Saturday, July 19, 2014

Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel 

Outrage Against Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boston Stands with Palestine

Tuesday, July 22
Copley Sq, Boston
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Stand up and be counted


On The 75th Anniversary Year Of The Defeat Of The Spanish Revolution- The Lessons Learned


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

In July 1936 General Franco led a military uprising against the legally elected Popular Front government in Spain which set off three years of war, set off the Spanish Civil War, which proved to be a prelude, a “dress rehearsal” for World War II. That uprising, the initial massively popular fight against it by the leftist workers and peasants, and the ultimate victory by Franco’s forces and a forty year “night of the long knives” reign of terror in 1939 is filled with lessons for leftists today. Therefore it seems fitting to me that while we are sadly commemorating the 75th anniversary of the defeat I can pass on some lessons that others have drawn from that experience both while the events were unfolding and later.  

Markin comment:

This blog had gotten my attention for two reasons: those rank and filers who fought to defend democracy, fight the fascists and fight for socialism in Spain for the most part, political opponents or not, were kindred spirits; and, those with first-hand knowledge of those times over seventy years ago are dwindling down to a precious few and so we had better listen to their stories while they are around to tell it. More, later.
Thoughts of the Evening: Olavi Kantola

September 18, 2011
By Alina Flinkman-->

Olavi Kantola

Editor’s note: Olavi Kantola was a Finnish-American volunteer in the International Brigades. This text by Alina Flinkman appeared in the Finnish magazine Vaku in 1941. With thanks to Olavi’s nephew Bob Kantola. Translation by Sirpa Rautio.

It has been snowing heavily the whole day with the harsh Northerly wind blowing. At the break of the evening snowing has paused for a moment, and the wind is blowing with a wheezing sound, circling huge piles of snow, around the buildings and where ever there is a sheltered spot. The harsh and stormy weather has impact also on the human mind.

The newspaper is already read, and sowing and fixing clothes is not of interest for the moment, even for a farm (or peasant) women. So I am wondering what to do, as there is still evening left. I decided to pick up a book from the bookshelf to read, and my hand happened to touch a pile of pictures on the upper shelf. I started to look at the pictures one by one and found many with various groups of ex action-comrades (note – I am not sure what this is, but the translation is literal – probably refers to organized trade union or communist groups.) Many of the lives had already burnt down for ever (they had died). While thinking this and that, I happened to turn a picture of the first child gymnastic group in Superior, Wisconsin, at year 1923. Many of the children in the picture have grown up. Was thinking how have the winds of destiny been swinging your lives, others have had it worse, while some others have possibly been less dented in their lives. I had gone through the back row and moved on to the front row with three boys.

Olavi – you are a hero in that group. You have seen the grand new Soviet Union, where a new system is being built. You were helping to build it and you were satisfied with that system.

You came to your country of birth (translator’s note – not clear but I think it refers to USA rather than Finland) at the moment when assistance was given to the people of Spain in its fight for freedom and democratic rights against the Fascist beasts. You, Olavi, joined the troops, which went to defend workers’ rights. It was the most precious thing for you. You came to see the destruction of the war with all the brutality that went with it.

You managed to see and do a lot considering your young age. You sleep now for eternity there under the grass in Spain. But the memory of your heroism lives on!

Translator’s Note: Reading some excerpts of the letter, which he wrote to his mother before he went to fight, it becomes crystal clear he knew why he was going there:

“This as well is in accordance with those principles I have been thought ever since I was a child. Additionally, I am convinced that it is always in front of me in life to be at the line of fire, which ever country I am in. As I said in my previous letter, it is the task of my generation in this world to resolve the question for which Spartacus already hundreds years ago led the gladiators to fight. Will the workers class, the poor, always be persecuted or will we rise one day to finish off this system of exploitation? In these battles in the past hundreds of years thousands have died, but what is a more honorable death than to die for the future in which millions have a good life and to can build a world where they also benefit.

This experience, combined with my times in the Soviet Union, should make me a proper man for the working class. And then could the coming generations talk about me honestly and perfectly: He lived and died for the principles of Marx-Lenin-Stalin, which have won the freedom for the multimillions of Russians and which will produce the final victory for the entire working class, blacks, yellows and whites in the most distant and smallest corners of the globe. And when we bury the fascist and imperialist systems, my ghost will be there in the vicinity and smiling: It was not for nothing.”
Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel  

Spread the word.  Come and be visible.
at 5:00pm - 6:30pm in EDT
Copley Sq, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Stop the Israeli assault on Gaza launched on July 8.
End the Israeli blockade on Gaza ongoing since 2007.
End American support and assistance for Israeli crimes.

