Saturday, April 13, 2013

***When Young Women’s Voices Ruled the Airwaves Before The British Rock Invasion, Circa 1964

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Early Girls, Volume One, various singers, Ace Records , 1997

I mentioned one time in a review of a two-volume set of, for lack of a better term, girl doo wop (1950s stuff, okay where the lead singer, a girl singer, sang some sad tale, usually about some lost boy, Johnny or Jimmy, who cheated on her, left her high and dry for another girl, stood her up or, worse, much worse, failed to make that midnight phone call she had been waiting by the phone for hours to pick up, pick up and hear, uh, his voice, his manly voice, and a group of two or three other girls just kind of say-do lang, do lang, sha na na or stuff like that. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t get it, or don’t believe me that humans being could make such sounds and make beautiful music. ), I have, of late, been running back over some rock material that formed my coming of age listening music and that of my generation, the generation of ’68 (on that ubiquitous, and very personal, iPod, oops, battery-driven transistor radio that kept those snooping parents out in the dark, clueless, about what I was listening to, and that was just fine, as I am sure you will agree whatever generation you inhabit these days).

Naturally one had to pay homage to the blues influences from the likes of Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Joe Turner. And, of course, the rockabilly influences from Elvis, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis on. Additionally, I have spent some time on the male side of the doo wop be-bop Saturday night led by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (good question, right). I noted there that I had not done much with the female side of the doo wop night, the great "girl" groups that had their heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s before the British invasion, among other things, changed our tastes in popular music. I would expand that observation here to include girls’ voices generally. As there, I make some amends for that omission here.

As I also noted in that earlier review one problem with the girl groups, and now girl vocals for a guy, me, a serious rock guy, me, was that the lyrics to many of the girl group songs, frankly, did not “speak to me.” After all how much empathy could a young ragamuffin of boy brought up on the wrong side of the tracks looking wistfully over to the girls on the right side of the tracks like this writer have for a girl who breaks a guy's heart after leading him on, yes, leading him on, just because her big bruiser of a boyfriend is coming back and she needs some excuse to brush the heartbroken lad off in the Angels' My Boyfriend’s Back. Or some lucky guy, some lucky Sunday guy, maybe, who breathlessly catches the eye of the singer in the Shirelles' Met Him On Sunday from a guy who, dateless Saturday night, was hunched over some misbegotten book, some study book, on Sunday feeling all dejected. And how about this, some two, or maybe three-timing gal who berated her ever-loving boyfriend because she needs a good talking to, or worst, a now socially incorrect "beating" in Joanie Sommers’ Johnny Get Angry.

Reviewing the material again gave me the same flash-back feeling I felt listening to girl doo wop sounds back then. I will give examples of that for this volume, and this approach will drive the reviews of all five of these volumes in the series. Yah, for starters what is a girl-shy boy to make of a song that when some big-voiced woman is telling one and all that her man is no good just because he was catting around on her in Betty Everett’s Your No Good; or some girl all chained up by a guy (not S&M stuff but worst, in a way, chains of mixed-up love) in Chains by The Cookies; or get all weepy about the trauma of a girl who is boy-less all summer by a girl-less guy for all seasons in It Might As Well Rain Until September by Carole King.

And how could a young ragamuffin get catch a break listening to some girl spreading the glad tidings about her new found love in the girls' lav Monday morning before school when one and all bared their trophy weekends in I'm Into Something Good by Earl-Jean; or, the same kind of message, except maybe at the local pizza parlor, in I've Told Every Little Star by Linda Scott. And it goes on and on. Christ, even guys wearing pink shoe laces and looking like some goof had their devotees in Pink Shoe Laces by Dodie Stevens (but what about no song poor boy, plaid flannel-shirted, black chinos with cuffs, Thom McAn-shoed guy, no way right). And the love eternal love-style songs were worst, for example, a giggling, gaffing girl all plushed up by her boy in I Love How You Love Me by The Paris Sisters. Jesus, that could have been me.

And is there a place for such a lad even in the love’s trials and tribulations-type songs like when the moon took a holiday from looking out for lovers in Dark Moon by Bonnie Guitar; or when it didn’t in You by The Aquatones and was absolutely beaming in the incredible paean to everlasting love, 'Til by The Angels. Hell, even no account, long gone, no stamps, no stationary, no pen, no time to write Eddie has someone pining over him, pining big time, in Eddie My Love by The Teen Queens. And Eddie was nothing but long gone and never coming back guy who took what he could take, took it easy, and left no forwarding address. But the one that gets me, gets me big time, is a total song homage by some sweet girl just because he is her guy in Dedicated To The One I Love by The Shirelles. Lordy, lord.

So you get the idea, this stuff could not “speak to me.” Now you understand, right? Except, surprise, surprise foolish, behind the eight- ball, know-nothing youthful guy had it all wrong and should have been listening, and listening like crazy, to these lyrics because, brothers and sisters, they held the key to what was what about what was on girls’ minds back in the day, and maybe now a little too, and if I could have decoded this I would have had, well, the beginning of knowledge, girl knowledge. Damn. But that is one of the virtues, and maybe the only virtue of age. Yah, and also get this- you had better get your do-lang, do-lang, your shoop, shoop, and your best be-bop, be-bop into that good night voice out and sing along to the lyrics of the songs presented here. This, fellow baby-boomers, was the time of our teen angst, teen alienation, teen love youth and now this stuff sounds great. And from girls even.

Annette Funicello, 70, Dies; Beloved as a Mouseketeer and a Star of Beach Movies

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Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12-year-old in Mickey Mouse ears, captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies and later championed people with multiple sclerosis, a disease she had for more than 25 years, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 70.
The Mickey Mouse Club, 1955-1959. From left: Jimmie Dodd, Annette Funicello, Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey. More Photos »


Video Highlights From Funicello’s Career

Ms. Funicello embodied youth, good cheer and beach parties for children of the ’50s and ’60s.

