Saturday, July 21, 2012

From #Un-Occupied Boston (#Un-Tomemonos Boston)-General Assembly-An Embryo Of An Alternate Government Gone Wrong-What Happens When We Do Not Learn The Lessons Of History- The Pre-1848 Socialist Movement-Auguste Blanqui 1833-34-Organization of the Society of Families

Click on the headline to link to the Occupy Boston General Assembly Minutes website. Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011.

Markin comment:

I will post any updates from that site if there are any serious discussions of the way forward for the Occupy movement or, more importantly, any analysis of the now atrophied and dysfunctional General Assembly concept. In the meantime I will continue with the “Lessons From History “ series started in the Fall of 2011 with Karl Marx’s The Civil War In France-1871 (The defense of the Paris Commune). Right now this series is focused on the European socialist movement before the Revolutions of 1848.

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The Occupy Movement And All Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Occupy Protesters Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.

* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough instead on organizing the unorganized and on other labor-specific causes (good example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio, bad example the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race in June 2012).

*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! U.S. Hands Off The World!

*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.

Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!

Auguste Blanqui 1833-34-Organization of the Society of Families


Source: Oeuvres, Vol I. Textes rassemblés et presentés par Dominique Le Nuz. Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1993;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.


Each fraction of the society is called a family.

The family is made up of five initiated, who meet twice a month under the presidency of a chief named by the center.

In order to be admitted one must be of age, have a good reputation and good conduct, justify one’s means of existence, and be gifted with great discretion.

Proposals for membership are made within the family, which discusses the merits of the candidate and can refuse or accept him.

The names, estate, and lodging of the candidate are immediately sent to the center so that scrupulous investigation can be made concerning the morality, sobriety, discretion and energy of the candidate.

No opening should be made before this information is addressed to the chief of the family.

If the opening is accepted the presenter turns over to the candidate a series of questions that he must answer prior to his reception.

Receptions are made blindfolded by the chief of the family, in the presence of the proposed member alone.

In so far as it is possible, they must take place during the day and, in any event, in the light.

The chief of the family must never forget to say to the recipient that no trace remains of what is done, that it is impossible for the police to discover anything, and that consequently no confession must ever be made in court, under penalty of passing for a traitor and being punished as such.

The recipient must be made to feel the importance of entering the National Guard.

Questions should be posed on arms and munitions.

The work is directed by the chief of the family who, at the opening of sessions, makes a report on what transpired at the previous session.

The work is terminated by proposals, presentations, and the collecting of dues.

The Never-ending Miners Struggles- The Battle of Blair Mountain

The Battle of Blair Mountain

"These miners knew the dynamics of capitalism and the role of government. They knew who their friends and enemies were. They knew that only by organizing and physically defying centers of power would they ever get justice. They did not trust authority. They did not wait for authority figures to dole out justice. They were not seduced by the empty rhetoric of politicians. They knew that if they wanted a better world they would have to be their own leaders. They would have to fight for it. And this is a lesson in the nature of corporate and governmental power that we have forgotten. We must make the powerful afraid of us if we are to get any semblance of an open and free society. They are not and never will be on our side."

The Battle of Blair Mountain
Posted on Jul 16, 2012
By Chris Hedges

Joe Sacco and I, one afternoon when we were working in southern West Virginia on our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt,” parked our car on the side of a road. We walked with Kenny King into the woods covering the slopes of Blair Mountain. King is leading an effort to halt companies from extracting coal by blasting apart the mountain, the site in the early 1920s of the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War.

Blair Mountain, amid today’s rising corporate exploitation and state repression, represents a piece of American history that corporate capitalists, and especially the coal companies, would have us forget. It is a reminder that citizens have a right to resist a corporate machine intent on subjugating them. It is a reminder that all the openings of our democracy were achieved with the toil, anguish and sometimes blood of radicals and popular fronts, from labor unions to anarchists, socialists and communists. But this is not approved history. We are instructed by the power elite to worship at approved shrines—plantation estates erected for wealthy slaveholders and land speculators such as George Washington, or the gilded domes of authority in the nation’s capital.

As we walked, King, a member of the Friends of Blair Mountain, an organization formed to have the site declared a national park, swept a metal detector over the soil. When it went off he knelt. He dug with a trowel until he unearthed a bullet casing, which he handed to me. I recognized it as a .30-30, the kind of ammunition my grandfather and I used when we hunted deer in Maine. Winchester lever-action rifles, which took the .30-30 round, were widely used by the rebellious miners.

In late August and early September 1921 in West Virginia’s Logan County as many as 15,000 armed miners, some of them allegedly provided with weapons by the United Mine Workers of America, mounted an insurrection after a series of assassinations of union leaders and their chief supporters, as well as mass evictions, blacklistings and wholesale firings by coal companies determined to break union organizing. Miners in other coal fields across the United States had concluded a strike that lasted two months and ended with a 27 percent pay increase. The miners in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky wanted the same. They wanted to be freed from the debt peonage of the company stores, to be paid fairly for their work, to have better safety in the mines, to fight back against the judges, politicians, journalists and civil authorities who had sold out to Big Coal, and to have a union. They grasped that unchallenged and unregulated corporate power was a form of enslavement. And they grasped that it was only through a union that they had any hope of winning.

Joe and I visited the grave of Sid Hatfield in a hilltop cemetery near the Tug River in Buskirk, Ky. The headstone, which is engraved with an image of Hatfield’s face, reads in part: “Defender of the rights of working people, gunned down by Felts detectives on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse. . … His murder triggered the miners’ rebellion at the Battle of Blair Mountain.” Hatfield’s brief life is a microcosm of what can happen when one does not sell out to the powerful. The police chief of Matewan, W.Va., he turned down the coal companies’ offer of what was then the small fortune of $300 a month to turn against the miners. Law enforcement, with the exception of a few renegades such as Hatfield, was stripped, as is true now in corporate America, of any pretense of impartiality. Miners who wanted jobs had to sign “yaller dog” contracts promising they would not “affiliate with or assist or give aid to any labor organization,” under penalty of immediate loss of jobs and company housing. Baldwin-Felts spies, private security goons hired by the mine owners, informed on miners who talked of organizing. This led to dismissal, blacklisting, beating and sometimes death. The coal fields were dominated by company towns. Corporate power had seeped into every facet of existence. And resistance was costly.

“For more than twenty years, coal operators had controlled their very being; had arranged for their homes and towns, churches, schools, and recreation centers; had provided doctors and teachers and preachers; had employed many of their law officers; had even selected silent motion picture shows that were beginning to appear in theaters; had told them, finally, where and how they were to live and discharged those who did not conform,” Lon Savage wrote of the coal miners in his book “Thunder in the Mountains.” “In this context, the union’s organizing campaign gave the miners a new vision: not only better pay and working conditions but independence, power, freedom, justice, and prestige for people who felt they had lost them all.”

Denise Giardina, in her lyrical and moving novel of the mine wars, “Storming Heaven,” has union organizer Rondal Lloyd wonder what it is that finally makes a passive and cowed population rebel.

“Who can say why the miners were ready to listen to me?” he asks. “They broke their backs and died of roof falls and rib rolls and gas, their children went to bed hungry, and died of the typhoid, their wives took the consumption, they themselves coughed and spit up. True enough. They stayed in debt to the company store, they had no say at the mine or freedom of any kind, they could be let go at a moment’s notice and put out in the road, or beaten, or shot. All true. But it had always been that way, and they never fought back. Everything had always been the way it was, we were all pilgrims of sorrow, and only Jesus or the Virgin Mary could make it right. So why did they listen this time? Why did they decide that Jesus might not wait two thousand years for the kingdom to come, that Jesus might kick a little ass in the here and now?”

“Hell, it aint got nothing to do with Jesus,” the character Talcott tells him. “Half of em dont believe in Jesus. They just stood all they can stand, and they dont care for it.”

Sound familiar? It is an old and cruel tactic in any company town. Reduce wages and benefits to subsistence level. Break unions. Gut social assistance programs. Buy and sell elected officials and judges. Fill the airwaves with mindless diversion and corporate propaganda. Pay off the press. Poison the soil, the air and the water to extract natural resources and leave behind a devastated wasteland. Plunge workers into debt. Leave them owing more on their houses than the structures are worth. Make sure the children will be burdened by tens of thousands of dollars lent to them for an education and will be unable to find decent jobs. Make sure that everything from hospital bills to car payments to credit card fees exact increasing pounds of flesh. And when workers stumble, when they cannot pay soaring interest rates, jack up rates further and deploy predators from debt collection agencies to harass the debtors and seize their assets. Then toss them away. Company towns all look the same. And we live in the biggest one on earth.

The coal companies, to break a strike in the spring of 1920, sent in squads of Baldwin-Felts detectives, nicknamed “gun thugs” by the miners, to evict miners and their families from company housing. Soon hundreds of families were living in squalid, muddy tent encampments. During an eviction on May 19 of about a dozen miners and their families—in which, as today, possessions were carted out and dumped into the street—Hatfield ordered the arrest of the company goons. He confronted the “gun thugs” at the train station at Matewan after the evictions. Shooting broke out. When it was over, seven Baldwin-Felts detectives, including Albert and Lee Felts, were dead. Another detective was wounded. Two miners were killed. Matewan’s mayor, Cabell Testerman, was mortally wounded. The gun battle emboldened the miners. By July there was almost no coal coming out of the mines.

“It is freedom or death, and your children will be free,” Mother Jones told the miners. “We are not going to leave a slave class to the coming generation, and I want to say to you the next generation will not charge us for what we have done; they will charge and condemn us for what we have left undone.”