Join together in Copley Square to speak out about the injustice in Palestine!

Bring your own signs for the rally and we will have candles for the vigil.
at 5:30pm in EDT
Copley Sq, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
As Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza enters its second week, join with thousands across the world in demanding an end to Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians.

Take to the streets to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to demand an end to U.S. aid to Israel, an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the occupation.

Liza Behrendt
Organizer, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston
Saturday, July 19, 1 PM, Park St., Rally.  More details to follow.
Marilyn Levin
United for Justice with Peace

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Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel


Friday, July 18, 2014

On The 75th Anniversary Year Of The Defeat Of The Spanish Revolution- The Lessons Learned-THE SPANISH REVOLUTION, 1931-39, LEON TROTSKY

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

In July 1936 General Franco led a military uprising against the legally elected Popular Front government in Spain which set off three years of war, set off the Spanish Civil War, which proved to be a prelude, a “dress rehearsal” for World War II. That uprising, the initial massively popular fight against it by the leftist workers and peasants, and the ultimate victory by Franco’s forces and a forty year “night of the long knives” reign of terror in 1939 is filled with lessons for leftists today. Therefore it seems fitting to me that while we are sadly commemorating the 75th anniversary of the defeat I can pass on some lessons that others have drawn from that experience both while the events were unfolding and later.  

Reposted from the American Left History blog- June 6, 2006


I have been interested, as a pro-Republican partisan, in the Spanish Civil War since I was a teenager. What initially perked my interest, and remains of interest, is the passionate struggle of the Spanish working class to create its own political organization of society, its leadership of the struggle against Spanish fascism and the romance surrounding the entry of the International Brigades, particularly the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the 15th Brigade, into the struggle.

Underlying my interests has always been a nagging question of how that struggle could have been won by the working class. The Spanish proletariat certainly was capable of both heroic action and the ability to create organizations that reflected its own class interests i.e. the worker militias and factory committees. Of all modern working class revolutions after the Russian revolution Spain showed the most promise of success. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted that the political class consciousness of the Spanish proletariat at that time was higher than that of the Russian proletariat in 1917. Yet it failed in Spain. Trotsky's writings on this period represent a provocative and thoughtful approach to an understanding of the causes of that failure. Moreover, with all proper historical proportions considered, his analysis has continuing value as the international working class struggles against the seemingly one-sided class war being waged by the international bourgeoisie today.

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 has been the subject of innumerable works from every possible political and military perspective possible. A fair number of such treatises, especially from those responsible for the military and political policies on the Republican side, are merely alibis for the disastrous policies that led to defeat. Trotsky's complication of articles, letters, pamphlets, etc. which make up the volume reviewed here is an exception. Trotsky was actively trying to intervene in the unfolding events in order to present a program of socialist revolution that most of the active forces on the Republican side were fighting, or believed they were fighting for. Thus, Trotsky's analysis brings a breath of fresh air to the historical debate. That in the end Trotsky could not organize the necessary cadres to carry out his program or meaningfully impact the unfolding events in Spain is one of the ultimate tragedies of that revolution. Nevertheless, Trotsky had a damn good idea of what forces were acting as a roadblock to revolution. He also had a strategic conception of the road to victory. And that most definitely was not through the Popular Front.

The central question Trotsky addresses throughout the whole period under review here was the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletarian forces. That premise entailed, in short, a view that the objective conditions for the success of a socialist program for society had ripened. Nevertheless, until that time, despite several revolutionary upheavals elsewhere, the international working class had not been successful anywhere except in backward Russia. Trotsky thus argued that it was necessary to focus on the question of forging the missing element of revolutionary leadership that would assure victory or at least put up a fight to the finish.

This underlying premise was the continuation of an analysis that Trotsky developed in earnest in his struggle to fight the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution in the mid-1920's. The need to learn the lessons of the Russian Revolution and to extend that revolution internationally was thus not a merely a theoretical question for Trotsky. Spain, moreover, represented a struggle where the best of the various leftist forces were in confusion about how to move forward. Those forces could have profitably heeded Trotsky's advice. I further note that the question of the crisis of revolutionary leadership still remains to be resolved by the international working class.

Trotsky's polemics in this volume are highlighted by the article ‘The Lessons of Spain-Last Warning’, his definitive assessment of the Spanish situation in the wake of the defeat of the Barcelona uprising in May 1937. Those polemics center on the failure of the Party of Marxist Unification (hereafter, POUM) to provide revolutionary leadership. That party, partially created by cadre formerly associated with Trotsky in the Spanish Left Opposition, failed on virtually every count. Those conscious mistakes included, but were not limited to, the creation of an unprincipled bloc between the former Left Oppositionists and the former Right Oppositionists (Bukharinites) of Maurin to form the POUM in 1935; political support to the Popular Front including entry into the government coalition by its leader; creation of its own small trade union federation instead of entry in the anarchist led-CNT; creation of its own militia units reflecting a hands-off attitude toward political struggle with other parties; and, fatally, an at best equivocal role in the Barcelona uprising of 1937.

