Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rick’s Flying Saucer Rock Moment- The Rock ‘n’ Rock Era; Weird, Wild & Wacky

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Royal Teens performing their classic, Short, Shorts.

CD Review

The Rock ‘n’Roll Era: Weird, Wild & Wacky, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1991

He was glad, glad as hell that angel thing, that guardian angel thing, was over and done with. You know that Sunday school thing they beat you over head with about how your guardian angel was there to keep you on the straight and narrow, or else. Yes, Rick Roberts certainly was glad that was over although now that he thought about it it just kind of passed out of sight as he got older and other things filled his mind. Things like his June ("June Bug" was his pet name for her but he had better not hear you call her that, especially one Freddie Jackson, or else). Yes, Rick was now large, strong enough, and smart enough strong, not to have to worry about some needlepoint guardian angel looking out for him. Although truth to tell he was worried, a little anyway, about this Cold War Russian bear thing coming over here to take his brain away, or maybe put the big heat on him, the A-bomb heat and creating alien things from outer space to haunt his dreams. But only a little.

What was exercising Rick these days was his June (you know her pet name but don’t say it, please) and causing him no end of sleepless nights was that thing about Freddie Jackson, June’s old flame. At least according to his sister, Celia, a reliable source of North Adamsville High gossip, and not afraid to spread it when it pleased her, was that Freddie was taking his peeks at June, and she was peeking back. So, lately, in order to pass those sleepless nights Rick had begun to sit up in his bedroom at night with his transistor radio on, the one that he had forced his parents to buy him, batteries included, for last Christmas, rather than the practical ties they had intended to foist on him. And what Rick listened as the hour turned to midnight was The Crazy Lazy Midnight Madness Show on WMEX, the local be-bop, no stop, all rock radio station the that got the sleepless, the half-awake, the lame and the lazy through the 1950s Cold War night, and into the dawn.

Now this Crazy Lazy Show fare was strictly for night owls, stuff that would not appeal to daytime rockers, you know, those listening to guys like Elvis, Carl, Bo, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee, or just stuff that appealed to Lazy’s off-center, off-beat funny bone. One night, one really restless night, as Rick was revving up the transistor around midnight
he heard Buchanan and Goodman’s silly The Flying Saucer, parts one and two back to back no less, so you see Crazy was serious about presenting goofy stuff. That was followed by Sheb Wooley’s devouring the Purple People Eater, and then, for a change of pace The Royal Teens be-bop Short, Shorts and that got his to thinking about how good June looked in them, and then back to zaniness when Bobby Picketts flattened Monster Mash and, as he got a little drowsy, The Detergents waved over Leader of the Laundromat.

That last one got to him, got to him good, because, believe it or not the song had sentimental value to him. See he met June at the North Adamsville All-Wash Laundromat one day. His mother’s washing machine had broken down and she needed to bring the Roberts laundry to the All-Wash and Rick drove her over. During that time June had passed by, he had said hi, they had talked and then more seriously talked, and that was that. Freddie Jackson was after that dust, a memory, nothing to June.

All this thinking really got Rick tired this night and as the last chords of Laundromat echoed in his head he fell into a deep sleep. Around four o’clock in the morning though he was awoken with a start, with the high pitched whining sound coming from some where outside his window. Next thing he knew a huge disc-like object was hovering over most of Adamsville, and stayed there for maybe a minute before departing just as quickly as it appeared. Rick took this for a sign, a sign that he and June would hang together. And a sign that Freddie Jackson probably should have taken a trip on that flying saucer while he could, or else.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Out In The 2000s Crime Noir Night-“Sin City”-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Sin City.

DVD Review

Sin City, starring Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, based on Frank Miller's graphic novels, co-directed by Frank Miller, 2005

No question I am a film noir, especially a crime film noir, aficionado. Recently I have been on a tear reviewing various crime noir efforts and drawing comparisons between the ones that “speak” to me and those that, perhaps, should have been better left on the cutting room floor. The classics are easy and need no additional comment from me as their plot lines stand on their own merits. Others, because they have a fetching, or wicked, for that matter, femme fatale to muddy the waters also get a pass. Of course when I think of noir it is 1940s-50s noir, black and white in film and in the good guys-bad guys constellation with a little murder and mayhem mixed in to keep one’s eyes open just in case there is no femme fatale to muddy the waters. Neo-noir, such as the film under review, Sin City, is another matter, perhaps. Here’s the why of the perhaps.

Central to the old time crime noir was the notion that crime did not pay and as stated above the bad guy(s) learned that lesson the hard way after a little mussing up or a date with a bullet. Kids’ stuff really when compared to the over-the-top action of this three vignettes series on modern day good guys versus bad guys. Three separate male characters, all tough guys and guys you would want to have at your back if real trouble headed your way, are trying, trying within the parameters of common sense or believability, to clean up slices of Sin City. Sin City as the rather obvious name implies, is in the grips of corruption from the top down, including in virtually every civic institution. Our avengers are trying to cut a wedge into that bad karma by individually, one, tracking down a bizarre, politically connected heir whose thing was slice and dice of very young girls, two, avenge the death of a high class call girl who was kind to one tough guy, and, three, keep the pimps and cops at bay in the red light district where the working girls have set up their own Hookers’ Commune.