Hatfield was acquitted of murder charges in January 1921. The decision infuriated the mine owners. And Hatfield became a marked man. After his acquittal of murder, coal bosses had him charged with dynamiting a coal tipple. When Hatfield and his young wife, as well as a friend, Ed Chambers, and Chambers’ wife, walked up the courthouse steps in Welch, W.Va., for the new trial, the two men were assassinated by Baldwin-Felts agents standing at the top. The assassinations set off the insurrection and triggered the Blair Mountain rebellion. The coal owners hastily organized militias and recruited units of heavily armed law enforcement officers. They hired private airplanes to drop homemade explosives on miners encamped on the mountain. Billy Mitchell, one of the early advocates of air power, volunteered the Army’s 88th Squadron to carry out aerial surveillance for the coal companies.

The armed miners, many of them veterans of World War I, fought militias and police, who were equipped with heavy machine guns, for five days. The militias and police held back advancing miners from a trench system that is still visible on a ridge top. The Army was finally ordered into the coal fields in early September 1921 to quell the rebellion. The miners surrendered. By the time the battle ended, at least 30 of those defending the mine owners had been killed along with perhaps as many as 100 rebel miners. West Virginia indicted 1,217 miners in the rebellion, charging some with murder and treason. There were acquittals, but many miners spent several years in prison. The union was effectively broken. In 1920 there had been about 50,000 United Mine Workers members in West Virginia, and by 1929 there were only 600. The union did not reconstitute itself until 1935, after the Roosevelt administration legalized union organizing.

These miners knew the dynamics of capitalism and the role of government. They knew who their friends and enemies were. They knew that only by organizing and physically defying centers of power would they ever get justice. They did not trust authority. They did not wait for authority figures to dole out justice. They were not seduced by the empty rhetoric of politicians. They knew that if they wanted a better world they would have to be their own leaders. They would have to fight for it. And this is a lesson in the nature of corporate and governmental power that we have forgotten. We must make the powerful afraid of us if we are to get any semblance of an open and free society. They are not and never will be on our side.

“The hatreds instilled in the union miners for their bosses and erstwhile friends were a new twisting and darkening influence in the whole society of the plateau,” wrote Harry M. Caudill in “Night Comes to the Cumberlands.” “For a whole generation of workingmen such abhorrence became second nature and was directed indiscriminately at any thing or idea originating within the offices of company officials. In later years, after the Second World War, the larger companies sent a new generation of youthful executives into the region for the purpose of ameliorating this deeply rooted animosity, but even their Rotary-learned jocularity and genial expansiveness could not soften the bias of men whose aversion had become hardcrusted in the heat of bitter union drives.”

The coal companies have erased this piece of history from school textbooks. It is too inconvenient. It exposes predatory capitalism’s ruthless commodification and exploitation of human beings and the natural world. It exposes the drive by corporations to keep us impoverished, disempowered and unorganized. If corporate forces can sanitize history, if they can ensure historical amnesia, then the doctrine of laissez faire economics—which in short promises that the wealthier that rich people get, the better it is for all of us—can continue to rule our lives.

The plan to blast Blair Mountain into rubble, part of the devastation that Big Coal has carried out in southern West Virginia, is intended to obliterate not only a peak but a physical reminder of the long fight for justice by workers and the poor. The Battle of Blair Mountain marked a moment when miners came close to breaking the stranglehold of the coal companies. It exposed the dark and murderous intentions of corporations. It made visible the insidious relationship between government and big business. It illustrated that until we rise up, until we begin to trust in our own strength, nothing will change.

All the gains, often paid for with the lives of working men and women, have now been reversed. We are back where we started. We must organize, resist and build movements. We must embrace radical politics and remain perpetually alienated from power or become a subjugated herd. I do not call for an emulation of this violence. But I do call for direct and sustained confrontation with all formal mechanisms of power, including the Democratic Party. The corporate state, for its part, should also remember the lesson from Blair Mountain. There are limits to how far a people can be pushed. And if violence continues to be the preferred mechanism for control, if the state refuses to institute rational economic and political reforms to address the growing misery that corporations inflict on the citizens, it will, as at Blair Mountain, engender a violent response.


75 Years Later, the Lessons of Guernica-by Amy Goodman

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Published on Thursday, July 19, 2012 by

75 Years Later, the Lessons of Guernica-by Amy Goodman

Seventy-five years ago, the Spanish town of Guernica was bombed into rubble. The brutal act propelled one of the world’s greatest artists into a three-week painting frenzy. Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” starkly depicts the horrors of war, etched into the faces of the people and the animals on the 20-by-30-foot canvas. It would not prove to be the worst attack during the Spanish Civil War, but it became the most famous, through the power of art. The impact of the thousands of bombs dropped on Guernica, of the aircraft machine guns strafing civilians trying to flee the inferno, is still felt to this day—by the elderly survivors, who will eagerly share their vivid memories, as well as by Guernica’s youth, who are struggling to forge a future for their town out of its painful history.

The German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion did the bombing at the request of Gen. Francisco Franco, who led a military rebellion against Spain’s democratically elected government. Franco enlisted the help of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, who were eager to practice modern techniques of warfare on the defenseless citizens of Spain. The bombing of Guernica was the first complete destruction by aerial bombardment of a civilian city in European history. While homes and shops were destroyed, several arms-manufacturing facilities, along with a key bridge and the rail line, were left intact.

Spry and alert at 89, Luis Iriondo Aurtenetxea sat down with me in the offices of Gernika Gogoratuz, which means “Remembering Gernika” in the Basque language. Basque is an ancient language and is central to the fierce independence of Basque-speaking people, who have lived for millennia in the region that straddles the border of Spain and France.

Luis was 14 and working as an assistant at a local bank when Guernica was bombed. It was market day, so the town was full, the market square packed with people and animals. The bombing started at 4:30 p.m. on April 26, 1937. Luis recalled: “It went on and on for three and a half hours. When the bombing ended, I left the shelter and I saw all of the town burning. Everything was on fire.”

Luis and others fled uphill to the nearby village of Lumo, where, as night fell, they saw their hometown burning, saw their homes collapse in the flames. They were given space to sleep in a barn. Luis continued: “I don’t remember if it was at midnight or at another time, as I did not own a watch at the time. I heard someone calling me. ... In the background, you could see Guernica on fire, and thanks to the light of the fire, I realized that it was my mother. She had found my other three siblings. I was the last one to be found.” Luis and his family were war refugees for many years, eventually returning to Guernica, where he still lives and works—as did Picasso in Paris—as a painter.

Luis took me to his studio, its walls covered with paintings. Most prominent was the one he painted of that moment in Lumo when his mother found him. I asked him how he felt at that moment. His eyes welled. He apologized and said he couldn’t speak of it. Just blocks away stands one of the arms factories that avoided destruction. It was the plant where chemical weapons and pistols were made. It is called the Astra building. While Astra has moved away, the weapons company maintains its connection to the town by naming is various automatic weapons the “Guernica,” designed “by warriors, for warriors.”

Several years ago, young people occupied the vacant plant, demanding it be turned into a cultural center. Oier Plaza is a young activist from Guernica who told me, “At first the police threw us out, and then we occupied it again, and finally, the town hall bought the building, then we started this process to recover the building and to create the Astra project.”

The aim of the Astra project is to convert this weapons plant into a cultural center with classes in art, video and other media production. “We have to look to the past to understand the present, to create a better future, and I think Astra is part of that process. It is the past, it is the present, and it is the future of this town.”

From Picasso’s “Guernica” to Luis Iriondo Aurtenetxea’s self-portrait with his mother, to the efforts of Oier Plaza and his young friends, the power of art to turn swords into plowshares, to resist war, is perennially renewed.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 900 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.


From the Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-The Enemy Within- Orson Welles’ “The Stranger”

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Orson Welles’ The Stranger.

DVD Review

The Stranger, starring Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, directed by Orson Welles, RKO Pictures, 1946

The was a plethora of films made in the 1940s and 1950s, mainly suspense thrillers, on the subject of Nazis who may have escaped the Allied dragnet at the end of World War II (not including those Nazis whom those self-same Allies “turned” as the red scare cold war night descended on the world) and who, by hook or by crook found safe haven outside of Europe. Waiting, waiting patiently or impatiently, or feverishly plotting as the case may be, for the return of the glory days. The film under review, the Orson Welles-directed The Stranger falls under that former category.

Here Welles himself, as Professor Rankin, is disguised as a small town America college professor with a distinct predilection for clock towers and is one closet Nazi waiting patiently for those big days ahead. Except that his world turned unexpectedly nasty when one doggedly persistent anti-Nazi hunter played by Edward G. Robinson (last seen in this space as Johnny Rico slapping girls and old geezers around in front of Humphrey Bogart, a definite no-no, in Key Largo) is ready to move might and main to hunt him down.

For a future fuerher though the good professor is something of a bumbler and easy prey for any half-bright professional anti-Nazi hunter. The minute he received news from back home via an unstable intermediary he precedes to murder said messenger setting off a series of events that only drag him down ever more quickly. And not just him but almost his trusting new wife (played by Loretta Young) who takes an extraordinary long time to see that the good professor is a wrong gee, a dead wrong gee. But the good professor will get his just desserts in the end, no question. And no self-respecting anti-Nazi will cry a tear over his fate.

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future- Marxism and the Jacobin Communist Tradition-Marxism And The Jacobin Communist Tradition-Part Five-Karl Marx Before 1848 ("Young Spartacus"-September 1976)

Markin comment on this series:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American for Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view.

