Saturday, August 04, 2007



Last week, the week of July 30, 2007, the British Army ended its 38 year occupation of Northern Ireland not with a bang but a whimper. That event has created a certain amount of hand wringing in academic and media circles around the lessons that the American government might learn from the British “counterterrorism” experience. After all, although there are a thousand differences between the occupation by the British in the North and today’s American occupation of Iraq, the mission of both armies, in the end, was the same-to fight ‘terrorism’. The British would have seemed to have had the simpler task, given the geographical, historical, linguistic and cultural affinities between the occupation army and the population as compared to the nightmare scenarios of the Americans being clueless about the local tensions in Iraq and a long way from home to boot. Nevertheless what united them is their dogged pursuit of the inevitably thankless and seemingly endless task of keeping sectarian forces in check by the jackboot. The British did not learn that lesson and it should come as no surprise that the Americans, seemingly willfully, refuse to learn it either.

The trials and tribulations of imperial administration are, however, not really what interests me here. Hell, the British and Americans administrations went into these adventures with their eyes open and with the ‘sweet’ illusion that both affairs would be the usual walkover. What interests, and worries, me are the ramifications of both the late British occupation in Northern Ireland and the one in Iraq today for those of us opposed to imperialism. Needless to say that no important element in the reformist British Labor Party, including the ‘darlings of the left’ in the left wing of that party ever raised the slogan British Troops Out of the North Now as a serious slogan during the whole period of occupation. As far as I can tell very few to the left of the British Labor Party ever unequivocally proclaimed that elementary slogan either (I would like to hear on this if I am incorrect). I do not mean over the last few years when that a was cheap way to appear militant on the Irish question. I am talking about times like 1969 when “the troubles” started or 1972 when all hell broke loose. Or even the time of the Bobby Sands-led hunger strikes. The net effect of the recent British withdrawal is that, after 38 long hard years, the British imperialists were able to leave unbowed and not as a result of political struggle by the British left to force them out. That, my friends, is the real meaning for the American struggle. In 38 years will our grandchildren still be calling for the American withdrawal from Iraq or are we going to take the situation hand well before that time. It is our call.

Thursday, August 02, 2007





Well, I have my sporting blood up this morning. It seems to be the time of year when not much is doing on the ‘real’ political circuit so that I have time to engage in a little speculation on the odds for the 2008 presidential election. Thus I can do a little ‘think’ piece here to while away the summer doldrums. One of the virtues of this exercise is that while I can win or lose money on various electoral propositions I do not have to actually vote for any of these people. There are, indeed, some very big benefits to being a workers party propagandist theses days.

As we know there are now at least eight candidates on the Democratic side and at least nine on the Republican side so that this early trying to handicap those races would be madness. What today’s morning line is about is which party- the Democratic or Republican- will win the presidency in 2008. Now even those like me who only hold their noses at bourgeois politics would be hard pressed to deny that the Democrats -after what will be eight years of George Bush- should be in the cat bird seat. As one Republican candidate is quoted as saying the Democrats have started to take measurements for new drapes in the White House. Let me make a few points, however, that should sober up even my liberal friends about the political realities today.

We all like to use the phrase about the unacknowledged elephant in the room to highlight some obvious problem that is better left unstated. In this case the Democrats have three-the continuing disproportionality caused by the anti-democratic Electoral College; the women and/or black question; and, the way the likely major issue of the 2008 campaign Iraq and national security may cut for the Democrats.

The rank inequity of the Electoral College system of election may rank as about number 106 on a list of reasons that socialists would put together for why this bourgeois democratic system has to be replaced- but it is on the list. The aristocratically-derived Electoral College is probably the most blatantly anti-democratic aspect of the original frame of government. However, despite all the moaning and groaning in 2000 over the Bush thievery, no one to my knowledge has seriously put forth the idea of replacing it with a more democratic formula and a truer sense of proportionality in regard to the make-up of the Congress. In any case if one looks at the numbers that Republicans start with in the South and the interior West then, as has been the case in presidential politics for a while, this is already an uphill fight for the Democrats. Sure there may be some more blue in red states, etc. but the political reality is no matter how popular you are these are the real numbers. Just ask Al Gore.

Let us face it unless Al Gore makes some kind of last minute decision to entry the Democratic race this one is really about Hillary and Obama. That means the most likely Democratic candidate will either be a white woman or a black man. This is new at the presidential level. But let us face some very hard realities. In a time of perceived national security needs will a woman do? And while it is possible that hard core Democrats will find no problem with a woman as their lead candidate does that hold true for the electorate as a whole? Throw in the Hillary-haters and Clinton fatigue factor and there is a very big question about whether a woman can be elected in 2008. And whether that particular woman can get elected.

On the Obama factor let us not kid ourselves- this is a deeply racist country that is probably more segregated today that 40 or 50 years ago in the things that matter like schools and housing. Even having a white mother does not good here. Moreover, as far as politics go the questions of special black oppression like education, housing, jobs etc. that desperately need to be addressed have fallen off the political map. Watch for some very ugly general election campaigning by the Republicans if either Hillary or Obama is nominated.

You and I, dear reader, have had our fill of Iraq. We want the troops out now. However, the opinion polls that show this same desire to get out do not reflect a favored direction on the various strategies put forth for getting out. The Republicans will be hurt by the Iraq fiasco but unless Dick Cheney or Jeb Bush jumps in none of the contenders is personally responsible for the damn war. They can distance themselves adequately if they have a plan for withdrawal or some such thing. Richard Nixon was able to do so in 1968 and again in 1972 without actually having any plan at all for withdrawal from Vietnam-and won. So anything is possible. Moreover, the Democrats have been so wishy- washy of late in their responses to Bush’s strategy that people in general may not give them a break. So Iraq may not cut so favorably for the Democrats as they might think, especially in the heartland where many of the troops come from. Add the ringer of the economy upstaging the war as the central issue and all hell could break loose.

