Saturday, September 12, 2015

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Socialist Future

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Socialist Future

Logo Of The Communist Youth International

Click below to link to a Communist Youth archival site

Sam Eaton, once he got “religion” on the questions of war and peace after a close high school friend in Carver was killed in the jungles of Vietnam in 1968, and Ralph Morris, once he had served in Vietnam after having become totally disenchanted with the war effort and had been discharged back to Troy, New York in 1970 were both very interested in left-wing anti-war politics, in studying about how previous generations fought against the highly-charged war blood lust currents that periodically burned over the American landscape. Sam, exempt from the military draft since he was the sole support of his mother and four younger sisters after his father had passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 1965, who had been prior to his friend Jeff Mullin’s death been very political in a conventional way but somewhat indifferent to the war blazing all around him in this country as well as in Vietnam and Ralph who was as gung-ho as any naïve young soldier before the “shit hit the fan” (his expression) when he went into Vietnam had met down in Washington, D.C.  

Had met under frankly odd circumstances, circumstances which kind of came with the times when people who ordinarily would not run into each other did so as they came to oppose the war in Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, home of the Washington Redskins football team after they had been arrested in different incidents during the May Day 1971 actions. The idea behind those actions by those like Sam and Ralph who were enraged by the continuation of the war was to attempt to close down the government if it did not close down the war. For their efforts, Sam trying to help close down Massachusetts Avenue a main thoroughfare and Ralph at an action at the White House (which his group never got close to), along with thousands of others were placed in the bastinado for several days without much food or shelter and without the quick release demanded by law for such minor infractions (they had actually just walked out of a side exit one day and nobody stopped them). They had met in some forlorn line when Ralph noticed that Sam had a Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) button on his lapel and had asked him whether he was a member. Sam told him why he was a supporter of VVAW after Ralph told him he was a member and had taken part in a couple of actions on the streets that made people freeze in their tracks when they saw the long lines of anti-war veterans, some on crutches and others in wheelchairs silently marching as was a tactic of the time. That meeting in any case formed a lifelong friendship as Ralph recently had mentioned to Sam when they met for one of their periodic Boston meetings when Ralph came to town.          

That May Day event more than any other of the actions which they had participated in during those years was pivotal in bringing them to an understanding that if you were going to take on the government then you had better have more than a few thousand committed souls with you and better be better prepared, damn better, when the “shit hits the fan” (again Ralph’s expression). So they both started to hit the books, to read old time left-wing Socialist and Communist literature to get a fix on things that went wrong with May Day (although Ralph admitted he was not much of a reader of such materials he did plod through the stuff and still remembered a fair amount of it). They would talk about what they had read between themselves and even began to attend study classes provided by a collective in Cambridge (the Red Book collective if anybody is asking) where both young men were staying for the summer of 1972.

Sam and Ralph were especially intrigued by the work that left-wing political organizations did in recruiting young people to the cause, a task that would have made it far easier for them to get involved if such organizations had existed in their respective growing up towns of Carver, Massachusetts and Troy, New York. So for a while they were all abuzz with thoughts of the Socialist and Communist youth organizations, especially when they read about Spain the 1930s and the key role left-wing youth played there and on the battle fronts. Although both would slide away from 24/7 type politics that had driven them early in the decade later in the decade as the aura of 1960s confrontation faded back into “normalcy” and they began careers and families they for a time considered themselves “left-wing youth,” maybe even communist youth although that designation was a tough dollar to swallow given their backgrounds. During that period Sam, more of a writer than Ralph, wrote up some materials about their experiences. He more recently in the age of the Internet got involved with a blog, American Socialist History, which was accumulating stories about anything related to socialist youth in the 1960s and Sam had written another short piece for that publication. Here is what he had to say:

“One of the declared purposes of this blog is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past, spotty and incomplete as they may be, here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-socialist and communist wing. And particularly how to draw the young into the struggle. Historically these lessons would be centrally derived from the revolutions of 1848 in Europe, especially in France, the Paris Commune of 1871, and most vividly under the impact of the Lenin and Trotsky-led Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, a world historic achievement for the international working class whose subsequent demise was of necessity a world-historic defeat for that same class. To that end I have made commentaries and provided some archival works in this space in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over.

More importantly, for the long haul, and unfortunately given that same spotty and incomplete past the long haul is what appears to be the time frame that this old militant will have to concede that we need to think about, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common socialist future. An education that masses of previous generations of youth undertook gladly but which now is reduced to a precious few.  That is beside the question of numbers in any case no small or easy task given the differences of generations (the missing transmission generation problem between the generation of ’68 who tried unsuccessfully to turn the world upside down and failed, the missing “in between” generation raised on Reagan rations and today’s desperate youth in need of all kinds of help; differences of political milieus worked in (another missing link situation with the attenuation of the links to the old mass socialist and communist organizations decimated by the red scare Cold War 1950s night of the long knives through the new old New Left of the 1960s and little notable organizational connections since); differences of social structure to work around (the serious erosion of the industrial working class in America, the rise of the white collar service sector, the now organically chronically unemployed, and the rise of the technocrats); and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses (today’s  computer, cellphone, and social networking savvy youth using those assets as tools for organizing).