All of this doing good is, of necessity in today’s movie world, linked up with, frankly, over the top use of violence of all sorts from cannibalism to barbaric death sentences, well beyond what tame old time noir warranted. Apparently the succeeding crime waves since the 1940s have upped the ante and something like total war is required to exterminate the villains. That and some very up-to-date use of cinematography to give a gritty black and white feel to the adventures. And also a not small dose of magical realism, suspension of disbelief, and sparseness of language to go along with the plot and visual action.

But here is the funny thing, funny for an old-time crime noir aficionado, I really liked this film. Why? Well go back to the old time crime noir premise. Good guys (and then it was mostly guys- here some very wicked “dames” join in and I know I would not want to cross them, no way) pushed their weight around or tilted at windmills for cheap dough or maybe a little kiss. They got mussed, up, trussed up, busted up in the cause of some individual justice drive that drove the “better angels of their natures.” Guess what, sixty years later, a thousand years advanced cinematically, a million years advanced socially (maybe) and these guys are still chasing windmills. Nice, right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Out In The 1940s Crime Noir Night-“The Naked City”-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for The Naked City.

DVD Review

The Naked City, starring Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Universal International, 1946

No question I am a film noir, especially a crime film noir, aficionado. Recently I have been on a tear reviewing various crime noir efforts and drawing comparisons between the ones that “speak” to me and those that, perhaps, should have been better left on the cutting room floor. The classics are easy and need no additional comment from me as their plot lines stand on their own merits. Others, because they have a fetching, or wicked, for that matter, femme fatale to muddy the waters also get a pass. Some, such as the film under review from 1946, The Naked City, offer neither although the stark New York City cinematography and the voice-over narration place it firmly in the genre. This film is that old noir stand-by from the period, the police procedural with its never-ending cautionary tale about how “crime does not pay.”

A little plot summary is in order. Yes, New York City, well the New York City of the 1940s and 1950s had eight million stories, although maybe really just two, rich and poor, or maybe better getting richer or sliding down poorer, but that is the subject for another day. Of course telling eight million stories, other than as a few seconds relief slice-of-life scenes, would make me very sleepy, very sleepy indeed. So the plot line reduces the sleepiness to a minimum by telling one story, or rather one murder story that wraps quite a few people in its tentacles, including one major city homicide squad. A squad led by perennial Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald as the foot-sore but worldly-wise detective in charge. The grift (profit motive) that drives the story line is stealing jewelry from those self-same getting richer New York City swells, including an inside society swell finger man. But things turn awry when one drop-dead beautiful model (maybe I should not have used just that phrase, but I will let it stand) winds up being murdered by her some of her thieving confederates.

The twists and turns, such as they are, revolve around a mystery man lover, suitor, whatever it was never really clear, except he was daffy over that drop-dead beautiful model, and finding him as the logical guy to have done, or ordered the murder. In New Jack City and elsewhere that is hard to do, one and one half hours hard to do. But in the end Barry and his homicide squad cohorts get their man, a strangely agile bad man for noir who are usually just straight thugs. And the city moves on to the next…murder, mayhem or whatever. Not exactly my cup of tea in noir but if I recall this film was the model for a television series of the same name so somebody must have though well of it beyond the slice-of-New York life scenes interspersed in the story and the great black and white cinematography of the Big Apple just after the end of World War II.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Real Scoop Behind “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Tom Waits performing the classic Great Depression song, Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?.

“Hey, brother (or sister), can you spare a dime?,” followed by “Got an extra cigarette, pal (or gal)?” Ya, Billy Bailey, used-to-be brash corner boy William James Bailey, certainly had the panhandler lingo down, down pat, after only a few days on the bum. Worst though on the bum in his own home town, his ever-loving’ roots, Boston. On the bum this time, this time a real fall and not just some short money, pick up some spare change, free campsite, Volkswagen bus pick-up sharing stews, brews and dope hitchhike road looking for the great blue-pink American West night with some honey, some Angelica honey, bum like a few years back.

Those days he practically made a religion, ya a religion out of living “free,” living out of the knapsack, living under bridge, no sweat, if need be. But those “golden days” dried up a few years back and now here in 1976 he was facing a real skid row choice. How it happened he will get to along the way but first let’s set the parameters of what 1976 panhandling, to put an eloquent name on it for “bumming”, shiftless bumming , looked like and how to survive in the new age of everybody me-ing themselves, even with people who were not on the bum. Christ, lord the times were hard, hard times in old Babylon, no question.

