Saturday, November 27, 2010

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- When Frankie, Frankie From The Old Neighborhood, Was King

Markin comment:

In a recent series of entries that I did in the form of scenes, scenes from the hitchhike road in search of the great American West night in the late 1960s, later than the time of Frankie’s early 1960s old working class neighborhood kingly time, I noted that I had about a thousand truck stop diner stories left over from those hitchhike road days. On reflection though, I realized that I really had about three diner stories with many variations. Not so with Frankie, Frankie from the old neighborhood, stories. I have got a thousand of them, or so it seems, all different. Hey, you already, if you have been attentive to this space, know a few Frankie, Frankie from the old neighborhood, stories (okay, I will stop, or try to, stop using that full designation and just call him plain, old, ordinary, vanilla Frankie just like everybody else alright).

Ya, you already know the Frankie (see I told you I could do it) story about how he lazily spent a hot late August 1960 summer before entering high school day working his way up the streets of the old neighborhood to get some potato salad (and other stuff too) for his family’s Labor Day picnic. And he got a cameo appearance in the tear-jerk, heart-rendering saga of my first day of high school in that same year where I, vicariously, attempted to overthrow his lordship with the nubiles (girls, for those not from the old neighborhood, although there were plenty of other terms of art to designate the fair sex then, most of them getting their start in local teenage social usage from Frankie’s mouth). That effort, that attempt at coping his “style”, like many things associated with one-of-a-kind Frankie proved unsuccessful as it turned out.

More recently I took you in a roundabout way to a Frankie story in a review of a 1985 Roy Orbison concert documentary, Black and White Nights. That story centered around my grinding my teeth whenever I heard Roy’s Running Scared because one of Frankie’s twists (see nubiles above) played the song endlessly to taint the love smitten but extremely jealous Frankie on the old jukebox at the pizza parlor, old Salducci's Pizza Shop, we used to hang around in during our high school days. It’s that story, that drugstore soda fountain story, that brought forth a bunch of memories about those pizza parlor days and how Frankie, for most of his high school career, was king of the hill at that locale. And king, king arbiter, of the social doings of those around him as well.

And who was Frankie? Frankie of a thousand stories, Frankie of a thousand treacheries, Frankie of a thousand kindnesses, and, oh ya, Frankie, my bosom friend in high school. Well let me just steal some sentences from that old August summer walk story and that first day of school saga because really Frankie and I went back to perilous middle school days (a.k.a. junior high days for old-timers) when he saved my bacon more than one time, especially from making a fatal mistake with the frails (see nubiles and twists above). He was, maybe, just a prince there working his way up to kingship. But even he, as he endlessly told me that summer before high school, August humidity doldrums or not, was along with the sweat on his brow from the heat a little bit anxious about being “little fish in a big pond” freshmen come that 1960 September.

Especially, a pseudo-beatnik “little fish”. See, he had cultivated a certain, well, let’s call it "style" over there at the middle school. That “style” involved a total disdain for everything, everything except trying to impress girls with his long-panted, flannel-shirted, work boot-shod, thick book-carrying knowledge of every arcane fact known to humankind. Like that really was the way to impress teenage girls, then or now. Well, as it turned out, yes it was. Frankie right. In any case he was worried, worried sick at times, that in such a big school his “style” needed upgrading. Let’s not even get into that story, the Frankie part of it now, or maybe, ever. We survived high school, okay.

But see, that is why, the Frankie why, the why of my push for the throne, the kingship throne, when I entered high school that old Frankie was grooming himself for like it was his by divine right. When the deal went down and I knew I was going to the “bigs” (high school) I spent that summer, reading, big time booked-devoured reading. Hey, I'll say I did, The Communist Manifesto, that one just because old Willie Westhaven over at the middle school (junior high, okay) called me a Bolshevik when I answered one of his foolish math questions in a surly manner. I told you before that was my pose, my Frankie-engineered pose, what do you want, I just wanted to see what he, old Willie, was talking about when he used that word. How about Democracy in America (by a French guy), The Age of Jackson (by a Harvard professor who knew idol Jack Kennedy, personally, and was crazy for old-time guys like Jackson), and Catcher In The Rye (Holden was me, me to a tee). Okay, okay I won’t keep going on but that was just the reading on the hot days when I didn’t want to go out. There was more.

Here's what was behind the why. I intended, and I swear I intended to even on the first nothing doing day of that new school year in that new school in that new decade (1960) to beat old Frankie, old book-toting, mad monk, girl-chasing Frankie, who knew every arcane fact that mankind had produced and had told it to every girl who would listen for two minutes (maybe less) in that eternal struggle, the boy meets girl struggle, at his own game. Yes, Frankie, my buddy of buddies, prince among men (well, boys, anyhow) who kindly navigated me through the tough, murderous parts of junior high, mercifully concluded, finished and done with, praise be, and didn’t think twice about it. He, you see, despite, everything I said a minute ago he was “in.”; that arcane knowledge stuff worked with the “ins” who counted, worked, at least a little, and I got dragged in his wake. I always got dragged in his wake, including as lord chamberlain in his pizza parlor kingdom. What I didn’t know then, wet behind the ears about what was what in life's power struggles, was if you were going to overthrow the king you’d better do it all the way.  But, see if I had done that, if I had overthrown him, I wouldn’t have had any Frankie stories to tell you, or help with the frills in the treacherous world of high school social life (see nubiles, frails and twists above. Why don’t we just leave it like this. If you see the name Frankie and a slangy word when you think I am talking about girls that's girls. Okay?)

As I told you in that Roy Orbison review, when Roy was big, big in our beat down around the edges, some days it seemed beat six ways to Sunday working class neighborhood in the early 1960s, we all used to hang around the town pizza parlor, or one of them anyway, that was also conveniently near our high school as well. Maybe this place was not the best one to sit down and have a family-sized pizza with salad and all the fixings in, complete with family, or if you were fussy about décor but the best tasting pizza, especially if you let it cool for a while and no eat it when it was piping hot right out of the oven.

Moreover, this was the one place where the teen-friendly owner, a big old balding Italian guy, Tonio Salducci, at least he said he was Italian and there were plenty of Italians in our town in those days so I believed him but he really looked Greek or Armenian to me, let us stay in the booths if it wasn’t busy, and we behaved like, well, like respectable teenagers. And this guy, this old Italian guy, blessed Leonardo-like master Tonio, could make us all laugh, even me, when he started to prepare a new pizza and he flour-powdered and rolled the dough out and flipped that sucker in the air about twelve times and about fifteen different ways to stretch it out. Some times people would just stand outside in front of the doubled-framed big picture window and watch his handiwork in utter fascination.

Jesus, Tonio could flip that thing. One time, and you know this is true because you probably have your own pizza dough on the ceiling stories, he flipped the sucker so high it stuck to the ceiling, right near the fan on the ceiling, and it might still be there for all I know (the place still is, although not him). But this is how he was cool; he just started up another without making a fuss. Let me tell you about him, Tonio, sometime but right now our business to get on with Frankie, alright.

So there is nothing unusual, and I don’t pretend there is, in just hanging out having a slice of pizza (no onions, please, in case I get might lucky tonight and that certain she comes in, the one that I have been eyeing in school all week until my eyes have become sore, that thin, long blondish-haired girl wearing those cashmere sweaters showing just the right shape,  please, please, James Brown, please come in that door), some soft drink (which we called tonic in New England in those days but which you call, uh, soda), usually a locally bottled root beer, and, incessantly (and that "incessantly" allowed us to stay since we were paying customers with all the rights and dignities that status entailed, unless, of course, they needed our seats), dropping nickels, dimes and quarters in the jukebox.

But here is where it all comes together, Frankie and Tonio the pizza guy, from day one, got along like crazy. Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, map of Ireland, red-headed, fair-skinned, blue-eyed Frankie got along like crazy with Italian guy Tonio. That was remarkable in itself because, truth be told, there was more than one Irish/ Italian ethnic, let me be nice, dispute in those days. Usually over “turf”, like kids now, or some other foolish one minute thing or another. Moreover, and Frankie didn’t tell me this for a while, Frankie, my bosom buddy Frankie, like he was sworn to some Omerta oath, didn’t tell me that Tonio was “connected.” For those who have been in outer space, or led quiet lives, or don’t hang with the hoi polloi that means with the syndicate, the hard guys, the Mafia. If you don’t get it now go down and get The Godfather trilogy and learn a couple of things, anyway. This "connected" stemmed, innocently enough, from the jukebox concession which the hard guys controlled and was a lifeblood of Tonio's teenage-draped business, and not so innocently, from his role as master numbers man (pre-lottery days, okay) and "bookie" (nobody should have to be told what that is, but just in case, he took bets on horses, dogs, whatever, from the guys around town, including, big time, Frankie's
father, who went over the edge betting like some guys fathers' took to drink).

And what this “connected” also meant, this Frankie Tonio-connected meant, was that no Italian guys, no young black engineer-booted, no white rolled-up tee-shirted, no blue denim- dungareed, no wide black-belted, no switchblade-wielding, no-hot-breathed, garlicky young Italian studs were going to mess with one Francis Xavier Riley, his babes (you know what that means, right?), or his associates (that’s mainly me). Or else. Now, naturally, connected to the connected or not, not every young tough in any working class town, not having studied, and studied hard, the sociology of the town, is going to know that some young Irish punk, one kind of "beatnik' Irish punk with all that arcane knowledge in order to chase those skirts and a true vocation for the blarney is going to know that said pizza parlor owner and its “king”, king hell king, are tight. Especially at night, a weekend night, when the booze has flowed freely and that hard-bitten childhood abuse that turned those Italian guys (and Irish guys too) into toughs hits the fore. But they learn, and learn fast.

