Saturday, March 18, 2017

Veterans For Peace to hold a silent protest along parade route

To: Smedleys, Samanthas, VFP NH,
VFP Maine, and Jeffery Lucy Chap.
Once again Veterans For Peace have been banned from participation in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. State Senator Linda Forry, who’s district includes South Boston is not walking in the parade in support of Veterans For Peace. We have heard some other politicians may be joining her. Although we have been denied by the AWVC (or should we say totally ignored) there is hope. Senator Forry told us, as was written in the press, the makeup of the “council” will be changed next year and according to her chief of staff, we will be in next year. We all know we have heard that before but next year really may be different.
This year Veterans for Peace, once again sidelined, will assemble at 524 East Broadway in silent protest as their fellow veterans and politicians’ walk by.
This is the home of Kate Flaherty and the previous home of our beloved member Tony Flaherty. We have had a banner made in Tony’s memory that we were hoping to carry in the parade this year. We will be holding the banner on East Broadway as the parade walks by – see attachment.
It is important we have as many VFP members, associates & supporters assembled with us as possible, carrying VFP and American flags.
524 East Broadway – South Boston

Trump's Global Policies: Russia, the world and implications for the peace movement

Trump's Global Policies: Russia, the world and implications for the peace movement

When: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 7:00 am to 9:00 am
Where: Friends Meeting House • 5 Longfellow Park • Cambridge
presentation by Mark Solomon followed by discussion
The bizarre Russian controversy complete with charges of influencing the presidential election has diverted attention from the existential dangers of Trump's foreign policy.  Trump and his right wing advisor Steven Bannon are pushing an aggressive "America First" policy driven by near unimaginably destructive nuclear weapons.  There is increasing danger of conflict and war with China and North Korea that could result in massive destruction.
This presentation will analyze the political and strategic influences underlying Trump's global policies and will look at how the projected "reset" with Russia relates to those global objectives.   It will also consider the dangers inherent in liberal and centrist efforts to foment a new cold war with Russia.  All of these pressing threats need the immediate attention and action by peace activists.
Mark Solomon is professor of history emeritus at Simmons College and a former national co-chair of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
Sponsored by United for Justice with Peace
more information: or call 617 383 4857
Upcoming Events: 

Veterans who work for peace are again prohibited from St. Pats Parade

Veterans For Peace
For Immediate Release
Contact: Pat Scanlon at 978-590-4248 or
Veterans who work for peace are again prohibited from St. Pats Parade
“And the Band Played On”
March 18, 2017
Veterans who have honorably served this country are once again prohibited from walking in the 
Saint Patrick’s Day Parade because they now work for peace.
This year Veterans for Peace, once again sidelined, will assemble at 524 East Broadway in silent protest as their fellow veterans and politicians’ walk by.
“Thank God for politicians of character who are standing up for what is right,”stated Pat Scanlon, Special Events Coordinator for Veterans For Peace. State Senator Linda Dorcena Furry is not marching in the parade this year stating, “I will not walk in the parade until all veterans groups are allowed to participate” “It would be nice if other politicians followed Senator Furry’s lead”, continued Scanlon. It is disgraceful that veterans who have honorably served this country, many defending this country in war, are denied to walk in a parade honoring Saint Patrick, a man of peace – how ironic.
“We had a saying in Vietnam,” stated Scanlon, “no ones gets left behind” – “Sadly other veterans and politicians will be doing just that on Sunday, they will walk by and wave”.
Attention Fellow Veterans and Politicians: Please do Not participate in this parade until all veterans are allowed to participate, whether or not they fly a rainbow flag or work for peace.” Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is not inclusive until all Veterans are included.

The Struggle Continues...Supporter The Military Resisters-Support The G.I. Project

The Struggle Continues...Supporter The Military Resisters-Support The G.I. Project   

By Frank Jackman

The late Peter Paul Markin had gotten “religion” on the questions of war and peace the hard way. Had before that baptism accepted half-knowingly (his term) against his better judgment induction into the Army when his “friends and neighbors” at his local draft board in North Adamsville called him up for military service back in hard-shell hell-hole Vietnam War days when the country was coming asunder, was bleeding from all pores around 1968. Markin had had some qualms about going into the service not only because the reasoning given by the government and its civilian hangers-on for the tremendous waste of human and material resources had long seemed preposterous but because he had an abstract idea that war was bad, bad for individuals, bad for countries, bad for civilization in the late 20th century. Was a half-assed pacifist if he had though deeply about the question, which he had not.

