Saturday, July 17, 2010

*From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"-Women and Immigration in France

Click on the headline to link to the article described above.

Markin comment:

The above-linked article is from an archival issue of Women and Revolution that may have some historical interest for old "new leftists", perhaps, and well as for younger militants interested in various cultural and social questions that intersect the class struggle. Or for those just interested in a Marxist position on a series of social questions that are thrust upon us by the vagaries of bourgeois society. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of Women and Revolution during Women's History Month and periodically throughout the year.

*From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"- The Magdalene Sisters: Women’s Oppression and the Irish Clericalist State

Click on the headline to link to the article described above.

Markin comment:

The above-linked article is from an archival issue of Women and Revolution that may have some historical interest for old "new leftists", perhaps, and well as for younger militants interested in various cultural and social questions that intersect the class struggle. Or for those just interested in a Marxist position on a series of social questions that are thrust upon us by the vagaries of bourgeois society. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of Women and Revolution during Women's History Month and periodically throughout the year.

*From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"- Iraq: Women’s Liberation and the Struggle Against Imperialist Subjugation

Click on the headline to link to the article described above

Markin comment:

The above-linked article is from an archival issue of Women and Revolution that may have some historical interest for old "new leftists", perhaps, and well as for younger militants interested in various cultural and social questions that intersect the class struggle. Or for those just interested in a Marxist position on a series of social questions that are thrust upon us by the vagaries of bourgeois society. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of Women and Revolution during Women's History Month and periodically throughout the year.

*From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"- Women’s Oppression and the Emperor System-Japan: Abolish the Monarchy—For a Workers Republic!

Click on the headline to link to the article described above

Markin comment:

The above-linked article is from an archival issue of Women and Revolution that may have some historical interest for old "new leftists", perhaps, and well as for younger militants interested in various cultural and social questions that intersect the class struggle. Or for those just interested in a Marxist position on a series of social questions that are thrust upon us by the vagaries of bourgeois society. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of Women and Revolution during Women's History Month and periodically throughout the year.

*From The "Massachusetts Jobs With Justice" Website- Victory At Shaw's

Click on the headline to link to a Massachusetts Jobs With Justice Website entry- Victory At Shaw's.

Markin comment:

This was a tough battle and as we all know ratifying and signing a union contract is just an "armed truce" in the class struggle. Nevertheless the resolution of this many week old strike is a "victory" in the sense that the "fired" workers are back and the terms, given today's tough times, are not onerous. The struggle continues

Friday, July 16, 2010

From The Pages Of The Communist International- From The Fourth Congress- "On The United Front"- (1922)

Click on the headline to link to the Communist International Internet Archives for an online copy of the article mentioned in the headline.

Markin comment:

This article goes along with the propaganda points in the fight for our communist future mentioned in this day's other posts.

The Latest From The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, As Of July 12, 2010, As We Await The July 15th Sentencing Hearing Results- Free Lynne Now!

Click on the headline to link to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee website.

*Straight From The Horse's Mouth- Even Senator Kerry Says Obama's Afghan Policy Is Off Course

Click on the headline to link to an Associated Press (via The Boston Globe online) article concerning Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Forbes Kerry's remarks on the Obamian Afghan war policy.

Markin comment:

On a day when I am writing about united fronts, and who is and who isn't included (or, at least, should or shouldn't be) up steps Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to want to "join us" (with one hand, at least) in our opposition to the Obama Afghan war policy. Never let it be said that "Brother" Kerry ever got out front on any war issue, including his rather belated, if well-publicized, opposition to his war, the Vietnam War. If memory serves though, this time last year Senator Kerry was waving both hands and both feet (or, maybe, as is his preferred method, one hand and one foot)in defense of the Obama troop build up in Afghanistan. Well, just to kick off the good Senator from our bus let us anti-war militants raise this slogan in his face, and his boss's- Obama- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./ Allied Troops And Mercenaries From Afghanistan!

*From The Archives Of The American Communist Movement- Popular Front Or United Front?- The Classic Trotskyist Position

Click on the headline link to a Wikipedia entry for former old time American Socialist Workers Party leader, and later renegade from Marxism, James Burnham.

Markin comment:

This post is presented as a contribution to the continuing discussion on the vital question of the united front tactic in the struggle for our communist future. On this question, as I know from bitter and frustrating personal experience, we need all the education we can get. On the use of renegade from Marxism James Burnham's contribution
to the question. As I have pointed out before, not everyone makes it to the end of the revolutionary road. We, however, when appropriate as here, use every contribution we can get for those who knew how to "speak" Marxism at some point in their political lives.


The People's Front in the United States

from The People's Front: The New Betrayal, James Burnham, Pioneer Publishers, New York, 1937

The People's Front has not, of course, advanced as far in the United States as in France or Spain. In the formal sense, there is not yet in the United States an established "People's Front." The United States is not faced with a developing revolutionary crisis, as is France, nor is it in the midst of a Civil War, as is Spain. Though the historical issue for the United States, as is the case for every nation at the present time, is socialism vs. capitalism, though only the workers' revolution and socialism can solve even a single one of the major problems facing United States economy; nevertheless the issue is not yet posed in terms of the immediate struggle for state power. The American proletariat is still faced primarily with the more elementary immediate demands: the struggle for the right to organize, for industrial unionism, for the exercise of democratic rights generally, for a powerful trade union and unemployed movement, for relief and union conditions, for a conscious mass revolutionary party of struggle.

But just as the issue of state power can be settled in favor of the proletariat only by the independent revolutionary class struggle of the workers, and is lost for the proletariat through the reformist strategy of the People's Front; in the same way, at the more elementary stages, the interests of the proletariat can be served only by the appropriate methods of class struggle, and are fatally undermined by the class collaborationist methods of the People's Front. The People's Front in this country, seeping into the labor movement under the sponsorship of the Communist Party, has made considerable headway; and already its disastrous effects are becoming apparent in a dozen fields.