Okay, you don’t believe me. One night, one Saturday night, one Tonio-working Saturday night (he didn’t always work at night, not Saturday night anyway, because he had a honey, a very good-looking honey too, dark hair, dark laughing eyes, dark secrets she wouldn’t mind sharing as well it looked like to me but I might have been wrong on that) two young toughs came in, Italian toughs from the look of them. This town then , by the way, if you haven’t been made aware of it before is strictly white, mainly Irish and Italian, so any dark guys, are Italian period, not black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian or anything else. Hell, I don’t think those groups even passed through; at least I don’t remember seeing any, except an Arab, once.

So Frankie, your humble observer (although I prefer the more intimate umbrella term "associate" under these circumstances) and one of his squeezes (not his main squeeze, Joanne) were sitting at the king’s table (blue vinyl-seated, white formica table-topped, paper place-setting, condiment-ladened center booth of five, front of double glass window, best jukebox and sound position, no question) splitting a Saturday night whole pizza with all the fixings (its getting late, about ten o’clock, and I have given up on that certain long blondish-haired she who said she might meet me so onions anchovies, garlic for all I know don’t matter right now) when these two ruffians come forth and petition (ya, right) for our table. Our filled with pizza, drinks, condiments, odds and ends papery, and the king, his consort (of the evening, I swear I forget which one) and his lord chamberlain.

Since there were at least two other prime front window seats available Frankie denied the petition out of hand. Now in a righteous world this should have been the end of it. But what these hard guys, these guys who looked like they might have had shivs (ya, knives, shape knives, for the squeamish out there) and only see two geeky "beatnik" guys and some unremarkable signora do was to start to get loud and menacing (nice word, huh?) toward the king and his court. Menacing enough that Tonio, old pizza dough-to-the-ceiling throwing Tonio, took umbrage (another nice word, right?) and came over to the table very calmly. He called the two gentlemen aside, and talking lowly and almost into their ears, said some things that we could not hear. All we knew was that about a minute later these two behemoths, these two future candidates for jailbird-dom, were walking, I want to say walking gingerly, but anyway quickly, out the door into the hard face of Saturday night.

We thereafter proceeded to finish our kingly meal, safe in the knowledge that Frankie was indeed king of the pizza parlor night. And also that we knew, now knew in our hearts because Frankie and I talked about it later, that behind every king there was an unseen power. Christ, and I wanted to overthrow Frankie. I must have been crazy like a loon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

**From The Partisan Defense Committee- 25th Annual Holiday Appeal- Honor Class-War Prisoner Lynne Stewart

Click on title to link to the Partisan Defense Committee Web site.
The following is passed on from the PDC concerning the 24th Annual Holiday Appeal and applies this year as well

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Free All Class-War Prisoners!

Build PDC Holiday Appeal

“The path to freedom leads through a prison. The door swings in and out and through that door passes a steady procession of ‘those fools too stubborn-willed to bend,’ who will not turn aside from the path because prisons obstruct it here and there.”

—James P. Cannon, “The Cause that Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926

Twenty-four years ago, the Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—revived a key tradition of the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary: sending monthly stipends to those “stubborn-willed” class-war prisoners condemned to capitalism’s dungeons for standing up against racist capitalist repression. We are again holding Holiday Appeal benefits to raise funds for this unique program, calling particular attention to the fight to free America’s foremost class-war prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who remains on death row in Pennsylvania.

Our forebear, Cannon, also affirmed a basic principle that should be no less applicable today: “The class-conscious worker accords to the class-war prisoners a place of singular honor and esteem…. The victory of the class-war prisoners is possible only when they are inseparably united with the living labor movement and when that movement claims them for its own, takes up their battle cry and carries on their work.”

The PDC calls on labor activists, fighters for black and immigrant rights and defenders of civil liberties to join us in donating to and building the annual Holiday Appeal. An injury to one is an injury to all! We print below brief descriptions of the 16 class-war prisoners who receive monthly stipends from the PDC, many of whom were denied parole over the last year for refusing to express “remorse” for acts they did not commit!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” This past April, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily threw out Mumia’s efforts to overturn his frame-up conviction based on the racist exclusion of black jurors from his 1982 trial. Ominously, this same court has yet to rule on the prosecution’s petition to reinstate the death penalty. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office states that, whatever the Supreme Court decides, it will continue to push for Mumia’s execution.

December 9 is the 28th anniversary of Mumia’s arrest for a killing that the cops know he did not commit. Mumia was framed up for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Mountains of evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner, have been submitted to the courts. But to the racists in black robes, a court of law is no place for evidence of the innocence of this fighter for the oppressed.

While others plead with the current U.S. president and his attorney general to “investigate” violations of Mumia’s “civil rights,” the PDC says that Mumia’s fate cannot be left in the hands of the government of the capitalists. The racist rulers hate Mumia because they see in him the spectre of black revolt. The stakes are high and the situation is grim, but any real fight for Mumia’s freedom must be based on a class-struggle opposition to the capitalist rulers, who have entombed this innocent black man for more than half his life.

Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression of its native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression. Peltier’s frame-up trial, for the 1975 deaths of two marauding FBI agents in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation, shows what capitalist “justice” is all about. Although the lead government attorney has admitted “We can’t prove who shot those agents” and the courts have acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 65-year-old Peltier is still locked away. Outrageously, in August, the U.S. Parole Commission again turned down Peltier’s parole request and coldbloodedly declared they would not reconsider his case for another 15 years.

Eight MOVE members—Chuck Africa, Michael Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine Africa, Delbert Africa, Eddie Africa and Phil Africa—are in their 32nd year of prison. They were sentenced to 30-100 years after the 8 August 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, having been falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire. In 1985, eleven of their MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops. This year, again, after more than three decades of unjust incarceration, nearly all of these innocent prisoners had parole hearings, but none were released.

Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning are the two remaining anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison. They were convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s. Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. Their children were kidnapped at gunpoint by the Feds.

The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of radicals during the Vietnam antiwar movement and by New Leftists who wrote off the possibility of winning the working class to a revolutionary program and saw themselves as an auxiliary of Third World liberation movements. But, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the “respectable” left. From a proletarian standpoint, the actions of these leftist activists against imperialism and racist injustice are not a crime. They should not have served a day in prison.

Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa are former Black Panther supporters and leaders of the Omaha, Nebraska, National Committee to Combat Fascism. They were victims of the FBI’s deadly COINTELPRO operation under which 38 Black Panther Party members were killed and hundreds more imprisoned on frame-up charges. Poindexter and Mondo were railroaded to prison and sentenced to life for a 1970 explosion that killed a cop, and they have now served more than 37 years in jail. This year, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied Poindexter a new trial despite the fact that a crucial piece of evidence excluded from the original trial, a long-suppressed 911 audio tape, proved that testimony of the state’s key witness was perjured.

Hugo Pinell is the last of the San Quentin 6 still in prison. He was a militant anti-racist leader of prison rights organizing along with George Jackson, his comrade and mentor, who was gunned down by prison guards in 1971. Despite numerous letters of support and no disciplinary write-ups for over 28 years, Pinell was again denied parole this year. Now in his 60s, Pinell continues to serve a life sentence at the notorious Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit in California.

Jamal Hart, Mumia’s son, was sentenced in 1998 to 15 1/2 years without parole on bogus firearms possession charges. Hart was targeted for his prominent activism in the campaign to free his father. Although Hart was initially charged under Pennsylvania law, which would have meant a probationary sentence, Clinton’s Justice Department intervened to have Hart thrown into prison under federal law. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down Hart’s habeas corpus petition, and he has faced myriad bureaucratic obstacles and racist targeting throughout his incarceration.

Contribute now! All proceeds from the Holiday Appeal will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From The Under The Hood (Fort Hood) Website

October 2010

Suicides at Ft. Hood remain at an all-time high.

A recent article in the New York Times confirmed what Under the Hood has been battling at Ft. Hood for the last year and a half : suicides are at the highest point since 2008, with 14 confirmed suicides since the beginning of 2010. In one recent weekend, there were 3 suicides and one murder-suicide at Ft. Hood. With the population at Ft. Hood ranging from 46,000 to 50,000 soldiers at any given time, the rate of suicides is four times the national average based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates of 11.5 suicides per 100,000 people.

The repeated deployment of military personnel who suffer from both physical and psychological wounds has led to these all-time high suicide rates. It is well-established in the medical community that multiple deployments lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) along with increased incidence of other physical issues including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health studied 2,500 NJ National Guardsmen and determined “deployed soldiers were more than 3 times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for post traumatic stress disorder.” With over 1 million service men and women having served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, the potential number of returning active duty and veterans with PTSD is staggering.

Under the Hood has been a sanctuary for both active duty soldiers and veterans to get the referrals needed for psychological assistance to prevent these types of tragic outcomes. In reference to psychiatric services provided by the military, manager Cindy Thomas stated in the recent New York Times article: “You don’t get counseling, you get medication…these soldiers are breaking.”

Your continued support of Under the Hood will allow us to continue the work needed to support our returning soldiers as they heal and to prevent further tragedy. Whether you are making a one-time donation or want to sign up as a sustainer, it's easy to contribute through PayPal.

The Fort Hood Support Network (FHSN) operates Under the Hood Café and Outreach Center. FHSN is a Texas non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Donations may be treated as tax-deductible.

In addition to on-line contributions, we have another fun way for supporters to give. Join us for HOODSTOCK FLASHBACK, a great evening of music, Sunday, November 14, 2010 at Jovita's, 1617 South 1st Street, Austin, Texas. For a mere $10 admission fee, you will hear from over a dozen local artists, including Sugar Bayou, the Therapy Sisters, Barbara K, Karen Abrahams, Will T. Massey and many more! Join us for a great evening of music, food, camaraderie, important information, and a silent auction.

