Saturday, December 05, 2015

In Honor Of The 144th Anniversary Of The Paris Commune-All Honor To The Communards

In Honor Of The 144th Anniversary Of The Paris Commune-All Honor To The Communards


Some events can be honorably commemorated every five, ten, twenty-five years or so like the French Revolution. Other events need to be honorably commemorated yearly, and here I include the uprising which went on to form the Paris Commune, established on March 18, 1871, the first time the working class as such took power if only for a short time and only in one city, although that the city was Paris was not accidental since the city of lights had an honorable history of such plebian uprisings from 1789, 1830, and 1848 and other lesser such insurrectionary happenings (there was an expression at the time in radical and revolutionary circles that as long as Blanqui was alive and people remembered the Babeuf uprisings that when the deal when down you could always depend on Paris to rise). We can, those of us in what now is a remnant who still believe in the old time verities and who still fight for such things as working-class led revolution, socialism leading to a world communist federation or some such seemingly utopian vision and a fairer shake in the appropriation of the world’s good, still draw lessons from that experience.

Sadly the bulk of the world’s working classes most definitely in the wake of the rather quick demise of the Soviet Union and East Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s which for better or worse had represented some socialist vision however distorted (or to use Trotsky’s terminology deformed workers states) have either dismissed socialist solutions out of hand these days when the situation in places like Greece, Spain and lots of East Europe countries cry out for such solutions or the links to such previous socialist ideas has become so attenuated that the ideas are not even in play. To take Greece as a current example anybody with the least bit of sense knows that you cannot keep squeezing the living standards of the vast majority of people in that country yet the number of those who seek a communist way out, at least as exemplified by the recent parliamentary results, a quick measure of the strength of the harder left is disheartening.

So yes, in the absence of more current positive examples, we can use the Commune to draw lessons that might help us in the one-sided fight against the human logjam that the international capitalist system, complete with its imperial coterie at the top, led by the United States, the has bequeathed us almost a century and one half later and that is ripe, no overripe to be replaced by a more human scale way of producing the good of this wicked world. Hence the commemoration in this the 144th anniversary year.

Some “talking head” commentator in the lead-up to the 2015 celebration of the French Revolution on July 14th, a commentator specifically brought in for the occasion, I heard recently on a television talk show reflecting the same sentiment I have heard elsewhere from other academic and ideological sources, had declared the French Revolution dead. By that he meant that the lessons to be learned from that experience has been exhausted, that in the post-modern world that event over two hundred years ago had become passé, passé in the whirlwind of the American century now in full bloom (an American century that we thought had run its course in the wake of the Vietnam defeat but drew new life, if only by default, with the demise of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence). While not arguing here with the validity of that statement on the French revolution, a classic bourgeois revolution when the bourgeoisie was a progressive movement in human history and actually drew some connections between the Enlightenment philosophies that gave it inspiration and the tasks of the risen people, there are still lessons to be drawn from the Commune. If for no other reason than we still await that international working class society that such luminaries as the communist Karl Marx expanded upon in the 19th century.          

Obviously like the subsequent Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the Chinese revolutions of the 1920s and 1940s, the Vietnamese which took up a great deal of the middle third of the twentieth century, and others the Paris Commune was formed in the crucible of war, or threat of war. Karl Marx, among others, the great Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky for one, had noted that war is the mother of revolution and the defeat of the French armies and the virtual occupation by the victorious German armies around Paris certainly conformed to that idea that the then current government was in disarray and the social fabric after a near starvation situation required more. Every revolutionary commentary has noted that those factors formed a classic pre-revolutionary phenomena. Moreover the Commune had been thrust upon the working masses of Paris by the usual treachery of the bourgeois government thrown up after Louis Bonaparte lost control. That had not been the most promising start to any new society. But you work with what you have to work with and defend as Marx, the First International, and precious few others did the best you can despite the odds, and the disarray. So no hard and fast blueprint on revolutionary upheavals except by negative example, by what was not done, could come ready-made from that experience.  