But everything in his blessed forsaken scatter-shot life pushed and pushed hard against his joining the ranks of the draft resisters whom he would hear about and see every day then as he passed on his truck route which allowed him to pay his way through college the Boston sanctuary for that cohort, the Arlington Street Church. Markin had assumed that since he was not a Quaker, Shaker, Mennonite, Brethren of the Common Life adherent but rather a bloody high-nosed Roman Catholic with their slimy “just war” theory that seemed to justify every American war courtesy of their leading American Cardinal, France Spellman, that he could not qualify for conscientious objector status on that basis. And at the time that he entered the Army that was probably true even if he had attempted to do so. Later, as happened with his friend, Jack Callahan, he could at least made the case based on the common Catholic upbringing.  Right then though he was not a total objector to war but only of what he saw in front of him, the unjustness of the Vietnam War.

That was not the least of his situation though. That half-knowingly mentioned above had been overridden by his whole college Joe lifestyle where he was more interested in sex, drink, and rock and roll (the drugs would not come until later), more interested in bedding women than thinking through what he half-knew would be his fate once he graduated from college as the war slowly dragged on and his number was coming up. Moreover there was not one damn thing in his background that would have given pause about his future course. A son of the working-class, really even lower than that the working poor a notch below, there was nobody if he had bothered to seek some support for resistance who would have done so. Certainly not his quiet but proud ex-World War II Marine father, not his mother whose brother was a rising career Army senior NCO, not his older brothers who had signed up as a way to get out of hell-hole North Adamsville, and certainly not his friends from high school half of whom had enlisted and a couple from his street who had been killed in action over there. So no way was an Acre boy with the years of Acre mentality cast like iron in his head about servicing if called going to tip the cart that way toward straight out resistance.         

Maybe he should have, at least according to guys he met in college like Brad Fox and Fritz Tylor, or guys who he met on the hitchhike road going west like Josh Breslin and Captain Crunch (his moniker not real name which Josh could not remember). The way they heard the story from Markin after he got out of the Army, after he had done his hell-hole thirteen months in Vietnam as an infantryman, twice wounded, and after he had come back to the “real” world was that on about the third day in basis training down in Fort Jackson in South Carolina he knew that he had made a mistake by accepting induction. But maybe there was some fate-driven reason, maybe as he received training as an infantryman and he and a group of other trainees talked about but did not refuse to take machine-gun training, maybe once he received orders for Vietnam and maybe once he got “in-country” he sensed that something had gone wrong in his short, sweet life but he never attempted to get any help, put in any applications, sought any relief from what was to finally crack him. That, despite tons of barracks anti-war blather on his part from Fort Jackson to Danang.     

Here’s the reason though why the late Peter Paul Markin’s story accompanies this information about G.I. rights even for those who nowadays enter the military voluntarily, as voluntarily as any such decision can be without direct governmental coercion. Markin, and this part is from Josh Breslin the guy he was closest to toward the end, the guy who had last seen him in the States before that fateful trip to Mexico, to Sonora when it all fell apart one day, had a very difficult time coming back to what all the returnees called the “real” world after Vietnam service. Had drifted to drug, sex and rock and roll out on the West Coast where Josh had first met him in San Francisco until he tired of that, had started to have some bad nights.

Despite the bad nights though he did have a real talent for writing, for journalism. Got caught up in writing a series about what would be later called the “brothers under the bridge” about guys like him down in Southern California who could not adjust to the real world after ‘Nam and had tried to keep body and soul together by banding together in the arroyos, along the railroad tracks and under the bridges and creating what would today be called a “safe space.”

Markin’s demons though were never far from the surface. Got worse when he sensed that the great wash that had come over the land during the counter-cultural 1960s that he had just caught the tail-end had run its course, had hit ebb tide. Then in the mid-1970s to relieve whatever inner pains were disturbing him he immersed himself in the cocaine culture that was just rearing its head in the States. That addiction would lead him into the drug trade, would eventually lead him as if by the fateful numbers to sunny Mexico, to lovely Sonora way where he met his end. Josh never found out all the details about Markin’s end although a few friends had raised money to send a detective down to investigate. Apparently Markin got mixed up with some local bad boys in the drug trade. Tried to cut corners, or cut into their market. One day he was found in a dusty back street with two slugs in his head. He lies down there in some unknown potter’s field mourned, moaned and missed until this very day.  

Stop Continuing To Let The Military Sneak Into The High Schools-Down With JROTC And Military Recruiter Access-What Every Young Woman Should Know

Stop Continuing To Let The Military Sneak Into The High Schools-Down With JROTC And Military Recruiter Access-What Every Young Woman Should Know 

 Frank Jackman comment:

One of the great struggles on college campuses during the height of the struggle against the Vietnam War back in the 1960s aside from trying to close down that war outright was the effort to get the various ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps, I think that is right way to say it) programs off campus. In a number of important campuses that effort was successful, although there has been back-sliding going on since the Vietnam War ended and like any successful anti-war or progressive action short of changing the way governments we could support do business is subject to constant attention or the bastards will sneak something in the back door.