Readers’ Comments

Her death, from complications of the disease, was announced on the Disney Web site.
As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as “the queen of teen,” and millions around her age agreed. Young audiences appreciated her sweet, forthright appeal, and parents saw her as the perfect daughter.
She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the immensely popular children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.
Before long, she was getting more than 6,000 fan letters a week, and was known by just her first name in a manner that later defined celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince.
Sometimes called “America’s girl next door,” she nonetheless managed to be at the center of the action during rock ’n’ roll’s exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her boyfriend, wrote “Puppy Love” for her in her parents’ living room.
As a Mouseketeer, she received a steady stream of wristwatches, school rings and even engagement rings from young men, all of which she returned. She wrote in her 1994 autobiography, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” that irate mothers often wrote back to say “how hard Johnny or Tommy had worked to save the money for the gift and how dare I return it?”
She said that if she had charm (she undeniably had modesty), it was partly a result of her shyness. Mr. Disney begged her to call him Uncle Walt, but she could manage only “Mr. Disney.” (She could handle “Uncle Makeup” and “Aunt Hairdresser.”)
At the height of her stardom, she said her ambition was to quit show business and have nine children.
With minor exceptions, like her commercials for Skippy peanut butter, Ms. Funicello did become a homemaker after marrying at 22. One reason, she said, was her reluctance to take parts at odds with her squeaky-clean image. She had three children.
Her cheerfulness was legendary. Her response to learning she had multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, was to start a charity to find a cure.
There was no irony, only warm good feeling, in her oft-repeated remark about the world’s pre-eminent rodent: “Mickey is more than a mouse to me. I am honored to call him a friend.”
Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942, in Utica, N.Y., and as the first grandchild on either side of the family was indulged to the point of being, in her own words, a “spoiled brat.” At age 2, she learned the words to every song on the hit parade, her favorite being “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.”
In 1946, her parents decided to move to Southern California in the hope of doing better economically. They lived in a trailer park until her father, a mechanic, found work. They settled in Studio City and later moved to Encino.
Annette took dancing lessons, learned to play drums and, at 9, was named Miss Willow Lake at a poolside beauty contest. She did some modeling. Mr. Disney, who wanted amateurs and not professional child actors, discovered her when she danced in “Swan Lake” at a local recital.
“The Mickey Mouse Club” was instantly popular, generating orders for 24,000 mouse-eared beanies a day. Annette quickly became the most popular Mouseketeer, and Disney marketed everything from Annette lunchboxes and dolls to mystery novels about her fictionalized adventures.
But she did not receive special treatment. When she lost a pair of felt mouse ears, she was charged $55. It was deducted from her $185 weekly paycheck.
She once decided she wanted to change her last name to something more typically American. She chose Turner. But Mr. Disney, whom she considered a second father, convinced her that her own name would be more memorable once people learned it.
In 1958, as “The Mickey Mouse Club” was ending its run, Mr. Disney summoned Ms. Funicello to his office. She feared she was going to be fired for growing too tall, but instead he offered her a studio contract — the only one given to a Mouseketeer.
Her first movie role was in “The Shaggy Dog,” Disney’s first live-action comedy. Then came the television series “Zorro.” Next she was “loaned out,” in industry talk, to CBS to appear on the Danny Thomas sitcom “Make Room for Daddy.” She also pursued a recording career, and had two Top 10 singles: “Tall Paul” in 1959 and “O Dio Mio” in 1960.
She and her family continued living as they had, with her father working five days a week at a gas station and everyone pitching in to do housework. She was not allowed to date until she was 16. When her mother was asked how she was able to keep life so normal, she answered succinctly, “Nothing impressed us.”
Ms. Funicello had crushes on her fellow singers Fabian Forte and Frankie Avalon but fell hard for Mr. Anka. “As Paul wrote in his hit song about us,” she wrote, “just because we were 17 didn’t mean that, for us, our love wasn’t real.”
But their careers were increasingly busy, and time together was scant. When Ms. Funicello finally told Mr. Anka that she really cared for him, he replied, “What script did you get that from?”
Her records continued, including the albums “Hawaiiannette,” “Italiannette” and “Dance Annette.” Movie parts included “Babes in Toyland,” in which she sang “I Can’t Do the Sum.” (She actually could, as proved by her straight-A high school record.)
When Mr. Disney told her he had been approached by American International Pictures about her making a beach movie, he said he thought it sounded like “good clean fun,” but asked her not to expose her navel. She readily agreed.
She and Mr. Avalon ultimately starred in a series of beach movies together, beginning with “Beach Party” in 1963. She harbored no illusions that she and Mr. Avalon were the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of their generation. “Ma and Pa Kettle of the surf set,” she suggested instead.
On Jan. 9, 1965, Ms. Funicello married her agent, Jack Gilardi. Charles M. Schulz, in his “Peanuts” comic strip, showed Linus reading a paper, clutching his security blanket and wailing: “I can’t stand it! This is terrible! How depressing. ... ANNETTE FUNICELLO HAS GROWN UP!”
She made a few films in the middle and late 1960s, including “Fireball” and “Thunder Alley,” but her attention was focused on her children, Gina, Jack Jr. and Jason Michael. During the 1970s and early 1980s, she appeared occasionally on TV but was known principally for commercials, including her memorable issuing of the Skippy peanut butter challenge: Which has more protein? (Bologna and fish were not the correct answers.)
In 1987, she and Mr. Avalon reunited to do a self-mocking beach party movie. She wore polka dots with matching hair bows, and he portrayed a work-obsessed car salesman who hates the beach. Their fictional son wore punk clothes and carried a switchblade.
But Ms. Funicello’s main concern was being a good mom, her daughter, Gina, said. In a 1994 interview, she told In Style magazine that her mother “was always there for car pools, Hot Dog Day and the PTA.”
In 1981 Ms. Funicello divorced Mr. Gilardi. In 1986 she married Glen Holt, a horse breeder. Mr. Holt, who cared for Ms. Funicello in her later years, survives her, along with her 3 children, 4 stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
Ms. Funicello learned she had M.S. in 1987 but kept her condition secret for five years. She announced the illness after becoming concerned that the unsteadiness the disease caused would be misinterpreted as drunkenness.
She set up the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases and underwent brain surgery in 1999 in an attempt to control tremors caused by her disease.
But for many, Annette Funicello remained forever young, whether in mouse ears or a modest bathing suit. Some may even recognize a ditty from the long-ago television shows:
Ask the birds and ask the bees
And ask the stars above
Who’s their favorite sweet brunette;
You know, each one confesses:
Annette! Annette! Annette!
National Speaking Tour: Socialist Won Historic Vote — Building an Alternative to the Two Parties of Wall Street
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Mar 30, 2013