Up to the present, the best known and most conspicuous result of the People's Front strategy emerged during the 1936 election campaign. From the point of view both of the social composition of his support and likewise of the political content of his program, Roosevelt was in effect a People's Front candidate. No one could doubt that he was
a staunch and outstanding defender of capitalist democracy, nor that the bulk of the proletariat, the farmers, and the lower strata of the rest of the middle classes, were solidly behind him. Thus the upholders of the People's Front ideology found themselves, willingly or unwillingly, driven into the Roosevelt camp: either openly, as was the case with many, or, like the Communist Party itself, through a backhanded and ambiguous formula.

The Communist Party was compelled to define the issue of the campaign as "Progress vs. Reaction," "Democracy vs. Fascism." It had to discover the forces of fascism in the "Landon-Hearst-Liberty League" combination. It was then required to raise as the central slogan, "Defeat Landon at all costs!" And the only realistic interpretation of this slogan—the interpretation which the majority of even its own sympathizers made—was to vote for Roosevelt. Brow-deer admits quite openly that this was the central direction of the Stalinist campaign. In his post-election analysis of the elections, delivered to the Central Committee of the party, he boasts as follows: "The first objective was the defeat of Landon. This was accomplished to a degree far surpassing all expectations...this aim we shared with the largest number of people.... Without exaggerating our role in bringing about this result, we can safely say that the weight of each individual Communist in the struggle was far higher, many fold, than that of the members of any other political group in America." He apologizes at length for the nominally independent Communist Party ticket that was in the field. If only "a national Farmer-Labor party..." had "decided to place Roosevelt at the head of the ticket nationally.... Would we have refrained from putting forward our own independent tickets and supported the Farmer-Labor party ticket even with Roosevelt at the head? I venture to say that under such circumstances we would almost surely have done so."

In point of fact, this was done in many localities either by the Communist Party officially, or by individual party members. In Minnesota, Washington, California, the
Stalinists supported Farmer-Labor and "progressive" coalitions with no criticism of the fact that Roosevelt headed their tickets. In New York, the Stalinists gave full support to the American Labor Party, which entered the election campaign—as its leaders openly declared—only to gather labor votes for Roosevelt. Individual Communist Party members joined the American Labor Party, and spoke from its platforms in support of Roosevelt.

The People's Front policy dictates a wholly anti-Marxist analysis of Roosevelt. He can no longer be treated as the chief executive for the dominant class. Criticism of him can only suggest that he is not responsive enough in carrying out the "people's mandate," that he cannot be relied on to take progressive steps unless a certain amount of pressure against him is generated. Even when, after the elections were safely under his belt, Roosevelt, at the bidding of his masters, ruthlessly cut the WPA rolls, even in the light of Roosevelt's attitude toward the auto strikes, the Stalinist criticism must remain mild and "loyal." The Communist Party, having abandoned the revolutionary aim of the overthrow of capitalist society, becomes the "party of Twentieth Century Americanism"; its purpose as defined by the People’s Front, is to function within the framework of democratic capitalism, as a reformist "pressure group." It must strive to become "respectable," to ingratiate itself with the class enemy; to show that in return for vague promises of friendship for the Soviet Union and polite words against fascism, it is willing to do its part in smothering the class struggle and guaranteeing the protection of bourgeois democracy against the threat of proletarian revolution.

A reformist political line cannot be isolated into any supra-mundane sphere of "pure politics." It must show its effects on every arena of the class struggle. We thus find during the past two years a cumulative development of the People's Front strategy as applied to Communist Party activities in the trade unions and unemployed organizations. We may be sure that during the coming months this development will be carried unprecedented steps further. The basis of the People's Front is class collaboration; and we know from past experience of reformism what this means on the trade union field.

Are the reactionary trade union bureaucrats agents of the class enemy within the working class? Do their policies act as the major brake to militant class consciousness within the unions? This is what Marxism has always taught, but no one could possibly learn this from the most detailed study of recent Stalinist literature. Nowhere is there any explanation of, or even reference to, the social function of the trade union bureaucracy. At the most, there is occasional personal criticism of some action too gross to ignore; but even this is kept to a minimum, in the interests of currying favor with the maximum number of the bureaucrats.

The policy of class collaboration forces the Stalinists to abandon more and more the fighting struggle for economic demands, and through that struggle the raising of the level of class consciousness, for the attempt to come to agreements with the bureaucrats, to settle disputes through deals behind the scenes, to rely on governmental arbitration boards and mediators. The Stalinist work in the unions must be subordinated to the great aim of achieving in this country a mass, classless People's Front. To secure the adherence of a union to a Negro Congress, or an American League
Conference, or a Farmer-Labor-Progressive what-not, or a Social Security Assembly is far more important than to get it to prepare and win a militant strike.

The results are already widely present within the labor movement, though not yet so widely recognized. In the WPA sit-downs, the Stalinists and the supervisors together explain why the workers must be peaceful and go home. In Pennsylvania, the Stalinists declare that the new policy for the Workers' Alliance must abandon strikes as a method for "settling disputes." At the January unemployed demonstration in Washington, not a single militant slogan or banner was permitted; the whole demonstration was directed toward the achievement of a friendly chat with the relief authorities. In the Federation of Teachers, the general fight against the Boards of Education is deprecated, dual organizations (such as the Teachers' Guild in New York) are met with conciliation, and the open struggle against the A.F.of L. Executive Council and for the C.I.O. principles is shunted aside. In the Cafeteria Workers, there is disclosed an ironbound alliance between the Stalinists and the older racketeers. The furriers, the wild men of the Third Period, turn respectable, and devote their energies against the progressives and revolutionaries in the union. Ben Gold, who as leader of the furriers roared for five years like an untamable lion, now speaks like the mildest lamb. In the United Textile Workers, the Stalinists at the Convention come to the rescue of the reactionary officials. On the Pacific Coast, among the Maritime Unions, the Stalinists last year first tried to put over the I.S.U. proposals on the Sailors, then attempted to head off the strike, then insisted that it be delayed until after the elections (so as not to injure Roosevelt); and in the end were forestalled only by the militant stand of the Sailors' Union.

