Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee Website-Free All The Class-War Prisoners Now!

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee Website-Free All The Class-War Prisoners Now!  

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

Click below to link to the Partisan Defense Committee website.

Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010 and as necessary to say in 2017 as back then-maybe more so since we are trying to build the Resistance that means going mano a mano with the Trump administration, his hangers-on and those Alt-Right/Nazis/KKK/White Supremacists and street thugs emboldened by this wacky crowd who nevertheless hold state power-and the keys to the jails.

Greg Green comment:

I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the international working class. And an organization committed, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program through the annual Holiday Appeal drive. Unfortunately having to raise these funds in support of political prisoners for many years now, too many years, as the American and international capitalist class and their hangers-on have declared relentless war, recently a very one-sided war, against those who would cry out against the monster. Attempting to silence voices from zealous lawyers, articulate death row prisoners, anti-fascist street fighters to black liberation fighters who ended up on the wrong side of a cop and state vendetta, and anti-imperialist fighters who took Che’s admonition to wage battle inside the “belly of the beast” seriously. Others, other militant fighters as well, too numerous to mention here but remembered.

Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year as I read the Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time. In fact almost probably did not).

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

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

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

*Free The Last of the Ohio Seven-They Must Not Die In Jail


Below is a repost of a commentary I made in 2007 to support of freedom for the last of the still imprisoned in 2017  Ohio Seven
The Ohio Seven, like many other subjective revolutionaries, coming out of the turbulent anti-Vietnam War and anti-imperialist movements, were committed to social change. The different is that this organization included mainly working class militants, some of whose political consciousness was formed by participation as soldiers in the Vietnam War itself. Various members were convicted for carrying out robberies, apparently to raise money for their struggles, and bombings of imperialist targets. Without going into their particular personal and political biographies I note that these were the kind of subjective revolutionaries that must be recruited to a working class vanguard party if there ever is to be a chance of bringing off a socialist revolution. In the absence of a viable revolutionary labor party in the 1970’s and 1980’s the politics of the Ohio Seven, like the Black Panthers and the Weathermen, were borne of despair at the immensity of the task and also by desperation to do something concrete in aid of the Vietnamese Revolution and other Third World struggles . Their actions in trying to open up a second front militarily in the United States in aid of Third World struggles without a mass base proved to be mistaken but, as the Partisan Defense Committee which I support has noted, their actions were no crime in the eyes of the international working class.
The lack of a revolutionary vanguard to attract such working class elements away from adventurism is rendered even more tragic in the case of the Ohio Seven. Leon Trotsky, a leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution of 1917, noted in a political obituary for his fallen comrade and fellow Left Oppositionist Kote Tsintadze that the West has not produced such fighters as Kote. Kote, who went through all the phases of struggle for the Russian Revolution, including imprisonment and exile under both the Czar and Stalin benefited from solidarity in a mass revolutionary vanguard party to sustain him through the hard times. What a revolutionary party could have done with the evident capacity and continuing commitment of subjective revolutionaries like the Ohio Seven poses that question point blank. This is the central problem and task of cadre development in the West in resolving the crisis of revolutionary leadership.
Finally, I would like to note that except for the Partisan Defense Committee and their own defense organizations – the Ohio 7 Defense Committee and the Jaan Laaman Defense Fund- the Ohio Seven have long ago been abandoned by those New Left elements and others, who as noted, at one time had very similar politics. At least part of this can be attributed to the rightward drift to liberal pacifist politics by many of them, but some must be attributed to class. Although the Ohio Seven were not our people- they are our people. All honor to them. As James P Cannon, a founding leader of the International Labor Defense, forerunner of the Partisan Defense Committee, pointed out long ago –Solidarity with class war prisoners is not charity- it is a duty. Their fight is our fight! 



Searching For The American Songbook - In The Time Of The 1960s Folk Minute-With The Joy Street Coffeehouse In Mind

Happy Birthday Tom Rush -Searching For The American Songbook - In The Time Of The 1960s Folk Minute-With The Joy Street Coffeehouse In Mind


