Sunday, January 05, 2014

***The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin, Private Investigator - The October Of The Red-Eyed Moon


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman with kudos to Raymond Chandler

Comment on this sketch: 

As those who have followed this series know, and for those who don’t here is the skinny, these sketches are based on conversations that Joshua Lawrence Breslin, the old-time journalist for the East Bay Eye and half the other, mainly unread, radical journals and newspapers in this country, had with the late well-known Los Angeles private detective Michael Philip Marlin’s son, Tyrone Fallon, a while back. Mr. Fallon, who also is the private detection business, decided after a great deal of cajoling by Joshua to provide him with some of the stories that his father had told him as he was growing up in the 1950s about cases that he, or in some cases other well-known detectives, had been involved in. Marlin’s idea was to give his son some of the do’s and don’ts of the business in case he ever decided to try his hand at it. Joshua then told them to me over a long period when we met, usually at a bar when both of us were misty-eyed for some old time stories, and I have kind of run with them in my own way.     

Most of the stories stand on their own but this one, The October of The Red-Eyed Moon, requires some explanation since it involved Marlin warning Tyrone away from red-headed women, period. The odd part of that is that Tyrone’s mother, the famous 1940s femme fatale roles actress Fiona Fallon, who may or may not have married Marlin but who had this love child with him, was nothing but a flaming red-head who passed on that characteristic to her son. So I am not sure, and perhaps you are not as well, about taking Marlin’s advice on this one. Read on.           
Don’t tangle with, don’t mess with, don’t, well don’t okay with red-headed dames, just move on, move on just as quickly as your two feet will carry you. This is not some shop-worn advice from some scolding mother looking out for her Johnnie or Jimmie, like mothers have been doing since Eve, maybe before, but straight from a guy who knows, a guy who almost tangled with, almost messed with a red-headed dame. A guy named Michael Philip Marlin. Marlin, a well-known Ocean City (just outside Los Angeles then, incorporated into the city now) gumshoe who had been around starlets, around their beds too, and movie people should have known from that first look she threw at him at Mindy’s Bar over on Wiltshire right over the line from Ocean City in Los Angeles one October night that she was poison. Should have known to walk away.

You know the look, that slinky dress, black, strap falling off the shoulder come hither look that red -flame hair falling off the other shoulder as was the fashion then, catching the eye of every man in the room. Saying without saying, “I need a man for some heavy lifting and you look like the type to handle it.” Something like that with the tag-line, the lure, “I will make it worth your while.” And it doesn’t take a real smart guy, a guy who has been around, hell all it takes is any guy over about twelve to know to know what that “make it worth your while” meant.

So Marlin tumbled, and maybe it was that dress or maybe it was that gardenia perfume of hers that hit him as she walked over to his stool at the bar, but he tumbled. And maybe you can’t blame the guy, any guy especially after a few drinks, a few scotches, but that tumble was a close thing too, a close thing, except the red-headed dame in question, Rita Alden, wound up dead, very dead on the bed in Marlin’s apartment and he laid very unconscious from a cold-cock blackjack on the floor beside her. Naturally the coppers, the public coppers, the Los Angeles coppers who had no love lost for keyhole peepers like Marlin had he ready for the big send-off, ready for Q if it came to that, when they arrived at that scene responding to an anonymous call. That too was a close call.        

But we had better step back to a couple of days before that fatal October night to explain why Marlin, a strictly Ocean City denizen, a guy who had had nothing but trouble in previous encounters with the cops in Los Angeles, hell, with anybody connected with L.A. wound up talking to a red-headed dame at Mindy’s and thinking, or half- thinking, silky sheets thoughts about this Alden woman. See Rita’s husband, better ex-husband, Jack, a private-eye himself, kind of, a real bedroom peeper, doing divorce work, Hollywood bedroom stuff, for his coffee and cakes, hired Marlowe, knowing that what he had was too big for a window-peeper to handle.

And what Jack had, on tape hidden in a safe spot, was that he had overheard some very interesting conversations between Ocean City Police Chief Warren Holmes and one Max Webber, a well-known West Coast gangster (previously from the East Coast before his luck ran out there and he headed west, and found gold) about making that fair city wide open for gambling, booze, drugs, and loose women. All the Chief wanted was a big cut of the profits ( the request granted, although less than he asked for) and that Max keep the gunsels and shoot-outs out of town (not granted since Max needed to take care of guys and protect his turf from poachers, deadly gun-carrying poachers). And smart Jack, wise from all those peeps got the whole conversation on tape, and photographs too.

What Jack wanted Marlin to do was act as an emissary to the two parties, Holmes and Webber, wanted to have him feel them out about a big pay-off for keeping quiet. Marlin, not normally interested in such work, at that moment was well behind in his office rent, room rent too, and so he swallowed, swallowed hard and agreed to do the talking when Jack flashed five one- hundred dollar bills his way. That and a case of Jack Daniels to tie the bow. Problem, big problem was that somehow Max, the Chief, or both, got wind of what Jack had and before Marlin could make his pitch one Jack Alden was fished out of the bay with two slugs through his heart. (Ocean City, snotty Ocean City, unlike L.A. had few dealings with low-life private eyes and so it was easy to gather information when one of them hit town.)                                    

