Saturday, December 27, 2014

Support "Courage To Resist"-The Organization Supporting Military Resisters And Chelsea Manning 

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee Website- And A Personal Appeal From The American Left History Blog - Remembering The Class-War Prisoners During The Holiday Appeal     


James P. Cannon (center)-Founding leader of The International Labor Defense- a model for labor defense work in the 1920s and 1930s.

Click below to link to the Partisan Defense Committee website.

Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010, updated December 2014.

Markin comment:

I like to think of myself as a long-time fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the international working class. Cases from early on in the 1970s when the organization was founded and the committee defended the Black Panthers who were being targeted by every police agency that had an say in the matter, the almost abandoned by the left Weather Underground (in its various incantations) and Chilean miners in the wake of the Pinochet coup there in 1973 up to more recent times with the Mumia death penalty case, defense of the Occupy movement and the NATO three, and defense of the heroic Wiki-leaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley).

Moreover the PDC is an organization committed, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program through the annual Holiday Appeal drive. Unfortunately having to raise these funds in support of political prisoners for many years now, too many years, as the American and international capitalist class and their hangers-on have declared relentless war, recently a very one-sided war, against those who would cry out against the monster. Attempting to silence voices from zealous lawyers like Lynne Stewart, articulate death-row prisoners like Mumia and the late Tookie Williams, anti-fascist street fighters like the Tingsley Five to black liberation fighters like the Assata Shakur, the Omaha Three and the Angola Three and who ended up on the wrong side of a cop and state vendetta and anti-imperialist fighters like the working-class based Ohio Seven and student-based Weather Underground who took Che Guevara’s admonition to wage battle inside the “belly of the beast” seriously. Others, other militant labor and social liberation fighters as well, too numerous to mention here but remembered.

Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year tough I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).

That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson’s present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers in their better days, the days when the American state really was out to kill or detain every last supporter, and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven,  as represented by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their younger days; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today (also Black Panther-connected); the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.

That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.

And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. Many, too many for most of that time. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly. I urge others to do the same now at the holidays and throughout the year. The class-war prisoners must not stand alone. 
Victory To The Fast-Food Workers......Fight For $15 Is Just A Beginning-All Labor Must Support Our Sisters And Brothers- Free All The Striking Fast Food Protesters!

Comments of a supporter of the “Fight for $15” action in Downtown Boston on September 4, 2014 as part of a national struggle for economic justice and dignity for the our hard working sisters and brothers:

No question in this wicked old world that those at the bottom are “the forgotten ones.” Here we are talking about working people, people working and working hard for eight, nine, ten dollars an hour. Maybe working two jobs to make ends meet since a lot of times these McJobs, these Wal-Marts jobs do not come with forty hours of work attached but whatever some cost-cutting manager deems right. And lately taking advantage of cover from Obamacare keeping the hours below the threshold necessary to kick in health insurance and other benefits. Yes, the forgotten people.

But let’s do the math here figuring on forty hours and figuring on say ten dollars an hour. That‘s four hundred a week times fifty weeks (okay so I am rounding off for estimate purposes here too since most of these jobs do not have vacation time figured in).That’s twenty thousand a year. Okay so just figure any kind of descent apartment in the Boston area where I am writing this-say one thousand a month. That’s twelve thousand a year. So the other eight thousand is for everything else. No way can that be done. And if you had listened to the young and not so young fast-food workers, the working mothers, the working older brothers taking care of younger siblings, workers trying to go to school to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty you would understand the truth of that statement. And the stories went on and on along that line all during the action. 

Confession: it has been a very long time since I have had to scrimp and scrim to make ends meet, to get the rent in, to keep those damn bill-collectors away from my door, to beg the utility companies to not shut off those necessary services. But I have been there, no question. And I did not like it then and I do not like the idea of it now.  I am here to say even the “Fight for $15” is not enough, but it is a start. And I whole-heartedly support the struggle of my sisters and brothers for a little economic justice in this wicked old world. And any reader who might read this-would you work for slave wages? I think not. So show your solidarity and get out and support the fast-food and Wal-Mart workers in their just struggles. 