Sketches From The Pen Of Sal Joiner

I recently completed the second leg of this series, sketches from the time of my coming of age classic rock and roll from about the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, a series which is intended to go through different stages of the American songbook as it has evolved since the 19th century, especially music that could be listened to by the general population through radio, record player, television, and more recently the fantastic number of ways to listen to it all from computers to iPods. This series was not intended to be placed in any chronological order so the first leg dealt, and I think naturally so given the way my musical interests got formed, with the music of my parents’ generation, that being the parents of the generation of ’68, those who struggled through the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s.
This third leg is centered on the music of the folk minute that captured a segment of my generation of ’68 as it came of social and political age in the early 1960s. It is easy now to forget in the buzz of the moment that this segment was fairly small to begin with people who stayed with it for a few years and then like the rest of us got back to the new rock and roll that was taking center stage by the time of the summers of love. Today when talking to people, to those who slogged through the 1960s with me, those who will become very animated about Deadhead experiences, Golden Gate Park Airplane going-ons, their merry-prankster-like “on the bus” experiences, even death Altamont when I ask about the influence of folk they will look at me with pained blank expressions or cite ritualistically Bob Dylan confirms how small and where that folk minute was concentrated.
Early on though some of us felt a fresh breeze was coming through the land, were desperately hoping that it was not some ephemeral rising and then back to business as usual, although we certainly being young did not dwell on that ebb tide idea since like with our physical selves we thought our ideas once implanted would last forever. Silly kids. Maybe it was the change in political atmosphere pulling us forward as men (and it was mostly men then) born in the 20th century were beginning to take over from the old fogies (our father/uncle/godfather Ike and his ilk) and we would fall in behind them. Maybe it was the swirl just then being generated questioning lots of old things like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) red scare investigations, like Mister James Crow in the South and  the ghettos of the North, like why did we need all those nuclear bombs that were going to do nothing but turn us into flames. Maybe it was that last faint echo of the “beats” with their poetry, their be-bop jazz, their nightly escapade trying to hold onto that sullen look of Marlon Brando, that brooding look of James Dean, that cool pitter-patter of Alan Ginsberg against the night-stealers. Heady stuff, no question.
Maybe too since it involved cultural expression (although we would be clueless to put what we felt in those terms, save that for the folk music academics complete with endnotes and footnotes after the fire had burned out) and our cultural expression centered around jukeboxes and transistor radios it was that we had, some of us, tired of the Fabians, the various Bobbys (Vee, Darin, Rydell, etc.), the various incarnations of Sandra Dee, Leslie Gore, Brenda Lee, etc., wanted a new sound, or as it turned out a flowing back to the roots music, to the time and place when people had to make their own music or go without (it gets a little mixed up once the radio widened the horizons of who could hear what and when). So, yes, we wanted to know what on those lonely Saturday nights gave our forebears pause, let them sit back maybe listen to some hot-blooded black man with a primitive guitar playing the blues (a step up from the kids’ stuff nailed one-eyed string hung from the front porch but nowhere near that coveted National Steel beauty they eyed in the pawnshop in town just waiting to rise up singing), some jazz, first old time religion stuff and then the flicker of that last fade be-bop with that solid sexy sax searching for the high white note, mountain music, all fiddles and mandolins, playing against that late night wind coming down the hills and hollows reaching that red barn just in time to finish up that last chance slow moaning waltz. Yes, and Tex-Mex, Western swing, Child ballads and the “new wave” protest sound that connected our new breeze political understandings with our musical interests.
The folk music minute was for me, and not just me, thus something of a branching off for a while from rock and roll in its doldrums since a lot of what we were striving for was to make a small musical break-out from the music that we came of chronological age to unlike the big break-out that rock and roll represented from the music that was wafting through many of our parents’ houses in the early 1950s.