See, a guy, a guy who called himself “Shorty” McGee for obviously physical reasons but who knows what his real name was, maybe he didn’t remember either after all the rum-dum sterno heat years and the endless backsides of skid row haunts, that he had hitched up with for a minute, an overnight minute at the Salvation Harbor Lights Center over in the South End kind of hipped him to the obvious tricks of the new down-at the-heels road. Like putting the two requests together when you were panhandling. See, Shorty said it was all a matter of psychology, of working the crowd, the downtown crowd, the bustling Park Street Station crowd, and the Copley Square sunning themselves crowd just right to get you out of their sights and back to whatever sweet thing they were doing. So you endlessly put the two requests together, time after time after time, and always. And what happened was that when they turned you down for the dough, or maybe took you literally and pieced you off with just a dime, Christ a dime that wouldn’t even buy a cup of joe, could feel good about themselves, if they smoked, smoked cigarettes anyway, by passing you a butt. Billy thought, nice, this Shorty really does have it worked out just about right. Of course dimes and drags were not going to get him out from under, not this time.

Well, rather than leaving the reader out in the dark, Billy Bailey this fair 1976 spring was not just on the bum, but on the lam as well, keeping his head very far down just in case there were some guys who were looking for him, or worst, the cops, in case some irate victim of one of his scams took a notion to “fry his ass.” Of course he was counting on them, those victims, being mainly friends and acquaintances, of not putting “the heat” on him since he had already promised through the grapevine that he would make restitution. But we are getting a little ahead of the story, let’s step back.

The early 1970s were not kind to “free spirits” the previous name for what on this day were “free-loaders” and Billy, well, got behind in his expenses, and his bills, his ever expanding bills. But see the transition from free “s” to free “l” caught him off-guard, moreover he was just then in the throes of a fit of “the world owes me a living,” a serious fit. Why? Well see, he as a pauper son of the desperate working poor, “felt” that since he missed out on the golden age benefits of his youth that he was to make up the difference by putting the “touch” on the richer (not really rich but richer, no question) friends that he had acquired through his doing this and that, mainly high-end drug connections.

The long and short it was that he would “borrow” money off Friend A under some scam pretext of putting it to good use (yes, his good use, including several long airplane fight trips to California and other points west-no more hitchhike roads for this moving up the food chain lad) and then borrow dough off Friend B to cover some of his debt to Friend A. Something like an unconscious classic Ponzi scheme, as it turned out. And then when he got to Friend X or somewhere around there things got way too complicated and he started “kiting” checks, and on and on as far deep into his white collar crime mind a he could think. That could only go on a for a short while and he calculated that "short while" almost to the day when he would have to go “underground” and that day had sprung up a couple of weeks ago.

So it took no accountant or smart-ass attorney to know that dimes and drags were not going to get him back on his feet. Nor many of the schemes that Shorty had outlined over at Harbor Lights as ways to grab quick cash were. These were chicken feed for his needs, even his immediate needs, although some of the scams would fill the bill for a rum-dum or life-long skid row bum. But here is the secret, the deep secret that Billy Bailey held in his heart, after a few nights on bus station benches, cold spring night park benches, a night bout under the Andersen Bridge over by old haunt Harvard Square, and a few nights that he would rather not discuss just in case, he finally figured out, figured out kicking and screaming, that the world did not owe him a living and that if he wanted to survive past thirty he had better get the stardust and grit out of his eyes. But just this minute, just this undercover spring 1976 minute, he needed to work the Commons. “Hey, brother, hey sister, can you spare a dime?” “Pal, have you got an extra cigarette?”

Postscript: Not all wisdom ends happily, and not all good intentions grow to fruition. Yes, Billy paid off his debts to his friends, mostly. However, Billy Bailey was killed while “muling” in a drug war shoot-out in Juarez, Mexico in late 1979.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Defend The Cuban Revolution!! -Defend The Cuban Five -End The Blockade Ahora!




This year marks the 58th anniversary of the Cuban July 26th movement, the 52nd anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution and the 44th anniversary of the execution of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara by the Bolivian Army after the defeat of his guerrilla forces and his capture in godforsaken rural Bolivia. I have reviewed the life of Che elsewhere in this space (see blog, dated July 5, 2006). Thus, it is fitting to remember an event of which he was a central actor. Additionally, the Cuban Revolution stood for my generation, the Generation of '68, and, hopefully, will for later generations as a symbol of revolutionary intransigence against United States imperialism.

Let us be clear about two things. First, this writer has defended the Cuban revolution since its inception; initially under a liberal- democratic premise of the right of nations, especially applicable to small nations pressed up against military forces of the imperialist powers, to self-determination; later under the above-mentioned premise and also that it should be defended on socialist grounds, not my idea of socialism- the Bolshevik, 1917 kind- but as an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist revolution nevertheless. That prospective continues to be this writer’s position today. Secondly, my conception of revolutionary strategy and thus of world politics has for a long time been far removed from Fidel Castro’s (and Che’s) strategy, which emphasized military victory by guerrilla forces in the countryside, rather than my position of mass action by the urban proletariat leading the rural masses. That said, despite those strategic political differences this militant can honor the Cuban revolution as a symbol of a fight that all anti-imperialist militants should defend.

