Saturday, August 15, 2015

On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives-ut In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- When The Music’s Over, Really Over

On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- When The Music’s Over, Really Over
Classic Rock: 1968: various artists, Time-Life Music, 1987
Scene: Brought to mind by a the cover art on this CD of a Stepphenwolf-like mushroom-headed band getting ready to belt out some serious rock in the heat of the “Generation of ‘68” night once the "high" wears off, a little.

"That Mustang Sally is a real piece of work," the Prince of Love (a. k. a . Josh Breslin from out of Olde Saco, Maine) thought to himself as he sat in the back of the bus, the magical mystery tour, merry prankster, yellow brick road bus that he had been “on” since the summer of love, last summer, the summer of 1967, the summer of his high school graduation, as the bus headed to their spring encampment down at Big Sur. Yes, Sally, (a. k. a. Susan Sharpe, Michigan Class of 1959, and a couple of other degrees to boot) sure had Captain Crunch (a. k. a. Robert Hutchins, Columbia, Class of 1958), the “owner” and all-around mentor of one and all, except to Sally, of course, over a barrel. See, Captain was the wizard king of the “on the bus” scene but he was nuts about Sally and went blind every time she took a new lover. Sally, in her way, was true to the Captain too, except that she liked to “play the field” a little. Yes, she had the Captain over a barrel alright, and she made him like it.

Sally’s specialty was befriending younger, usually younger, guys although she never thought to give me a tumble but that may have been out of respect for Butterfly Swirl who was my first "bus" love and who had flown the coop last fall to go back to Carlsbad High and her golden-haired surfer boy. And inside that specialty Sally was really friendly toward young rock and rock musicians. Right now she was “dating” Jimmy Jakes, the drummer from the new rage band at the Fillmore West, the Magic Mushrooms. And making the Captain like it. Ya, she is some piece of work.

But the Captain, if you can believe this, is just a little less mad at this Jimmy affair than Sally thinks because Jimmy’s Mushrooms not only make the room jump for the “acid freaks” that every San Francisco night group has to cater to but have a political message too. A hard political message about youth waking up and learning about how those who came to America in the old days just raped the land, raped anything they could get their hands on and then moved on, and that their progeny were still doing. Their best song, which the Captain loved enough to keep playing over and over on the bus’s amped up stereo system, Mickey Mouse Monster, was deep into that message. The Captain, when he wasn’t stoned, angry at Sally, or just cynical that day started this whole bus thing just to search for a ‘new world” and he was still searching.

Funny that the Captain would grant “absolution” to Sally for Jimmy over a simple song but Jimmy, in addition, actually talked politics, real world politics to the Captain. Stuff like how music could be the driving force of the revolution, and that John Lennon should be the head of it, and everybody should go back to the land for a while, all kinds of wild ideas like that. Ideas that for “acid” rock guys were too profound, especially when the high wore off. But the Captain listened, sometimes attentively and sometimes with a smirk. Except when that smirk turned to a big-time frown, when the Captain noticed that Sally was now hovering around a guy playing an electric flute. Ya, Sally had the Captain over a barrel, no question.

Important Mumia Abu Jamal Update-Free Mumia

Important  Mumia Abu Jamal Update-Free Mumia


Click below to link to the Partisan Defense Committee Web site.

13 April 2015

Medical Crisis
Mumia’s Life in Danger—Free Him Now!

On March 30, class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was rushed from the SCI-Mahanoy, Pennsylvania state prison to the Schuylkill Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, verging on a diabetic coma. With consummate cruelty, prison authorities initially not only prevented his wife, Wadiya, and other family members from seeing Mumia but also refused to divulge information about his condition. Pam Africa, Mumia’s designated emergency contact, was denied visitation as well. When prison officials relented after numerous protests, Wadiya, Mumia’s son Jamal Hart and his older brother Keith were granted just 30 minutes with Mumia. They found him with an insulin drip in one arm and handcuffs on the other, barely able to sit up, shaking and in pain, his breathing labored. Wadiya described being “shocked at his condition.” On April 1, a frail Mumia was sent back to the same Mahanoy prison where the contempt and medical neglect of his jailers had brought him to the threshold of death.

It is no secret that leading government officials, not just in Pennsylvania but across the country, want Mumia dead. This latest emergency highlights that Mumia’s life is in danger every day he remains in the clutches of the state authorities that for 30 years sought his legal lynching. With the overturning of his frame-up death sentence in 2011, they are determined that Mumia’s prison cot be his deathbed.

Three months ago, Mumia reported a full-body outbreak of eczema with bloody sores and blisters. Mumia’s skin erupted in reaction to treatment by prison doctors. Since then, Mumia has lost over 50 pounds. Results of three blood tests performed in February were reportedly withheld from him. Even the most incompetent medical personnel would have recognized something was awry—but Mumia was left to waste away while his blood sugar hit the roof. Not passing up any opportunity, prison authorities disciplined Mumia for missing roll call in early January because he had fallen into a trance-like sleep induced by his condition.

The shroud that prison authorities placed over Mumia’s condition recalls the mysterious death of his comrade Phil Africa at the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania, on January 10. Phil was held in total isolation in the hospital for five days, during which time his wife of 44 years, Janine, was denied the right to speak to him until two days before he died. To this day, prison officials have never revealed the cause of Phil’s death.

We have long championed freedom for Mumia, an innocent man. Now the elementary demand for adequate medical treatment requires his immediate release. Free Mumia now!

Mumia has been in the crosshairs of the capitalist state since his days as a teenage Black Panther Party spokesman in the 1960s. That enmity toward him grew in the 1970s when, as a journalist known as the “voice of the voiceless,” Mumia exposed the racist Philly police vendetta against MOVE, the largely black back-to-nature group he came to support. Mumia was framed up for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Police and prosecutors manufactured evidence to convict him, including by terrorizing witnesses and concocting a fake confession two months after his arrest. Following a 1982 trial in which Mumia was denied the right to represent himself and was repeatedly ejected from the courtroom, he was sentenced to death explicitly for his political views, primarily his Black Panther membership. Federal and state courts have time and again refused to consider evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, especially the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner.

Mumia’s unwavering dedication to the cause of the oppressed can be seen in his delivering, despite his debilitated condition, a radio commentary on April 10 about the cold-blooded racist cop killing of 50-year-old black man Walter Scott by a white cop in South Carolina six days earlier. In their vendetta against Mumia, the forces of racist “law and order,” led by the Fraternal Order of Police, have fought to silence Mumia and vilify just about anyone—from union and student activists to liberal celebrities and an occasional politician—who in any way expresses support for Mumia’s rights. The same day Mumia was rushed to the hospital, hearings opened in a Pennsylvania court on his lawsuit challenging the “Revictimization Relief Act” enacted last October with the express aim of shutting down Mumia’s prison commentaries and suppressing his books.

Following an outcry in the bourgeois press, Marilyn Zuniga, a third-grade teacher in Orange, New Jersey, was suspended on April 10 without pay for the honorable act of encouraging students to send “get well” messages to Mumia. The PDC has sent a protest letter demanding Zuniga’s immediate reinstatement with no loss in pay.

Medical neglect of those incarcerated in America’s dungeons is epidemic. While the absence of care for those suffering from severe psychiatric problems has drawn some attention, most recently thanks to the torture chambers of New York City’s Rikers Island detention center, the denial of necessary medical attention to those, largely black and Latino, behind bars has been overwhelmingly ignored.

The medical neglect of those in prison hell has been exacerbated by the privatization of prison health care to penny-pinching concerns such as Corizon Health Inc., which alone covers nearly 350,000 inmates in 27 states. Corizon is the subject of numerous lawsuits, including one filed by the family of Javon Frazier, who was an inmate in a county jail in Florida. After four months of complaints of left shoulder pain, which were answered only with Tylenol, Frazier was ultimately hospitalized and diagnosed with bone cancer and his arm amputated. Frazier died just months after his release, at the age of 21.