To the extent that reintroduction of ROTC on college campuses has been thwarted, a very good anti-war action indeed which had made it just a smidgen harder to run ram shot over the world, that back door approach has been a two-pronged attack by the military branches to get their quota of recruits for their all-volunteer military services in the high schools. First to make very enticing offers to cash-strapped public school systems in order to introduce ROTC, junior version, particularly but not exclusively, urban high schools (for example almost all public high schools in Boston have some ROTC service branch in their buildings with instructors partially funded by the Defense Department and with union membership right and conditions a situation which should be opposed by teachers’ union members).

Secondly, thwarted at the college level for officer corps trainees they have just gone to younger and more impressible youth, since they have gained almost unlimited widespread access to high school student populations for their high pressure salesmen military recruiters to do their nasty work. Not only do the recruiters who are graded on quota system and are under pressure produce X number of recruits or they could wind doing sentry guard duty in Kabul or Bagdad get that access where they have sold many young potential military personnel many false bills of goods but in many spots anti-war veterans and other who would provide a different perspective have been banned or otherwise harassed in their efforts.  

Thus the tasks of the day-JROTC out of the high schools-military recruiters out as well! Let anti-war ex-soldiers, sailors, Marines and airpersons have their say.         

The100thAnniversaryYearOfTheBolshevik-LedOctoberRevolution-LessonsForToday- The Russian Revolution and Black Liberation

The100thAnniversaryYearOfTheBolshevik-LedOctoberRevolution-LessonsForToday- The Russian Revolution and Black Liberation   

The full text below the quote 

Workers Vanguard No. 1105
10 February 2017
The Russian Revolution and Black Liberation
(Quote of the Week)
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 gave a powerful impetus to the struggle for black freedom. Lenin and Trotsky’s Third (Communist) International fought to make American Communists understand the centrality of the fight against black oppression to socialist revolution in the U.S. Jamaican-born poet Claude McKay, who was a fraternal delegate to the Communist International’s 1922 Fourth Congress in Moscow, underlined the significance of the Bolshevik Revolution for American blacks in an essay published by the NAACP’s magazine The Crisis.
When the Russian workers overturned their infamous government in 1917, one of the first acts of the new Premier, Lenin, was a proclamation greeting all the oppressed peoples throughout the world, exhorting them to organize and unite against the common international oppressor—Private Capitalism. Later on in Moscow, Lenin himself grappled with the question of the American Negroes and spoke on the subject before the Second Congress of the Third International. He consulted with John Reed, the American journalist, and dwelt on the urgent necessity of propaganda and organizational work among the Negroes of the South. The subject was not allowed to drop. When Sen Katayama of Japan, the veteran revolutionist, went from the United States to Russia in 1921 he placed the American Negro problem first upon his full agenda. And ever since he has been working unceasingly and unselfishly to promote the cause of the exploited American Negro among the Soviet councils of Russia.
With the mammoth country securely under their control, and despite the great energy and thought that are being poured into the revival of the national industry, the vanguard of the Russian workers and the national minorities, now set free from imperial oppression, are thinking seriously about the fate of the oppressed classes, the suppressed national and racial minorities in the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. They feel themselves kin in spirit to these people. They want to help make them free.
—Claude McKay, “Soviet Russia and the Negro” (The Crisis, Vol. 27, No. 2, December 1923)

"Soviet Russia and the Negro"-- An Essay by Claude McKay

Claude McKay
kremlin.jpg (93739 bytes)

The label of propaganda will be affixed to what I say here. I shall not mind; propaganda has now come into its respectable rights and I am proud of being a propagandist. The difference between propaganda and art was impressed on my boyhood mind by a literary mentor, Milton's poetry and his political prose set side by side as the supreme examples. So too, my teacher,--splendid and broadminded though he was, yet unconsciously biased against what he felt was propaganda--thought that that gilt-washed artificiality, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", would outlive "Arms and the Man" and "John Bull's Other Island". But inevitably as I grew older I had perforce to revise and change my mind about propaganda. I lighted on one of Milton's greatest sonnets that was pure propaganda and a widening horizon revealed that some of the finest spirits of modern literature-- Voltaire, Hugo, Heine, Swift, Shelly, Byron, Tolstoy, Ibsen--had carried the taint of propaganda. The broader view did not merely include propaganda literature in my literary outlook; it also swung me away from the childish age of the enjoyment of creative work for pleasurable curiosity to another extreme where I have always sought for the motivating force or propaganda intent that underlies all literature of interest. My birthright, and the historical background of the race that gave it to me, made me very respectful and receptive of propaganda and world events since the year 1914 have proved that it is no mean science of convincing information.