Let me expand on these points, the first point by way of reminiscences. I am old enough to have actually seen Castro’s Rebel Army on television as it triumphantly entered Havana in 1959. Although I was only a teenager at the time and hardly politically sophisticated I, like others of my generation, saw in that ragtag, scruffy group the stuff of romantic revolutionary dreams. I was glad Batista had to flee and that ‘the people’ would rule in Cuba.

Later, in 1960 as the nationalizations occurred in response to American imperialist pressure, I defended them. In fact, as a general proposition I was, hazily and without any particular thought, in favor of nationalizations everywhere. In 1961, despite my then deeply felt affinity for the Kennedys, I was pleased that the counterrevolutionaries were routed at the Bag of Pigs. Increased Soviet aid and involvement in the economic and political infrastructure of beleaguered Cuba? No problem. The Cuban Missile Crisis, however, left me and virtually everyone in the world, shaking in our boots. Frankly, I saw this crisis (after the fact) as a typical for the time Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union with Cuba as the playground. Not as some independent Cuban ploy. In short, my experiences at that time can be summed up by the slogan- Fair Play for Cuba. So far, a conclusion that a good liberal could espouse as a manifestation of a nation’s, particularly a small nation’s, right to self-determination. It is only later, during the radicalization of the Vietnam War period that I moved beyond that position.

Now to the second point and the hard politics. If any revolution is defined by one person the Cuban revolution can stand as that example. From its inception it was Fidel’s show, for better or worse. The military command, the strategy, the political programs, and the various national and international alliances all filtered through him. On reflection, that points out the basis problem and my major difference with the Fidelistas. And it starts with question of revolutionary strategy. Taking power based on a strategy of guerrilla warfare is fundamentally difference from an urban insurrection led by a workers party (or parties) allied with, as in Cuba, landless peasants and agricultural workers responsible to workers and X (fill in the blank for whatever allies apply in the local situation) councils. And it showed those distortions then and continues to show them as the basis for decision making –top down. It is necessary to move on from there.

Believe me, this writer as well as countless others, all went through our phase of enthusing over the guerrilla road to socialism. But, as the fate of Che and others makes clear, the Cuban victory was the result of exceptional circumstances. Many revolutionaries stumbled over that hard fact and the best, including Che, paid for it with imprisonment or their lives. In short, the Bolshevik, 1917 model still stands up as a damn good model for the way to take power and to try to move on to the road to socialism. Still, although I have made plenty of political mistakes in my life I have never regretted my defense of the Cuban Revolution. And neither should militants today. As Che said- the duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution- and to defend them too. Enough said. U.S. HANDS OFF CUBA! END THE BLOCKADE! U.S. OUT OF GUANTANAMO!

The Latest From "The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five" Website -Free The Five Ahora! -The Defense Of The Cuban Revolution Begins With The Defense Of The Cuban Five

Click on the title to link to the website mentioned in the headline for the latest news and opinion from that site.

Markin comment:

On a day, July 26th, important in the history of the Cuban revolutionary movement it is also important, as always, to remember that the defense of the Cuban revolution here in the United States, the "heart of the beast", starts with the defense of the Cuban Five.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Out In The 1940s Crime Noir Night, Kind Of-“Undercurrent”-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link ot a Wikipedia entry for the film Undercurrent.

DVD Review

Undercurrent, starring Katherine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum, directed by Vincent Minnelli, 1947

No question I am a film noir, especially a crime film noir, aficionado. Recently I have been on a tear reviewing various crime noir efforts and drawing comparisons between the ones that “speak” to me and those that, perhaps, should have been better left on the cutting room floor. The classics are easy and need no additional comment from me as their plot lines stand on their own merits. Others, because they have a fetching, or wicked, for that matter, femme fatale to muddy the waters also get a pass. Some, such as the film under review from 1946, Undercurrent, frankly baffles me. A pyscho-drama, no question, a famous director, no question, but also a very non-femme fatale in Kate Hepburn, and a very non-tough guy (street or detective) role for classic 1940s tough guy and a good guy to have at your back, Robert Mitchum.

A little plot look will help explain my bafflement. Robert Taylor, a ruthless, driven high-tech capitalist who made big dough during World War II is also a little mad, well, a lot mad. However he is able to cover that little problem up while courting, well not beautiful, but let’s call her handsome, Kate Hepburn. Seems he needs a trophy wife and Kate fills the bill. And that is where the problems begin because Brother Taylor has a brother whom he is insanely jealous of for the usual Freudian, or pseudo-Freudian, reasons that drive the plot lines of these pycho-dramas. Kate, however, loves the big lug Taylor until he starts going over the edge about his brother (and some other things like a little murder of an employee that goes a long way to allowing him to be that ruthless high-tech capitalist). Of course, as in all such dramas old Robert will get his comeuppance, have no fear.

But where is the noir in this noir? No femme fatale, no tough guy throwing his weight around or tilting at windmills to right the world’s wrongs, no problem that requires quick thinking to right those wrongs. Well when you go on a tear on a subject as I am on crime noir not everything will come up Out Of The Past or The Big Sleep. Not this one anyway.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

From The "In Defense Of Marxist" Website Via The "Renegade Eye" Blog-Norwegian massacre: “This is an attack on the Labour Movement” - Labour must respond!-Written by Alan Woods

Norwegian massacre: “This is an attack on the Labour Movement” - Labour must respond!-Written by Alan Woods

Saturday, 23 July 2011

World public opinion has been shocked by the news of the bloody massacre in Norway. At least 91 people have been killed, including 84 members of the Labour Youth Organisation (AUF) in a summer camp.