As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but just not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose for educational purposes only:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Marxism And The Jacobin Communist Tradition-Part Five-Karl Marx Before 1848 ("Young Spartacus"-September 1976)

By Joseph Seymour

Past issues of Young Spartacus have featured the first four installments of "Marxism and the Jacobin Communist Tradition." The first part of the series was devoted to the Great French Revolution and its insurrectionary continuity through the Jacobin Communists Babeuf and Buonarroti. The second part treated the Carbonari Conspiracy, the French Revo­lution of 1830 and Buonarroti, the Lyons silk weavers uprising and the Blanquist putsch of 1839. The next article analyzed British Chartism in detail, and the fourth part discussed the origins of the Communist League. Back issues may be obtained for 25 cents per issue. Send your check or money order to Spartacus Youth Publishing Company, Box 825, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013.

Most of you know that the "young Marx" had something to do with the Young Hegelians and with Hegel's phil­osophy. The relation of Marx to the Young Hegelians and Hegelian philoso­phy actually involves two very differ­ent questions, and only the second is difficult, obscure and interesting Marx's relation to the Young Hegelians', which was a literary/ideological/ political movement among the radical intelligentsia, is actually quite straight-forward and easy to comprehend.

The Young Hegelians

Hegel lived through the epoch of revolution and counter-revolution, and he was probably the only really great thinker to be profoundly influenced by both the French Revolution and also the Metternichian reaction. He attempted to mediate on an ideological level between the revolutionary Europe of 1789-1815 and the reactionary Europe thereafter. Politically, he was a liberal, or consti­tutional monarchist.

Therefore, one aspect of Hegel's thought was an attempt to mesh the traditionalist ideology of post-1815 absolutism with elements of the En­lightenment of the French Revolution­ary epoch. This was obviously impossi­ble. As a result, even to this day there are those who claim that Hegel really was an orthodox Lutheran Christian, and those who claim that he really was an atheist. His writings had sufficient ambiguity making him appear to be both at a certain level of abstraction. Once Hegel died—and could no longer say what he meant—it was obvious that these tensions and contradictions in*his philosophy would blow up among his followers. And the blow-up came on the religious front.

There was enough in Hegel to indi­cate that he did, not take Christianity as the literal, gospel truth, but rather regarded the story of Christ as symbolic and allegorical. In 1836 a young Hegel­ian, David Strauss, wrote The Life of Jesus, arguing that Christ had "never existed but rather was only a popular myth. Since Prussia had a quasi -state religion, this book caused a big furor. The Hegelian school blew up and Strauss initiated the "left" Hegelians-the terms "left," "center" and "right" referring to the attitude toward religious orthodoxy.

The further evolution of the "left," or Young Hegelians is quite logical. From the rationalist criticism of re­ligious orthodoxy of David Strauss developed the outright atheism of Bruno Bauer: if God doesn't exist, it follows that nature and the material environ­ment shape humanity. From atheism, then, springs the naturalistic human­ism of Ludwig Feuerbach: In the l830's, those who believed that man makes so­ciety also believed that he could con­struct an ideal society. So the natural­istic humanism of the Young Hegelians led logically to communism, a step first
taken by Moses Hess.

Basically the Young Hegelians rep­resented in Metternichian Germany what the Enlightenment philosophes represented in pre-1789 France, a similarity which they fully recognized. However, around 1840 communism was not simply an idea, but in France was a movement which had acquired a mass artisan, working-class base.

The Rheinische Zeitung

In 1840 the king of Prussia died, and his death created certain expecta­tions of liberalization. However, it turned out that the new king was more reactionary than his father. In response the liberal big bourgeoisie, centered in the Rhineland (then the most econom­ically advanced part of Germany), a-adopted a more aggressive oppositional posture. They looked for writers to agitate and propagandize against ab­solutism, and they found the Young Hegelians.

The liberal bourgeoisie with their Young Hegelian ideologues founded the Rheinisctie Zeitung in Cologne. It is important to realize that the Rheinische Zeitung was supported by very promi­nent bourgeois forces. One of its leading backers, Ludwig Camphausen, became head of the Prussian government during the revolution of 1848.

Karl Marx, who was a respected member of the Young Hegelian circle, enters history as a literary contribu­tor, staff writer and finally editor of the Rheinische Zeitung. Thus, Marx's, first political experience was as a propagandist for the liberal big bourg­eoisie in the period when it had made a short-lived left turn against absolu­tism. At that time Marx was by no means the most left wing of the Young Hegelians; in fact, he was rather right -of-center.

The most radical wing of the Young Hegelians was an anarcho-communist circle called "The Free," which in­cluded Bruno Bauer, the extreme liber­tarian Max Stirner, a young Russian exile named Mikhail Bakunin and' a callow youth named Friedrich Engels. Members of "The Free" kept smuggling communist propaganda into the Rheinische Zeitung, much to the dismay of its wealthy liberal backers.

Marx's first political fight was against these anarcho-communists, whom he purged from the pages of the Rheinische Zeitung. In one of his letters of the period Marx wrote:

"But I have allowed myself to throw out as many articles as the censor, for Meyen and Co. sent us heaps of scribblings, pregnant with revolution­izing the world and empty of ideas, written in a slovenly style and seasoned with a. little atheism and communism(which these gentlemen have never

-letter to Arnold Huge, 30 Novem­ber 1842

While Marx made the transition from liberal bourgeois democracy to com­munism the following year, this early faction fight reveals certain attitudes that would remain with him throughout his life. Marx was always contemptu­ous of petty-bourgeois radicalism, with' its desire to shock conventional opinion above all else. Conversely, Marx always took seriously the liberal big bourgeoisie whenever it opposed reaction; for example, his attitude toward Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party during the American Civil War.

Marx Becomes a Communist

In early 1843 the Rheinische Zeitung was suppressed, and Marx went into exile in Paris, where he encountered communism as a mass, artisan working-class movement. By late 1843 we know that Marx considered himself a communist and associated with the League of the Just, at that time under the influence of Cabet.

The period 1843-46 is now undoubtedly the most studied period of Marx's life. If you had fourteen lifetimes, you couldn't read all the works written about the young Marx. The older social-democratic and Stalinist traditions assume that when Marx became a communist in 1843, he was already in some sense a Marxist; that his refusal to join the League of the Just revealed that he was more advanced and had rejected its utopianism. I do not be­lieve this proposition can be defended.

What kind of communist was Marx in 1843? This is a difficult question to answer for a number of reasons.

First, Marx himself didn't know. Even geniuses like Marx go" through transitional periods where they do not have a fully consistent outlook. A careful reading of his writings during this period produce different interpre­tations, perhaps because his early works are not internally consistent. In later life Marx didn't think it worth­while to republish his earliest writings, because he considered them to have been largely self-clarification.

The early Marx rejected communal experiments and the notion of barracks communism which was prevalent at the time, promoted, for example, by Cabet and Weitling. Communism is not mechanical equality; it is not modelling society on the Prussian army. Com­munism is the full realization of in­dividual potential based on the highest development of society. Marx adhered to this vision from the day he became a communist until his death. But again, he was not unique in rejecting primitive egalitarianism: Karl Schapper, Julian Harney and also Auguste Blanqui shared a similar vision of communist society.

The essential element of utopianism which Marx shared with contemporary communists in 1843-45 was the belief that the triumph of communism was based on the triumph of the communist idea. An objective reading of the early Marx shows a belief in the imminence of communism arising from its growing support among the masses. Marx did not reject violent revolution against the state. But he believed that with the mass acceptance of communism, such a revolution and the creation of a com­munist society would follow necess­arily—easily and quickly.

Hegel and the Origins of Marxism

In 1844 one could not have been a follower of Marx; it wouldn't have meant anything. In 1846 one could, and there were "Marxists."- By 1846 Marx had developed a unique conception of history and derived from this a distinct revolu­tionary strategy for Germany.

To understand this, it is necessary to digress on the relation of Hegel to Marx. In developing what later came to be called historical or dialectical mater­ialism, Marx in some ways went back to Hegel. He turned the weapons of Hegel against the naturalistic human­ism of the Young Hegelians, whose greatest spokesman was Feuerbach.

Generally speaking, the world view of early nineteenth-century communism was derived from the Rousseauean concept of natural "rights. Marx incorporated Hegel's criticism of Rousseauean naturalism and of En­lightenment rationalism. The core of Enlightenment rationalism was be­lief in the sovereignty of the intel­lect and its capacity to master external reality. From this certitude derived a particular' and extreme form of pol­itical voluntarism—the belief that so­ciety could be made to conform to an ideal model. All tendencies of early nineteenth-century socialism were based on intellectual constructs ap­pealing to natural rights, primitive pre-class society, scientific rationality or early Christianity.

In one sense Hegel's philosophy is an attack on the notion of the autonomy of thought, on the free-wheeling play of the intellect. He asserted that at any given time consciousness is shaped, limited and constrained by a long his­torical development. New ideas arise from the contradictions embodied in existing consciousness and, therefore, have a definite progression.
Marx accepted this conception and used it to attack the voluntarism of
contemporary communism. As Marx put it some years later:

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under con­ditions directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living." —The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis
Bonaparte (1852)

In the dispute over "the young Marx" versus "the old Marx," we support the mature, more Hegelian and less Feuerbachian Marx. However, both the pre-1914 Social Democratic and Stalinist traditions have transformed the Marx­ist dialectic into a crude, mechanical evolutionism associated with a two-stage theory of revolution. On the other hand, the New Left cult of the early Marx, & la 'Marcuse, is- a reversion to moralistic utopianism and the belief in the immediate realization of human liberation through petty-bourgeois intellectualism.

The new Marxist strategy was first sketched out in "The State of Germany" by Engels, published in early 1846 in the Chartist Northern Star:

"The political dominion of the middle classes is, therefore, of an essentially liberal appearance. They destroy all the old differences of several estates co-existing in a country, all arbitrary privileges and exemptions; they are obliged to make the elective principle the foundation of government—to recog­nize equality in principle, to free the press from the shackles of monarchical censorship...