To my mind, and this is influenced by the subsequent Russian revolutions of 1905 and February and October 1917, no question the decisive problem of the Commune was what later became to be known as the crisis of revolutionary leadership. Of course they should have expropriated the banks and centered their efforts around strengthening the authority of the Central Committee of the National Guard and not let lots of windbags and weirdos have their say based on barely deserved reputations but the result of those failures were that no serious party or parties were available to take charge and create a strong government to defend against the Thiers counter-attack from Versailles. (Also no appeals to other communes to come to the defense of Paris and no work among the Versailles soldiers.) It is problematic whether given the small weight of the industrial proletariat (masses factory workers like at Putilov in Petrograd rather than the small shop artisans and workman which dominated the Paris landscape), the lack of weaponry to fend off both the Germans and the Versailles armies, and food supply whether even if such a revolutionary leadership had existed that the Commune could have continued to exist in such isolated circumstances but the contours for the future of working class revolution would have been much different. The central and critical role of a revolutionary leadership which got fudged around in places like Germany where the working class party for all intents and purposes was barely a parliamentary party in the struggle against capitalism would have been clarified and at least a few revolutions, including those in Germany between 1918 and 1924 might have turned out differently and the world as well. The “what ifs” of history aside which are always problematic that is the bitter lesson we still before us today.   

In The Twilight Of The Folk Minute- Peter Seeger And Arlo Guthrie In Concert In The Late 1980s

In The Twilight Of The Folk Minute- Peter Seeger And Arlo Guthrie In Concert In The Late 1980s

“Jesus, they charged me fourteen dollars each for these tickets to see Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie and I got them by coming over here to the box office on my lunch hour instead of being gouged by Tick-Pik for three extra bucks apiece for god knows what purpose since it is not like this concert thing was a “hot ticket” like the Stones or Springsteen. Remember Laura about ten or fifteen years ago when we saw Pete for five bucks each at the Café Nana over in Harvard Square.” (Laura nodded her head in agreement.) “That was when Hank, the owner, used to bill all the big folk acts for cheap because the folk minute was over and they were “from hunger” and didn’t want to work for the “basket” like when they were kids on the way up so would jump at the opportunity to play and I guess he treated them okay from what Dave Von Ronk said one night when he was featured there. Those were the days when just because it was the Square you could still draw a crowd of people like us who used to “cruise” the folk minute scene in to hear those guys play.” (Laura laughed at that mention of “cruise” since it a new term not used back in the day when it was just hanging out they were doing.)

“Oh yeah, and the price of an expresso coffee each for two people and I think maybe we shared a piece of carrot cake was maybe another three bucks. You had to have something in front of you to keep your seat or unless it was a slow night Hank would scowl at you and make you think that you had done something criminal by taking the seat of a customer who would buy some wine and maybe a light meal which they served then. Beside the carrot cake was good, I think his wife, Stella, made it from scratch and Laura would eat a fork-full and I would have the rest as you can tell from my slightly expanded form.” (Laura laughed the knowing laugh of too many latter carrot cakes after he stopped jogging a few years back when his knees started giving out from the pounding he took over on the asphalt at Fresh Pond where he used to run.) “We had been on a cheap date since I was still in law school over at New England, maybe second year so it was probably 1972 (Laura corrected him saying 1973), a cheap date when I didn’t have much cash and at that time, just at the cusp of the women’s liberation movement taking wider hold, a guy was still mostly expected to pay. No “Dutch treat,” no Laura Dutch treat expected anyway especially on a first or second date, and definitely not that one when I had been intrigued by you early on and wanted to continue to see you.” (Laura’s face reddened and then she put on a bright smile).

“Around that same time, that same Spring of 1973, Arlo gave a free concert out on Concord Commons, remember” said Sam Lowell to his date Laura Peters and the couple they were standing in line with, Patrick Darling and Julia James, in front of Symphony Hall in Boston waiting for the doors to open for the Pete-Seeger-Arlo Guthrie concert that evening.

Laura once Sam came off his soap-box as she always called it, especially when he was in a “folk minute” frame of mind and wanted to impress everybody within hearing distance of his arcane knowledge of lots of folk history including remembering the wrong dates and usually what they ate, or didn’t eat, but spot on when it came to the acts and their play lists for the evening then rather sheepishly, for her, nodded that she remembered the Café Nana event since she had been entirely willing, knowing that Sam was in law school and broke and she had already gotten a job as a CPA at John Hancock and was making money, to go “Dutch treat” that night but Sam had insisted he pay and she did not press the issue since she too had been intrigued by him.  That sheepish part was because she recalled that back then, back before she got involved with the edges of the women’s liberation movement and tried to change was perfectly willing to let the guy pay, expected him to pay even if he was from hunger. So Sam was not that far off but she never liked to let him play that “from hunger” thing too strongly and so she had her say. Yeah, she thought to herself that was the way her father had done it with her mother and her mother had passed on that wisdom to her.