American Negroes are not as yet deeply permeated with the mass movement spirit and so fail to realize the importance of organized propaganda. It was Marcus Garvey's greatest contribution to the Negro movement; his pioneer work in that field is a feat that the men of broader understanding and sounder ideas who will follow him must continue. It was not until I first came to Europe in 1919 that I came to a full realization and understanding of the effectiveness of the insidious propaganda in general that is maintained against the Negro race. And it was not by the occasional affront of the minority of civilized fiends--mainly those Europeans who had been abroad, engaged in the business of robbing colored peoples in their native land--that I gained my knowledge, but rather through the questions about the Negro that were put to me by genuinely sympathetic and cultured persons.

The average Europeans who read the newspapers, the popular books and journals, and go to see the average play and a Mary Pickford movie, are very dense about the problem of the Negro; and they are the most important section of the general public that the Negro propagandists would reach. For them the tragedy of the American Negro ended with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and Emancipation. And since then they have been aware only of the comedy--the Negro minstrel and vaudevillian, the boxer, the black mammy and butler of the cinematograph, the caricatures of the romances and the lynched savage who has violated a beautiful white girl.

A very few ask if Booker T. Washington is doing well or if the "Black Star Line" is running; perhaps some one less discreet than sagacious will wonder how colored men can hanker so much after white women in face of the lynching penalty. Misinformation, indifference and levity sum up the attitude of western Europe towards the Negro. There is the superior but very fractional intellectual minority that knows better, but whose influence on public opinion is infinitesimal, and so it may be comparatively easy for white American propagandists--whose interests behoove them to misrepresent the Negro--to turn the general indifference into hostile antagonism if American Negroes who have the intellectual guardianship of racial interests do not organize effectively, and on a world scale, to combat their white exploiters and traducers.

The world war has fundamentally altered the status of Negroes in Europe. It brought thousands of them from America and the British and French colonies to participate in the struggle against the Central Powers. Since then serious clashes have come about in England between the blacks that later settled down in the seaport towns and the natives. France has brought in her black troops to do police duty in the occupied districts in Germany. The color of these troops, and their customs too, are different and strange and the nature of their work would naturally make their presence irritating and unbearable to the inhabitants whose previous knowledge of Negroes has been based, perhaps, on their prowess as cannibals. And besides, the presence of these troops provides rare food for the chauvinists of a once proud and overbearing race, now beaten down and drinking the dirtiest dregs of humiliation under the bayonets of the victor.

However splendid the gesture of Republican France towards colored people, her use of black troops in Germany to further her imperial purpose should meet with nothing less than condemnation from the advanced section of Negroes. The propaganda that Negroes need to put over in Germany is not black troops with bayonets in that unhappy country. As conscript-slave soldiers of Imperial France they can in no wise help the movement of Negroes nor gain the sympathy of the broad-visioned international white groups whose international opponents are also the intransigent enemies of Negro progress. In considering the situation of the black troops in Germany, intelligent Negroes should compare it with that of the white troops in India, San Domingo and Haiti. What might not the Haitian propagandists have done with the marines if they had been black instead of white Americans! The world upheaval having brought the three greatest European nations--England, France and Germany--into closer relationship with Negroes, colored Americans should seize the opportunity to promote finer inter-racial understanding. As white Americans in Europe are taking advantage of the situation to intensify their propaganda against the blacks, so must Negroes meet that with a strong counter-movement. Negroes should realize that the supremacy of American capital today proportionately increases American influence in the politics and social life of the world. Every American official abroad, every smug tourist, is a protagonist of dollar culture and a propagandist against the Negro. Besides brandishing the Rooseveltian stick in the face of the lesser new world natives, America holds an economic club over the heads of all the great European nations, excepting Russia, and so those bold individuals in Western Europe who formerly sneered at dollar culture may yet find it necessary and worth while to be discreetly silent. As American influence increases in the world, and especially in Europe, through the extension of American capital, the more necessaryit becomes for all struggling minorities of the United States to organize extensively for the world wide propagation of their grievances. Such propaganda efforts, besides strengthening the cause at home, will certainly enlist the sympathy and help of those foreign groups that are carrying on a life and death struggle to escape the octuple arms of American business interests.

And the Negro, as the most suppressed and persecuted minority, should use this period of ferment in international affairs to lift his cause out of his national obscurity and force it forward as a prime international issue.