In preparing this part of the series I have been grabbing a lot of anecdotal remarks from some old-time folkies. People I have run into over the past several years in the threadbare coffeehouses and cafes I frequent around New England. You know, and I am being completely unfair here, those guys with the long beards and unkempt balding hair hidden by a knotted ponytail, flannel, clean or unclean, shirt regardless of weather and blue jeans, unclean, red bandana in the back pocket, definitely unclean and harmonica at the ready going on and on about how counter-revolutionary Bob Dylan was to hook up the treasured acoustic guitar to an amp in about 1965 and those gals who are still wearing those shapeless flour bag dresses, letting their hair grow grey or white, wearing the formerly “hip” now mandatory granny glasses carrying some autoharp or other such old-time instrument like they just got out of some hills and hollows of Appalachia (in reality mostly with nice Ivy League seven sisters resumes after their names)  arguing about how any folk song created after about 1922 is not really a folk song both sexes obviously having not gotten the word that, ah, times have changed. In short those folkies who are still alive and kicking and still interested in talking about that minute. And continuing to be unfair not much else except cornball archaic references that are supposed to produce “in the know” laughs but which were corny even back then when they held forth in the old Harvard Square Hayes-Bickford of blessed memory where budding songwriters wrote on etched napkins the next great Kumbaya hit, non-songwriters tuned up their Yamaha guitars by ear, by ear, Jesus, to play for the “basket” out in the mean streets after they had their fill of the see-through coffee provided by the place, small-voiced poets echoed Ginsberg eve of destruction sonnets, and new guard writers wore down pencil stubs and erasers catching all the sounds and hubris around them mixed with sotted winos, sterno bums , con men, hustlers, misguided hookers, and junkies to fill the two in the morning air.
For those not in the know, or who have not seen the previously described denizens of the folk night in your travels, folk music is still alive and well (for the moment, the demographic trends are more frightening as the dying embers flicker) in little enclaves throughout the country mainly in New England but in other outposts as well. Those enclaves and outposts are places where some old “hippies,” “folkies,” communalists, went after the big splash 1960s counter-cultural explosion ebbed in about 1971 (that is my signpost for the ebb, the time when we tried to “turn the world upside down” in Washington over the Vietnam war by attempting to shut the government down if they refused to shut down the war and got nothing but teargas, police sticks and thousands of arrests for out troubles, others have earlier and later dates and events which seemed decisive but all that I have spoken to, or have an opinion on, agree by the mid-1970s that wave had tepidly limped to shore). Places like Saratoga, New York, Big Sur and Joshua Tree out in California, Taos, Eugene, Boise, Butte, Boulder, as well as the traditional Village, Harvard Square, North Beach/Berkeley haunts of memory. They survive, almost all of them, through the support of a dwindling number of aficionados and a few younger kids, kids who if not the biological off-spring of the folk minute then very much like those youthful by-gone figures and who somehow got into their parents’ stash of folk albums and liked what they heard against the current trends in music, in once a month socially-conscious Universalist-Unitarian church basement coffeehouses, school activity rooms booked for the occasional night, small local restaurants and bars sponsoring “open mics” on off-nights to draw a little bigger dinner crowd, and probably plenty of other small ad hoc venues where there are enough people with guitars, mandos, harmonicas, and what have you to while away an evening.            
There seems to be a consensus among my anecdotal sources  that their first encounter with folk music back then, other than when they were in the junior high school music class where one  would get a quick checkerboard of various types of music and maybe hear This Land Is Your Land in passing, was through the radio. That junior high school unconscious introduction of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land had been my own introduction in Mr. Dasher’s seventh grade Music Appreciation class where he inundated us with all kinds of songs from everywhere like the Red River Valley and the Mexican Hat Dance. For his efforts he was innocently nicknamed by us “Dasher The Flasher,” a moniker that would not serve him well in these child-worried times by some nervous parents.    
A few folkies that I had run into back then, fewer now, including a couple of girlfriends back then as I entered college picked up, like some of those few vagrant younger aficionados hanging around the clubs, the music via their parents’ record collections although that was rare and back then and usually meant that the parents had been some kind of progressives back in the 1930s and 1940s when Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Pete Seeger and others lit up the leftist firmament in places like wide-open New York City. Today the parents, my generation parents would have been in the civil rights movement, SDS or maybe the anti-war movement although the latter was drifting more by then to acid rock as the foundational music.
That radio by the way would be the transistor radio usually purchased at now faded Radio Shack by frustrated parents, frustrated that we were playing that loud unwholesome rock and roll music on the family record player causing them to miss their slumbers, and was attached to all our youthful ears placed there away from prying parents and somehow if you were near an urban area you might once you tired of the “bubble gum” music on the local rock station flip the dial and get lucky some late night, usually Sunday and find an errant station playing such fare.