The Republicans are trying to make working people and the poor pay for the government’s deficit by making deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare instead of taxing millionaires. Obama and the Democrats are proposing to make unprecedented cuts to these social safety net programs, too. Events like these are leading more and more people to conclude that the richest 1% has two political parties and it’s time the 99% had a party of our own.
In 2012, Occupy activist Kshama Sawant ran an insurgent campaign as a Socialist Alternative candidate against Washington state’s Democratic Speaker of the House. Her campaign refused corporate donations and was largely ignored by the corporate media, yet she won a historic 29% of the vote with over 20,000 votes - the highest vote for a Socialist in Seattle in decades! This shows it’s completely possible to build an alternative to the two corporate parties.
To build on this success, Sawant is running again this year on a platform ranging from putting the brakes on environmentally disastrous coal trains running through Seattle to a Millionaires Tax to fund education and public transportation to taking on police brutality.
Kshama Sawant will be speaking around the U.S. this spring, raising the need for candidates from Occupy, the labor movement, and other activist forces to join forces and run their own independent candidates. She will be speaking up and down Washington State, as well as in New York, Chicago, Boston, Madison, New Orleans, St. Petersburg, and other cities across the country. Come discuss building an alternative to corporate politics and find out how you can help.

Kshama Sawant National Speaking Tour Stops
Springfield, IL
Monday, March 25
6:30 pm CST
University of Illinois Springfield- Great Room of Lincoln Residence Hall-
2160 Vachel Lindsay Drive Springfield, IL 62703
Chicago, IL
Tuesday, March 26
7:00pm CST
United Electrical Workers (U.E) Hall
37 S Ashland Avenue
Panel discussion with Kshama Sawant and Northside activist Fran Tobin: using electoral strategies to fight back against austerity
New York City, NY
Two Meetings!
Wednesday, March 27
7:00pm EST
CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5414
Speakers (besides Kshama Sawant):
LUCAS SANCHEZ, New York Communities for Change (NYCC) organizer of grocery store workers, member of the Comité de Trabajadores de Nueva York.
ELJEER HAWKINS Social activist born and raised in Harlem, political writer on prisons, police brutality and racism, member of Socialist Alternative.
Astoria, Queens
Friday, March 29
6:00pm EST
Greater Astoria Historical Society, 4th Floor Lounge
Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadaway, Astoria, Queens
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Thursday, March 28
9:00pm EST
Rutgers University
Scott Hall room 220
43 College Ave
Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, April 6
1:00pm EST
Arch Street United Methodist Church
55 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia 19107
While Wall St is handing out bonuses, most working class citizens of this city are facing the hardest time they have seen in their lives. The Wall St Banks have taken more than $13 trillion from us in bailouts since the crash in 2008. Out of that they have paid themselves bonuses, satisfied their legal obligations and contracts and accumulated massive cash reserves that they have used to speculate on the market instead of creating jobs. U.S. Corporations are now sitting on a cash hoard greater than $1trillion, and now despite the 'end of the recession' even more Cuts in Federal, State and Local programs are coming.
Here in Pennsylvania all the powers that be from Governor Corbett to Mayor Nutter to the SRC have made it clear whose side they are on and it is not ours. We do not need school closings, we need real investment in the education system. We do not need privatized liquor stores or mail service, we need decent secure jobs with pensions and health care. We do not need transit cuts, shuttered fire houses, and privatized city services, we need a massive investment in our cities infrastructure to enhance the quality of life for all residents of this city.
We invite you to an afternoon of discussion and analysis
Saturday April 6th 1-4pm Arch St UMC 55 N Broad
A Speaker from the fight against school closings
A Speaker from Philly ROC fresh from their campaign for paid sick leave
Special guest: Kshama Sawant - Socialist Alternative, Seattle
PCAPS and the fight back against the school closings in Philadelphia is front and center of the struggle to preserve public education nationally.
Philly ROC fresh from their campaign for paid sick leave does grassroots organizing of restaurant workers to empower them to fight for justice in the workplace, equitable wages, and working conditions.
Boston, MA
6th Annual New England Socialism Conference
Saturday, April 13
10:00am – 4:00pm EST
Community Church of Boston
565 Boylston St.
Featured speakers:
Kshama Sawant- An Economics professor at Seattle Central Community College, Kshama recently ran against Washington Speaker of the House and Democrat Frank Chopp and got 30%/20,000 votes in her district as a candidate of Socialist Alternative. She is currently running for Seattle City Council.
Seamus Whelan- A Registered Nurse at Cambridge Hospital and activist within the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Seamus is currently running an insurgent campaign as the Socialist Alternative candidate for Boston City Council At-Large.
Workshops include:
“Organizing against the Attack on Labor”
“Immigration and the Class Struggle”
“Defeating the Pipeline: a Green Socialist Solution for the Environment”
“Building a Fight Back Against the 1%”
Madison, WI
Saturday, April 27
Time and location TBA