This trend will continue and increase. The Communist Party, under the banner of the People's Front, now functions in the unions more and more as a reactionary force, and the progressive movement in the unions will have to be built not along with but in large measure against it.

These conclusions are impressively supported by the Stalinist policy with respect to the A.F.of L.-C.I.O. struggle. At the present time, as Marxists have made clear, the progressive movement in the unions must proceed in accordance with the basic slogans: for industrial unionism; for organization of the basic mass industries; for a class struggle policy; for trade union democracy. Every one of these slogans, taken individually or together, dictates repudiation of the policies and course of the A.F.of L. bureaucracy, and determined, though of course critical, support of the C.I.O. This follows not because the C.I.O. as at present constituted and with its present leadership is the sufficient answer to the needs of the workers (indeed, through its fundamental class collaborationist!! and its violation of intra-union democracy, it acts even now and will in the future increasingly act counter to the needs of the workers), but because in the light of the real and actual conditions of the present, the direction of the C.I.O. is the direction of advance for the labor movement, just as the direction of the A.F.of L. officialdom is the direction of decay and disintegration. As against the A.F.of L. bureaucracy, therefore, Marxists must, whole-heartedly and unambiguously, support the C.I.O. Only such an attitude is at present compatible with progressive trade unionism.

The Communist party policy for the next period, however, is formulated around the single slogan of "unity." "We shall," Browder says in the report already referred to, "redouble our efforts in the fight for trade union unity, for the unity of the American Federation of Labor.... We think that it would be harmful if any unions were divided, one section going to the C.I.O., the other to the A.F.of L....under no conditions do we carry that fight on in such a way as to make a split in that union.... For example, in the probable organization of some sections of heavy machinery, we will have the problem of whether these new unions shall go into the Machinists or into some of the other unions, whether it be the Amalgamated Association, or what not. Generally, we have been clear on this last question. We refused to use our forces to carry sections of newly organized workers away from the jurisdictional claims of the Machinists Union over into some of the industrial unions, where there was a fear that this would intensify rivalries and sharpen the split."

No one will argue against the desirability of trade union unity, nor will anyone "advocate" splits. Nevertheless, it is always the concrete content of unity, not unity as an abstract slogan, that is important. And, under the present circumstances, in the labor movement, the fight for unity itself can be understood only as a fight under the slogans stated above, and—translated into organizational terms—for the C.I.O. movement as against the Executive Council. Such a fight alone makes possible the re-integration of the A.F.of L. on a basis that would mean an advance and not a defeat; and such a fight is equally necessary to prevent the C.I.O. officials themselves from betraying the movement which at present they lead. Re-integration, of course, may not be possible without capitulation; and if this is the case, then the workers must be prepared to face the full consequences—prepared to face the necessity for the building of a new Federation. The conduct of a genuinely progressive campaign will have laid the basis for such an eventuality.

The "unity" campaign of the Communist Party, on the contrary, disorients the progressive struggle. It blocks the sharp and fruitful fight against the policies of the Executive Council, announcing in advance a willingness to compromise and indeed to capitulate; and at the same time it contributes to reactionary tendencies on the part of the C.I.O. officials. To an increasing extent its results will be discovered in one union after another—as, for that matter, they have already been discovered in a number of specific instances: for example, in the Maritime Federation of the Pacific, at the Convention of the Federation of Teachers, and at the A.F.of L. Convention itself, in each of which instances Stalinist influence smothered clear-cut support of the C.I.O.
In other fields of People's Front activities, the same general trend is observable. For example, in youth work. Following the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, and the subsequent Congress of the Young Communist International, proposals were made in this country—as elsewhere— for the liquidation of the proletarian political youth organizations into broad, classless, non-political (i.e., People's Frontist) youth movements. When the position of the Young Peoples' Socialist League made this impossible, the Y.C.L. tried to gain the same end by the creation of the American Youth Congress on the same People's Front basis. The Y.C.L. now devotes a major part of its efforts to conciliating Y.M.C.A. and religious youth groups so as to maintain a bloc with them against revolutionary socialists. In the student field, the Y.C.L. consistently attempts to manipulate the American Student Union into a straight People's Front program and organizational form.

Most significant of all is the application of the People's Front policy to "anti-war work." Through a multitude of pacifist organizations, and especially through the directly controlled American League against War and Fascism, the Stalinists aim at the creation of a "broad, classless, People's Front of all those opposed to war." The class collaborationist character of the People's Front policy is strikingly revealed through the Stalinist attitude in these organizations. They rule out in advance the Marxist analysis of war as necessarily resulting from the inner conflicts of capitalism and therefore genuinely opposed only by revolutionary class struggle against the capitalist order; and, in contrast, maintain that all persons, from whatever social class or group, whether or not opposed to capitalism, can "unite" to stop war.

What this "anti-war work" means in actuality is suggested by the fact that the Stalinists have abandoned attacks on the armament program of American imperialism; greet the Buenos Aires Conference (a mighty step forward in this country's preparations for the coming war) as a great advance toward "world peace"; and criticize revolutionary socialists as planning to sell this country out to Japan, when they call for non-support of the government in the war. The truth is, of course, that through the People's Front, the Stalinists are making ready to support the government, and to recruit the masses for such support, in the new imperialist war.

*On The United Front And Political Action- A "Teachable" Moment, Perhaps- A Short Note

Click on the headline to link to a Workers Vanguard article, dated August 28, 2009, The United Front Tactic: Its Use and Abuse by Joseph Seymour as interesting background for the note below on the question of the united front.