That actually had been my experience one night, one Sunday night in the winter of 1962 (month and date lost in the fog of memory) when I was just flipping the dial and came upon the voice of a guy, an old pappy guy I assumed, singing a strange song in a gravelly voice which intrigued me because that was neither a rock song nor a rock voice. The format of the show as I soon figured out as I continued to listen that night was that the DJ would, unlike the rock stations which played one song and then interrupted the flow with at least one commercial for records, drive-in movies, drive-in theaters, maybe suntan lotion, you know stuff kids with disposable income would take a run at, played several songs so I did not find out who the singer was until a few songs later. The song was identified by the DJ as the old classic mountain tune “discovered” by Cecil Sharpe in the hills and hollows of Appalachian Kentucky in 1916 Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies, the singer the late Dave Von Ronk who, as I found out later doubled up as a very informative folk historian and who now has a spot, a street last I heard, in the Village in New York where he hailed from named after him, the station WBZ in Boston not a station that under ordinary circumstances youth would have tuned into then since it was mainly a news and talk show station, the DJ Dick Summer a very central figure in spreading the folk gospel and very influential in promoting local folk artists like Tom Rush on the way up as noted in a recent documentary, No Regrets, about Rush’s fifty plus years in folk music. I was hooked.
That program also played country blues stuff, stuff that folk aficionados had discovered down south as part of our generation took seriously the search for roots, music, cultural, family, and which would lead to the “re-discovery” of the likes of Son House (and that flailing National Steel guitar that you can see him flail like crazy on Death Letter Blues on YouTube these days), Bukka White (all sweaty, all feisty, playing the hell out of his National face up with tunes like Aberdeen, Mississippi Woman and Panama, Limited) Skip James (all cool hand Luke singing that serious falsetto on I’d Rather Be The Devil Than Be That Woman’s Man which got me in trouble more than one time with women including recently), and Mississippi John Hurt (strumming seemingly casually his moaning Creole Belle and his slyly salacious Candy Man).
I eventually really learned about the blues, the country stuff from down south which coincides with roots and folk music and the more muscular (plugged in electrically) Chicago city type blues that connects with the beginnings of rock and roll, which will be the next and final leg of this series, straight up though from occasionally getting late, late at night, usually on a Sunday for some reason, Be-Bop Benny’s Blues Hour from WXKE in Chicago but that is another story. Somebody once explained to me the science behind what happened on certain nights with the distant radio waves that showed up mostly because then their frequencies overrode closer signals. What I know for sure that it was not was the power of that dinky transistor radio with its two nothing batteries. So for a while I took those faraway receptions as a sign of the new dispensation coming to free us, of the new breeze coming through the land in our search for an earthly Eden. Praise be.          
If the first exposure for many of us was through the radio, especially those a bit removed from urban areas, the thing that made most of us “folkies” of whatever duration was the discovery and appeal of the coffeehouses. According to legend (Dave Von Ronk legend anyway) in the mid to late 1950s such places were hang-outs for “beat” poets when that Kerouac/Ginsberg/Cassady flame was all the rage and folkies like him just starting out were reduced to clearing the house between shows with a couple of crowd-fleeing folk songs, or else they got the boot and the remnants of street singer life forlorn “basket” in front trying to make rent money.
But by the early 1960s the dime had turned and it was all about folk music. Hence the appeal for me of Harvard Square not all that far away, certainly close enough to get to on weekends in high school. With Club 47, the “flagship,” obviously, Café Nana, the Algiers, Café Blanco, and a number of other coffeehouses all located within a few blocks of each other in the Square there were plenty of spots which drew us in to that location. (That Cub 47, subject a few years ago to its own documentary, was the spawning grounds and the testing ground for many folk artists like Dylan, Baez, Rush, Von Schmidt, Paxton, to perform and perfect their acts before friendly appreciative audiences that would not heckle them. The Club which has had something of a continuous history now operates as a non-profit as the Club Passim in a different location in Harvard Square near the Harvard Co-Op Bookstore.)    
The beauty of such places for poor boy high school students like me or lowly cash-poor college students interested in the folk scene was that for the price of a coffee, usually expresso so you could get your high a little off the extra caffeine but more importantly you could take tiny sips and make it last which you wanted to do so you could hold your spot at the table in some places, and maybe some off-hand pastry (usually a brownie or wedge of cake not always fresh but who cared as long as the coffee, like I said, usually expresso to get a high caffeine kick, was fresh since it was made by the cup from elaborate copper-plated coffeemakers from Europe or someplace like that), you could sit there for a few hours and listen to up and coming folk artists working out the kinks in their routines. Add in a second coffee unless the girl had agreed to an uncool “dutch treat,” not only uncool but you were also unlikely to get to first base especially if she had to pay her bus fare too, share the brownie or stale cake and you had a cheap date. 
Occasionally there was a few dollar cover for “established” acts like Joan Baez, Tom Rush, the Clancy Brothers, permanent Square fixture Eric Von Schmidt, but mainly the performers worked for the “basket,” the passing around of the hat for the cheap date guys and others “from hunger” to show appreciation, hoping against hope to get twenty buck to cover rent and avoid starving until the next gig. Of course since the audience was low-budget high school students, college kids and starving artists that goal was sometimes a close thing and accordingly the landlord would have to be pieced off with a few bucks until times got better.