"The working classes are necessarily the instruments in the hands of the middle classes, as long as the middle classes are themselves revolutionary or progressive.... But from that very day when the middle classes obtain full political power... from the day on which the middle classes cease to be progressive and revolutionary, and become stationary themselves, from that very day the working-class movement takes the lead and becomes the national movement." [emphasis in original]

The year 1846, then, is when Marx­ism comes into being as a distinct communist tendency. That year saw the creation of the first Marxist organiza­tion—the Communist Correspondence Committee in Brussels;/ the compre­hensive exposition of the newly de­veloped Marxist worldview in a polemic against Young Hegelian naturalistic humanism—The German Ideology; and the first statement of a new revolution­ary strategy for German communism— "The State of Germany."

The Communist Correspondence Committee was a very small circle created to propagate the new Marxist doctrines, centrally but by no means exclusively among the German left. At one time or another, the Committee attempted to contact virtually every prominent socialist in Europe. This first Marxist organization was unsuc­cessful except in England, where Engels had long-standing ties to the left Chart­ist Julian Harney and through him to the Schapper wing of the League of the Just.

The Schapper group had not yet broken from its passive and pacifistic propagandism. However, Harney stood programmatically quite close to Marx and Engels. Harney had great respect for Schapper as a tested and heroic workers' leader, while remaining had not yet traversed the same path as Marx. Marx's belief that communism was the logically necessary outcome of naturalistic humanism comes through clearly in his letter to Feuerbach dated 11 August 1844. Marx says:

"In these writings you have provided— I don't know whether intentionally— a philosophical basis for socialism and the Communists have immediately un­derstood them in this way. The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men, the concept of the human species brought down to earth, what is this but the concept of society'."

Marx's 1843-45 writings contained a defense of the general principles of communism against bourgeois criti­cism. They do not develop "or explicate a unique concept of communism. Refer­ences to prominent socialists are either uncritical or laudatory. Thus, both Weitling and Proudhon are praised to the skies in 1843.

I will argue that between 1843 and late 1845 Marx had not yet broken with the Utopian aspects of con­temporary communism. This statement requires further clarification, since Marx did have fundamental differences with some contemporary socialist schools. What we need is greater pre­cision about the Utopian aspects of early communism—a term I much prefer to Utopian socialism, which implies a too-great doctrinal coherence.

Utopian socialism is sometimes identified with the rejection of class struggle in favor of a trans-class so­cialist movement. Some socialist lead­ers in the 1840's, notably Robert Owen and Etienne Cabet, were consciously class collaborationist and appealed to universal brotherhood.

In contrast, upon embracing com­munism Marx also adopted a working-class orientation. However, he cer­tainly was not unique in this. There was the workerist messianism of Weitling; and Julian Harney of the left Chartists and Karl Schapper of the league of the Just had been leading working-class struggles long before Marx came on the scene. Marx inher­ited his proletarian orientation. He did not develop it.

Toward the Leadership of German Communism

From his newly developed theory of history, Marx derived a unique revolutionary strategy for German communism. At that time the central tradition in German society was between the bourgeoisie and the 11 underdeveloped proletariat, her, it was between the economic-ascendant bourgeoisie and the sluggish state bureaucracy, which depended on the landed nobility, ''or the bourgeoisie to acquire governmental power required a demo­cratic revolution like the French Revolution of 1789-93, but more radical, given the advanced state of European society. Such a revolution was a neces­sary precondition for the economic and political ascendancy of the proletariat. Marx maintained that communists should not deny, ignore or abstain from the coming bourgeois-democratic revo­lution, but participate in it supporting its most radical tendencies.

They somewhat mistrustful of Marx and Engels as inexperienced, literary in­tellectuals, however persuasive their ideas might be. Thus, Harney refused to affiliate with the Communist Cor­respondence Committee until Schapper had been won over.

In early 1846, the workerist, re­ligious messianic Wilhelm Weitling, having been factionally defeated by Schapper in London, crossed the Chan­nel to Brussels. There he was smashed by Marx in a famous confrontation where Marx shouted at the veteran workers' leader and martyr, "Ignor­ance never did anybody any good." Common battles against the messianic, revolutionary phrase-mongerer Weitling drew Schapper closer to Marx.

In late 1846, Engels went on a re­cruiting mission to Paris, where he was unsuccessful, but managed to con­sole himself through physical pleasure. The Paris groupings of the League of the Just were Cabetian pacifists, and Engels made little headway among them.

When politics wasn't going so well, Engels still knew how to enjoy life. He wrote to Marx that he had become acquainted with "several cute grisettes and much pleasure," and in­vited Marx to join him in Paris. Now you know why Mrs. Marx never liked Engels that much.

What was the new doctrine which the Brussels-based Communist Cor­respondence Committee was propa­gating throughout Europe? In a report from Paris to the Brussels center (23 October 1846) Engels summarizes the pre-1848 Marxist line:

"So I therefore defined the object of the Communists in this way: 1) to achieve the interests of the proletariat in opposition to those of the bour­geoisie; 2) to do this through the abolition of private property and its replacement with a community of goods; and 3) to recognize no means for carry­ing out these objects other than a demo­cratic revolution by force.”

The first two points were not par­ticularly controversial and in no sense uniquely Marxist. It was the third point that really defined the Marxist tendency. Many contemporary socialists—for ex­ample, Schapper and Louis Blanc in France—considered a democratic gov­ernment a necessary precondition for the triumph of communism, but they rejected revolution. The prominent ad­vocates of violent revolution, like Weitling and the infinitely superior Auguste Blanqui, looked to a minority dictator­ship of the communist party. Marxism was unique in espousing a democratic government—a sovereign parliament based on universal suffrage and achieved through a popular revolution.

In 1847 the bourgeois liberal opposi­tions in both Germany and France became more aggressive. The King of Prussia got into financial trouble and had to call the Assembly to raise taxes. Everybody's mind leapt back to the •calling of the Estates General in France in 1789. Metternich in Vienna wrote to the Prussian monarch advising him to dismiss the Assembly and collect the needed taxes willy-nilly. He followed Metternich's advice and as a result drove the liberals into an anti-monarchical fury. In France one also had the beginning of a bourgeois liberal oppositional campaign, which eventually led to the toppling of Louis Phillipe. So Marx's strategy of an alliance with the bourgeois liberal opposition ap­peared more realistic and, therefore, more attractive to German communists.

The Communist League and Manifesto

During 1847 the Schapper group, prodded by Harney, came over to Marx. In early 1847 the London-based League of the Just sent an emissary, Joseph Moll, to Marx.

Moll said the League was in general agreement with the Marxist position, having at most secondary differences. He invited Marx to join the League and to fight for his complete program. Marx agreed. It was through this regroupment that Marx became a leader of the hegemonic organization of Ger­man communists.

That same year witnessed the trans­formation of the League of the Just into the Communist League and its accept­ance of Marxist principles. Marx maintained that between the victory of a democratic revolution in Germany and the creation of a communist so­ciety on a European scale, there must be a transitional period. In the begin­ning the German proletariat would be neither politically nor economically dominant. Consequently, the Communist League must ally itself with the bourgeois-liberal opposition, while maintaining its own organization—as public as real security precautions permitted—and its own anti-bourgeois propaganda and agitation.

The transformation of the League of the Just into the Communist League was symbolized by a change in its main slogan, "All Men Are Brothers." Marx objected to this slogan on the grounds that there were many men whose brother he did not wish to be ... like Metternich. So the slogan of the Communist League was, "Prole­tarians of All Lands, Unite." Inciden­tally, Marx did not author this slogan; we don't know who did.

In terms of strategic perspectives, Marx divided Europe into three parts and formulated radically different revolutionary perspectives for each. In Britain, and only in Britain, did Marx contend that a proletarian revo­lution was immediately possible and that a democratic government would lead directly to the rule of the workers party. Only Britain had a mass, working-class party: the Chartists.

In Germany and France, where the majority of the population were peas­ants, there would be a bourgeois-democratic revolution. A radical demo­cratic party might come to power, but
not the communists.

Then there was the Russian Empire, where a bourgeois-democratic revolu­tion was not possible; tsarist Russia could only be a counter-revolutionary force. A victorious democratic revo­lution in France and Germany would require a revolutionary war against the Empire of the Tsar. This was the Marxist strategic schema on the eve of 1848.

Pre-1848 Marxism insisted that the realization of communism had to pass through bourgeois-democratic rule. However, there were a number of dif­ferent reasons given for this assertion, which implied different periodicities in the transition to proletarian class rule. One argument was that bourgeois-democratic freedoms were absolutely necessary to organize a mass workers party. In Britain where such freedoms existed, there was a mass workers party, the Chartists. In the Germany of Metternich1 s Holy Alliance, the workers were passive and atomized, while the Communist League was small and largely in exile.

Another argument focused on the subjective development of the prole­tariat. As long as the bourgeoisie was' out of power, in opposition to monar­chical absolutism, the proletariat would have illusions in trans-class, popular democratic rule. Only when faced with bourgeois political rule would the work­ers in the mass recognize the funda­mentally hostile class antagonism.

Marx and Engels also indicated that they considered Germany and even France too economically backward to establish proletarian rule. This notion implies a relatively long transitional period between the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the prole­tariat's accession to power.

The Marxist strategic s c h e m a is most clearly stated in Engels' second draft for the Communist Manifesto written in October 1847 and later pub­lished under the title, "Principles of Communism." Composed in the form of a revolutionary catechism, Engels' draft makes explicit concepts which are only implicit in the Manifesto, and is therefore important in -understanding the strategic concepts underlying the latter.