Markin comment:

Apparently the rich lessons, politically rich lessons that is, to be derived from a short note added to a commentary on the need to boost our efforts in the struggle against the Obama Afghan war policy are endless. (See, The Streets Are Not For Dreaming - We Need An All Out Anti-War Push To Get Out Of Afghanistan- And We Need To Start Now, dated July 3, 2010.) Recently I posted an additional commentary based on that notion, the notion that the times were on our side in that struggle against the Afghan war policy but that we had better get moving to organize the opposition, including the now “famous” note that explained why I was less than enamored of the recently held U.S. Social Forum in Detroit in late June. (See, Once Again, On The U.S. Social Forum- A “Teachable” Moment, July 12, 2010.)

As part of that explanation I also mentioned a political action 2004, at a time when the Social Forum held a previous conference that coincided, not coincidentally, with the Democratic Party National Convention that was held in Boston that year. That action, an anti-war march on the convention site the day before the opening of the convention was called by the ANSWER coalition (and some other independent groupings). Given the opportunity to vocally oppose that party’s commitment in the still somewhat popular Iraq war and it nominee Senator John Kerry’s early endorsement of the Iraq war and other aspects of then-President Bush’s war policy it seemed like a “no-brainer” for anti-war militants to attend the event.

The local ad hoc anti-imperialist committee that I am a member of, and that had been formed in 2001 in opposition to Bush’s Afghan war policy, answered the call and attended the event, although we did not officially endorse the action. The main reason for that stance was that some of our members did not support the slogan of "Hands Off North Korea" that was included in the call for the demonstration. Or, at least, did not support the slogan in the uncritical sense that the organizers placed on it. That non- endorsement stance is not an unusual one, and we have all, I am sure, attended marches, rallies demonstrations and other action where we attended based on our own slogans without being part of an official endorsement. On some issues, and that included Iraq at that time, the need for militant action trumped the behind-the-scenes political wrangling.

What prompts this posting, however, is that a member of our local anti-imperialist committee, a newer member who was not then involved with our group, didn't understand why, after reading my post, if we were attending the demonstration, recruiting people to attend it, publicizing the event and all the other things that go into preparing for a political action, large or small, why we did not endorse the event. Hence I get another, "teachable" moment, perhaps.

Over a long life time of political activity, including attending marches, workshops, rallies, picket lines, and the like the notion of the united front, a true united front, has probably been the most difficult one to understand, and to deal with, in our small leftist political universe. I include myself in that category because for a long time I was very mushy (nice precise political term, right?) on the question, as well. I would characterize my own earlier positions as a “family of the left” non-aggression pacts that in the end prohibited any political clarity, or sorting out of political differences, between the myriad groups, leagues, tendencies, et al. that inhabit our American left landscape. In short, we are not all necessarily pulling in the same direction, strategically or tactically. Certainly political neophytes, like our newer member, could not then be accused of opportunistic naivete if they did not automatically understand such a concept.

In the communist movement, mainly from the work of the Communist International that emerged on the world labor scene in the aftermath of the Russian revolution of 1917, the original sense of the united front tactic was to try to get mass Communist organizations to outmaneuver mass Social Democratic organizations by proposing join actions on major issues in the interest of the working class and of pushing the class struggle forward. And, importantly, most importantly, showing in those join actions that the Communist organizations were more doggedly committed to seeing the actions through to the end, to being the best fighters for the class, up to and including revolutionary struggle.

Obviously in America, with its historically-deforming lack of a mass-based communist party (or, for that matter, the lack of a mass-based reformist labor party either), even in the heydays of the 1930s and 1940s when such formations were not without some influence in this country the use of the united front has not conformed to that Comintern notion mentioned above, or mainly does not apply to the tasks of the small propaganda groups that dot our political milieu , or has had to be modified to fit the American political scene.

Thus, in America, the united front really stands for the proposition that we communists are weak and that we need to unite as many organizations and individuals as possible by using this modified means. Of course, as every communist knows, or should know, the concept of the united front has taken a severe beating as a tool to forward the aims of the class struggle. It has been turned, for the most part, by Stalinists, ex-Stalinists, wanna-be Stalinists, Social Democrats, wanna-be Social Democrats, and not a few anarchists into a parliamentary tool that includes capitalist and pro-capitalist formations. In short not a united front but a popular front, and there is a difference, historically written in blood in such places as Spain in the 1930s and Chile in the 1970s, between those two concepts. That popular front strategic conception has, however, continued, in one form or another dominate the leftist landscape for the last fifty years, or more.

Look, let's make it simple. The united front is merely a basis for an action, one time or on-going depending on the issue (on-going, for example, in legal defense cases) by different organizations that join together for a common purpose. The best example of that is an anti-war protest based on a slogan of immediate withdrawal from one or another of America’s imperial adventures. Around that issue everyone can unite, make their own analysis and draw their own strategic conclusions, make their own propaganda and fight for their other programmatic points. Beyond that “minimum” the united front makes no sense.

And that is where the question of 2004 comes in. The ANSWER coalition’s call for the demonstration included a grab bag of slogans on a range of issues, some supportable, some not. In realty the political program presented by the ANSWER coalition represented a call to support their slogan and to form a propaganda bloc on that basis. As I mentioned above some of our members were not committed to defense of North Korea, critically or otherwise. Actually, although that was the main question in dispute over endorsement there was also controversy on the question of Haiti and ANSWER's semi-support of a return of Astride. There were also organizational considerations centered on whether we could have a speaker at the pre-march rally. All in all there were plenty of grounds for not officially endorsing the action.

