tables of Americans and their deaths weren't given a second thought. Their names weren't even reported in the news articles. "All they called them were just deportees."

You don't have to agree with everything Woody wrote to appreciate his contribution to American culture. After all, no two people agree on everything, but the strength of his feeling for the American people cannot be denied. That feeling is best found, perhaps, in what has become an anthem of populism -- "This Land is Your Land."

This Land is Your Land
(words and music by Woody Guthrie)


This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress-passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

(Chorus 2x)

In 2008, from everywhere in the country, the spirits of populists and caring people, and those who spent their lives working for social and economic justice for all, were lifted by the election of Barack Obama as president. At a special pre-inaugural gathering, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, and others joined in singing all those verses to Woody's anthem. That's how high expectations were for Obama among those who favor a more compassionate world.

Such enthusiasm does not exist today. Obama has thrown in with the wealthy, the corporatists, the bankers, the exploiters, the war profiteers, and he seems to have forgotten the millions of average Americans who are without jobs, without the money to pay their mortgages, without hope for a better future.

I know that Obama faces great opposition, assuming that he cares about Woody's people, but that is no excuse for not using every ounce of his energy and influence for average Americans, rather than the elite. If this land was made for us all, it seems that we should have a government at least as good as its people. I've come to wish that at least we had a president that good as well.

[Lamar W. Hankins, a former San Marcos, Texas, city attorney, is also a columnist for the San Marcos Mercury. This article © Freethought San Marcos, Lamar W. Hankins. Read more articles by Lamar W. Hankins on The Rag Blog.]

The Rag Blog

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-Malvina Reynolds' "Carolina Cotton Mill Song"

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.


Carolina Cotton Mill Song

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1976 Schroder Music Company, renewed 2004.

Oh I love to get into my clean bed
With its sheets so fair and white,
And when I am in my clean bed,
I sleep thru most the night,
And my dreams are hardly troubled
By the worrying of my mind
For the workers who die of the brown lung
In the mills of Caroline.

Oh the mystical people, they think they are wise,
With the smooth on their faces and stars in their eyes,
But the truths of this system are spoken and sung
By the workers who bear the brown lung.

Oh it's Burlington and Cannon
And the names we wives know well,
Who advertise the sheets and towels
And give us the old soft sell,
And they'd rather buy the government men
With promotions here and there,
Than pay out company profits
For to clean the cotton mill air.


Oh some people talk of the yin and yang
And walk in a kharma daze,
As though the influence of the stars
Could change mill owners ways,
But the people who work in the cotton mills
They know how the world is run,
And they need some help of an earthly kind
To live their time in the sun.


Oh the mystics they wear the blue jeans
But their heads are in the stars,
For they do not know how the denim is made
Nor the years of workers' wars.
And my place is not in an ivory tower
Or seeking some power divine,
But it's out on the bricks with the union folks
At the mills in Caroline.


Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- Mama Lion
---- Ear to the Ground

Recordings by other artists on which this song is performed:
---- Rosalie Sorrels and Utah Phillips: Worker's Doxology (Cold-drill, 1992) [same material as next entry]
---- Rosalie Sorrels and Utah Phillips: The Long Memory (Red House Records RHR CD 83, 1996)
---- Joe Uehlein: Groundwork: Songs of Working People (Worker Records, 1979)

* * * * *
This page copyright 2006 by Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 24, 2019

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- *Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By- Pete Seeger's "Guantanamera" (Jose Marti)

Click on the title to link a "YouTube" film clip of Pete Seeger performing "Guantanamera."

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.



Original music by Jose Fernandez Diaz
Music adaptation by Pete Seeger & Julian Orbon
Lyric adaptation by Julian Orbon, based on a poem by Jose Marti

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma

Guajira Guantanamera
Guajira Guantanamera

Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo


I am a truthful man from this land of palm trees
Before dying I want to share these poems of my soul
My verses are light green
But they are also flaming red

(the next verse says,)
I cultivate a rose in June and in January
For the sincere friend who gives me his hand
And for the cruel one who would tear out this
heart with which I live
I do not cultivate thistles nor nettles
I cultivate a white rose

Cultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Qultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca


Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa blanca


Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar


©1963,1965 (Renewed) Fall River Music, Inc (BMI)
All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-Pete Seeger's "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread"

*Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-Pete Seeger's "Oh, Had I  A Golden Thread"

Click on the title to link a "YouTube" film clip of Pete Seeger (with Judy Collins) performing "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread."

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.


Oh, Had I A Golden Thread(Pete Seeger)

Oh, had I a golden thread
And needle so fine
I'd weave a tapestry
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design

Far over the water
I'd weave my magic strand
To every city
Through every single land
Through every land

And in it I would weave the bravery
Of women giving birth
In it I would weave the innocence
Of children over all the earth
Children of all earth

Show my brothers and my sisters
My rainbow design
And bind up this sorry world
With hand and heart and mind
Hand and heart and mind

O had I a golden thread
And needle so fine
I'd weave a tapestry
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Click on the headline to link to the United National Antiwar Committee homepage.


On May Day, we celebrate the struggles of the international working class - and the oppressed and exploited everywhere - for peace and justice.

On May Day, we pledge to renew our commitment to end all wars of plunder and conquest abroad and all the wars against working people at home. Bring all the war dollars, war contractors, mercenaries and troops home now!

On May Day, we fight for a world without walls and borders, a world where every human being is welcome - where our sisters and brothers of every nationality, race and creed join to win humanity's dream for freedom and equality. Full legalization now! End all deportations now!

On May Day, we rededicate ourselves to working class solidarity' against the boss class offensive - to strengthening and expanding our unions - to accepting nothing less than quality Single Payer health care for all, guaranteed pensions, a ban on foreclosures, a sustainable environment and jobs for all at top union wages.

On May Day, we stand together against all attacks on civil liberties and democratic rights. We say "No to the attacks on Muslim communities! No to FBI subpoenas and witchhunts! No to racist attacks on our Black and Brown brothers and sisters! Free Bradley Manning/Hero not criminal! End all attacks on WikiLeaks! No to renditions and torture!"

And on May Day, we stand in solidarity with the people's struggles against tyrants, dictators and bosses here and everywhere. No to U.S. intervention! The masses will liberate themselves! No to U.S.-imposed "regime change!" No to U.S. Aid to Israel! Self-determination for all oppressed people everywhere! U.S. out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya now!

Issued by UNAC, May 1, 2011
www. U

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding of The Communist International-From The Archives- *On The Anniversary Of The Fall Of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Click On Title To Link To "Wikipedia"'s Entry For The Fall Of Saigon And A Famous Photograph Of The Evacuation Of The United States Embassy In The Wake Of The North Vietnamese Army Advances On Saigon.


April 30th Marks The 34th Anniversary Of The Military Victory Of The North Vietnamese Army/South Vietnamese National Liberation Front With The Fall Of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

Other years I have used this occasion to review some work directly related to that victory from the view point of highlighting some exploit of the victors in that war- our side. One should not underestimate the importance of that victory by a determined, if outgunned military force, in crimping the style of American imperial policy for a significant period (and some would argue its continuing effect today). One should also note, sadly, that this event (always dramatically visualized in the mind’s eye by those pictures of the helicopters evacuating American and other personnel from the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy) the last clear cut anti-capitalist victory that we have been able to celebrate. That, in itself, is cause for reflection.

This year, with the almost daily growing evidence by the Obama administration that it is seeking to escalate the American presence in the quagmire that is Afghanistan beyond any rational necessity, I wish to review the memoir of one of the American architects of the American escalation in Vietnam, Secretary of War Robert Strange McNamara. As McNamara’s version of the Vietnam saga unfolds, and not incidentally or accidentally his craven attempt to reshape the history of his involvement in that process as well, one cannot help but see that the same sense of American hubris is at play now. As always to be on the safe side here the slogan remains- Obama- All U.S./Allied Troops Out Of Iraq and Afghanistan Now!

The Fog Of War, Part II- War Secretary Robert McNamara’s View Of His Handiwork in Vietnam

Book Review

In Retrospect: The Tragedy And Lessons Of Vietnam, Robert Strange McNamara with Brain VanDeMark, Random House, 1995

Anyone who had caught the Friday March 27, 2009 headlines is aware that the Democratic Party-run Obama government has called for some 4,000 additional troops for Afghanistan and what they, euphemistically, call civilian support teams in order to bolster the sagging regime of “Mayor of Kabul” Karzai. Those numbers are in addition to the 17,000 extras already committed by the Obama regime in February. Does the word escalation seem appropriate here?

One of the problems of having gone through the Vietnam experience in my youth (including periods of lukewarm support for American policy under John F. Kennedy, a hands-off attitude in the early Lyndon B. Johnson years and then full-bore opposition under the late Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford regimes) is a tendency to view today’s American imperial policy in the same by-the-numbers approach as I took as a result of observing the Vietnam War as it unfolded. There are differences, some of them hugely so, between Vietnam and Afghanistan. Just as, I have previously noted in this space, there are differences between Vietnam and the recently “completed” Iraq War. (Hey, I’m just going by what the media tells me is going on. They wouldn’t lead us astray, would they?)