Report: Socialist Alternative Rallies Against the KKK in Tennessee!
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Apr 11, 2013
By Jason Carey
The Ku Klux Klan staged a rally in Memphis, in response to the renaming of Nathan B. Forrest Park by city officials. The KKK promised to make it “the largest Klan rally [Memphis] has ever seen.” They secured a permit and scheduled the event for 1:30pm on March 30, 2013.
Nine Socialist Alternative members and supporters left Mobile, Alabama in three vehicles the morning of March 29, 2013 to drive to Memphis. The drive took approximately eight hours and we were able to camp on the edge of the city, located about 10 blocks from the rally area.
It was raining the morning of the 30th. We arrived downtown at 10:30am to find a heavy police presence, with squad cars sitting idle at many intersections, beacons flashing. The designated rendezvous area for the counter-rally attendants was a small park with a large gazebo. Around this area, we found entire streets cordoned off with barricades and squad cars.
At 11:00am, there were around 50 protesters under the gazebo. We talked to individuals in the crowd and sold issues of Justice and buttons. We also blanketed the crowd with the Socialist Alternative leaflets made for the event. (
By 11:20am, there were about 100 hundred people under the gazebo. At 11:30am, police in riot gear, armed with assault rifles, converged on our location. They surrounded the gazebo, and a policewoman gave the ultimatum, “Disperse or else.”
At 11:35am, the crowd left the park, marching in the direction of the KKK rally, which was several blocks away and out of view. More riot police began appearing everywhere around us, lining the streets. They were not only wielding full riot armor, but riot shields as well. Eighty percent of them had either assault rifles or submachine guns. The other twenty percent had grenade launchers or “less lethal” shotguns. Snipers were watching the crowd with rifles and binoculars from all the building rooftops above us. The crowd was chanting slogans such as “The cops and the Klan work hand-in-hand!” and “KKK go away!”
The route of the march was once again diverted, this time to the south (away from the direction of the Klan rally), through an alley.
At about 12:30pm, we made it past the checkpoint and were directed through the alley, to a parking lot with a fresh chain-link fence lining the perimeter. The parking lot probably measured 250 feet in both dimensions. Outside the chain link fence was literally a wall of riot police, with their shields facing us. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder around most of the perimeter. There were other large groups of riot police within the parking lot, away from the protesters.
There were 300 to 400 people in the parking lot. Several of these people were undercover cops posing as protesters. One of our members was also forcefully removed for nothing more than wearing a shirt with Huey Newton (a Black Panther Party leader) on it.
Meanwhile, we were barely able to make out the tips of the KKK’s pointed white hats, as well as KKK and neo-Nazi “NSM” flags, about three blocks to the west, beyond a sea of police and police vehicles and equipment. The police presence was of no concern to Klan sympathizers as they began to trickle in among the protest crowd.
During the rally, we met several contacts who showed great interest in our organization and our politics. They suggested we all meet for drinks and political discussion afterward, which turned out to be a much better an event for us than the rally. We met with about seven local socialist activists. We distributed flyers, buttons, and copies of Justice to each person.
To put the rally itself into context—1,200 people passed through the security checkpoint. The vast majority was openly hostile to the Klan’s presence, although there were only 300 to 400 demonstrators inside the fence at any given time. Less than 5% of these were Klan sympathizers who came to heckle. In contrast, there were only 61 Klan and NSM demonstrators at their rally down the street.
Many of our members had never been to a rally, or one of this size and character. We were successful in illustrating for many members exactly what an “intervention” entails, as well as instilling a much more solid form of professionalism in the Alabama organization, as a result of the meeting with the other group. The trip to Memphis was extremely productive.

KKK Rally in Memphis out Numbered by Anti-Racist Demo
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Apr 9, 2013
Socialist Alternative leaflet distributed at the protests against the KKK and neo-nazi's in Memphis, Tennessee on March 30
"You Can't Have Capitalism Without Racism" -Malcom X
Racism is alive and well in the United States. From housing bias to discriminatory hiring practices, inadequate public education and mass imprisonment, it is clear that we don't live in a "post-racial" society. While the official overall unemployment rate hovers around 8%, the jobless rate in mid-2012 for African Americans was 14.1% and 10.2% for Latinos. People of color make up 30% of the country's population, but account for 60% of those imprisoned. Racism is built into the fabric of US capitalism.
The Right-Wing Connection
As the economic crisis continues and seems to deepen worldwide, people are looking for solutions to the uncertainty of unemployment, crumbling social services and home foreclosures. While some people will draw correct conclusions about the richest 1 o/o and corporations being to blame, others will look for scapegoats. The racist right wing will capitalize on this uncertainty by combining anti-establishment rhetoric and putting blame on African-Americans, union members, immigrants and other working people.
Right-wing populists in the Tea Party throw words like "liberty" and "freedom" out like candy, but what kind of freedom can one find in the throes of poverty? When these right-wing populist groups speak of freedom, what they mean to say is "freedom for those who can afford it" and nothing more.
While there are differences between the Democrats and Republicans, they both loyally serve the interests of the corporations and the capitalist system. When Democrats carry out budget cuts and bank bailouts, they provide a potential base for right-wing populist rhetoric. Racism (like sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia) is actually encouraged by the capitalist system in an attempt to divide workers, pitting them against one another.
Many white workers who end up buying into the racist blame-game went to similar low-quality public schools, drive beat-up old cars, and now work the same dead-end jobs as black and Latino workers. We need to unite working people around our common interests for good jobs and services and put the blame where it really belongs on the 1% - who constantly seek to maximize profit through layoffs and decreased wages. It's well past the time for us workers to realize this, but again, the problem is systemic.
Join the Socialists!
We can't rely on the two parties of big business to end racism, poverty and war; we must build a movement of mass protests and political independence for working people. We need not just a movement against "hate" but clear demands to better our lives that strike at the root cause of all of our problems. We need a movement with candidates that stand up for working and poor people as a step towards a new mass party.
Socialist Alternative is a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day. We are community activists fighting against budget cuts in public services; we are union activists fighting for living wage jobs and democratic unions; we are people of all colors speaking out against racism and attacks on immigrants, women and men fighting sexism and homophobia.
Socialist Alternative is a growing organization that is in political solidarity with the worldwide movement, the Committee for a Workers' International, organizing in over 40 countries for fundamental change. Join us in the struggle to bring about an end to the tyranny and discrimination of capitalism and build a truly free and democratic, equitable, and sustainable future for all people on this planet.