Referring to the course of the revo­lution, Engels -writes:

"In the first place it will inaugurate a democratic constitution and thereby, directly or indirectly, the political rule of the proletariat. Directly in England, where the proletariat already consti­tutes the majority of the people. In­directly in France and in Germany, where the majority of the people con­sists not only of proletarians but also of small peasants and urban petty bourgeois, who are only now being proletarianized and in all their political interests are becoming more and more dependent on the proletariat and there­fore soon will have to conform to the demands of the proletariat. This will perhaps involve a second fight, but one
that can only end in the victory of the proletariat." \emphasis in original]

The Revolutions of 1848 ended in the greatest defeat for the proletariat and socialist movement in the nineteenth century. The defeated revolutions showed that the strategic conceptions expressed in the Communist Manifesto were, in a number of fundamental ways, wrong.

First, the German liberal bourgeoi­sie turned out to be far more cowardly than the English, much less the French. They capitulated to Prussian absolutism with hardly a fight.

Second, the French peasantry turned out to be far more reactionary than expected. Universal suffrage in France resulted in a reactionary bourgeois regime which slaughtered the vanguard of the Paris proletariat. After this ex­perience, Marx became more sympa­thetic to Blanqui's position that a vic­torious revolutionary Parisian proletariat should not give the peasants the vote until they had been "re­educated."

And third, the 1850's showed that the bourgeois revolution in an economic and social sense could proceed under a bonapartist government, namely, Louis Napoleon in France and Bismarck in Germany. The unification of Germany did not in fact require the overthrow of absolutism.

It is an indication of the real strength of Marxism that the Communist Mani­festo, despite specific flawed strategic conceptions, retained and retains to this day its validity. Marx and Engels were not the only, or even the most prominent communists to fight in the revolutions of 1848. However, they were among the very few "red 48ers" to remain faithful to the communist cause after this truly epochal defeat. As such, Marx and Engels were able to transmit their revolutionary experience and their wis­dom to a new proletarian generation when the pall of reaction began to lift in the early 1860's.

Friday, July 20, 2012

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- When Dorothy Parker Ruled The Whole “New Yorker” World- A Story of Two Peninsulas

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the writer and critic Dorothy Parker

A Story of Two Peninsulas

There was something, something weird about growing up poor, hell growing up dirt poor, certified dirt poor, and about growing up in the 1950s, the “golden age America” childhood period of what he would later call, and maybe would be called too by some smug sociologists but with a smirk, the generation of ‘68. He couldn’t put his finger on it just then and that hard fact bothered him. Yes he was at it again, thinking those old memory thoughts, thinking that came from a look back at the trials and tribulations of a family from his old working class neighborhood that he had just heard about from its original source. Some, after reading this, might claim that it was really his family that he was talking about, thinking about, but, no, it was, strange as it seems, another family caught up just like his in a downward spiral while all around that golden age was a-borning.

For the benefit of the two or three people in the world who do not know, hell he wrote about it enough in half the damn unread radical periodicals and progressive journals in the country when such stories were the rage, his own family had started life and he had grown to manhood in the housing projects, at that time not the notorious hell holes of crime and deprivation that they later became (and which he wrote many investigative reports about) but still a mark of being low, very low, on the social ladder at a time when others were heading to the nirvana of the newly emerging outer suburbs.

The housing project that he grew up in, officially the Adamsville Housing Authority apartments in a town just outside of Boston, was originally meant to serve as a way station for returning veterans from World War II caught up in the post war housing shortage. Thus, his family of five was actually the first tenants in their unit, although it did not take long for the place, small and cramped, of shoddy construction befitting the low bid mentality of the construction company and the political judgment that this was strictly temporary housing, to seem old. Perhaps, needless to say as well this project was all white, reflecting the population of city, Adamsville, at the time. Now although he was not sure of the city’s current population break-down he had checked to find that that still very existing projects was about 20% minority, mainly Asian-American, reflecting the city's population change.

A recent trip back to the old homestead revealed that the place was in something of a time warp. The original plot plan consisted of a few hundred four-unit two-floor apartment complexes, a departure from the ubiquitous later high-rise prison-like hellholes at least. It looked, structurally, almost the same as in the 1950’s except that it was dirtier, much less kept-up and he believed that the asphalt sidewalks and streets have not been repaved since his family left in the late 1950s to move a quarter- step up the poor rung from dirt poor to just poor as church mice. A very visible police substation was the only apparent addition to the scene. That told him all he needed to know about the doings now. (Although in the old days he had thrilled, vicariously thrilled, to hard-bitten tales of local desperadoes holding up gas stations, robbing liquor stores and, occasionally, pulling an armed robbery.)

This housing project is located on what, as local lore had it, was an isolated, abandoned piece of “ghost” farmland on a peninsula that juts out into a bay and is across from various sea-going industrial activities. This complex of industrial sites and ocean-related activity mars the effect of being near the ocean here. Certainly no Arcadian scenes come to mind. Moreover, he recalled (and on that return trip he swore he could almost smell the stuff) the smells and sounds from those activities were nauseating and annoying at times. A particularly pungent smell of some soap product filled the air on many a summer’s evening. Ships unloading, with their constant fog horns blowing, provided the sound effects.

A narrow two-lane, now deeply pot-holed, road was (is) is the only way in or out of this location. Over fifty years later the nearest shopping center or even convenient store is still several miles away requiring an automobile or reliance on haphazard and still infrequent public transportation. In short, and he had asked other people about this, one could live within shouting distance of the place and not know where it is. In short, a very familiar concept of public welfare social planning that he had endlessly railed against-out of sight, out of mind?

The ‘projects” were, in any case, where he passed his early childhood, including elementary school, Adamsville South. The elementary school was, however, located not in the projects but up that narrow one way out road previously mentioned some distance away at the beginning of another peninsula. That other peninsula, with its unobstructed views of the open ocean and freedom from the sight and sound of those previously mentioned industrial complexes, had many sought after old money, old- fashioned Victorian houses and a number of then recently constructed upscale colonial-type houses favored by the up and coming middle class of the fifties. The place might as well have been in another world. The school nevertheless, at least in the 1950s, serviced the children of both peninsulas.

He thought hard before realizing that he never had one friend from that other peninsula. Sure he talked to the Jimmy Prescotts but always in school, not outside. Later conversations with others, who also grew up in the housing project, concurred with his observation. He blushed as he thought about the couple of times that he had wandered over into that other peninsula and of his being stopped by the local constabulary, even at that young age, and asked where he was from and what he was doing there but the details of those episodes will wait for another time. The reader can see what is coming though, right?

This is as good a place as any to introduce what he called the ‘hood historian, Sherry. As part of his memory search he connected, by use of various resources including the Internet, with a number of people. One of them was Sherry, who is the real narrator, and is the source for many of the observations and physical details that fill out this story. He and Sherry went to elementary school together. He remembered her as pretty, a working class pretty that would fade with the effects of childbirths and the toils of motherhood and other sorrows.

Sherry and her family, after his family left, stayed in the projects for almost thirty years so that she saw the place as it evolved from that previously mentioned way station for hard-pressed returning World War II veterans to the classic “projects” of media notoriety. She knew “the projects.” Moreover, from what he had gathered about her, although she did not have a political bone in her body, she now wore her working class background on her face, in her personality, and her whole manner. Not in abject defeat, however, but as a survivor. That too tells a tale.

As they reconnected the obvious place for them to start was a little trip down memory lane to old school days. Naturally, since he had an ulterior motive and had a fierce sense of class society, he wanted her opinion on the kids from the other peninsula. Sherry then related, in some detail, what she had to tell about her life in elementary school, not without a tear in her eyes even at this remove. She spend her whole time in that school being snubbed, insulted and, apparently, on more than one occasion physically threatened by the prissy girls from the other peninsula for her poor clothing, her poor manners, and for being from “the projects.”

He said that he would spare the reader the details here, although if you have seen any of the problematic working class ‘coming of age’ movies or suburban teenage cultural spoofs the episodes she related are the grim real life underlying premises behind those efforts. You know the unkind, hell, cruel, snubs about hair not being “permed” just right, about wrong color (for the minute) dresses, or old style (for the minute), about not attending Miss Prissy’s (sic) after school dance classes, etc. Hell, even about her father being the janitor at one of the girls’ father’s shipyards. Moreover, she faced this barrage all the way through to high school graduation as well, including a nasty incident at her prom where one girl threw (or tried to throw) a drink on her hard fought for (and hard paid for too) dress. Jesus

It was painful for him to heard Sherry retell her story, and as he said, not without a few tears. Moreover, it was hard for him to hear because, although he did not face that other peninsula barrage then, he faced it later when his family moved to the other side of town and kids taunted him when they found out he was from “the projects.” Things like about his hand-me-down clothes, about his family not having a car most of the time, about his constant walking around town (rather than being “chauffeured” by mom), about his bringing his lunch rather than buying it at school (if you can believe that). And it got worst later when he went “beat” (well, imitation beat).

Now were the snubs and hurts due to Sherry’s (or his) personality? She can be, now anyway, a little abrupt although he remembered a polite young girl. Maybe. Is this tale a mere example of childhood’s gratuitous cruelty? Perhaps. Is this story the childhood equivalent of the working class battles at their nastiest on the picket lines of a strike? Hell, no. But the next time someone tells you that there are no classes in this society remember this story. Then remember Sherry’s tears. Damn.

From the Pen Of Peter Paul Markin- From The “Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night” Series - In Teen Dance Club Night

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of The Drifters performing the classic Save The Last Dance For Me.

I, seemingly, have endlessly gone back to my early musical roots in reviewing various compilations of a classic rock series that goes under the general title The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. And while time and ear have eroded the sparkle of some of the lesser tunes it still seems obvious that those years, say 1955-58, really did form the musical jail break-out for my generation, the generation of ’68, who had just started to tune in to music.