Laura had failed to mention, failed to mention under the circumstances that they were standing in a public place with friend who did not need to know Sam “forgot” that she had not gone with him to see Arlo on the Commons since Sam had taken his ex-wife, Josie David, to that concert at a time when Josie and Sam were trying to reconcile or get divorced but she did not want to bring that up although Julia had looked in her direction when Sam mentioned that Commons concert since she and her date, some guy from Sam’s law school had gone along and had witnessed reason two hundred and twenty-seven why they eventually got divorced when Josie had badgered Sam about buying a house when he got his first job and would not let it go. With another year in school and bar exams in front of him she was thinking about that stuff. Yeah, so long Josie.  That tense moment passed with the men both oblivious.

This in any case would be the first time Pete and Arlo had appeared together since Newport a number of years back. This also the first time this foursome had seen either of them in a good number of years since Pete Seeger had gone to upstate New York and had been spending more time making the rivers and forests up there green again than performing and Arlo was nursing something out in Stockbridge. “Maybe, Alice,” Patrick said and everybody laughed at that inside joke. 


Sam continued along that line of his about “the back in the days” for a while, with the three who were still also something of folk aficionados well after the heyday of that music in what Sam always and endlessly called the “1960s folk minute” nodding their heads in agreement saying “things sure were cheaper then and people, folkies for sure, did their gigs for the love of it as much as for the money, maybe more so. Did it, what did the grizzled folk historian cum folksinger-songwriter Dave Van Ronk call it then, oh yeah, for the “basket,” for “from hunger” walking around money to keep the wolves from the doors. To piece off the landlord or roommate for another week or month. For a room, a small room usually giving the economics of coffeehouse ownership, to play out whatever saga drove them to places like the Village, Harvard Square, North Beach and their itch to make a niche in the booming folk world where everything seemed possible. Everything seemed possible if you had any kind of voice to the left of Dylan’s and Van Ronk’s own, could play three chords on a guitar, or a la Pete work a banjo, a mando, or some other stringed instrument, and write of love, sorrow, some dastardly death deed, or on some pressing issue of the day.


After being silent for a moment Sam got a smile on his face and said “On that three chord playing thing I remember Geoff Muldaur from the Kweskin Jug Band, a guy who knew the American folk songbook as well as anybody then, worked at learning it too, as did Kweskin himself, learned even that Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music stuff, all eighty some songs, or the ones customers would listen to, stuff which meant you had to be serious, saying that if you could play three chords you were sure to draw a crowd, a girl crowd around you, if you knew four or five that  meant you were a serious folkie and you could even get a date from among that crowd, and if you knew ten or twelve chord you could have whoever and whatever you wanted. I don’t know if that is true since I never got beyond the three chord thing but no question that was a way to attract women, especially at parties.” Laura, never one to leave something unsaid when Sam left her an opening said in reply “I didn’t even have to play three chords on a guitar, couldn’t then and I can’t now, although as Sam knows I play a mean kazoo, but all I had to do was start singing some Joan Baez or Judie Collins cover and with my long black hair ironing board straight like Joan’s I had all the boys come around and I will leave it to your imaginations about the whatever I wanted part.” They all laughed although Sam’s face reddened a bit at the thought of her crowded up with guys hanging over her although he had not known her back then in the folk minute since she had lived in Manhattan then and he had grown up and lived Carver about thirty miles south of Boston but had only met her later in the early 1970s when the Josie thing was going bad and she had brought smiles to his face when he needed somebody to do that.                      


Those reference got Julia thinking back the early 1960s when she and Sam went “Dutch treat” to see Dave Van Ronk at the Club Blue. (Sam and Julia were thus by definition not on a heavy date, neither had been intrigued by the other but folk music was their bond and despite persistent Julia BU dorm roommate rumors what with Sam hanging around all the time had never been lovers). She mentioned that to Sam as they waited to see if he remembered and while he thought he remembered he was not sure. He asked Julie, “Was that the night he played that haunting version of Fair and Tender Ladies with Eric Von Schmidt backing him up on the banjo?” Julie had replied yes and that she too had never forgotten that song and how the house which usually had a certain amount of chatter going on even when someone was performing had been dead silent once he started singing like something out of the sea, or like the cry of the banshees.