But, I keep getting this eerie feeling in the back of my neck every time I hear, or see, anything concerning Afghanistan coming out of this new Obama administration. They appear clueless, yet are determined to forge ahead with this policy that can only lead to the same kind of quagmire than Vietnam and Iraq turned into. That is where the analogies to Vietnam do connect up. In this regard, I have recently been re-reading Kennedy/Johnson War Secretary Robert Strange (that’s his middle name, folk, I didn’t make it up and didn’t need to) McNamara’s memoirs, written in 1995, of his central role in the development of Vietnam policy, “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam”.

Obviously McNamara has put his own ‘spin’ on his personal role then in order to absolve himself (a little) before history. That is to be expected. What comes through crystal clear, however, because in the final analysis McNamara still doesn’t get it, is that when you’re the number one imperial power all the decisions you make are suppose to fall into place for your benefit because you represent the “good guys”. Regardless of what you do, or do not, know about the internal workings of the situation at hand. The Kennedy/Johnson administrations were almost totally ignorant of the internal working of Vietnamese society. That is why I have that eerie, very eerie, feeling about this Obama war policy.

In the normal course of events former high level bureaucrats in American presidential administrations usually save their attempts at self-justification for high ticket published memoirs or congenial `softball' speaking tours and conferences. In short, they prefer to preach to the choir at retail prices. Apparently, Cold Warrior extraordinaire Secretary of War Robert Strange McNamara felt that such efforts were very necessary in his case and hence he had to go to the prints in order to whitewash his role in the history of his times. Despite an apparent agreement with his “ghost writer” not to cover certain subjects and be allowed to present his story his way it is always good to catch a view of how the other side operates. It ain't pretty.

After a lifetime of relative public silence, at the age of 8o something, McNamara decided to give his take on events in which he was a central figure like dealing with the fact of American imperial military superiority in the post- World War II period, dealing with the Russians and the fight for American nuclear superiority during the Cold War, the ill-conceived Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the later Cuban Missile crisis and above all his role in the escalation of the wars in Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam.

Very little here focuses on his time at the World Bank, a not unimportant omission that would highlight my point that he might have changed his clothing in the course of his career but not his mindset. While those of us interested in learning the lessons of history have long understood that to know the political enemy is the beginning of wisdom one will not find much here that was not infinitely better covered by the late journalist David Halberstam in his classic “The Best and The Brightest”.

McNamara has chosen to present his story in the form of parables, or rather, little vignettes about the “lessons” to be drawn from experiences (eleven in all by the way). Thus, we are asked to sit, embarrassingly, through McNamara's freshman course in revisionist history as he attempts to take himself from the cold-hearted Cold Warrior and legitimate “war criminal” to the teddy-bearish old man who has learned something in his life- after a lifetime of treachery. Yet, like that freshman course there are things to be learned despite the professor and more to learn, if only by reading between the lines, than he or she wanted to express.

McNamara presents his take by dividing the Vietnam War buildup, at least at the executive level, into periods; the early almost passive Kennedy days; the post Kennedy assassination period when Lyndon Johnson was trying to be all things to all men; the decisive post-1964 election period; and, various periods of fruitless and clueless escalation. It is this process that is, almost unwittingly, the most important to take from this world. Although McNamara, at the time of writing was an older and wiser man, when he had power he went along with ever step of the “hawks”, civilian and military. He led no internal opposition, and certainly not public one. This is the classic “good old boys” network where one falls on one’s sword when the policy turns wrong. And he is still scratching his head over why masses of anti-war protesters chanted “war criminal” when they confronted him with his deeds. And then listen to the latest screeds by current War Secretary Gates concerning Afghanistan. It will sound very familiar.

In the end, if one took his story at face value, one could only conclude that he was just trying to serve his bosses the best way he could and if things went wrong it was their fault. Nothing new there, though. Henry Kissinger has turned that little devise into an art form. Teary-eyed at the end McNamara might be as he acknowledges his role in the mass killings of his time, but beware of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Yet, you need to read this book if you want to understand how these guys (and gals) defended their state then, and now.

As is always appropriate on international working class holidays and days of remembrance here is the song most closely associated with that movement “The Internationale” in English, French and German. I will not vouch for the closeness of the translations but certainly of the spirit. Workers Of The World Unite!

The Internationale [variant words in square brackets]

Arise ye workers [starvelings] from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth [forthwith] the old tradition [conditions]
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will out with their booty [give up their booty]
And give to all a happier lot.
Each [those] at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.



Debout les damnés de la terre
Debout les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C'est l'éruption de la fin
Du passe faisons table rase
Foules, esclaves, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout

C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain (bis)
Sera le genre humain

Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun
Pour que le voleur rende gorge
Pour tirer l'esprit du cachot
Soufflons nous-mêmes notre forge
Battons le fer quand il est chaud

L'état comprime et la loi triche
L'impôt saigne le malheureux
Nul devoir ne s'impose au riche
Le droit du pauvre est un mot creux
C'est assez, languir en tutelle
L'égalité veut d'autres lois
Pas de droits sans devoirs dit-elle
Egaux, pas de devoirs sans droits

Hideux dans leur apothéose
Les rois de la mine et du rail
Ont-ils jamais fait autre chose
Que dévaliser le travail
Dans les coffres-forts de la bande
Ce qu'il a crée s'est fondu
En décrétant qu'on le lui rende
Le peuple ne veut que son dû.

Les rois nous saoulaient de fumées
Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans
Appliquons la grève aux armées
Crosse en l'air, et rompons les rangs
S'ils s'obstinent, ces cannibales
A faire de nous des héros
Ils sauront bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux

Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes
Le grand parti des travailleurs
La terre n'appartient qu'aux hommes
L'oisif ira loger ailleurs
Combien, de nos chairs se repaissent
Mais si les corbeaux, les vautours
Un de ces matins disparaissent
Le soleil brillera toujours.


Die Internationale

Wacht auf, Verdammte dieser Erde,
die stets man noch zum Hungern zwingt!
Das Recht wie Glut im Kraterherde
nun mit Macht zum Durchbruch dringt.
Reinen Tisch macht mit dem Bedranger!
Heer der Sklaven, wache auf!
Ein nichts zu sein, tragt es nicht langer
Alles zu werden, stromt zuhauf!

Volker, hort die Signale!
Auf, zum letzten Gefecht!
Die Internationale
Erkampft das Menschenrecht

Es rettet uns kein hoh'res Wesen
kein Gott, kein Kaiser, noch Tribun
Uns aus dem Elend zu erlosen
konnen wir nur selber tun!
Leeres Wort: des armen Rechte,
Leeres Wort: des Reichen Pflicht!
Unmundigt nennt man uns Knechte,
duldet die Schmach langer nicht!

In Stadt und Land, ihr Arbeitsleute,
wir sind die starkste Partei'n
Die Mussigganger schiebt beiseite!
Diese Welt muss unser sein;
Unser Blut sei nicht mehr der Raben
und der machtigen Geier Frass!
Erst wenn wir sie vertrieben haben
dann scheint die Sonn' ohn' Unterlass!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- From The Archives- On The 50th Anniversary- Honor The Heroic Cuban Defenders At The Bay Of Pigs-Defend The Cuban Revolution!

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the Bay Of Pigs Invasion.

Markin comment:Those of us who came of age in the 1960s, especially those of us who cut our political teeth on defending, under one principle or another (right to national self-determination, socialist solidarity, general anti-imperialist agenda, etc.), the Cuban revolution that we were front row television witnesses to, cherish the memory of the heroic Cuban defenders at the Bay of Pigs. No one cried when the American imperial adventure was foiled and President John Kennedy (whatever else we felt about him then), egg on face, had to take responsibility for the fiasco.

Those of us who continue to adhere to the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist agenda, whatever our differences with the Cuban leadership, today can join in honoring those heroic fighters. Today is also a day to face the hard fact that we have had too few victories against the imperialist behemoth. The imperial defeat at the Bay of Pigs was however our victory. As today’s imperialist activity in Libya, painfully, testifies to those forces, however, have not gotten weaker in the past 50 years. So the lesson for today’s (and future) young militants is to honor our fallen forebears and realize that the beast can be defeated, if you are willing to fight it. Forward! Defend the Cuban Revolution! Defend Libya against the imperialist onslaught!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

In Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding of The Communist International-From The Archives- *A Short Note On History And The Individual- A Tale Of Sorts

Click on title to link to the early Russian Marxist George Plekhanov's essay "The Role Of The Individual In History" that forms the philosophical backdrop to this little anecdotal commentary. Yes, I know, when the deal went down Plekhanov was on the wrong side of the Russian revolution of 1917 but every Russian Marxist, including Lenin and Trotsky, notes the debt they owe to the early Plekhanov. A debt we acknowledge here as well.