There is no question that back in my youth in the 1960s I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available on-line at the press of a button today. When I developed political consciousness very early on in my youth, albeit a liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view.

As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically worrying more about a possible cushy career on the backstairs of politics. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I vaguely knew they were around from my readings but not in my area. In any case the aura of the red scare was still around so it is a toss-up if I had known about those that I would have contacted them.   

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

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

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

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a left-wing youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become radicals with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.


Third Congress of the Communist International

The Communist International and the Communist Youth Movement

Source: Theses Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congress of the Third International, translated by Alix Holt and Barbara Holland. Ink Links 1980;

Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

12 July 1921

1 The young socialist movement came into existence as a result of the steadily increasing capitalist exploitation of young workers and also of the growth of bourgeois militarism. The movement was a reaction against attempts to poison the minds of young workers with bourgeois nationalist ideology and against the tendency of most of the social-democratic parties and the trade unions to neglect the economic, political and cultural demands of young workers.

In most countries the social-democratic parties and the unions, which were growing increasingly opportunist and revisionist, took no part in establishing young socialist organisations, and in certain countries they even opposed the creation of a youth movement. The reformist social-democratic parties and trade unions saw the independent revolutionary socialist youth organisations as a serious threat to their opportunist policies. They sought to introduce a bureaucratic control over the youth organisations and destroy their independence, thus stifling the movement, changing its character and adapting it to social-democratic politics.

2 As a result of the imperialist war and the positions taken towards it by social democracy almost everywhere, the contradictions between the social-democratic parties and the international revolutionary organisations inevitably grew and eventually led to open conflict. The living conditions of young workers sharply deteriorated; there was mobilisation and military service on the one hand, and, on the other, the increasing exploitation in the munitions industries and militarisation of civilian life. The most class-conscious young socialists opposed the war and the nationalist propaganda. They dissociated themselves from the social-democratic parties and undertook independent political activity (the International Youth Conferences at Berne in 1915 and Jena in 1916).

In their struggle against the war, the young socialist organisations were supported by the most dedicated revolutionary groups and became an important focus for the revolutionary forces. In most countries no revolutionary parties existed and the youth organisations took over their role; they became independent political organisations and acted as the vanguard in the revolutionary struggle.

3 With the establishment of the Communist International and, in some countries, of Communist Parties, the role of the revolutionary youth organisations changes. Young workers, because of their economic position and because of their psychological make-up, are more easily won to Communist ideas and are quicker to show enthusiasm for revolutionary struggle than adult workers. Nevertheless, the youth movement relinquishes to the Communist Parties its vanguard role of organising independent activity and providing political leadership. The further existence of Young Communist organisations as politically independent and leading organisations would mean that two Communist Parties existed, in competition with one another and differing only in the age of their membership.

4 At the present time the role of the Young Communist movement is to organise the mass of young workers, educate them in the ideas of Communism, and draw them into the struggle for the Communist revolution.

The Communist youth organisations can no longer limit themselves to working in small propaganda circles. They must win the broad masses of workers by conducting a permanent campaign of agitation, using the newest methods. In conjunction with the Communist Parties and the trade unions, they must organise the economic struggle.

The new tasks of the Communist youth organisations require that their educational work be extended and intensified. The members of the youth movement receive their Communist education on the one hand through active participation in all revolutionary struggles and on the other through a study of Marxist theory.

Another important task facing the Young Communist organisations in the immediate future is to break the hold of centrist and social-patriotic ideas on young workers and free the movement from the influences of the social-democratic officials and youth leaders. At the same time, the Young Communist organisations must do everything they can to ‘rejuvenate’ the Communist Parties by parting with their older members, who then join the adult Parties.

The Young Communist organisations participate in the discussion of all political questions, help build the Communist Parties and take part in all revolutionary activity and struggle. This is the main difference between them and the youth sections of the centrist and socialist unions.

5 The relations between the Young Communist organisations and the Communist Party are fundamentally different from those between the revolutionary young socialist organisations and the social-democratic parties. In the common struggle to hasten the proletarian revolution, the greatest unity and strictest centralisation are essential. Political leadership at the international level must belong to the Communist International and at the national level to the respective national sections.

It is the duty of the Young Communist organisations to follow this political leadership (its programme, tactics and political directives) and merge with the general revolutionary front. The Communist Parties are at different stages of development and therefore the Executive Committee of the Communist International and the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International should apply this principle in accordance with the circumstances obtaining in each particular case.