There you have it, dear reader. Today I would place the odds on a Democratic presidency at 7/5 in their favor. Any takers?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007




Militant leftists oppose the Iraqi occupation out of a fundamental opposition to American imperialism. We oppose the capitalist system out of a conviction that it needs to be replaced by a socialist system that will do better by the mass of humanity and its pressing needs and to let the human potential flower. In the normal course of events we place the monetary cost of imperialist wars as a secondary factor in our opposition. Nor do we make the argument, acting as de facto advisors to the imperialist state, that such wars are merely a matter of mistaken policy and that the resources used for war could be better spent on relieving the vast problems of human misery. Hell, we know that and will take the appropriate action when we take power. However a little news item from the Congressional Budget Office has to make any working person take notice. The analysts at that agency have published, at the request of Congress, various estimates about the final costs of the American occupation of Iraq. And it isn’t pretty. Under the most conservative scenario the expected real costs of the war will be at least one trillion dollars. Now we all know that this estimate may be off by a hundred billion here or there and that one trillion dollars does not go as far as it use to but in anyone’s book that is a lot of money. So now we have the spectacle, in addition to the massive causalities and long term occupation that may have to be fought by our grandchildren, a debt that will take generations to pay off. All under the premise of getting rid of one rogue tin pot dictator, Saddam Hussein, and bringing ‘democracy’ to Iraq. Some neo-cons may say that is cheap at the price but just to be contentious I would say that this is not cost effective. No one, least of all a militant leftist, will cry over the demise of Saddam and his ilk, that is for sure but if one needs an additional argument for getting rid of the irrational capitalist system and its political agents here it is. In the meantime the task of the day is still the Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal from Iraq.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007





Sometimes life is exceedingly unfair. Today, July 31, 2007, I was all prepared to present my morning line on the odds for the upcoming 2008 presidential elections when a quick look at the newspaper informed me that the august Iraqi Parliament had adjourned until September. So I had to quickly scrap that lead and make comment here on this remarkable occurrence. Oh, I know, legislative bodies do this all the time for a myriad of reasons-some good, some bad. That is not the point, although I have noted in an earlier commentary that this desire for long vacations seems to be the only thing that the Iraqi parliamentarians have learned from their American mentor. Moreover, it took an apparent mini-civil war by the Bush Administration for the Iraqis not take an originally planned two month break in order to show that they had truly have assimilated the meaning of democracy.

Well, Markin, get to the point. One month, two months what does it matter, right? Perhaps, dear reader, you have forgotten that as part of the deal to continue to fund the war this spring the Congress ‘adamantly’ insisted that come hell or high water the Iraqis had to pass some ‘benchmarks’ (sure, I know, it sounds like something out of the education curriculum guidebook, maybe Laura has some input). Those included oil legislation, everyone making 'nice' with everyone else and for a least one Iraqi soldier or policeman to go out into the Baghdad neighborhoods without half the 82nd Airborne Division beside him (or her, if that may be the case). Needless to say none of this has occurred, is likely to occur or is anyone desirous of having it occur. That September 15th report by General Petreaus and Ambassador looks like it is going to have to be really ‘sexed-up’ to give Congress a reason not to go screaming in the night. But we already know the deal there so it will not come as any surprise to us when the Bush Administration asks for and is given ‘a little more’ time come September. Say, January 20, 2009, at least. The real question, as I have posed before, pose now, and will continue to pose until the troops are out is what are WE going to do about it?

Sunday, July 29, 2007



Okay, let us go by the numbers. On a few occasions over the past several months I have stated that there will be no significant troop withdrawal from Iraq until January 20, 2009, if then. Some of my liberal friends, in the afterglow of their parliamentary victory in the 2006 midterm Congressional elections, talked among themselves about my need to get a little rest and psychiatric help on hearing this ‘prediction’. Then came the Iraq Study Group Report. You remember that little booklet that was to cure all the ills of the Iraq disaster in 79 easy lessons. I caustically noted that they would find that report under some White House couch when Bush vacated the premises in 2009. Again, my liberal friends scratched their heads and said something really needed to be done for the poor lad. After all James Baker, Poppy’s fixer, and Lee Hamilton and other grey beards and blue-haired ladies of the establishment were giving the advice. The Bushies did not even wait a respectful time before they unceremoniously tossed that sacred text into the nearest waste paper basket and came up with the ‘surge’ strategy, a.k.a. escalation in Iraq.

Then came the so-called ‘showdown’ this spring over the war budget appropriations. Even then my dear friends cast a skeptical eye in my direction and hid the silverware. You see, as part of the fall out from the budget appropriation wrangling Congress was able to ‘insist’ on being given progress reports as the price for continued funding for the war. That, my friends, is where we are now. But hold on, the so-called interim report issued in mid-July had to be so ‘sexed-up’ that it was meaningless. Now come the tom toms out of Baghdad telling us not to expect too much in the mid-September mandated report. And here is the clincher. American Ambassador Crocker and American head military honcho in Iraq General Petreaus want the classic ‘more time’ for the dust to settle on the effectiveness of the ‘surge’ strategy. Moreover, now they are talking about mid- 2008 as the ‘real’ evaluation nodal point. Egad. If that is the case we had better start talking about 2010 for a drawdown.

Now is all of the above a matter of, “I told you so”? Well, sure, a little. That is half the fun of politic. Right? Is it also all about the superiority of the socialist method in analyzing political events and figuring out what to do about them? Sure, socialist theory is always a useful tool in that regard. But, frankly, as much as that may help, it does not take a post graduate degree in Marxist Studies to figure out what is going on here. Soldiers, from time immemorial, have always had one goal-Victory. Anything short of annihilation of their own forces, and sometimes even that, is not good enough. Soldiers want to win wars not matter how screwed up they are by the civilians. They want more soldiers, more materials, and more time to produce victories. American presidents, especially those ending their second terms, are always scratching for their place in history. Right now Bush is running neck and neck with Millard Fillmore. He has no where else to go. That is why he rolled the dice for the ‘surge’ and why he will ‘listen’ to his generals to the end. This happy confluence between flaky president and frustrated military is the nut of the matter. And Congress? And the Democrats? Hell, at this point they literally do not matter. They can take over the mess in 2009 and are welcome to it. We, on the other hand, have immediate business that will not wait 18 more months. Once again, and I address this personally for the first time to my liberal friends- BREAK WITH THE DEMOCRATS. Or, at least, get out of our way. And, as always, if you want to fight for immediate withdrawal from Iraq you had better form committees to link up with the fighting rank and file soldiers and sailors to get them the hell out of there. Way before Christmas.


Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia' entry for Richard Sennett's book,"The Culture Of New Capitalism".


One of the tenets of classical Marxism is that the industrial working class- those who produced the mass goods of society- are the central agency for leading the revolution against capitalism and creating the conditions for a socialist society. In their enthusiasm for this social change Marxists, including this Marxist, never expected that capitalism would be holding on as tight as it has. This development has had many causes that I have gone into elsewhere and is not germane to the point of this commentary. What is germane is that with the long term extension of the capitalist mode of production some significant changes have occurred in the infrastructure of the system, particularly in the advanced capitalism countries. The prime example is, as almost always the case when talking about modern capitalism, the United States. There has been a long term gradual but steady conversion of the old model industrial plant to the new technologically driven service industry. Here, think Wal-Mart.