Organize Wal-Mart! Organize the fast food workers! Union! Union!          

Let All GLBTQ Groups, Veterans For Peace and All Peace Activists In The Annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 2015  

Veterans For Peace
For Immediate Release
Contact: Pat Scanlon, Office: 978-475-1776, Cell: 978-590-4248, 
Veterans For Peace applauds the decision by the Allied War Veterans Council to allow OUTVETS, a fledging new LGBT veterans group, to walk in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
The LGBT community has been denied participation in the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for over twenty years. This certainly signals a step in the right direction.
It is wonderful that this group can participate. Now what about the rest of the LGBT community and area peace groups? “Now may be the time to invite Veterans For Peace and all the other LGBT groups and peace groups to participate in the celebration of Saint Patrick on this very special day,” stated Pat Scanlon, a Vietnam Veteran, and the Coordinator of the Boston area chapter of Veterans For Peace.
Veterans For Peace is a national veterans organization with headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri. The organization has 140 chapters and 4,000 members across the country. One of the largest and most active chapters is known as the Smedley D. Butler Brigade right here in the Boston area. Several members of the local chapter are life long residents of South Boston yet are not allowed to march in the traditional parade because they advocate peace.
Veterans For Peace is the only veterans organization in the country that opposes war as an instrument of national policy, and advocates exhausting all avenues of diplomacy and negotiations before sending our young men and women into battle. Because of this stance veterans who have dutifully served this country, many who have experienced the horrors of war, are not allowed to participate in this historic parade because they now advocate peaceful resolution to conflict.
Five years ago Veterans For Peace applied to walk in the traditional parade and were denied. The stated reason for the denial was that the parade organizers “did not want the word peace associated with the word veteran.”. For the past five years Veterans For Peace have organized their own “Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade, the alternative parade for Peace, Equality, Jobs, Environmental Stewardship, Social and Economic Justice, that follows the same route as the first parade, but a mile behind. “Our parade is welcoming and inclusive of all groups especially the Boston area LGBT and peace groups because of their past exclusion,” added Scanlon. Last year the Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade had two thousand participants, eight divisions, eight bands and a lot of Irish revelry celebrating the patron saint of Ireland.
We think that the time has come to combine both parades and have one inclusive welcoming parade for all those wishing to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Maybe this is year,” concluded Scanlon.
Web:    Twitter: @smedleyVFP       Facebook:

Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-In Honor Of The Frontline Fighters Of The International Working Class Today-The International Working Class Anthem The Internationale


A YouTube film clip of a performance of the classic international working class song of struggle, The Internationale.

Markin comment:

In this series, presented under the headline Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our socialist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here.

The Struggle For The Labor Party In The United States-Workers' Action- Winter 1969-1970

 I am not familiar with the Riazanov Library as a source, although the choice of the name of a famous Russian Bolshevik intellectual, archivist, and early head of the Marx-Engels Institute there, as well as being a friend and , at various points a political confederate of the great Bolshevik leader, Leon Trotsky, sits well with me.
Thanks to the Riazanov Library for their efforts in digitizing Workers Action. The works provided by the Riazanov Library are © copyrighted by the Riazanov Library in 2010 for the document formatting and editing as they appear here in their PDF format, on the ETOL. The actual content itself remains in the public domain pursuant to US and International copyright conventions.
Markin comment on this series:

Obviously, for a Marxist, the question of working class political power is central to the possibilities for the main thrust of his or her politics- the quest for that socialist revolution that initiates the socialist reconstruction of society. But working class politics, no less than any other kinds of political expressions has to take an organization form, a disciplined organizational form in the end, but organization nevertheless. In that sense every Marxist worth his or her salt, from individual labor militants to leagues, tendencies, and whatever other formations are out there these days on the left, struggles to built a revolutionary labor party, a Bolshevik-style party.