The grotesque treatment of prisoners is exacerbated many times over for those, like Mumia, locked away for fighting against this racist capitalist order. The PDC has contributed to Mumia’s medical care, and urges union militants, fighters for black freedom and student activists to demand freedom now for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Readers who want to help defray Mumia’s expenses can make contributions at To correspond with Mumia, write to: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.





The legendary social commentator and stand up comic Lenny Bruce, no stranger to the American ‘justice’ system himself, once reportedly said that in the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls. The truth of that statement came home on Thursday March 27, 2008 as a panel of the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals voted two to one to uphold Mumia’s conviction.

The only question left is that of resentencing- the death penalty or, perhaps worst, life in prison without parole. I have not yet read the decision but we are now a long way away from the possibility of a retrial-the narrow legal basis for even appealing in the legal system in the first place. Know this- in the end it will be in the streets and factories through the efforts of the international labor movement and other progressive forces that Mumia will be freed. That is the only way, have no illusions otherwise, whatever the next legal steps might be.


Some facts about the case from the PDC (2006):

Mumia Is an Innocent Man
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Abolish the Racist Death Penalty

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on death row for nearly 24 years, falsely convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and mountains of evidence show this, including the confession of another man, Arnold Beverly, to the murder. All the elements of the capitalist “justice” system colluded in framing up this former Black Panther and MOVE supporter because he is an eloquent and defiant spokesman for the oppressed. The fight to free Mumia has now reached a critical juncture. Last December, the federal appeals court put Mumia’s case on a “fast track” for decision, marking the last stages of the legal proceedings. Both Mumia and prosecutors are appealing decisions made in 2001 by U.S. District Court judge William Yohn, who overturned the death sentence but upheld every aspect of Mumia’s frame-up conviction. The state is as determined as ever to execute Mumia and has appealed. He has been barred by the courts from presenting evidence that he is innocent. But the district attorney filed legal papers in the federal appeals court in April, opening its case with a venomous, lying statement to portray Mumia as a cop-killer who must be executed. In a short time, even as soon as six months, the court could decide what is next for Mumia: death, life in prison or more legal proceedings.
Mumia was locked up on death row in 1982 based on lying testimony extorted by the cops without a shred of physical evidence. The judge at his trial, Albert Sabo—known as the “King of Death Row”—was overheard by a court stenographer saying, “I’m going to help ’em fry the n----r.” Rigging the jury to exclude black people, the prosecution incited jurors with the grotesque lie that Mumia’s membership in the Panthers as a teenager proved he was committed to kill a cop “all the way back then.” The 1982 conviction was secured with arguments that the jury could disregard any doubts about Mumia’s guilt because he would have “appeal after appeal.” In nearly two decades of appeals, each and every court has rejected the reams of documented evidence of the blatant frame-up of Mumia. For over four years, Pennsylvania state as well as federal courts have refused to even consider the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner.
The execution of Stanley Tookie Williams by the state of California in December casts an ominous shadow. The legal lynching of Williams, which provoked an outcry nationally and internationally, signaled the determination of the U.S. capitalist rulers to fortify their machinery of death in the face of growing reticence in the population over how the death penalty is applied. Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s foremost political prisoner, is the executioners’ number one target. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made this clear when, in denying clemency for Williams, he cited the fact that Williams’ 1998 book, Life in Prison, was dedicated to—among others—Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Mumia’s case demonstrates what the racist death penalty is all about. It is the lynch rope made legal, the ultimate weapon in the government’s arsenal of repression aimed at the working class and oppressed. A legacy of chattel slavery, the death penalty is maintained in a society where the segregation of the majority of the black population is used as a wedge to divide the laboring masses and perpetuate the rapacious rule of capital. The murderous brutality of the racist capitalist system was displayed for all to see when thousands of people, overwhelmingly black and poor, were left to die in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Mumia’s appeal takes place in the context of the government’s assertion of its “right” to disappear, torture or even assassinate its perceived opponents, and to wiretap and spy on anyone and everyone. In the name of the “war on terror,” rights won through tumultuous class and social battles are being put through the shredder by the Bush administration with the support of the Democratic Party. The purpose is to terrorize and silence any who would stand in the way of the capitalist rulers’ relentless drive for profits and their imperialist adventures, like the colonial occupation of Iraq.
As Mumia’s case moves through the final stages of legal
proceedings, the fight for his freedom is urgently posed. The Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League/U.S.—stands for pursuing every legal avenue in Mumia’s behalf while putting no faith in the “justice” of the capitalist courts. Through publicity and action, we have struggled to mobilize the broadest social forces, centered on the labor movement, to demand Mumia’s freedom and the abolition of the racist death penalty. As Mumia faced execution in August 1995, a mass outpouring of protest nationally and internationally—from civil liberties organizations and such heads of state as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela to trade unions representing millions of workers—succeeded in staying the executioner’s hand.
Today we face greater odds. But if undertaken through a mobilization based on the social power of the working class, the fight for Mumia’s freedom would be a giant step forward in the defense of all of us against the increasingly depraved and vicious rulers of this country.
Anatomy of a Frame-Up
In the eyes of the capitalist state, from the time Mumia was a 15-year-old spokesman for the Black Panther Party in Philadelphia in 1969, he was a dead man on leave. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover pronounced: “The Negro youth and moderate[s] must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teachings, they will be dead revolutionaries.” This policy was carried out under both the Democratic administration of Lyndon Johnson and his Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, and the Republican Nixon administration. Under the FBI’s “counter-intelligence” program known as COINTELPRO, 38 Panthers were murdered and hundreds of others framed up and railroaded to prison.
The 900 pages of FBI files the PDC was able to obtain on Mumia’s behalf, even though highly expurgated, make clear that the FBI and cops used any “dirty trick” in their mission to get him. His every move was tracked and his name put on the FBI’s Security Index, the 1960s version of a “terrorist” hit list. Even with the demise of the Panthers, the state did not call off its vendetta against Mumia. As a journalist known as the “voice of the voiceless,” Mumia’s impassioned defense of black rights continued to enrage them. The Philly cops particularly seethed over his sympathetic coverage of the MOVE organization, which was subjected to an onslaught of state terror.
Mumia was targeted for death because of his political beliefs, because of what he wrote, because of what he said. And in the early morning hours of 9 December 1981 at the corner of 13th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia, the cops finally saw their chance. Mumia was driving a cab through the area that night. He heard gunshots. He saw people running, saw his own brother and got out of his cab to help him. Moments later, Mumia was critically wounded by a bullet through the chest. Nearby lay a wounded police officer, Daniel Faulkner. The cops found their long-awaited opportunity and seized on it to frame up Mumia as a “cop killer.”
The prosecution’s case rested on three legs, all based on lies: the testimony of “eyewitnesses” coerced through favors and terror; a “confession” purportedly made by Mumia the night of the shooting that was such a blatant hoax that it didn’t surface until months later; and nonexistent ballistics “evidence.” In 2001, this frame-up was completely blown to pieces with Arnold Beverly’s confession that he was the man who shot Faulkner. In a sworn affidavit printed in the PDC pamphlet Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man!, Beverly stated:
“I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area.
“Faulkner was shot in the back and then in the face before Jamal came on the scene. Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting.”
Beverly stated that the second shooter also fled the scene. This is supported by a sworn affidavit by Mumia’s brother, Billy Cook, who testified that his friend Kenneth Freeman was a passenger in Cook’s VW at 13th and Locust that night. Freeman later admitted to Cook that he was part of the plan to kill Faulkner and had participated in the shooting and then fled the scene. This is further corroborated by the testimony of a witness at the scene, William Singletary, who said he saw a passenger get out of Cook’s VW, shoot Faulkner and then flee the scene.
At least half a dozen witnesses who were on the scene the night of the shooting saw, from several different vantage points, one or more black men flee. Police radio “flashes” right after the shooting reported that the shooters had fled the scene with Faulkner’s gun. Five witnesses, including two cops, describe someone at the scene wearing a green army jacket, which both Beverly and Freeman were wearing that night. Neither Mumia nor Cook wore a green army jacket: Mumia wore a red ski jacket with wide vertical blue stripes and Cook had a blue jacket with brass buttons.