One would think that the conversion from the old top down hierarchical system that industrial capitalism demanded to that of a service economy with a more and better educated workforce and with increased technological skills that this system would have become obsolete. Not so according to in an article in the New York Review of Books, August 16, 2007, entitled "They’re Micromanaging Your Every Move" (reviewing "The Social Life of Information" by John Seely Brown; "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream" by Barbara Ehrenreich; and, "The Culture of the New Capitalism" by Richard Sennett). The gist of the article is that the new technologies are spinning off software that permit a small elite of managers and ‘super star’ technocrats to control white collar work in the manner of the old industrial system. I have not personally read the books discussed there yet but it is apparent, and has been for a while, that we need to account for these dramatic changes in the workplace. And first things first- we desperately need to organize the Wal-Mart workers-that is for sure. Read this article or one of these books

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

*Sex And The American Presidential Election Campaign-The View From The Extra-parliamentary Left

Click on title to link the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's 1923 article by Leon Trotsky entitled "From The Old Family To The New" for a communist perspective on the need to transform the constrained modern nuclear family to something much more convivial and social.



For those who expected some lurid copy about the behind the scenes sex lives of the above-mentioned candidates, forget it. This is much more prosaic. It is hard to believe but in the year 2007 this writer is compelled to make a few comments on the latest 'tempest in a teapot' on the campaign trail over the question of the appropriate age at which public institutions should make children aware of sexual issues. Mitt Romney, staking himself out as the king of ‘family value' issues in order to cozy up to the social conservatives, believes that sex and kindergarten students do not mix. Obama, rightly in this case, believes that age appropriate sex education can be started at that age.

Mainly this is a question of public policy guidelines and, as is the case with most current state-mandated sex education programs aimed at the youth, there are opt out procedures for those adults unconformable with public institutions teaching their children about sex. That, however, is not the real political or cultural question. For those of us who learned about sex the hard way on the streets or have been stuffed with erroneous knowledge about sex or have had to face the sometimes bizarre nature of sexual mores under capitalism without much guidance early sex education would seem to be the beginning of wisdom. Ignorance never did anyone any good. This simply program, moreover, is not something that has to wait until we are in a socialist society. The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky reputely once spoke of the three great tragedies of life-hunger, sex and death. He noted that Marxists had staked out the struggle against hunger as the axis on which to fight. But he also noted that these other issues would be addressed most fully under socialism. And they will. But for now- the more real sex education the better.




Well, they finally got controversial University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill. This week the Colorado Board of Regents acting on a recommendation by the school voted 8-1 to fire him. Ostensibly, as always, it was for some academic infractions but we know the real reason. After 9/11 Professor Churchill had the ‘gall’ to express his opinion in an article that those killed in the World Trade Center attack, as agents of American imperialism and part of the technological infrastructure that drives the machine, were essentially fair game for attack. I will make a brief comment on that analysis below. What is important here is that speech, academic speech in this case, is really what drove the Regents’ decision. That is the real issue and the one that all militants, leftists, and just plain old ordinary garden variety democrats should be howling to the rooftops over. One does not have to be in political agreement with the good professor to know that the whole point of the vaunted freedom of expression that we are desperately trying to defend against the yahoos only works when controversial expression is safeguarded. Otherwise it is just something nice for the bourgeois democrats to point to in their constitution.

As for Professor Churchill’s thesis. Hell, it is so wrong politically it is hard to believe that one who fancies himself a progressive would write it. Let us get this straight-the Al Qaeda actions in New York were not acts of anti-imperialism. They were crimes. Moreover, as I have stated before on other occasions, we are in a life and death struggle against Islamic fundamentalism to win the Islamic masses for socialism. Make no mistake about that. The way to defeat imperialism is not to arbitrarily and indiscriminately blow up civilian targets no matter how symbolic but by painstakingly political organizing to overthrow that system and replace it with a socialist one. In the meantime ordinary people have a right to go about their lives. To compare them to Nazis is over the top. Our fight is elsewhere. And that is the point. These criminal actions were manna from heaven for the imperialists wedding the mass of Americans to Bush and Company. But enough of this. The fight right now is –Reinstate Professor Churchill. Send messages of protest and solidarity with Professor Churchill to the University of Colorado Regents.





One of the great achievements of the last thirty plus years in the women’s liberation movement has been the dramatic increase in the amount of scholarship on the role of women in history. That is to the good. Even better when the research concerns the role of women in a subject that is one near to my heart-the anti-fascist struggle in the Spanish Civil War. One can argue with the feminist politics that drives Ms. Mangini’s work. One can argue about the somewhat arcane literary/sociological academic methodology that she uses to motivate her study. What cannot be argued is that she has made an important contribution in giving voice to the women of that struggle that has been muted for a long time. While it is true that history is made by the victors, or at least the flow of propaganda is controlled by them, the stories that she has to tell about those women who served, were imprisoned, executed by Franco or forced into external and internal exile makes for compelling reading.

If one knows anything about the role of women in the Spanish Civil War it usually revolves around the personality of the famous Stalinist Dolores Ibarruri-'La Pasionaria'- well known for her slogan-They Shall Not Pass during the siege of Madrid. For those a little more knowledgeable the name of the Anarchist governmental minister Frederica Montseny may come to mind. Beyond that there is generally a blank. Ms. Mangini has filled in those blanks with the stories of lesser known women leaders, militia women, rank and file politicos and those who helped the cause in a myriad of other ways. She vividly describes their roles behind the lines, on the front, in the political organizations, in prison awaiting long sentences or execution, and in exile. Ms. Magnini also describes something that I have found to be generally true of those who fought on the Republican side-male or female-the extreme difficulty in articulating what they did and what happened to them during the Civil War even after the end of the Franco regime in 1975. Obviously, in some cases, those stories will never be told or told in a muted manner. One thing is sure for those of us who cherish the memory of the anti-fascist fight in Spain. General Franco should have never been able to die in his bed.

*On the Workers Party Slogan- From The Archives- Jim Cannon's View

Click on title to link to the James P. Cannon Internet Archives 1943 article by Cannon on "The Campaign For A Labor Party". There has always been some confusion (probably stemming back to the early revolutionary Communist International days) around the propaganda campaign for the labor party in America, its relationship to the united front and the strategic tasks of revolutionaries here. However, Cannon's review here indicates a pretty good grasp on the subject for, as he has been characterized by so-called leftist political opponents then and now, a mere "trade unionist" leader.