Club Blue had been located in that same Harvard Square that Sam had mentioned earlier and along with the Café Nana, which was something of a hot spot once Dylan, Baez, Tom Rush and the members of the Kweskin band started hanging out there, and about five or six other coffeehouses all within a few blocks of each other (one down on Arrow Street was down in the sub-basement and Sam swore that Dylan must have written Subterranean Homesick Blues there). Coffeehouses then where you could, for a dollar or two, see Bob, Joan, Eric (Von Schmidt), Tom (Rush), Phil (Ochs) and lots of lean and hungry performers working for that “basket” Sam had mentioned earlier passed among the patrons and be glad, at least according to Van Ronk when Julia had asked him about the “take” during one intermission, to get twenty bucks for your efforts that night.


That was the night during that same intermission Dave also told her that while the folk breeze was driving things his way just then and people were hungry to hear anything that was not what he called “bubble gum” music like you heard on AM radio that had not been the case when he started out in the Village in the 1950s when he had worked “sweeping out” clubs for a couple of dollars. That sweeping out was not with a broom, no way, Dave had said with that sardonic wit of his that such work was beneath the “dignity” of a professional musician but the way folk singers were used to empty the house between shows. In the “beat”1950s with Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, and their comrades (Dave’s word reflecting his left-wing attachments then) making everybody crazy for poetry, big be-bop poetry backed up by big be-bop jazz the coffeehouses played to that clientele and on weekends or in the summer people would be waiting in fairly long lines to get in. So what Dave (and Happy Traum and a couple of other singers that she could not remember he had mentioned) did was after the readings were done and people were still lingering over their expressos would be to get up on the makeshift stage and begin singing some old sea chanty, some obscure Child ballad (those ballads later a staple in the folk world because you could cover them as public domain items and frankly because they were usually long and filled up a short playlist if you were not feeling well or were pressed for something to perform), or some slavery day freedom song in that raspy, gravelly voice of his which would sent the customers out the door. And if they didn’t go then he was out the door. Tough times, tough times indeed.             


Coffeehouses too where for the price of a cup of coffee, maybe a pastry, shared, you could wallow in the fluff of the folk minute that swept America, maybe the world, and hear the music that was the leading edge then toward that new breeze that everybody that Julia and Sam knew was bound to come what with all the things going on in the world. Black civil rights, mainly down in the police state South, nuclear disarmament, the Pill to open up sexual possibilities previously too dangerous or forbidden, and music too, not just the folk music that he and she had been addicted to but something coming from England paying tribute to old-time blues with a rock upbeat that was now a standard part of the folk scene ever since they had “discovered” blues guys like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Bukka White, and Skip James. All the mix to turn the world upside down. All of which as well was grist to the mill for the budding folk troubadours to write songs about.


Julie made her companions laugh as they stood there starting to get a little impatient since the doors to the concert hall were supposed to open at seven and here it was almost seven fifteen (Sam had fumed, as he always did when he had to wait for anything, a relic of his Army days during the Vietnam War when everything had been “hurry up and wait”). She had mentioned that back then, back in those college days when guys like Sam did not have a lot of money, if worse came to worse and you had no money like happened one time with a guy, a budding folkie poet, Jack Dawson, she had a date with you could always go to the Hayes-Bickford in the Square (the other H-Bs in other locations around Boston were strictly “no-go” places where people actually just went to eat the steamed to death food and drink the weak-kneed coffee). As long as you were not rowdy like the whiskey drunks rambling on and on asking for cigarettes and getting testy if you did not have one for the simple reason that you did not smoke (almost everybody did then including Sam although usually not with her and definitely not in the dorm), winos who smelled like piss and vomit and not having bathed in a while, panhandlers (looking you dead in the eye defying you to not give them something, money or a cigarette but something) and hoboes (the quiet ones of that crowd  who somebody had told her were royalty in the misfit, outcast world and thus would not ask for dough or smokes) who drifted through there you could watch the scene for free.