I have spent no little amount of ink in this space over the last year giving some personal and political reminiscences concerning that key year of my youth, 1968. Among them I included my last ditch efforts to stay within the bourgeois political world fighting to elect Robert Kennedy as president- and then Hubert Horatio Humphrey. I still blush over that one. I do not propose to continue on, for the most part, in that vein this year as I believe that I have adequately made most of the important points already.

I do, however, have this one comment to make that may shed some light on a question that has plagued me since early in my youth, although I may have not been able to articulate it that way then. The question: What is the relationship between the individual and the flow of human history? As a long time Marxist I could make a long intellectual argument concerning this subject and the linked relationship between the two, and have done so in the past. Here I merely propose to use a personal event in my life to highlight the vagaries of the historical process even for one who firmly believes that history has some connectedness.

The impetus for this little saga is the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of my induction, as a draftee, into the American army in 1969. (Yes, I know that I am drifting perilously close to that oft-cited habit that I have cast scorn on in this space concerning oddball commemorations by others-but bear with me here.) That event hardly made me unique as some two million plus men (mainly) revolved through military service during that period. Although draft resisters got far more attention at the height of the opposition to the Vietnam War, and at some level rightly so, far more young men were like me- hating the war but patriotic or fearful enough of the alternatives (jail or exile) to be drafted. I certainly was no Bolshevik at the time and did not enter the military along with other working class kids with the idea of “bringing the war home” to use the parlance of the times. That understanding came later after my military service had ended.

I would, in any case, rather speak here of consequences of my military service and not the political wisdom of it. Many who served during that Vietnam War period came home shattered, forlorn, broken or otherwise afflicted. Some just came home and put it behind them, one way or another. A few of us became permanent oppositionists to bourgeois society. That is the point I find interesting and an appropriate subject for comment lo these many years later.

No question that had I not been drafted that I would have gone along on some kind of left-social democratic parliamentary track and today, probably, would be going ‘ga-ga’ over ‘comrade' Obama. Or worse. Moreover, as I have noted previously in commenting on other personal political anniversaries I came to opposition later than most of my “Generation Of ‘68” but find that I have stayed the course better for all that, certainly better than the vast majority who have made their peace with this imperialist society.

That, my friends, is what this little tale is all about. I did not have any input into the contours of Vietnam War strategy, or the opposition to it. That was left to “the best and brightest” of the Kennedy/Johnson cabal on the one side or professional pacifists/and social-democratic organizations like the Communist Party or Socialist Workers Party on the other. Yet, my time of decision was that during that time period and thus I was compelled to make judgments based on that reality. I ask: is that or is that not one of those little vagaries of history that Marx mentioned? Humankind makes its own history, although not always to its own liking. Nevertheless humankind makes it. That truth and the fight to put us in a position to “like" our own creation are what have kept me going. Enough said.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

On the 16th Anniversary Of The Iraq War-From The Archives- Will They Be Throwing Boots At Obama Before It Is All Over?


Listen; don’t let the extra-parliamentary leftist political tilt of this space fool you. I enjoyed kicking one George W. Bush, at one time the 43rd President of the United States, and his neo-con entourage, especially old Rummie, around when they were riding high in the good old days of 2001 and 2002 while many people were running for cover (and supporting their Afghan and Iraq war policies). This latest ‘boot’ incident in Baghdad only adds fuel to the fire. Let’s face it though, after eight years of giving everyone in the world hell, friend and foe alike, if the worst thing that happened to Bush was a couple of boots thrown at him he got off extremely easy.

However, just for good measure, now that the “Liberator” is down for the count I am more than glad to kick him one more time with my Size 11 boot. And add a little rabbit punch thrown in for good measure. Hunter S. Thompson, a.k.a Doctor “Gonzo”, was, after all, always something of a muse for me despite our political differences and he knew exactly how you had to treat these ‘dogs’. I wonder what the good 'Doc' would make of this latest ‘event’. Damn, I still miss him. That savage wit of his was what was missing from this year’s political sideshow. But we move on.

Karl Marx, in one of his earlier journalistic efforts covering the ‘exploits’ of Napoleon III of France, noted that historic events usually played themselves out as tragedy then as farce. Frankly, the latest wanderings of George Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan can only be deemed as bizarre, if nevertheless providing us with some much needed comic relief. Bush and his addle-brained administration have won the title as the worst in recorded memory hands down, even by the none too high modern bourgeois standards. With its foreign adventures and domestic misadventures I, moreover, feel compelled to argue that he has won the prize as the worst president ever. Earlier in the year I believed that he was merely in a neck-and- neck race with another accidental president, the obscure Millard Fillmore. But note this well, Fillmore at least went on to a ‘worthy’ career as the presidential candidate of the self-described “Know Nothing” party in 1856. Mr. Bush has no such cover.

So much, however, for award ceremonies. That is old news. Let's get back to serious business. What is really at issue in this latest Bush incident is why it was necessary for some local obscure Iraqi journalist in Baghdad in the year 2008 to have the ‘moxie’ to put Bush in his place. Where were the “Tims” of all those high- priced Washington ‘hot shot’ media reporters- WHEN IT COUNTED. More importantly, what will these same media mavens do when the new security arrangements around the Obama White House and other presidential environs dictate reporters running around in bare feet in order to attend presidential press conferences?

Moreover, and here we get back to that leftist political tilt of this space mentioned at the beginning. When, as I am projecting, one Barack Obama, soon to be the 44th President of the United States, gets bogged down in HIS war in Afghanistan who will be ‘tossing’ boots at him. Probably some irate Afghani journalist in Kabul. I will make a six-two-and even bet that it will not be some Washington-based journalist. But, I will not rely solely on my wager. I will, to be on the safe side, keep that other Size 11 boot handy. And to really be on the safe side I start right now to call - Obama, Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, February 01, 2019

On The 100th Anniversary Of Newly-Fledged German Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg And Karl Liebknecht-Oh, What Might Have Been-*From The Archives Of Bolshevik Anti-War Work- V.I. Lenin On Imperialist War And The Tasks Of Socialists

Click on the title to link to an "American Left History" blog entry, dated December 6, 2009, "*From The Front Lines Of The Anti-Afghan War Struggle- On The Slogan- “Down With The Obama Government”- A Commentary."

V. I. Lenin
The Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War


Published: Sotsial-Demorkrat No. 43, July 26, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demorkrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 275-280.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2003 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Other Formats: Text • README
During a reactionary war 9 revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government.

This is axiomatic, and disputed only by conscious partisans or helpless satellites of the social-chauvinists. Among the former, for instance, is Semkovsky of the Organising Committee (No. 2 of its Izvestia), and among the latter, Trotsky and Bukvoyed,[2] and Kautsky in Germany. To desire Russia’s defeat, Trotsky writes, is “an uncalled-for and absolutely unjustifiable concession to the political methodology of social-patriotism, which would replace the revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions causing it, with an orientation—highly arbitrary in the present conditions—towards the lesser evil” (Nashe Slovo No. 105).

This is an instance of high-flown phraseology with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism. A “revolutionary struggle against the war” is merely an empty and meaning less exclamation, something at which the heroes of the Second International excel, unless it means revolutionary action against one’s own government even in wartime. One has only to do some thinking in order to understand this. Wartime revolutionary action against one’s own government indubitably means, not only desiring its defeat, but really facilitating such a defeat. ("Discerning reader”: note that this does not mean “blowing up bridges”, organising unsuccessful strikes in the war industries, and ·in general helping the government defeat the revolutionaries.)

The phrase-bandying Trotsky has completely lost his bearings on a simple issue. It seems to him that to desire Russia’s defeat means desiring the victory of Germany. (Bukvoyed and Semkovsky give more direct expression to the “thought”, or rather want of thought, which they share with Trotsky.) But Trotsky regards this as the “methodology of social-patriotism"! To help people that are unable to think for themselves, the Berne resolution (Sotsial Demokrat No. 40)[1] made it clear, that in all imperialist countries the proletariat must now desire the defeat of its own government. Bukvoyed and Trotsky preferred to avoid this truth, while Semkovsky (an opportunist who is more useful to the working class than all the others, thanks to his naively frank reiteration of bourgeois wisdom) blurted out the following: “This is nonsense, because either Germany or Russia can win” (Izvestia No. 2).

Take the example of the Paris Commune. France was defeated by Germany but the workers were defeated by Bismarck and Thiers! Had Bukvoyed and Trotsky done a little thinking, they would have realised that they have adopted the viewpoint on the war held by governments and the bourgeoisie, i.e., that they cringe to the “political methodology of social-patriotism”, to use Trotsky’s pretentious language.

A revolution in wartime means civil war; the conversion of a war between governments into a civil war is, on the one hand, facilitated by military reverses ("defeats") of governments; on the other hand, one cannot actually strive for such a conversion without thereby facilitating defeat.