Beverly said that Mumia was shot by a cop at the scene. This is confirmed by no less an authority than the state Medical Examiner’s office, whose record written the same morning as the shooting quotes a homicide officer saying that Mumia was shot by “arriving police reinforcements,” not by Faulkner. Other witnesses have corroborated Beverly’s testimony that undercover and uniformed police were in the vicinity at the time of the shooting, which Beverly assumed meant that they were in on the plan to kill Faulkner. One witness, Marcus Cannon, saw two undercover cops on the street across from the shooting. William Singletary also saw “white shirts” (police supervisors) at the scene right after the shots were fired.
The prosecution dismisses the idea that the cops would kill one of their own as an outlandish invention. Leaving aside that Beverly passed two lie detector tests, his account fits with the fact that at the time of Faulkner’s killing in 1981, there were at least three ongoing federal investigations into police corruption in Philadelphia, including police connections with the mob. Police working as FBI informants were victims of hits in the early 1980s. A former federal prosecutor acknowledged that the Feds had a police informant whose brother was a cop, just as Faulkner had a brother who was a cop.
A sworn affidavit by Donald Hersing, a former informant in an FBI investigation into police corruption, confirms that at the time of Faulkner’s shooting the word was out that the Feds had an informant in the police force. The commanding officer of the Central Police Division, where the murder of Faulkner took place, the chief of the police Homicide Division and the ranking officer at the scene of Faulkner’s killing, Alfonzo Giordano, were all under investigation at the time on federal corruption charges. These cops were literally the chain of command in the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Giordano had been the right-hand man for Philadelphia’s notoriously racist police chief and later mayor, Frank Rizzo. From 1966 to 1970, Giordano was in charge of the cop “Stakeout” squad, which led the police raid on the Black Panthers’ headquarters in 1970. He was also the supervisor of the 15-month police siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village house in 1977-78, which resulted in nine MOVE members being sent to prison on frame-up charges of killing a cop. Giordano knew exactly who Mumia was. The senior officer on the scene, he had both motive and opportunity to frame up Mumia for the killing of Faulkner.
Giordano originated the claim that Mumia’s gun—the putative murder weapon—was lying beside him on the street. But according to police radio records, the cops were still looking for the gun some 14 minutes after hordes of police had arrived on the scene. Giordano arranged the identification of Mumia by cab driver Robert Chobert, who became a witness for the prosecution. Giordano was the central witness for the prosecution at Mumia’s pretrial hearing. But he was never called as a witness at Mumia’s trial. Shortly before the trial, he was assigned to a desk job. One working day after Mumia was convicted, Giordano resigned from the force. In 1986, Giordano copped a plea on federal charges based on his receiving tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payoffs from 1979 to 1980. He didn’t spend a day in jail.
Prosecution’s Web of Lies
The prosecution’s story is that two people were on the corner of 13th and Locust where Faulkner was shot: Mumia’s brother Billy Cook and Faulkner. They claim that Mumia ran across the street when he saw his brother being beaten by Faulkner. According to police and prosecutors, Mumia shot the cop in the back, the cop shot back at Mumia and then Mumia stood over the fallen cop and shot him “execution style” several times in the head. Even a close examination of the cops’ and prosecution’s own evidence gives the lie to this scenario. A look at the “three legs” of the prosecution’s case provides not only stark confirmation of Mumia’s innocence but clear corroboration of Beverly’s testimony.
The Prosecution’s Witnesses: Even with police and prosecution threats and favors at the time of the 1982 trial, no witness testified to seeing Mumia actually shoot Faulkner. Only one, Cynthia White, the prosecution’s star witness, testified that she thought she saw a gun in Mumia’s hand when he crossed the street. A prostitute working in the area, White claimed to have witnessed the events from the southeast corner of 13th and Locust. Yet the other two prosecution witnesses, as well as two defense witnesses who knew White, all denied she was at the scene during the shooting! Other prostitutes testified in subsequent court hearings that White alternately got police favors or was threatened by police in order to extract her testimony.
As for Robert Chobert, at first he told police that the shooter “ran away.” After further interrogation, he changed his story, claiming that Mumia stood over Faulkner while the shots were fired and that no one ran away. A cab driver using a suspended license while on probation for felony arson, Chobert was given favors by the prosecution in exchange for his testimony. He later admitted that he never saw the shooting. The third state witness was Michael Scanlan. He initially identified Mumia as the VW driver but then claimed that the shooter ran across Locust Street, which Beverly admits that he did. He also admitted that he did not know if Mumia was the man he saw.
Ballistics and Forensics: The prosecution claimed that ballistics evidence was “consistent” with Mumia’s gun being the murder weapon even while admitting that the “consistency” applied to millions of handguns. There is no evidence that Mumia’s gun was even fired that night. There was every opportunity to test Mumia’s hands, or the gun, for evidence that it had been recently fired. But according to police no such tests, which are standard operating procedure, were ever done! The Stakeout officer who claimed he picked up Mumia’s gun did not turn it over for more than two hours, providing more than ample time to have it tampered with.
The Medical Examiner’s report states that Faulkner was shot with a .44 calibre bullet, yet Mumia’s gun was a .38 calibre. Although the crime lab claimed that the main bullet fragment removed from Faulkner’s head was too damaged to test, the defense team’s ballistics expert denied this. A second bullet fragment removed from the head wound simply disappeared without a trace.
Evidence at the scene—bullet fragments, blood stains, the absence of divots in the sidewalk—refutes the prosecution claim that Faulkner was shot repeatedly while lying on the ground. The bullet patterns are far more consistent with multiple shooters, as Beverly testifies. A copper bullet jacket found at the scene was inconsistent with either Faulkner’s or Mumia’s guns, suggesting that a different gun was fired. Similarly, type O blood was found at the scene, but Faulkner, Mumia and Cook were all type A, suggesting that another person was present and injured. The angle of Mumia’s own wounds is impossible if he was shot while standing over Faulkner as the prosecution claimed. However, Mumia’s wounds are consistent with Beverly’s testimony that Mumia was shot by a cop at the scene.
The “Confession”: The frame-up’s final leg was the claim that Mumia, lying in a pool of blood at the hospital where he was taken for treatment, shouted out that he had shot the cop. Yet the police officer assigned to guard Mumia there reported that same day that Mumia “made no comments.” In reality, he was so badly wounded, with a bullet hole through one lung, and had been so badly beaten by police on the street and at the hospital, that he could not have “shouted” anything. The “confession” was manufactured by the prosecution at a roundtable meeting with cops two months after the shooting.
Priscilla Durham, a security guard, was the only hospital employee who backed up the cops’ “confession” lie. In 2003 Durham’s stepbrother Kenneth Pate swore that Durham said she was pressured by the cops to say Mumia confessed. Pate also said Durham heard Mumia say, “Get off me, get off me, they’re trying to kill me.”
Mumia Abu-Jamal has always categorically maintained his innocence. As he declared in a 2001 affidavit: “I did not shoot Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. I had nothing to do with the killing of Officer Faulkner. I am innocent…. I never confessed to anything because I had nothing to confess to.”
Mobilize Now to Free Mumia!
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is an object lesson in the class nature of the capitalist state. Its justice system is class- and race-biased to the core. The cops and courts who framed up this innocent man, the living tomb of the prison system in which he is jailed, the executioner who stands ready to kill—all are instruments of organized violence used to preserve the rule of the capitalist class through the forcible suppression of the working class and oppressed. Smashing this racist frame-up machine will require a socialist revolution that overturns the capitalist system. Demands for a “new trial” which have been raised by liberals, self-proclaimed socialist organizations, black nationalists and others have fed illusions that there can be justice in the capitalist courts. Those illusions demobilized a movement of millions around the world in Mumia’s defense.
The time is now to rekindle mass protest—nationally and internationally—on behalf of Mumia. Mumia’s freedom will not be won through reliance on the rigged “justice” system or on capitalist politicians, whether Democrat, Republican or Green. The power that can turn the tide is the power of millions—working people, anti-racist youth, death penalty abolitionists—united in struggle to demand the freedom of this innocent man. Crucial to this perspective is the mobilization of the labor movement, whose social power derives from its ability to shut down production. As we have stated since we first took up Mumia’s defense in the mid 1980s, what’s necessary are labor-centered united-front actions, generating effective protest across a spectrum of political beliefs while assuring all the right to have their own say.
The time is now to make Mumia’s case a rallying cry against the racist death penalty, against black oppression, against government repression. Raise your voice and organize now in your union, on your campus, in your community to demand: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the racist death penalty!
—Partisan Defense Committee, 27 May 2006