Obituary: Victor Paananen
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Apr 3, 2013
By Lynn Walsh, Editor, Socialism Today, monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)
Vic Paananen, who died on 24 March, aged 75, was a veteran socialist activist.
A longstanding supporter of the Committee for a Workers’ International, Vic was a member of Socialist Alternative in the US. All those who knew Vic will remember his dedicated, inspiring commitment to Marxist ideas and the struggle to bring about a socialist society.
After his retirement from Michigan State University, East Lansing, where he was the mainstay of the Socialist Alternative branch, Vic moved to Revere, Massachusetts, and played an active part in the Boston branch of SA until illness limited his activities.
Vic published two books, ‘William Blake’ and ‘British Marxist Criticism’, as well as numerous articles and reviews. His main literary interest was always in working-class authors whose work appealed to working-class readers. Vic’s first article for Socialism Today (to which he was an enthusiastic subscriber from our first issue) was on Robert Tressell, author of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ (Issue 4, December 1995). Vic explains how this socialist classic came to be written and published: “a book [that] is both ‘extremely real’ as an account of working class life and ‘subversive,’ both of capitalism and the lies that sustain it.” There is no doubt that it will “continue to win hearts and minds for the tasks still ahead”.
For many years, Victor and his first wife, Donna, spent a few weeks every summer in Hastings, Sussex. This was the town where Tressell lived and worked as a house painter and sign-writer, and Vic delighted in showing visitors around the local sites associated with Tressell.
Vic also participated in some of the Dylan Thomas festivals in Swansea, South Wales. On the fiftieth anniversary of Thomas’s death, Socialism Today (Issue 77, September 2003) carried Vic’s illuminating article on ‘Red Dylan: the social vision of Dylan Thomas’. Referring to Thomas’s letters, stories and film scripts, Vic shows (contrary to most academic accounts) that, although he avoided explicit social commentary or propaganda, Thomas was driven by a profound social vision based on revolutionary socialism: “All the evidence points to Thomas’s holding revolutionary convictions both before he moved from Wales to London in 1934 and throughout his life.”
While staying in London or Sussex, Vic attended many Socialist Party events over the years, as well as CWI summer schools in Belgium. Despite his accomplishments, Vic was a modest person, quite shy, but loved and respected by everyone who knew him. We will miss his conversation and mischievous sense of humor.
Vic’s first wife, Donna, was tragically killed in a motor accident in 2002. He leaves his second wife, Diane De Santis, whom he married in 2011, and his sons, Karl and Neil.
Vic was defiant in the face of illness in recent years; his Marxist vision was undiminished. Dylan Thomas’s words inevitably come to mind:
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

***With James Cagney’s Public Enemy In Mind

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman
The old man was, frankly, eaves-dropping on the conversation of the two young men standing, standing like ancient times standing, standing like he and his own set of corner boys now scattered to the winds or scattered to ashes, in front of Mom’s Pizza Parlor (Mom of the sign long since gone but the establishment still thriving through her son ,and now it looked like his son as well) and discussing, as corner boys have done since they invented corner boys, or maybe corners, this and that. They were wearing the obligatory baggie pants (two pairs overlapping as is the fashion these days), doubled-down and low-rider, identical baseball caps with the Oakland A’s insignia (signifying, well, signifying their allegiance, not to the ball club, hell, no, they might not even know where Oakland is, or whether they had a baseball club there, allegiance to the corner was the old man’s guess, if he remembered his own corner boy etiquette), tee-shirts with Bob Marley’s righteous face on them (these were white boys but no matter Bob Marley does stand the test of time, place and color), and sneakers, some Nikes brand, black, with black and white shoe laces (that last detail important and symbolic although the old man would not venture to guess why, he had been told that today’s corner boys identify friend and foes, who is in and who is out, in such ways). He remembered his own uniform, or better, uniforms since he had had two corner boy corners. The first, the hard, real, jack-roller corner boy scene, over at Harry’s Pool Hall was strictly white tee-shirts, hatless, jeans, tight, engineer boots (his with buckles), and a snarl. The second at Doc's Drugstore after he decided that the criminal life was too much work and that he was not particularly good at it, plaid shirt, chinos, black, un-cuffed (that was the shoe lace equivalent of that day), sneakers and midnight 24/7 sunglasses in that cool breeze early 1960s night.

The this and that between the two young men that day entailed a discussion about the vagaries of the drug trade, about how Lenny from down on Atlantic Avenue had just been nabbed with a kilo of coke and was a sure bet to do a nickel or a dime up in Shawshank for his efforts, about how the cops had seemed to be pushing extra hard lately on the drug, front in their never-ending “war on drugs” and how it was hard, hard indeed, for a man, a young man, to make a living these days trying to do a little of this and a little of that.
The old man laughed to himself , laughed a knowing laugh, about how each generation, each corner boy generation thought the cops of their times were tough, that it was tougher than ever to make a living outside the law and that these kids didn’t know what it was like when cops really pushed down on you, really wanted you off the streets. Strangely the old man had the feeling that the two talkers, Larry and Louie, would crumble if a cop even looked sideways at them to show how the corner boy talent had diminished with time. In his own time he had seen things, done things, heard about things that would have had these kids shaking in their boots, have them going back to some sweet mother house promising, pretty promising to live a saintly life if dear mother would let them back in, or some to some cribbed girlfriend's place all warm and cozy. The latter more probable since they were good-looking young men who would draw a certain kind of careless woman, or a restless one, who was just then looking for kicks, maybe a headful of drugs to break the monotony of her days, before heading down some aisle all in white, with some future salesman of the year, a white picket fence complete with house, dog, and a couple of fretful kids.

The stuff that the old man had heard about (he was divulging nothing about his own capers , not for print anyway, since the statute of limitations might not have run out yet) about how Whitey did his this and that without blinking an eye, how Howie had a guy wasted just because he looked at a cop like maybe he knew him, knew him too well, like maybe he had called his “uncle,” about how Bernie snagged a guy, having him dragged by rope on the back end of a car just because he said something off-color to his girlfriend, Gladys. But those guys tough as they were couldn’t stand up to, couldn’t take the heat, couldn’t kiss the hem of Jimmy, James Cagney (yah, just like the movie star except this guy was rough tough tough not film pansy tough), from the old neighborhood, the old Olde Saco neighborhood, back before the Great Depression in the days when they had Prohibition and the only way for corner boys to make money then was to transport liquor, and plenty of it. And to insure that plenty of it, to insure that plenty of dough was made, the guns came out, came out blazing, against rival corner boys, and against the cops. Especially the cops because they were a drag on commerce and some had it coming to them anyhow.
In fact Jimmy Cagney, his gun, and his reputation blossomed in the beginning by being nothing but a hired gun, and to prove his hired gun worthiness he put three straight up in a pursuing copper and laughed about it. Laughed even better when they could never put two and two together on the case, and you know cops, whether they loved their brother officer or hated him they felt honor bound to avenge that type murder anyway they could. So, and here the old man spoke of rumor more than actual knowledge, the scuttlebud was that they knew Jimmy wasted the brother but they were scared, afraid okay, to nab him since they did not want to share that fellow officer’s fate. Yah, Jimmy was tough, tough on his women too (except his Ma of course), had belted more than one around for looking in another guy's direction or had asked him for pocket change to make herself look beautiful for him. (According to legend, one of his dolls, the old man’s childhood best friend’s mother had asked for beautiful dough, got slammed in the face a couple of times for it with the remark that all he care about beauty was their rustling the bed sheets in the dark of night and so she didn’t need any such day light works. She thereafter shot him with his own gun in the foot and she lived to tell about it. Something about her being crazier than him got her a reprieve. But that stuff was a rumor so who knows)