The reason why the chauvinists (including the Organising Committee and the Chkheidze group) repudiate the defeat “slogan” is that this slogan alone implies a consistent call for revolutionary action against one’s own government in wartime. Without such action, millions of ultra-revolutionary phrases such as a war against “the war and the conditions, etc." are not worth a brass farthing.

Anyone who would in all earnest refute the “slogan” of defeat for one’s own government in the imperialist war should prove one of three things: (1) that the war of 1914-15 is not reactionary, or (2) that a revolution stemming from that war is impossible, or (3) that co-ordination and mutual aid are possible between revolutionary movements in all the belligerent countries. The third point is particularly important to Russia, a most backward country, where an immediate socialist revolution is impossible. That is why the Russian Social-Democrats had to be the first to advance the “theory and practice” of the defeat “slogan”. The tsarist government was perfectly right in asserting that the agitation conducted by the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma—the sole instance in the International, not only of parliamentary opposition but of genuine revolutionary anti-government agitation among the masses—that this agitation has weakened Russia’s “military might” and is likely to lead to its defeat. This is a fact to which it is foolish to close one’s eyes.

The opponents of the defeat slogan are simply afraid of themselves when they refuse to recognise the very obvious fact of the inseparable link between revolutionary agitation against the government and helping bring about its defeat.

Are co-ordination and mutual aid possible between the Russian movement, which is revolutionary in the bourgeois- democratic sense, and th socialist movement in the West? No socialist who has publicly spoken on the matter during the last decade has doubted this, the movement among the Austrian proletariat after October 17, 1905,[3] actually proving it possible.

Ask any Social-Democrat who calls himself an internationalist whether or not he approves of an understanding between the Social-Democrats of the various belligerent countries on joint revolutionary action against all belligerent governments. Many of them will reply that it is impossible, as Kautsky has done (Die Neue Zeit, October 2, 1914), thereby fully proving his social-chauvinism. This, on the one hand, is a deliberate and vicious lie, which clashes with the generally known facts and the Basle Manifesto. On the other hand, if it were true, the opportunists would be quite right in many respects!

Many will voice their approval of such an understanding. To this we shall say: if this approval is not hypocritical, it is ridiculous to think that, in wartime and for the conduct of a war, some “formal” understanding is necessary, such as the election of representatives, the arrangement of a meeting, the signing of an agreement, and the choice of the day and hour! Only the Semkovskys are capable of thinking so. An understanding on revolutionary action even in a single country, to say nothing of a number of countries, can be achieved only by the force of the example of serious revolutionary action, by launching such action and developing it. However, such action cannot be launched without desiring the defeat of the government, and without contributing to such a defeat. The conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war cannot be “made”, any more than a revolution can be “made”. It develops out of a number of diverse phenomena, aspects, features, characteristics and consequences of the imperialist war. That development is impossible without a series of military reverses and defeats of governments that receive blows from their own oppressed classes.

To repudiate the defeat slogan means allowing one’s revolutionary ardour to degenerate into an empty phrase, or sheer hypocrisy.

What is the substitute proposed for the defeat slogan? It is that of “neither victory nor defeat” (Semkovsky in Izvestia No. 2; also the entire Organising Committee in No. 1). This, however, is nothing but a paraphrase of the “defence of the fatherland” slogan. It means shifting the issue to the level of a war between governments (who, according to the content of this slogan, are to keep to their old stand, “retain their positions"), and not to the level of the struggle of the oppressed classes against their governments! It means justifying the chauvinism of all the imperialist nations, whose bourgeoisie are always ready to say—and do say to the people—that they are “only” fighting “against defeat”. “The significance of our August 4 vote was that we are not for war but against defeat," David, a leader of the opportunists, writes in his book. The Organising Committee, together with Bukvoyed and Trotsky, stand on fully the same ground as David when they defend the “neither-victory nor-defeat” slogan.

On closer examination, this slogan will be found to mean a “class truce”, the renunciation of the class struggle by the oppressed classes in all belligerent countries, since the class struggle is impossible without dealing blows at one’s “own” bourgeoisie, one’s “own” government, whereas dealing a blow at one’s own government in wartime is (for Bukvoyed’s information) high treason, means contributing to the defeat of one’s own country. Those who accept the “neither victory-nor-defeat” slogan can only be hypocritically in favour of the class struggle, of “disrupting the class truce”; in practice, such people are renouncing an independent proletarian policy because they subordinate the proletariat of all belligerent countries to the absolutely bourgeois task of safeguarding the imperialist governments against defeat. The only policy of actual, not verbal disruption of the “class truce”, of acceptance of the class struggle, is for the proletariat to take advantage of the difficulties experienced by its government and its bourgeoisie in order to overthrow them. This, however, cannot be achieved or striven for, without desiring the defeat of one’s own government and without contributing to that defeat.

When, before the war, the Italian Social-Democrats raised the question of a mass strike, the bourgeoisie replied, no doubt correctly from their own point of view, that this would be high treason, and that Social-Democrats would be dealt with as traitors. That is true, just as it is true that fraternisation in the trenches is high treason. Those who write against “high treason”, as Bukvoyed does, or against the “disintegration of Russia”, as Semkovsky does, are adopting the bourgeois, not the proletarian point of view. A proletarian cannot deal a class blow at his government or hold out (in fact) a hand to his brother, the proletarian of the “foreign” country which is at war with “our side”, without committing “high treason”, without contributing to the defeat, to the disintegration of his “own”, imperialist “Great” Power.

Whoever is in favour of the slogan of “neither victory nor defeat” is consciously or unconsciously a chauvinist; at best he is a conciliatory petty bourgeois but in any case he is an -enemy to proletarian policy, a partisan of the existing ·governments, of the present-day ruling classes.

Let us look at the question from yet another angle. The war cannot but evoke among the masses the most turbulent sentiments, which upset the usual sluggish state of mass mentality. Revolutionary tactics are impossible if they are not adjusted to these new turbulent sentiments.

What are the main currents of these turbulent sentiments? They are: (1) Horror and despair. Hence, a growth of religious feeling. Again the churches are crowded, the reactionaries joyfully declare. “Wherever there is suffering there is religion," says the arch-reactionary Barr s. He is right, too. (2) Hatred of the “enemy”, a sentiment that is carefully fostered by the bourgeoisie (not so much by the priests), arid is of economic and political value only to the bourgeoisie. (3) Hatred of one’s own government and one’s own bourgeoisie—the sentiment of all class-conscious workers who understand, on the one hand, that war is a “continuation of the politics” of imperialism, which they counter by a “continuation” of their hatred of their class enemy, and, on the other hand, that “a war against war” is a banal phrase unless it means a revolution against their own government. Hatred of one’s own government and one’s own bourgeoisie cannot be aroused unless their defeat is desired; one cannot be a sincere opponent of a civil (i.e., class) truce without arousing hatred of one’s own government and bourgeoisie!

Those who stand for the “neither-victory-nor-defeat” slogan are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists, for they do not believe in the possibility of inter national revolutionary action by the working class against their own governments, and do not wish to help develop such action, which, though undoubtedly difficult, is the only task worthy of a proletarian, the only socialist task. It is the proletariat in the most backward of the belligerent. Great Powers which, through the medium of their party, have had to adopt—especially in view of the shameful treachery of the German and French Social-Democrats— revolutionary tactics that are quite unfeasible unless they “contribute to the defeat” of their own government, but which alone lead to a European revolution, to the permanent peace of socialism, to the liberation of humanity from the horrors, misery, savagery and brutality now prevailing.

[1] See p. 163 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Bukvoyed-D. Ryazanov.

[3] This refers to the tsar’s manifesto promulgated on October 17 (30), 1905. It promised "civil liberties" and a “legislative Duma”. The manifesto was a concession wrested from the tsarist regime by the revolution, but that concession by no means decided the fate of the revolution as the liberals and Mensheviks claimed, The Bolsheviks exposed the real meaning of the Manifesto and called upon the masses to continue the struggle and overthrow the autocracy.

The first Russian revolution exerted a great revolutionising influence on the working-class movement in other countries, in particular in Austria-Hungary. Lenin pointed out that the news about the tsar’s concession and his manifesto, with its promise of “liberties”, “played a decisive part in the final victory of universal suffrage in Austria”.

Mass demonstrations took place in Vienna and other industrial cities in Austria-Hungary. In Prague barricades were put up. As a result, universal suffrage was introduced in Austria.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

*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-The Anti-militarist Tasks of German Social-Democracy(1907)

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

7. The Anti-militarist Tasks of German Social-Democracy

The anti-patriotic form of anti-militarism has not been and will not be able to take root in German conditions. But Social-Democratic propaganda will have to be filled to a much greater degree with the spirit of international working-class solidarity and with the appeal for peace between nations as one of the goals of the proletarian struggle for liberation. The demands set out in the anti-militarist programme mentioned above form a suitable and unobjectionable basis for this task.