Glaringly, in the United States there is no such party, nor even a politically independent reformist labor party, as exists in Great Britain. And no, the Democratic Party, imperialist commander-in-chief Obama's Democratic Party is not a labor party. Although plenty of people believe it is an adequate substitute, including some avowed socialists. But they are just flat-out wrong. This series is thus predicated on providing information about, analysis of, and acting as a spur to a close look at the history of the labor party question in America by those who have actually attempted to create one, or at to propagandize for one.

As usual, I will start this series with the work of the International Communist League/Spartacist League/U.S. as I have been mining their archival materials of late. I am most familiar with the history of their work on this question, although on this question the Socialist Workers Party's efforts runs a close second, especially in their revolutionary period. Lastly, and most importantly, I am comfortable starting with the ICL/SL efforts on the labor party question since after having reviewed in this space in previous series their G.I. work and youth work (Campus Spartacist and the Revolutionary Marxist Caucus Newsletter inside SDS) I noted that throughout their history they have consistently called for the creation of such a party in the various social arenas in which they have worked. Other organizational and independent efforts, most notably by the Socialist Workers Party and the American Communist Party will follow.
Markin comment on this issue:
Obviously a propagandistic left-wing, pro-labor newspaper from 1969, driven by current events, is going to contain a lot of material now of just historic interest like the struggle around the effects of containerization of shipping on the West Coast docks, a question that we now know costs many union jobs by the failure of longshoremen’ union to tie in technological improvement with unionized labor employment. And, of course, the union bureaucracy’s penchant for making “sweetheart” deals rather than a class struggle fight over the issue.

This issue does pose the question of questions centered on the labor movement and war that is currently very much with us with the Iraq, Afghan and whatever other hellish wars the American imperialist are raising around the world. For the anti-war movement, after trying everything but labor action in the previous period, 1969 represented a turning point where even the working class was getting fed up with the Vietnam War. No only by providing the mass base of “cannon fodder” but taking a beating on the economic front as well. The call for labor strikes against the war would later, in 1970, take on a more than propagandistic possibility when important sections of the working class began to take strike action over economic issues. While today, and maybe just today, the slogan has purely propaganda value it is always part of the arsenal of left-wing anti-war work.

The other section that still bears reading for today’s audience is the last article on, well, union caucus organizing. The point about standing on a left-wing militant program is the most important and dovetails with the struggle for the labor party to take state power when the time comes. Once again this says to me that we had better be getting a move on about the business of creating that revolutionary labor party-enough is enough. Break with the Democrats! Build a workers party that fights for our communist future.

First Night Against the Wars: Stop Bombing Syria and Iraq

Stop Bombing Syria & Iraq
Ring in the new year -- with a spirited rally against a new war!
Our war in Iraq destroyed that country and triggered the creation of ISIS.
Who knows what death and calamities our government’s bombing of Syria and Iraq might lead to -- unless we stop it!
President Obama is seeking Congressional authorization to bomb ISIS not only in Iraq and Syria – but anywhere he wants.
Join us on

New Year’s Eve 2014

for a First Night peace rally

anytime noon to 6pm

Copley Square, Boston

Dartmouth street side of Boston Public Library

Bring your signs or help hold our banners
After 6pm we will join in the First Night Parade with banners & signs

From The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive Website- The Alba Blog


Click below to link to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive blog page for all kinds of interesting information about that important historic grouping in the International Brigades that fought for our side, the side of the people in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39.

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. Viva La Quince Brigada!  


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

"Viva La Quince Brigada"- The Abraham Lincoln Battalion In The Spanish Civil War (2006)

THE ODYSSEY OF THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE: AMERICANS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, Peter N. Carroll, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1994.