An Open Letter to Mumia Abu-Jamal Supporters-A Personal Commentary (April 2008)

The Partisan Defense Committee has passed "An Open Letter to All Supporters of Mumia‘s Freedom" to this writer. Those few who might not know of the torturous legal battles to free this innocent man can find further information at the above-mentioned Partisan Defense site. I make my own comments below.

Normally I pass information about the case of political prisoner Mumia abu-Jamal on without much comment because the case speaks for itself. The case has been front and center in international labor defense struggles for over two decades. However, in light of the adverse ruling by a majority of a federal Third Circuit Court of Appeal panel in March 2008 that affirmed Mumia’s 1982 conviction for first-degree murder of a police officer and left the only issue for decision that of resentencing to either reinstate his original death sentence or keep him imprisoned for life without parole I have some things to say about this fight.

Occasionally, in the heat of political battle some fights ensue around strategy that after the smoke has cleared, upon reflection, leave one with more sorrow than anger. Not so today. Today I am mad. Am I mad about the irrational decision by the majority of the Third Circuit panel in Mumia’s case? Yes, but when one has seen enough of these cases over a lifetime then one realizes that, as the late sardonic comic and social commentator Lenny Bruce was fond of saying, in the Hall of Justice the only justice is in the halls.

What has got me steamed is the obvious bankruptcy of the strategy, if one can use this term, of centering Mumia’s case on the question of a new trial in order to get the ‘masses’- meaning basically parliamentary liberal types interested in supporting the case. This by people who allegedly KNOW better. The bankruptcy of this strategy, its effects on Mumia’s case and the bewildered response of those who pedaled it as good coin is detailed in the above-mentioned Open Letter. Read it.

Today, in reaction to the Third Circuit court’s decision, everyone and their brother and sister are now calling for Mumia’s freedom. At a point where he is between a rock and a hard place. However, it did not have to be that way. Mumia was innocent in 1982 and he did not stop being innocent at any point along this long road. Freedom for Mumia was (and is) the correct slogan in the case. A long line of political criminal cases, starting in this country with that of the Haymarket Martyrs if not before, confirms that simple wisdom. Those who consciously pedaled this weak ‘new trial’ strategy as a get rich quick scheme now have seen the chickens come home to roost. And Mumia pays the price.

I would point out two factors that made a ‘retrial’ strategy in the case of an innocent man particularly Pollyanna-ish for those honest militants who really believed that Mumia’s case was merely a matter of the American justice system being abused and therefore some court would rectify this situation if enough legal resources were in place. First, it is illusory that somehow, as exemplified in this case, a higher court system would remedy this egregious wrong. Long ago I remember a lawyer, I believe that it might have been the late radical lawyer Conrad Lynn no stranger to political defense work, telling a group of us doing defense work for the Black Panthers, that all these judges belong to the same union. They do not upset each other’s work except under extreme duress.

Second, and this is where the ‘wisdom’ of the reformists about reaching the ‘masses’ by a stagest theory of defense work (fight for retrial first, then freedom) turns in on them. As witness the list of names of those who have signed the Partisan Defense Committee’s call for Mumia’s freedom, excepting professional liberals and their hangers –on, those interested in Mumia’s case (or any leftwing political defense case) will sign on just as easily for freedom as retrial. Thus, opportunism does not pay, even in the short haul. That said, Free Mumia- say it loud, say it proud.

Victory To The Fast-Food Workers The Vanguard Of The Fight For $15......Fight For $15 Is Just A Beginning-All Labor Must Support Our Sisters And Brothers-From The Archives

Victory To The Fast-Food Workers The Vanguard Of The Fight For $15......Fight For $15 Is Just A Beginning-All Labor Must Support Our Sisters And Brothers-Join The Actions April 15th
From The Pen Of Sam Lowell

Frank Jackman had always ever since he was a kid down in Carver, a working class town formerly a shoe factory mecca about thirty miles south of Boston and later dotted with assorted small shops related to the shipbuilding trade, a very strong supporters of anything involving organized labor and organizing labor, anything that might push working people ahead. While it had taken it a long time, and some serious military service during the Vietnam War, his generation’s war, to get on the right side of the angels on the war issue and even more painfully and slowly on the woman’s liberation and gay rights issues, and he was still having a tough time with the transgender thing although the plight of heroic Wikileaks whistle-blower Army soldier Chelsea Manning had made it easier to express solidarity, he had always been a stand-up guy for unions and for working people. Maybe it was because his late father, Lawrence Jackman, had been born and raised in coal country down in Harlan County, Kentucky where knowing which side you were on, knowing that picket lines mean don’t cross, knowing that every scrap given by the bosses had been paid for in blood and so it was in his blood. Maybe though it was closer to the nub, closer to home, that the closing of the heavily unionized shoe factories which either headed down south or off-shore left slim leaving for those who did not follow them south, slim pickings for an uneducated man like his father trying to raise four daughters and son on hopes and dreams and not much else. Those hopes and dreams leaving his mother to work in the “mother’s don’t work” 1950s at a local donut shop filling donuts for chrissakes to help make ends meet so his was always aware of how close the different between work and no work was, and decent pay for decent work too. How ever he got “religion” on the question as a kid, and he suspected the answer was in the DNA, Frank was always at the ready when the latest labor struggles erupted, the latest recently being the sporadic uprisings amount fast-food workers and lowly-paid Walmart workers to earn a living wage.        

One day in the late summer of 2014 he had picked up a leaflet from a young guy, a young guy who later identified himself as a field organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a union filled to the brim with low-end workers like janitors, nurses assistants, salespeople, and the like, passing them out at an anti-war rally (against the American escalations in Syria and Iraq) in downtown Boston. The leaflet after giving some useful information about how poorly fast-food worker were paid and how paltry the benefits, especially the lack of health insurance announced an upcoming “Fight for $15” action in Downtown Boston on September 4, 2014 at noon as part of a national struggle for economic justice and dignity for the our hard working sisters and brothers. He told the young organizer after expressing solidarity with the upcoming efforts that he would try to bring others to the event although being held during a workday would be hard for some to make the time.