That, however, is a far cry from not attending, or ordering one's members not to attend a demonstration under one's own banners and with one's own propaganda. Hell, it is done all the time. Most of the leftist political actions over the last few decades have been done that way. So the question of not attending in those circumstances comes down to this- the U.S Social Forum/UJP/Green leaderships were making a conscious decision not to offend the Democrats, or at least not "embarrassing" that organization in the public’s eye by taking a political dive on confrontation that covention week. You know, and here is the "perhaps" part of the "teachable" moment mentioned in the headline such opportunism doesn't really pay in the end. For all their kowtowing to the Democrats, then or later, what did they get- a now vastly expanded war in Afghanistan, among other miseries, by the Democrats led by one former self-described “anti-war activist” of uncertain provenance, President Barack Obama. You reap what you sow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

*Not Ready For Prime Time Class Struggle, High School Class Struggle That Is-Jerry Lee Lewis' "High School Confidential"

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Jerry Lee Lewis performing his classic, High School Confidential.

Markin comment:

The devil made me do it, made me do this post. Otherwise there is not rational reason to explain it. Okay?

Jerry Lee Lewis - High School Confidential lyrics

You better open up honey its your lover boy me that's a knockin'

You better listen to me sugar all the cats are at the High School rockin'

Honey get your boppin' shoes Before the juke box blows a fuse

Got everbody hoppin' everybody boppin'

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Shakin' at the High School Hop

I've rollin' at the High School Hop

I've been movin' at the High School Hop

Everybodys hoppin' Everybody's boppin'

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Come on little baby gonna rock a little bit tonight

Woooh I got get with you sugar gonna shake things up tonight

Check out the heart beatin' rhythm cause my feet are moving smooth and light

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Shakin' at the High School Hop

Rollin' at the High School Hop

Movin' at the High School Hop

Everybodys hoppin' just a boppin' just a boppin'

Piano Solo!

Come on little baby let me give a piece good news good news good news

Jerry Lee is going to rock away all his blues

My hearts beatin' rhythm and my soul is singin' the blues

Oooooh Boppin' at the High School Hop

Shakin' at the High School Hop

Rollin' at the High School Hop

Gettin' it at the High School Hop

Everybodys hoppin' Everybody's boppin'

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Solo Time!

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Shakin' at the High School Hop

Rollin' at the High School Hop

Movin' at the High School Hop

Well Everybodys hoppin' Everybody's boppin'

Boppin' at the High School Hop

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

*Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-Tom Waits' "Hold On"

Click on the title to link a YouTube film clip of Tom Waits performing his Hold On.

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.


Tom Waits Hold On Lyrics

They hung a sign up in our town
"if you live it up, you won't
Live it down"
So, she left Marty Rio's son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip
Well, the moon was gold, her
Hair like wind
She said don't look back just
Come on Jim


Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You gotta hold on.

Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
But you share my bed, you share my name.
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don't meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said baby, I still love you
Sometimes there's nothin left to do

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here, you got to hold on.

Well, God bless your crooked little heart,
St. Louis got the best of me.
I miss your broken-china voice.
How I wish you were still here with me.
Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
You burn your mansion to the ground
When there's nothing left to keep you here, when
You're falling behind in this
Big blue world

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You got to hold on

Down by the Riverside motel,
It's 10 below and falling.
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying.
But it's so hard to dance that way
When it's cold and there's no music.
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head there's a record
That's playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You got to hold on.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Once Again, On The U.S. Social Forum- A “Teachable” Moment

Click on headline to link to the United For Peace And Justice (UJP) website, for an example of the kinds of activities that this umbrella organization (a part of the bigger umbrella organization, U.S. Social Forum) promotes.

Markin comment:

Yesterday in a post headlined I Will Love This Country Until The Day I Die-I Will Fight This Government Until We Achieve Our Communist Future- A Short Note, dated July 11, 2010, I noted that sometimes it is fun for me to be a communist propagandist trying to mesh the news of the day, the political atmospherics, and the struggle for our communist future together. And, at times, learning a little something in the process. In that commentary I also noted that sometimes it is not. The subject of that post was a commentary on those who challenge my “American-ness”. However today I am back on ground that I much prefer to fight on even though I am being taken to task- again.

This time though the criticism stems from a reader who took umbrage (her word, but I like it) over my characterization of the recently completed U.S. Social Forum held in Detroit in late June as a talkfest at a time when we need to get back, desperately get back, into the streets. (See The Streets Are Not For Dreaming - We Need An All Out Anti-War Push To Get Out Of Afghanistan- And We Need To Start Now, posted July 3, 2010, on the American Left History blog.)

The central thrust of her criticism concerned my note to that entry where I expanded, somewhat, on my take on a previous Social Forum in 2004 held at the same time and in the same city as the Democratic National Convention in Boston where I noted that those attendees were safely ensconced far away from any street action on the day before the opening of that convention. I also noted that, based on both anecdotal and written information by those involved, that the leadership of that Social Forum (and/or organizations that make up that umbrella organization) ordered or discouraged their memberships from attendance at the pre-convention anti-war event. This whole thing, in the end, amounted to some nasty “behind the scenes” organizational wrangling, as usual.

What makes all of this the “teachable” moment promised in the headline is the reader’s argument that Social Forum workshops are important to “gather in the clan” (my expression) and “take stock of where we are, and where we are going” (her expression) in order to move forward. Obviously, workshops, fora and the like ARE worthwhile. What the reader missed, and what I fear that she will always miss is that such activities (such “talk shops”) are a substitute for real actions beyond the walls of the classroom.

In the specific cases that I was addressing (2004, and the G-20 in 2010, but I could go back a longer way that than, a lot farther back to the 1960s with the Socialist Workers Party-led National Peace Action Coalition and the Communist Party-led People’s Coalition For Peace and Justice ) there had been a conscious political decision on the part of the participating organizations to work one way, to try to gain organizational control of the “movement” (such as it is) and, no question, not create a big stir in this pre-election period (a subject of open and constant dispute by the more militant elements) in order not to hurt the chances of the national Democratic Party. This at a time, and that was part of my argument as well, when the situation has cried out, and cried out to high heaven, for opposition in the streets to Democratic Party President Obama’s bloody, vicious war in Afghanistan (and residue war in Iraq).