From a general point of view militarism in its internal form, together with all its evil manifestations (more evident in normal times), will in the future find itself in a rather more difficult position, and its role in the class war will become more evident. Where the main attack is to be launched is something that will be determined at the time by the national and international situation.

Whatever forms and methods of propaganda we have to introduce or adapt in Germany, we can of course assume that we shall have to keep within legal limits. The question of carrying out propaganda inside the army is therefore ruled out in advance.

German Social-Democracy has not even done enough work in collecting documentary evidence against militarism. Details are normally available only of the military budget and the growth in indirect military burdens and the peace-time strength of the army. But the connection between these military burdens and the customs and taxation policy awaits closer examination. What is notably lacking is information on the illl-treatment of soldiers, on the exploits of military justice, on cases of suicide among soldiers, on health conditions in the army, on injuries suffered on active service, on conditions of pay and pensions, together with an account of the use of soldiers to force down wages and of related army decrees and their use (with men on the point of being disbanded) to break strikes, of intervention by the army and armed police forces in strike situations, of the victims of such actions, of the system of military boycott, of military intervention in politics, of the use of the military societies in the social and political struggle, and of such exploits of militarism in other countries, especially in the economic and political struggle. A special account therefore has to be opened for militarism, naval militarism and colonial militarism. We have insufficient knowledge and material relating to the militarist youth societies of our opponents, as well as to the and-militarist movement and its struggles.

The regular collection, sifting and study of all this material must be systematically taken in hand. It cannot be treated as a task secondary to the general agitation.

This material would of course first have to be put to use in our general agitational work, in parliament, in the press and in general leaflets and meetings. But it must be directed to specific objectives, into specific channels, in order to penetrate and take effect among those strata of the population which are especially important to the anti-militarist movement. We have to consider first of all not only the young people liable for military service but also theft parents, and especially their mothers, who can render especially valuable service in educating their children in anti-militarism. There are also the older workers, whose influence on their younger comrades and the apprentices has to be put to the best possible use. And finally we have to step up the struggle, in terms of energy and method, against the military societies.

The agitation must never directly or indirectly incite to military disobedience. It will have attained its goal if it shows up the essence of militarism and its role in the class struggle, if it raises indignation and disgust in response to its exposure of the real character of militarism, its function as an enemy of the people.

Wherever the law permits, the chief agent of this propaganda must be the youth organizations, which already by awakening class consciousness are tending to weaken militarism and the militarist spirit. These youth organizations must make use of the press, of pamphlets, of leaflets, of lecture courses and education in order to spread the anti-militarist word as widely as possible in the form most acceptable to young people. Festivals and cultural events must be used to the same end. The members of the associations must in turn be educated in order to become propagandists of anti-militarism. By personal contact between friends of the same class and age, together with the circulation of literature, by these means the family, relations and friends, the workshop and factory will be transformed through the work of the youth organizations into centres of recruitment for anti-militarism.

The youth organization itself must not limit its agitation to its own members, but continually widen its audience. It must address the whole of the class of young workers. It must also, in the way described above, win over the older workers. It must make systematic use of the press, leaflets, pamphlets, public meetings, lectures, galas, festivals and so on, attractive to young and old. Meetings organized on the occasion of the departure of the recruits as well as demonstrations of all kinds must serve the same goal.

The Party too must take up in press and parliament and in a systematic way – as it has already done, but more energetically – the material and social interests of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers. [1] Thus, in a quite irreproachable way, it can ensure the sympathy of these groups.

The foundation of special associations of ex-soldiers, as in Belgium and Holland, with the special task of opposing the military societies, is not to be recommended in Germany – the general political and trade union organizations are sufficient.

If we examine what has been done in other countries, we get an idea of what remains to be done. And if we take a glance at the programme set out above, we recognize that the Party, in spite of all that it has done in the field of anti-militarism, has only begun to fulfil its task. It is, so to speak, at the kindergarten stage as far as anti-militarist propaganda is concerned.

These multiple activities obviously cannot all be carried out by one central organization, but they can and must be centrally directed and controlled. The necessity of the establishment of such a centre is already evident, because only thus can the most careful use be made of all the legal possibilities of action. Like a net cast into the distance, anti-militarist propaganda must reach out to the whole people. The proletarian youth must be systematically inflamed with class consciousness and hate against militarism. Youthful enthusiasm will take hold of the hearts of the young workers inspired by such agitation. These young workers belong to Social-Democracy, to Social-Democratic anti-militarism. If everyone carries out his task, they must and will be won. He who has the young people has the army.

1. Improvement in pay, food, clothing, housing, treatment, lightening of the service, suppression of ill-treatment, reform of the system of complaints, of discipline and of punishment, as well as of military justice, etc.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

*From The Archives- Anti-War Soldiers and Sailors Solidarity Committees- Propaganda Or Agitation?

Click on the title to link to an "American Left History" blog entry, dated December 5, 2007, and titled "Political Slogans and Timeliness- Anti-War Soldiers and Sailors Solidarity Committees" that is mentioned in today's entry.

Markin Comment:

Let me put the question posed by the title of this entry in context. In early 2006, during the height of the furor over the Cheney/ Bush Administration’s handling of the Iraq War, the circle of anti-war militants that I work with proposed a strategic plan aimed at creating support groups, the soldiers and sailors solidarity committees mentioned in the headline, for the growing discontent inside the military. Politically the committees were seen by us as a shortcut way to do effective anti-war work in the absence of any real movement by organized labor to take actions, like political strikes, to put a end to the war. And also as a way to galvanize support from those anti-war militants who were repelled by the flagging mainstream middle class-led anti-war movement that seemed to be bogged down in a dead-end strategy of ever more mass demonstrations (although conveniently, as those who track such things will note, not near election time). Seemingly, more time was spent looking for ways to avoid confronting the war issue on the streets as those leading various coalitions greedily eyed the then up-coming 2006 mid-term Congressional elections, and the prospects for electing "progressive" Democrats.

There has always been a distinction made in the revolutionary movement, and if the reader is not aware of it he or she should be, and in any case I will make it here, between the tasks that small ad hoc militant leftist groups can propose and carry out in their work and those of a mass labor party or organization. Thus, today, for instance, communists and other radicals are for the most part about the business of carrying out propaganda to small groups of interested militants in order to create a cadre ready to carry out the tasks necessary when our time comes. In 2006 our circle went beyond that. We carried out the propaganda for soldiers and sailors solidarity committees in the local and regional anti-war milieus but we also saw something of a unique opportunity to link up the civilian antiwar movement with what appeared to us to be some serious discontent in the military, and we agitated around the committee slogan.

What we were responding to, as had occurred in the general population, was a war-weariness on the part of a significant section of the soldiery, a questioning of the mission in the wake of the very serious tendency toward chaos in the internal political and military situation in Iraq, a disquiet about the mounting personal hardships, especially by those National Guard units that were being held over beyond their original tour of duty, and an overall physical weariness caused by repeated deployments. The tinder was there, if only for a short time. Moreover, the point that pushed us forward was contact with elements in the military that were looking for civilian support. Thus, for most of 2006 we not only carried out propaganda for soldiers and sailors solidarity committees but we actively agitated and built them, as well. Furthermore, our agitation included encouraging larger groups to form committees, and to make contact with military personal in their area and, most importantly, in Iraq. Thus within the limits of our resources and the time frame we were working in we carried out what overall was an fairly goo small scale agitational anti-war campaign.

As I have tried to telegraph above though this ability to agitate effectively only lasted until the Bush troop "surge" of 2007. Our anti-war military work, strangely enough, was one of the casualties of that surge. Our contacts dried up, other things got resolved inside the military that helped tamp down the discontent, and, candidly, the morale of the troops improved as they smelled "victory" with the new "surge" strategy. Thus, that opening closed down. Although we did low-level work around the issue the agitational campaign ended and the slogan of the soldiers and sailors committees went back to its original use as a propaganda tool. I wrote a blog entry in this space about that shift from agitation to propaganda, and timeliness in revolutionary politics in general. (See linked article above.)

All this background, hopefully, will help explain not only the title of this entry but why recently my circle has again started to put the question of organizing soldiers and sailors solidarity committees on the front burner for propaganda purposes. This is moreover no mere abstract question. After reviewing the previous work and its rationale one of the younger, and newer, members of the circle questioned why we were reviving the slogan. Good point.

We have repeated projected that this Afghan war, and its future escalations, will be a big and permanent albatross around the neck of Barack Obama during the life of his presidency, especially from those people on his left that we want to, no, have to, talk to today. However, we also note that there is little manifestation of an anti-Obama backlash from that quarter today, although there are certainly murmurs of some inarticulate discontent. Moreover, there is nothing, at least nothing that we can grab on to, happening with the soldiers and sailors on duty now. So why the emergence of the slogan again, even if only for propaganda purposes? Well, that goes to one of the lessons that we learned from the 2006 experience.