Yeah, those were “from hunger” days at the beginning of their careers for most performers as that talent “natural selection process” and the decision at some point to keep pushing on or to go back to whatever else you were trained to do kept creeping foremost in their thoughts when the folk minute faded and there was not enough work to keep body and soul alive whatever the ardent art spirit. Some of them faced that later too, some who went back to that whatever they were trained to do and then got the folk music gig itch again, guys like Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin from the Kweskin Jug Band, David Bromberg, gals like Carolyn Hester, Minnie Smith after somebody said “hey, whatever happened to….” and they meant them. That natural selection thing was weird, strange for those who had to make decisions in those days (now too) about talent and drive over the long haul. You would see some guy like Paul Jefferson a great guitar player who did lots of Woody Guthrie covers and had a local following in the Café Nana working hard or Cherry La Plante who had a ton of talent and a voice like floating clouds and had steady work in the Café Blanc fold up their tents once they hit a certain threshold, a few years working the local clubs and no better offers coming along and so they bailed out. They and those like them just did not have the talent or drive or chutzpah to keep going and so they faded. You still see Paul once in a while at “open mics” around Boston performing for much smaller crowds than in the old days and the last I heard of Cherry was that she had drifted west and was getting a few bookings in the cafes out in Oregon. But in the day it was all good, all good to hear and see as they tried to perfect their acts.   
For alienated and angst-ridden youth like me (and probably half my generation if the information I have received some fifty years later stands up and does not represent some retro-fitted analysis filtered through a million sociological and psychological studies), although I am not sure I would have used those words for my feelings in those days the coffeehouse scene was the great escape from household independence struggles of which I was always, always hear me, at the short end of the stick. Probably the best way to put the matter is to say that when I read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, over a non-stop weekend I was so engrossed in the page after page happenings, I immediately identified with Holden Caulfield whatever differences of time, place and class stood between us and when asked my opinion of him by my English teacher I made her and the whole class laugh when I said “I am Holden Caulfield”), or when I saw The Wild One at the retro-Strand Theater in downtown Carver I instinctively sided with poor boy Johnny and his “wanting habits” despite my painfully negative experiences with outlaw motorcycle guys headed by local hard boy Red Riley who hung out at Harry’s Variety Store as they ran through our section of town like the Huns of old. If I had been able to put the feelings into words and actions it would have been out of sympathy for the outcasts, misfits, and beaten down who I identified with then (not quite in the Jack Kerouac beaten down hipsters or night-dwellers who survived with a certain swagger and low hum existence sense). So yeah, the coffeehouses offered sanctuary.
For others (and me too on occasion) those establishments also provided a very cheap way to deal with the date issue, as long as you picked dates who shared your folk interests. That pick was important because more than once I took a promising date to the Joy Street Coffeehouse up on Boston’s Beacon Hill where I knew the night manager and could get in for free who was looking for something speedier like maybe a guy with a car, preferably a ’57 Chevy or something with plenty of chrome, and that was the end of that promise.  For those who shared my interest like I said before for the price of two coffees(which were maybe fifty cents each, something like that, but don’t take that as gospel), maybe a shared pastry and a couple of bucks in the “basket” to show you appreciated the efforts, got you those hours of entertainment. But mainly the reason to go to the Square or Joy Street early on was to hear the music that as my first interest blossomed I could not find on the radio, except that Dick Summer show on Sunday night for a couple of hours. Later it got better with more radio shows, some television play when the thing got big enough that even the networks caught on with bogus clean-cut  Hootenanny-type shows, and as more folkies got record contracts because then you could start grabbing records at places like Sandy’s in between Harvard and Central Squares.               
Of course sometimes if you did not have dough, or if you had no date, and yet you still had those home front civil wars to contend with and that you needed to retreat from you could still wind up in the Square. Many a late weekend night, sneaking out of the house through a convenient back door which protected me from sight, parents sight, I would grab the then all-night Redline subway to the Square and at that stop (that was the end of the line then) take the stairs to the street two steps at a time and bingo have the famous (or infamous) all-night Hayes-Bickford in front of me. There as long as you were not rowdy like the winos, hoboes, and con men you could sit at a table and watch the mix and match crowds come and go. Nobody bothered you, certainly not the hired help who were hiding away someplace at those hours, and since it was cafeteria-style passing your tray down a line filled with steam-saturated stuff and incredibly weak coffee that tasted like dishwater must taste, you did not have to fend off waitresses. (I remember the first time I went in by myself I sat, by design, at a table that somebody had vacated with the dinnerware still not cleared away and with the coffee mug half full and claimed the cup to keep in front of me. When the busboy, some high school kid like me, came to clear the table he “hipped me” to the fact that nobody gave a rat’s ass if you bought anything just don’t act up and draw attention to yourself. Good advice, brother, good advice.)