Rather than go over the same material from that previous blog entry note I have expanded somewhat on that note to try to give a little more historical and organizational background to the dispute. This, by the way is a dispute, in its general outlines, that has been going on in the American left movement at least since the fight over slavery in pre-Civil War days, if not earlier:

Expanded Note: For those who wince at my characterization of the recently held U.S. Social Forum (late June 2010 in Detroit) as a talk fest (actually talk/slugfest, for there are always elements of both especially when the organization question comes up) I will give a very compelling reason for that usage. And I will not even mention the various “anti-imperialist”, “anti- capitalist” sources, like the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, and who knows who else, that funded this confab. I will make strictly leftist political points here.

2004, was a presidential election year and a year when the Democratic Party National Convention was held in Boston. That was the year, if you recall, that one Massachusetts U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry was proclaimed the Democratic nominee. Senator Kerry, if you will also recall, voted with both hands and feet (or was it one hand and one foot) for President George W. Bush’s 2002 Iraq War resolution, among his other sins. Clearly a situation, in any case, for anti-war militants and others to stage a protest, a vocal one to boot, against the Democratic Party and its nominee at the convention site.

2004 was also a year that, not by chance, the U.S. Social Forum (made up of many anti-war and progressive organizations and individuals, as least that is what they alleged in their written propaganda) was held in Boston at the nearby University of Massachusetts/Boston campus at the same time as the convention. A perfect lash-up for a very strong and well-attended protest, right? (That was set, moreover, for the day before the convention started, a Sunday, and would not have interfered with a whole array of other “cause” events during the week.)

No such luck. The vast bulk of the more than 5000 attendees at the Forum ( I do not know the actual number who attended but that was the number that was bandied about then) could not find the time to tear themselves away, for a couple of hours, from some pressing anti-war or anti-imperialist workshop in order to hit the streets. Or, and here is the real crux of the matter, were ordered not to so or discouraged from attending that protest by the Forum leadership or by their organizations. During that Sunday march to the Convention Center in Boston we ran into, few, too few, protesters who “broke ranks” with their leaderships and decided to attend a demonstration that had, in the end, about 1500 to 2000 attendees. That is one of the anecdotal sources for our argument; others included oral statements made to us (our local ad hoc anti-imperialist, anti-war committee) by leading members of organizations that held this “don’t go” position. I will address the written organizational wrangling below.

My group of local anti-war militants and I had our own political differences with the organizers of the Sunday protest (the ANSWER coalition). For example, we could not officially endorse the event because some of our people did not agree with Hands Off North Korea ( not the exact formulation, but that is the sense of it) slogan (some did, including myself) but when the deal when down and a simple anti-war statement had to be made the place for all militants was in front of the Democratic Party Convention Hall chanting our opposition to the Bush/Kerry (now Obama) Iraq and Afghan Wars. And that, in the nature of these things, is where all hell, all organizational hell, breaks out.

For those unfamiliar with the ANSWER coalition it too is an umbrella organization (more or less, although there is a great deal of overlap of organizations and personnel, at least locally in Boston) whose driving force is (or was then, as there has been a split) was the old Stalinoid Workers World Party. This coalition has been characterized by a bit more vocal militancy than the United For Peace And Justice (UJP)-types that form a core of the Social Forum (you know, Quakers, Shakers and assorted pacifists, good government-types, and top heavy with left academics) and a more confrontational aspect to its politics. Moreover it keeps bringing up those oddball things like uncritical defense of North Korea ( I believe they have been aiming for the American franchise, such as it is) that drives the UJP-types to distraction as they attempt to “convince” by rational argument the Democratic Party, the party of war and oppression, to do “the right thing.”

This kind of wrangling is hardly new, especially when there has been historically, as in America, no mass-based Labor or Communist party to fill the vacuum outside, and to the left , of bourgeois politics that would leave such organizations configurations far behind. So that is what we are up against. Still, united front possibilities or not, the place to be then, and now, was in the streets. At least once in a while. As I mentioned in my original note, fortunately, this year’s Social Forum was not interrupted by the need to deal with presidential elections; although I would have made a very strong case that the not very distant (from Detroit) Toronto meeting of the G-20, held at approximately the same time, could have used a few thousand more protestors, if the attendees could have torn themselves away from those lovely workshops in Detroit. Some things never change.

*From "Boston Indy Media"- The Pro-Immigration Rights Protest And March In Boston During The National Governor's Conference

Click on the headlines to link to a Boston Indy Media post on the pro-immigration rights protest and march in Boston during the recent National Governor's Conference.

Markin comment:

While we radical defenders of immigrant rights do not really have a positive program on bourgeois immigration policy. We are not, after all, advisers to the government on immigration policy. We know what we do want- Full citizenship rights for all who make here. And we know what we do not want- anti-immigrant laws like Arizona's SB 1070 and the trickle of other such state legislative actions of that ilk.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

*I Will Love This Country Until The Day I Die-I Will Fight This Government Until We Achieve Our Communist Future- A Short Note

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Merle Haggard performing his classic anti-countercultural song, Okie From Muskogee.

Markin comment:

Sometimes it is fun for me to be a communist propagandist trying to mesh the news of the day, the poltical atmospherics, and the struggle for our communist future together. And, at times, learning a little something in the process. Not today though, or at least not anything I think is worth learning. Hear me out.

In a recent post on this and other sites that I contribute to (Not Ready For Prime Time Class Struggle- Merle Haggard’s Song Okie From Muskogee, dated July 8, 2010, and reposted below) I noted that there is sometimes no accounting for personal taste. Against every political instinct that I possess and all the politics that I hold dear-which includes a savage indictment of the governmental apparatus of this American society that we live in- I like, and like very much, Merle Haggard’s old time patriotic song, Okie From Muskogee. Not in the same way I like The Internationale, of course, but I like the song.