The Young Communist movement has begun to organise its members according to the principle of strict centralisation and in its relations with the Communist International – the leader and bearer of the proletarian revolution – it will be governed by an iron discipline. All political and tactical questions are discussed in the ranks of the Communist youth organisation, which then takes a position and works in the Communist Party of its country in accordance with the resolutions passed by the Party, in no circumstance working against them.

If the Communist youth organisation has serious differences with the Communist Party, it has the right to appeal to the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

Loss of political independence in no way implies loss of the organisational independence which is so essential for political education.

Strong centralisation and effective unity are essential for the successful advancement of the revolutionary struggle, and therefore, in those countries where historical development has left the youth dependent upon the Party, the dependence should be preserved; differences between the two bodies are decided by the EC of the Communist International and the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International.

6 One of the most immediate and most important tasks of the Young Communist organisations is to fight the belief in political independence inherited from the period when the youth organisations enjoyed absolute autonomy, and which is still subscribed to by some members. The press and organisational apparatus of the Young Communist movement must be used to educate young workers to be responsible and active members of a united Communist Party.

At the present time the Communist youth organisations are beginning to attract increasing numbers of young workers and are developing into mass organisations; it is therefore important that they give the greatest possible time and effort to education.

7 Close co-operation between the Young Communist organisations and the Communist Parties in political work must be reflected in close organisational links. It is essential that each organisation should at all times be represented at all levels of the other organisation (from the central Party organs and district, regional and local organisations down to the cells of Communist groups and the trade unions) and particularly at all conferences and congresses.

In this way the Communist Parties will be able to exert a permanent influence on the movement and encourage political activity, while the youth organisations, in their turn, can influence the Party.

8 The relations established between the Communist Youth International and the Communist International are even closer than those between the individual Parties and their youth organisations. The Communist Youth International has to provide the Communist youth movement with a centralised leadership, offer moral and material support to individual unions, form Young Communist organisations where none has existed and publicise the Communist youth movement and its programme. The Communist Youth International is a section of the Communist International and, as such, is bound by the decisions of its congresses and its Central Committee. The Communist Youth International conducts its work within the framework of these decisions and thus passes on the political line of the Communist International to all its sections. A well-developed system of reciprocal representation and close and constant co-operation guarantees that the Communist Youth International will make gains in all the spheres of its activity (leadership, agitation, organisation and the work of strengthening and supporting the Communist youth organisations).

When The Bourgeoisie Was In Full Flower- With The French Painter Caillebotte In Mind

When The Bourgeoisie Was In Full Flower- With The French Painter Caillebotte In Mind 


From The Pen Of Sam Lowell


Yeah, the Baron, Baron Haussmann if you need a name to go with the damage, the social damage done, had done a good job, a damn good job of breaking up beloved Paris with his squeaky clean street lines and wide boulevards. Yeah, changed the face of Paris, the Paris of squalid throw your leavings out the window and heaven help who is below, and heaven help what awful thing was thrown down to the trash-filled streets. The Paris of funny crooked cul de sac streets, which reflected the add-ons over centuries to make a great city from the piss-pot small town back in the Middle Ages when the university was the center of attraction and the good bourgeois in embryo were trying to hold off the barbarians, the wayward no account peasant drifters who snuck off the land, or tried to in order to sulk and menace in the shadows down by the Seine, the river of life and of intrigue. The Paris of the small craftsman working his trade in some lonely workshop, maybe an indentured apprentice by his side if the craft was skilled enough to warrant such service, his “home” and hearth in the back rooms where the dutiful wife and undutiful screaming children scratched out their pitiful existence. Said craftsman working furiously always brow-beaten worrying about being edged out by Monsieur So and So with plenty of capital and fifty men in his employ underselling him by virtue of economy of scale (or just plain greed at having anybody even a single slave craftsman in his “invisible hand” market place). The Paris too of the jack-roller, the pick-pocket, the wharf rats, the tavern-dwellers, the drifters, the grifters, and the midnight sifters along the shallow shadows of that same beloved Seine     


He, Jean Villon, was called Jean-bon out of respect for his courage under fire in the hell-hole barricade days of 1848  when he and his neighbors, all working-men, held out to the last when the vicious petty-bourgeois who would have benefited most from victory deserted the barricades and he and his took to their fallen losses and jail cells with equanimity (he and his comrades ever after called ‘48ers and no further explanation was necessary, none what-so-ever in any street or boulevard in the town). And for his general good humor when he was not talking politics or scheming the next plot that would bring on the newer world that he and his brethren were seeking. This morning he had had to laugh about the changes in the Rue Madeleine, the urine-laned street where he grew up, about the smell to high heaven of tanning chemicals, rough blacksmith coals, clothe dyes, slaughtered cattles and poultries. Laughed too that in those days, the days before the Baron got the itch (Baron dreams prodded on by ’89 dreams of san-culottes crowds demanding his head on a platter, or maybe just his head any way they could get it preferably via the people’s justice of the guillotine and more recent close calls in ‘48) none of the government’s men dared to enter those quarters even to look for the treasonous or seditious whoever was in power was always nervously pacing the floor about (it did not matter-king-premier-emperor-they all nervously paced their respective floors).