Trotsky had no illusions about the roadblock to revolution of the policies carried out by the old-time Anarchist, Socialist and Communist Parties. Unfortunately the POUM did. Moreover, despite being the most honest revolutionary party in Spain it failed to keep up an intransigent struggle to push the revolution forward. The Trotsky - Andreas Nin (key leader of the POUM and former Left Oppositionist) correspondence in the Appendix makes that problem painfully clear.

The most compelling example of this failure - As a result of the failure of the Communist Party of Germany to oppose the rise of Hitler in 1933 and the subsequent decapitation and the defeat of the Austrian working class in 1934 the European workers, especially the younger workers, of the traditional Socialist Parties started to move left. Trotsky observed this situation and told his supporters to intersect that development by an entry, called the ‘French turn’, into those parties. Nin and the Spanish Left Opposition, and later the POUM failed to do that. As a result the Socialist Party youth were recruited to the Communist Party en masse. This accretion formed the basic for its expansion as a party and the key cadre of its notorious security apparatus that would, after the Barcelona uprising, suppress the more left ward organizations. For more such examples of the results of the crisis of leadership in the Spanish Revolution read this book.

Revised-June 19, 2006
Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel  

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at 5:00pm - 6:30pm in EDT
Copley Sq, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Stop the Israeli assault on Gaza launched on July 8.
End the Israeli blockade on Gaza ongoing since 2007.
End American support and assistance for Israeli crimes.

Join together in Copley Square to speak out about the injustice in Palestine!

Bring your own signs for the rally and we will have candles for the vigil.
at 5:30pm in EDT
Copley Sq, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
As Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza enters its second week, join with thousands across the world in demanding an end to Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians.

Take to the streets to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to demand an end to U.S. aid to Israel, an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the occupation.

Liza Behrendt
Organizer, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston
Saturday, July 19, 1 PM, Park St., Rally.  More details to follow.
Marilyn Levin
United for Justice with Peace

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***From The Brothers Under The Bridge Series- The Road Less Traveled- Johnny Prescott’s Choice- With A Tip Of The Hat To Poet Robert Frost


From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin:

In the first installment of this series of sketches space provided courtesy of my old 1960s yellow brick road magical mystery tour merry prankster fellow traveler, Peter Paul Markin, I mentioned, in grabbing an old Bruce Springsteen CD compilation from 1998 to download into my iPod, that I had come across a song that stopped me in my tracks, Brothers Under The Bridge. I had not listened to or thought about that song for a long time but it brought back many memories from the late 1970s when I did a series of articles for the now defunct East Bay Eye (Frisco town, California East Bay, naturally) on the fate of some troubled Vietnam veterans who, for one reason or another, could not come to grips with “going back to the real world” and took, like those a Great Depression generation or two before them, to the “jungle”-the hobo, bum, tramp camps located along the abandoned railroad sidings, the ravines and crevices, and under the bridges of California, mainly down in Los Angeles, and created their own “society.”

The editor of the East Bay Eye, Owen Anderson, gave me that long ago assignment after I had done a smaller series for the paper on the treatment, the poor treatment, of Vietnam veterans by the Veterans Administration in San Francisco and in the course of that series had found out about this band of brothers roaming the countryside trying to do the best they could, but mainly trying to keep themselves in one piece. My qualifications for the assignment other than empathy, since I had not been in the military during the Vietnam War period, were based simply on the fact that back East I had been involved, along with several other radicals, in running an anti-war GI coffeehouse near Fort Devens in Massachusetts and another down near Fort Dix in New Jersey. During that period I had run into many soldiers of my 1960s generation who had clued me in on the psychic cost of the war so I had a running start.

After making connections with some Vietnam Veterans Against The War (VVAW) guys down in L.A. who knew where to point me I was on my way. I gathered many stories, published some of them in the Eye, and put the rest in my helter-skelter files. A while back, after having no success in retrieving the old Eye archives, I went up into my attic and rummaged through what was left of those early files. I could find no newsprint articles that I had written but I did find a batch of notes, specifically notes from stories that I didn’t file because the Eye went under before I could round them into shape.