I have been interested, as a pro-Republican partisan, in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 since I was a teenager. My first term paper was on this subject. 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 uprisings after the Russian revolution Spain showed the most promise of success. Russian Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted in one of his writings on Spain that the Spanish proletariat at the start of its revolutionary period had a higher political consciousness than the Russian proletariat in 1917. That calls into question the strategies put forth by the parties of the Popular Front, including the Spanish Communist Party- defeat Franco first, and then make the social transformation of society. Mr. Carroll’s book while not directly addressing that issue nevertheless demonstrates through the story of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion how the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and through it the policy of the Communist International in calling for international brigades to fight in Spain aided in the defeat of that promising revolution.

Mr. Carroll chronicles anecdotally how individual militants were recruited, transported, fought and died as ‘premature anti-fascists’ in that struggle. No militant today, or ever, can deny the heroic qualities of the volunteers and their commitment to defeat fascism- the number one issue for militants of that generation-despite the fatal policy of the the various party leaderships. Such individuals were desperately needed then, as now, if revolutionary struggle is to succeed. However, to truly honor their sacrifice we must learn the lessons of that defeat through mistaken strategy as we fight today. Interestingly, as chronicled here, and elsewhere in the memoirs of some veterans, many of the surviving militants of that struggle continued to believe that it was necessary to defeat Franco first, and then fight for socialism. This was most dramatically evoked by the Lincolns' negative response to the Barcelona uprising of 1937-the last time a flat out fight for leadership of the revolution could have galvanized the demoralized workers and peasants for a desperate struggle against Franco.

Probably the most important part of Mr. Carroll’s book is tracing the trials and tribulations of the volunteers after their withdrawal from Spain in late 1938. Their organization-the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade- was constantly harassed and monitored by the United States government for many years as a Communist 'front' group. Individuals also faced prosecution and discrimination for their past association with the Brigades. He also traces the aging and death of that cadre. In short, this book is a labor of love for the subjects of his treatment. Whatever else this writer certainly does not disagree with that purpose. If you want to read about what a heroic part of the vanguard of the international working class looked like in the 1930’s, look here. Viva la Quince Brigada!!
The Latest From The "Jobs With Justice Blog"-The Seemingly One-Sided Struggle Continues-It's High Time To Push Back-Push Back Hard-30 For 40 Is The Slogan Of The Day.

Click below to link to the Jobs With Justice Blog for the latest national and international labor news, and of the efforts to counteract the massively one-sided class struggle against the international working class movement.
From the American Left History blog-Wednesday, June 17, 2009
With Unemployment Too High, Way Too High - The Call "30 For 40"- Now More Than Ever- The Transitional Socialist Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Poets’ Corner  

In say 1912 in the time of the supposedly big deal Basle Socialist Conference which got reflected in more circles than just workingmen, small shopkeepers and small farmers, or 1913 for that matter when the big deal European powers were waging "proxy" war, making ominous moves, but most importantly working three shifts in the munitions plants, oh hell, even in the beginning of 1914 before the war clouds got a full head of steam that summer they all profusely professed their undying devotion to peace, to wage no war for any reason. Reasons: artists who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society, freaked out at what humankind had produced, was producing to place everybody in an inescapable box and hence their cubic fascinations from which to run, put the pieces to paint; sculptors who put twisted pieces of scrape metal juxtaposed to each other  to get that same effect, an effect which would be replicated on all those foreboding trenched fronts; writers, not all of them socialists either, some were conservatives that saw empire, their particular empire, in grave danger once the blood started flowing  who saw the v   of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy; writers of not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gabezo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and for the sweet nothing maidens to spent their waking hours strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they with all their creative brethren would go to the hells, literary Dante's rings, before touching the hair of another human, that come the war drums they all would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist, world and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels.

And then the war drums intensified and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, they who could not resist the call, could not resist those maidens now busy all day strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets for their soldier boys, those poets, artists, sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went sheepishly to the trenches with the rest of the flower of European youth to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for ….            