And we, we small-time punk (in the old-fashioned sense of that word), we hardly “wet behind the ears” elementary school kids, and that is all we were for those who are now claiming otherwise, listened our ears off. Those were strange times indeed in that be-bop 1950s night when stuff happened, kid’s stuff, but still stuff like a friend of mine, not my grammar school best friend “wild man” Billie who I will talk about some other time, who claimed, with a straight face to the girls, that he was Elvis’ long lost son. Did the girls do the math on that one? Or, maybe, they like us more brazen boys were hoping, hoping and praying, that it was true despite the numbers, so they too could be washed by that flamed-out night.

Well, this I know, boy and girl alike tuned in on our transistor radios (small battery- operated radios mainly held to the ear but that we could also put in our pockets, and hide from snooping parental ears, at will) to listen to music that from about day one, at least in my household was not considered “refined” enough for young, young pious “you’ll never get to heaven listening to that devil music” and you had better say about eight zillion Hail Marys to get right Catholic, ears. Yah right, Ma, like Patti Page or Bob (not Bing, not the Bing of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? anyway) Crosby and The Bobcats were supposed to satisfy our jail-break cravings.

And we had our own little world, or as some hip sociologist trying to explain that Zeitgeist today might say, our own sub-group cultural expression. Our “cool” things, nothing hot, nothing sticky to the touch then. I have talked elsewhere about the pre 7/11 mom and pop corner variety store hangout with the tee-shirted, engineered-booted, cigarette (unfiltered) hanging from the lips, Coke, big sized glass Coke bottle at the side, pinball wizard guys thing. And about the pizza parlor juke box coin devouring, hold the onions on the pizza I might get lucky tonight, dreamy girl might come in the door thing. And, of course, the soda fountain, and…ditto, dreamy girl coming through the door thing, natch. Needless to say you know more about middle school and high school dance stuff, including hot tip “ inside” stuff about manly preparations for those civil wars out in the working class neighborhood night, than you could ever possibly want to know, and, hell, you were there anyway (or at ones like them).

But the crème de la crème to beat all was the teen night club. The over fourteen and under eighteen teen night club. Easy concept, and something that could only have been thought up by someone in cahoots with our parents (or maybe it was them alone, although could they have been that smart). Open a “ballroom” (in reality some old VFW, Knight of Columbus, Elks, etc. hall that was either going to waste or was ready for the demolition ball), bring in live music on Friday and Saturday night with some rocking band (but not too rocking, not Elvis swiveling at the hips to the gates of hell rocking, no way), serve the kids drinks, tonic, …, oops, sodas (Coke Pepsi, Grape and Orange Nehi, Hires Root Beer, etc.), and have them out of there by midnight, unscathed. All supervised, and make no mistake these things were supervised, by something like the equivalent of the elite troops of the 101st Airborne Rangers.

And we bought it, and bought into it hard. And, if you had that set-up where you lived, you bought it too. Why? Come on now, have you been paying attention? Girls, tons of girls (or boys, as the case may be). See, even doubting Thomas-type parents gave their okay on this one because of that elite troops of the 101st Airborne factor. So, some down and the heels, tee-shirted, engineer- booted Jimmy or Johnny Speedo from the wrong side of the tracks, all boozed up and ready to “hot rod” with that ‘boss”’57 Chevy that he just painted to spec, is no going to blow into the joint and carry Mary Lou or Peggy Sue away, never to be seen again. No way. That stuff happened, sure, but that was on the side. This is not what drove that scene for the few years while we were still getting wise to the ways of the world The girls (and guys) were plentiful and friendly in that guarded, backed up by 101st Airborne way (damn it). And we had our …sodas (I won’t list the brands again, okay). But know this, and know this true, we blasted on the music. The music on some of those compilations previously mentioned. I will tell you some of the stick outs, strictly A-list stuff from those teen club nights so you get the flavor of those hormonally-maddened times:

Save The Last Dance For Me, The Drifters (oh, sweet baby, that I have had my eye on all night, please, please, James Brown, please, save that last one, that last dance for me); Only The Lonely, Roy Orbison (for some reason the girls loved covers of this one, and thus, we, meaning the boys “loved” it too); Alley Oop, The Hollywood Argyles (a good goofy song to break up the sexual tension that always filled the air, early and late, at these things as the mating ritual worked its mysterious ways); Handy Man, Jimmy Jones( a personal favorite, as I kept telling every girl, and maybe a few guys as well, that I was that very handy man that the gals had been waiting, waiting up on those lonely week day nights for. Egad!); Stay, Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs (nice harmonics and good feeling); New Orleans, Joe Jones (great dance number as the twist and other exotic dances started to break into the early 1960s consciousness); and, Let The Little Girl Dance, Billy Bland (yes, let her dance, hesitant, saying no at first, honey , please, please, no I will not invoke James Brown on this one, please).

The Latest From The Private Bradley Manning Support Network-Free Private Manning Now! -Gov’t denies Bradley ability to use lack of harm as defense; Next hearing to focus on illegal treatment

Click on the headline to link to the Private Bradley Manning Support Network for the latest information on his case and activities on his behalf .
We of the anti-war movement were not able to do much to affect the Bush- Obama Iraq war timetable but we can save the one hero of that war, Private Manning. The entry below can serve as a continuing rationale for my (and your) support to this honorbale whistleblower.

From the American Left History Blog, March 28, 2012

Why I Will Be Standing In Solidarity With Private Bradley Manning On Wednesday April 25th - A Personal Note From An Ex-Soldier Political Prisoner

Markin comment:

Last year I wrote a little entry in this space in order to motivate my reasons for standing in solidarity with a March 20th rally in support of Private Manning at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia where he was then being held. I have subsequently repeatedly used that entry, Why I Will Be Standing In Solidarity With Private Bradley Manning At Quantico, Virginia On Sunday March 20th At 2:00 PM- A Personal Note From An Ex-Soldier Political Prisoner, as a I have tried to publicize his case in blogs and other Internet sources, at various rallies, and at marches, most recently at the Veterans For Peace Saint Patrick’s Day Peace Parade in South Boston on March 18th.

After I received information from the Bradley Manning Support Network about the latest efforts on Private Manning’s behalf scheduled for April 24th and 25th in Washington and Fort Meade respectively I decided that I would travel south to stand once again in proximate solidarity with Brother Manning at Fort Meade on April 25th. In that spirit I have updated, a little, that earlier entry to reflect the changed circumstances over the past year. As one would expect when the cause is still the same, Private Manning's freedom, unfortunately most of the entry is still in the same key. And will be until the day he is freed by his jailers. And I will continue to stand in proud solidarity with Private Manning until that great day.
Of course I will be standing at the front gate to the Fort Meade , Maryland on April 25th because I stand in solidarity with the actions of Private Bradley Manning in bringing to light, just a little light, some of the nefarious doings of this government, Bush-like or Obamian. If he did such acts they are no crime. No crime at all in my eyes or in the eyes of the vast majority of people who know of the case and of its importance as an individual act of resistance to the unjust and barbaric American-led war in Iraq. I sleep just a shade bit easier these days knowing that Private Manning (or someone) exposed what we all knew, or should have known- the Iraq war and the Afghan war justification rested on a house of cards. American imperialism’s gun-toting house of cards, but cards nevertheless.

Of course I will also be standing at the front gate of Fort Meade, Maryland on April 25th because I am outraged by the treatment meted out to Private Manning, presumably an innocent man, by a government who alleges itself to be some “beacon” of the civilized world. Bradley Manning had been held in solidarity at Quantico and other locales for over 500 days, and has been held without trial for much longer, as the government and its military try to glue a case together. The military, and its henchmen in the Justice Department, have gotten more devious although not smarter since I was a soldier in their crosshairs over forty years ago.

Now the two reasons above are more than sufficient for my standing at the front gate at Fort Meade on April 25th although they, in themselves, are only the appropriate reasons that any progressive thinking person would need to show up and shout to the high heavens for Private Manning’s freedom. I have an additional reason though, a very pressing personal reason. As mentioned above I too was in the military’s crosshairs as a citizen-soldier during the height of the Vietnam War. I will not go into the details of that episode, this comment after all is about brother soldier Manning, other than that I spent my own time in an Army stockade for, let’s put it this way, working on the principle of “what if they gave a war and nobody came”.

Forty years later I am still working off that principle, and gladly. But here is the real point. During that time I had outside support, outside civilian support, that rallied on several occasions outside the military base where I was confined. Believe me that knowledge helped me get through the tough days inside. So on April 25th I will be just, once again, as I have been able to on too few other occasions over years, paying my dues for that long ago support. You, Brother Manning, are a true winter soldier. We were not able to do much about the course of the Iraq War (and little thus far on Afghanistan) but we can move might and main to save the one real hero of that whole mess.

Private Manning I hope that you will hear us and hear about our rally in your defense outside the gates. Better yet, everybody who reads this piece join us and make sure that he can hear us loud and clear. And let us shout to high heaven against this gross injustice-Free Private Manning Now!

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-Out In The 1950s British Crime Noir Night- “Man Bait” (“The Last Page”)

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the British crime noir Man Bait (in England The Last Page).

DVD Review

Man Bait, starring George Brent, Diana Dors, Hammer Film Collections, 1952

Sometimes the title of a crime noir will intrigue you, like The Postman Always Rings Twice, sometimes like this 1950s British crime noir under review, Man Bait (or another recently reviewed 1950s British noir, Bad Blonde), apparently the titles are mere happenstance. Either way this one is kind of, well, sleepy. Sleepy for the plot, and sleepy for action. Definitely a B-noir, very B.

Here is why. A low down grafter, Peter Hart, tries to steal a rare book out of a bookstore and is caught by an employee, Ruby Bruce (played by a young, and, yes, fetching Diana Dors). Instead of turning him in (making for a very short film) she gets into his slimy clutches (nice right) and makes her use her sexual prowess and position in the bookstore to “mark” (one would not realize such things went on such a quaint locale) the emotionally distraught bookstore owner (played by a very un-distraught appearing George Brent).