The ground rules of those long ago stories was that I would basically let the guy I was talking to give his spiel, spill what he wanted the world to hear, and I would write it up without too much editing (mainly for foul language). I, like with the others in this current series, have reconstructed this story as best I can although at this far remove it is hard to get the feel of the voice and how things were said.

Not every guy I interviewed, came across, swapped lies with, or just snatched some midnight phrase out of the air from was from hunger. Most were, yes, in one way or another but some, and the one I am recalling in this sketch from 1979 told to me by my friend Peter Paul Markin about a corner boy from back in his old North Adamsville neighborhood fits this description, had no real desire to advertise their own hunger but just wanted to get something off their chest about some lost buddy, or some event they had witnessed. I have presented enough of these sketches both back in the day and here to not make a generalization about what a guy might be hiding in the deep recesses of his mind.


Some wanted to give a blow by blow description of every firefight (and every hut torched) they were involved in, others wanted to blank out ‘Nam completely and talk of before or after times, or talk about the fate of some buddy, some ‘Nam buddy, who maybe made it back the “real world” but got catch up with stuff he couldn’t handle, or got caught up in some stuff himself that he couldn’t handle, couldn’t handle because his whole blessed life pointed the other way. Let Markin tell the tale his way and you will see that it exactly fits the series and the times, the times of the Vietnam two roads. The sign to place this one under, easy; the road not taken.


Added Comment:

I am not a big fan of Robert Frost's poetry (although his public readings were very interesting with that old swamp Yankee wisdom voice although don’t borrow anything from him or let him borrow because that is the way of the swamp Yankee) but this one, this one about the two roads (hell, maybe more but two makes the point nicely), one not taken, not taken like some childhood door choice   every once in a while "speaks" to me when there are two (or more) choices to make in life. That choice business certainly applies to the characters below, certainly speaks to their respective predicaments. o

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.

1. The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference. 20


Sergeant John Prescott, “Johnny P.” to his pals gathered around a small table, drinking sodas (although in their North Adamsville neighborhood in the old days everybody, everybody in New England too, maybe, called it tonic but that term fell out of usage with mass national advertising of soft drinks and so soda) and coffee, in the next room was a quiet, unassuming guy, no great scholar in high school just getting by although mainly getting by because being quiet and unassuming his teachers found no reason not to push him on until graduation. Quiet and unassuming too around with his corner boys, not the leader, a rank and filer really, but always ready to “show the colors” when some other corner boys wanted to take a run for the store front corner of Salducci’s Pizza Parlor, his hang-out corner boy place. Quiet and unassuming with the girls too, a little shy really being raised in an all boy family and so not wise to girl ways, silly or profound, never without a date when it counted but also never the subject of “can’t wait to tell you” talk in that manic Monday morning before school girls’ room talkfest where what did or did not get done to whom, and by whom, over the weekend was hashed out. Johnny was “nice” was the best that any girl ever uttered about Johnny later when the dust had settled.    

Yeah, Johnny P., a guy with just that barebones patriotism that animated many working class kids, North Adamsville neighborhood kids no exception, to “do their duty” and join up when America was in danger, no questions asked. Father, an ex-Marine, who had seen all the action a man could want in the Pacific island-hopping war during World War II (somebody once said there were no ex-Marines but we will let that pass since his father, a taciturn man, taken to occasional bouts of heavy silent drinking never talked about those Pacific experiences like many in his generation, except for the life-long after-effect trouble from malaria). Scads of uncles, grand-uncles (one killed in World War I and who had an eternal square up near the high school named after him like too many squares in this wicked old world), older cousins, older neighbors all taking the oath, all going through the male neighborhood rite of passage.

Not quite some gung-ho “my country, right or wrong,” that dividing line came later, but never questioned because nobody would have thought to pose the question then, but pretty close when all was said and done. Yeah, everybody just quietly and assumingly did their duty and quiet unassuming Johnny followed suite. And as the early 1960s, the time of high school fun and frolic and for sturdy football lineman Johnny P, fun and frolic with one fetching Chrissie O’Shea and their quiet romance that was the decidedly not the talk of the Class of 1964 at old North Adamsville High, turned to mid-1960s and clarion calls that the country was in danger in some place called red-infested Vietnam Johnny, and not just Johnny, answered the call. Answered the call like father, uncles and forbears had done for generations before (it would be later that a few, too few, North Adamsville boys would join the draft resistance movement, a few, again, too few, would join the military resistance when the American Army was half in mutiny in the late 1960s). And here, gathered around a small table, in early May 1968 his old corner boys from in front of Salducci’s Pizza Parlor “up the Downs” (the local section of  town was called Norfolk Downs like in bloody England and hence the “up the Downs”) were chatting away like mad.