In a sense the question of a workers party in America is, for now, a question posed to revolutionaries and other radical intellectuals. Why? Given the one-sided nature of the class struggle in America it has at this time a propagandistic thrust. This is a slogan that the organized trade union movement, the natural nucleus for such a formation, has not embraced. Yes, an occasional dissident trade union bureaucrat will throw the slogan out as threat to break from the Democrats if they do not do better by working people but I take that as being merely for public consumption. Those same dissidents are much too busy raising money and providing foot soldiers for Democrats to even take it seriously. Or, my favorite response when I have put the question to them, is to wistfully put the struggle for it it in the great by and by when the workers are 'ready'. We, on the other hand, take it seriously. However, in the interest of clarity it is not out of place to discuss what we mean by the slogan and offer a prognosis on the timing of the creation of that formation. As always a prognosis is just that- an educated guess about the probable direction of the class struggle. Below are a few comments in aid of that discussion.

* In the best of all political worlds we would not be talking about the slogan for a workers party. Again, why? In the early history of the Marxist movement, especially of the Russian Social Democratic movement, Marxists saw themselves as THE workers party and they recruited workers, intellectuals and others on that basis directly to the party based for the most part on the full socialist program. And it worked. Our task as propagandists who are on the margins of the class struggle is to provide an important vehicle to break workers from liberalism. In America that means the Democratic Party. The workers party slogan directs the focus today toward the need to break from bourgeois parties.

*It is interesting to note that at various points in American socialist history communists did not raise this slogan. The early American Communist Party saw itself as a small mass workers party and, although it made many mistakes on the way, recruited directly to the party. In the period when Trotsky and his American followers who ultimately formed the Socialist Workers Party were struggling to create a revolutionary party they sometimes raised the slogan and sometimes did not. When they did not it was in periods of increased class struggle like the great unionization movement of the 1930’s when it was possible to recruit directly to the party. The way I look at is that the workers party slogan is a transitional one connected with the struggle for a workers government. Let us put it this way, it would be very, very nice if the class struggle heated up enough for us to recruit directly to a revolutionary workers party. But we have to be ready for other possibilities.

*I will look into my crystal ball and project, given the American political realities today , that a workers party will most likely be formed in a pre-revolutionary situation. A pre-revolutionary situation is one where the government in power cannot rule in the old normal way and the working classes will no longer put up with the old regime. Workers will be looking for answers and leadership. That is a tall order. That is why we have to be there. This prognosis precludes any thought of a long drawn out workers party development analogous to, let us say, the British Labor Party. And that is the point. Our conception of a workers party is basically not a parliamentary one although we will fight the parliamentary struggle, if necessary. That is for sure. I would offer the Bolshevik Party in Russia in the 1917 revolution as one scenario. There the situation of war, physical hunger and land hunger was so critical that the Bolsheviks were recruiting like mad even though at the beginning of World War I they had been a small outcast organization that barely existed in Russia or in exile, for that matter. They had a history of struggle to be sure and were known to the advanced workers, especially in St. Petersburg, but the point is they grew rapidly because they had a handle on the situation and acted on that understanding.

*One of the most frustrating things that an American follower of Leon Trotsky has to account for is the pervasive tendency for ‘progressive’ politics in America to take a popular front form. A popular front is an amalgam of various classes centered on a minimal program and mainly a vehicle to push the Democratic Party to the ‘left’ (or have it do something). This, for the most part, during the last century has been a conscious policy from social democrats to Stalinists. It takes different forms in different periods –one of the earliest forms was the farmer-labor party in the 1920’s. James Cannon had some interesting and personally revealing comments on how hard the young American Communist Party, after coming up from underground, pursued this policy and almost shipwrecked the party by creating a two-class party. Needless to say the appropriate form of political action with other class forces is the united front. But virtually nobody here in America wants to play that way. Sadly, until we do will be in our current predicament.

*Finally, a word on the workers party and the struggle for power. Separately the workers party slogan is just another garden variety reformist slogan that that above-mentioned dissident trade union bureaucrat could use for protective covering. The program of the workers party must lead inevitably to the struggle for state power if it is to mean anything at all. That is hard medicine but if, as I have speculated above, a workers party will be formed in a pre-revolutionary situation then we better be struggling for power. Pre-revolutionary and revolutionary situations, as we are painfully aware, are too far and few between to accept anything less. Build a workers party that fights for workers government.

Monday, July 23, 2007

*From The Pen Of Ernest Hemingway- The Fifth Column Problem In The Spanish Civil War

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the great American writer, Ernest Hemingway.



I have written reviews of many of Ernest Hemingway’s major novels elsewhere in this space. I have reviewed his major novel on the Spanish Civil War For Whom the Bells Toll, as well. Here I review a short play of his concerning that same event. This play is the main item of interest for me in an anthology that also includes his first 49 short stories. I will make a few minor comments on them at the end. However, here I wish to address the main issue that drives the play The Fifth Column. I believe that this is fitting in the year of the 70th anniversary of the Barcelona Uprising-the last chance to save the Spanish Revolution.

The main action here concerns the actions, manners, and love life of a seemingly irresolute character, Phillip, in reality a committed communist who has found himself wrapped up intensely in the struggle to fight against Franco’s counter-revolution. His role is to ferret out the fifth columnists that have infiltrated into Madrid for intelligence/sabotage purposes on behalf of the Franco forces in the bloody civil war that was shaking Republican Spain. The term ‘fifth column’ comes from the notion that not only the traditional four columns of the military are at work but a fifth column of sympathizers who are trying to destabilize the Republic. What to do about them is the central question of this, or any, civil war. At the time there was some controversy that swirled around Hemingway for presenting the solution of summary executions of these agents as the correct way of dealing with this menace. I have questioned some of Hemingway’s political judgments on Spain elsewhere, particularly concerning the role of the International Brigades, but he is right on here. Needless to say, as almost always with Hemingway, a little love interest is thrown into the mix to spice things up. However, in the end, despite the criminal Stalinist takeover of the Spanish security apparatus and its counter-revolutionary role in gutting the revolutionary promise there this play presents a question all militants need to be aware of.

As for the other works included here there are many classics such as "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "The Killers", many of the other youthful Nick Adams stories, stories on bullfighting, a few on the never-ending problems of love and its heartbreaks, and some sketches that were included in "A Farewell to Arms". Well worth your time. As always Hemingway wields his sparse and functional language to make his points. Again, as always read this man. But what you really need to read here is "The Fifth Column". Okay.