Though Western Europe can be reported as being quite ignorant and apathetic of the Negro in world affairs, there is one great nation with an arm in Europe that is thinking intelligently on the Negro as it does about all international problems. When the Russian workers overturned their infamous government in 1917, one of the first acts of the new Premier, Lenin, was a proclamation greeting all the oppressed peoples throughout the world, exhorting them to organize and unite against the common international oppressor--Private Capitalism. Later on in Moscow, Lenin himself grappled with the question of the American Negroes and spoke on the subject before the Second Congress of the Third International. He consulted with John Reed, the American journalist, and dwelt on the urgent necessity of propaganda and organizational work among the Negroes of the South. The subject was not allowed to drop. When Sen Katayama of Japan, the veteran revolutionist, went from the United States to Russia in 1921 he placed the American Negro problem first upon his full agenda. And ever since he has been working unceasingly and unselfishly to promote the cause of the exploited American Negro among the Soviet councils of Russia.

With the mammoth country securely under their control, and despite the great energy and thought that are being poured into the revival of the national industry, the vanguard of the Russian workers and the national minorities, now set free from imperial oppression, are thinking seriously about the fate of the oppressed classes, the suppressed national and racial minorities in the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. They feel themselves kin in spirit to these people. They want to help make them free. And not the least of the oppressed that fill the thoughts of the new Russia are the Negroes of America and Africa. If we look back two decades to recall how the Czarist persecution of the Russian Jews agitated Democratic America, we will get some idea of the mind of Liberated Russia towards the Negroes of America. The Russian people are reading the terrible history of their own recent past in the tragic position of the American Negro to-day. Indeed, the Southern States can well serve the purpose of showing what has happened in Russia. For if the exploited poor whites of the South could ever transform themselves into making common cause with the persecuted and plundered Negroes, overcome the oppressive oligarchy--the political crackers and robber landlords--and deprive it of all political privileges, the situation would be very similar to that of Soviet Russia to-day.

In Moscow I met an old Jewish revolutionist who had done time in Siberia, now young again and filled with the spirit of the triumphant Revolution. We talked about American affairs and touched naturally on the subject of the Negro. I told him of the difficulties of the problem, that the best of the liberal white elements were also working for a better status for the Negro, and he remarked: "When the democratic bourgeoisie of the United States were execrating Czardom for the Jewish pogroms they were meting out to your people a treatment more savage and barbarous than the Jews ever experienced in the old Russia. America", he said religiously, "had to make some sort of expiatory gesture for her sins. There is no surfeited bourgeoisie here in Russia to make a hobby of ugly social problems, but the Russian workers, who have won through the ordeal of persecution and revolution, extend the hand of international brotherhood to all the suppressed Negro millions of America".
I met with this spirit of sympathetic appreciation and response prevailing in all circles in Moscow and Petrograd. I never guessed what was awaiting me in Russia. I had left America in September of 1922 determined to get there, to see into the new revolutionary life of the people and report on it. I was not a little dismayed when, congenitally averse to notoriety as I am, I found that on stepping upon Russian soil I forthwith became a notorious character. And strangely enough there was nothing unpleasant about my being swept into the surge of revolutionary Russia. For better or for worse every person in Russia is vitally affected by the revolution. No one but a soulless body can live there without being stirred to the depths by it.

I reached Russia in November--the month of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International and the Fifth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The whole revolutionary nation was mobilized to honor the occasion, Petrograd was magnificent in red flags and streamers. Red flags fluttered against the snow from all the great granite buildings. Railroad trains, street cars, factories, stores, hotels, schools--all wore decorations. It was a festive month of celebration in which I, as a member of the Negro race, was a very active participant. I was received as though the people had been apprised of, and were prepared for, my coming. When Max Eastman and I tried to bore our way through the dense crowds, that jammed the Tverskaya Street in Moscow on the 7th of November, I was caught, tossed up into the air, and passed along by dozens of stalwart youths.