Now Peter is strictly a con man, no rough stuff, but one night when the pair are divvying up the loot provided by their scam old Ruby takes exception to the split and Peter bops her. Dead. Our boy Peter is no fall guy though and he sets up the “mark,” that self-same distraught bookstore owner for Ruby’s death. No way, no way in hell, distraught or not, is our heroic bookstore taking the fall. But guess who is.

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-Out In The 1950s British Crime Noir Night – “Bad Blonde”

Click on the headline to link to a Noir of the Week review of the British film noir Bad Blonde.

DVD Review

Bad Blonde, starring Barbara Payton, Hammer Film Classics, 1953

Some guys will tell you straight up-never trust a blonde, a good-looking blonde, because she has nothing but murder in her heart and gold more yellow than her hair driving her soul, if she has a soul. Other guys will tell you always trust a blonde, because like the blond in Dorothy Parker’s short story, “Big Blonde,” she has a heart of gold (and unrequited deep sexual urges too). Me, I can take them or leave, although the blonde in the British crime noir under review, Bad Blonde, should make any man think twice, no, six times before getting mixed up with her. Of course her badness drives this film, and no other attribute.

Of course the story line here is as old as the hills, or as old as there have been hot blondes giving their all to gold-digging, female god-digging, whichever came first. Lorna (played by Barbara Payton), an ex-tramp or something like that, got her hooks into an old- time Italian boxing promoter. Strictly for the dough and security, okay, after too much time in the flops. But the guy is a buffoon, a rich old buffoon, but a buffoon. Enter one good-looking Johnny Flanagan, a young fighter with promise, and big muscles. They fall for each other, while he is training for the big fight. End of story.

Well, not quite. Although if you have seen enough crime noir you know you have seen this plot unravel before, and more elegantly, in the film adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and others. At some point the old geezer husband is just, well, just in the way, and Lorna starts working her “magic”. Naturally Johnny comes to see things her way, kills that old- time promoter (showing a little ingratitude by the way) by drowning him in his very own pond and that is that. Except Johnny (not Lorna though) has plenty of remorse. Remorse enough want to go to the police and confess. Lorna, in clover now, fails to see it that way and poisons her lovely Johnny. But you know she will not get away with that, no way. Bad blond, indeed

[Note: On the great blonde controversy mentioned above I truly can take them or leave them, good or bad. My preference is strictly brunettes lately (although there was a time when I had a run of red-heads but that was kid time, and in the Irish ghetto, where you could hardly walk around the block without running into one who wanted to play some game with you). And believe brunettes are just as capable of leading you on a merry chase, of getting their hooks in you, into you good, as any dizzy blonde, Enough said.]

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-Marxism And The Jacobin Communist Tradition-Part Four-The Origins Of The Communist League ("Young Spartacus-July-August 1976)

Markin comment on this series:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American for Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view.

As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but just not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose for educational purposes only:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Marxism And The Jacobin Communist Tradition-Part Four-The Origins Of The Communist League ("Young Spartacus-July-August 1976)

By Joseph Seymour

EDITOR'S NOTE: As a special feature Young Spartacus has been serializing the lectures on "Marxism and the Jac­obin Communist Tradition" presented by Spartacist League Central Commit­tee member Joseph Seymour at the re­gional educational conferences of the Spartacus Youth League during the past year. The talk reproduced in this issue was given at the SYL Midwest Educational held in Chicago over the weekend of April 16-18. The first part of the series, which appeared in our Febru¬ary issue, was devoted to the Great French Revolution and its insurrection­ary continuity through the conspirator­ial Jacobin communists Babeuf and Buonarroti. The next section, appearing the following month, discussed the Carbonari Conspiracy, the French Revolu­tion of 1830 and Buonarroti, the Lyons silk weavers uprising and the Blanquist putschin!839. The third installment in the April Young Spartacus analyzed Chartism in Britain. The concluding portion of the presentation on the ori­gins of the Communist League will ap­pear in our next issue. To preserve the character of the verbal presentation stylistic alterations have been reduced to a minimum.
This talk is the fourth part of a projected seven-part SYL class series, entitled "Marxism and the Jacobin Communist Tradition." As such, the full significance of this presentation today cannot be understood without knowing something about the first three, which have been encapsulated in Young Spartacus, and then hearing the next three.

The basic theme, of the talk is how the communist movement was gen­erated and conditioned by the epoch of the bourgeois-democratic revolution; how Marx assimilated that tradition, how Marxism was tested and in many ways found faulty by the revolutions of 1848, after which the bourgeois-democratic revolution in West Europe was off the historical agenda, and how Marx fundamentally changed his con­ception of political strategy between 1850 and 1853. This talk, therefore, deals with the origins of Marxism, the development of Marx' political strategy up to the eve of 1848 and its encapsula­tion and codification in the Communist Manifesto, which was published a few months before the outbreak of the February revolution in Paris in 1848.

First I'm going to discuss the gen­eral character of the European left in the 1840's. Next I'm going to go back [to the 1830'sJ and trace the history of the League of the Just, which, becoming the Communist League in 1847, was the inclusive organization of all German communist activists and which was the organization through which Marx be­came a communist leader in 1847. Then we're going to go back again to the ever-popular question of the "young Marx" and the origins of Marxism in the narrow sense—Hegel and all that. And finally I'll try to tie it all to­gether in 1846, when Marx became a Marxist and found himself on the polit­ical stage as a communist factionalist.

Now, before we get into this talk, I want to make one point about method. As both political activists and living human beings we tend to have a fairly good natural sense of the importance of time in politics. You know that the American political scene looked somewhat different five years ago than today; that Maoism, for example, represented something rather different in 1971 than Maoism today.

But when we reflect on the revolu­tionary movement of Europe in 1815, in 1820, in 1830, in 1840, we lose the sensitivity to time of a working poli­tician. Unless one struggles to think contemporaneously, then I believe the origins of Marxism will appear very obscure, simply because the French political alignment was very different in 1840, say, than in 1844, and again very different than in 1847. The period before 1848 was an extremely volatile period, during which politics was much more unstable than in the U.S. or even West Europe today and in which the po­litical alignments on the left, including Marx1 opponents, changed. Marx praised Proudhon in 1842 and polemicized against him in 1847, because in that short period Proudhon's politics had radically changed. So, while some of my talk may seem antiquarian—you know, this happened in 1843 and then that happened in 1844—you should re­alize that a year is a long time in a faction fight, no less so in 1846.

Revolutionary Politics Before Marx

Marxism developed in a period of relative depression throughout the in­ternational workers and revolutionary movement. The period 1830 to 1842— that is, the period beginning with the successful bourgeois-democratic revolution in France and ending with the suppression of the Chartist general strike in Britain—represents a certain kind of cycle of revolution and counter­revolution. It began with a series of relatively successful bourgeois -democratic revolutions or revolution­ary movements and it ended with the communist-centered proletarian movements, even the massive Chartist movement, going against the bourgeoi­sie and getting smashed.

As a consequence, all the leading revolutionary cadres and all the political tendencies in the mid-1840's, when Marx and Engels first came on the scene, were profoundly shaped by these defeats. Etienne Cabet—a leader of the Society for the Rights of Man [formed 1832] and the most important socialist in France in the 1840's, had been sent into exile after the 1834 Lyons silk-weavers' uprising. Feargus O'Connor, the leader of the Chartists, was sent into exile after 1839 [the Chartist agi­tation to petition Parliament, leading to isolated uprisings] and imprisoned after 1842 [the Chartist insurrectionary general strike]. Karl Schapper, who was the leading cadre of the League of the Just, had also been sent into exile as a result of his role in the Blanquist putsch of 1839. So that unless one understands that the leadership of the principal revolutionary tendencies in the 1840's were rebounding against a series of defeated minority actions, that their attitudes and ideologies were profoundly shaped by that experience, then the political world that Marx en­tered and what Marx contributed be­come essentially incomprehensible.

Moreover, you need to realize the scale of the revolutionary movements at that time. Before 1848 there were only two mass movements of the left: the movement of Etienne Cabet in France and Chartism in Britain. All the other tendencies were either prop­aganda groups, such as the League of the Just; or literary sects, such as German True Socialism; or simply literary figures, such as Proudhon. These two mass organizations, there­fore, exerted a profoundly shaping in­fluence upon the League of the Just, whose main cadres were in exile in France and Britain. It is important, then, to have at least a working know­ledge of the Cabet movement and Chart­ism in the 1840's.

Reaction to the Reaction

Etienne Cabet, as I said, was a lead­er of the Society of the Rights of Man who was forced into exile following the repression of 1835. Cabet returned to France at a time when all the revolutionary communist sects had been
driven underground in the wake of the 1839 Blanquist putsch. Cabet built a mass utopian-socialist movement on the basis of class collaborationist!!, pacifist anti-revolutionism and bourgeois philanthropism. Known as "Father Cabet" for his appeals to Christianity, he espoused "communism with a human face."

Above all Cabet was consciously anti-violent. Week after week his paper, Le Populaire, carried letters, for example, £rom wives of the Lyons silk-weavers who said,

"In the old days our husbands were communists and they believed in violence. We had to worry about the police coming at night and arresting our husbands. Now they have been converted to your kind of com­munism and we don't have to worry about that anymore."

Among the inner circle of Cabet was Herman Ewerbach, who was one of the leaders of the League of the Just, translated Cabet's writings into German and sought to give his movement an international dimension.