The history of Ireland is replete with ‘times of troubles’, no question about that. The particular ‘ time of troubles’ that the master Anglo- Irish socialist playwright Sean O’Casey takes on in these three classic and best known of his plays is the time from the Easter Uprising in 1916 to the time of the lesser known Civil War battles between Free Staters and die-hard Republicans in 1921-22. Needless to say they were all classified as tragedies by O’Casey. What qualified O’Casey to do much more than provide yeoman’s cultural service to this period? Well, for one he helped organize the famous James Connolly-led Irish Citizen’s Army that took part in the heroic Easter Uprising in 1916. For another, O’Casey was a true son of the Dublin tenements where the action of the three plays takes place. He KNEW the ‘shawlie’ environment and the language of despair, duplicity and treachery that is the lot of the desperately poor. Finally, as an Anglo- Irishman he had that very fine ear for the English language that we have come to cherish from the long line of Irish poets and playwrights who have graced our culture. That said, please read about this period in Irish history but also please read these plays if you want to put that history in proper perspective- in short, to understand why the hell the British had to go. Below are capsule summaries of the three plays.

Juno and the Paycock- the Boyles, the central characters in this play, have benefited from the creation of the Free State but at a cost, namely the incapacity of their son. Their daughter has seemingly better prospects, but that will remain to be seen. The device that holds this play together is the hope of good fortune that allegedly is coming under the terms of a relative of Captain Boyle’s will. The ebb and flow of events around that fortune drives the drama as does the fickleness of the tenement crowd who gather to ‘benefit’ from it. There is also a very lively and, from this distance, seemingly stereotyped camaraderie between the Captain and his ‘boyo’ Joxer.

The Shadow of a Gunman- the gun has always played, and continues to play, an important part in the Irish liberation struggle. That premise was no different in 1920 than it is today. Whether the gun alone, in the absence of a socialist political program, can create the Workers Republic that O’Casey strove for is a separate question. What is interesting here is what happens, literally, when by mistake and misdirection, a couple of free-floating Irish males of indeterminate character and politics are assumed to be gunmen but are not. It is not giving anything in the play away to state that the real heroine of this action is a woman, Minnie, who in her own patriotic republican way takes the situation as good coin. The Minnies of this world may not lead the revolution but you sure as hell cannot have one without them (and their preparedness to sacrifice).

The Plough and the Stars- There was a time when to even say the words 'plough and stars' brought a little tear to this reviewer’s eye. Well he is a big boy now but the question posed here between duty to the liberation struggle in 1916 and its consequences on the one hand and, for lack of a better word, romance on the other is still one to br reckoned with. That it had such tragic consequences for the young tenement couple Jack and Nora only underlines the problem of love and war in real life, as on the stage.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Click on the title to link to an "Under The Hood" (Fort Hood G.I. Coffeehouse)Web site online article about the "Oleo Strut" Coffeehouse, an important development in the anti-Vietnam War struggle. Hats off to those bygone anti-war fighters.




If one has paid virtually daily attention to the news from and about Iraq over the last five years then one knows, as I do, that some weeks bring unrelentingly bad news. And the others are worst. This past week, the week of July 16, 2007, was one of those worst weeks. No, not because of any dramatic increase in casualty rates or horrific bombings but because there are unmistakable signals in the air from the American political/military establishment that the next step in Iraq is another troop ‘surge’ that in their language will finally stabilize the situation there. This is the famous Plan B that the Bush Administration is apparently taking under serious consideration and had previously scoffed at as unnecessary. And from their perspective why not.

This administration is already doomed to go down in history as a failure even by bourgeois standards. The Bush poll ratings can hardly get worst. Moreover, it is getting to be time in the now lame duck Bush presidency to spruce up his image for his place in history. So with nothing in particular to lost why not roll the dice one more time hoping that more troops, that is more American troops , will get the job done. Know this- the Bush cabal is committed, come hell or high water, to staying in Iraq at current or greater military levels until January 20, 2009. Make no mistake there. The real question is what are we going to do about it? The ball is in our court now. The headlines above indicate the slogans that I have propagandized for over the last year. (See also, August 2006 archives) They still retain their full force today. Below are a few comments on this week's developments.

As everyone knows by now the United States House of Representatives voted basically along party lines in favor of a resolution calling for quick withdrawal from Iraq. Over in the United States Senate that same basic resolution was defeated by pajama-clad Republican senators holding their party line. Okay, boys and girls fun’s fun but aside from the pajama party this so-called Democratic ‘pressure’ strategy on the Bush administration by repeated votes that cannot be overridden is getting a little tiresome. The Democrats were swept in last November, in part at least, on a wave of anti-war sentiment. I submit the parliamentary maneuvering of the past couple of months as prima facie evidence that the parliamentary road to ending the war is a bust. Seemingly the American people agree, at some level, in that a recent poll has place Congress’s approval rating at some 20 something percent, lower than Bush’s rating if that is possible. Even a political novice can recognize now that some other forces need to come into play to end this damn war. Those soldier and sailor committees cited above are desperately necessary right now. The slogan, not Bring the Troops Home but Troops Out Now-Rev Up the Troop Transports Now.

The most ominous news of the week concerns the maneuvering over the so-called report by General Petreaus in mid-September evaluating the military situation then as a result of the additional troops provided over the past period. Every bourgeois politician and his or her brother has been waiting breathlessly for this report in order to bail out, or at least decide what his or her political chances are for 2008. This is especially true since the interim report to the interim report issued in mid- July had to be ‘sexed-up’ to make it look like any progress was being made at all. But hold on. Now senior military commanders are hedging their bets and are arguing for ‘postponing’ the day of reckoning. Moreover, a less senior commander on the ground is blowing smoke about the summer of 2008 being the real target date when Iraqi troops will be ‘ready’ to take over. Christ, will this madness never end. Worst and this is from the top- the soon to be ignobly retired Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Marine General Peter Pace has signaled that there are ‘contingency’ plans afoot in case the situation in Iraq warrants another little ‘surge’. Take that statement seriously. Leading American military generals who have spent over thirty years in military service and who would rather fall on their swords than make a false bureaucratic move do not telegraph such news without a nod from their civilian superiors. Pay very careful attention over the next couple of months to who in the military is saying what about the military situation in Iraq. That is where the fight over the outlines of Plan B will come from.