Interested in sharing some of your time and talents with Under the Hood? We are always happy for support in any form. Along with monetary support to keep our doors open, we can always use other forms of assistance. If you believe that you can provide support in some way, please feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to put you to work!

Several months after returning from a combat tour in Iraq, Fort Hood soldier SPC Kyle Wesolowski submitted an application for a conscientious objector discharge based on his Buddhist faith. Since that time, SPC Wesolowski has completed a rigorous examination of his beliefs by military authorities, including required interviews by a psychiatrist, a chaplain and an independent investigating officer. All of these officials have recommended that SPC Wesolowski be discharged based on the sincerity of his beliefs.

Despite these positive recommendations and the clear dictates of the regulations governing conscientious objection in the Army, SPC Wesolowsi has been subjected to a deliberate campaign of harassment, threats of violence and religious discrimination.

In response to these developments, SPC Wesolowski issued a statement to the press about his case on September 21, 2010. To read his full statement, click here. You can show Kyle your support by joining his "Free Kyle Wesolowsky" Facebook page.

Check out the ResiStore! Now you can purchase great items and support Under the Hood at the same time. Check it out here.

Under the Hood Update is on Facebook. Become a fan! You can find archived issues and connect with other fans of Under the Hood. Visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

Past issues of Under the Hood Update are now on the Under the Hood website! If you've missed any of our past issues, or if you just want to re-read past articles, please click here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

*Out In The 1960s Be-Bop Night- Thanksgiving Football Rally, 1963- For Jimmy, Class Of 1966

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for American football on Thanksgiving. I knew when I Googled this search old Wikipedia would not let me down.

Markin, Class of 1964, comment:

Scene: Around and inside the old high school gym entrance on the Hunt street side the night before the big Thanksgiving Day football game against our cross town arch-rival in 1963. (Yes, that is the street with the Merit gas station, now Hess, on the corner.) And this is at a time before they built what is apparently an addition modeled on the office buildings across the street behind the MBTA stop and a tribute to “high” concrete construction, and lowest bidder imagination). But it could have been a scene from any one of a number of years in those days. And I am willing to bet six-two-and-even with cold hard cash gathered from my local ATM against all-takers that this story “speaks”, except the names, to 2010 as well:

Sure the air is cold, you can see your breath making curls before your eyes no problem, and the night feels cold, cold as one would expect from a late November New England night. It is also starless, as the weather report is projecting rain for the big game. Damn, not, damn, because I am worried about, or care about a little rain. I’ve seen and done many things in a late November New England winter rain, and December and January rains too, for that matter. No, this damn, is for the possibility that the muddy Veterans Stadium field will slow up our vaunted offensive attack. And good as it is a little rain, and a little mud, can be the great equalizer.

This after all is class struggle. No, not the kind that you might have heard old Karl Marx and his boys talk about, although now that I think of it there might be something to that here as well. I’ll have to check that out sometime but right now I am worried, worried to perdition about the battle of the titans on the gridiron, rain-soaked granite grey day or not. See, this particular class struggle is Class A Quincy against Class B North and we need every advantage against this bigger school. (Yes, I know for those younger readers that today’s Massachusetts high schools are gathered in a bewildering number of divisions and sub-divisions for some purpose that escapes me but when football was played for keeps and honor simpler designations worked just find.)

Do I have to describe the physical aspects of the gym? Come on now this thing is any high school gym, any pubic high school gym, anywhere. Fold-away bleachers, fold-away divider (to separate boys for girls in gym class, if you can believe that), waxed and polished floors made of sturdy wood, don’t ask me what kind (oak, maybe) with various sets of lines for its other uses as a basketball or volleyball court. But enough. The important thing is that guys and gals, old and young, students and alumni and just plan townies are milling about waiting for the annual gathering of the Red Raider clan, those who have bled, bleed or want to bleed Raider red and even those oddballs that don't. This one stirs the blood of even the most detached denizen of the old town.

This night of nights, moreover, every unattached red-blooded boy student, in addition, is looking around, and looking around frantically in some cases, to see if that certain she has come for the festivities, and every unattached red-blooded girl student for that certain he. Don’t tell you didn’t take a peek, or at least a stealthy glance. Among this throng are a couple of fervent quasi-jock male students, one of them who is writing this entry the other, great track man Bill C., who is busy getting in his glances in, both members of the Class of 1964, with a vested interest in seeing their football-playing fellow classmates pummel the cross town rival, and also, in the interest of full disclosure, in the hunt for those elusive shes. I do not see the certain she that I am looking for but, as was my style then, I have taken a couple of stealthy glances at some alternate prospects.

This is the final football game of our final football-watching season, as students anyway, as well so we have brought extra energy to the night’s performance. We are on the prowl and ready to do everything in our power to bring home victory. ....Well, almost everything except donning a football uniform to face the monstrous goliaths of the gridiron. We fancy ourselves built for more "refined" pursuits like those just mentioned stealthy glances, and the like.

Finally, after much hubbub (and more coy and meaningful looks all around the place that one could reasonably shake a stick at) the rally begins, at first somewhat subdued due to the very recent trauma of the Kennedy assassination, the dastardly murder of one of our own, for the many green-tinged Irish partisans among the crowd, as well as the president. But everyone, seemingly, has tacitly agreed for this little window of time that the outside world and its horrors will not intrude. A few obligatory (and forgettable) speeches by somber and lackluster school administrators, headed by Principal Walsh, and their lackeys in student government and among the faculty stressing good sportsmanship and that old chestnut about it not mattering about victory but how you play the game drone away.

Of course, no self-respecting “true” Red Raider has anything but thoughts of mayhem and casting the cross-town rivals to the gates of hell in his or her heart so this speechifying is so much wasted wind. This “bummer”, obligatory or not, is followed with a little of this and that, mainly side show antics. People, amateurishly, twirling red and black things in the air, and the like. Boosters or Tri-Hi-Yi types for all I know. Certainly not the majorettes, who I will not hear a word against, and who certainly know how to twirl the right way. See, I am saving one of my sly, coy glances for one of them right now.

What every red-blooded senior boy, moreover, and probably others as well, is looking forward to is the cheer-leading to get things moving, led by the senior girls like the vivacious Roxanne G., the spunky Josie W., and the plucky Linda P.. They do not fail us with their flips, dips, and rah-rahs. Strangely, the band and its bevy of majorettes when it is their turn, with one exception, do not inspire that same kind of devotion, although no one can deny that some of those girls can twirl.

But all this spectacle is so much, too much, introduction. For what is wanted, what is demanded of the situation, up close and personal, is a view of the Goliaths that will run over the cross town arch-rival the next day. A chance to yell ourselves silly. The season has been excellent, marred only by a bitter lost to a bigger area team on their home field, and our team is highly regarded by lukewarm fans and sports nuts alike. Naturally, in the spirit, if not the letter of high school athletic ethos, the back-ups and non-seniors are introduced by Coach L.. Then come the drum roll of the senior starters, some of whom have been playing for an eternity it seems. Names like Tom K., Walt S., Lee M., Paul D., Joe Z., Don McN., Jim F., Charlie McD., Stevie C., "Woj" (Jesus, don’t forget him. I don't need that kind of madness coming down on my face, even now) and on and on.

Oh, yes and “Bullwinkle”, Bill C., a behemoth of a run-over fullback , even by today’s standards. Yes, let him loose on that arch-rival's defense. Whoa. But something is missing. A sullen collective pout fills the room. After the intros are over the restless crowd needs an oral reassurance from their warriors that the enemy is done for. And as he ambles up to the microphone and says just a couple of words we get just that reassurance from “Bullwinkle” himself. That is all we need. Boys and girls, this one is in the bag. And as we head for the exits to dream our second-hand dreams of glory the band plays the school fight song to the tune of On Wisconsin. Yes, those were the days when boys and girls, young and old, wise or ignorance bled Raider red in the old town. Do they still do so today? And do they still make those furtive glances? I hope so.

*A December 16th Veterans-Led March In Washington To Stop The Wars In Afghanistan And Iraq -From The "Stop These Wars" Website

WELCOME TO STOP THESE WARS Join Us For Peace on Earth!

Posted on November 19, 2010 by admin

During the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King called our government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” True then—and even more so today.

A few years before that, in 1964 Mario Savio made his great speech at Berkeley; at the end he says, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

There are children being orphaned, maimed or killed every day, in our name, with our tax dollars; there are soldiers and civilians dying or being maimed for life, in order to generate profits for the most odious imperialistic corporate war machine ever, again in our name. How long are we going to let this go on? Until it is too late, until this destructive machine destroys all of us and the planet to boot?

Wikileaks has revealed the documented horror of U.S. war-making, beyond what any of us imagined. It’s time veterans and others express our resistance directly and powerfully by putting ourselves on the line, once again—honestly, courageously and without one drop of apology for doing so. It is not we who are the murderers, torturers or pillagers of the earth.

Profit and power-hungry warmongers are destroying everything we hold dear and sacred.

In the early thirties, WW1 vets descended on Washington, D.C., to demand their promised bonuses, it being the depths of the Depression. General Douglas MacArthur and his sidekick Dwight Eisenhower disregarded President Herbert Hoover’s order and burned their encampment down and drove the vets out of town at bayonet point.

We are today’s bonus marchers, and we’re coming to claim our bonus–PEACE.

Join activist veterans marching in solidarity to the White House, refusing to move, demanding the end of U.S. wars, which includes U.S. support—financial and tactical—for the Israeli war machine as well.