"How warmly excited they get over a strange face!" said Eastman. A young Russian Communist remarked: "But where is the difference? Some of the Indians are as dark as you." To which another replied: "The lines of the face are different. The Indians have been with us long. And so people instinctively see the difference." And so always the conversation revolved around me until my face flamed. The Moscow press printed long articles about the Negroes in America, a poet was inspired to rhyme about the Africans looking to Socialist Russia and soon I was in demand everywhere--at the lectures of poets and journalists, the meetings of soldiers and factory workers. Slowly I began losing self-consciousness with the realization that I was welcomed thus as a symbol, as a member of the great American Negro group--kin to the unhappy black slaves of European Imperialism in Africa--that the workers in Soviet Russia, rejoicing in their freedom, were greeting through me.
Russia, in broad terms, is a country where all the races of Europe and of Asia meet and mix. The fact is that under the repressive power of the Czarist bureaucracy the different races preserved a degree of kindly tolerance towards each other. The fierce racial hatreds that time in the Balkans never existed in Russia. Where in the South no Negro might approach a "cracker" as a man for friendly offices, a Jewish pilgrim in old Russia could find rest and sustenance in the home of an orthodox peasant. It is a problem to define the Russian type by features. The Hindu, the Mongolian, the Persian, the Arab, the West European--all these types may be traced woven into the distinctive polyglot population of Moscow. And so, to the Russian, I was merely another type, but stranger, with which they were not yet familiar. They were curious with me, all and sundry, young and old, in a friendly, refreshing manner. Their curiosity had none of the intolerable impertinence and often downright affront that any very dark colored man, be he Negro, Indian or Arab, would experience in Germany and England.

In 1920, while I was trying to get out a volume of my poems in London, I had a visit with Bernard Shaw who remarked that it must be tragic for a sensitive Negro to be an artist. Shaw was right. Some of the English reviews of my book touched the very bottom of journalistic muck. The English reviewer outdid his American cousin (except the South, of course, which could not surprise any white person much less a black) in sprinkling criticism with racial prejudice. The sedate, copperhead "Spectator" as much as said: no "cultured" white man could read a Negro's poetry without prejudice, that instinctively he must search for that "something" that must make him antagonistic to it. But fortunately Mr. McKay did not offend our susceptibilities! The English people from the lowest to the highest, cannot think of a black man as being anything but an entertainer, boxer, a Baptist preacher or a menial. The Germans are just a little worse. Any healthy looking black coon of an adventurous streak can have a wonderful time palming himself off as another Siki or a buck dancer. When an American writer introduced me as a poet to a very cultured German, a lover of all the arts, he could not believe it, and I don't think he does yet. An American student tells his middle class landlady that he is having a black friend to lunch: "But are you sure that he is not a cannibal?" she asks without a flicker of a humorous smile!

But in Petrograd and Moscow, I could not detect a trace of this ignorant snobbishness among the educated classes, and the attitude of the common workers, the soldiers and sailors was still more remarkable. It was so beautifully naive; for them I was only a black member of the world of humanity. It may be urged that the fine feelings of the Russians towards a Negro was the effect of Bolshevist pressure and propaganda. The fact is that I spent most of my leisure time in non-partisan and antibolshevist circles. In Moscow I found the Luxe Hotel where I put up extremely depressing, the dining room was anathema to me and I grew tired to death of meeting the proletarian ambassadors from foreign lands some of whom bore themselves as if they were the holy messengers of Jesus, Prince of Heaven, instead of working class representatives. And so I spent many of my free evenings at the Domino Café, a notorious den of the dilettante poets and writers. There came the young anarchists and menshevists and all the young aspirant fry to read and discuss their poetry and prose. Sometimes a group of the older men came too. One evening I noticed Pilnyal the novelist, Okonoff the critic, Feodor the translator of Poe, an editor, a theatre manager and their young disciples, beer-drinking through a very interesting literary discussion. There was always music, good folk-singing and bad fiddling, the place was more like a second rate cabaret than a poets' club, but nevertheless much to be enjoyed, with amiable chats and light banter through which the evening wore pleasantly away. This was the meeting place of the frivolous set with whom I eased my mind after writing all day.

The evenings of the proletarian poets held in the Arbot were much more serious affairs. The leadership was communist, the audience working class and attentive like diligent, elementary school children. To these meetings also came some of the keener intellects from the Domino Café. One of these young women told me that she wanted to keep in touch with all the phases of the new culture. In Petrograd the meetings of the intelligentzia seemed more formal and inclusive. There were such notable men there as Chukovsky the critic, Eugene Zamiatan the celebrated novelist and Maishack the poet and translator of Kipling. The artist and theatre world were also represented. There was no communist spirit in evidence at these intelligentzia gatherings. Frankly there was an undercurrent of hostility to the bolshevists. But I was invited to speak and read my poems whenever I appeared at any of them and treated with every courtesy and consideration as a writer. Among those sophisticated and cultured Russians, many of them speaking from two to four languages, there was no overdoing of the correct thing, no vulgar wonderment and bounderish superiority over a Negro's being a poet. I was a poet, that was all, and their keen questions showed that they were much more interested in the technique of my poetry, my views on and my position regarding the modern literary movements than in the difference of my color. Although I will not presume that there was no attraction at all in that little difference!