The AUF summer camp only a few days ago. The massacre began with a bomb blast in Oslo that killed seven people. But the real bloodbath took place a little later on the island of Ut√łya, where hundreds of young people had gathered for a summer school of the Labour Youth (AUF). The island was given to them by the trade unions of Oslo and is a place of great symbolic importance for the whole labour movement.

“He travelled on the ferry boat from the mainland over to that little inland island posing as a police officer, saying he was there to do research in connection with the bomb blasts,” NRK journalist Ole Torp told the BBC. Another eyewitness explains that he arrived claiming he was a police officer and was there to talk about the bombing in Oslo and when he had gathered enough people he started shooting.

In a horrific moment, young people in bathing costumes were mown down. In scenes of indescribable panic, they jumped into the sea to save themselves and were shot at as they tried to swim away from the scene of carnage. Others cowered behind rocks or hid in caves, terrified, as the gunman proceeded to shoot one defenceless person after another.

The gunman wandered around the island posing as a police officer, calling people forward and then shot them as they emerged from their hiding places. 15-year old Elise saw a police officer and thought she was safe, but then he started shooting. “He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water,” she said.

Several victims pretended as if they were dead to survive. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun. The Norwegian press this morning showed pictures of beaches covered with bodies. These were the actions of a cold and calculating killer.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

The finger of blame was immediately pointed at al-Qaeda. Who else could it be? The possibility of such attacks by Islamic extremists was always a there, given that Norway has sent troops to Afghanistan, and this is backed by the Norwegian Labour Party and not opposed by its youth organisation. President Obama lost no time in conveying his most sincere sympathy, and making good use of the opportunity to drum up support for continuing the “war on terror”.

Such has been the effect of the propaganda campaign since 9/11 on the public psyche that terrorism is immediately associated with men with a dark complexion dressed like Arabs or Afghans. However, the information subsequently released immediately exploded this theory. It was revealed that the Labour Party Youth (AUF) camp was attacked by someone described as a man with blond hair and of Nordic appearance, dressed in a police uniform. The murderer is neither a Muslim nor a member of al-Qaeda but a member of the Norwegian middle class.

Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian petty bourgeois. He went to business school in Norway and runs a small business. He was evidently not short of money, as he bought a farm, on which his small business was run, which had previously been used by elements in the criminal underwold as a marijuana plantation. The plantation was also connected to a famous bank robbery (NOKAS robbery). Probably in preparation for yesterday’s events Breivik bought six tonnes of artificial fertiliser, which is commonly used for home-made bombs, on May 4th, using his farming business as cover.

He is also a right-wing extremist. He was an active member of the racist Fremskrittspartiet, which is currently running at 20% or so in the polls, and their youth organisation, supposedly for 10 years, until 2007. He's an opponent of multi-culturalism and viciously anti-Muslim. He has apparently suggested recreating the US Tea Party in Europe and expressed support for the English Defence League. He wrote things like:

“All hate ideologies ought to be treated the same:
“Islamism has killed 300 million
“Communism has killed 100 million
“Nazism has killed 6-20 million”

He calls former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundlant a "fatherland killer”, for having put forward the idea that anyone who lives in Norway is a Norwegian. He also constantly refers to how “Marxists” supposedly have infiltrated everywhere, including culture, schools and the media.

There can be no doubt that this was a political act. The targets were not haphazard, as is usually the case in attacks by mad people. They were carefully selected for political reasons. It seems likely that the main target was The Labour Norwegian Prime Minister Jan Stoltenberg. Hundreds of young people were awaiting a speech the prime minister was to give there today.

The international media is unanimous in regarding these atrocities as the act of a “mad gunman”. In this way they try to draw attention away from the political content of these events. A madman is not responsible for his actions, which are of a purely random and accidental character. But there was nothing either random or accidental about this.

Norwegian terror “experts” are perplexed at the fact that it was a Norwegian right-wing terrorist that committed the crime and not a Muslim. Some have commented that the Norwegian intelligence services have not given enough attention to the threat of right-wing extremism in the last few years. Did they not know of Breivik’s extreme right wing views?

There are many aspects of this case that are unclear. Did Breivik act alone or was there more than one gunman? The impression was initially given that he acted alone. But there are witnesses saying there was also at least one person without uniform on the island participating in the slaughter. Time will tell. Interestingly, Labour leader Stoltenberg stressed that the police were investigating the possibility of international links.

Labour must act!

The leader of AUF, Eskil Pedersen, held a press conference this morning calling the attack an attack on democracy and said that AUF would continue to stand by its values of anti-racism and for democracy and equality.