Alexandr BLOK. The greatest of Russia's Symbolist poets, Aleksandr Blok, was born in St. Petersburg in 1880. He spent his childhood with his grandfather on his country estate of Shakhmatovo, near Moscow. Blok began writing poetry in earnest at age 17. His major early influences were the early 19th-century Romantic poetry of Aleksandr Pushkin and the apocalyptic mysticism of Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900). In 1902, at his grandfather's death, Blok inherited Shakhmatovo. Two years later he published his first book, the mystical Stikhi o prekrasnoi dame (Songs to the Beautiful Lady). In 1906 Blok received a degree in philology at the University of St. Petersburg.
After the failed Revolution of 1905, in which Blok was an ardent participant (carrying a red flag in street demonstrations), his poetry became ironic and pessimistic, especially in Kniga vtoraya (1904-08), and Na pole Kulikovom
(1908), which, describing the battlefield of Kulikovo, (site of the Russian victory over the Mongols in 1380), struck a note at once ominous and prophetic of the cataclysms to come..
Henceforth Blok's poetry dwelt more and more on the theme of Russia herself, and on the disjuncture between his mystical vision of his native land and the spiritual deadness he perceived in its institutions and in so many of its inhabitants. Blok's disillusionment, exacerbated by poverty and heavy drinking, found expression in themes of bitter social protest and ruthless realism.
In 1916 Blok was conscripted into the army and served behind the front lines in civil defense work near Pinsk. In 1917-18 he worked for the provisional government in a commission interrogating Czarist ministers, whose findings he later published under the title The Last Days of Imperial Power

As did many of his writer compatriots, Blok greeted the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 with high hopes, though less for its promise of social and political reform, than for his own mystical conception of it, viewing it as a manifestation of the spirit of music.
Blok's greatest poem, Dvenadtsat
("The Twelve",), is perhaps also the greatest poem to come out of the Russian Revolution. In the poem a band of twelve Red guardsmen, apostles of destruction, march in the first winter of Bolshevik Russia through icy streets of Petrograd, looting and killing. The are led by a strange Christ figure, who appears beneath a red flag. Published in January 1918, amid considerable controversy, it enjoyed enormous sales. Along with The Twelve Blok published The Scythians, another of his greatest poems.
After 1918 Blok worked on government editorial and theatrical commissions. In 1919 he was arrested and nearly executed for alleged counter-revolutionary activities. From 1918 to 1921 he translated books for Gor'kii's publishing house Vsemirnaja Literatura. In 1919-21 he was chairman of the Bolshoi Theatre and the head of the Petrograd branch of the All-Russian Union of Poets in 1920-21. By this time Blok's mental and physical health was in decline. He died in Petrograd of heart failure brought on by malnutrition, on August 7, 1921.

Those Born in the Years of Stagnation

Those born in the years of stagnation forget now how they found their way. We ~ children of Russia’s tribulation ~ forget not a year, not a day.
What message, years of conflagration, have you: madness or hope? On thin cheeks trained by war and liberation bloody reflections still remain.
Dumbness remains! ~ alarm bells clanging have clapped all other tongues in chains. In hearts, familiar once with singing, a fateful emptiness remains.
And what if dark above our death-bed, cawing, the ravens climb ~ Let those more worth, God, O God, see your kingdom in their time.

8 Sept 1914

from The Twelve

III. The lads have all gone to the wars to serve in the Red Guard ~ to serve in the Red Guard ~ and risk their hot heads for the cause.
Hell and damnation, life is such fun with a ragged greatcoat and a Jerry gun!
To smoke the nobs out of their holes we’ll light a fire through all the world, a bloody fire through all the world –Lord, bless our souls!