Suddenly, Frank Riley, fabled Frankie, the king of the be-bop Salducci’s night in those fresher days, in Johnny corner boy rank and filer days  yelled to no one in particular but they all knew what he meant, “Remember that night after graduation when Tonio threw us that party at the pizza parlor.” And all the other five gathered at the table became silence with their own memories of that night. See, Tonio was the king hell owner and Zen master pizza maker at Salducci’s who had even those waiting for that never coming local bus in front of the shop looking in amazement through the glass windows at Tonio flipping pizzas.  And a guy for some unknown reason, call it Frankie’s charisma (or blarney which amounted to the same thing in Irishtown) who treated Frankie (and therefore most of Frankie’s friends) like some prodigal son. So Tonio put out a big deal party right on the premises, closed to all but Frankie, his friends and hangers-on (and girls of course, many girls because although Frankie was “hitched” to his sweetheart from junior high, Joanne he had many “girl friends”). Tonio, at least this is what he said at the time, appreciated that Frankie brought so much business his way what with his corner boys, their corner boys, and the, ah, girls that gathered round them and who endlessly fed the juke box that he had to show his appreciation in such a way. And everybody had a great time that night, with the closed-door illegal wine (against a state-mandated twenty-one but hell it was only wine), Tonio-provided wine, flowing like crazy and nobody, no authorities or parents the wiser for it.

Part of that great time, the part the guys around the 1968 table were remembering just then, the part of that great gun-ho 1964 time occurred late that night when, plenty of wine under their belts, Frankie and the corner boys, talked “heroic” talk. Talked about their military service obligations that was coming up right on them after graduation. And this was no abstract talk, not this night, for not only was this a party put on by Tonio to show his gratitude for the business sent his way but a kind of going away party for sturdy football player and increasingly part-time corner boy, Johnny P. (the other part, the more and more part, with one fetching Chrissie O’Shea who many guys coveted but who deferred to the age old tradition of not cutting some fellow corner boy’s time until he was dumped, a tradition unlike some others that was actually honored, had been for a long time ever since a big blow-out back in the early 1950s when some guy tried to cut another guy’s time and wound up face down on North Adamsville Beach ruled a drowning but everybody knew the real score), who signed up right after graduation and was getting ready to leave for “boot camp” at Fort Dix, New Jersey in a few days. So everybody was piling on the bravery talk to Johnny about “killing commies” somewhere, maybe Vietnam, maybe Germany, hell, maybe Russia or China. And Johnny, not any rum-brave kind Johnny, not any blah blah-ing about bravery, football or war, Johnny just kind of sat there and let the noise go by him. His thoughts then were of Chrissie and doing everything he could to get back to her in one piece.

Of course heaping up pile after pile on the bravery formula was one Frankie Riley, ever the politician and well as keenly acknowledged corner boy king, who had so just happened to have landed, through a very curious connection with the Kennedy clan, a coveted slot in a National Guard unit. So, Frankie, ever Frankie, could be formally brave that night in the knowledge that he would be far away from any real fighting. His rejoinder was that his unit “might” be called up. The others kidded him about it, about his “week-end warrior” status, but just a little because after all he would be serving one way or another. Also kind of silent that night was Fritz Taylor just then ready to “do his duty” after having had a heavy-duty fight with his mother about his future, or lack of a future, and her “hadn’t he better go in the service and learn a trade” talk.

Most vociferous that night was Timmy Kiley. Yes, Timmy, the younger brother of the legendary North Adamsville and later State U. football player “Thunder Tommy” Kiley. He was ready to catch every red under every bed and do what, when and where to any he caught. Timmy later joined the Navy to “see the world” and saw much of some dreary scow in some dry-dock down in Charleston, South Carolina. Even Peter Paul Markin, Frankie’s right-hand man, self-described scribe, and publicly kind of the pacifist of the group, who usually got mercilessly “fag”-baited for his pale peace comments was up in arms about the need to keep the “free world” free. But that was just the way he talked, kind of a studied hysterical two-thousand facts diatribe. Markin, student deferred, at that 1968 table had just gotten notice from his friendly neighbors at the North Adamsville Draft Board that upon graduation he was to be drafted. And he was ready, although kicking and screaming about some graduate school project that the world really needed to know about, to go. That was the way it was in the neighborhood. Go or be out. Frank Ricco, the so-called token Eye-talian, of the Irish-laden Salducci’s corner boy night (and a kid that Tonio actually hated, some kind of Mafioso, omerta thing with his father) also displayed super-human brave talk that night but he was credited , not so many months later with not only going in the Marines but of seeing some heavy-duty action in jungle-infested Kontum, and some other exotic and mainly unpronounceable places farther south in the water-logged rice paddles of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