If we can gather enough courageous souls, nonviolently refusing to leave the White House, willing to be dragged away and arrested if necessary, we will send a message that will be seen worldwide. “End these wars – now!” We will carry forward a flame of resistance to the war machine that will not diminish as we effectively begin to place ourselves, as Mario Savio said, “upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus.” and we will make it stop.

We believe that the power of courageous, committed people is greater than that of corporate warmongers. But we will only see our power when we use it collectively, when we stand together.

With courage, persistence, boldness and numbers, we can eventually make this monstrous war machine grind to a halt, so that our children and all children everywhere can grow up in a peaceful world.

Join us at the White House on December 16th!

For a world in peace,

Nic Abramson, Veterans For Peace; Elliott Adams, Past President, Veterans For Peace; Laurie Arbeiter, Activist Response Team; Ken Ashe, Veterans For Peace; Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace; Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition; Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder, CODEPINK for Peace; Frida Berrigan, War Resisters League; Bruce Berry, Veterans For Peace; Leah Bolger, Veterans For Peace; Elaine Brower, Anti-war Military Mom and World Can’t Wait; Scott Camil, Veterans For Peace; Ross Caputi, Justice For Fallujah Project; Kim Carlyle, Veterans For Peace; Armen Chakerian, Coalition to Stop the $30 Billion to Israel; Matthis Chiroux, Iraq War Resister Veteran; Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace; Will Covert, Veterans For Peace; Dave Culver, Veterans For Peace; Matt Daloisio, Witness Against Torture; Ellen Davidson, War Resisters League; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans For Peace; Nate Goldshlag, Veterans For Peace; Clare Hanrahan, War Crimes Times; Mike Hearington, Veterans For Peace; Mark Johnson, Executive Director. Fellowship of Reconciliation; Tarak Kauff begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, Veterans For Peace; Kathy Kelly, Voices For Creative Nonviolence; Sandy Kelson, Veterans For Peace; Joel Kovel, Veterans For Peace; Erik Lobo, Veterans For Peace; Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Committee; Ken Mayers, Veterans For Peace; Nancy Munger, Co-President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Fred Nagel, Veterans For Peace; Pat O’Brien, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Bill Perry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Vito Piccininno, Veterans For Peace; Mike Prysner, Co-Founder, March Forward; Ward Reilly, Veterans For Peace; Laura Roskos, Co-President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Cindy Sheehan, Founder, Peace of the Action; David Swanson, author; Debra Sweet, National Director, World Can’t Wait; Mike Tork, Veterans For Peace; Hart Viges, Iraq Veterans Against the War; Father Louie Vitale, SOA Watch; Jay Wenk, Veterans For Peace; Linda Wiener, Veterans For Peace; Diane Wilson, Veterans For Peace; Col. Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace; Doug Zachary, Veterans For Peace

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Endorsers of the December 16 Veteran-Led Civil Resistance against War

Posted on November 19, 2010 by admin

■Veterans For Peace



■Fellowship of Reconciliation

■March Forward

■Peace of the Action

■Peace Action Montgomery

■United National Anti-War Committee

■Voices for Creative Non-Violence

■Voters for Peace

■War Resisters League

■Washington Peace Center

■Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

■World Can’t Wait

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Veterans Speak Out on December 16 Action

Posted on November 13, 2010 by admin

Fred Nagel

“Those who know the full extent of America’s imperial reach have a unique obligation to let their fellow citizens know what is being done in all of our names. But it is more than an obligation for veterans, since many of us have served in America’s invasions and occupations abroad. Perhaps it is also a privilege, another chance to express our love for this country, this time putting their bodies on the line to demand that America once again join the peace loving nations of this world.”—Fred Nagel, radio host and member, Veterans For Peace

Jay Wenk

“I listened today to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech given at New York’s Riverside Church in 1967, “Why I Oppose the Vietnam War.” If any of us don’t know it, make it a point to hear it. His truth is timeless. When I hear it, I feel as deeply as possible, the necessity and the responsibility to be a Veteran For Peace. My conscience, my refusal to let the world change me are in the forefront of my existence. I will be with my brothers and sisters on Dec. 16.”—Jay Wenk, member, Veterans For Peace

Leah Bolger

“I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name.”—Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), 1980-2000; National Vice-President, Veterans For Peace

“‘….to protect and defend the Constitution…’ I took that oath as a sailor, and later as a police officer. I don’t consider that oath to have an expiration date because I believe in accountability, justice and peace. Where I come from, we say: ‘You don’t have to stand tall, but you’ve GOT to stand up.’ Stand up December 16, 2010, at the White House.”—Erik Lobo, member, Veterans For Peace

“War for empire, endless and cruel war, resulting in untold suffering, destruction and death for millions, a war economy here at home that steals from ordinary citizens and makes the few enormously wealthy, these are powerful reasons for us to put our bodies on the wheels, the levers, the apparatus of this vile war-making machine and demand that it stop. Enough is enough. There is no glory, no heroism, no good wars, no justification whatsoever, it is all, all of it, based on lies. I’ll be in Washington on December 16 with other veterans, resisting this war mentality, demanding its end.—Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace

The Latest From The Hand Off Honduras Committee-Pronunciamiento sobre masacre de 5 campesinos del Aguán, Honduras

Click on headline to link to Website

Thursday, November 18, 2010
Pronunciamiento sobre masacre de 5 campesinos del Aguán, Honduras

La Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC), La Asociación Nacional de Campesinos Hondureños (ANACH), afiliadas a la Vía Campesina Internacional al Gobierno de la República, Ministerio Público, Secretaria de Seguridad Pública, a los verdaderos organismos defensores de los Derechos Humanos, y al pueblo Hondureño en general, comunicamos lo siguiente:

Ayer las y los campesinos del Movimiento Campesino del Aguan (MCA), hasta los momentos se ha confirmado la muerte de 5 de sus miembros cuyos nombres son: Teodoro Acosta de 40 años, Raúl Castillo de 46 años, Ignacio Reyes de 50 años, Siriaco de Jesús Muñoz 56 años y José Luis Sauceda (32 años), pero además se reportan 4 heridos, 2 desaparecidos producto del brutal ataque sin precedentes en el movimiento campesino hondureño.

A eso de las 4: 00 de la mañana un grupo de sicarios fuertemente armados enviados por el terrateniente Miguel Facussé, según versiones de los propios campesinos, a la comunidad de El Tumbador ubicada en Trujillo Departamento de Colón a atacar a sangre fría a los campesinos que ahí se encontraban en posesión de sus tierras unas 700 hectáreas, donde en los años ochenta funcionó el Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar (CREM).

Esas tierras anteriormente eran propiedad del terrateniente Temístocles Ramírez, pero el Estado para fines de Reforma Agraria las compró pasando de esta forma a ser tierras de carácter de fiscal, estas posteriormente serian entregadas a través del Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) a las y los campesinos y es por ello que en Marzo de este año se firmó un acuerdo con los grupos campesinos donde se les titularían estas tierras a su favor.

Por tanto ante los últimos hechos el movimiento campesino hondureño organizado exige:

1- Al gobierno de la república exigimos que a través del Instituto Nacional Agrario resuelva de inmediato el conflicto agrario del aguan para evitar mas perdidas de valiosas vidas.

2- A la procuraduría General de la República que haga prevalecer la validez de dichas escrituras donde se hizo el traspaso de esas tierras la instituto Nacional Agrario para fines de Reforma Agraria.

3- Al ministerio Público que investigue a profundidad los lamentables hechos ocurridos el día de ayer 15 Noviembre en la comunidad el Tumbador , así como también otros asesinatos que se han cometido contra el campesinado y se castigue a los responsables tanto materiales como intelectuales de todos los asesinatos contra campesinos .

4- Las organizaciones campesinas condenamos estos ataques contra indefensos compañeros campesinos que su única lucha es poder adquirir un pedazo de tierra para la sobrevivencia de su familia.

5- Rechazamos la actitud de la policía y el ejército que teniendo conocimiento de la existencia de grupos de sicarios armados al mando de los terratenientes de la zona, no se hacen presentes el lugar del conflicto para mediar y evitar tanto derramamiento de sangre.

6- Finalmente ratificamos nuestra profunda preocupación por la forma en que este tipo de ataques contra los campesinos está siendo manejado por la mayoría de medios de comunicación, sabemos que esto responde a una campaña de desinformación orquestada desde los grupos de poder para confundir a la población.

Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC)

Asociación nacional de Campesinos Hondureños (ANACH)

Asociación Campesina Nacional (ACAN)

Tegucigalpa 16 de Noviembre del 2010

Por que la tierra nos pertenece, Lucharemos hasta el final

The Latest From The ANSWER Website

Pentagon blows up thousands of homes in Afghanistan

Repeating the horrors of the Vietnam War
November 18, 2010
By Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator

Borrowing a page from its infamous “pacification” effort in South Vietnam, where peasant villages were napalmed and burned to the ground to “save them from the communists,” the Obama-ordered surge in Afghanistan has been secretly blowing up thousands of homes and leveling portions of the Afghan countryside.

As tens of thousands of U.S. troops have surged into southern Afghanistan, villagers have fled. Then the Petraeus-led occupation forces have determined which homes will be destroyed.

“In Arghandab District, for instance, every one of the 40 homes in the village of Khosrow was flattened by a salvo of 25 missiles, according to the district governor, Shah Muhammed Ahmadi, who estimated that 120 to 130 houses had been demolished in his district,” reported the New York Times, Nov. 16, 2010.

The Pentagon asserts that they must destroy the homes because some of them may have explosive devices inside.

The Pentagon’s murderous rampage and terror campaign 40 years ago against South Vietnamese villages, in areas that were considered sympathetic to the resistance forces, used much of the same kind of explanation. In fact, the New York Times in a throw back to Vietnam quotes the Arghandab District Governor, who is working with the occupation forces: “We had to destroy them to make them safe.”