On any given night, maybe around midnight, on weekends later when the bars closed later you could hear some next best thing guy in full flannel shirt, denim jeans, maybe some kind of vest for protection against the cold but with a hungry look on his face or a gal with the de riguer long-ironed hair, some peasant blouse belying her leafy suburban roots, some boots or sandals depending on the weathers singing low some tune they wrote or reciting to their own vocal beat some poem. As Julie finished her thought some dressed in uniform guy who looked like a doorman in some foreign castle opened the concert hall doors and the four aficionados scampered in to find their seats.                 


…as they walked down the step of Symphony Hall having watched Pete work his banjo magic, work the string of his own Woody-inspired songs like Golden Thread and of covers from the big sky American songbook and Arlo wowed with his City of New Orleans and some of his father’s stuff (no Alice’s Restaurant that night he was saving that for Thanksgiving, he said) Sam told his companions, “that fourteen dollars each for tickets was a steal for such performances, especially in that acoustically fantastic hall” and told his three friends that he would stand for coffees at the Blue Parrot over in Harvard Square if they liked. “And maybe share some pastry too.”     

President Obama Pardon Chelsea Manning Now!-The Struggle Continues ….We Will Not Leave Our Sister Behind

****President Obama Pardon Chelsea Manning Now!-The Struggle Continues ….We Will Not Leave Our Sister Behind


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Updated-September 2015  

A while back, maybe a year or so ago, I was asked by a fellow member of Veterans For Peace at a monthly meeting in Cambridge about the status of the case of Chelsea Manning since he knew that I had been seriously involved with publicizing her case and he had not heard much about the case since she had been convicted in August 2013 (on some twenty counts including several Espionage Act counts, the Act itself, as it relates to Chelsea and its constitutionality will be the basis for one of her issues on appeal) and sentenced by Judge Lind to thirty-five years imprisonment to be served at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. (She had already been held for three years before trial, the subject of another appeals issue and as of May 2015 had served five years altogether thus far and will be formally eligible for parole in the not too distant future although usually the first parole decision is negative).
That had also been the time immediately after the sentencing when Private Manning announced to the world her sexual identity and turned from Bradley to Chelsea. The question of her sexual identity was a situation than some of us already had known about while respecting Private Manning’s, Chelsea’s, and those of her ardent supporters at Courage to Resist and elsewhere the subject of her sexual identity was kept in the background so the reasons she was being tried would not be muddled and for which she was savagely fighting in her defense would not be warped by the mainstream media into some kind of identity politics circus.

I had responded to my fellow member that, as usual in such super-charged cases involving political prisoners, and there is no question that Private Manning is one despite the fact that every United States Attorney-General including the one in charge during her trial claims that there are no such prisoners in American jails only law-breakers, once the media glare of the trial and sentencing is over the case usually falls by the wayside into the media vacuum while the appellate process proceed on over the next several years.

At that point I informed him of the details that I did know. Chelsea immediately after sentencing had been put in the normal isolation before being put in with the general population at Fort Leavenworth. She seemed to be adjusting according to her trial defense lawyer to the pall of prison life as best she could. Later she had gone to a Kansas civil court to have her name changed from Bradley to Chelsea Elizabeth which the judge granted although the Army for a period insisted that mail be sent to her under her former male Bradley name. Her request for hormone therapies to help reflect her sexual identity had either been denied or the process stonewalled despite the Army’s own medical and psychiatric personnel stating in court that she was entitled to such measures.

At the beginning of 2014 the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, General Buchanan, who had the authority to grant clemency on the sentence part of the case, despite the unusual severity of the sentence, had denied Chelsea any relief from the onerous sentence imposed by Judge Lind.

Locally on Veterans Day 2013, the first such event after her sentencing we had honored Chelsea at the annual VFP Armistice Day program and in December 2013 held a stand-out celebrating Chelsea’s birthday (as we did in December 2014 and will do again this December of 2015).  Most important of the information I gave my fellow VFPer was that Chelsea’s case going forward to the Army appellate process was being handled by nationally renowned lawyer Nancy Hollander and her associate Vincent Ward. Thus the case was in the long drawn out legal phase that does not generally get much coverage except by those interested in the case like well-known Vietnam era Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, various progressive groups which either nominated or rewarded her with their prizes, and the organization that has steadfastly continued to handle her case’s publicity and raising financial aid for her appeal, Courage to Resist (an organization dedicated to publicizing the cases of other military resisters as well).   