Quiet, quieter than Johnny Prescott thinking of Chrissie, or Fritz, sullenly furious at his mother or at his hard-scrabble fate, or both, was Johnny Callahan. Johnny no stranger to corner boy controversy, no stranger to patriotic sentiments, at least publicly to keep in step with his boys, secretly hated war, the idea of this war coming up and was seriously hung up on the Catholic “just war” theory that had been around since at least Saint Augustine, maybe earlier. See Johnny had a grandmother (and also a mother, but less so) who was an ardent Catholic Worker reader and adherent to their social philosophy. You know, Dorothy Day and that crowd of rebel Catholics who wanted to go back to the old, old days, the Roman persecution days, of the social gospel and the like.

And grandmother had the “just war” theory down pat. She was the greatest knitter of socks for “the boys” during World War II that the world may have ever known. But on Vietnam she was strictly “no-go, no-go, no way” and she was drilling that in Johnny’s head every chance she got (which was a lot since Johnny, having, well let’s call it “friction” with his mother sought refuge over at grandma’s). Now grandma was pressing Johnny to apply for conscientious objector status (CO) but Johnny knew that as a Catholic, a lapsing Catholic but still a Catholic, the formal “just war” theory of that church would not qualify him for CO status. He wanted to, expected to, just refuse induction. So that rounded out that party that night. Hell, maybe in retrospect it wasn’t such a great party, although blame the times not Tonio for that.

Just then, as each member at the table, thought his thoughts started by Frankie’s remembrance sipping their sodas and coffee sort of absent-mindedly someone from the other room called out, “pall-bearers, get ready.”

Postscript: Sergeant, E-5, John Phillip Prescott made the national news that 1968 year, that 1968 year of Tet, made the Life magazine photo montage of those killed in service in Vietnam on any given week. Johnny P.’s week was heavy with casualties so there were many photos, many looks of mainly working-class enlisted youth that kind of blurred together despite the efforts to recognize each individually. And, of course, Johnny P.’s name is etched for eternity in black marble down in Washington, D.C. John Patrick Callahan served his two year “tour of duty” as federal prisoner 122204, at the Federal Correctional Institution, Allentown, Pennsylvania. The road less traveled, indeed.

Build The International Working Class Front-

Events and Hours
Center for Marxist Education | 550 Mass Ave, Cambridge
All Events are free and open to the public

Saturday's presentation has been moved to 4pm to accommodate the
Stand With Gaza! Rally and Die-In
1PM - Park Street Station
The Material Basis for Revolutionary Optimism Today
A presentation and discussion led by Wadi'h Halabi

TIME CHANGE: Saturday, July 19th 4-6pm

What is the material basis for revolutionary optimism today? Indeed, is there such a basis? 

It can be easy to fall into pessimism in this period -- the just cause of socialism has suffered major setbacks with counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and eleven other states in the 1980s and early 1990s, and we have not experienced any significant victories for workers' power since Indochina in 1975. Problems are widespread with decomposition of the working class in capitalist countries, and recomposition on unfavorable terms. 

False optimism, on the other hand, can lead to errors in action, disappointments and inaction.

The approach of this presentation is to examine the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two major class antagonists, the international working class and the world capitalist class, and their respective organizations. It concludes that there is reason for revolutionary optimism but little room for serious errors, as capitalism in crisis accelerates the destruction of both social and environmental foundations for human existence.

Based on presentations and discussions at the Institute (now Academy) of Marxism in Beijing, the Salt of the Earth Labor College in Tucson, Arizona, and elsewhere.

Readings for Radicals
Wednesdays, 23rd 7-9pm

A bi-monthly Wednesday night book discussion group, facilitated by Joe Ramsey.  Join us to discuss some of the important written works in the radical left tradition, from marxist classics to more contemporary texts, from political theory, to fiction and poetry.

For July we will continue our focus  on Black Radical Writers: examining the work of James Baldwin and Toni Cade Bambara (while continuing our discussion Richard Wright and the Black Panther Party)
Recommended texts for the month:  James Baldwin's short book "The Fire Next Time" and Toni Cade Bambara's story "The Lesson".

Sunday Film & Discussion
Hosted by Richard Pendleton
Sunday, July 27th - 6pm


Experience the American Journey through our country's visual heritage in this historical recording provided by the National Archives of the United States. It includes testimony from the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan opposition. This historical recording from the National Archives may contain variations in audio and video quality based on the limitations of the original source material. The content summary for this DVD is adapted from an historical description provided by the government agency or donor at the time of production release. 64 minutes. 2007.