On my last visit to Petrograd I stayed in the Palace of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexander, the brother of Czar Nicholas the Second. His old, kindly steward who looked after my comfort wanders round like a ghost through the great rooms. The house is now the headquarters of the Petrograd intellectuals. A fine painting of the Duke stands curtained in the dining room. I was told that he was liberal minded, a patron of the arts, and much liked by the Russian intelligentzia. The atmosphere of the house was theoretically non-political, but I quickly scented a strong hostility to bolshevist authority. But even here I had only pleasant encounters and illuminating conversations with the inmates and visitors, who freely expressed their views against the Soviet Government, although they knew me to be very sympathetic to it.

During the first days of my visit I felt that the great demonstration of friendliness was somehow 
expressive of the enthusiastic spirit of the glad anniversary days, that after the month was ended I could calmly settle down to finish the book about the American Negro that the State Publishing Department of Moscow had commissioned me to write, and in the meantime quietly go about making interesting contacts. But my days in Russia were a progression of affectionate enthusiasm of the peopl  towards me. Among the factory workers, the red-starred and chevroned soldiers and sailors, the proletarian students and children, I could not get off as lightly as I did with the intelligentsia. At every meeting I was received with boisterous acclaim, mobbed with friendly demonstration. The women workers of the great bank in Moscow insisted on hearing about the working conditions of the colored women of America and after a brief outline I was asked the most exacting questions concerning the positions that were most available to colored women, their wages and general relationship with the white women workers. The details I could not give; but when I got through, the Russian women passed a resolution sending greetings to the colored women workers of America, exhorting them to organize their forces and send a woman representative to Russia. I received a similar message from the Propaganda Department of the Petrograd Soviet which is managed by Nicoleva, a very energetic woman. There I was shown the new status of the Russian women gained through the revolution of 1917. Capable women can fit themselves for any position; equal pay with men for equal work; full pay during the period of pregnancy and no work for the mother two months before and two months after the confinement. Getting a divorce is comparatively easy and not influenced by money power, detective chicanery and wire pulling. A special department looks into the problems of joint personal property and the guardianship and support of the children. There is no penalty for legal abortion and no legal stigma of illegitimacy attaching to children born out of wedlock.

There were no problems of the submerged lower classes and the suppressed national minorities of the old Russia that could not bear comparison with the grievous position of the millions of Negroes in the United States to-day. Just as Negroes are barred from the American Navy and the higher ranks of the Army, so were the Jews and the sons of the peasantry and proletariat discriminated against in the Russian Empire. It is needless repetition of the obvious to say that Soviet Russia does not tolerate such discriminations, for the actual government of the country is now in the hands of the combined national minorities, the peasantry and the proletarian By the permission of Leon Trotsky, Commissar-in-chief of the military and naval forces of Soviet Russia, I visited the highest military schools in the Kremlin and environs of Moscow. And there I saw the new material, the sons of the working people in training as cadets by the old officers of the upper classes. For two weeks I was a guest of the Red navy in Petrograd with the same eager proletarian youth of new Russia, who conducted me through the intricate machinery of submarines, took me over aeroplanes captured from the British during the counter-revolutionary war around Petrograd and showed me the making of a warship ready for action. And even of greater interest was the life of the men and the officers, the simplified discipline that was strictly enforced, the food that was served for each and all alike, the extra political educational classes and the extreme tactfulness and elasticity of the political commissars, all communists, who act as advisers and arbitrators between the men and students and the officers. Twice or thrice I was given some of the kasha which is sometimes served with the meals. In Moscow I grew to like this food very much, but it was always difficult to get. I had always imagined that it was quite unwholesome and unpalatable and eaten by the Russian peasant only on account of extreme poverty. But on the contrary I found it very rare and sustaining when cooked right with a bit of meat and served with butter--a grain food very much like the common but very delicious West Indian rice-and-peas.

The red cadets are seen in the best light at their gymnasium exercises and at the political assemblies when discipline is set aside. Especially at the latter where a visitor feels that he is in the midst of early revolutionary days, so hortatory the speeches, so intense the enthusiasm of the men. At all these meetings I had to speak and the students asked me general questions about the Negro in the American Army and Navy, and when I gave them common information known to all American Negroes, students, officers and commissars were unanimous in wishing this group of young American Negroes would take up training to become officers in Army and Navy of Soviet Russia. The proletarian students of Moscow were eager to learn of the life and work of Negro students. They sent messages of encouragement and good will to the Negro students of America and, with a fine gesture of fellowship, elected the Negro delegation of the American Communist Party and myself to honorary membership in the Moscow Soviet.