Yeah, back then nothing but crooked little streets leading to harmless little cafes, where he, workingman Villon held “court” with the riff-raff so-called of the old society. Calmly and cautiously quartered when no king’s men would bother to penetrate for they might not come back. Villon descended in some cousin-age degree never quite figured out back to the 15th century from the outlaw poet mad monk bastard saint Francois Villon who wrote longing exile in his own country verse with one hand and stole whatever was not nailed down with the other a fact which Jean never tired of pointing out when back in the day, back in ‘48 on the barricades when it counted comrades would wonder whether his revolutionary energies were flagging and he would drag out his pedigree to small-mouthed scoffs and tittles.


Yeah, the Baron was a slick one tearing down the old quarters to let the rising petty-bourgeois have their elegant apartments tucked away from the steamy stinking markets, the riff-raff cafes, the shadow men of the Seine. Let the bourgeoisie laugh in their clubs about how the riff-raff, meaning their working-men, those who slaved for them, those they had fired for being what some wag called “master-less men” for their habit of robbing said masters whenever the shadows fell, and the once innocent peasant girls who followed in their train and cast their fate with the lot, would get a belly-full of lead from the phalanx encircling infantry the next time they tried to pull up brick number one in order to build a barricade.


Although for a while when Thiers, that wizened troll who never uttered anything but treacherous remarks and never stopped for one minute to give the orders to  send whatever troops against the barricades which remained loyal to keep him in power. Rammed those troops against the brave Paris communards of blessed memory back in 1871 when the frightened bourgeoisie realized that the barricades could still be constructed when the working-men rose up in righteous anger at the betrayals put upon them. (Those communards like their earlier brethren of ’48 called communards and no further explanation was necessary, none what-so-ever in any street or boulevard in the town.)

But those days were long gone now. The Baron had won, had won his victory over the riff-raff and Jean-bon Villon knew it would be a long time before the blood of the communards dried.


Now the picture before Villon as he walked along Rue Madeline a place foreign to his eyes this rainy Sunday morning is that of prosperous petty bourgeois walking under the shadows of their handsome umbrellas along the well-trodden brick-laid slippery street taking in the sullen airs of the day. Each pair, male and female from a rough look at the scene, in their own world heading perhaps to some café breakfast (under awnings this morning) maybe going to the gardens up the road. Villon, the old revolutionary, looking down and noticing that every spattered brick had been inlaid (although that never stopped them from tearing them up in the old days), noticed that  as one wag put it that now the streets were big enough for all of Paris without regard to class to walk and fete wherever they cared to. Here is the waggish joke though, except for some ragman with his cur of a dog his sort were nary to be seen on these wet streets and intersections. Yeah, the Baron did his work well.      

***I Hear The Voice Of My Arky Angel-Once Again-With Angel Iris Dement In Mind

***I Hear The Voice Of My Arky Angel-Once Again-With Angel Iris Dement In Mind

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman  


(c) 1992 Songs of Iris/Forerunner Music, Inc. ASCAP

Sweet forgiveness, that's what you give to me

when you hold me close and you say "That's all over"

You don't go looking back,

you don't hold the cards to stack,

you mean what you say.

Sweet forgiveness, you help me see

I'm not near as bad as I sometimes appear to be

When you hold me close and say

"That's all over, and I still love you"

There's no way that I could make up for those angry words I said

Sometimes it gets to hurting and the pain goes to my head

Sweet forgiveness, dear God above

I say we all deserve a taste of this kind of love

Someone who'll hold our hand,

and whisper "I understand, and I still love you"


(c) 1992 Songs of Iris/Forerunner Music, Inc. ASCAP

There'll be laughter even after you're gone

I'll find reasons to face that empty dawn

'cause I've memorized each line in your face

and not even death can ever erase the story they tell to me

I'll miss you, oh how I'll miss you

I'll dream of you and I'll cry a million tears

but the sorrow will pass and the one thing that will last

is the love that you've given to me

There'll be laughter even after you're gone

I'll find reason and I'll face that empty dawn

'cause I've memorized each line in your face

and not even death could ever erase the story they tell to me

Every once in a while I have to tussle, go one on one with the angels, or a single angel is maybe a better way to put it. No, not the heavenly ones or the ones who burden your shoulders when you have a troubled heart but every once in a while I need a shot of my Arky angel, Iris Dement. Now while I don’t want to get into a dissertation about the thing, you know, that old medieval Thomist argument about how many angels can fit on the end of a needle or get into playing sides in the struggle between pliant god-like angels and defiant devil-like angels in the battles in the heavens over who would rule the universe that the great revolutionary English poet from the time of the 17th century  English revolution of blessed memory, John Milton, when he got seriously exercised over that notion in Paradise Lost I do believe we our faced, vocally faced with someone who could go mano y mano with whoever wants to enter into the lists against her.