In the event Frank brought about a dozen others with him. They and maybe fifty to one hundred others during the course of the event stood in solidarity for a couple of hours while a cohort of fast-food workers told their stories. And while another cohort of fast-food workers were sitting on the ground in protest prepared to commit civil disobedience by blocking the street to make their point. Several of them would eventually be arrested and taken away by the police later to be fined and released.

Frank, when he reflected on the day’s events later, was pretty elated as he told his old friend Josh Breslin whom he had called up in Maine to tell him what had happened that day. Josh had also grown up in a factory town, a textile town, Olde Saco, and had been to many such support events himself and before he retired had as a free-lance writer written up lots of labor stories. The key ingredient that impressed Josh in Frank’s description had been how many young serious black and Latino workers had participated in the actions. Later than night when Frank reflected further on the situation he broke out in a smile as he was writing up his summary of his take on the events. There would be people pass off the torch to when guys like him and Josh were no longer around. He had been afraid that would not happen after the long drought doldrums in the class struggle of the previous few decades. Here is what else he had to say:            

No question in this wicked old world that those at the bottom are “the forgotten ones,” “los olvidados,” those who a writer who had worked among them had long ago correctly described as the world fellahin, the ones who never get ahead. This day 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-Mart jobs do not come with forty hours of work attached but whatever some cost-cutting manager deems right to keep them on a string and keep them from qualifying for certain benefits that do not kick in with “part-time” work. 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 decent 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. Growing up working class town poor, the only difference on the economic question was that it was all poor whites unlike today’s crowd. Also for many years living from hand to mouth before things got steady. 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 these 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!  


In The Beginning Was The Jug- The Jim Kweskin Jug Band

In The Beginning Was The Jug- The Jim Kweskin Jug Band

Who knows how it happened, how the jug bug craze got started in the folk minute of the 1960s, maybe it happened just like in the 1920s and early 1930s when “jug” got a boost by the likes of the Memphis Jug Band, The Mississippi Sheiks, and about twelve other state-named Sheik groupings using home-made weapons, uh, instruments, picked up from here and there, a jug here, a triangle there, fashion a kazoo here, pluck a washtub there and come up with some pretty interesting sounds . Yeah, one you listen to the old stuff on YouTube these days you could see where that might have been the start of the big first wave. Maybe though back in the 1960s somebody, a few musicians, got together and figured here was something that folk-crazed kids, a very specific demographic not to be confused with all of the generation of ’68 post-war baby boomers coming of age rock and roll jail break-out but those who were sick unto death of the vanilla rock and roll that was being passed out about 1960 or so, get this, music that more than one mother, including my mother, thought was “nice” and that was the kiss of death to that kind of music after the death of classic Elvis/Chuck/Bo/Jerry Lee rock for a while before the Brits came over the pond and the acid-eaters headed east in the Second Coming so they started tinkering. Maybe, and remember the folk milieu perhaps more widely that the rock milieu was very literate, was very into knowing about roots and genesis and where things fit in (including where they fit in) somebody in the quickly forming and changing bands looked up some songs in the album archives at the library, or, more likely from what later anecdotal evidence had to say about the matter, found some gem in some record store, maybe a store like Sandy’s over between Harvard and Central Squares who had all kinds of eclectic stuff if you had the time and wherewithal to shuffle through the bins. Institutions that sustained many for hours back then in the cusp of the 1960s folk revival when there were record stores on almost every corner in places like Harvard Square and the Village in the East you could find some gems if you searched long enough and maybe found some old moth-eaten three volume set Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music and came up with The Memphis Jug Band and K.C. Moan or the Sheiks doing Rent Man Blues, maybe Furry Lewis on Kassie Jones (although sometimes the search was barren or, maybe worse, something by Miss Patti Page, Tennessee Ernie Ford, or good god, some country bumpkin George Jones thing stared you in the face). From there they found the Cannon’s Stompers, the Mississippi Sheiks or the Memphis Jug Band, could be the way to prosper by going back to those days if they kept the arrangements simple, and that was that.

See, everybody then was looking for roots, American music roots, old country roots, roots of some ancient thoughts of a democratic America before the robber barons and their progeny grabbed everything with every hand. Let’s make it simple, something that was not death-smeared we-are- going-to-die-tomorrow if the Ruskkies go over the top red scare bomb shelter Cold War night that we were trying to shake and take our chances, stake our lives that there was something better to do that wait for the forlorn end. And that search was no accident, at least from the oral history evidence having grown up with rock and roll and found in that minute that genre wanting.  Some went reaching South to the homeland of much roots music, since those who were left behind or decided out of ennui or sloth to stay put kept up the old country British Isles Child ballad stuff (their own spin on the stuff not Child’s rarified collection stuff) and found some grizzled old geezers like Buell Kazee, Hobart Smith, Homer Jones, Reverend Jack Robinson and the like, who had made small names for themselves in the 1920s when labels like RCA and Paramount went out looking for talent in the hinterlands.

So there was history there, certainly for the individual members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Jim, Geoff Mulduar, Mel Lymon, Maria Muldaur, Fritz Richmond , the most famous and long-lasting of the 1960s jug groupings, all well-versed in many aspects of the American Songbook (hell, I would say so, say they were well-versed, even old tacky Tin Pan Alley Irving Berlin, smooth Cole Porter and the saucy Gershwin Brothers got a hearing), history there for the taking. All they needed was a jug, a good old boy homemade corn liquor jug giving the best sound but maybe some down in the cellar grandpa jug from the old days, a found washtub grandma used to use from the old garage, a washboard found  in that same location, a tringle from somewhere, a kazoo from the music store, some fiddle, a guitar, throw in  a tambourine for Maria and so they were off, off to conquer places like Harvard Square, like the Village, like almost any place in the Bay area within sound of the bay.

And for a while they did, picking up other stuff chimes, more exotic kazoos, harmonicas, what the heck, even up-graded guitars and they made great music, great entertainment music, not heavy with social messages but just evoking those long lost spirits from the 1920s when jug music would sustain a crowd on a Saturday night. Made some stuff up as they went along, or better, made old stuff their own like Washington At Valley Forge, Bumble Bee, Sweet Sue from Paul Whitman and plenty of on the edge Jazz Age stuff that got people moving and forgetting their blues. And here is the beauty of it unlike most of the first wave stuff which was confined to records and radio listening you can see the Kweskin Jug Band back in the day on YouTube and see the kind of energy which they produced when they were in high form (music that they, Jim and Geoff anyway, still give high energy to when they occasionally appear together in places like Club Passim in Harvard Square these days. Yeah, in the beginning was the jug… 



Friday, August 14, 2015

On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives

On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives


On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives

On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Jefferson Airplane's First Album -From The Archives

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- When Butterfly Swirl Swirled- A CD Review
CD Review

Classic Rock: 1964, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1987

Scene brought to mind by the cover art that graces this CD. Said cover art showing in the background a motley foursome from some post- British invasion invasion group but in the foreground the object our, ah, inspection, one female earring bejeweled but more importantly day-glo, or if not day-glo then some non-toxic paint celebration, painted flower. Immediately bringing to my memory’s eye on Kathleen Callahan, a. k. a. Butterfly Swirl, Carlsbad (California, that’s important) Class of 1968 and Josh Breslin’s old flame from the summer of love, 1967 version, circa San Francisco in the merry prankster, yellow brick road night. Of course, as always in the interest of full disclosure, Ms. Swirl was my girl, very much my girl, until old Josh, Olde Saco High School Class of 1967 (that’s up in Maine, although that is not important to the story, or just a little) showed up on Russian Hill one fine day and, well, “stole” her from me. That too is not important to the story, except maybe to explain, a little, the kind of gal Kathleen was. What is important is how she came to be, not even out of high school yet, Butterfly Swirl.