That this tactic is part of a high-tech terror campaign against Afghan villages and the people who inhabit them is evident even by the descriptions and accounts of western media outlets that are supporting the war.

Again, from the New York Times, Nov. 16, 2010, which describes weapons as tools:

“American troops are using an impressive array of tools not only to demolish homes, but also to eliminate tree lines where insurgents could hide, blow up outbuildings, flatten agricultural walls, and carve new “military roads,” because existing ones are so heavily mined, according to journalists embedded in the area recently.

“One of the most fearsome tools is the Miclic, the M58 Mine-Clearing Line Charge, a chain of explosives tied to a rocket, which upon impact destroys everything in a swath 30 feet wide and 325 feet long. The Himars missile system, a pod of 13-foot rockets carrying 200-pound warheads, has also been used frequently for demolition work.

“Often, new military roads go right through farms and compounds, cutting a route that will keep soldiers safe from roadside bombs. In Zhare District alone, the 101st Airborne’s Second Brigade has lost 30 soldiers since last June, mostly to such bombs.”

Activists at the organization Afghanistan Rights Monitor described the destroyed homes. “These are all mud houses, quite humble houses.”

When Gen. David Petraeus describes his counter-insurgency strategy, he always puts in a few diplomatic words about the need of surging troops to win the “hearts and minds” of the people in Afghanistan’s poverty stricken villages. That is purely for public consumption—a message echoed endlessly by the complicit corporate-owned media and the politicians of both parties that serves as a mask for the Pentagon’s campaign of systematic terror employed to subdue an occupied people.

On Dec. 16, 2010, anti-war veterans and people of conscience will stand up in a dramatic action in opposition to the terror campaign waged from the White House and Pentagon. Join us in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 16 and be part of history.


Join the U.S. veteran-led civil resistance to the wars
Take a Stand for Peace
December 16 ● Washington, D.C. ● The White House
Gather at Lafayette Park at 10am

In 1932, during the depths of the Depression, WWI veterans descended on Washington, D.C., to demand their promised bonuses. General Douglas MacArthur and his sidekick Dwight Eisenhower burned their encampment down and drove the vets out of town at bayonet point.

We are today’s bonus marchers, and we’ve come to claim our bonus—PEACE. Join activist veterans marching in solidarity to the White House, refusing to move, demanding an end to U.S. wars, whether waged by occupation troops, drones, or proxy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Palestine.

Not Another Day! Not Another Dollar! Not Another Life!

Mr. Obama: End These Wars!
Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now!

Endorsed by: Veterans For Peace, ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, March Forward!, Peace of the Action, United National Antiwar Committee, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Resisters League, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Can’t Wait

Monday, November 22, 2010

Out In The Be-Bop Night- Saturday Night With “Roy The Boy”- Roy Orbison

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Roy Orbison performing Running Scared.
DVD Review

Roy Orbison: Black and White Nights, Roy Orbison, various all-star musicians and backup singers including Bruce Springsteen and T-Bone Burnett, 1987

Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis come easily to mind when thinking about classic rock ‘n’ roll. And about where you were, and who you were with, and what you were doing when you heard those voices on the radio, on the television, or when you were spinning platters (records, for the younger set, okay, nice expression, right?). The artist under review, Roy Orbison, although clearly a rock legend, and rightly so, does not evoke that same kind of memory for me. Oh sure, I listened to Blue Bayou, Pretty Woman, Running Scared, Sweet Dreams, Baby and many of the other songs that are performed on this great black and white concert footage. And backed up by the likes of T-Bone Burnett, who may be the top rhythm guitarist of the age (and who has also gotten well-deserved kudos for his work on Jeff Bridges’ Crazy Hearts), Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen. With vocal backups by k.d. lang and Bonnie Raitt. All who gave energized performances and all who were deeply influenced by Roy’s music. That alone makes this worth viewing.

Still, I had this gnawing feeling about Roy’s voice after viewing this documentary and why it never really “spoke” to me like the others. Then it came to me, the part I mentioned above about where I was, and who I was with, and what I was doing when I heard Roy. Enter one mad monk teenage friend, Frankie, Frankie from the old neighborhood. Frankie of a thousand stories, Frankie of a thousand treacheries, and, oh ya, Frankie, my bosom friend in high school.

See, when Roy was big, big in our beat down around the edges, some days it seemed beat six ways to Sunday, working class neighborhood in the early 1960s, we all used to hang around the town pizza parlor, or one of them anyway that was also conveniently near our high school too. Maybe this place was not the best one to sit down and have a family-sized pizza with salad and all the fixings in, complete with family, or if you were fussy about décor but the best tasting pizza, especially if you let it sit for a while and no eat it when it was piping hot right out of the oven. (People who know such things told me later that kind of cold is the way you are supposed to eat pizza anyway, and as an appetizer not a meal.)

Moreover, this was the one where the teen-friendly owner, a big old balding Italian guy, at least he said he was Italian and there were plenty of Italians in our town in those days so I believed him but he really looked Greek or Armenian to me, let us stay in the booths if it wasn’t busy, and we behaved like, well, like respectable teenagers. And this guy, this old Italian guy, could make us all laugh, even me, when he started to prepare a new pizza and he flour-powdered and rolled the dough out and flipped that sucker in the air about twelve times and about fifteen different ways to stretch it out. Some times people would just stand outside in front of the big picture window and watch his handiwork in utter fascination. Jesus, he could flip that thing. One time, and you know this is true because you probably have your own pizza dough on the ceiling stories, he flipped the sucker so high it stuck to the ceiling and it might still be there for all I know (the place still is, although not him). But this is how he was cool; he just started up another without making a fuss. Let me tell you about him, Tonio I think his name was, sometime but right now our business to get on with Frankie and the Roy question, alright.

So there nothing unusual, and I don’t pretend there, in just hanging out having a slice of pizza (no onions, please, in case I get might lucky tonight and that certain she comes in, the one that I have been eying in school until my eyes have become sore), some soft drink (which we called tonic in New England in those days but which you call, uh, soda), usually a locally bottled root beer, and, incessantly (and that incessantly allowed us to stay since we were “paying “ customers with all the rights and dignities that entailed, unless they needed our seats), dropping nickels, dimes and quarters in the jukebox.

Here is the part that might really explain things, though. Frankie has this girl friend (he always had a string of them, which what was cool about him, but this was his main squeeze, his main honey, his main twist, his main flame and about sixty-seven other names he had for them). The divine Joanne (his description, I could take or leave her, and I questioned the divine part, questioned it thoroughly, on more than one occasion). See though Frankie, old double standard, maybe triple standard Frankie, was crazy about her but was always worried, worried to perdition, that she was “seeing” someone else (she wasn’t). You know guys like that, guys that have all the angles, have some things going their way but need, desperately need, that always one more thing to “complete” them.

But sweet old clever “divine” Joanne used that Frankie fear as a wedge. She would always talk (and talk while I was there, just to kind of add to the trauma drama, Frankie’s drama) about all the guys that called up bothering her (personally I didn’t see it, she was cute, for sure, and with a nice figure but I wouldn’t jump off a bridge if she turned me down, others in those days yes, and gladly, but not her). This would get Frankie steaming, steaming so he couldn’t see straight. Once he actually couldn’t eat his pizza slice he was so upset and Frankie, Frankie from the old neighborhood, ALWAYS ate his pizza. Even fatherly Tonio took notice.

Worst, was when old doll, old sweetheart, Joanne would drop coins in the jukebox to play… Roy Orbison’s Running Scared over and over. And make Frankie give her good coin, his good coin to boot. It got so bad that old Frankie, when Joanne wasn’t around, would play it on his own. With his own money, no less. So, I guess, I just got so sick of hearing that song and that trembling rising crescendo voice to increase the lyrical that I couldn’t see straight. But, really, you can’t blame Roy for that, or shouldn’t. Watch this DVD. I did and just turned the old volume on the remote down when that song came on. And think of poor old lovesick Frankie and his divine Ms. Joanne. That’s the ticket.

Running Scared- Roy Orbison, Joe Melson
Just running scared, each place we go
So afraid that he might show
Yeah, running scared, what would I do
If he came back and wanted you

Just running scared, feeling low
Running scared, you love him so
Yeah, running scared, afraid to lose
If he came back which one would you choose

Then all at once he was standing there
So sure of himself, his head in the air
And my heart was breaking, which one would it be
You turned around and walked away with me

From The Internationalist Group Website- The Student Struggle In Britain

50,000 March in London Against Conservative/Liberal Cuts
Students outside Parliament in Westminster, London, November 10 protesting tripling of tuition fees. 
(Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Workers: The Time for Strike Action Is Now!
Break with Labourism – Build a Leninist-Trotskyist Party!