Of course, as well, use of the blogosphere opens one’s postings and opinions to random viewing, not all looking for a way out of the morass that American society finds itself in. Or, at least, not the fight for our communist future that is the hallmark of this space. As fate would have it I received a very negative (oh, mercy me) comment on this post. Not about the craziness or utopianism of the communist program. Nor the usual “one way ticket” to Russia (hello, the Cold War is over, or a little abated anyway) "America-love it or leave" song and dance. None of that at all, but get this, about my gall in even placing the lyrics of Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee on such an un-American site. The messenger made it clear that I was not worthy of kissing old Merle’s a-- and other such sentiments not worthy of further public exposure.

Now I have my dander up. I will, as the nature of politics in America dictates, including and maybe especially left-wing politics, roll with the punches on most anti- communist commentary and move on. But on the question of being un-American (whatever that means, we Americans seem to have a moving standard on that one, somewhat expectedly in a country populated by about 99 % immigrants) I take umbrage, serous umbrage, at the remark.

However, rather than write another in an endless series of screeds for each individual “okie”, oops, “airhead” who feels they have to defend this country, keyboard at hand, on the Internet, if no where else I have already essentially taken up this matter in an earlier blog entry in this space. I have reposted it (edited a little) below. That should satisfy my “honor” on this one:

AMERICA-LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT?, posted June 6, 2007, on the American Left History blog.


Recently I reviewed Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson, a book on the very topical issue of the rise of the American Empire. As readers know this space is dedicated to the spreading of socialist ideas. I hold Marx, Lenin and Trotsky in very high regard. I have made no secret of that. I nevertheless have gotten a comment from some irate reader stating that I could use some “reality” therapy by taking a trip to North Korea for a grass diet. I have been in politics for a long time and have had my share of barbs thrown at me. And have done the same in return. That comes with the territory. What has got my Irish up is the utter sameness of the response when one tweaks the American “belly of the beast” and the sunshine patriots come out form under their well-kept rocks . Below is my response to that irate reader.

“I am tired of every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants to defend the American Empire, consciously or unconsciously and I suspect here consciously, volunteering to act as my personal travel agent. In the bad old days of the Cold War when I mentioned that nuclear disarmament might be a rationale idea I was advised to go thresh wheat on some Soviet collective farm. When I argued that mainland China (then Red China) was the legitimate government there I was kindly told to cull rice in some people’s commune. After protesting the American-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion and asking for fair play for Cuba it was suggested that cutting sugar cane might be my life’s work. When I protested that America was raining all hell down on Vietnam some unkindly souls pointed out that I might prefer an air raid shelter in Hanoi. Now I am advised to go eat grass in North Korea. No, I will not have it. My forbears on my father’s side were run out of England in the early 1800’s and my mother’s forbears came here on the ‘famine ships’ from Ireland. That may not give me the pedigree of the Mayflower crowd but it is damn good enough. My fight is here. I will make my own travel plans, thank you.”


The offending post-Exhibit A

*Not Ready For Prime Time Class Struggle- Merle Haggard's Song- "Okie From Muskogee"

Markin comment:

Okay, blame it on Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters (including “beatnik” holdover/bus driver Neal Cassady). Or blame it on the recently re-read Tom Wolfe's classic The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test that pays “homage” to Kesey and his Pranksters. Or, better blame it on Jack Kerouac and that self-same Cassady for his On The Road. Or just blame it on a residue of the Fourth of July (which as a recent entry indicated, we don’t celebrate these days). But do not, please do not, blame it on me and my sometimes perverse sense of humor for placing the lyrics to Okie From Muskogee on this site. I like the song and that is that. Although I prefer Jim Kweskin's (of Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band fame in the 1960s) 1970 version better than old Merle’s.

Merle Haggard, Okie from Muskogee Lyrics

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take our trips on LSD
We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all

We don't make a party out of lovin';
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo;
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.

And I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,
A place where even squares can have a ball.
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all.

Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear;
Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen.
Football's still the roughest thing on campus,
And the kids here still respect the college dean.

We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.

*Chomsky, Redux- The Chomsky Sessions- A DVD Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for left-wing political activist Professor Noam Chomsky.

DVD Review

Chomsky Sessions, Noam Chomsky, Shout Factory, 2008

"Let’s face it these days in America it does not take much to gain a left radical reputation. I say that more in anger than in sorrow. Take the case of over-blown director Michael Moore, who is in some right-wing quarters seen as the devil incarnate, while in actuality resting, and resting quite comfortably, in the heartland of the Democratic Party precincts, hardly radical territory these days, if ever. The subject of this documentary review, radical gadfly MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, is also prima facie evidence for that proposition.

Now I have nothing against the good professor- as a linguist. That work I have always found interesting. What is less interesting, and is placed front and center in this 2003 post 9/11 exposition of his views, well, are those views. Or better, not the views, many of them which I actually share, but of his analysis of what to do about it.

Perhaps, as this point in my own long political career, I am a little jaded when someone makes a cogent, if now commonplace, analysis of American imperialism, the industrial-military complex, the over-reaching tentacles of the imperial experience, the cultural/consumer wasteland, the media’s capitulation to the government, and the fear-mongering in place of politics, particularly in the post 9/11 world that form the segments of the professor’s spiel. He presents those position articulately, if as he concedes himself, long-windedly, and that is fair enough. I have already conceded without difficulty that he is an important public intellectual. But hiding behind those views is a long time anarchist position that to take on the “monster” seriously is, in the end, bad form.

Now Professor Chomsky’s anarchism is not that of the old Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers of the World), or of the Haymarket Martyrs. One moreover, in any case, would never mistake him for “Big” Bill Haywood, Alexander Berkman or a host of other action anarchists. Or as a member of the Friends of Durritti in Spain in the 1930s. Those were heroic figures who demand much respect even from those of us who find ourselves in political opposition to anarchist doctrine. No, the good professor’s brand of anarchism is more philosophical, very philosophical. It is more attuned to that of the moral suasion doctrines of Kropotkin, and the like. Bloodless, and while resting easily in one’s armchair.