Yes, and I know too that that “angel,” earthly material five feet plus of flesh and bone angel thing has been played out much too much in the world music scene, the popular music scene, you know rock and roll in the old days and now mainly hip-hop. You could hardly live a 1950s childhood extending into a 1960 coming of age teenage-hood  without being bombarded by every kind of angel every time you put your quarter in the jukebox especially if the other hand attached to that quarter, as it usually was your everlovin’ dreamy date who just had to hear you compare her to the Earth Angel of the then currently popular song. On a more sober note when some poor by the midnight telephone (now cellphone, okay Smartphone) girl was beside herself when her Johnny did not call at nine like he said he would and she wanted to deny reality, a reality pointed out to her by her best friend one Monday morning before talkfest that her Johnny Angel just couldn’t keep one girl happy but had to play the field (including an almost successful run at that best girlfriend).  Going to the distaff side (nice old-fashioned word, right) some honkey-tonk angel who was lured into the night life, who went back to the wild side of life where the wine and liquor flowed and she was just waiting there to be anybody’s darling who would eventually be done in by her own her own hubris, Hank’s morbid angel of death that seemed to hover over his every move until the big crash out, until the lights flickered out.

There’s my favorite, no question, though showing just how recklessly secular the angel angle could spin on a platter, no question, Teen Angel. And this will put paid to the notion that the teens in those days were any smarter in going about the business of being a teenager than today’s crop. Let me give few details and if you don’t believe me then just God Google the lyrics and be done with it. Some, I don’t know how else to say it although I will give advanced apologies to the rest of women-kind, some maybe sixteen year old bimbo of unknown intelligence but you decide and of unknown looks whose boyfriend’s car got stuck on a railroad track one Friday date night after a full course down at the local beach, the boyfriend got her out safely and yet she went running back, running back to get his two-bit class ring, a ring that he had probably given to half the girls in school before her, and did not come out alive. Of course the guy was broken up about it, probably personally wrote the words to the song for the guy who sang the song for all I know but let’s leave it at this since I don’t like to speak unkindly of the dead, even the reckless dead, RIP, sister, RIP.


So that off my chest.  No, that fleet of angle-tipped songs are strictly from nowhere, I will take my sensible Arky angel, take her with a little sinning on the side if you can believe there is any autobiographical edge to some of the songs she sings, take her with a little forlorn lilt in her voice, take her since she has seen the seedy side of life. Seen “from hunger” days and heart hurts. Yeah, that is how I like my angels. Alive as hell and well.                 

Every once in a while when I am blue, not a Billie Holiday blue, the blues down in the depths when you have to just hear her, flower in hair, maybe junked up, maybe clean, hell, it did not matter, when she hit her stride, and she “spoke” you out of your miseries, but maybe just a passing blue I needed to hear a voice that if there was an angel heaven voice Iris would be the one I would want to hear.    

I first heard Iris DeMent doing a cover of a folksinger-songwriter Greg Brown’s tribute to Jimmy Rodgers, the old time Texas yodeler discovered around same time as the original Carter Family in the late 1920s out in some Podunk town in Tennessee in the late 1920s when the new-fangled radio and the upstart small independent record companies were desperate for roots music to feed their various clienteles whatever soap, flour, detergent, deodorant their hungry advertisers had to sell, on his tribute album, Driftless. I then looked for her solo albums and for the most part was blown away by the power of Iris’ voice, her piano accompaniment and her lyrics (which are contained in the liner notes of her various albums, read them, please). It is hard to type her style. Is it folk? Is it Country Pop? Is it semi-torch songstress? Well, whatever it maybe that Arky angel is a listening treat, especially if you are in a sentimental mood.

Naturally when I find some talent that “speaks” to me I grab everything they sing, write, paint, or act I can find. In Iris’ case there is not a lot of recorded work, with the recent addition of Sing The Delta just four albums although she had done many back-ups or harmonies with other artists most notably John Prine. Still what has been recorded blew me away (and will blow you away), especially as an old Vietnam War era veteran her There is a Wall in Washington about the guys who found themselves on the Vietnam Memorial without asking knowing what the hell they were fighting for in that hellish war, probably one of the best anti-war songs you will ever hear. That memorial containing names very close to me, to my heart and I shed a tear each time I even go near the memorial when I am in D.C. It is fairly easy to write a Give Peace a Chance or Where Have All the Flowers Gone? sings-song type of anti-war song. It is another to capture the pathos of what happened to too many families when we were unable to stop that war.