Now you have to know Marlin a little like Jake Armor, former L.A. Detective Jake Armor, then the head of the Bunco squad in Ocean City did when Marlin was on the force back there in 1930, 1931, a guy full of the fight for some rough justice in this wicked old world to understand that he took Jack’s death, hell, murder personally. So, no Marlin was not going to take that dough Jack gave him and say good riddance. Marlin was not build that way. Jack was a client and so Marlin was going to stick his neck and his nose into this until somebody screamed uncle. And that was why he stepped into Mindy’s that red wind October night looking for a certain red-head, a red-head who had once been married to one Jack Alden.

See this Rita, ex-wife or not, was working the blackmail racket with her “ex” so she too would have a big pay-day and  drift back east where she was from. So they met as previously described, Marlin bought her a couple of drinks, had a couple himself and she loosened up enough to kind of come on to him straight and hard. Now Rita wasn’t a looker, no way, in fact she was kind of plain of face except that flaming red hair (courtesy of Irish forbears) but she had a figure that made up for that, a figure that had had many a man talking to himself  about how to get next to that. Frankly she knew what her appeal was, and also knew that to get anywhere in the world she would have to use every trick, every sexual trick in the book to get what she wanted. Marlin had her sized up as “easy,” that she had maybe spent some time doing street tricks and so she knew all the tricks. Still the scotch, the red wind night, her perfume, too much but working, had him thinking, no, what did I say before, half- thinking, bedroom thoughts as they talked about what she knew about Jack’s tapes and photographs. She, they agreed it would be better off to get out of Mindy’s and over to her place on Bayview in the city.              

Like I said Ocean City was a small town and after they left Mindy’s and went to get Marlin’s car in the parking lot they were waylaid by two thugs. That was the last Marlin remembered before he came to with coppers, including Jake Armor, sprawled all over his room. The first cops on the scene, a couple of patrol car goofs, didn’t believe Marlin’s story, and neither did Jake when he got the call on the squat box after he arrived on the scene, about Jack Alden and his schemes. But they didn’t have enough to hold him and so Jake figured, figured right as it turned out, that that cold-cock bump would lead him into desperate pursuit of whoever did it to him, and to Rita. So off Marlin went the next day looking for knock down drag out revenge. That is where he got some help from a copper over there, a guy named Albert Pina, a detective who was a straight shooter and who was disgusted by Max Webber and his crowd making his town a cesspool of vice and corruption (he was unaware of his chief’s agreement with Max at that time, or so he told Marlin).           

The first order of business was to find Rita’s killer and here Albert was a real asset. From his sources he found out that a free agent gunsel named Shorty Murphy had been seen around Rita’s apartment that dead night. Pina found out where Shorty hung out and they, he and Marlin, went to make the collar, and also find out, find out officially, who ordered the hit. They found Shorty hanging out at Jersey’s Pool Hall across the street from Ocean City Police Headquarters, Albert slammed him against the wall, cuffed him, and then placed him in his private automobile. Marlin thought that a little odd but said nothing as he got in the front passenger seat of Albert’s auto. Albert gunned the vehicle and headed for the far end, the secluded end of the Ocean City beach, around Squaw Rock, the local kids’ hangout during the day but quiet at night. He then proceeded to give Shorty the third-degree, and then some. Eventually Shorty cried uncle and named Max Webber as his man. He swore that on his mother’s grave. Then Albert just left Shorty there, left him to fend for himself, also a little odd.       

With Shorty’s forced confession Albert and Marlin headed to Max Webber’s Kit-Kat Club, a watering hole and casino up in the hills above town. They entered the club and were stopped by the head bouncer. Albert showed his badge and asked for Max. They were led to a back office where Max was counting receipts. Albert, gun drawn, confronted Max. Max naturally denied Shorty’s story, said why would he bother with some cheapjack private eye or red-headed whore when he had the town sewed up, sewed up tight and had all the politician and cops bought and paid for. He flicked his wrist saying, “Get out of here and don’t bother me anymore about red-headed whores only good for street tricks and going down on high- school boys down at Squaw Rock for quarters.”  Albert went crazy at that remark and fired a couple of shots in Max’s direction, one of them hitting him in the shoulder.       

As Albert got ready to fire another shot it finally hit Marlin that Max was right. Why would he ruin his whole operation for some petty blackmail scheme. And that is when Marlin remembered something about that night Rita was killed, as he was coming out of his unconsciousness. The smell of a man’s shaving lotion, a smell that the perspiring Albert was giving off just then. He took out his gun, directed Albert to stop shooting and Albert turned around ready to shoot. Marlin put two slugs near the heart. Albert died on the way to the hospital.

It came out later that Albert had been a lover scorned. He had been Rita’s boyfriend in high school and they were to be married. Rita backed out went out and went west and Albert followed. She eventually married Jack, it didn’t take since he had no dough, she went back to Albert for a while then dumped him again. Albert kept tabs on her though. When Jack offered to cut her in on the blackmail angle Albert thought she was going back to him and he went crazy. He killed Jack. Then when he saw Marlin with Rita he flipped out again. He had intended to kill Marlin as well except Marlin was coming out of his coma. And you wonder why Marlin told Tyrone don’t tangle, don’t mess with red-heads. Especially in the October red-eyed moon night.