I have recently (see blog entry for January 23), and have on many earlier occasions in this space, noted both my own background in anti-war military work and that such work is hard, tough work. One of the biggest initial hurdles is making those first contacts AND then winning through actions over time the trust of the soldiery. Our circle has come to a consensus, and rightly so I think, that we were actually too late in starting our work in 2006, that early or mid-2005 would have placed us in better position to make a bigger splash. So while this slogan is a propaganda point right now, we are making it today to get those connections going. For others, to whom this entry is really directed, and who are interested in this strategy start thinking along those lines. Also check the Fort Hood, Fort Lewis and Fort Drum G.I. Coffee House links on this profile page for further orientation. Not one penny, not one person for Obama’s wars! For soldiers and sailors anti-war solidarity committees! Immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S./Allied troops and mercenaries from Iraq and Afghanistan!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of The "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac- In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)-Beat Poet's Corner- Allen Ginsberg's "The Ballad Of The Skeletons"

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of The "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac- 

“Advertisements for Myself”-Introduction by Allan Jackson, a founding member of the American Left History publication back in 1974 when it was a hard copy journal and until 2017 site manager of the on-line edition.      

[He’s back. Jack Kerouac, as described in the headline, “the king of the beats” and maybe the last true beat standing. That is the basis of this introduction by me as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of his untimely death at 47. But before we go down and dirty with the legendary writer I stand before you, the regular reader, and those who have not been around for a while to know that I was relieved of my site manage duties in 2017 in what amounted to a coup by the younger writers who resented the direction I was taking the publication in and replaced me with Greg Green who I had brought on board from American Film Gazette to run the day to day operations while I oversaw the whole operation and planned my retirement. Over the past year or so a million rumors have, had mostly now, swirled around this publication and the industry in general about what had happened and I will get to that in a minute before dealing with Jack Kerouac’s role in the whole mess.

What you need to know first, if you don’t know already is that Greg Green took me back to do the introductions to an encore presentation of a long-term history of rock and roll series that I edited and essentially created after an unnamed older writer who had not been part of the project balled it all up, got catch flat-footed talking bullshit and other assorted nonsense since he knew nada, nada nunca and, about the subject having been apparently asleep when the late Peter Markin “took us to school” that history. Since then Greg and I have had an “armed truce,” meaning I could contribute as here to introductions of some encore and some origin material as long as I didn’t go crazy, his term, for what he called so-called nostalgia stuff from the 1950s and 1960s and meaning as well that Greg will not go crazy, my term, and will refrain from his ill-advised attempt to reach a younger audience by “dumbing down” the publication with odd-ball comic book character reviews of films, graphic novels and strange musical interludes. Fair is fair.

What I need to mention, alluded to above, is those rumors that ran amok while I was on the ropes, when I had lost that decisive vote of no confidence by one sullen vote. People here, and my enemies in the industry as well, seeing a wounded Allan Jackson went for the kill, went for the jugular that the seedy always thrive on and began a raggedy-ass trail on noise you would not believe. In the interest of elementary hygiene, and to frankly clear the air, a little, since there will always be those who have evil, and worse in their hearts when “the mighty have fallen.”  Kick when somebody is down their main interest in life.

I won’t go through the horrible rumors like I was panhandling down in Washington, D.C., I was homeless in Olde Saco, Maine (how could that be when old friend and writer here Josh Breslin lives there and would have provided alms to me so at least get an approximation of the facts before spinning the wild woolly tale), I had become a male prostitute in New York City (presumably after forces here and in that city hostile to me put in the fatal “hard to work with” tag on me ruining any chances on the East Coast of getting work, getting enough dough to keep the wolves from my door, my three ex-wives and that bevy of kids, nice kids, who nevertheless were sucking me dry with alimony and college tuitions), writing press releases under the name Leonard Bloom for a Madison Avenue ad agency. On a lesser scale of disbelief I had taken a job as a ticket-taker in a multi-plex in Nashua, New Hampshire, had been a line dishwasher at the Ritz in Philadelphia when they needed day labor for parties and convention banquets, had been kicking kids out of their newspaper routes and taking that task on myself, and to finish off although I have not given a complete rundown rummaging through trash barrels looking for bottles with deposits. Christ.

Needless to say, how does one actually answer such idiocies, and why. A couple of others stick out about me and some surfer girl out in Carlsbad in California who I was pimping while getting my sack time with her and  this one hurt because it hurt a dear friend and former “hippie girl” lover of mine, Madame La Rue, back in the day that I was running a whorehouse with her in Luna Bay for rich Asian businessmen with a taste for kinky stuff. I did stop off there and Madame does run a high-end brothel in Luna Bay but I had nothing to do with it. The reason Madame was hurt was because I had lent her the money to buy the place when it was a rundown hotel and built it up from there with periodic additional funds from me so she could not understand why my act of kindness would create such degenerate noise from my enemies who were clueless about the relationship between us.
I will, must deal with two big lies which also center of my reluctant journey west (caused remember by that smear campaign which ruined by job opportunities in the East, particularly New York City. The first which is really unbelievable on its face is that I hightailed it directly to Utah, to Salt Lake City, when I busted out in NYC looking for one Mitt Romney, “Mr. Flip-Flop,” former Governor of Massachusetts, Presidential candidate against Barack Obama then planning on running for U.S. Senator from Utah (now successful ready to take office in January) to “get well.” The premise for this big lie was supposedly that since I have skewered the guy while he was governor and running for president with stuff like the Mormon fetish for white underwear and the old time polygamy of his great-grand-father who had five wives (and who showed great executive skill I think in keeping the peace in that extended family situation. The unbelievable part is that those Mormon folk, who have long memories and have pitchforks at the ready to rumble with the damned, would let a sinner like me, a non-Mormon for one thing anywhere the Romney press operation. Christ, I must be some part latter day saint since I barely got out of that damn state alive if the real truth were known after I applied for a job with the Salt Lake Sentinel not knowing the rag was totally linked to the Mormons. Pitchforks, indeed.    

The biggest lie though is the one that had me as the M.C. in complete “drag” as Elsa Maxwell at the “notorious” KitKat Club in San Francisco which has been run for about the past thirty years or so by Miss Judy Garland, at one time and maybe still is in some quarters the “drag queen” Queen of that city. This will show you how ignorant, or blinded by hate, some people are. Miss Judy Garland is none other that one of our old corner boys from the Acre section of North Adamsville, Timmy Riley. Timmy who like the rest of us on the corner used to “fag bait” and beat up anybody, any guy who seemed effeminate, at what cost to Timmy’s real feelings we will never really know although he was always the leader in the gay-bashing orgy. Finally between his own feeling and Stonewall in New York in 1969 which did a great deal to make gays, with or with the drag queen orientation, a little less timid Timmy fled the Acre (and his hateful family and friends) to go to friendlier Frisco. He was in deep personal financial trouble before I was able to arrange some loans from myself and some of his other old corner boys (a few still hate Timmy for what he has become, his true self) to buy the El Lobo Club, his first drag queen club, and when that went under, the now thriving tourist trap KitKat Club. So yes, yes, indeed, I stayed with my old friend at his place and that was that. Nothing more than I had done many times before while I ran the publication.                   

But enough of this tiresome business because I want to introduce this series dedicated to the memory of Jack Kerouac who had a lot of influence on me for a long time, mostly after he died in 1969 
All roads about Jack Kerouac, about who was the king of the beats, about what were the “beats” lead back to the late Pete Markin who, one way or another, taught the working poor Acre neighborhood of North Adamsville corner boys what was up with that movement. Funny, because we young guys were a serious generation removed from that scene, really our fathers’ contemporaries and you know how far removed fathers were from kids in those days especially among the working poor trying to avoid going  “under water” and not just about mortgages but food on tables and clothing on backs, were children of rock and roll, not jazz, the beat musical medium, and later the core of the “Generation of ‘68” which took off, at least partially, with the “hippie” scene, where the dying embers of the beat scene left off. Those dying embers exactly the way to put it since most of our knowledge or interest came from the stereotypes-beards before beards were cool and before grandfather times -for guys, okay, berets, black and beaten down looks. Ditto on black for the gals, including black nylons which no Acre girl would have dreamed of wearing, not in the early 1960s anyway. Our “model” beatnik really came, as we were also children of television, from sitcom stories like Dobie Gillis with stick character Maynard G. Krebs standing in for all be-bop-dom.        