Finally, there has been something of a resurgence of neo-conservative chatter about surrender and treason if America leaves the Iraqis in the lurch anytime soon. This sentiment has been expressed by my local nemesis Boston Globe Op/Ed contributor Jeff Jacoby. His argument is that somehow the decisive battle against Islamic fundamentalism is to be fought and decided in Iraq. Pulling out now ipso facto automatically means a victory for Al Qaeda. I have commented previously that such a stance would keep the American presence long enough so that his young sons and seemingly now his grandchildren would get a chance to fight there. The reality, however, is that these neo-cons are not prepared to shed their blood or their kin’s but are more than happy to let some other mother’s son or daughter die there. That question aside there is a core point that these neo-cons bring up that we of the left need to address.

Everyone from the lowliest neo-con to the most radical socialist revolutionary understands, or should understand, that we are in a life and death struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. Even from our staunch anti-imperialist prospective we, if and when we come to power, would have to address this question of politically, and if necessary, militarily defeating that movement. The distinction we need to draw is that we would do it differently. It seems to me, as the current British terrorist cases tend to bear out, that extensive police/intelligence work would be our first avenue. In the end, however, we will fight them arms in hand, if necessary. This thought is not etched in stone and bears both more study and additional comment. In the meantime- U.S. Troops Out of Iraq. Enough said.


Saturday, July 21, 2007





This week, the week of July 16, 2007, we have seen the spectacle of Democratic presidential candidates former North Carolina Senator and 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards and Illinois Senator Barack Obama squaring off to see who is the ‘better’ advocate of ‘class war’ in defense of the downtrodden, or in the parlance of polite society, the “have-nots”. Of course, in response the leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has also chimed in on this theme. What is unusual about all of these doings is that the central electoral strategy of the Democrats for at least the past thirty years has been to deny that the class struggle, despite all the evident of relative decline in the standard of living of the working class to the contrary, even existed. The Democrats were content to struggle along with their version of “trickle down’ theory by arguing that a ‘robust’ economy would help float ‘all boats’. Well, we knew, and now know differently and there is no satisfaction in these quarters that these bourgeois politicians have taken up the issue, for the moment. Why?

Their ‘solutions’ are more of the same. Tinker a little with the system to ‘redistribute’ the wealth (a very little from what I have read of these plans) by tax schemes or public works but to keep the system fundamentally as is. Even with the best of intentions this is a plan for failure for working people, especially the marginal working poor. Not only is it necessary to throw much more money at the problem than any bourgeois candidate would dream of doing but the whole thrust is wrong. The culture of poverty, of being poor and without resources to compete in a ‘rich’ society, not only requires money to get out from under but a whole different way of looking at life. In short, to be empowered. This is not our society. We live in it yes but we do not control it. The way to get empowered is through a workers government. This, dear reader, is the hard reality.

That is the crux of the matter and something none of these well-educated, well fed parliamentary types have a clue about. Even the patently reformist Chicago social activist and community organizing guru Saul Alinsky, whom Hillary admiringly wrote her senior thesis on while at Wellesley and whom Obama admired, knew that much. Moreover what I do not hear about from these born-again ‘class-warriors’ is any talk about the necessary first step in raising the ‘boats’ of the poor-unionization. I have hammered away elsewhere on the importance of organizing the South and the desperate need to organize Wal-Mart. That, rather than 'make work' and easily evaded tax schemes would go a long way toward breaking this cycle of poverty.

One final point on John Edwards. Much has been made of the fact that Edwards is the son of a Southern mill worker. Also he more than other candidates has taken this ‘two Americas’ concept as his theme both in 2004 and now. Yes, John Edwards is a son of the working class. However, his career is a very good case study in why those of us who propagandize for a workers party have been stymied for so long. In the normal course of events if there had been in place even a small viable mass workers party Mr. Edwards in his youth might very well have been attracted to such a formation. In the absence of such a formation he saw his main chance as the Democratic Party. Such are the ways of politics. However, until we can break this vicious cycle our work will continue to be that of unceasing propaganda for a workers party and a workers government. Be assured though that in the end we will get our share of real class war fighters.





In the wake of his victory in the recent French presidential elections the conservative administration of President Sarkozy has successfully co-opted a number of opponent Socialist party functionaries onto his team. As a result they, for the most part, have been expelled. However their defections point to turmoil about the future of that party. Let us be clear- the modern post World II rabidly anti-communist French Socialist party has been an almost purely electoral operation somewhat akin to the Democratic Party in the United States. Its connection to the working class as a leftist organization has been centered on the white collar professional workers, students, teachers and the French version of the American AFL-CIO labor bureaucracy. As such it has been solely committed, at best, to a parliamentary perspective of taking the rough edges off the administration of the capitalist system. The recent election campaign of the Socialist candidate Royal exemplified that approach.

Historically the industrial working class was, and to a very minor extent still is, loyal to the Stalinist Communist party. With the demise of the Soviet Union, and even before that with its Euro-communist strategy, that party has fallen on hard times. Nevertheless both parties have lived and died by their dependence on the ‘popular front’ concept of parliamentary political struggle. For those unfamiliar with the concept the popular front is an explicit and conscious agreement presented by working class parties to bourgeois formations under a minimum program. Almost universally it is a parliamentary tactic and almost universally as well it has acted as a break on class struggle, if not worse as Chile in the 1970’s graphically demonstrated. Today, as if to symbolize the inadequacy of that strategy both ostensibly socialist organizations are now in decline. Yet the working class of France, including its somewhat strategic immigrant sector, is in dire need of a party that represents its historic interests and fights the class struggle on its behalf.