Soltenberg, the Prime Minister, obviously shaken by this atrocity, told the television cameras: “This is an attack against the Norwegian labour movement, against the Norwegian Labour Party and its youth organisation.” That is absolutely correct. However, this message was immediately diluted by the BBC News, which said it was an attack “against Norway’s political system and Norway’s values.”

Right wing politicians like Sarkozi and Angela Merkel pander to anti-Muslim sentiments to curry favour with the right wing, as do the press, with people like Rupert Murdoch. They encourage extremist and anti-immigrant elements. In the case of Norway, the Conservative Party is preparing to form a coalition government with Fremskrittspartiet, if the present left-wing coalition is defeated at the next election. It is therefore wrong to suggest any kind of agreement with the right wing bourgeois parties to “defend democracy” against the far right.

The Labour leader, having correctly emphasized that this was an attack against the Labour Movement, then went on to say that the matter should be left in the hands of the police. This is a mistake. The state cannot be relied upon to provide effective defence against the fascists. The state intelligence services have ignored the activities of fascist groups, and a section of the state always has fascist sympathies. Blind belief in the efficacy of the state to protest us can lull us into a false sense of security with fatal results. Let us remember that this assassin was able to commit mass murder because he was dressed as a policeman.

The attack has unleashed an atmosphere of fear that needs to be fought. The Socialist Youth (SU) were forced to cancel their summer camp which was due to take place next week, on the very same island. They have released a statement of solidarity with the AUF, in which their leader, Olav Magnus Linge, put it very well: “for all dead comrades, not a minute's silence, but a life of struggle”.

The attack poses the question of how to defend the Labour Movement and its youth organisations from fascists. The Labour Youth, the Youth Wing of the trade unions, and the Youth of the Socialist Left party should immediately link up to form self-defence committees, linked to the trade unions and the shop stewards committees. Every public activity should be patrolled and defended, and every act of aggression responded to energetically.

The organised working class must learn to depend only on itself. Only the Labour Movement can combat the menace of fascist and right wing groups. But to do so effectively, it must respond to every fascist provocation by mobilizing the full might of the organised working class. The Norwegian Labour Movement is very powerful. It must use its power to teach the fascists a lesson. The Norwegian trade unions should call a 24-hour general strike to protest this attack.

The labour organisations of the world must show solidity by mass action. Commemoration events are now being organised in Sweden. But what is needed is not just an outpouring of mourning but international solidarity action. The unions in other countries should organise protest meetings and demonstrations – starting with Sweden. Let the world see that the international Labour Movement will not be cowed by any fascist aggression, and that we will come out onto the streets to meet any threat to our rights! Let our slogan be: an injury to one is an injury to all.

It is time to wake up! For many years Norway seemed to be an island of peace and tranquility in a turbulent world. Now this comforting illusion has been brutally shattered. The military are now on the streets of the Norwegian capital guarding public buildings, while many families mourn their dead children. The world crisis of capitalism spares no country and no individual. It is, to use the phrase of Lenin, horror without end.

London, 23rd July, 2011

The Latest From The "Jobs With Justice" Website-The Seemingly One-Sided Struggle Continues-It's High Time To Push Back-Push Back Hard-30 For 40 Is The Slogan Of The Day.

Click on the headline to link to the Jobs With Justice Blog for the latest national and international labor news, and of the efforts to counteract the massively one-sided class struggle against the international working class movement.

From the American Left History blog-Wednesday, June 17, 2009

With Unemployment Rising- The Call "30 For 40"- Now More Than Ever- The Transitional Socialist Program

Google To Link To The Full Transitional Program Of The Fourth International Adopted In 1938 As A Fighting Program In The Struggle For Socialism In That Era. Many Of The Points, Including The Headline Point Of 30 Hours Work For 40 Hours Pay To Spread The Work Around Among All Workers, Is As Valid Today As Then.

Guest Commentary

From The Transitional Program Of The Fourth International In 1938Sliding Scale of Wages
and Sliding Scale of Hours

Under the conditions of disintegrating capitalism, the masses continue to live the meagerized life of the oppressed, threatened now more than at any other time with the danger of being cast into the pit of pauperism. They must defend their mouthful of bread, if they cannot increase or better it. There is neither the need nor the opportunity to enumerate here those separate, partial demands which time and again arise on the basis of concrete circumstances – national, local, trade union. But two basic economic afflictions, in which is summarized the increasing absurdity of the capitalist system, that is, unemployment and high prices, demand generalized slogans and methods of struggle.

The Fourth International declares uncompromising war on the politics of the capitalists which, to a considerable degree, like the politics of their agents, the reformists, aims to place the whole burden of militarism, the crisis, the disorganization of the monetary system and all other scourges stemming from capitalism’s death agony upon the backs of the toilers. The Fourth International demands employment and decent living conditions for all.

Neither monetary inflation nor stabilization can serve as slogans for the proletariat because these are but two ends of the same stick. Against a bounding rise in prices, which with the approach of war will assume an ever more unbridled character, one can fight only under the slogan of a sliding scale of wages. This means that collective agreements should assure an automatic rise in wages in relation to the increase in price of consumer goods.