The streets of my old-time growing up neighborhood are filled with memories of guys I knew, guys who didn’t make it back, guys who couldn’t adjust coming back to the “real world” and wound up in flop houses, half-way houses, and along railroad “jungle” camps and also guys who could not get over their not going into the service, in retrospect, to experience the decisive event of our generation, the generation of ‘68.

Other songs that have drawn my attention like When My Morning Comes hit home with all the baggage working class kids have about their inferiority when they screw up in this world. Walking Home Alone evokes all the humor, bathos, pathos and sheer exhilaration of saying one was able to survive, and not badly, after growing up poor, Arky poor amid the riches of America. (That may be the “connection” as I grew up through my father coal country Hazard, Kentucky poor.)  

Frankly, and I admit this publicly in this space, I love Ms. Iris Dement. Not personally, of course, but through her voice, her lyrics and her musical presence. This “confession” may seem rather startling coming from a guy who in this space is as likely here to go on and on about Bolsheviks, ‘Che’, Leon Trotsky, high communist theory and the like. Especially, as well given Iris’ seemingly simple quasi- religious themes and commitment to paying homage to her rural background in song. All such discrepancies though go out the window here. Why?

Well, for one, this old radical got a lump in his throat the first time he heard her voice. Okay, that happens sometimes-once- but why did he have the same reaction on the fifth and twelfth hearings? Explain that. I can easily enough. If, on the very, very remotest chance, there is a heaven then I know one of the choir members. Enough said. By the way give a listen to Out Of The Fire and Mornin’ Glory. Then you too will be in love with Ms. Iris Dement.

Iris, here is my proposal, once again. (I have made the offer in other spaces reviewing her work more seriously.) If you get tired of fishing up in the U.P., or wherever, with Mr. Greg Brown, get bored with his endless twaddle about old Iowa farms and buxom aunts, about the trials and tribulations of Billy from the hills, or going on and on about Grandma's fruit cellar just whistle. Better yet just yodel like you did on Jimmie Rodgers Going Home on that Driftless CD. Okay.

Channeling The Grateful Dead Minus…

Channeling The Grateful Dead Minus…

From The Pen Of Sam Lowell

No I was never a “deadhead,” never would have accepted that designation in any case if somebody tried to lay that moniker on me although in the old days, the days of the 1960s mad dash to seek a newer world that got trashed about seven million ways before the deal went down and “the authorities,” as my mother used to say when speaking of the ruling class or its agents, pulled the hammer down and soured a whole generation, no, make that three generations now since they are still furiously trying to keep us in lock-down mode, I went out in San Francisco by the moniker Prince of Love. But that was strictly among the brethren, those who were, literally, my mates on the yellow brick road converted school bus which a group of us called home for a couple of years as we went up and down the coast looking for the heart of Saturday  night, looking for the great blue-pink American West night, hell, maybe just looking to turn the world upside down and see if that was any better than the gruel that was on tap, was being force-fed to us for no known reason.

No, as well, I never went to one of their sold-out stoned out concerts which was something of a ceremonial rite of passage for those who did consider themselves “Dead Heads” and insisted that each and every time out they eat so much acid, smoke so many reefers, swallow some many bennies just like the very first time they hear the Dead in order to get that same guitar rush. And taking something from sports figures and their superstitions wear the same outfit each time to be washed clean by the Dead magic (of course those who never gave up the tradition had pretty threadbare outfits before Jerry went over the top, went to see the “fixer” man to get well one more time, one time too many). So like I say despite the voodoo stuff I have any number of friends who were/are ardent fans and they seem to be, well, normal, normal except in those flashback moments where they see “colors, man, colors,” would have “far out” experiences when they would/will get ready for a Dead concert. (Remind me to tell you sometime about a friend of mine from back in Carver, a town about thirty miles south of Boston, who to give you an idea of the tenor of the times back then went from a foul-mouthed corner boy, actually using that moniker, he said it turned the girls on, to “Far-Out Phil” when he came West to join us.) So even the best of them would succumb until the wheels kind of fall off….for a while.  