From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Trotsky And The Second World War the old adage goes war is the handmaiden of revolution and Trotsky's prognosis based on World War I was that there would be class struggles for power in the wake of the Second World War. The critical question and a question not previously addressed since there had not been a workers' state was defense of the Soviet Union -the Russian question- which is still with us today (China, etc.). You can get a few things wrong in political perspectives but wrong on that question which has shipwrecked many socialists in not one of them.

Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.


The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 


Trotsky and the Second World War

An exchange between Lutte Ouvrière and Daniel Guérin

1. Review in Lutte Ouvrière, No 80 (10-17 March 1970) of Sur la deuxième guerre mondiale, texts by Leon Trotsky collected and edited by Daniel Guérin, Taupe editions, Brussels.

This collection of texts contains the greater part of the analyses which Trotsky devoted to the coming of the Second World War from 1937 until his death in August 1940.

As far as Trotsky was concerned, if the First World War had brutally ripped aside the Second (Socialist) International’s veil of opportunism, the Second war was not going to provide any surprises.

On 10 October 1938 he wrote:

Today all the starting positions have been occupied with precision prior to the war. But wherever the bourgeoisie continues to feed the labour bureaucracy, the Social Democrats and ex-Communists will be found completely on the side of their general staffs, and, what is more the first fiddle of chauvinism will be in the hands of the musicians of the Stalin school. Not only the fiddle, but also the revolver aimed at the revolutionary workers!

Right from the start he denounced the operation mounted by the bourgeoisie and reformists of all stripes who were attempting to drag the workers into war by representing it as a struggle between ‘democracy and fascism’. He continued to show without ceasing that this argument assisted the Anglo-French (and later the American) imperialists in attempting to harness their own people to the defence of their own interests threatened by German imperialism. Trotsky returned to this question in numerous writings to demonstrate the criminal policy of the French and English ‘democracies’, so accomplished in the plunder and enslavement of the colonial peoples.

As for the war itself, from the summer of 1937 Trotsky foresaw it would be unleashed in three or four years’ time. The essential criterion for this was the achievement of German rearmament. The scenario that the English bourgeoisie put forward at this time was for the reinforcement of British armaments, which had to acquire an adequate level to ‘assure peace’. As can be seen, ‘the deterrent’ does not date from yesterday.

At the time of the Munich agreement Trotsky shows that, far from guaranteeing peace, it simply proved that the ‘Western democracies’ preferred to sacrifice Czechoslovakia rather than allow Hitler to satiate himself on their colonies. It was on these premises that, from 1938 onwards, Trotsky was able to foresee the rapprochement of the now isolated USSR with Hitler (a rapprochement whose possibility he had proclaimed from 1933 on). And the Kremlin bureaucrats passed quickly from celebrating ‘the alliance of the democracies against fascism’ to the Hitler-Stalin pact. But no sooner had the German-Soviet pact been signed than Trotsky perceived that the capitulationist policy of Stalin could only assist the next offensive of Hitler, against the USSR. That is indeed what happened in 1941.

More than any other person of his time Trotsky had a clear vision of the reality of the coming war. Each of his analyses permits us to grasp the point of the political actions it was necessary to undertake. And his writings are full of precious indications for militant workers who found themselves in the political torment that preceded the war.

From this point of view one of the particularly interesting writings of this collection is the transcript of a discussion of Trotsky with the American Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party. This time it is not a matter of an analysis of the world war itself, but of the concrete measures that the American revolutionaries would be able to take in order to find a way to the masses, most of whom had already been won to chauvinist ideas. An opponent of abstract opposition to the war, he attempted to find forms of struggle that would allow the workers in uniform to oppose the officer corps of the bourgeoisie. As far as he was concerned, in the same way as the revolutionary party had to utilise bourgeois institutions in ‘normal times’ (parliament, the schools, the courts), in wartime it was necessary to use the only strong institution, the army, to turn it against the bourgeoisie. That is why he elaborated a certain number of transitional demands capable of mobilising the workers in uniform, including those who had been won over to support the war effort, such as for example military training controlled by the trade unions, the creation of a proletarian officer corps, etc.

It is unfortunate that this text was literally cut to pieces by Guérin (nearly four cuts per page, notably on page 254), who in his preface writes:

In order to provide them with more homogeneity, and to concentrate the thought of Leon Davidovitch better on one and the same subject, we have deliberately left passages out of certain texts that have no connection with the question.

Sure enough, the selection of texts from such an author as Trotsky is always difficult. But in any case we think that whatever texts were chosen should have been published complete. This is even more the case because in his preface Daniel Guerin very freely interprets the last text to which we referred, and more especially writes:

Trotsky did not hesitate to proclaim that America must not remain neutral. According to him it was necessary to give Hitter such a decisive blow that Stalin would cease to fear him. And he encouraged the American workers to engage in an intensive military preparation. 2

Nothing, absolutely nothing at all in this collection allows Guérin to define Trotsky's ideas in this manner. Very much to the contrary: all his writings show his steadfast opposition to American militarism as well as the unceasing advice he addressed to the workers that they should not fall into the trap of the ‘Sacred Union’. 3

Daniel Guérin has manifestly attributed his own views on this question to Trotsky, and he gives a meaning which is consistently opposite to Trotsky's real position. It is unfortunate that this feature has marred an otherwise indispensable collection of texts for those who want to understand what the Second World War was really about.