XII ... On they march with sovereign tread...‘Who else goes there? Come out! I said come out!’ It is the wind and the red flag plunging gaily at their head.
The frozen snow-drift looms in front.‘Who’s in the drift! Come out! Come here!’There’s only the homeless mongrel runt limping wretchedly in the rear ...
‘You mangy beast, out of the way before you taste my bayonet. Old mongrel world, clear off I say! I’ll have your hide to sole my boot!
The shivering cur, the mongrel cur bares his teeth like a hungry wolf, droops his tail, but does not stir ...‘Hey answer, you there, show yourself.’
‘Who’s that waving the red flag?’ ‘Try and see! It’s as dark as the tomb!’ ‘Who’s that moving at a jog trot, keeping to the back-street gloom?’
‘Don’t you worry ~ I’ll catch you yet; better surrender to me alive!’ ‘Come out, comrade, or you’ll regret it ~ we’ll fire when I’ve counted five!’
Crack ~ crack ~ crack! But only the echo answers from among the eaves ... The blizzard splits his seams, the snow laughs wildly up the wirlwind’s sleeve ...
Crack ~ crack ~ crack! Crack ~ crack ~ crack! ... So they march with sovereign tread ... Behind them limps the hungry dog, and wrapped in wild snow at their head carrying a blood-red flag ~ soft-footed where the blizzard swirls, invulnerable where bullets crossed ~ crowned with a crown of snowflake pearls, a flowery diadem of frost, ahead of them goes Jesus Christ.