But here is my take on the Dead just to keep things in perspective, just to keep things right. I, after a couple of years on the road out there, and maybe not directly in the inner circle of the hippie/drug/literary scene but close enough to get tangled up in the new dispensation I like to look at the connections, the West Coast connections, where a lot of the energy of the 1960s got its start or if started elsewhere got magnified there. Draw the lines, if you will, from the wild boy alienated, there is no other word that says it so well, bikers over in Oakland and the edges of other working-class towns, mostly white, mostly with some kind of Okie/Arkie background roaring up the streets of Squaresville in search of the village daughters and putting the fear in the average citizen who thought Attila the Hun’s kin had descended, but remember that alienated part that is the hook-in, hot rod after midnight “chicken run” runners out in the valleys, alienated too but with a little dough and some swag and a hell-bend desire to go fast, go very fast, if for no other reason than to breakout of  valley ennui (although they would punch somebody out, fag bait somebody if they ever used such a word in their presence if they knew what it meant) and surfer boys, coast boys and with a little more laid back approach in search of the perfect wave (read: Nirvana), maybe not quite so alienated because of that golden tan blonde dish sitting on the beach waiting to see if Sir Galahad finds the holy grail, to the “beat” guys Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg and friends running across America just to keep running, writing up a storm, wenching, whoring , pimping, white blue-eyed hipsters “speaking” be-bop to a jaded world, to sainted Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters (and our Captain Crunch, leader of our own merry prankster psychedelic bus), the Hell’s Angels (bad dudes, bad dudes , no question), Fillmore with strobe light beams creating dreams, et. al and you have the skeleton for what went on then, right or wrong. Wasn’t that a time, yes, wasn’t that a time. And the Dead were right in the mix.         

Keep Space for Peace Week October 3-10, 2015

Keep Space for Peace Week October 3-10, 2015
Keep Space for Peace Week
October 3-10, 2015

International Week of Protest to

Stop the Militarization of Space

Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing

No Missile Defense

No to NATO
End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex
Deal with climate change and global poverty

List in formation

  • Bath Iron Works, Maine (Oct 3) Vigil across from administration building on Washington Street (Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with “missile defense” systems built at BIW) 11:30-12:30 am   Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm (207) 763-4062
  • USAF Croughton, England (Oct 3) National March & Rally at U.S. satellite communication and intelligence base. (Space communications, drones, bomber guidance, missile defence and command & control functions.)  12.00 midday to 3:30 pm. Special guest Robb Johnson. Evening peace concert after rally at Friends Meeting House in Oxford at 7:00 pm.  Oxfordshire Peace Campaign,  
  • Maine Walk for Peace: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans (Oct 9-24) Join us in shedding light on the Militarization of the Seas as the US Navy (outfitted with missile defense and space-directed missiles) ramps up their global operations to encircle Russia & China. We will explore environment impacts of Navy on the oceans.  Walk from Ellsworth to Portsmouth.  See flyer at
  • Kemijärvi, Finland (Oct 3) Peace defenders will hold a street protest against drone testing and war training area where NATO is feared to be preparing for war with Russia. 
  • King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (Oct 10) Noon, Demonstration and kite flying in front of Lockheed Martin (L-M) at intersection of Mall & Goddard Boulevards.   L-M is making a killing in drone war and surveillance technology, building the remote-controlled unmanned planes and satellites that direct the drones and launch their deadly Hellfire missiles which L-M also builds. For more info Brandywine Peace Community, (610) 544-1818  or 
  • Kolkata, India (Oct 11) Public Meeting at Kolkata organised by Mrs. Arundhoti Roy Chouddhury ( Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao to speak.
  • Nagpur, India (Oct 3) Mass Rally at Motibalgh jointly by S.E.C. Rly Pensioners Assn and Pragatisjheel Railway Mahila Samaj. Coordinator J. Saraswati.
  • Tucson, Arizona (Oct 6) Vigil at Raytheon Missile Systems. Join the Raytheon Peacemakers as we demonstrate against war and those who profit from it.  Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons.  Hermans Road entrance. (3rd traffic light south of Valencia on Nogales Highway, the extension of South 6th Avenue). Park off Nogales Highway, between railroad tracks and highway.  Signs provided, or bring your own!  More info: 520-323-8697.
·    Vandenberg AFB, California (Oct 7) Vigil in solidarity with "Keep Space for Peace Week" at the main gate of space warfare base from 3:45pm to 4:45pm. For info, contact Dennis Apel at (805) 878-2614.
-        Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
·        Download our full-size space week poster at:
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)

The Struggle Continues-No Justice, No Peace-Black Lives Matter-All Out In NYC-October 24

The Struggle Continues-No Justice, No Peace-Black Lives Matter-All Out In NYC-October 24  

Frank Jackman comment:

Usually when I post something from some other source, mostly articles and other materials that may be of interest to the radical public that I am trying to address I place the words “ A View From The Left” in the headline and let the subject of the material speak for itself, or the let the writer speak for him or herself without further comment whether I agree with the gist of what is said or not. After all I can write my own piece if some pressing issue is at hand. Occasionally, and the sentiments expressed in this leaflet is one of them, I can stand in solidarity with the remarks made. I do so here.     