2. Letter by Daniel Guérin, On the Writings of Leon Trotsky on the Second World War published by La Taupe in Lutte Ouvrière, No.87 (29 April-5 May 1970).


Your summary of the book of Trotsky, On the Second World War, charges me with “literally cutting to pieces” the transcript of a discussion of Trotsky with some American Trotskyists. But here it was a matter of an extremely long document where the most varied subjects were touched upon, and where the interventions of the various participants were often as long as Trotsky’s replies. If I was obliged to carry out four cuts on page 254, it is because otherwise I would have been obliged to give space for the development of certain questions (generally of American domestic policy) without direct link with the subject of the collection: the Second World War. I also regret that you have charged me with “interpreting very freely” the thought of Trotsky on two points: a) The abandonment of American neutrality. As Trotsky says explicitly on pages 129 and 131:

The intervention of the United States, which would be capable of changing the orientation of the Kremlin … To make the Kremlin change its policy there remains only one way, but a sure one. It is necessary to give Hitler such a decisive blow that Stalin will cease to tear him. In this sense, it is possible to say that the most important key to the Kremlin’s policy is now in Washington. 4

b)The support for military preparations for the workers:

“We must be for compulsory military training for the workers and under the control of the workers”, and on page 252: “The war is inevitable … We must learn the art of handling arms.”

And he did not hesitate to treat as “deserters” those who evaded this duty. 5

I fully expect you to publish this final word. Thank you and most fraternally.

Daniel Guérin

3. Reply of Lutte Ouvrière in No.87, 29 April-5 May 1970.

In 250 pages of collection of texts there is this bit of phrase, “to make the Kremlin … it is necessary to give Hitler”. Ambiguous, perhaps, but the sense of it cannot remain in doubt when what precedes it and what follows it is read. This is the bit of phrase, then, that allows Daniel Guérin to write (we are quoting from his preface):

Trotsky did not hesitate to proclaim that America must not remain neutral. According to him it was necessary to give Hitler such a decisive blow that Stalin would cease to fear him. And he encouraged the American workers to engage in an intensive military preparation.

And it is not ourselves who emphasise this, it is Guérin who stresses his “must not”. Apart from the sole phrase above quoted, and otherwise contradicted by the context, can Guérin provide us with the slightest text, in this collection or elsewhere, where Trotsky writes that America “must not” remain neutral, or that he pronounced in favour of the entry of the USA into the war, and with good reason, that justifies Guérin in writing in the same preface:

It is thus that, presenting or even calling for the entry of the United States into the war on the side of the Western Allies, Trotsky was led into lambasting the American pacifists, considered as ‘enemy no.1’ by him, and to encouraging the United States to accelerate their military preparations.

Where did he see Trotsky appeal to the United States to enter the war, or press them to accelerate their military preparations? Where? In the same phrase quoted in his letter, doubtless, a phrase, so it seems, that he makes say many things.

Sure enough, Trotsky affirms that in the conditions of war he proposed that the American revolutionaries ought to be in favour of military preparations for the workers, and he does lambast the revolutionaries who would evade this task. But is this policy due to the participation of the USSR in the conflict – as Guérin would have us believe – and in what way is it so different from the position of Lenin on war?

As far as Guérin is concerned, this must be an ‘interpretation’ to he drawn from what Trotsky wrote in this sole phrase quoted by him, because if there is any other in the entire collection we have not been able to find it. This sole phrase where Trotsky says “it is necessary to give Hitler” is only an analysis and a statement, and not the expression of support that Guérin would have us believe, for this is an interpretation that is otherwise contradicted by all Trotsky’s work; the same text from which the phrase is taken is analysing the inevitability of the entry of the United States into the war as part of the struggle for world hegemony, and that went for the USA as well as Hitler as far as Trotsky was concerned.

It is this sole phrase, therefore, that allows Guérin to make all these statements, including that there are two Trotskys, one the internationalist and the other a second Trotsky who even “allows himself to be led into taking up positions that seem to contradict, to a certain extent, those of the first Trotsky, the internationalist”.

Then in the same manner, on the following line in another context, Guérin writes of Trotsky:

On several occasions, as has been seen, in the same way he insisted on the fact (which to him seems to provide extenuating circumstances) that Stalin had co-operated with Hitler above all out of fear of him.

If Trotsky had found extenuating circumstances for Stalin, in this context or in any other, he would have no need of the pen of Daniel Guérin to tell him so. If such were the case he would have clearly said it, and in addition this contention, coming up one does not know why, would have a social or historical sense. Why should it be necessary to excuse the myopia of Stalin from Trotsky’s point of view?

Yes, in the preface Guérin does provide Trotsky with ideas that he did not hold. Yes, he does interpret his writings by distorting them to a great extent, and it is because we cannot believe that Guérin has done this deliberately that we have not written that he has falsified their sense. In any case, as far as we are concerned, this preface adds nothing to Guérin’s reputation.