Jimmy got tired of that aimless hired gun rooty-toot-toot work quickly and as the Prohibition cop heat was turned up he became an armed outrider for illegal liquor coming in from Canada down through New Hampshire. And here is where Jimmy built his legend, built it solid. One night, maybe when the moon was down, Jimmy single-handedly ambushed a huge whiskey load that his bosses, the Mariano brothers, were shipping down to the thirsty Boston market, ambushed it easily and then drove down though the back roads of New Hampshire with. Simple work. But that was not the end of the story. No, see the coppers were looking for that load and had a stake-out ready around Nashua, maybe a little north of there, Jimmy spotted it and just rammed through sending a police car with at least one copper (although he always claimed two) home to his maker. Beautiful. The old man mused once again as he moved along that those two kids at the pizza parlor would have wet their pants, or worse, even thinking about the hell rain hell that would come down on them , if they wasted a cop, even a silly rent-a-cop private cop.
Yes Jimmy Cagney was a piece of work. He came out of the old Pond Street slums when they were the dead-end, dead-ass, dead- hope and maybe even just dead- dead places that have not changed with the turn of the centuries. Mother and father, as to be expected when a wild child is born, a child of the moon, hard-working, god-fearing, god-praising, god-damning people from the old country, the old sod, Ireland and thankful for the Pond Street cold-water flats, and a roof over their heads (not always true in the old sod, many a night they slept under the stars, or better under the mists and fogs). But Jimmy caught on early, got street smart early, and because he was just a little bit smarter than the Pond Street corner boys that he ganged up with he became their leader, not with brawn, not with big book brains, but with street smarts, street smarts that made the others ride the wave with him. And for a while that gang thing, the nickel and dime heists, the midnight grifts, the small penny ante jack-rolls, got them by. But such small beer is not for everybody and so Jimmy drifted away, drifted into the "hit man" racket mentioned above for a minute, found that he liked being a stone-cold killer, killing without remorse, killing without motive if it came right down to it, killing for pay and so killing coolly and once a man got that feeling, that invincible feeling in his blood then he had to, hear this one and all, had to play his hand to the end. And that high-jacked whiskey heist was the beginning of playing that hand out.

Needless to say, at least for the old man’s generation, if not for those hombres hanging in front of Mom’s that day the trajectory of Jimmy Cagney’s life was a source of wonder, of emulation, and, for a few maybe a cautionary tale. Let’s let the old man finish up with what he knew, and he knew a lot because in his generation, his corner boy generation, such facts were important, important for some career path out of the slums (or as put in his day “the projects”). Jimmy parlayed that first whiskey heist into another big haul, a haul that everybody watched to see which way the winds would blow. Who, if anybody, was going to play king of the hill with Jimmy. So, naturally, as even criminal enterprises abhor a vacuum, need a leader, those guys, the Mariano brothers and so Italian which fit part of the ethnic configuration in that grey underworld, that Jimmy shafted once they heard that he was going to take a run from the border on his own hired some muscle, hired some tough boys, and were ready to ambush Jimmy’s cargo just short of the Massachusetts border, up around Salem, New Hampshire. But Jimmy prevailed for one simple reason, or really two, one he had sent well-disguised outriders well in advance of the shipment and knew, knew exactly where he was going to be hit, and two, he had more fire-power, more hard guys, and, frankly, more ruthless guys that the brothers. Nobody ever really got a count on the dead that night (some dead were carried away to throw off the cops, others maybe died later) but a police report of the scene later released spoke of a bloodbath and of the broken bodies of known underworld figures, the Mariano brother, RIP…
And so Jimmy reigned, reigned for a long time, brought some of the smaller brotherhoods under his wing, expanded his operations to prostitution, gambling, midnight art and jewelry heists and finally drugs when they became the object of desire for a world weary of the red scare cold war reality in the 1950s. But see, like in Jimmy’s time, there are always hungry guys ready to take serious risks, take serious murder and mayhem risks, to take the huge profits from easy street. And so Jimmy, thinking that drugs were not different from the old illegal liquor market, played his hand the old way. Dared anybody to mess with him, to mix it up with him with some gun play if they wanted to take his action. The problem was that he had maybe grown soft, maybe didn’t see how far hungry fellahin guys who lived on faraway garbage heaps were willing to go for the easy street dream, and maybe too had just lost a step or two in that hard world. So one night, one moonless night, Jimmy Cagney’s body was found riddled along the river near Boston, the Mystic River for anybody asking, with about fourteen bullets from an automatic, with a note written in Spanish proclaiming a new jefe, a new patron. Yes, the old man thought those Mom’s Pizza Parlor corner boys would not understand that world, did not want to understand that world, and had better just find whatever place assigned to them that they could find in that world because if Jimmy Cagney, a king hell king born and bred, could tumble, what chance did they have…

***From The May Day 2012 Organizing Archives –May Day 2013 Needs The Same Efforts

Boston's International Workers Day 2013

BMDC International Workers Day Rally
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at Boston City Hall
Gather at 2PM - Rally at 2:30PM
(Court St. & Cambridge St.)
T stops Government Center (Blue line, Green line)
To download flyer click here. (Please print double-sided)

Other May Day events:

Revere - @ City Hall - gather at 3:pmbegin marching at 3:30 (to Chelsea)
Everett - @ City Hall - gather at 3:pm begin marching at 3:30 (to Chelsea)
Chelsea - @ City Hall - rally a 3:pm (wait for above feeder marches to arrive) will begin marching at 4:30 (to East Boston)
East Boston - @ Central Square - (welcome marchers) Rally at 5:pm

BMDC will join the rally in East Boston immediately following Boston City Hall rally

Supporters: ANSWER Coalition, Boston Anti Authoritarian Movement, Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee, Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition, Harvard No-Layoffs Campaign, Industrial Workers of the World, Latinos for Social Change, Mass Global Action, Sacco & Vanzetti Commemoration Society, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Party of Boston, Socialist Workers Party, Student Labor Action Movement, USW Local 8751 - Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Worcester Immigrant Coalition, National Immigrant Solidarity Network, Democracy Center - Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington United for Justice with Peace, International Socialist Organization, Community Church of Boston
MAY DAY 2012 Actions: A Day Without the 99% [draft working title only]

In late December 2011 the General Assembly (GA) of Occupy Los Angeles, in the aftermath of the stirring and successful November 2nd Oakland General Strike and December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown, issued a call for a national and international general strike centered on immigrant rights, environmental sustainability, a moratorium on foreclosures, an end to the wars, and jobs for all. [needs more work] These and other political issues associated with the Occupy movement were to be featured in actions set for May Day 2012. May Day is the historic international working class holiday celebrated in many parts of the world since the time of the Haymarket Martyrs in Chicago in 1886 and more recently a time for the hard pressed immigrant communities here in America to join together in the fight against deportations and a saner governmental immigration policy.