Those Russian days remain the most memorable of my life. The intellectual Communists and the intelligentsia were interested to know that America had produced a formidable body of Negro intelligensia and professionals, possessing a distinctive literature and cultural and business interests alien to the white man's. And they think naturally, that the militant leaders of the intelligentsia must feel and express the spirit of revolt that is slumbering in the inarticulate Negro masses, precisely the emancipation movement of the Russian masses had passed through similar phases. Russia is prepared and waiting to receive couriers and heralds of good will and interracial understanding from the Negro race. Her demonstration of friendliness and equity for Negroes may not conduce to produce healthy relations between Soviet Russia and democratic America, the anthropologists 100 per cent pure white Americanism will soon invoke Science to prove that the Russians are not at all God's white people I even caught a little of American anti-Negro propaganda in Russia. A friend of mine, a member of the Moscow intelligentsia, repeated to me the remarks of the lady respondent of a Danish newspaper: that I should not be taken as a representative Negro for she had lived in America and found all Negroes lazy, bad and vicious, a terror to white women. In Petrograd I got a like story from Chukovsky, the critic, who was on intimate terms with a high worker of the American Relief Administration and his southern wife. Chukovsky is himself an intellectual "Westerner", the term applied to those Russians who put Western-European civilization before Russian culture and believe that Russia's salvation lies in becoming completely westernized. He had spent an impressionable part of his youth in London and adores all things English, and during the world war was very pro-English. For the American democracy, also, he expresses unfeigned admiration. He has more Anglo-American books than Russian in his fine library and considers the literary section of the New York Times a journal of a very high standard. He is really a maniac of Anglo-Saxon American culture. Chukovsky was quite incredulous when I gave him the facts of the Negro's status in American civilization.

"The Americans are a people of such great energy and ability," he said, "how could they act so petty towards a racial minority?" And then he related an experience of his in London that bore a strong smell of cracker breath. However, I record it here in the belief that it is authentic for Chukovsky is a man of integrity: About the beginning of the century, he was sent to England as correspondent of a newspaper in Odessa, but in London he was more given to poetic dreaming and studying English literature in the British museum and rarely sent any news home. So he lost his job and had to find cheap, furnished rooms. A few weeks later, after he had taken up his residence in new quarters, a black guest arrived, an American gentleman of the cloth. The preacher procured a room on the top floor and used the dining and sitting room with the other guests, among whom was a white American family. The latter protested the presence of the Negro in the house and especially in the guest room. The landlady was in a dilemma, she could not lose her American boarders and the clergyman's money was not to be despised. At last she compromised by getting the white Americans to agree to the Negro's staying without being allowed the privilege of the guest room, and Chukovsky was asked to tell the Negro the truth. Chukovsky strode upstairs to give the unpleasant facts to the preacher and to offer a little consolation, but the black man was not unduly offended:

"The white guests have the right to object to me," he explained, anticipating Garvey, "they belong to a superior race."

"But," said Chukovsky, "I do not object to you, I don't feel any difference; we don't understand color prejudice in Russia."

"Well," philosophized the preacher, "you are very kind, but taking the scriptures as authority, I don't consider the Russians to be white people."
From Crisis 27 (December 1923, January 1942): 61-65, 114-18

From The Pen Of Leon Trotsky-The Paris Commune and Its Lessons

Workers Vanguard No. 1087
8 April 2016
The Paris Commune and Its Lessons
(Quote of the Week)
The international socialist movement has historically celebrated March 18 as the anniversary of the 1871 Paris Commune, when the city’s working class seized power and established the first expression of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Leon Trotsky’s balance sheet of the heroic Paris workers uprising, which was crushed in a bloody massacre in May 1871, points to the key element that was absent in the Commune but decisive in the victory of the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia: a communist vanguard party.
The workers’ party—the real one—is not a machine for parliamentary manœuvres, it is the accumulated and organized experience of the proletariat. It is only with the aid of the party, which rests upon the whole history of its past, which foresees theoretically the paths of development, all its stages, and which extracts from it the necessary formula of action, that the proletariat frees itself from the need of always recommencing its history: its hesitations, its lack of decision, its mistakes.
The proletariat of Paris did not have such a party. The bourgeois socialists with whom the Commune swarmed, raised their eyes to heaven, waited for a miracle or else a prophetic word, hesitated, and during that time the masses groped about and lost their heads because of the indecision of some and the fantasy of others. The result was that the revolution broke out in their very midst, too late, and Paris was encircled. Six months elapsed before the proletariat had re-established in its memory the lessons of past revolutions, of battles of yore, of the reiterated betrayals of democracy—and it seized power.
These six months proved to be an irreparable loss. If the centralized party of revolutionary action had been found at the head of the proletariat of France in September 1870, the whole history of France and with it the whole history of humanity would have taken another direction.
—Leon Trotsky, “Lessons of the Paris Commune” (February 1921), reprinted in New International (March 1935)