No question in 1957 or 1977 Kathleen Callahan, brown hair, bright smile, good figure, great legs and an irksomely sunny disposition would have been just Kathleen Callahan, maybe the head cheerleader at some suburban school, some seaside suburban school like Carlsbad just norte of San Diego, Or, more realistically given that locale, some dippy surfer joe girl watching while they were hanging five or ten or whatever they did to those LaJolla, Malibu, Carlsbad waves that weren’t harming anybody as they slipped tepidly to shore. And, as she later confessed to Josh she actually had been a surfer joe girl, although the guy’s name was Spin Curley, nice right.

And then the 1964 British invasion came, and she, all of thirteen, although fully formed in lots of ways as she also told Josh and she was swept away, swept away from the silly little surfer girl life, small seaside everybody abode-housed Spanish fandango and the inevitably Spin. She told Josh it was really the Kinks that got her off-center. Not the Beatles or Rolling Stones as you might think. She said she was mad for their You Really Got Me, it kind of turned her on, turned her on a lot. A lot more than Spin could deal with what with his having to hang five or ten out in mother nature wave land. So naturally she headed to Los Angeles to check things out for a few days. Her and another girl, whose story can be summed up in one word-bonkers. Heavy metal pedal drug bonkers.

But she, that girl, get this, already had a moniker, Serendipity Swan, and knew some real cool people that she had met down at LaJolla where they were taking care of some rich guy’s estate (they are all estates in that zip code, then known as postal zones). This rich guy got rich, got very rich by “inventing” acid (LSD), or something like that. Or knew guys who invented it, or something like that. But in any case, the guy taking care of the estate, Captain Crunch and his confederates were always high, always on the move with their merry prankster yellow brick road bus and always welcoming to lost lambs, and ex-surfer girls. And that was how a couple of years before Kathleen, who had not then metamorphosized ed into Butterfly Swirl, kind of at wit’s end, eventually came up further north. And that is how I met her, and Josh too. Here’s the funny part though, as things got weird on the bus, or too weird for her and her embedded suburban girl manner (when she wasn’t high, high she was like a Buddha or Siva or whatever those divines are called) she hankered (my word) for home, and for her Spin and his hanging five or ten, or whatever he did to those waves. Like I said in 1957 or 1977 she wouldn’t have even been “on the bus.” But just for that 1967 minute, driven by those wicked Brits she broke free. Josh looked for her later but never caught up to her again.


From The American Left History Blog Archives (2008) - On American Political Discourse - A MODEST PROPOSAL-RECRUIT, RUN INDEPENDENT LABOR MILITANTS FOR THE 2016 ELECTIONS (Updated)




Markin comment:

In 2007-2008 I, in vain, attempted to put some energy into analyzing the then blossoming American presidential campaign, a changing of the guard election on the Democratic side, since it was to be, as advertised at least, a watershed election, for women, blacks, old white anglos, latinos, youth, etc. In the event I had to abandon the efforts in about May of 2008 when it became obvious, “in my face” obvious, that the election would be a watershed only for those few who really believed, who had talked themselves into, had a vested interest in touting that it would be a watershed election. That grim reality despite the hoopla, heavy cash and organizing of the thing, was that once again that election would essentially be a technician’s election, you know for armchair strategists and those who like to, for example, figure out how the Congressional race in the 26th District in Texas will impact the balance of power in the U.S. House. (I confess that early on in my life that kind of thing intrigued me too until I got “religion” and worried more about real live issues and political programs than wonk-ish concerns.)    

The subsequent “sleep-walk” four years of the Obama presidency, the non-watershed by anybody’s measurement 2012 American presidential election campaign, the banal mid-term elections of 2014 recently passed and the unending maelstrom of world politics have only confirmed in my eyes that that abandonment was essentially the right decision at the right time. In short, let the well- paid bourgeois commentators go on and on with their twitter. I, we, had (have) better things to do like fighting against the permanent wars, the permanent war economies, the struggle for more and better jobs, and for a workers’ party that fights for a workers government. More than enough to do, right?  

Part of my “alternative” offering then of the same old, same of the electoral cycle was a proposition that the labor movement and its supporters rather than spent another dime on what even a child can now see is a waste of good dues money on supporting this or that bourgeois candidate instead run our own independent candidates for appropriate offices in what for now would be exemplary campaigns. To that end I motivated my pitch with a few reasons and the outline of a program. Today as the non-watershed 2016 elections loom in our faces even before we have devoured the fact of the 2014 elections I offer an updated version of that program and the urgency to get out independent labors candidates.  



The never-ending and apparently soon to be resurrected, with or without “boots on the ground” quagmire in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East (Palestine, Iran, Syria you name it) is the fault line of American politics today. Every bourgeois politician has to have his or her feet put to the fire on this one. Not on some flimsy ‘sense of the Congress’ softball motion for withdrawal next, year, in two years, or (my favorite) when the situation is “stable.” Moreover, on the parliamentary level the only real vote that matters is the vote on the war budget. All the rest is fluff. Militant labor candidates should make a point of trying to enter Congressional contests where there are so-called known anti-war Democrats or Republicans (an oxymoron, I believe) running to make that programmatic contrast vivid.

But, one might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the “popular front” days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the war fight for this "no funding" position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (yah, those progressive Democrats) who unanimously voted for the last war budget and are reliably foaming at the bit to vote for the next one (or in the same vein authorized millions for Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza bought and paid for with U.S. aid) get a free ride on the cheap. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.


It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less families, can live on the minimum wage of $7/hr. (or proposed $10/hr). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. A step in the right direction and a fight that should be supported and funded is the recent “Fight for $15.” We need universal free health care for all. End of story. (Although Obamacare is inadequate and filled with pitfalls it must be defended against those who wish to dismantle the whole thing and leave millions without insurance again.) The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s, go a long way to turning the conditions of labor and unionization around.


Down with the Death Penalty! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants who make it here! Stop the Deportations! For the Separation of Church and State! Defend abortion rights! Down with anti-same sex marriage legislation! Support gay marriage rights! Full public funding of education! Stop the ‘war on drugs’, basically a war on blacks and minority youth-decriminalize drugs! Defend political prisoners! This list of demands hardly exhausts the “culture war” issues we defend. It is hard to believe that over 200 years after the American Revolution and the French Revolution we are fighting desperately to preserve many of the same principles that militants fought for in those revolutions. But, so be it.


The Donkeys, Elephants and Greens have had their chance. Now is the time to fight for our own party and for the interests of our own class, the working class. Any campaigns by independent labor militants must highlight this point. And any campaigns can also become the nucleus of a workers’ party network until we get strong enough to form at least a small party. None of these other parties, and I mean none, are working in the interests of working people and their allies. The following great lesson of politic today must be hammered home. Break with the Democrats, Republicans and Greens!



We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago and has been choking human process since then. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.

Why the XYZ part? What does that mean? No, it is not part of an algebra lesson. What it reflects is that while society is made up mainly of workers (of one sort or another) there are other classes (and parts of classes) in society that we seek as allies and who could benefit from a workers government. Examples- small independent contractors, intellectuals, the dwindling number of small farmers, and some professionals like dentists. Yah, I like the idea of a workers and dentists government after many years in the dentist chair. The point is you have got to fight for it.

Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good now. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies and make things difficult write-in campaigns are possible.

A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement going back to the 1930s Great Depression the last time that unemployment, under-employment, and those who have just plain quit looking for work was this high in the American labor force, although it is admittedly down from the Great Recession highs. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay is a formula to spread the available work around. This is no mere propaganda point but shows the way forward toward a more equitable distribution of available work.