Jan 1918

from The Scythians

….Come to us ~ from your battlefield nightmares into our peaceful arms! While there’s still time, hammer your swords into ploughshares, friends, comrades! We shall be brothers!
If you do not, we have nothing to lose. Our faith, too, can be broken. You will be cursed for centuries, centuries, by your descendants’ sickly children!
We shall take to the wilds and the mountain woods, letting beautiful Europe through, and as we move into the wings shall turn an Asiatic mask to you.
March all together, march to the Urals! We clear the ground for when the armoured juggernauts with murder in their sights meet the charge of the mongol horde.
We shall ourselves no longer be your shield, no longer launch our battlecries; but study the convulsive battlefield from far off through our narrow eyes!
We shall not stir when the murderous Huns pillage the dead, turn towns to ash, in country churches stable their squadrons, and foul the air with roasting flesh.
Now, for the last time, see the light, old world! To peace and brotherhood and labor ~ our bright feast ~ for the last time you are called by the strings of a Scythian lyre!
30 Jan 1918
~~~ translations by Jon Stallworthy & Peter France
A Misstep- With Elvis’s That’s When Your Heartache Begins In Mind


That's When Your Heartaches Begin" was written by Fisher, Fred / Raskin, William / Hill, William.

If you find your sweetheart in the arms of a friend
That's when your heartaches begin
When dreams of a lifetime must come to an end
That's when your heartaches begin

Love is a thing you'd never can share
When you bring a friend into your love affair
That's the end of your sweetheart
That's the end of your friend
That's when your heartaches begin

If you find your sweetheart
In the arms of your best friend, your brother
That's, that's when your heartaches begin

And you know, when all your dreams
When all your dreams of a lifetime
Must, must all come to an end
Yeah that's, that's when your heartaches begin

Oh, you see love is a thing that
That you never can share
And you know, when you bring a friend
Into your love affair

That's the end of your sweetheart
That's the end of your friend
Well, that's when your heartaches begin


…Laura Simpson and Fiona Sims were inseparable friends from that first day in ninth grade at North Adamsville High School in 1960 when due to the vagaries of the alphabet and homeroom class row seating rules they sat one in front of the other in Miss Williams’ home room class. Maybe it meant nothing in the great mandela of things but neither Laura , named after the title of the 1940s film noir thriller Laura starring Gene Tierney which her mother had seen three times  nor Fiona, named after great stonewall cottage Irish Fionas going back a few generations, liked their first names and that had been their first substantial conversation once they left Miss Williams’ convent-like homeroom and got a chance to talk in the second-floor girls’  “lav” that had been beyond memory set aside as the freshmen girls’ lav (others might enter as needed depending on urgency and no one would have crabbed if they had used other lavatories in the building but that was acknowledged freshman girls’ headquarters. Oh, wait a minute, they and sophomore girls as well, were not permitted under penalty of death in the fourth floor junior and senior girls’ lounge, not if they wanted to live to tell the tale since those girls guarded their prerogative as fiercely as anyone).       


[This Miss Williams as both Laura and Fiona would be the first to tell you once they had completed four years of her home room craziness had been a Miss for a reason, not so much because she was one of the plainest women in America and wore no make-up to wash away some of that plainness but because she demanded, demanded do you hear, that everybody be absolutely quiet in homeroom, homeroom for chrissake. It was not until years later when the winds changed in a more confessional age that these young women found out that as a result of her own youthful indiscretion Miss Williams had secretly befriended many girls, some known to them, who had gotten in “trouble,” gotten “in the family way” and she had helped them out. Sometime somebody from North Adamsville should write that story, write it in big letters too.] 


So Laura and Fiona sat next to each other and sensed in each other that subtle fear of the unknown that every, or almost every, freshman has felt since, well, since Socrates’ time, maybe before. So they sought shelter from the storms together, and later with a small coterie of other adrift teen girls who gathered round them when those other girls sensed that they were not alone in their angst and ignorance and that Laura and Fiona seemed to have a better grip on what ailed them collectively. Why they also had that subtle fear but this story is about Fiona and Laura so we will let that latter settle in the background. And of course since they were teenage girls they all were bothered by the same set of anxiety associations that have bothered teenage girls since about sixteen hundred or whenever teen-age hood was developed. You know about boys, about their fearsome sexual appetites and cunning ways to get nice girls in compromising situations, about expectations in being girls getting ready to be wives, mothers, helpmates and every other menial task that his lordship “delegated” to them, about getting recognized for serious achievement in a male-dominated world, especially the professional world where there were few role models but where they wanted to head, about sex, not the boy part, that they had down as well as could be expected, but what to do about those raging hormones that were causing them sleepless nights without “getting in the family way,” having to go to Aunt Ella’s for the duration.


We moreover are concerned not so much with Laura and Fiona’s high school days except to note that is where their huddled friendship started and to note some of the highlights that strengthened their friendship, not always in good ways but who knows maybe in not so bad ways. You know getting through that first few months of freshman year in one piece in an anonymous big high school environment after the incubator closeness of junior high school, preparing for that first school dance, that first high school dance where they got all dressed up, bought new shoes and all, and doubled-dated two older guys from the school, two seniors who were known around school as nothing but skirt-chasers but who had a car and both girls decided to fling caution to the wind if it came to that (it did and they did although keep that to yourself since they both had reputations in freshman year of being “unapproachable,” meaning in the language of the times virginal), latter getting caught up with each other’s single date sexual escapades what with little trysts down at the secluded end of old Adamsville Beach (the Squaw Rock end where only teenagers trended, no nosey cops, no ill-disposed families with children to spoil the mood), then senior year after both got accepted to the state university the few wild parties they attended before graduation where when drunk they got carried away with some unusual behavior, for them, which maybe foretold what might happen in the future. That last set of escapades included an exchange of boyfriends, not those long gone seniors from freshman year but fellow seniors, for the night on a lark (those boyfriend who were more than willing to go along, did not have to be coaxed into doing that task).