Nowhere does that come out better that in the snippets of interviews here where he is asked questions about what to do to fight against the “monster”. There he loses the articulate analysis and fumbles around with searches for self-identity, truthfulness, and intellectual inquiry- all nice things but hardly calculated to make the “beast” tremble. Professor Chomsky gives the game away in one such answer. He is asked about the very legitimate question of organizing, and who and how to do such activity. He mentions, at one point in the answer, that he could not organize, by his life circumstances, steel workers.

Fair enough, life provides each of us with different possibilities. But why in this whole hour presentation did I not see or hear, other than the obligatory mantra about the plight of the working masses, that he wanted to work closely with those who did have such skills. There was nothing in the good-intentioned professor’s presentation that made me break from sometime another old public intellectual, although not an august professor, Karl Marx, said in the middle of the 19th century- “It is not enough to merely analysis (or philosophize) about the world- the point is to change it. And we know what that means-if Professor Chomsky doesn’t."

Hey, wait a minute, didn’t I write this review above for Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause (2003) a while back Yes, of course I did. But that is exactly the point, or almost exactly the point. The Chomsky “party-line” including film footage from the earlier work has not changed since 2003. In fact, if one went really far back to the 1960s one would probably find that same fact to be true. And forward to 2010, as well

Saturday, July 10, 2010

*From The Horse's Mouth- The Supreme Court's Decision In "Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project"

Click on the headline link to the United States Supreme Court decision of June 21,2010 in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project mentioned in the Workers Vanguard article posted earlier today.

Markin comment:

Read it and weep.

Preachin' The Blues- Son House


The Very Best of Son House , Heroes Of The Blues, Son House, Sony Music, 2003

I recently reviewed Mississippi John Hurt’s "The Last Sessions" in this space. Hurt was ‘discovered’ in the early 1960’s by young, mainly white, folk singers looking to find the roots of American music. Well, Hurt was not the only old black country blues player ‘discovered’ during that period. There is a now famous still picture (as well as well as video performance clip, I wonder if it is on YouTube?) of Hurt along with the legendary Skip James and the musician under review, Son House, jamming at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. That was a historic (and probably one of the last possible) moments to hear these legends of country blues in one spot together.

And why was House on that stage with Hurt and James? Well, the short answer is that old flailing National steel guitar of his. However, the real answer is that like Hurt he represented a piece of American music that was fast fading away, at least in its original form –the country blues. Can anyone beat the poignancy of "Death Letter Blues" or bitterness of "Levee Moan"? Or when House gets preachy on "John the Revelator" and other old time religious songs of shout and response. The tension between being a preacher man and doing the ‘devil’s work' (playing the blues) is more clearly felt in House’s work than in Hurt’s.

House’s repertoire is not as extensive as Hurt’s and there is a little sameness of some of the lyrics but when he is hot watch out. There is another famous film clip of him alone sitting down in a chair on stage under the hot lights flailing away at the guitar almost trance-like, sweating buckets doing "Death Letter Blues". That is the scene you want to evoke when you listen to this selection. And do listen.


Kicking The Country Blues- Son House and Bukka White

Son House and Bukka White: Masters Of The Country Blues, hosted by Taj Mahal, Yazoo Videos, 1991

I have reviewed the music of country blues legend Son House elsewhere in this space (and above in this entry) and expected to review this documentary solely on the basis of a comment there. I mentioned there that in 1963 Son House, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt performed at the Newport Folk Festival, a historic Delta blues occasion. One of the vivid cinematic scenes from that event was Son House flailing his National steel guitar, trance like, on the classic "Death Letter Blues". I assumed that I was going to see that performance here. That was not the case. However, with solid introductions to both performers by blues legend Taj Mahal we are treated to a little different look at Son House and a new look at Bukka White.

The Son House segments here concentrate on the lifelong tension between a career in preaching, Baptist style of course, and ‘doin’ the devil’s work’ of singing the blues (and along the way doing a little whiskey drinking, womanizing and hell-raising). House is interviewed here trying to lay out his philosophy, his theology and his acknowledgement that the whiskey and women mainly got the best of him. The actual musical presentation is rather short and religiously oriented- "Death Letter Blues", "John The Revelator" and the like. If you want Son House at his most musical you will have to look elsewhere, mainly to his CDs. If you want to know the man behind the music a little this is for you.

Enough of Son House here though. The real story of this documentary is that the lesser known (at least to me and others that I know who follow the blues) Bukka White steals the show in his segments. Not only is he a better and more versatile guitar player than Son House but he jumps with his musical compositions here. Let us leave it, for now, that if you want to get introduced to Brother White then this is a very good way to start. I might add that in a segment of The Howlin’ Wolf Story that I am also currently in the process of reviewing that White also steals the show from the legendary Wolf with his guitar playing. That said, the reader can expect that Brother White will shortly be getting an individual entry in this space. Yes, indeed, he will.

*From The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee-Sentencing Hearing July 15, 2010-New York City

Click on on the headline to link to theLynne Stewart Defense Committee Website for important updated information

From The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee Website

JULY 15, 2010


Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am

Federal Courthouse

500 Pearl Street
Doors will open at 2pm


*From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"- "Supreme Court Decision Shreds First Amendment Rights"

Click on the headline to link to the Workers Vanguard website for an online copy of the article mentioned in the headline.

Markin comment:

As noted in this linked article, although not unexpected from the Neanderthals (oops, that is disrespectful to those early residents of our fair planet who represented, at the time, a higher form of life) on the Supreme Court this decision will have, as in other previous decisions like in the 2nd Court Of Appeals case of people's attorney Lynne Stewart, a "chilling effect" on free speech. By the way, anyone who is under the illusion that you need to know the law, and just the law, rather than exhibit your ingrown "original intent" political prejudices to be a Supreme Court justice should read this decision. I think those unfairly maligned Neanderthals could come up with a more rational decision. And they did not have several hard-pressed, overworked law clerks to "write" the thing for them.