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Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel

Defend The Palestinian People! No U.S. Aid To Israel




1pm, Park Street. Station


As the U.S.-made bombs fall on Gaza, indiscriminately killing Palestinians, many of them children, the death toll has reached over 265. The UN estimates the casualties to be overwhelmingly civilian, including scores of women and children, as Israel has now launched a ground attack of tanks and troops against the tiny Gaza Strip – to supplement its ongoing slaughter from the air and sea.


“We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account.”


Join us as we mourn the hundreds killed and protest the complicity of the U.S. government that spends over three billion of our tax dollars and advanced military weapons annually to Israel to maintain an illegal and immoral system of discrimination and occupation and the calamitous siege of Gaza.


Tyler Hicks photograph of beach massacre that appeared in New York TimesWe call for:     An End to the Bombings and Killings

                        An End to U.S. aid to Israel

                        Support for the Palestinian call for BDS


Horror on Gaza Beach

DEMOCRACY NOW! Had The Best Roundup here


Meanwhile, in the US, the Obama administration and the Congress have piled on. . .in support of the slaughter and to back Israel’s aims in the current hostilities.


Obama Endorses Israel’s Gaza Assault at White House “Iftar”

At the annual White House Iftar dinner commemorating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, President Barack Obama endorsed Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip and defended government spying on Muslim-Americans. Alongside dozens of Muslim-American community activists and Muslim diplomats, the White House welcomed Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, an outspoken advocate of Israel's settlement enterprise who has claimed Muslim and Arab culture is endemically violent.  More


Senate passes resolution in support of Israel

The Senate passed a resolution expressing support for Israel on the same night the country launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) authored S.Res. 498, which reaffirms Senate support for Israel, condemns unprovoked rocket fire and calls on Hamas to stop all rocket attacks on Israel. “The United States Senate is in Israel’s camp,” Graham said on the Senate floor Thursday. Passage of the resolution came moments after Israel announced that it launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, following a week of heavy rocket attacks from Hamas forces.  More


Senator Elizabeth Warren was anxious to avoid responding to a question about Gaza.


The House and Senate resolutions, which were undoubtedly written by AIPAC, make no mention of casualties in Gaza, call the rockets “an unprovoked attack”  and also demand that the Palestinian Authority dissolve its unity agreement with Hamas.


Gaza: this shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises

For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, just over a week ago, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children. Around 1,400 have been wounded and 1,255 Palestinian homes destroyed. So far, Palestinian fire has killed one Israeli on the other side of the barrier that makes blockaded Gaza the world’s largest open-air prison. But instead of demanding a halt to Israel’s campaign of collective punishment against what is still illegally occupied territory, the western powers have blamed the victims for fighting back. If it weren’t for Hamas’s rockets fired out of Gaza’s giant holding pen, they insist, all of this bloodletting would end.   More


We single Israel out because we in the west are shamefully complicit in its crimes

For its many supporters in the west, Israel is being unfairly singled out for criticism… Why pick on plucky Israel? What about the Chinas, Russias, Syrias, Saudi Arabias, Irans, Sudans and Burmas? Where are the protests against Isis, Boko Haram or the Pakistani Taliban? … Israel is “singled out” today, but by its friends and not just by its enemies. It has been singled out for unparalleled support – financial, military, diplomatic – by the western powers. It is indeed, to quote Ben-Ami, a “special case”. Which other country is in receipt of $3bn a year in US aid, despite maintaining a 47-year military occupation in violation of international law? Which other country has been allowed to develop and stockpile nuclear weapons in secret?   More




“CUTTING THE GRASS is a racist term used by the Israeli security establishment as a way to “manage” Palestinian resistance by periodically launching limited attacks on Gaza to degrade to ability of Hamas and other armed factions to confront the occupation of their land. It is a strategy for limiting, rather than ending the conflict.  Short VIDEO here


GAZA is the size of heavily urban Suffolk County – but at 1.8 million inhabitants almost three times as densely populated. With all its borders closed, there is literally nowhere for people to escape or hide from the bombing.


Compared to the intermittent firing of small-caliber mortars and mostly home-made rockets from Gaza, since 2006 there have been almost continuous Israeli attacks and assassinations against political and civilian leaders in Gaza.  There have been thousands killed in Gaza and tens of thousands wounded or displaced from their homes.  During the same period, the best estimate is that 27 Israelis have died since 2004 in rocket attacks launched from Gaza. (In 2012 alone, 263 Israelis died in traffic accidents).