This, it seems to me, represents an excellent time to regroup the militant forces of the left in France around a class struggle program. Historically the far-left, the so-called ‘ultras’ (essentially the various ostensibly Trotskyist tendencies, the dissident left Stalinists, anarchists and at one time the Maoists) have played around the fringes of parliamentary politics. In the end, however, these groups have bought into the popular front strategy of the major left wing parties. Nowhere was this more evident that in the second round of the 2002 presidential elections where the choice was between the conservative reactionary Chirac and the virulently reactionary LePen. The ‘far left’ fell all over itself in calling for a vote for Chirac under the assumption that LePen represented an incipient fascist takeover of the democratic republic. The ‘popular front’ proved then to be very broad indeed. Now, with the situation in France very fluid as leftists wait for the Sarkozy government to drop the other shoe, is the time to break out of this never-ending parliamentary cycle and create, at first, a propaganda group or small mass party, committed explicitly to the fight for an alternative socialist system. The first step, but only the first step, is to place in mothballs that old ‘popular front’ strategy that has been central to French leftist politics since the French Revolution. As I have pointed out elsewhere in review of a history of the French Revolution by Georges LeFebvre the popular front between the bourgeois elements like Robespierre and the sans-culottes in that revolution at that time made sense. Today, no. More on this latter as I get a better grip on what is happening specifically with French far left groupings. Remember this though- in the end if the Socialist party is not politically defeated by the left it will rear its ugly head again. And as under the Socialists Mitterrand and Josplin in the recent past it will not be pretty.
Enough said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007



There is an old saying that no news is good news. Whatever the validity of that statement is there is no denying that it is hard to get a focus what to make of latest political news as summer bears down on us. However, here are a few comments –


In May I commented on the decision of courageous anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan to ‘resign’ as the face of the anti-war movement noting that her frustration at the Democratic failure to reverse the direction of the war ‘as advertised’ in the 2006 midterm Congressional elections had driven her to despair. Apparently now she is back and ‘on the low’ is traveling and preparing, if necessary, to oppose herself as a congressional candidate to House Speaker Pelosi in the 2008 elections. The dilemma of Ms. Sheehan graphically illustrates the tremendous political problems associated with the long time dependence on the ‘good’ offices of the Democratic Party, the other party of capitalism, in order to bring about social change. Or in the case of Iraq to even stop the imperialist madness. Militants should not only redouble their efforts to change things but also take a harder look at ways to defeat this Democratic behemoth. That is where the political fight is in America.


Part of Ms. Sheehan’s dilemma stems for the chronic inability to break out from the parliamentary cretinism that we have been confronted with as the solution to the Iraq question. Right now, as Republican office holders, with the apparent bizarre exception of Arizona Senator McCain, are fleeing the U.S.S. Bush like rats from a sinking ship the Democrats are trying to cobble yet another resolution to ‘redeploy’ the troops out of Iraq. But hold on, Dems- we still have the July 15th interim report of the interim report to wait on to see if the situation in Iraq has improved. Of course, that is just the icing on the cake. Everyone is really waiting (delaying) until General Petraeus’ report in September. Hear this now- forget these bogus reports- this Bush Administration will see enough ‘light’ in these documents to continue the current strategy until January 20, 2009. My suggestion to Ms. Sheehan and others is that they get on board and fight for a workers party. That is a great lesson to be learned from all of this.


We have just passed the celebration of the 4th of July and the usual patriotic hoopla. Readers of this space know of my great, if rather belated, admiration for the winter soldiers at Valley Forge and elsewhere who kept the democratic faith through think and thin. As if to mock such devotion there has been a recent spate of conservative commentary on old time notions of patriotism expressed by ritual display of the flag. Locally this has been expressed in a commentary in the Sunday Boston Globe of July 8, 2007 by Op/Ed contributor Jeff Jacoby. Mr. Jacoby and I have locked horns before but here apparently he is in a lather about the lack of flags displayed in his neighborhood. The inference to be drawn is that those who do not display the flag are not patriotic. Of course, Mr. Jacoby is well known locally as one of the last of about seven supporters in Massachusetts of the current Iraq War. He, on more than one occasion, has expressed his willingness to let some other father’s son or daughter fight on his behalf in this worthless cause. On the other hand he apparently is more than happy to wave the flag in the front of his house. Forget this flag thing, here is the ‘skinny’- until further notice we stand on this idea- yes we love this country- no, we do not love this government. Enough said


Of course no commentary by this writer would be complete without at least a little swipe at that other party of capitalism, the Democrats. If there is one thing that has become apparent this summer it is that the real battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is down to the intergenerational fight between Hillary and Obama ‘The Charma'. In recognition of this the first ‘blood’ was drawn in Iowa last week. Hillary with her man Bill in tow barnstormed through Iowa spreading the Old Gospel news that the good old days of the Bill Clinton Administration were pretty good. Well yes, Bill you were probably better than George Bush. I would not, however, deem that as high praise under the circumstances since George W. Bush makes Millard Fillmore, another accidental president, look good by comparison. As the campaign progresses the “golden age” of the Clintons will be discussed further here. Obama is the new kid on the block and strictly a New Gospel guy and in a not so veiled way has declared that the Emperor (or currently the Empress) has no clothes. Stay tuned to see how this fight develops. It will not be pretty, especially if the race gets closer than it is now. Yes, youth must be served but these ‘guys’ are already old news.


Friday, July 06, 2007



This summer marks the 35th year of my commitment to Marxism. Those who have been reading my commentaries for a while know that I try to commemorate, and comment on, important anniversaries in our common working class and leftist history like those of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti or the start of the Paris Commune. Those same readers also know that I have been rather short with bourgeois politicians like John Kerry who have a habit of commemorating every little political action they have taken. The winner for me was Kerry’s very public celebration at historic Fanueil Hall in Boston in 2006 of the 35th anniversary of his anti-war testimony before Congress in 1971. Christ, I still chuckle over the absurdity of that one. But hear me out on this. I want no pat on the back but to just make a comment about why, despite the current historic trend away from socialist solutions to the world’s problems, I still proudly carry the title communist.

I once remarked in a review of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto that the third section of that document where he polemicized against the various other liberal and so-called socialist groups of his day that in my search for political solutions in my early days I had probably held virtually every position that he argued against. And believe me, dear reader, that is no exaggeration-except maybe I did not advocate for feudal socialism. But the rest, liberalism, both tactical and principled versions of pacifism, anarchism, guerilla warfare, well you get the drift. This is probably why when I headed, reluctantly I might add, to Marxism it stuck. And that is the main idea I am trying to get at in this piece. That is the power of Marxism as a tool for looking at and changing the world. The only other point I would add is that over the past thirty-five years nothing in politics, our few victories and our many, too many defeats at the hands of the capitalists, has made me regret that I took the road back to my working class roots. I have made many a political mistake in my life, that is for sure. But this is not one of them. LONG LIVE THE WORLD SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!!!


Click on title to link to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee web site.



By now everyone in the civilized world knows that President George W. Bush has commuted the 30 month federal sentence of his Vice President’s man, Scooter Libby. Apparently the thought that one of the boys who helped pull off the disinformation debacle in the lead up to the Iraq war would actually serve time was too much for Bush to bear. That has led me to think that while the man is in one of his thoughtful moods that this would be an excellent time to bring up the case of Leonard Peltier the Native American leader wrongly convicted almost thirty years ago for his part in the action at the infamous Pine Ridge Reservation. If there is a crying case of injustice that needs correction it is Peltier’s case. However, we being realistic know what El Presidente would say to a pardon request for brother Peltier. After all his name is not Scooter or Biff or Muffy or Buffy or any one of THEIR tribal names but only the righteous symbol of the fate of the Native American in this unjust capitalist system.