And when we see in these conditions how the editor is reading and interpreting the texts that are published, why should we not ask if the cuts have indeed been wisely done?

Moreover, we are in principle against the general idea of such collections of select pieces, which under the pretext of opening up a subject, all too often choke it.

Translator's Notes

1. L. Trotsky, A Fresh Lesson, (10 October 1938), Writings of Leon Trotsky (1938-39), New York 1974, p.76.

2. L. Trotsky, The US will Participate in the War, (1 October 1939) and On the Question of Workers’ Self Defence, (25 October 1939), Writings of Leon Trotsky (1939-40), New York 1973, pp.95, 97, 103.

3. The Union Sacrée was the alliance of workers and bourgeoisie demanded by the reformists to defend France during the First World War.

4. L. Trotsky, The US will Participate in the War, op. cit., pp.95, 97.

5. L. Trotsky, Discussions with Trotsky, (12-15 June 1940), Writings of Leon Trotsky (1939-40), op. cit., pp.256, 258.

HONOR THE THREE L’S-LENIN, LUXEMBURG, LIEBKNECHT-Honor An Historic Leader Of The American Left-James P. Cannon
Markin comment on founding member James P. Cannon and the early American Communist Party taken from a book review on the “American Left History” blog:
If you are interested in the history of the American Left or are a militant trying to understand some of the past mistakes of our history and want to know some of the problems that confronted the early American Communist Party and some of the key personalities, including James Cannon, who formed that party this book is for you.
At the beginning of the 21st century after the demise of the Soviet Union and the apparent ‘death of communism’ it may seem fantastic and utopian to today’s militants that early in the 20th century many anarchist, socialist, syndicalist and other working class militants of this country coalesced to form an American Communist Party. For the most part, these militants honestly did so in order to organize an American socialist revolution patterned on and influenced by the Russian October Revolution of 1917. James P. Cannon represents one of the important individuals and faction leaders in that effort and was in the thick of the battle as a central leader of the Party in this period. Whatever his political mistakes at the time, or later, one could certainly use such a militant leader today. His mistakes were the mistakes of a man looking for a revolutionary path.
For those not familiar with this period a helpful introduction by the editors gives an analysis of the important fights which occurred inside the party. That overview highlights some of the now more obscure personalities (a helpful biographical glossary is provided), where they stood on the issues and insights into the significance of the crucial early fights in the party.
These include questions which are still relevant today; a legal vs. an underground party; the proper attitude toward parliamentary politics; support to third party bourgeois candidates ;trade union policy; class war defense as well as how to rein in the intense internal struggle of the various factions for organizational control of the party. This makes it somewhat easier for those not well-versed in the intricacies of the political disputes which wracked the early American party to understand how these questions tended to pull it in on itself. In many ways, given the undisputed rise of American imperialism in the immediate aftermath of World War I, this is a story of the ‘dog days’ of the party. Unfortunately, that rise combined with the international ramifications of the internal disputes in the Russian Communist Party and in the Communist International shipwrecked the party as a revolutionary party toward the end of this period.
In the introduction the editors motivate the purpose for the publication of the book by stating the Cannon was the finest Communist leader that America had ever produced. This an intriguing question. The editors trace their political lineage back to Cannon’s leadership of the early Communist Party and later after his expulsion to the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party so their perspective is obvious. What does the documentation provided here show? I would argue that the period under study represented Cannon’s apprenticeship. Although the hothouse politics of the early party clarified some of the issues of revolutionary strategy for him I believe that it was not until he linked up with Trotsky in the late 1920’s that he became the kind of leader who could lead a revolution. Of course, since Cannon never got a serious opportunity to lead revolutionary struggles in America this is mainly reduced to speculation on my part. Later books written by him make the case better. One thing is sure- in his prime he had the instincts to want to lead a revolution.
As an addition to the historical record of this period this book is a very good companion to the two-volume set by Theodore Draper - The Roots of American Communism and Soviet Russia and American Communism- the definitive study on the early history of the American Communist Party. It is also a useful companion to Cannon’s own The First Ten Years of American Communism. I would add that this is something of a labor of love on the part of the editors. This book was published at a time when the demise of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was in full swing and anything related to Communist studies was deeply discounted. Nevertheless, for better or worse, the American Communist Party (and its offshoots) needs to be studied as an ultimately flawed example of a party that failed in its mission to create a radical version of society in America. Now is the time to study this history.
***The Roots Is The Toots- The Music That Got Them Through The Great Depression And World War II…

 …it wasn’t always about the blues, man trouble blues, woman trouble blues, every day blues, every night blues either. No for those kids, and they were just kids, fifteen and sixteen year olds, sitting on the stools at the soda fountain, the sacred marble fountain at Doc’s , ordering shy cherry Cokes, dreaming of sharing for two, and ordering an off-hand ice cream when times were flush, when there was pocket money to be had. The boys too young, damn, to have numbers called, although many dreamed dreams of war glory fighting the Krauts or the Japs, and the girls secretly pining away for the boys, these stay- at- home boys, to have their numbers called and then see them off to camp and to the troop transports just like their older sisters had done before them. And to be just like their older sisters waiting by the telephone or the mailbox for the other shoe to drop.