Finally! When an estimated 52,000 students marched through London on Wednesday, November 10, their mobilization ended up shattering not only the windows of Conservative (Tory) Party headquarters at Millbank Tower but also the eerie calm that had enveloped the country following elections last April. The incoming cabinet of Conservative prime minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat deputy PM Nick Clegg vowed to impose “painful” cuts to what’s left of Britain’s once extensive social programs. Already badly tattered after 18 years of Tory rule beginning under Margaret Thatcher, followed by 13 years of “Thatcher II” under the “New Labour” Party of Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, the “welfare state” was about to receive the death blow. So where was the resistance? Labour was passive, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) put off national protest until next March (!). Except for several solid one-day London Tube (subway) and firefighters’ strikes, silence on the social front had settled in. Would the Con-Dem coalition get away with their program of budget axe murder?
Not if the students could help it. Organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Lecturers Union (UCU), tens of thousands came by coach from all over the country. They even travelled from the farthest reaches of Scotland, which will be spared this round of cuts – but students could read the handwriting on the wall. As they marched down the Strand past the government ministries in Whitehall and Parliament in Westminster, they chanted “Tory, Tory, Tory – scum, scum, scum.” When they reached the Conservative headquarters at Millbank, the pent up anger exploded.  About 500 broke away from the “official” demonstration and began to lay siege to and take over the building. With few police to stop them, windows were kicked in, the lobby received a thorough ransacking, some office furniture was burned in an impromptu bonfire.  This brought out the riot cops but they were dwarfed by the crowd that had grown to several thousand cheering on the action. Some protesters managed to reach the rooftop, from where they sent a defiant text message:
“We stand against the cuts, in solidarity with all the poor, elderly, disabled and working people affected. We are against all cuts and the marketisation of education. We are occupying the roof of Tory HQ to show we are against the Tory system of attacking the poor and helping the rich. This is only the beginning.”
This is only the beginning.” We hope so, a lot of the bourgeois political establishment fear so. The Guardian (11 November) splashed the phrase across its front page. It was repeated by MPs (Members of Parliament) and cabinet ministers as they shuddered with recollections of the 1968 demo against the U.S. embassy in Grosvenor Square over the Vietnam War, and the much larger 1990 “riots”  over the Tories’ “poll tax.” For students facing a drastic increase of university tuition fees, their lives are at stake: tens of thousands will be driven out, and many of the rest will be saddled with a lifetime of debt. After venting against the Tories on Wednesday, much of the anger is now directed at Nick Clegg and his fellow Lib-Dems who pledged during the election campaign to “vote against any increase in fees” even as secret documents show they were planning to raise them. But to really defeat the cuts and fee hikes, it is necessary to mobilize working-class power to take on not only the government parties but the capitalist system itself, among whose most ardent defenders over the century have been the Labour Party, “New” and old.
The Occupation of Tory Headquarters:
An “Unrepresentative Minority” of Thousands

Protester delivers swift kick to window of Conservative Party central office in Millbank Tower, London,
November 10. Government, media and official student leaders piously intoned against
but demonstrators furious over cuts that could destroy their lives, cheered.

(Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Press Association)
The government and media have sought to divert attention from the issue of cuts and fees by expressions of feigned outrage over the trashing of the Conservative party HQ, blaming it all on an “unrepresentative minority” of “anarchists” and assorted riffraff and ne’er-do-wells. The press all ran the same photo of a protestor kicking in a window at Millbank. “Hijacking of a Very Middle Class Protest,” screamed the Daily Mail (11 November). The same theme came from official protest leaders: UCU general secretary Sally Hunt denounced the “actions of a mindless and totally unrepresentative minority.” NUS president Aaron Porter tweeted his “disgust” at the actions of “a minority of idiots.” Before TV cameras he “absolutely condemn[ed] the actions of a small minority who have used violent means to hijack the protest,” calling them “despicable.” What’s truly despicable is this support for the rulers. But what else could one expect from a right-wing Labourite like Porter anxious to use his NUS position to launch his political career, as generations of Labour MPs before him have done. The fact is, and everybody knows it, that nobody in power would have paid the least attention to the students’ march, no matter how large, if it weren’t for the Millbank occupation.
Time and again, all over the world it is claimed that the most militant actions are the result of a “handful of outsiders.” Nonsense. John Harris in the Guardian (12 November) quoted a colleague who described the scene at Millbank as “ordinary students who were viscerally angry,” adding that this was “an early sign of people growing anxious and restless, and what a government pledged to such drastic plans should increasingly expect.” Damage to property? Please spare us the cynical handwringing. Cameron and his fellow members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford used to regularly smash up pubs and the like in their drunken sprees. Likewise for threatened charges of “attempted murder” against demonstrators. In fact, very few people were hurt, far fewer than in the G20 protests last year where riot police of the Territorial Support Group sought to terrorise protestors and killed newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson (for which no cop has been prosecuted, or even disciplined). Some 58 protesters have been arrested for the occupation of Conservative Party headquarters. There should be an outcry demanding that they all be released and all charges dropped. The criminals are the government and the ruling class it serves.
Not all NUS and UCU representatives had the same belly-crawling response as their top leaders. Student union presidents at the University of London, Sussex University and others issued a statement saying: “We reject any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, ‘extremist’ or unrepresentative of our movement. We celebrate the fact that thousands of students were willing to send a message to the Tories that we will fight to win. Occupations are a long established tradition in the student movement that should be defended.” Several thousand activists have added their names to this statement. Certainly the police will use this incident to ramp up repression in the next round. A “senior police figure” was quoted as saying “In the past we've been criticised for being too provocative. During the next demo no one can say a word.” But more fundamentally, lashing out at such symbols of an upper class elite, while thoroughly understandable and justified, cannot break its power to cause misery for the masses. Much more is needed to hit the capitalist rulers in their pocketbooks where it counts. To really fight to win, it will be necessary to mobilize the power of the working class in action. And despite the treachery of the trade-union misleaders, millions of British workers are ready to fight.