Under the menace of its own disintegration, the proletariat cannot permit the transformation of an increasing section of the workers into chronically unemployed paupers, living off the slops of a crumbling society. The right to employment is the only serious right left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is being shorn from him at every step. Against unemployment, “structural” as well as “conjunctural,” the time is ripe to advance along with the slogan of public works, the slogan of a sliding scale of working hours. Trade unions and other mass organizations should bind the workers and the unemployed together in the solidarity of mutual responsibility. On this basis all the work on hand would then be divided among all existing workers in accordance with how the extent of the working week is defined. The average wage of every worker remains the same as it was under the old working week. Wages, under a strictly guaranteed minimum, would follow the movement of prices. It is impossible to accept any other program for the present catastrophic period.

Property owners and their lawyers will prove the “unrealizability” of these demands. Smaller, especially ruined capitalists, in addition will refer to their account ledgers. The workers categorically denounce such conclusions and references. The question is not one of a “normal” collision between opposing material interests. The question is one of guarding the proletariat from decay, demoralization and ruin. The question is one of life or death of the only creative and progressive class, and by that token of the future of mankind. If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish. “Realizability” or “unrealizability” is in the given instance a question of the relationship of forces, which can be decided only by the struggle. By means of this struggle, no matter what immediate practical successes may be, the workers will best come to understand the necessity of liquidating capitalist slavery.

A Voice From The 1960s Folk Minute Is Down- Singer-Songwriter Jesse Winchester Is Ill- Be Well “Yankee Lady” Writer.

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester performing his classic Yankee Lady. Ya, we all had our yankee ladies (or men) then.

From The Jesse Winchester Studio website-

I'm sorry to announce that I'm canceling my shows for July and August. I have been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, and will have to undergo treatment for the next couple of months. I'm very sorry if any plans have been disrupted; I do hope to see you again soon, and we'll pick up where we left off.

Markin comment (2011):

One of the damn things about growing older is that those iconic figures, in this case one of those iconic music figures, that got us through our youth, continue to pass from the scene. News has just arrived via his website that the singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester is ill. Jesse had a very promising career cut somewhat short by a little thing called the Vietnam War. He felt, as others did at the time, that it was better to be a war resister and go into Canadian political exile, than be part of the American imperial military machine. While I would disagree, in retrospect, with that decision I still personally respect those who made a very hard choice. Harder, much harder, than most kids today have to face, thankfully.

But it was the music that he made, the songs that he wrote, that made many of our days backs then. A song like Glory To The Day set just the right tempo. Better still, Yankee Lady, better because we all had our yankee ladies (or men) back then, or wished for them, whether they came from Vermont or Texas, for that matter. Ya, the “old lady,” rain pouring off some woe-begotten roof, a little booze, a little dope, and a lot of music wafting through the room as we tried to take our places in the sun. Tried to make sense out of a world that we did not create, and did not like. Be well, Brother Winchester, be well.
Yankee Lady
I lived with the decent folks
In the hills of old Vermont
Where what you do all day
Depends on what you want
And I took up with a woman there
Though I was still a kid
And I smile like the sun
To think of the loving that we did

She rose each morning and went to work
And she kept me with her pay
I was making love all night
And playing guitar all day
And I got apple cider and homemade bread
To make a man say grace
And clean linens on my bed
And a warm feet fire place

Yankee lady so good to me,
Yankee lady just a memory
Yankee lady so good to me,
Your memory that's enough for me

An autumn walk on a country road
And a million flaming trees
I was feeling uneasy
Cause there was winter in the breeze
And she said, "Oh Jesse, look over there,
The birds are southward bound
Oh Jesse, I'm so afraid
To lose the love that we've found."

Yankee lady so good to me,
Yankee lady just a memory
Yankee lady so good to me,
Your memory that's enough for me

I don't know what called to me
But I know that I had to go
I left that Vermont town
With a lift to Mexico
And now when I see myself
As a stranger by my birth
The Yankee lady's memory
Reminds me of my worth

Yankee lady so good to me,
Yankee lady just a memory
Yankee lady so good to me,
Your memory that's enough for me

©1970 Jesse Winchester
From the LP "Jesse Winchester"

The Latest From The “Veterans For Peace” Website-Gear Up For The 2011-12 Anti-War Season-Troops Out Now!

Click on the headline to link to the Veterans For Peace website for the latest news.

Re-posted From American Left History- Thursday, November 11, 2010

*A Stroll In The Park On Veterans Day- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Iraq and Afghanistan!

Markin comment:

Listen, I have been to many marches and demonstrations for democratic, progressive, socialist and communist causes in my long political life. However, of all those events none, by far, has been more satisfying that to march alongside my fellow ex-soldiers who have “switched” over to the other side and are now part of the struggle against war, the hard, hard struggle against the permanent war machine that this imperial system has embarked upon. From as far back as in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) days I have always felt that ex-soldiers (hell, active soldiers too, if you can get them) have had just a little bit more “street cred” on the war issue than the professors, pacifists and little old ladies in tennis sneakers who have traditionally led the anti-war movements. Maybe those brothers (and in my generation it was mainly only brothers) and now sisters may not quite pose the questions of war and peace the way I do, or the way that I would like them to do, but they are kindred spirits.