Both later said nothing had happened with the other’s boyfriend, noting sexual anyway, and maybe nothing did, but a very slight wariness set in between them after that night, especially on Laura’s part who was somewhat possessive of her men. (Later Ben one of the boyfriends, Laura’s, bragged about how he could hardly keep up with Fiona’s urges  once he got her into bed but that was in the Monday morning jock locker room talkfest and could be discounted as so much bravado, and has been since Socrates’ time, maybe before.) But that was a mere bump in the road for both were excited about finally graduating and heading away from home and on their own (this getting away from home was epidemic among the early 1960s young including the writer so he knows how important learning to fly on their own was to Fiona and Laura). Moreover having both grown up on the “wrong side of the tracks” (although in different sections of that wrong side) with tough family lives including drunken fathers they were more than ready to move on.      


Duly noting those high school experiences, for good or evil, we are rather more concerned with their young adulthood, the time when in 1964 and later they came of age, came to able to carry on their own affairs after leaving home for college, the state university at Amherst with all its possibilities and with all its anonymousness. One thing that both Fiona and Laura had agreed on after graduation from high school was that they would start college unattached. And they did so shedding their boyfriends, their lukewarm boyfriends by August when they went up to freshman orientation and dorm selection (they had already signed up as roommates). (Those boyfriends, Ben and Alex,  by the way who maybe were or maybe were not sorry for the break-ups but one wonders whether they were left unhappy about that future of no prospects of being exchanged on a lark. We will never know since we are following Laura and Fiona and the boys’ whereabouts were unknown when this story unfolded.) When the big day came they were both excited, excited to be on their own, excited that that subtle fear that both felt, felt as every, well almost every, freshman, has felt since, well, since about Socrates’ time, if not before would find them with a known kindred spirit when the hugeness and anonymousness of the place got to them.


This tale however is not about surviving in an alien environment with a cluster of friends or some sociological study about the mores of 1960s youth and their reactions to the jailbreak wave that was cresting over them with newfound liberties and freedoms (for a while anyway) that earlier generations could not dream of but rather about how a firm female friendship got blown to the four winds when one of the friends got her wanting habits on. As one might figure with young women away from home (or men, for that matter), consciously unattached, and with broods of males everywhere one looked that two good-looking, smart, adventuresome young women would have no trouble finding male company. They didn’t lack for company or invitations to frat parties and other bashes. Didn’t suffer that lack from that first Freshman Mixer when they again like some high school deja vu double-dated two fellow freshman from one of their classes (College Math) whom they met after class in the dorm cafeteria where the guys worked behind the counter and they “hit” on the two most beautiful girls in any of their classes they said through to a couple of serious affairs, one by Fiona with a married man, until the time of this part of the story junior year.


Fiona tended to be flirty and, well, not monogamous. Laura somewhat the opposite, although that usually depended on whether she had a steady boyfriend or not. At the time we are talking about, junior year, Laura did have a steady boyfriend, Lance Taylor, a senior at Williams, located some miles up the road, who planned to go to graduate school, and who had plans, sketchy plans, that involved marriage to Laura at some future point. Laura having met Lance at the Art Museum out in Williamstown while doing a project for her graphic arts design class, assumed that same thing, except hungrier for security, her plans were far from sketchy as she practically had them in that proverbial white house with picket fence, three kids, and two dogs. And so she dreamed. Now this Lance, naturally, as with all guys named Lance or so it seemed was good-looking, smart, came from some money (important to working-class town Laura) and was a go-getter. Just the things that Fiona found appealing as well. So anytime Lance showed up at their dorm room and she was around she would get very flirty with old Lance. Laura had to warn her off a couple of times but Fiona dismissed her concerns as nonsense that she was just having fun with her new “brother-in-law.”


Things settled down for a while until toward the end of junior year Laura took a trip to Boston in order to interview for a senior year internship with an advertising company to spice up her graphic arts resume. She had expected (and Fiona had too) to take three days for the trip but the firm after the first interview decided to take her on as an intern and she headed back early. (People who know knew she was an exceptional up-and-coming graphic artist and that proved true later before she gave it up for marriage and kids.)


Well, you already know the rest, and if you don’t you really haven’t been paying attention, Laura caught Lance and Fiona in flagrante in their dorm room. You also know that was the end of the long friendship between Fiona Sims and Laura Simpson. What you don’t know is this-ten years, ten long years later at their high school class reunion, Laura Taylor, Lance in tow (the details of their after dorm reconciliation need not concern us here except that somehow Lance convinced Laura that Fiona had “made” him do it which for her own white picket fence reasons Laura was willing to accept)not even drunk but cold stone sober, tossed a drink, a whiskey sour, down the length of Fiona Sims shiny shimmy dress and then walked out of the hall. Jesus.