For those unfamiliar with the current (or at least my knowledge of it) status of Leonard Peltier’s case check my April 2006 archives. Or Google the Partisan Defense Committee or Free Leonard Peltier Committee. FREE LEONARD PELTIER!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

*WHEN DID THE 1960'S END?-The Anti-Vietnam War Events Of May Day 1971

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for background on the anti-Vietnam War actions of May Day 1971.

Markin comment:

I have recently been reviewing books and documentaries about radical developments in the 1960’s. They included reviews of the Weather Underground, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the memoirs of Bill Ayers, a central figure in that movement. Throughout this work one thing that I noticed was that the various interviewees had different takes on when that period ended. Although in the end the periodization of history is a convenient journalistic or academic convention in the case of the 1960’s it may produce a useful political guide line.

It is almost universally the case that there is agreement on when the 1960’s started. That is with the inauguration of Democratic President John F. Kennedy and his call to social activism. While there is no agreement on what that course of action might entail political figures as diverse as liberals Bill Clinton and John Kerry on to radicals like Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers and this writer agree that this event and its immediate aftermath figured in their politicization.

What is not clear is when it ended. For those committed to parliamentary action it seems to have been the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the events around the Democratic Convention in 1968 that led to the election of one Richard Milhous Nixon as President of the United States. For mainstream black activists its seems to have been the assassination of Martin Luther King that same year ending the dream that pacifist resistance could eradicate racial injustice. For mainstream SDSers apparently it was the split up of that student organization in 1969. For the Black Panthers, the deaths of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark proving for all to see who wanted to see that the American government was really out to get militant blacks off the streets. For those who thought that the counterculture might be the revolution the bloody Rolling Stone’s concert at Altamont in California in 1969 seems to have signaled the end. For the Weather Underground the 1970 New York townhouse explosion and death of their comrades was the signpost. Since everyone can play this game here is my take.

I can name the day and event exactly when my 1960’s ended. The day- May Day 1971 in Washington D.C. The event- a massive attempt by thousands, including myself, to shut down the government over the Vietnam War. We proceeded under the slogan- IF THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT SHUT DOWN THE WAR-WE WILL SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT. At that time I was a radical but hardly a communist. However, the endless mass marches and small local individual acts of resistance seemed to me to be leading to a dead end. But the war nevertheless continued on its savagely endless way. In any case, that day we formed up in collectives with appropriate gear to take over the streets of Washington and try to get to various government buildings. While none of us believed that this would be an easy task we definitely believed that it was doable. Needless to say the Nixon government and its agents were infinitely better prepared and determined to sweep us from the streets-by any means necessary. The long and short of it was that we were swept off the streets in fairly short order, taking many, many arrests.

I walked away from that event with my eyes finally opened about what it would take to made fundamental societal changes. On reflection, on that day we were somewhat like those naïve marchers in St. Petersburg, Russia that were bloodily suppressed by the Czarist forces at the start of the revolution there in January 1905. Nevertheless, in my case, from that point on I vowed that a lot more than a few thousand convinced radicals and revolutionaries working in an ad hoc manner were going to have to come together if we were to succeed against a determined and ruthless enemy. Not a pretty thought but hard reality nevertheless. Enough said.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007




Recently in this space I reviewed the documentary Weather Underground so that it also makes sense to review the present book by Bill Ayers, one of the ‘talking heads’ in that film and a central leader of both the old Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground that split off from that movement in 1969 to go its own way. Readers should see the documentary as it gives a fairly good presentation of the events around the formation of the Underground, what they tried to accomplish and what happened to them after the demise of the anti-war movement in the early 1970’s.

To get a better understanding of what drove thousands of young American students into opposition to the American government at that time the documentary Rebels With A Cause (also reviewed in this space) is worth looking at as well. Between those two sources you will get a better understanding of what drove Professor Ayers and many others, including myself, over the edge. Professor Ayers makes many of those same points in the book. Thus, I only want to make a couple of political comments about the question of the underground here. They were also used in my review of the Weather Underground documentary and apply to Professor Ayers thoughts as well. I would also make it very clear here that unlike many other leftists, who ran for cover, in the 1970’s I called for the political defense of the Weather Underground despite my political differences with their strategy under the old leftist principle that an injury to one is an injury to all. Moreover, and be shocked if you will, the courageous, if misguided, actions of the Weather Underground require no apology today. I stand with the Professor on that count. Here are the comments.

“In a time when I, among others, are questioning where the extra-parliamentary opposition to the Iraq War is going and why it has not made more of an impact on American society it was rather refreshing to view this documentary about the seemingly forgotten Weather Underground that as things got grimmer dramatically epitomized one aspect of opposition to the Vietnam War. If opposition to the Iraq war is the political fight of my old age Vietnam was the fight of my youth and in this film brought back very strong memories of why I fought tooth and nail against it. And the people portrayed in this film, the core of the Weather Underground, while not politically kindred spirits then or now, were certainly on the same page as I was- a no holds- barred fight against the American Empire. We lost that round, and there were reasons for that, but that kind of attitude is what it takes to bring down the monster. But a revolutionary strategy is needed. That is where we parted company. ......

"One of the paradoxical things about the documentary is that the Weather Underground survivors interviewed had only a vague notion about what went wrong. This was clearly detailed in the remarks of Mark Rudd, a central leader, when he stated that the Weathermen were trying to create a communist cadre. He also stated, however, that after going underground he realized that he was out of the loop as far as being politically effective. And that is the point. There is no virtue in underground activity if it is not necessary, romantic as that may be. To the extent that any of us read history in those days it was certainly not about the origins of the Russian revolutionary movement in the 19th century. If we had we would have found that the above-mentioned fight in 1969 was also fought out by that movement. Mass action vs. individual acts, heroic or otherwise, of terror. The Weather strategy of acting as the American component of the world-wide revolutionary movement in order to bring the Empire to its knees certainly had (and still does) have a very appealing quality. However, a moral gesture did not (and will not) bring this beast down. While the Weather Underground was made up a small group of very appealing subjective revolutionaries its political/moral strategy led to a dead end. The lesson to be learned; you most definitely do need weather people to know which way the winds blow. Start with Karl Marx.”