So it is easy to see where except to ostracize, meaning harass, maybe beat up if that was our wont that day, we would have passed by the “beat” scene, passed by Jack Kerouac too without the good offices, not a term we would have used then, if not for nerdish, goof, wild and woolly in the idea world Markin (always called Scribe for obvious reasons but we will keep with Markin here). He was the guy who always looked for some secret meaning to the universe, that certain breezes, winds, metaphorical breezes and winds, were going to turn things around, were going to make the world a place where Markin could thrive. Markin was the one who first read Kerouac’s breakthrough travelogue of a different sort novel On The Road.
Now Markin was the kind of guy, and sometimes we let him go on and sometimes stopped him in his tracks, who when he was on to something would bear down on us to pay attention. Christ some weekend nights he would read passages from the book like it was the Bible (which it turned out to be in a way later) when all we basically cared about is which girls were going to show up at our hang-out spot, the well-known Tonio’s Pizza Parlor and play the jukebox and we would go from there. Most of us, including me, kind of yawned at the whole thing even when Markin made a big deal that Kerouac was a working-class guy like us from up in Lowell cut right along the Merrimac River. The whole thing seemed way too exotic and moreover there was too much homosexual stuff implied which in our strict Irish-Italian Catholic neighborhood did not go down well at all -made us dismiss the whole thing and want to if I recall correctly “beat up” that Allan Ginsberg character. Even Dean Moriarty, the Neal Cassidy character, didn’t move us since although we were as larcenous and “clip” crazy as any character in that book we kind of took Dean as a tough car crazy guide like Sonny Jones from our neighborhood who was nothing but a hood in Red Riley’s bad ass motorcycle gang which hung out at Harry’s Variety Store. We avoided him and more so Red like the plague. Both wound up dead, very dead, in separate attempted armed robberies in broad daylight if you can believe that.    

Our first run through of our experiences with Kerouac and through him the beat movement was therefore kind of marginal-even as Markin touted for a while that whole scene he agreed with us that jazz-be-bop jazz always associated with the beat-ness was not our music, was grating to our rock and roll-refined and defined ears. Here is where Markin was always on to something though, always had some idea percolating in his head. There was a point where he, we as well I think, got tired of rock and roll, a time when it had run out of steam for a while and along with his crazy home life which really was bad drove him to go to Harvard Square and check out what he had heard was a lot of stuff going on. Harvard Square was, is still to the extent that any have survived like Club Passim, the home of the coffeehouse. A place that kind of went with the times first as the extension of the beat generation hang-out where poetry and jazz would be read and played. But in Markin’s time, our time there was the beginnings of a switch because when he went to the old long gone Café Nana he heard folk music and not jazz, although some poetry was still being read. I remember Markin telling me how he figured the change when I think it was the late Dave Von Ronk performed at some club and mentioned that when he started out in the mid-1950s in the heat of beat time folk singers were hired at the coffeehouses in Greenwich Village to “clear the house” for the next set of poetry performers but that now folk-singing eclipsed poetry in the clubs. Markin loved it, loved the whole scene of which he was an early devotee. Me, well, strangely considering where I wound up and what I did as a career, I always, still do, hated the music. Thought it was too whinny and boring. Enough said though.                   

Let’s fast forward to see where Kerouac really affected us in a way that when Markin was spouting forth early on we could not appreciate. As Markin sensed in his own otherworldly way a new breeze was coming down the cultural highway, a breeze push forward by the beats I will confess, by the folk music scene, by the search for roots which the previous generation, our parents’ generation, spent their adulthoods attempting to banish and become part of the great American vanilla melt, and by a struggling desire to question everything that had come before, had been part of what we had had no say in creating, weren’t even asked about. Heady stuff and Markin before he made a very bad decision to quit college in his sophomore years and “find himself,” my expression not his, spent many of his waking hours figuring out how to make his world a place where he could thrive.

That is when one night, this is when we were well out of high school, some of us corner boys had gone our separate ways and those who remained in contact with the brethren spent less time hanging out at Tonio’s, Markin once again pulled out On The Road, pulled out Jack’s exotic travelogue. The difference is we were all ears then and some of us after that night brought our own copies or went to the Thomas Murphy Public Library and took out the book. This was the spring of the historic year 1967 when the first buds of the Summer of Love which wracked San Francisco and the Bay Area to its core and once Markin started working on us, started to make us see his vision of what he would later called, culling from Tennyson if I am not mistaken a “newer world.” Pulling us all in his train, even as with Bart Webber and if I recall Si Lannon a little, he had to pull out all the stops to have them, us, join him in the Summer of Love experience. Maybe the whole thing with Jack Kerouac was a pipe dream I remember reading about him in the Literary Gazette when he was down in Florida living with his ancient mother and he was seriously critical of the “hippies,” kind of banged on his own beat roots explaining that he was talking about something almost Catholic beatitude spiritual and not personal freedom, of the road or anything else. A lot of guys and not just writing junkies looking for some way to alleviate their inner pains have repudiated their pasts but all I know is that when Jack was king of the hill, when he spoke to us those were the days all roads to Kerouac were led by Markin. Got it. Allan Jackson    

In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)

By Book Critic Zack James

To be honest I know about On The Road Jack Kerouac’s epic tale of his generation’s search for something, maybe the truth, maybe just for kicks, for stuff, important stuff that had happened down in the base of society where nobody in authority was looking or some such happening strictly second-hand. His generation’s search looking for a name, found what he, or someone associated with him, maybe the bandit poet Gregory Corso, king of the mean New York streets, mean, very mean indeed in a junkie-hang-out world around Times Square when that place was up to its neck in flea-bit hotels, all-night Joe and Nemo’s and the trail of the “fixer” man on every corner, con men coming out your ass too, called the “beat” generation. (Yes,  I know that the actual term “beat” was first used by Kerouac writer friend John Clemmon Holmes in an article in some arcane journal but the “feel” had to have come from a less academic source so I will crown the bandit prince Corso as genesis)
Beat, beat of the jazzed up drum line backing some sax player searching for the high white note, what somebody told me, maybe my oldest brother Alex who was washed clean in the Summer of Love, 1967 but must have known the edges of Jack’s time since he was in high school when real beat exploded on the scene in Jack-filled 1957, they called “blowing to the China seas” out in West Coast jazz and blues circles, that high white note he heard achieved one skinny night by famed sax man Sonny Johns, dead beat, run out on money, women, life, leaving, and this is important no forwarding address for the desolate repo man to hang onto, dread beat, nine to five, 24/7/365 that you will get caught back up in the spire wind up like your freaking staid, stay at home parents, beaten down, ground down like dust puffed away just for being, hell, let’s just call it being, beatified beat like saintly and all Jack’s kid stuff high holy Catholic incense and a story goes with it about a young man caught up in a dream, like there were not ten thousand other religions in the world to feast on- you can take your pick of the meanings, beat time meanings. Hell, join the club they all did, the guys, and it was mostly guys who hung out on the poet princely mean streets of New York, Chi town, Mecca beckoning North Beach in Frisco town cadging twenty-five cents a night flea-bag sleeps (and the fleas were real no time for metaphor down in the bowels where the cowboy junkies drowse in endless sleeps, raggedy winos toothless suck dry the dregs and hipster con men prey on whoever floats down), half stirred left on corner diners’ coffees and groundling cigarette stubs when the Bull Durham ran out).

I was too young to have had anything but a vague passing reference to the thing, to that “beat” thing since I was probably just pulling out of diapers then, maybe a shade bit older but not much. I got my fill, my brim fill later through my oldest brother Alex. Alex, and his crowd, more about that in a minute, but even he was only washed clean by the “beat” experiment at a very low level, mostly through reading the book (need I say the book was On The Road) and having his mandatory two years of living on the road around the time of the Summer of Love, 1967 an event whose 50th anniversary is being commemorated this year as well and so very appropriate to mention since there were a million threads, fibers, connections between “beat” and “hippie” despite dour grandpa Jack’s attempts to trash those connection when the acolytes and bandit hangers-on  came calling looking for the “word.” So even Alex and his crowd were really too young to have been washed by the beat wave that crashed the continent toward the end of the 1950s on the wings of Allan Ginsburg’s Howl and Jack’s travel book of a different kind (not found on the AAA, Traveler’s Aid, Youth Hostel brochure circuit if you please although Jack and the crowd, my brother and his crowd later would use such services when up against it in let’s say a place like Winnemucca in the Nevadas or Neola in the heartlands).
Literary stuff for sure but the kind of stuff that moves generations, or I like to think the best parts of those cohorts. These were the creation documents the latter of which would drive Alex west before he finally settled down to his career life as a high-road lawyer (and to my sorrow and anger never looked back which has caused more riffs and bad words than I want to yell about here).             