At our February 2015 monthly meeting that same VFPer asked me if it was true that as he had heard the Army, or the Department of Defense, had ordered Chelsea’s hormone therapy treatments to begin. I informed him after a long battle, including an ACLU suit ordering such relief, that information was true and she had started her treatments a month previously. I also informed him that the Army had thus far refused her request to have an appropriate length woman’s hair-do. On the legal front the case was still being reviewed for issues to be presented which could overturn the lower court decision in the Army Court Of Criminal Appeals by the lawyers and the actual writing of the appeal was upcoming (expected in the Winter, 2016) . A seemingly small but very important victory on that front was that after the seemingly inevitable stonewalling on every issue the Army had agreed to use feminine or neutral pronoun in any documentation concerning Private Manning’s case. The lawyers had in June 2014 also been successful in avoiding the attempt by the Department of Defense to place Chelsea in a civil facility as they tried to foist their “problem” elsewhere.

On the political front Chelsea continued to receive awards, and after a fierce battle in 2013 was finally in 2014 made an honorary grand marshal of the very important GLBTQ Pride Parade in San Francisco (and had a contingent supporting her freedom again in the 2015 parade). Recently she has been given status as a contributor to the Guardian newspaper, a newspaper that was central to the fight by fellow whistle-blower Edward Snowden, where her first contribution was a very appropriate piece on what the fate of the notorious CIA torturers should be, having herself faced such torture down in Quantico adding to the poignancy of that suggestion. More recently she has written articles about the dire situation in the Middle East and the American government’s inability to learn any lessons from history and a call on the military to stop the practice of denying transgender people the right to serve. (Not everybody agrees with her positon in the transgender community or the VFP but she is out there in front with it.) 

[Maybe most important of all in this social networking, social media, texting world of the young (mostly) Chelsea has a twitter account- @xychelsea

Locally over the past two year we have marched for Chelsea in the Boston Pride Parade, commemorated her fourth year in prison last May [2014] and the fifth this year with a vigil, honored her again on Armistice Day 2014, celebrated her 27th birthday in December with a rally (as we did this past December for her 28th birthday).

More recently big campaigns by Courage To Resist and the Press Freedom Foundation have almost raised the $200, 000 needed (maybe more by now) to give her legal team adequate resources during her appeals process (first step, after looking over the one hundred plus volumes of her pre-trial and trial hearings, the Army Court Of Criminal Appeal)

Recently although in this case more ominously and more threateningly Chelsea has been charged and convicted of several prison infractions (among them having a copy of the now famous Vanity Fair with Caitlyn, formerly Bruce, Jenner’s photograph on the cover) which could affect her parole status and other considerations going forward.     

We have continued to urge one and all to sign the on-line Amnesty International petition asking President Obama to grant an immediate pardon as well as asking that those with the means sent financial contributions to Courage To Resist to help with her legal expenses.

After I got home that night of the meeting I began thinking that a lot has happened over the past couple of years in the Chelsea Manning case and that I should made what I know more generally available to more than my local VFPers. I do so here, and gladly. Just one more example of our fervent belief that as we have said all along in Veterans for Peace and elsewhere- we will not leave our sister behind… More later.              



The Latest From The Justice For Lynne Stewart Website

The Latest From The Justice For Lynne Stewart Website



 Click below to link to the Justice For Lynne Stewart website

Although Lynne Stewart has been released by “Uncle” on medical grounds since the winter of 2014  after an international campaign to get her adequate medical attention her case should still be looked at as an especially vindictive ploy on the part of the American government in post-9/11 America to tamp down on attorneys (and others concerned about the fate of "los olvidados," the forgotten ones, the forgotten political prisoners)  who  have been zealously defending their unpopular clients (and political prisoners). A very chilling effect on the legal profession and elsewhere as I have witnessed on too many occasions when legal assistance is desperately needed. As a person who is committed to doing political prisoner defense work I have noted how few such “people’s lawyers” there around to defend the voiceless, the framed and “the forgotten ones.” There are not enough, there are never enough such lawyers around and her disbarment by the New York bar is an added travesty of justice surrounding the case. 