Some political activists here in Boston, mainly connected with Occupy Boston (OB), decided just after the new year to support that general strike call and formed the General Strike Occupy Boston working group (GSOB) which has met, more or less weekly from 5:15-6:45 PM at Encuentro 5 since then to plan our own May Day actions as part of the international observance. The first step in that process was to bring a resolution incorporating the Occupy Los Angeles issues before the G A of Occupy Boston for approval. That resolution was approved by GA on January 8, 2012.

Early discussions within the working group centered on drawing the lessons of the West Coast actions last fall. Above all what is and isn’t a general strike. Traditionally a general strike, as witness the recent actions in Greece and other countries, is called by workers’ organizations and/or parties for a specified period of time in order to shut down substantial parts of the capitalist economy over some set of immediate demands. A close analysis of the West Coast actions showed a slightly different model one based on community pickets of specified industrial targets, downtown street mass actions, and scattered individual and collective acts of solidarity like student support strikes and sick outs. Additionally small business and other allies were asked to close and closed in solidarity.

That latter model seemed more appropriate to the tasks at hand in Boston given its sparse recent militant labor history and that it is a hub as a financial, technological and education center. We also came to a realization that successful actions in Boston on May Day 2012 would not necessarily exactly follow the long established radical and labor traditions of the West Coast as well. Our actions and activities have since reflected that understanding. Our focus will be actions and activities that respond and reflect the Boston political situation as we attempt to create, re-create really, an on-going May Day tradition beyond the observance of the day by labor radicals and the immigrant communities in and around Boston.

Over the past several years, starting in 2006, the Hispanic and other immigrant communities have been celebrating May Day as a day of action on the very pressing problem of immigration status as well as the traditional working class solidarity holiday in their own respective countries of origin. Thus it was no accident that Occupy Los Angeles, scene of massive immigration actions in the past and currently one of the areas facing the brunt of the deportation drives by the Obama administration, would be in the lead to call for national actions this year. One of the first steps our working group took was to try to reach out to the already existing Boston May Day Coalition (BMDC), which has spearheaded the annual marches and rallies in the immigrant communities, in order to learn of their experiences and to coordinate actions. After making such efforts our working group has joined forces with BMDC in order to coordinate the over-all May Day actions.

Taking our cue from the broader Occupy May Day movement, especially the broader and more inclusive messages coming out of Occupy Wall Street we have centered our slogans around the theme of “Occupy May First - A Day Without the 99%” in order to, in short, highlight the fact that labor creates all the wealth, and in keeping with the efforts initiated last fall in Boston when the Occupy movement began here. [needs work]

On May Day we are calling on the 99% to strike, skip work, walk out of school, and refrain from shopping, banking and business in order to implement that slogan. We encourage working people to request the day off, or to call in sick. Small businesses are encouraged to close for the day and join the rest of the 99% in the streets. For students at all levels we are calling for a walk-out of classes. Further to occupy the universities and create alternative education formats (?). With a huge student population of over 250,000 in the Boston area no-one-size-fits-all strategy seems appropriate. Each kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and wayward think tank should plan its own strike actions although convergence at a central place for all is recommended. [needs work]

In the early hours on May 1st members of the 99% will converge on the Boston Financial District for a day of direct action to demand an end to corporate rule and a shift of power to the people. The Financial District Block Party will start at 7:00 AM on the corner of Federal Street & Franklin Street in downtown Boston. Banks and corporations are strongly encouraged to close down for the day.

At noon there will be a May Day rally at Boston City Hall Plaza sponsored by BMDC and GSOB [is that right?] followed by solidarity marches, especially the traditional immigrant community- centered one that starts in East Boston and this year will culminate in Everett. Other activities that afternoon for those who chose not to go to East Boston will be scheduled in and around the downtown area.

Other actions are planned for the evening for those who cannot for whatever reasons participant in the daytime actions. The main point is that whatever your own personal circumstances may be we call upon all to do one, or more, of the following- No work. No school. No chores. No shopping. No banking. Let’s show the 1% that we have the power. Let’s show the world what a day without the 99% really means. [needs work] And let’s return to the old traditions of May Day as a day of international solidarity with our working and oppressed sisters and brothers around the world. All Out For May Day 2012!

Out In The Be-Bop 18th Century Night- The Time Of The Georges-W.A. Speck’s Stability And Strife-England, 1714-1760

Book Review

Stability And Strife-England, 1914-1760, W.A. Speck, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1977

One thing is for sure, as W.A. Speck makes clear in his above- titled book which was part of a general history of England published by Harvard University Press many years ago, in 18thcentury England it did not pay to be a Catholic, royal or otherwise, if you wanted to be the king or queen of England. That fact goes a long way in describing the strife part of the book. The stability part comes mainly from a resolution of that conflict in favor an eternal Protestant succession mandated by Parliament as it nibbled away at the royal prerogative and as it vanquished the expectations of the House of Stuart that had animated the political life of England for most of the previous century (and subsequently after the union, Great Britain).

Of course within the changes of political and social infrastructure in the early 18th century began the period of the slow accumulation of attributes that would later in the century make Great Britain the first serious capitalist society. And so Professor Speck links all of the major trends that went into producing that change, some by happenstance others as a matter of governmental or economic policy. But the first consideration needed to be a final resolution of the monarchial succession in the Protestant line (there was no serious republic effort in that century unlike the previous one under Cromwell or the next one with the Chartist movement). And that causes serious divisions at one point between the two main political divisions, Tories and Whigs, over the nature, extent, and legitimacy of royal power.