In the meantime though, after school each afternoon, Saturdays and Sundays too, they could be found, boys and girls alike, like teenagers have done since some old guy invented the teenager idea back in ancient times fully trying to maneuver the intricacies of the latest dance step, learning the words to the latest musical hits being played endlessly on Doc’s jukebox, the boys worrying about whether they had enough dough for that Saturday night date and the girls worrying if he had enough dough as well so she could get out of that sister mopping house. But mostly they, he and she, were making furtive glances, endlessly making furtive glances at those certain hes and shes that drove them to Doc’s…       


From The American Left History Blog Archives(2008) - On American Political Discourse - A MODEST PROPOSAL-RECRUIT, RUN INDEPENDENT LABOR MILITANTS FOR THE 2014 ELECTIONS (Updated)

Markin comment:

In 2007-2008 I, in vain, attempted to put some energy into analyzing the blossoming American presidential campaign since it was to be, as advertised at least, a watershed election, for women, blacks, old white anglos, latinos, youth, etc. In the event I had to abandon the efforts in about May of 2008 when it became obvious, in my face obvious, that the election would be a watershed only for those who really believed that it would be a watershed election. The four years of the Obama presidency, the 2012 American presidential election campaign, and world politics have only confirmed in my eyes that that abandonment was essentially the right decision at the right time. In short, let the well- paid bourgeois commentators go on and on with their twitter. I, we, had (have) better things to do like fighting against the permanent wars, the permanent war economies, the struggle for more and better jobs, and for a workers party that fights for a workers government . More than enough to do, right? Still a look back at some of the stuff I wrote then does not have a bad feel to it. Read on.


The quagmire in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East (Palestine, Iran, Syria you name it is the fault line of American politics today. Every bourgeois politician has to have his or her feet put to the fire on this one. Not on some flimsy ‘sense of the Congress’ softball motion for withdrawal next, year, in two years, or (my favorite) when the situation is stable. Moreover, on the parliamentary level the only real vote that matters is the vote on the war budget. All the rest is fluff. Militants should make a point of trying to enter Congressional contests where there are so-called anti-war Democrats or Republicans (an oxymoron, I believe) running to make that programmatic contrast vivid.

But, one might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the ‘popular front’ days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the war fight for this no funding position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (yah, those progressive Democrats) who unanimously voted for the last war budget get a free ride on the cheap. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.


It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less families, can live on the minimum wage of $7/hr. (or proposed $10/hr). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. We need universal free health care for all. End of story. The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s, go a long ay to turning the conditions of labor around.


Down with the Death Penalty! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants who make it here! Stop the Deportations! For the Separation of Church and State! Defend abortion rights! Down with ant-same sex marriage legislation! Full public funding of education! Stop the ‘war on drugs’, basically a war on blacks and minority youth-decriminalize drugs! Defend political prisoners! This list of demands hardly exhausts the “culture war” issues we defend. It is hard to believe that in the year 2013 over 200 years after the American Revolution and the French Revolution we are fighting desperately to preserve many of the same principles that militants fought for in those revolutions. But, so be it.


The Donkeys, Elephants and Greens have had their chance. Now is the time to fight for our own party and for the interests of our own class, the working class. Any campaigns by independent labor militants must highlight this point. And any campaigns can also become the nucleus of a workers party network until we get strong enough to form at least a small party. None of these other parties, and I mean none, are working in the interests of working people and their allies. The following great lesson of politic today must be hammered home. Break with the Democrats, Republicans and Greens!


We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are still reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.

Why the XYZ part? What does that mean? No, it is not part of an algebra lesson. What it reflects is that while society is made up mainly of workers (of one sort or another) there are other classes (and parts of classes) in society that we seek as allies and could benefit from a workers government. Examples- small independent contractors, intellectuals, the dwindling number of small farmers, and some professionals like dentists. Yah, I like the idea of a workers and dentists government. The point is you have got to fight for it.

Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good now. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies write-in campaigns are possible. ROLL UP YOUR SHEEVES! GET THOSE PETITIONS SIGNED! PRINT OUT THE LEAFLETS! PAINT THOSE BANNERS! GET READY TO SHAKE HANDS AND KISS BABIES

***Free The Cuban Five- Ahora!-In Defense Of The Cuban Revolution

The following is being passed on from the Partisan Defense Committee (2008). Please note the link to the National Committee to Free the Five below to find more information about the Cuban Five. As always here is a case where defense of the Cuban revolution begins concretely with the defense of the Five- Ahora!

The Cuban Five have now been incarcerated for almost ten years. Three Cuban citizens and two U.S. citizens who infiltrated and monitored violent anti-communist exile groups in Florida in order to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba, these men were arrested in 1998 under the Clinton administration on bogus charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder, as well as lesser charges like failing to register as agents of a foreign power. After being tried in Miami, a den of counterrevolutionary gusano (worm) activities, Gerardo Hernandez was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years; Antonio Guerrero and Ram6n Labanino to life plus ten and 18 years, respectively; Fernando Gonzalez to 19 years; and Rene Gonzalez to 15 years. They are held in federal maximum security prisons, separated by hundreds of miles from loved ones, their lawyers and each other. As Marxists, we demand immediate freedom for the Cuban Five, whose heroic actions were in defense of the Cuban Revolution against U.S. imperialism and its counterrevolutionary agents.