An  “unrepresentative minority” of anarchists? Hardly. Thousands of protesters cheered the occupation
of the hated Tories' HQ.
  (Photo: Carl de Court/AFP)
Although the government and police commissioners were reportedly “caught by surprise” by the size and militancy of the students, which far exceeded their expectations, such angry protest has long been in the cards. A “senior Tory aide” was quoted back in May saying that “if we win, this is going to be a deeply unpopular government. They have six months at maximum” to get their program of cuts in place. Now, writes Michael White in the Guardian (11 November): 
“Right on cue, exactly six months into David Cameron’s premiership, the ancient British roar of ‘Tory scum’ echoed across central London again. In honour of the coalition's deal on higher tuition fees, student protesters spliced their message with cheerful abuse of Nick Clegg. After almost 100 years of apathy Lib Dems can hold their heads high – hated at last.”
And the hatred they are harvesting is not limited to “professional protesters,” as Tory spokesmen claim. All accounts agree that for many if not most of the students who marched on November 10, including the thousands who cheered the occupation of Millbank, this was their first demonstration. It won’t be their last.
Fee Hikes: A Class Purge of Higher Education
The coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative), left, and Deputy PM Nick Clegg (Liberal-Democrat), posh twins in a millionaires’ cabinet. Shown here in front of No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s office, after taking office on May 12. Luckily they are wearing different ties so you can tell them apart. Politically they are united on program to make the working class pay for the capitalist economic crisis.
(Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP)
The Con-Dem cabinet’s plans will drastically change British universities and schools. University tuition fees are set to be tripled to £9,000 (US$14,500) a year! At the same time, government expenditure on university instruction is to be cut by 40 percent. Not only is this paying “more for worse” education, the only way it could be accomplished is if there is a big fall in enrolment, which is exactly what they are aiming at. The intent, and not only the predictable consequence, is to deprive tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of young people of a college education. And by cutting as well the £30-a-week Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for 16-19 year olds and slashing budgets for FE (Further Education) colleges (similar to community colleges in the U.S.) by 25 percent, universities are set to be places just for the wealthy, leaving the working class either unemployed or stuck in dead-end McJobs.
The responsibility for this class purge of Britain’s universities is not confined to the Tories and Liberal Democrats who are carrying out the horrendous program. This was, after all, the outcome of a review by Lord Browne – what better “expert” on education than a former CEO of British Petroleum! – that was commissioned by the previous Labour government of George Brown. The expansion of higher education courses and the student population by New Labour under Tony Blair after 1997 was deliberately under-financed. The costs of paying for it were shoved onto students and their families by cutting student grants and introducing tuition fees in 1998. While they were at first means-tested and many working-class students still studied for free, this changed drastically in 2004 when Blair/Brown introduced top-up fees, tripling the maximum of £1,250 to £3,290. Like previous Conservative measures, they were mainly aimed at expanding the pool of skilled labor: according to the 2003 New Labour white paper, “The Future of Higher Education,” students are to attend universities merely for the “acquisition of skills.”
Seeking to one-up Labour’s extreme business-friendly policies, the Con-Dem coalition has come out for all-sided privatization. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced budget cuts with the idiotic claim, “The changes I have proposed today would help us deliver fantastic culture, media and sport, while ensuring value for money for the public” (Guardian, 26 July 2010). But “value for money” is hardly an invention of this coalition. Commenting on government spending cuts in 1922, the historian R.H. Tawney observed: “consider the philosophy behind its proposals. It does not actually state, in so many words, that the children of the workers, like anthropoid apes, have fewer convolutions in their brains than the children of the rich. It does not state it because it assumes it.… While most decent men have viewed with satisfaction the recent considerable development of secondary education, they deplore it as a public catastrophe, and are indignant that education … is sold ‘below actual cost’” (Guardian, 21 February 1922).
The rhetoric of the authors of the 1922 cuts has now resurfaced unchanged, with talk of the undeserving poor who commit a “sin” by not working for starvation pay. Such Social Darwinism inevitably has a racist character. This was recently expressed in its crudest form by the Social Democrat banker Thilo Sarrazin in Berlin, who has made waves by openly bemoaning the destruction of German Kultur by Turkish immigrants. Sarrazin argues, as the New York Times (13 November) summed up his views, that “since Muslims are less intelligent (his conclusion) than ethnic Germans, the population will be dumbed down (his conclusion).” That this is not just some crackpot talking was underscored by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pronouncement last month that “multiculturalism is dead.” And as Sarkozy in France goes in for mass expulsion of Roms and threats to cancel immigrants’ citizenship, the Con-Dem government in London shares the same worldview, vituperating against an “out of control” immigration system.
Liberal-Democrat leader Nick Clegg in April 2010, holding up his signed pledge to vote against any increase in university fees. The entire Lib-Dem parliamentary slate signed the pledge. Now they will vote to triple fees as part of coalition government.
This cabinet of 18 millionaires (by the Guardian’s count) really has it in for Britain’s working people. The day after the student protest, the government announced plans to replace hardship payments (to the unemployed whose benefits have been held up) with loans (to be repaid), and to ban anyone who refuses a job or “community service” from receiving benefits for up to three years. According to the spending review by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, some £18 billion is to be slashed from the welfare system. Public sector workers are to be hit with a pay freeze and a 3 percent increase in pension contributions – in other words, a pay cut. Local council grants are to be slashed by 27 percent. Planned cuts of 500,000 public sector jobs could lead to an equal number of private sector job losses, adding one million more people to the dole cues (unemployment lines). While the health service is supposed to be exempt from cuts, nurses say 10,000 jobs are threatened. It’s all supposed to reduce a budget deficit of £149 billion. Yet as a result of the world capitalist economic crisis, the Labour government funnelled ten times that amount – £1.5 trillion – into the coffers of Britain’s banks to stave off collapse.
But Britain’s students aren’t taking it. The London protest was the latest in many in Europe over the austerity measures being pushed by the capitalists to make the working class pay for the economic meltdown. Repeated one-day “general strikes” in Greece during the winter and spring, mass protests in Portugal, a strike by Spanish unions against the Socialist government in Madrid, and now two and a half months of weekly “days of action” by French unions and students: the working people of Europe have demonstrated their readiness to do battle.1 Barely three weeks ago that the New York Times (23 October) was contrasting Britain – “stiff upper lip,” “inherent stoicism,” “bulldog resolve in the face of hardship,” and all that – to the strike-prone French for whom taking to the streets is a “rite of passage” for the young. Confronting “five bleak years of austerity, the British barely seemed to blink,” the writer sagely opined. But now British students are accused of “acting French,” and the deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe suggests that perhaps French president Nicolas Sarkozy would lend Cameron his CRS riot police.
The fury of British students over the fee hikes and cuts was all the more fierce as they had been pushed through by the recently elected Lib Dem/Conservatives. After the broken promises of Tony Blair’s/Gordon Brown’s “New” Labour which oversaw the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and repeated attacks on immigrants and the working class, many young people (especially students) voted for Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats hoping that they would be a ‘progressive’ alternative.  They have been disappointed – big time. Yet Labour is no opposition. Even today, while needling Clegg in Parliament, Labour spokesmen have not flatly opposed the cuts. They mainly differ over the pace, and Labour local councils will be administering the cuts. As for the student fee hikes, Labour is now toying with a “graduate tax,” which only means that students will have to pay off the £9,000 a year fees later. They may quibble about specifics, but all the parliamentary parties support the attacks on working people in Britain. And that is because all of them – including Labour, which Russian Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin long ago characterized as a “bourgeois workers party” – uphold the capitalist order.
“Broad Coalitions” vs. Worker-Student Struggle
So what is to be done now? British students are energized, even exhilarated. NUS leaders want to pull back and limit themselves to embarrassing Liberal Democrats who signed the “no fee rise” pledge. However, the Labourite student bureaucrats of the NUS and UCU are hardly in control of the protests. On November 10, there was a “free education bloc” of assorted left social democrats and a “radical students and workers bloc” of a more anarchist and syndicalist bent. Now, over opposition from the NUS, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) has called for university walkouts and occupations on November 24 and a central national demonstration at Trafalgar Square to be accompanied by “direct action.” Already an occupation has begun at Sussex, after a one-day occupation at Manchester U.
There are a host of leftist student groups in Britain, usually led by one or another socialist group, ranging from Communist Students of  the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain) and Socialist Students of the SPEW (Socialist Party of England and Wales, led by Peter Taaffe) to the Education Activist Network (EAN) led by the SWP (Socialist Workers Party, followers of the late Tony Cliff2). The EAN is a follow-on to the SWP’s earlier Student Respect and Another Education Is Possible ventures, and of course the Stop the War coalition. Where Che Guevara called for “two, three, many Vietnams,” the SWP’s variant is two, three, many front groups, one (or more) for every “movement” it is tailing at the time (Muslim, anti-globalisation, antiwar). It has been noted that while the parent organizations may have some differences, the programs of their student affiliates are virtually interchangeable. This reflects the fact that at bottom they are all part of the social-democratic reformist milieu.
Not-so-red Ed Miliband after being elected leader of the Labour Party in September. Social-democratic student groups all act as pressure group on Labour stewards of British capitalism. (Photo: Leon Neal/AFP)
As always, the SWP places itself squarely on the right flank. Positioning itself one baby step to the left of the NUS leadership, which calls for the graduate tax, the SWP, while itself formally in favour of “free education” (that is, the abolition of all fees), insists that the EAN should not raise this fundamental demand, as that might hinder its opportunist manoeuvring in the NUS. Following November 10, the SWP decided to pose as the biggest defenders of the Millbank occupation, crowing that “First through the doors of Millbank Tower were members of the Socialist Workers Party…” (Socialist Worker, 20 November). The SWP’s perspective was set out in a pamphlet calling for “a huge campaign that turns every college into a centre of resistance.” This is bread and butter for the SWP, which looks to everyone from CIA-run unions in Poland to mullahs in Iran, but never the working class (though while calling for everyone to “build the fightback,” it does say that they could “invite local trade unionists to come along”).
Other groups have their own profile. The SPEW calls for “building a mass, sustained and determined movement that can stop the Con-Dem onslaught” – carefully avoiding any attack on Labour – that would be “joined by the powerful organisations of the working class.” Meaning they want the TU bureaucrats to sign on. Alan Woods’ Socialist Appeal (SA), which bills itself as a tendency in the Labour Party, calls for “a movement that can bring this government down” – and thus pave the way for a return to Labour. They all have their criticisms of the “New Labour” of Blair and Brown, and they may say that the recently elected Labour leader is not the “Red Ed” (Miliband) portrayed in the media. But, the SWP writes, “the movement will be looking to Miliband to speak up for all those who will be hammered by coalition cuts” (Socialist Review, November 2010). And there they and their various coalitions all were, lobbying the Labour conference in Brighton September 27, “to tell the Labour Government that they must change direction,” as the UCU put it.
Whether in the SWP’s “student power” version or the more Labourite SPEW/SA variant, these social democrats act as pressure groups on the Labour stewards of capitalist Britain. Lobbying Labour, especially now that it is out of office, cannot stop the cuts. Only powerful worker-student class struggle, independent of all political ties to the bourgeois state, can take the struggle forward.
Dreams of a New Poll Tax Revolt and
Social-Democratic Support for the Police
In the wake of the November 10 occupation of Millbank Tower, the bourgeois press harked back to the 1990 “poll tax riots” as a harbinger of what could be in store. At the same time, several socialist groups saw that as a model of how mass struggle could bring down this Tory government, as the revolt over the poll tax led to the downfall of “Iron Lady” Thatcher. SWP: “This is a sign we can resist. The poll tax riots show it is possible.” SPEW: study “the lessons of the poll tax struggle and how we took on the Tories and won last time round.” Socialist Appeal: “The anti-poll tax movement … shows that the government can be defeated if a serious and effective struggle is mounted.” This is at best a partial truth. While hatred of this tax on the poor and working people and revulsion over police brutality eventually led to Thatcher’s resignation and abandonment of the tax, she was succeeded by the Tory John Major … and eventually by Tony Blair, whose “New Labour” government continued the anti-worker polices of Thatcher.
The “poll tax” replaced graduated local taxes (based on the rental value of houses) by a single head tax for every adult, whether earl or pauper, a capitalist or an unemployed worker. Those who didn’t pay would go to jail, bringing back the debtors’ prisons of centuries past. The Militant tendency in the Labour Party, from which both Socialist Appeal and the Socialist Party devolved, initiated a national Anti-Poll Tax Federation. Eventually 14 million people refused to pay the tax, making it effectively uncollectible. On 31 March 1990, some 200,000-plus people jammed into central London to protest the tax. They were met with a wanton cop attack. Police vans drove into crowds at high speed, police horses trampled on demonstrators, police batons rained down on old ladies. Millions were shocked as they watched the spectacle on TV. The Tory barons concluded Thatcher had to go if they were to avoid defeat in the next elections. A few months later she was out. And the Tories got seven more years in office.