Now normally in Boston, and in most places, a Veterans Day parade means a bunch of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion-types taking time off from drinking at their post bars (“the battle of the barstool”) and donning the old overstuffed uniform and heading out on to Main Street to be waved at, and cheered on, by like-minded, thankful citizens. And of course that happened this time as well. What also happened in Boston this year (and other years but I have not been involved in previous marches) was that the Veterans For Peace (VFP) organized an anti-war march as part of their “Veterans Day” program. Said march to be held at the same place and time as the official one.

Previously there had been a certain amount of trouble, although I am not sure that it came to blows, between the two groups. (I have only heard third-hand reports on previous events.) You know the "super-patriots" vs. “commie symps” thing that has been going on as long as there have been ex-soldiers (and others) who have differed from the bourgeois party pro-war line. In any case the way this impasse had been resolved previously, and the way the parameters were set this year as well, was that the VFP took up the rear of the official parade, and took up the rear in an obvious way. Separated from the main body of the official parade by a medical emergency truck. Nice, right? Something of the old I’ll take my ball and bat and go home by the "officials" was in the air on that one.

But here is where there is a certain amount of rough plebeian justice, a small dose for those on the side of the angels, in the world. In order to form up, and this was done knowingly by VFP organizers, the official marchers, the bands and battalions that make up such a march, had to “run the gauntlet” of dove emblem-emblazoned VFP banners waving frantically directly in front of their faces as they passed by. Moreover, although we formed the caboose of this thing the crowds along the parade route actually waited as the official paraders marched by and waved and clapped at our procession. Be still my heart. But that response just provides another example of the ‘street cred” that ex-soldiers have on the anti-war question. Now, if there is to be any really serious justice in the world, if only these vets would go beyond the “bring the troops home” and embrace- immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S./Allied Troops from Iraq and Afghanistan then we could maybe start to get somewhere out on those streets. But today I was very glad to be fighting for our communist future among those who know first-hand about the dark side of the American experience. No question.

*Brother (Or Sister), Can You Spare A Dime?- For C.M., North Adamsville Class Of 1964

*Brother (Or Sister), Can You Spare A Dime?- For C.M., North Adamsville Class Of 1964

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Tom Waits performing the classic Great Depression song, Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?.

Banks are failing left and right, being bought up by bigger banks up the food chain enhancing the “too big to fail” syndrome that got us into this economic mess in the first place. Unemployment is way up, and staying steadily up as jobs, working people jobs, have been replaced by computer-generated productivity and factory workers have gone the way of the town crier, the hand-loom weaver, and the lamplighter. Housing values are down on the floor, heading to the basement, with no upswing in sight what with overstocked, unfinished housing and foreclosures glutting the market. A retirement account, the savings for the “golden years,” are subject to the daily twists and turns of the financial markets sensitive to global economic pressures.

And that is the grim news on an average day. Other days ratchet up the doom and gloom from there. And other days just turn off the television, radio, computer, horoscope, tarot cards or however you learn the news of the day. The whys and wherefores of that news, however, is not what this writer wants to comment on though. One of the very few virtues of growing up "dirt poor," 1950s dirt poor in the “golden age” of the post-World War II American economic boom, first in an old jerry-built housing project in old tired working class Adamsville and then across town in an old shack of a house on the wrong side of the tracks on Maple Street near the North Adamsville High School is that even now I am personally inured to the vicissitudes of the economy. Hell, when I was young hard times were the only times. I did not, except by rumor, know there were any other kinds. That came later.

All of the above is by way of making this point. I have been broke more times than I could shake a stick at, both by choice and by the fickleness of fate. The fickleness of fate (and my own stupidity or angst) having a slight edge. I have been flat broke, dead broke, broke six ways to Sunday, and every kind of broke you can think of. At one time I almost make a religion of it, dressing it up in an eloquent moral and philosophical covering. I have been in the clover a few times too, but those have always been very near things.

Let me put it this way. I have leisurely strolled across the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in the sea salt breezes and the spectacular views. I have slept huddled, with a tattered newspaper for a pillow, under the Golden Gate Bridge. I have eaten at restaurants where one does not ask the price, or need to. I have eaten free-for-all stews and watered-down coffee, gladly, from Salvation Army soup lines. I have sat idly on hopeless park benches in nameless forsaken towns, too many nameless forsaken towns. I have sat idly, ice-cubed drink in hand, in a beach chair on some deck watching the surf rise and fall on the rocks at Bar Harbor. I could go on but you get the idea. Here is my accumulated wisdom though-it is much better to have the dough. But just in case the times get even worst than they are now I am keeping in shape. Brother (Or Sister), Can You Spare A Dime?

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,

When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.

They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,

Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.

Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;

Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,

Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,

Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,

And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.

Why don't you remember, I'm your pal?

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,

Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,

Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,

And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.

Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal?

Buddy, can you spare a dime?