Veterans For Peace Weekly E-News

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering the Sept 11th Attacks

Submitted by VFP Board President, Gerry Condon

On the 14th anniversary of the notorious September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people, the mainstream media is full of the usual infotainment, with virtually every possible point of view, except for the truth.  Many people question the official story of 9/11.  There are certainly many reasons to doubt that story, and many contending theories for what actually happened on September 11, 2001.<Full Story>
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Call Out To VFP Members to Take Action On International Peace Day, Sep 21

VFP National is asking Veterans For Peace members to celebrate International Day of Peace by sponsoring an event or supporting, joining with and promoting current Peace Day efforts underway in your city or town. It is the intent of Veterans For Peace National to help popularize International Day of Peace to the point that it becomes part of mainstream culture. International Day of Peace does not mean peace somewhere else.
To hold meaning to the average person, it must also mean peace in their communities. <More> E-mail for ideas on what you can do in your community. 
Check out what the national office is doing!
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Save the Dates: Nov 20-22 - SOA Watch Vigil

The SOAW annual mobilization is one of the largest anti-militarization convergences in the US.  It connects activists from across America who come together to denounce failed policies, the militarization of the hemisphere, and the daunting effects of imperialism as well as to remember the long and ongoing history of brutal US intervention in Latin America that the SOA/WHINSEC represents to perfection. BUT we also come together to listen, learn and be inspired by each other, to raise awareness about and draw connections between struggles, and to celebrate the beauty of creativity and resilience. The Vigil weekend is an opportunity to grow stronger together and to build grassroots power!
Hourly Shuttle Info from Atlanta to Columbus

Travel Opportunities for Activists

Sponsored by
Contact for Additional Information
Palestine Code Pink Nov 1-8, 2015 Visit the Code Pink website
Cuba Code Pink Nov 20-29, 2015 Visit the Code Pink website
Venezuela SOAW Dec 2-10, 2015 For more information email Terri Mattson at
Cuba Jim Ryerson Jan 2016 For more information email Jim Ryerson at
Cuba Code Pink Feb 2016 Visit the Code Pink website
Việt Nam Việt Nam's  Hoa Binh (Peace) Chapter 160 Mar 14 -Mar 30
For more information, please email Nadya Williams
Cuba Code Pink May 2016 Visit the Code Pink website
Palestine Interfaith Peacebuilders May 21 -Jun 1 2016 For more information email
Palestine Interfaith Peacebuilders Jul 16 - Jul 29 2016 For more information email
Palestine Interfaith Peacebuilders Oct 24 - Nov 6 2016 For more information email

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In This Issue:

Remembering the Sept 11th Attacks

Call Out To VFP Members to Take Action On International Peace Day, Sep 21

Save the Dates: Nov 20-22 - SOA Watch Vigil

Travel Opportunities for Activists

Imminent Threat

Join the VFP Women's Facebook Page

Veterans For Peace 2016 Annual Spring Tour to Viet Nam

Upcoming VFP Endorsed Actions/Events

Imminent Threat

Imminent Threat is a feature documentary about the War on Terror's impact on civil liberties executive produced by Academy Award nominee James Cromwell.

The documentary examines legislation passed in the days after 9/11, foreign entanglements abroad, the war on journalism and the NSA.  With interviews from prominent liberals (ACLU, CodePink) and conservatives (Cato Institute, Republican Congressmen), the film shows the unusual coalition being formed to challenge the two-party system and strike a better balance between security and liberty.

Trailer for the film:

Join the VFP Women's Facebook Page

There is now a facebook page for VFP women members only.  All women members are encouraged to participate.  

Veterans For Peace 2016 Annual Spring Tour to Viet Nam

Dates of travel:  Mar 14 - Mar 30, 2016
Each year since 2012, members of Việt Nam's Hoa Binh (Peace) Chapter 160 of Veterans For Peace invite up to 20 veterans, non-veterans, spouses & peace activists to come to Việt Nam for an insider's 2-week tour. The Hoa Binh chapter is the first & only overseas VFP chapter of American veterans living in Việt Nam!

The mission of the tour is to address the legacies of America’s war, as well as visit a beautiful country & form lasting ties of friendship & peace. 

For more information, email Nadya Williams @

Upcoming VFP Endorsed Actions/Events

Aug 28 - Oct 15 - Golden Rule Schedule of Events
Sep 21 - International Peace Day in your city
Sept 24 - 30 - Iowa Speaking Tour with Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley
Oct 7  - Anniversary of U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan
Oct 9-24 - Maine Walk For Peace
Nov 20-22, 2015 - SOA Watch 25th Anniversary Vigil

Did you know?

In 1993, VFP Chapters promoted and distributed the video "Beyond Vietnam: Lessons Unlearned" in educational institutions.

Veterans For Peace, 1404 N. Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102


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