Poll tax “riot,” 31 March 1990. Bloody police attack on demonstrators sealed Margaret Thatcher's fate.
(Photo: journalismfrombelow)
Bringing down a hated government in a palace coup by fellow Tories, though it may have given a measure of belated satisfaction to those who were defeated in the epic coal miners’ strike and other hard-fought labour battles, hardly counts as a victory for the working class. Moreover, when the poll tax battle is held up as an model for how to struggle today, it is an argument that it is possible to go around the obstacle of the Trades Union Council. In particular circumstances, mass civil disobedience may be a possible tactic – such as when 14 million people are willing to risk jail rather than pay the heinous tax. But to actually defeat Thatcherism, it was necessary for the trade unions to undertake political strike action against the poll tax, as Trotskyists called for at the time. Today it will take workers action on a national basis to defeat Cameron and Clegg’s cuts and fee hikes. And that means a fight within the labour movement.
A key issue is the nature of the police. Various left groups, but particularly the heirs of Militant (SPEW and SA) characterize the cops as “workers in uniform.” But there is a vital difference between workers conscripted into the army and the police, who are strikebreakers and professional agents of repression. “We have to distinguish ordinary police officers from Chiefs of Police,” write Socialist Appeal supporters Adam Booth and Ben Peck about the recent student march (In Defense of Marxism web site, 12 November). But did chiefs of police kill Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in 2009; or execute Jean Charles de Menezes with shots to the back as he entered the London Underground in 2005; or beat anti-fascist demonstrator Blair Peach to death in 1979? No, these were the acts of “ordinary police officers,” who are the armed fist of the capitalist state.
Socialist Party says to “distinguish ordinary police officers from Chiefs of Police.” Territorial Support Group killer cop delivers death blow to newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, 1 April 2009. You see any chiefs of police in this photo?
(Photo: Guardian)
Not surprisingly, the authors of the article sought to distance SA from the “attack” on Millbank Tower, saying it was “initiated by a minority of ultra-lefts” and was “not a method that the labour movement would adopt.” An article by the SPEW criticized the NUS leadership for denouncing the protesters at Millbank, but remarked elliptically that “stewarding of the protest was inadequate - particularly at the end.” Meaning that had SPEW “stewards” been there, they would have tried to prevent the occupation of Tory headquarters? Naturally, the SA does not call to defend the arrested protesters, and the SPEW  has only a mealy-mouthed reference to no victimisation of students involved in the demonstration. What constitutes victimisation, and what about non-students? The SPEW scandalously includes a leader of the Prison Officers Association among its members, in total contradiction to Leon Trotsky’s insistence that “The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” In contrast to the SA/SPEW, the League for the Fourth International calls for cops out of the trade unions (see our article, “Her Majesty’s Social Democrats in Bed with the Police,” The Internationalist No. 29, Summer 2009).
Class Struggle vs. Class Collaboration
Clearly there needs to be a massive mobilization against the war on the working class spearheaded by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government. Mobilize on what basis? Campus occupations and mass marches are necessary, but with the strategic aim of mobilizing workers’ industrial power on a program of class independence. Talk of “student power” is illusory – by themselves, students do not have the social weight to bring down the government, although they can play an key role in sparking struggle. And marching alone will do little. A million people demonstrated against the Iraq war, but it didn’t sway Labour PM Tony Blair, who kept right on wagging his tail for poodle master George Bush. What is called for is joint strike action pointing toward a general strike, based on elected strike committees, to break the stranglehold of Labour and a trade-union bureaucracy beholden to capitalism.
There must be a struggle to mobilize labour’s strength, in the factories and on the streets, now, not some time next year, in a sharp class battle against the capitalist rulers. This will face opposition from the Trades Union Congress tops, who have been dragging their heels – and not just from open right-wingers like Unison, which clearly wants to avoid a showdown with the government. Tony Woodley, general secretary of Unite, Britain’s largest union, and one of the “awkward squad” who sought to “reclaim” Labour for “socialism,” saluted the “anger and passion” of the students, but would only commit to “linking up with the broadest range of other groups, including students, to make the government change its mind.” Like how? Even Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, which earlier appealed to the TUC for “coordinated strike action,” now says only that the RMT seeks “the strongest possible co-ordinated and peaceful resistance in the coming months.”
What they are aiming at is to build yet another “broad” coalition of a popular-front character that would tie workers, students, immigrants and others to minor bourgeois forces and a program of cosmetic reforms, in order to ensure that any protest does not challenge capitalist rule. An example was the no2eu coalition, initiated by Crow and the RMT, an alliance with the thoroughly bourgeois splinter Liberal Party for the June 2009 elections to the European parliament. One of the coalition’s top candidates was John McEwan, a Socialist Party supporter and leader of the chauvinist 2009 strike by Lindsey oil refinery workers whose main demand was “British Jobs for British Workers.” (The strike committee tried to prettify this disgusting demand as hiring of “locally skilled union members” instead of the Italian and Portuguese workers employed there.) This year a popular-frontist Coalition of Resistance has been launched by former Labour left MP Tony Benn last August to fight the cuts and “defend the welfare state.” This is also what most groups on the British left are angling for. But such “coalitions” are vehicles for class collaboration and roadblocks to militant class struggle.

Coalition of Resistance march protesting cuts, October 20. What welfare state? Defending remaining
social gains will require hard class struggle, not "popular-front"coalition with minor bourgeois parties
and politicians.
(Photo: Coaltion of Resistance)
After World War II, the Labour Party under Clement Atlee and Aneurin Bevan enacted a series of measures to salvage bankrupt British capitalism. As Britannia no longer ruled the waves, having lost its Empire, the bourgeoisie hoped to stave off the “communist menace” by nationalizing unprofitable but vital branches of the economy (coal, rail, steel, docks, electrical energy), and providing some social services to the workers, notably the National Health Service and council housing. Following the counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and East Europe during 1989-92, capitalists the world over no longer felt the need to make concessions to the workers they exploited. In Britain the process of dismantling the “welfare state” had already begun under Margaret Thatcher. It continued apace under “New Labour” and now the bourgeoisie is determined to finish it off under the Con-Dem cabinet.
No “broad coalition” is going to stop this wrecking ball, only mobilizing workers’ power and the students’ militancy in sharp class struggle can do the job. To stop the purge of higher education, the mass redundancies (layoffs), the destruction of local services will take a battle far surpassing the 1984-85 coal strike in scope and intensity. What then? In the 1978-79 “winter of discontent,” British workers undertook widespread strike action, but since they had nothing to replace the Labour government of James Callaghan, the forces of reaction won, in the figure of Margaret Thatcher. A general strike would starkly pose the question of which class rules. If the workers movement is not prepared to fight for power, as the TUC was not in the 1926 general strike, the result will be a colossal defeat. Today, the only way to defend the remaining gains of the “welfare state” of distant memory is by fighting to overthrow capitalist rule.
To Defeat the Cuts, Fight for International Socialist Revolution
The struggle against the class war on the workers currently being waged by the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition is no isolated national battle. Across Europe, workers and students are confronting a drive by governments and business to make the working class and large sections of the middle classes pay the costs of the capitalist economic crisis. The bankers who triggered the new Depression are demanding that the bailouts be paid for by massive elimination of social programs such as they have sought for years. They have no compunctions. Last week, Barclays Bank announced it was anticipating paying out £2.24 billion in bonuses this year, an amount equal to the entire planned cuts in government expenditures on university teaching budgets. Meanwhile, market speculators hold entire countries hostage. Earlier this year Greece was targeted, today it is Ireland, tomorrow Portugal, and the day after tomorrow…Britain?
London tube strike, 7 September 2010. RMT must not stand alone! Urgently needed: all-out strike action to defeat the cuts.
(Photo: Solveigh Goett)
If the Con-Dem cabinet does not succeed in ramming through the cuts, the impersonal forces of “the market” will take their revenge and push the country into sovereign bankruptcy, which would make the collapse of the Wall Street banking house Lehman Brothers in September 2008 seem small potatoes. When social-democratic leftists speak of a “socialist transformation” of Britain through an enabling act, as Militant did in the 1970s and ’80s, and their offspring do today with programs for “socialist nationalisation” and “public ownership” of 150 top companies under “democratic workers’ control and management” (SPEW, “Where We Stand”) they are peddling democratic illusions. Such a “transformation” would be no more socialist than the post-WWII nationalisations by Labour, and in any case a peaceful transition to “socialism” through parliamentary channels is impossible. It will take nothing less than socialist revolution on an international scale to expropriate British capital, and only by fighting for that goal can British workers hope to defend what’s left of their past gains.
The starting principle of Marxist politics is the class independence of the workers from the bourgeois exploiters. Thus the League for the Fourth International opposes voting for any bourgeois candidate, party or coalition – even for workers parties in “popular fronts” – no matter how leftist their rhetoric may be. In Britain, after a dozen years in office, Labour was thoroughly discredited and no class-conscious worker or genuine Marxist could have voted in the 2010 elections for these warmongers and loyal servants of British (and U.S.) capital. But class independence is only the beginning. To obtain decent housing, quality health care, free and accessible education for all, capitalism must go. And it is necessary to build  a workers party to lead that struggle, by putting forward a transitional program leading to socialist revolution.
Workers should mobilize to force British troops out of Afghanistan – and Northern Ireland – with proletarian action, including strikes, such as heralded by the West Coast U.S. port strike against the war on May Day 2008 (which was endorsed by the RMT). Fight mass unemployment by demanding a shorter workweek, with no loss in pay, to divide the available work among all hands. Government attacks on Travellers must be vigorously opposed, and the anti-“foreigner” backlash combated by demanding full citizenship for all immigrants. The growing threat of the British National Party and the English Defence League and anti-Muslim attacks should be met not by workers defence guards to disperse the fascist scum. In the face of all the hoopla over the upcoming wedding of Prince William of the House of Windsor (will his swastika-loving brother Prince Harry attend in full Nazi regalia?), we call to abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords, and for a voluntary federation of workers republics of the British Isles and a Socialist United States of Europe.
It is necessary to struggle within the unions as well as among students, the black and immigrant populations and all the oppressed to break from Labourism, the heritage of an all-embracing social-democratic reformist party, and forge a proletarian revolutionary vanguard. The LFI seeks to build the nucleus of a workers party such as Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, to educate and lead (in word and deeds) the fight for a workers government, as part of the struggle to reforge the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution. 

1 See our articles “French Students and Workers Strike: May in October? The Spectre of a New ’68” (18 October), “To Drive Out Sarkozy & Co., Fight for Power to the Workers” (26 October) and a series of reports from Paris on the web site.
2 Though often referred to in the British press as a Trotskyist, Cliff broke with Trotskyism at the start of the Cold War, declaring the Stalinist-ruled Soviet Union to be “state capitalist” rather than a bureaucratically degenerated workers state, and in 1950 refusing to defend North Korea and the USSR against imperialist attack, an act of class treason for which his supporters were rightly expelled from