From the CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, to the repeated attempts on Fidel Castro's life, to the ongoing starvation embargo, the U.S. imperialists, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, have never ceased in their drive to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. In 2002, Ana Belen Montes, a Defense Intelligence Agency officer, was sentenced to 25 years for passing military information to the Cuban government.

In their drive to restore capitalism in Cuba, the U.S. rulers have trained terrorists like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, who engineered the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed 73 people. In the 1990s, as the Cuban government began to promote tourism, gusano groups launched a campaign of bombings that targeted hotels and airport buses in an attempt to cripple the economy. Posada has admitted to masterminding bombings of tourist spots in Havana in 1997 that killed an Italian businessman. We say: Send Posada and Bosch back to Cuba to be tried by their victims!

It was in the context of such terrorist activity that gusano activities were being monitored by the Cuban Five, three of whom were veterans of Cuba's military campaign in Angola that in the 1970s and '80s fought the U.S.-sponsored invasion by the South African apartheid regime. In June 1998, the Cuban government shared its intelligence on gusano terrorist activity with the FBI. In September of that year, the FBI arrested the Cubans instead of the CIA's "ex"-employees.

The government built its case on "conspiracy to commit espionage" charges, conspiracy charges being the hallmark of political witchhunts when the government has no evidence that an actual crime has been committed. Months after their arrest, "conspiracy to commit murder" was tacked on to the charges against Gerardo Hernandez in connection with the deaths of four pilots from the Brothers to the Rescue gusano outfit. The latter were shot down by the Cuban air force in 1996 after repeatedly and provocatively flying into Cuban airspace in a brazen challenge to the country's air defenses.

Held in Miami, the trial was engulfed in anti-communist hysteria and intimidation of anyone not toeing the gusano line on Cuba. The judge refused five defense requests for a change of venue. During jury selection, potential jurors asked to be excused, fearing the consequences of rendering an "unsatisfactory" verdict. The impaneled jurors' license plates appeared on nightly news broadcasts. The prosecution claimed that Guerrero, who worked as a janitor at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, had endangered secret U.S. military plans by watching aircraft take off and land in training exercises. As Guerrero's lawyer pointed out, the information he gathered "could've been published in the Miami Herald." So inflamed was the atmosphere that the jury even convicted Hernandez of conspiracy murder charges that the prosecution itself had already concluded would be an "insurmountable hurdle" to prove!

In 2005, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the 2001 convictions and ordered a new trial in a new venue because of the "pervasive community prejudice" in Miami. The Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales appealed for a rehearing by the full court, which reinstated the convictions in August 2006. Last August, another three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the case that this time focused on the bogus murder and espionage charges and the gross prosecutorial misconduct.

The brutality these five men endure in prison is designed to break them and echoes the treatment of other class-war prisoners like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Before their trial even started, the Cuban Five spent 17 months in solitary. Between their convictions in June and their sentencing in December 2001, they spent 48 days in the hole. In 2003 as they worked on their first appeal, they were sent to solitary and denied communication with the outside world, even their lawyers.

Every family visit involves an arduous and arbitrary visa process. Sometimes a relative waits out the precious time they are allotted and never gets to see their loved one. Adriana Perez, wife of Gerardo Hernandez, has been repeatedly denied a visa. Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez, was deported on phony spy charges in 2000.

In combatting the degenerate end-products of a decaying capitalism, the Cuban Five have performed a service not only in defense of Cuba but for working people throughout the hemisphere and around the world. Free the Cuban Five! Defend the Cuban Revolution
***Damn It- Free Leonard Peltier Now-He Must Not Die In Jail!

Click below to link to Leonard Peltier Defense Committee site.


This entry is passed on from the Partisan Defense Committee. I need add little except to say that this man, a natural leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), should never have spent a day in jail. Free him now.

"We, along with millions of others, do not believe that Leonard Peltier should have been incarcerated at all. We demand his unconditional release from prison."

President Obama, Pardon Pvt. Manning

Because the public deserves the truth and whistle-blowers deserve protection.

We are military veterans, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, students, and citizens.

We ask you to consider the facts and free US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

As an Intelligence Analyst stationed in Iraq, Pvt. Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets—crimes such as torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption—often committed in our name.

Manning acted on conscience alone, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the public.