The other mass movement was Chartism, which during the 1840's was an extremely complex political phe­nomenon. Between 1839 and 1842 Chart­ism had been both an inclusive mass organization and, in its basic thrust, a revolutionary movement. After the defeat of the general strike of 1842 the Chartist movement moved to the right, became more exclusive and its leadership—around Feargus O'Connor —became bonapartist. O'Connor degen­erated into cooperativism—raising, and apparently mismanaging, money to buy all the land in England in order that the workers could become small­holders. His schemes were not only Utopian but also downright shoddy.

Now, Chartism is complex largely because O'Connor was by no means the most right-wing leader arising out of the reaction to revolutionary Chart­ism. On the contrary, there were a whole series of Chartist leaders who wanted to liquidate Chartism entirely and form a political bloc with the liberal bourgeoisie. O'Connor staunchly opposed that. So, in one sense, he stood for class independence, even though relative to the earlier period he had moved far to the right and abandoned an insurrectionary perspective for petty-bourgeois cooperativism.

Chartism also contained a con­sciously Jacobin communist left wing led by Julian Harney. Yet in the 1840's Harney was reduced to being the left-wing lieutenant of O'Connor. Neverthe­less, I would argue that in some ways Harney during this period [1843-44] was the most advanced socialist of his day; he believed in a mass or­ganization of the proletariat, class independence and violent revolution. The problem was that Harney was not a factional politician. Or, to use a Spartacist characterization, he did not draw the proper organizational conclusions from his political ideas. Instead of fighting O'Connor—a fight he might well have lost—Harney at­tempted to placate O'Connor and do his own thing, which was mainly acting as an honest broker to the left-wing exiles in London. In particular, with the left wing of the Polish immigrants, some French Babouvists and German com­munists, he put together something in 1845 called the Fraternal Demo­crats, which, its name to the contrary, represented communism, although not Jacobin communism.

League of the Just

Now we come to the League of the Just and the Communist League. And again we must double back in time to the 1830's in Paris. At that time Paris had an enormous German population, and there was an inclusive ^organization closely affiliated with the French Society for the Rights of Man known as the League of Exiles. Just as during 1832-34 in the Society for the Rights of Man there was a parallel factional struggle in the League of Exiles be­tween the Jacobin communists led by Buonarroti and the revolutionary bour­geois democrats. The factional strug­gle in the Society for the Rights of Man was arrested by the state sup­pression of that organization. But the German group was clandestine to begin with, since they were worried about being deported back to Germany. So that factional struggle- went to a con­clusion in a split; the communists, the German artisan and communist intel­lectuals, took the majority, while Jacob Venedy, who was later a liberal delegate to the Frankfurt parliament of 1848, led the minority.

The German Jacobin communists reorganized as a secret paramilitary organization called the League of the Just. The organization, of course, con­tained a large number of German ar­tisans, who were not steeped in the rationalist tradition of the French com­munist movement, so that the League of the Just remained impregnated with religious fundamentalism. There were not only atheists and rationalists and materialists but also Utopian Christian socialists such as Wilhelm Weitling, who wrote revolutionary propaganda couched in the language of Christian messianism. A self-taught tailor, Weitling wrote psalms and nursery rhymes such as "I want to be like Jesus who was also a communist, "for which Weitling was arrested for blasphemy. It was very powerful propaganda, for Weitling believed it himself. And it was effective in recruiting to communism backward German workers who had been raised as Lutherans and still believed in the Bible.

When Buonarroti died, his base was taken over by the young Auguste Blanqui. The leading cadres of the League of the Just participated in the Blanquist putsch of 1839, and as a result of the ensuing repression many of them were banished from France. So he remained in Paris, but others went to London and Switzerland. This exile tended to color very strongly the political groupings.

The Paris section of the League of the Just fell under the influence of the Cabet movement and, therefore, re­jected the insurrectionary traditions of Blanquism in favor of goody-goody class collaborationism of the worst
kind. In Switzerland—which was kind of the Berkeley of Metternich's Europe-there were all sorts of odd communist sects, and Weitling degenerated into setting up study circles to preach the secret gospel about how Jesus Chris really wants you to be a communist Weitling genuinely believed communism was the Second Coming, but he was not a pacifist. He ran somewhat amok yet he had great authority. In 1843 Man declared that Weitling was the great representative of German worker communism.

The London branch of the-League of the Just was by far the most important. It was led by Karl Schapper, who has a fascinating history. While a student in 1834 Schapper was won to revolutionary democracy and soon thereaftei joined a small German revolutionary organization. Then, with about 20 01 30 other guys Schapper attempted to seize a police station in Frankfurt It didn't work. He was on the lam ii Switzerland, where he joined with the democratic-nationalist Mazzini, am with about 300 others they attempted to invade Italy. It didn't work. Got to Paris, joined the League of the Just allied with Blanqui, and this time, with a thousand men, attempted to overthrow the French state. It didn't work. He was on the lam again, and made his way to< Britain. Now, I would like to say that upon arriving in London he and 1500( guys attempted to overthrow Queen Victoria, but he changed his line Schapper was a genuinely heroic figure Engels writes that he and his partners had fights, and they took on 300 guys. But in any case Schapper decided that his politics were not working very well. He was not an intellectual, but he was a thoughtful man, and he asked himself, "Why have all these move¬ments failed?" Obvious question. He created an organization called the Ger­man Workers Educational Society and arrived at a position which I would characterize as between Cabet and Chartism. Schapper concluded that in order for a revolution to succeed the revolutionaries had first to win over the masses. He in fact denied the struggle for revolution, arguing that once the communists had their demo­cratic rights to organize and educate the masses, that would be adequate to bring about communism. Schapper thus wrote, "The German communists agree with English socialists in thinking that communism could be obtained by peaceful means and free discussion alone." The London-based section of the League of the Just led by Schapper thus was influenced, on the one hand, by the Cabet movement and, on the other, by British Chartism. From the Cabet movement they derived their re­jection of revolution, which Schapper tended to associate with putschism, that is, with the only historic experience which they had. Also, from the Cabet movement Schapper acquired an em­phasis on propaganda and education— virtually the linear recruitment of the working masses, one by one, to com­munism through enlightenment. Indeed, his organization was called the German Workers Educational Society. From the Chartist movement Schapper derived a strong rejection of class collaborationism, which characterized the Cabet movement in France. So his movement was very much the German Workers Educational Society, although they were certainly willing to asso­ciate with bourgeois radical intellec­tuals who had come over to commun­ism—like Engels. Moreover, the German Workers Educational Society broadly embraced the traditions of French enlightenment and rejected Christianity. They were pacifists and propagandists, but proletarian pacifists and propagandists. In that sense Schapper and his followers were closer to Barney. They completely rejected bar­racks socialism, communalism and the equality of want. Again and Once Again Factional Struggle In 1844 Weiting, the overwhelmingly prominent political personality in German communism, was released from prison in Switzerland and went into exile in London. Weitling at once joined his old comrades now in the German Workers Educational Society. Well, they soon discovered that they were old comrades in the League of the Just but they were no longer comrades now. A factional struggle developed in 1845 pitting Weitling against Schapper. This faction fight involved only a very small group of individuals, but they were poli¬tical personalities who had not only enormous capacity but also great repu­tations. Interestingly enough, this fac­tional struggle was recorded in writing, mainly because these people were very concerned with doctrine and ideas. And we in the Spartacist League owe thanks to comrade Vladimir Zelinski for translating from the German the dis­cussion within the London branch of the League of the Just. It is a very interesting discussion that without propaganda you get nothing: It begins with Schapper asserting that everything must be based on reason. At that time there was among the workers a very strong sense that they were deprived of access to bour­geois culture. The workers’ educa¬tional organizations, such as the Ger­man Workers Educational Society, were not simply front groups to secure legal functioning. Rather, they provided the workers in the age before mass public education with a means to learn. (In fact, the origins of the massive German Social Democratic Party were a small educational society of workers who wrote to Ferdinand Lassalle, “Would you teach us what you know?" > Lassalle came, and mat's the beginning of the German Social Democracy.)

So this is Schapper:

"The reason for the failure of com­munism is lack of knowledge, lack of enlightenment. It was only the French Revolution which began to create a certain degree of enlightenment. Only through the struggle of opinion will communism develop firm roots."

But Weitling, the fundamentalist rabble-rouser, replies:

"Reason will play a pitiful role. The greatest deeds will result from the power of emotion. The crown of thorns of the martyrs wins more adherents than the moral needs of poets and orators."

In response Schapper emphasizes that without propaganda you get nothing:

"Communism could hitherto not be created because understanding was not sufficient. Our generation will no more realize communism than did the pre­vious ones. Our activity is for the coming generation. These will carry through in practice what we have hitherto been able to propagate only by means of enlightened propaganda ... Let us build our guard against revo­lutions, where through them mankind is brought back again into servitude."

Weitling replies simply by praising revolution: "Revolutions come like a thunderstorm. No one can foretell their effects."

Now, with historical hindsight, we can discern that the Schapper tendency was more serious, even though Weitling aptly criticizes Schapper for relegating the revolutionary struggle to the distant future.

In 1845, therefore, the German com­munist movement had arrived at a Hobson's choice: either passive and pacifistic propagandist!! seeking to edu­cate the entire working class, or revo­lutionary communist messianism, which did not even have the virtue of good military organization. Weitling never organized any unsuccessful putsches, because he was incapable of organizing anything.

In 1845, therefore, the German com­munist movement had arrived at a Hobson's choice: either passive and pacifistic propagandist!! seeking to edu­cate the entire working class, or revo­lutionary communist messianism, which did not even have the virtue of good military organization. Weitling never organized any unsuccessful putsches, because he was incapable of organizing anything.

It is at this point that Marx enters the history of the communist movement. And—to sort of give the show away— Marx is important and became a leader because he found a way out of that dilemma, that false counterposition of propaganda and revolutionary action.