Gaza continues to be legally occupied territory:

While Israel has argued that it ceased occupying Gaza in 2005 when it unilaterally redeployed its troops outside of Gaza and withdrew its settlers from Gaza, Gaza continues to be occupied in accordance with international law and in the views of the international community, including the U.S.[i], the EU, and the U.N.[ii]. Israel’s continued responsibility as the occupying power in Gaza results from several factors.  First, Israel continues to exert effective control over Gaza including control of the borders, airspace, waterways, population registry, currency, the movement of people, trade, electrical supply, water supply, and more. Second, Israel maintains and exerts a right to conduct regular military operations in Gaza, giving it effective military control over the territory. Under international law[iii], effective control is the key measures of occupation.  More


Since 2005, when Israel decided to remove its settlers and troops from inside Gaza, in order to maintain its siege from outside and strengthen its colonization of the West Bank, there have been almost continuous restrictions on the entry of food and other humanitarian necessities.  Israeli politicians joked, in the infamous words of Dov Weissglass, chief aide to former Israeli President Ariel Sharon: “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger… It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die…"


Israel’s Incremental Genocide in the Gaza Ghetto 

The present genocidal wave has, like all the previous ones, also a more immediate background. It has been born out of an attempt to foil the Palestinian decision to form a unity government [4] that even the United States could not object to… Ever since June 1967, Israel searched for a way to keep the territories it occupied that year without incorporating their indigenous Palestinian population into its rights-bearing citizenry. All the while it participated in a “peace process” charade to cover up or buy time for its unilateral colonization policies on the ground.  With the decades, Israel differentiated between areas it wished to control directly and those it would manage indirectly, with the aim in the long run of downsizing the Palestinian population to a minimum with, among other means, ethnic cleansing and economic and geographic strangulation.  More


Israel controls two out of three sides of Gaza on the land and its naval patrols maintain a sea blockade; Israel’s (and US) ally Egypt keeps the third land side mostly closed and in any case honors the agreement with Israel to limit Rafah access to foot traffic alone.  So all goods coming in and out of Gaza are controlled by Israel.


Compared to the intermittent firing of small-caliber mortars and mostly home-made rockets from Gaza, since 2006, there have been almost continuous Israeli attacks and assassinations against political and civilian leaders in Gaza, with concomitant “collateral damage” killing hundreds of others.  Periodically, Israel launched heavier attacks resulting in even higher casualties, the majority civilian in all cases.  Notice the consistent and obscene Israeli terminology in naming its attacks:


June 2014 – Protective Edge: 265 killed and counting

November 2012 – Pillar of Defense: killing 168 Palestinians and destroying hundreds of homes

December 2008 – Cast Lead: More than 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, were killed and over 16,000 Gazans were permanently displaced from their homes which were destroyed during the attack. 

February 2008 – Warm Winter: killed 120 (34 children) and injured 269 (at least 63 children)

June 2006 – Summer Rains/Autumn Clouds: at least 351 Palestinians dead and 848 injured

February 2006 – Lightning Strike

September 2005 – First Rain

October 2004 – Days of Penitence: 130 killed, hundreds wounded

May, 2004 -- Operation Rainbow: at least 43 killed, hundreds wounded.


Whenever a temporary truce was negotiated (and scrupulously maintained by Hamas), the pattern has been for Israel to renege on the terms and break the ceasefire with fresh attacks when it deemed them useful.  And contrary to the Israeli claims that this was “to protect its citizens,” the pattern reveals that the most dangerous time for Israeli civilians is when Israel is launching an attack on Gaza.


Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?

…we found that this pattern -- in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause -- becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days… Thus, a systematic pattern does exist: it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first following a lull. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.   More


A Tale of Two Ceasefires

Egypt, acting as the United States normally does, worked out the details of its ceasefire idea primarily with Israel. The deal reflects the Israeli and Egyptian agenda: it mostly follows the formula of “quiet for quiet,” essentially bringing back the status quo ante of early June. It offers Hamas a vague promise of future negotiations to address the siege of the Gaza Strip. But this is hardly something Hamas will put stock in. The 2012 ceasefire agreement, which was negotiated by then-Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a man much friendlier to Hamas than the current Egyptian leadership, also made such a promise and it never came to anything. Finally, Egypt says it is willing to open the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt more widely but only if Hamas allows Palestinian Authority security to police it instead of their own people.  It’s not hard to see why Hamas viewed that offer, and its exclusion from the talks, more like a call to surrender than a ceasefire…  Hamas recently confirmed its terms for a ceasefire: Israel should lift the siege it has imposed on the strip for the last seven years, and release all the prisoners it arrested last month during its sweep of the West Bank while the Netanyahu government was keeping the Israeli public and the world from immediately finding out that the three youths who were ostensibly being searching for were already dead. In exchange, Hamas would agree to a ceasefire.   More