Of course anytime you talk about books and poetry and then add my brother’s Alex name into the mix that automatically brings up memories of another name, the name of the late Peter Paul Markin. Markin, for whom Alex and the rest of the North Adamsville corner boys, Frankie, Jack, Jimmy, Si, Josh (he a separate story from up in Olde Saco, Maine and so only an honorary corner boy after hitching up with the Scribe out on a Russian Hill dope-filled park), Bart, and a few others still alive recently had me put together a tribute book for in connection with that Summer of Love, 1967, their birthright event, just mentioned.  Markin was the vanguard guy, the volunteer odd-ball unkempt mad monk seeker, what did Jack call his generation’s such, oh yeah, holy goofs,   who got several of them off their asses and out to the West Coast to see what there was to see. To see some stuff that Markin had been speaking of for a number of years before 1967 (and which nobody in the crowd paid any attention to, or dismissed out of hand, what they called “could give a rat’s ass” about in the local jargon which I also inherited in those cold, hungry bleak 1950s cultural days in America) and which can be indirectly attributed to the activities of Jack, Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, that aforementioned bandit poet who ran wild on the mean streets among the hustlers, conmen and whores of the major towns of the continent, William Burroughs, the Harvard-trained junkie  and a bunch of other guys who took a very different route for our parents who were of the same generation as them but of a very different world.

But it was above all Jack’s book, Jack’s travel adventure book which had caused a big splash in 1957(after an incredible publishing travail since the story line actually related to events in the late 1940s and which would cause Jack no end of trauma when the kids showed up at his door looking to hitch a ride on the motherlode star, and had ripple effects into the early 1960s and even now certain “hip” kids acknowledge the power of attraction that book had for their own developments, especially that living simple, fast and hard part). Made the young, some of them anyway, like I say I think the best part, have to spend some time thinking through the path of life ahead by hitting the vagrant dusty sweaty road. Maybe not hitchhiking, maybe not going high speed high through the ocean, plains, mountain, desert night but staying unsettled for a while anyway.    

Like I said above Alex was out on the road two years and other guys, other corner boys for whatever else you wanted to call them that was their niche back in those days and were recognized as such in the town not always to their benefit, from a few months to a few years. Markin started first back in the spring of 1967 but was interrupted by his fateful induction into the Army and service, if you can call it that, in Vietnam and then several more years upon his return before his untimely and semi-tragic end down some dusty Jack-strewn road in Mexico cocaine deal blues. With maybe this difference from today’s young who are seeking alternative roads away from what is frankly bourgeois society and was when Jack wrote although nobody except commies and pinkos called it that for fear of being tarred with those brushes. Alex, Frankie Riley the acknowledged leader, Jack Callahan and the rest, Markin included, were strictly “from hunger” working class kids who when they hung around Tonio Pizza Parlor were as likely to be thinking up ways to grab money fast any way they could or of getting into some   hot chick’s pants any way they could as anything else. Down at the base of society when you don’t have enough of life’s goods or have to struggle too much to get even that little bit “from hunger” takes a big toll on your life. I can testify to that part because Alex was not the only one in the James family to go toe to toe with the law back then when the coppers were just waiting for corner boy capers to explode nay Friday or Saturday night, it was a close thing for all us boys as it had been with Jack when all is said and done. But back then dough and sex after all was what was what for corner boys, maybe now too although you don’t see many guys hanging on forlorn Friday night corners anymore.

What made this tribe different, the Tonio Pizza Parlor corner boys, was mad monk Markin. Markin called by Frankie Riley “Scribe” from the time he came to North Adamsville from across town in junior high school and that stuck all through high school. The name stuck because although Markin was as larcenous and lovesick as the rest of them he was also crazy for books and poetry. Christ according to Alex, Markin was the guy who planned most of the “midnight creeps” they called then. Although nobody in their right minds would have the inept Markin actually execute the plan. That was for smooth as silk Frankie now also like Alex a high-road lawyer to lead. That operational sense was why Frankie was the leader then (and maybe why he was a locally famous lawyer later who you definitely did not want to be on the other side against him). Markin was also the guy who all the girls for some strange reason would confide in and thus was the source of intelligence about who was who in the social pecking order, in other words, who was available, sexually or otherwise. That sexually much more important than otherwise. See Markin always had about ten billion facts running around his head in case anybody, boy or girl, asked him about anything so he was ready to do battle, for or against take your pick.

The books and the poetry is where Jack Kerouac and On The Road come into the corner boy life of the Tonio’s Pizza Parlor life. Markin was something like an antennae for anything that seemed like it might help create a jailbreak, help them get out from under. Later he would be the guy who introduced some of the guys to folk music when that was a big thing. (Alex never bought into that genre, still doesn’t, despite Markin’s desperate pleas for him to check it out. Hated whinny Bob Dylan above all else.) Others too like Kerouac’s friend Allen Ginsburg and his wooly homo poem Howl from 1956 which Markin would read sections out loud from on lowdown dough-less, girl-less Friday nights. And drive the strictly hetero guys crazy when he insisted that they read the poem, read what he called a new breeze was coming down the road. They could, using that term from the times again, have given a rat’s ass about some fucking homo faggot poem from some whacko Jewish guy who belonged in a mental hospital. (That is a direct quote from Frankie Riley at the time via my brother Alex’s memory bank.)

Markin flipped out when he found out that Kerouac had grown up in Lowell, a working class town very much like North Adamsville, and that he had broken out of the mold that had been set for him and gave the world some grand literature and something to spark the imagination of guys down at the base of society like his crowd with little chance of grabbing the brass ring. So Markin force-marched the crowd to read the book, especially putting pressure on my brother who was his closest friend then. Alex read it, read it several times and left the dog- eared copy around which I picked up one day when I was having one of my high school summertime blues. Read it through without stopping almost like Jack wrote the final version of the thing on a damn newspaper scroll in about three weeks. So it was through the Scribe via Alex that I got the Kerouac bug. And now on the 60th anniversary I am passing on the bug to you.           

Ballad Of The Skeletons Lyrics
(written by: Allen Ginsberg)

Said the Presidential Skeleton
I won't sign the bill
Said the Speaker skeleton
Yes you will

Said the Representative Skeleton
I object
Said the Supreme Court skeleton
Whaddya expect

Said the Miltary skeleton
Buy Star Bombs
Said the Upperclass Skeleton
Starve unmarried moms

Said the Yahoo Skeleton
Stop dirty art
Said the Right Wing skeleton
Forget about yr heart

Said the Gnostic Skeleton
The Human Form's divine
Said the Moral Majority skeleton
No it's not it's mine

Said the Buddha Skeleton
Compassion is wealth
Said the Corporate skeleton
It's bad for your health

Said the Old Christ skeleton
Care for the Poor
Said the Son of God skeleton
AIDS needs cure

Said the Homophobe skeleton
Gay folk suck
Said the Heritage Policy skeleton
Blacks're outa luck

Said the Macho skeleton
Women in their place
Said the Fundamentalist skeleton
Increase human race

Said the Right-to-Life skeleton
Foetus has a soul
Said Pro Choice skeleton
Shove it up your hole

Said the Downsized skeleton
Robots got my job
Said the Tough-on-Crime skeleton
Tear gas the mob

Said the Governor skeleton
Cut school lunch
Said the Mayor skeleton
Eat the budget crunch

Said the Neo Conservative skeleton
Homeless off the street!
Said the Free Market skeleton
Use 'em up for meat

Said the Think Tank skeleton
Free Market's the way
Said the Saving & Loan skeleton
Make the State pay

Said the Chrysler skeleton
Pay for you & me
Said the Nuke Power skeleton
& me & me & me

Said the Ecologic skeleton
Keep Skies blue
Said the Multinational skeleton
What's it worth to you?

Said the NAFTA skeleton
Get rich, Free Trade,
Said the Maquiladora skeleton
Sweat shops, low paid

Said the rich GATT skeleton
One world, high tech
Said the Underclass skeleton
Get it in the neck

Said the World Bank skeleton
Cut down your trees
Said the I.M.F. skeleton
Buy American cheese

Said the Underdeveloped skeleton
We want rice
Said Developed Nations' skeleton
Sell your bones for dice

Said the Ayatollah skeleton
Die writer die
Said Joe Stalin's skeleton
That's no lie

Said the Middle Kingdom skeleton
We swallowed Tibet
Said the Dalai Lama skeleton
Indigestion's whatcha get

Said the World Chorus skeleton
That's their fate
Said the U.S.A. skeleton
Gotta save Kuwait

Said the Petrochemical skeleton
Roar Bombers roar!
Said the Psychedelic skeleton
Smoke a dinosaur

Said Nancy's skeleton
Just say No
Said the Rasta skeleton
Blow Nancy Blow

Said Demagogue skeleton
Don't smoke Pot
Said Alcoholic skeleton
Let your liver rot

Said the Junkie skeleton
Can't we get a fix?
Said the Big Brother skeleton
Jail the dirty pricks

Said the Mirror skeleton
Hey good looking
Said the Electric Chair skeleton
Hey what's cooking?

Said the Talkshow skeleton
Fuck you in the face
Said the Family Values skeleton
My family values mace

Said the NY Times skeleton
That's not fit to print
Said the CIA skeleton
Cantcha take a hint?

Said the Network skeleton
Believe my lies
Said the Advertising skeleton
Don't get wise!

Said the Media skeleton
Believe you me
Said the Couch-potato skeleton
What me worry?

Said the TV skeleton
Eat sound bites
Said the Newscast skeleton
That's all Goodnight