Professor Speck spends no little time on this controversy from the original divisions in Parliament (and society) between what became the Tory and Whig parties over the various claims of the Stuarts which do not finally get fully resolved until mid-century with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charles and his ill-fated attempted military invasion of England. The stabilization of the succession in the House of Hanover early in this period through the reigns of staid George I and George II though made such movements much more unlikely of success. Moreover, as part of the grand social bargain the Parliament during this period began to whittle away at various prerogatives with the expansion of a more royally independent cabinet government, changes in election laws and the overwhelming dominance of one party, the Whigs, in Parliament during much of this period.

Professor Speck also argues that the state Anglican Church during this period finally chases off other contenders for that role (and the fight, left over from the previous century, of having any established state church) and takes a less prominent role in the social and moral conditioning of the population. It becomes a more benign institution. He also addresses the important changes in the English economy during this period with the rise and solidification of the hold of the squirarchy and the city merchants (and the various mixing s of the two segments of society) as the dominant force driving the new expanding economy. The role of financial institutional, especially those that dealt with international transactions was greatly expanded during this period. Most importantly Professor Speck makes a very compelling case (as E.P. Thompson did for the rise of the working class in the next century) for the way that a ruling class (beyond the royal family, its hangers-on, and the nobility), a conscious ruling class, emerged during this period that would dominant English life for the next couple of centuries. That factor is his prima facie case for the stability aspect of his title.

The professor also delves into the various Parliamentary and cabinet ministry crises of the period beginning with the aforementioned succession crisis, the various ministerial combinations and splits that evolved over both domestic and foreign policy (and as an added factor the role the Hanover question played since both Georges held power there as well). He goes through the various maneuvers of such historic parliamentary figures as Stanhope, Walpole, the Pelhams, and the rise of Pitt. This section is frankly less well done, or rather less interesting, since the great outlines of what is to come have already been laid done in the first section of the book and so the squabbles of a small minority of powerful men (almost totally men)is less evocative and made me long for the in-fighting in old Oliver’s time. But read this book to get an idea of what England was like just before the big capitalist explosion decisively shook things up in the world.

Friday, April 12, 2013




THE CHALLENGE OF THE LEFT OPPOSITION (1926-27), LEON TROTSKY, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1980

If you are interested in the history of the International Left or are a militant trying to understand some of the past lessons of our history concerning the communist response to various social and labor questions this book is for you. This book is part of a continuing series of volumes in English of the writings of Leon Trotsky, Russian Bolshevik leader, from the start in 1923 of the Left Opposition in the Russian Communist Party that he led through his various exiles up until his assassination by a Stalinist agent in 1940. These volumes were published by the organization that James P. Cannon, early American Trotskyist leader founded, the Socialist Workers Party, in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (Cannon’s writings in support of Trotsky’s work are reviewed elsewhere in this space) Look in this space under this byline for other related reviews of this series of documents on and by this important world communist leader.

Since the volumes in the series cover a long period of time and contain some material that , while of interest, is either historically dated or more fully developed in Trotsky’s other separately published major writings I am going to organize this series of reviews in this way. By way of introduction I will give a brief summary of the events of the time period of each volume. Then I will review what I believe is the central document of each volume. The reader can then decide for him or herself whether my choice was informative or not.

The period under discussion is one when Stalin further consolidates his hold on the party and state bureaucracy and begins (along with Bukharin) a much more conciliatory policy toward the peasant, especially the rich peasant, the so-called kulak. Such a policy, essentially at the expense of the working class, makes no sense until it is understood that this is the long slippery slope to a theoretical and practical result of what the theory of ‘socialism in one country’ means in the reality of mid-1920’s Russia. As a result of the 1923-24 defeat of the Left Opposition, the way the Soviet Union was ruled, who ruled and for what purposes all changed. The defeat of the Joint Left Bloc here on underlined that change.

On the international level the ill-fated British-Russian  trade union alliance and the utterly disastrous policy toward the Chinese Revolution meant a dramatic shift from episode mistakes of policy toward revolution in other countries to a conscious set of decisions to make the Communist International, in effect, solely an arm of Soviet foreign policy. Make no mistake this is the ebb tide of the revolution.

In a sense if the fight in 1923-24 is the decisive fight to save the Russian revolution (and ultimately a perspective of international revolution) then the 1926-27 fight which was a bloc between Trotsky’s forces and the just defeated forces of Zinoviev and Kamenev, Stalin’s previous allies was the last rearguard action to save that perspective.    That it failed nevertheless does not deny the importance of the fight. Yes, it was a political bloc with some serious differences especially over China and the Anglo-Russian Committee. But two things are important here One- did a perspective of a new party make sense at the time of the clear waning of the revolutionary ebbing the country. No. Besides the place to look was at the most politically conscious elements, granted against heavy odds, in the party where whatever was left of the class-conscious elements of the working class were. As I have noted elsewhere in discussing the 1923 fight- that “Lenin levy” of raw recruits, careerists and just plain thugs was the key element in any defeat. Still the fight was necessary. Hey, that is why we talk about it now. That was a fight to the finish. After that the left opposition or elements of it were forever more outside the party- either in exile, prison or dead. As we know Trotsky went from expulsion from the party in 1927 to internal exile in Alma Ata in 1928 to external exile to Turkey in 1929. From there he underwent further exiles in France, Norway, and Mexico when he was finally felled by a Stalinist assassin. But no matter when he went he continued to struggle for his perspective.

Communists have always prided themselves on the creation production and distribution of their programs. Many a hard fought hour has been spent perfectly such documents. In this the Left Opposition held to tradition. For communist program is not only important, it is decisive. Tell me your program and I will tell you where you fit politically (in the communist movement). Unlike bourgeois parties and politicians who have paper programs, easier for disposal, the idea of program is to focus the way to fight for power. Thus, the key document in this selection is the Platform of the Left Opposition which was geared to the 15th Russian party Congress. While not perfect or complete due to the bloc-nature of the opposition at that time it gives a pretty good idea of how to get the Soviet Union out of some of the extensive internal economic difficulties created by the Stalinist/Bukharinite ‘soft’ agricultural policy, increase internal party democracy and break the Soviet Union out of its international isolation. Hell, some of the points in the program read as if they were written today. Serious militant leftists will want to look at this document in order figure out the program necessary to tackle today’s struggles.