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s there were, relatively speaking, many Lynne Stewarts. Some of this reflecting the radicalization of some old-time lawyers who hated what was going in America with its prison camp mentality and it’s seeking out of every radical, black or white but as usual especially black revolutionaries, it could get its hands on.  Hell, old time lawyers who hated that in many cases their sons and daughters were being sent to the bastinado. But mostly it was younger lawyers, lawyers like Lynne Stewart, who took on the Panther cases, the Chicago Democratic Convention cases, the Washington May Day 1971 cases, the military resister cases (which is where I came to respect such “people’s lawyers” as I was working with anti-war GIs at the time and we needed, desperately needed, legal help to work our way in the arcane military “justice” system then, and now witness the Chelsea Manning travesty of justice case) who learned about the class-based nature of the justice system.

Then like a puff those hearty lawyers headed for careers and such and it was left for the few Lynne Stewarts to shoulder on. Probably the clearest case of that shift was with the Ohio Seven (two, Jann Laamann and Tom Manning, who are still imprisoned) in the 1980s, working-class radicals who would have been left out to dry without Lynne Stewart. Guys and gals who a few years before would have been heralded as front-line anti-imperialist fighters like thousands of others were then left out to dry. Damn.      


The following paragraph is a short description of the Lynne Stewart case from the Partisan Defense Committee 2013 Holiday Appeal  when she was a recipient of a stipend by the class-war prisoners’ defense organization, the Partisan Defense Committee, as part of their solicitation for funds to continue their work of seeing those of our people behind bars are not forgotten.

“Lynne Stewart is a lawyer imprisoned in 2009 for defending her client, a blind Egyptian cleric convicted for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the early 1990s. Stewart is a well-known advocate who defended Black Panthers, radical leftists and others reviled by the capitalist state. She was originally sentenced to 28 months; a resentencing pursued by the Obama administration more than quadrupled her prison time to ten years. As she is 74 years old and suffers from Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to her lungs and back, this may well be a death sentence. Stewart qualifies for immediate compassionate release, but Obama’s Justice Department refuses to make such a motion before the resentencing judge, who has all but stated that he would grant her release!”


Update 2015: Lynne Stewart still fighting the good fight since her release still has pressing continuing medical needs and the need for funds to get that attention is also of continuing concern so click on to the link on the site where you can help defray her medical expenses.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Support Chelsea Manning's Birthday In London December 17

To :
Fri, Dec 04, 2015 05:52 AM
Happy Birthday
Free her now!
Support all whistleblowers!
Thursday, 17 December 2015, 12.30-2pm
Trafalgar Square, (north side) London WC2N 4JJ
Charing Cross Tube 
Actions planned so far in Bucharest, London, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco . . . (watch this space for more countries and more events).  If you organise an event, let us know and we’ll publicise it.  Please circulate this mailing to your contacts.
Chelsea Manning will be 28 years old on this day.  She is the whistleblower, US soldier, Grand Marshal at San Francisco Pride 2014, who leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks exposing the truth about US, UK and other governments’ war crimes and corruption in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Israel & the Palestinian Authority, Peru, Venezuela . . .  In doing so, she helped save many lives.  Chelsea was Imprisoned in 2010 and held for months under torturous conditions; in August 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years.
From prison Chelsea has written against the police killings of young people of colour in the US, and in support of immigrants and refugees – including queer and transgender people.
An appeal to quash Chelsea Manning’s conviction is being put forward by her legal team and will be announced in late 2015 or early 2016.  We must get her out!
Sign the petition for Obama to pardon Chelsea.
Donations to her legal fund are needed also.For more info: Chelsea Manning Support Network
Despite mass protest, the UK Parliament has just voted to bomb Syria (see Payday’s letter here).  Whistleblowers like Chelsea and now former US drone operators have blown the whistle on the killing of civilians during bombing.
We have a responsibility to defend all whistleblowers who are persecuted for telling the truth about murder and war crimes, rape, torture, neglect, underfunding, starvation wages, corruption . . .  in the military, prison, detention centres, police, hospitals, care homes, and every institution.
Dallas 6 part 1
Dallas 6 part 2
drone whistleblowers portrait 1
drone whistleblowers portrait 2
Queer Strike londonstrike_image004_192
UK: +44 (0) 20 7482 2496
 US: 001 415-626 4114
UK: +44 (0)20 7267 8698
US: 001 215 848 1120