“I believed that if the general public had access to the information contained within the[Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy,”

Manning explained to the military court. “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”
Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned:
Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus helped support torture in Iraq.
Deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished.
Thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged publicly.
Most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.
For service on behalf of an informed democracy, Manning was sentenced by military judge Colonel Denise Lind to a devastating 35 years in prison.
Government secrecy has grown exponentially during the past decade, but more secrecy does not make us safer when it fosters unaccountability.
Pvt. Manning was convicted of Espionage Act charges for providing WikiLeaks with this information, but  the prosecutors noted that they would have done the same had the information been given to The New York Times. Prosecutors did not show that enemies used this information against the US, or that the releases resulted in any casualties.
Pvt. Manning has already been punished, even in violation of military law.
She has been:
Held in confinement since May 29, 2010.
• Subjected to illegal punishment amounting to torture for nearly nine months at Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 13—facts confirmed by both the United Nation’s lead investigator on torture and military judge Col. Lind.
Denied a speedy trial in violation of UCMJ, Article 10, having been imprisoned for over three years before trial.
• Denied anything resembling a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to change the charge sheet to match evidence presented, and enter new evidence, after closing arguments.
Pvt. Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. We urge you to start upholding those promises, beginning with this American prisoner of conscience.
We urge you to grant Pvt. Manning’s petition for a Presidential Pardon.
FIRST& LAST NAME _____________________________________________________________
STREET ADDRESS _____________________________________________________________

CITY, STATE & ZIP _____________________________________________________________
EMAIL& PHONE _____________________________________________________________
Please return to: For more information:
Private Manning Support Network, c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610


Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.

Seven Ways To Support Freedom For Chelsea Manning- President Obama Pardon Chelsea Manning Now!
 Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.
Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.
The Struggle Continues …
Seven Ways To Support Heroic Wikileaks Whistle-Blower Chelsea  Manning
*Call (202) 685-2900- Major General Jeffery S. Buchanan is the Convening Authority for Private Manning’s  court- martial, which means that he has the authority to decrease the sentence imposed no matter what the judge handed down. Ask General Buchanan to use his authority to reduce the draconian 35 year sentence handed down by Judge Lind.
Please help us reach all these important contacts: Adrienne Combs, Deputy Officer Public Affairs (202) 685-2900
 Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, Public Affairs Officer (202) 685-4899 The Public Affairs Office fax #: 202-685-0706
Try e-mailing Maj. Gen. Buchanan at
The Public Affairs Office is required to report up the chain of command the number of calls they receive on a particular issue, so please help us flood the office with support for our heroic whistleblower today!
*Sign the public petition to President Obama – Sign online or print and share PDF petition Please sign the petition on the reverse side of this letter, “President Obama, Pardon Pvt. Manning,” and make copies to share with friends and family!
You  can also call (Comments”202-456-1111), write The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, e-mail-(’contact/submitquestions-and comments) to demand that President Obama use his constitutional power under Article II, Section II to pardon Private Manning now.
*Start a stand -out, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, in your town square to publicize the pardon and clemency campaigns.  Contact the Private Manning SupportNetwork for help with materials and organizing tips
*Contribute to the Private  Manning Defense Fund- now that the trial has finished funds are urgently needed for pardon campaign and for future military and civilian court appeals. The hard fact of the American legal system, military of civilian, is the more funds available the better the defense, especially in political prisoner cases like Private Manning’s. The government had unlimited financial and personnel resources to prosecute Private Manning at trial. And used them as it will on any future legal proceedings. So help out with whatever you can spare. For link go to
*Write letters of solidarity to Private Manning while she is serving her sentence. She wishes to be addressed as Chelsea and have feminine pronouns used when referring to her. Private Manning’s mailing address: Bradley E. Manning, 89289, 1300 N. Warehouse Road, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-2304. You must use Bradley on the address envelope.
Private Manning cannot receive stamps or money in any form. Photos must be on copy paper. Along with “contraband,” “inflammatory material” is not allowed. Six page maximum.
*Call: (913) 758-3600-Write to:Col. Sioban Ledwith, Commander U.S. Detention Barracks 1301 N Warehouse Rd
Ft. Leavenworth KS 66027-Tell them: “Transgender rights are human rights! Respect Private Manning’s identity by acknowledging the name ‘Chelsea Manning’ whenever possible, including in mail addressed to her, and by allowing her access to appropriate medical treatment for gender dysphoria, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).” (for more details-!/2013/11/respecting-chelseas-identity-is-this.html

Send The Following Message (Or Write Your Own) To The President In Support Of A Pardon For Private Manning

To: President Barack Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

The draconian 35 years sentence handed down by a military judge, Colonel Lind, on August 21, 2013 to Private Manning (Chelsea formerly known as Bradley) has outraged many citizens including me.

Under Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution the President of the United States had the authority to grant pardons to those who fall under federal jurisdiction.
Some of the reasons for my request include: 

*that Private Manning  was held for nearly a year in abusive solitary confinement at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, which the UN rapporteur in his findings has called “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”

*that the media had been continually blocked from transcripts and documents related to the trial and that it has only been through the efforts of Private Manning’s supporters that any transcripts exist.

*that under the UCMJ a soldier has the right to a speedy trial and that it was unconscionable and unconstitutional to wait 3 years before starting the court martial.

*that absolutely no one was harmed by the release of documents that exposed war crimes, unnecessary secrecy and disturbing foreign policy.

*that Private Manning is a hero who did the right thing when she revealed truth about wars that had been based on lies.

I urge you to use your authority under the Constitution to right the wrongs done to Private Manning – Enough is enough!

Signature ___________________________________________________________

Print Name __________________________________________________________


City / Town/State/Zip Code_________________________________________

Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.