The basic scheme, as was the case with the early days of the longshoremen’s and maritime unions, is that the work would be divided up through local representative workers’ councils that would act, in one of its capacities, as a giant hiring hall where the jobs would be parceled out. This would be a simpler task now than when it was when first proposed in the 1930s with the vast increase in modern technology that could fairly accurately, via computers, target jobs that need filling and equitably divide up current work.

Without the key capitalist necessity of keeping up the rate of profit the social surplus created by that work could be used to redistribute the available work at the same agreed upon rate rather than go into the capitalists’ pockets. The only catch, a big catch one must admit, is that no capitalist, and no capitalist system, is going to do any such thing as to implement “30 for 40” –with the no reduction in pay proviso, although many low –end employers are even now under the “cover” of the flawed Obamacare reducing hours WITH loss of pay-so that to establish this work system as a norm it will, in the end, be necessary to fight for and win a workers government to implement this demand.

Organize the unorganized is a demand that cries out for solution today now that the organized sectors of the labor movement, both public and private, in America are at historic lows, just over ten percent of the workforce. Part of the task is to reorganize some of the old industries like the automobile industry, now mainly unorganized as new plants come on line and others are abandoned, which used to provide a massive amount of decent jobs with decent benefits but which now have fallen to globalization and the “race to the bottom” bad times. The other sector that desperately need to be organized is to ratchet up the efforts to organize the service industries, hospitals, hotels, hi-tech, restaurants and the like, that have become a dominant aspect of the American economy. Support the recent militant efforts, including the old tactic of civil disobedience, by service unions and groups of fast-food workers to increase the minimum socially acceptable wage in their Fight For 15.

Organize the South-this low wage area, this consciously low-wage area, where many industries land before heading off-shore to even lower wage places cries out for organizing, especially among black and Hispanic workers who form the bulk of this industrial workforce. A corollary to organizing the South is obviously to organize internationally to keep the “race to the bottom” from continually occurring short of being resolved in favor of an international commonwealth of workers’ governments. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Organize Wal-Mart- millions of workers, thousands of company-owned trucks, hundreds of distribution centers. A victory here would be the springboard to a revitalized organized labor movement just as auto and steel lead the industrial union movements of the 1930s. The key here is to organize the truckers and distribution workers the place where the whole thing comes together. We have seen mostly unsuccessful organizing of retail stores. To give an idea of how hard this task might be though someone once argued that it would be easier to organize a workers’ revolution that organize this giant. Well, that’s a thought.

Defend the right of public and private workers to unionize. Simple-No more defeats like in Wisconsin in 2011, no more attacks on collective bargaining the hallmark of a union contract. No reliance on labor boards, arbitration, courts or bourgeois recall elections either. Unions must keep their independent from government interference. Period.

* Defend the independence of the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. In 2008 and 2012 labor, organized labor, spent over 450 million dollars respectively trying to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats (mainly). The “no show, no go” results speak for themselves as the gap between the rich and poor has risen even more in this period. For those bogus efforts the labor skates should have been sent packing long ago. The idea in those elections was that the Democrats (mainly) were “friends of labor.” The past period of cuts-backs, cut-in-the-back give backs should put paid to that notion. Although anyone who is politically savvy at all knows that is not true, not true for the labor skates at the top of the movement.

The hard reality is that the labor skates, not used to any form of class struggle or any kind of struggle, know no other way than class-collaboration, arbitration, courts, and every other way to avoid the appearance of strife, strife in defense of the bosses’ profits. The most egregious recent example that I can recall- the return of the Verizon workers to work after two weeks in the summer of 2011 when they had the company on the run and the subsequent announcement by the company of record profits. That sellout strategy may have worked for the bureaucrats, or rather their “fathers” for a time back in the 1950s “golden age” of labor, but now we are in a very hard and open class war. The rank and file must demand an end to using their precious dues payments for bourgeois candidates all of whom have turned out to be sworn enemies of labor from Obama on down.

This does not mean not using union dues for political purposes though. On the contrary we need to use them now more than ever in the class battles ahead. Spent the dough on organizing the unorganized, organizing the South, organizing Wal-Mart, and other pro-labor causes. Think, for example, of the dough spent on the successful November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio. That type of activity is where labor’s money and other resources should go. And not on recall elections against individual reactionaries, like in Wisconsin, as substitutes for class struggle (and which was overwhelmingly unsuccessful to boot-while the number of unionized public workers has dwindled to a precious few).  

*End the endless wars!- As the so-called draw-down of American and Allied troops in Iraq reached its final stages back in 2011, the draw- down of non-mercenary forces anyway, I argued that we must recognize that we anti-warriors had failed, and failed rather spectacularly, to affect that withdrawal after a promising start to our opposition in late 2002 and early 2003 (and a little in 2006).As the endless American-led wars (even if behind the scenes, as in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other proxy wars) continue now with a new stage against ISIS (Islamic State) in Iraq we had better straighten out our anti-war, anti-imperialist front quickly if we are to have any effect on the U.S. troop escalation we know is coming before that fight is over. Not Another War In Iraq! No Intervention In Syria! Stop The Arms Shipments To The Middle East! Stop The Bombing Campaign! Defend The Palestinian People-End The Blockade of Gaza. And as always since 2001 Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan!  

U.S. Hands Off Iran! Hands Off Syria!- American (and world) imperialists have periodically ratcheted up their propaganda war (right now) and increased economic sanctions that are a prelude to war well before the dust has settled on the now unsettled situation in Iraq and well before they have even sniffed at an Afghan withdrawal of any import. We will hold our noses, as we did with the Saddam leadership in Iraq and on other occasions, and call for the defense of Iran against the American imperial monster. A victory for the Americans (and their junior partner on this issue, Israel) in Iran is not in the interests of the international working class. Especially here in the “belly of the beast” we are duty-bound to call not just for non-intervention but for defense of Iran. We will, believe me we will, deal with the mullahs, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Islamic fundamentalist in Iran in our own way in our own time.

U.S. Hands Off The World! And Keep Them Off!- With the number of “hot spots” that the American imperialists, or one or another of their junior allies, have their hands on in this wicked old world this generic slogan would seem to fill the bill.

Down With The War Budget! Not One Penny, Not One Person For The Wars! Honor World War I German Social-Democratic Party MP, Karl Liebknecht, who did just that in 1915 in the heat of war and paid the price unlike other party leaders who were pledged to stop the war budgets by going to prison. The only play for an honest representative of the working class under those conditions. The litmus test for every political candidate must be first opposition to the war budgets (let’s see, right now no new funding in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran preparations, China preparations, etc. you get my drift). Then that big leap. The whole damn imperialist military budget. Again, no one said it would be simple. Revolution may be easier that depriving the imperialists of their military money. Well….okay.

*Fight for a social agenda for working people! Free Quality Healthcare For All! This would be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The health and welfare of any society’s citizenry is the simple glue that holds that society together. It is no accident that one of the prime concerns of workers states like Cuba, whatever their other political problems, has been to place health care and education front and center and to provide to the best of their capacity for free, quality healthcare and education for all. Even the hide-bound social-democratic-run capitalist governments of Europe have, until recently anyway, placed the “welfare state” protections central to their programs. Be clear Obamacare is not our program and has been shown to be totally inadequate and wasteful however we will defend that program against those who wish to dismantle it and leave millions once again uninsured and denied basic health benefits.  

Free, quality higher education for all! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! One Hundred, Two Hundred, Many Harvards!

This would again be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The struggle to increase the educational level of a society’s citizenry is another part of the simple glue that holds that society together. Today higher education is being placed out of reach for many working-class and minority families. Hell, it is getting tough for the middle-class as well.

Moreover the whole higher educational system is increasing skewed toward those who have better formal preparation and family lives leaving many deserving students from broken homes and minority homes in the wilderness. Take the resources of the private institutions and spread them around, throw in hundreds of billions from the government (take from the military budget and the bank bail-out money if you want to find the money quickly to do the job right), get rid of the top heavy and useless college administration apparatuses, mix it up, and let students, teachers, and campus workers run the thing through councils on a democratic basis.

Forgive student debt! The latest reports indicate that college student debt is something like a trillion dollars, give or take a few billion but who is counting. The price of tuition and expenses has gone up dramatically while low-cost aid has not kept pace. What has happened is that the future highly educated workforce that a modern society, and certainly a socialist society, desperately needs is going to be cast in some form of indentured servitude to the banks or other lending agencies for much of their young working lives. Let the banks take a “hit” for a change!

Stop housing foreclosures and aid underwater mortgages now! Although the worst of the crunch has abated there are still plenty of problems and so this demand is still timely if not desperately timely like in the recent past. Hey, everybody, everywhere in the world not just in America should have a safe, clean roof over their heads. Hell, even a single family home that is part of the “American dream,” if that is what they want. We didn’t make the housing crisis in America (or elsewhere, like in Ireland, where the bubble has also burst). The banks did. Their predatory lending practices and slip-shot application processes were out of control. Let them take the “hit” here as well.

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Karl Marx was right way back in the 19th century on his labor theory of value, the workers do produce the social surplus appropriated by the capitalists. Capitalism tends to beat down, beat down hard in all kinds of ways the mass of society for the benefit of the few. Most importantly capitalism, a system that at one time was historically progressive in the fight against feudalism and other ancient forms of production, has turned into its opposite and now is a fetter on production. The current multiple crises spawned by this system show there is no way forward, except that unless we push them out, push them out fast, they will muddle through, again.

Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Socialism is the only serious answer to the human crisis we face economically, socially, culturally and politically. This socialist system is the only one calculated to take one of the great tragedies of life, the struggle for daily survival in a world that we did not create, and replace it with more co-operative human endeavors.

Build a workers’ party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed. None of the nice things mentioned above can be accomplished without as serious struggle for political power. We need to struggle for an independent working-class-centered political party that we can call our own and where our leaders act as “tribunes of the people” not hacks. The creation of that workers party, however, will get us nowhere unless it fights for a workers government to begin the transition to the next level of human progress on a world-wide scale.

As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):

“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.” 

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


News Flash: A. F. Markin Will Not Run For President In 2016    

From The American Left History Blog-June 2015

“Apparently Mister Markin is the only politician in America, or at least in the Democratic or Republican Party, who has not thrown his or her hat, or tried to throw his or her hat,  into the ring this election cycle for a chance at the brass ring, or Hillary Rodham Clinton’s big target. He must be a rare bird.”-John Stewart, WDJA News

When asked about endorsing Hilary Rodham Clinton for President A.F. Markin, at his press conference in New York City announcing his decision new where he had just announced that he would not run for the office this cycle, quoted one of his favorite old time bluesman, a man who had many problems with, wine, women and song-“I’d rather be the devil that to be that woman’s man.” Enough said.       

Media Flash: A. F. Markin, long time anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist activist and the evil genius behind the blog American Left History, has announced today that under no conditions will he be a candidate for President of the United States in 2016. In prior election cycles he has run for the office as an Independent Social-Democrat (2004) and after nomination on the Green Wave Party ticket (2008, although he waged an opportunistic low-level campaign because according to one campaign worker he did not want to ruin then Senator Barack Obama’s chances at the White House expecting some kind of job offer for doing so. To once again prove that opportunism does not pay, especially for so-called principled socialists like him and Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, he was never offered any position in that administration). In 2012 he got “religion” and sat out the campaign not because of any thought of ruining the chances of that “miserable sell-out bastard Obama” (Markin’s words) but because he had read an obscure document based on the tenets of the Communist International (Vladimir Lenin’s old-time operation to create world revolution established in 1919 and went out of business in 1943) in a left-wing socialist newspaper which stated that socialists should not seek, not even run for, the executive offices (President, Governor, sheriff) of what they called the “bourgeois capitalist state.” Chastised, thoroughly chastised by that obscure odd-ball reference he is again sitting the 2016 election cycle out.     

At the press conference held in New York City’s Best Eastern Hotel making the announcement Markin, paraphrasing the great 19th century Northern Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman (hero of “Billy’s bummers traipsing through Georgia and its environs and scourge of the rebels) stated that “if drafted I will not run and if elected I will not serve” in that post. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of running for some legislative office like the United States Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. –Josh Breslin, Portland Free Press

A.F. Markin commentary on the American Politics Today website expanding on his decision not to run (originally posted on the American Left History blog on June 6, 2015):      

“I know that the long suffering readers of this blog have been waiting breathlessly for me to announce my intentions for the presidential campaign of 2016. Wait a minute! What kind of madness is this on my part to impose on readers who I am sure are still recovering from the shell-shock of that seemingly endless and mendacious 2012 presidential campaign. Well… Okay, as usual I want to, for good or ill, make a little point about running for the executive offices of the bourgeois state now that I have gotten ‘religion’ about the necessary of radicals and revolutionaries, even garden variety socialists like me, NOT to do so. I think this point can really be driven home today now that we have a ‘progressive’ Democratic president, one Barack Obama, as a foil.

I have detailed elsewhere the controversy and checkered history in the international workers movement, and especially in the Communist International in its heroic days in the early 1920's, surrounding the question of whether radicals and revolutionaries, on principle, should run for these executive offices of the bourgeois state. I need not repeat that argument here. (See June 2008 Archives, "If Drafted I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve-Revolutionaries and Running For Executive Offices," American Left History blog, dated June 15, 2008). I have also noted there the trajectory of my own conversion to the position of opposition to such runs.
Previously I had seen such electoral efforts as good propaganda tools and/or basically harmless attempts to intersect political reality at times when the electorate is tuned in. Always under the assumption made clear during the campaign that, of course, if elected one would not assume the office.

In any case, I admit to a previously rather cavalier attitude toward the whole question, even as I began to see the wisdom of opposition. But having gone through the recent presidential campaign and, more importantly, the inauguration and installation of a ‘progressive’ black man to the highest office attainable under the imperium I have begun to wipe that smirk off my face.

Why? I have hardly been unaware throughout my leftist political career that Social Democratic and Communist (Stalinist/Maoist varieties especially) Party politicians have, individually or in popular front alliances with capitalist parties, wreaked havoc on working people while administrating the bourgeois state. I have, in particular, spent a good part of my political career fighting against the notion of popular front strategies as they have been forged in the past, disastrously in places like Spain during the Civil War in the 1930’s and Chile in 1973 or less disastrously in France in the 1980’s. However this question of the realities of running the imperial state in America really hit home with the coming into office of Barack Obama.

Certainly, Obama did not have, and in the course of such things could not have any qualms about administering the bourgeois state, even if such toilsome work contradicted his most basic principles. Assuming, for the sake of argument here, that Obama is not the worst bourgeois politician, progressive or not, that has come down the pike. Already, in a few short weeks in office, he has escalated the troop levels in Afghanistan. He is most earnestly committed to bailing out the financial heart of the imperial system, at the long term expense of working people. Where is the room for that vaunted ‘progressive’ designation in all of this? Oh yes he has is against torture and illegal torture centers. That, dear readers might have passed for progressive action- in the 17th century. Jesus, is there no end to this madness in taking grandstanding kudos for stuff that Voltaire would have dismissed out of hand. So the next time someone asks you to run for President of the United States (or governor of a state or mayor of a city) take the Markin pledge - Just say NO!