Some nights you might be there when some guy or gal was, in a low voice, singing their latest creation, working up their act in any case to a small coterie of people in front of them. That was the real import of the place, you were there on the inside where the new breeze that everybody in the Square was expecting took off and you hoped you would get caught up in the fervor too. Nice.        
As I mentioned in the rock and roll series, which really was the music of our biological coming of age time, folk was the music of our social and political coming of age time. A fair amount of that sentiment got passed along to us during our folk minute as we sought out different explanations for the events of the day, reacted against the grain of what was conventional knowledge. Some of us will pass to the beyond clueless as to why we were attuned to this music when we came of age in a world, a very darkly-etched world, which we too like most of our parents had not created, and had no say in creating. That clueless in the past about the draw included a guy, me, a coalminer’s son who got as caught up in the music of his time as any New York City Village Jack or Jill or Chi Old Town frat or frail. My father in his time, wisely or not considering  what ill-fate befell him later, had busted out of the tumbled down tarpaper shacks down in some Appalachia hills and hollows, headed north, followed the northern star, his own version, and never looked back and neither did his son.
Those of us who came of age, biological, political, and social age kicking, screaming and full of the post-war new age teenage angst and alienation in the time of Jack Kennedy’s Camelot were ready for a jail-break, a jail-break on all fronts and that included from the commercial Tin Pan Alley song stuff. The staid Eisenhower red scare cold war stuff (he our parents’ organizer of victory, their gentile father Ike). Hell, we knew that the world was scary, knew it every time we were forced to go down into some dank school basement and squat down, heads down too, hoping to high heaven that the Russkies had not decided to go crazy and set off “the bomb,” many bombs. And every righteous teenager had restless night’s sleep, a nightmare that, he or she, was trapped in some fashionable family fall-out shelter bunker and those loving parents had thoughtfully brought their records down into the abyss to soothe their savage beasts for the duration. Yelling in that troubled sleep please, please, please if we must die then at least let’s go out to Jerry Lee’s High School Confidential. And as we matured Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind.    
We were moreover, some of us anyway, and I like to think the best of us, driven by some makeshift dreams, ready to cross our own swords with the night-takers of our time, and who, in the words of Camelot brother Bobby, sweet ruthless Bobby of more than one shed tear in this quarter, quoting from Alfred Lord Tennyson, were “seeking a newer world.” Those who took up the call to action heralded by the new dispensation and slogged through the 60s decade whether it was in the civil rights/black liberation struggle, the anti-Vietnam War struggle or the struggle to find one’s own identity in the counter-culture swirl before the hammer came down were kindred. And that hammer came down quickly as the decade ended and the high white note that we searched for, desperately searched for, drifted out into the ebbing tide. Gone.
These following sketches and as with the previous two series that is all they are, and all they pretend to be, link up the music of the generation of ‘68s social and political coming of age time gleaned from old time personal remembrances, the remembrances of old time folkies recently met and of those met long ago in the Club 47, Café Lena, Club Paradise, Café North Beach night.
The truth of each sketch is in the vague mood that they invoke rather than any fidelity to hard and fast fact. They are all based on actual stories, more or less prettified and sanitized to avoid any problems with lose of reputation of any of the characters portrayed and any problems with some lingering statute of limitations. That truth, however, especially in the hands of old-time corner boys like me and the other guys who passed through the corner at Jack Slack’s bowling  alleys must always be treated like a pet rattlesnake. Very carefully.
Still the overall mood should more than make up for the lies thrown at you, especially on the issue of sex, or rather the question of the ages on that issue, who did or did not do what to whom on any given occasion. Those lies filled the steamy nights and frozen days then, and that was about par for the course, wasn’t it. But enough of that for this series is about our uphill struggles to make our vision of the our newer world, our struggles to  satisfy our hunger a little, to stop that gnawing want, and the music that in our youth  we dreamed by on cold winter nights and hot summer days.  

The Promise of a Socialist Society-From The Pen Of Friedrich Engels-Karl Marx's Collaborator

The Promise of a Socialist Society-From The Pen Of Friedrich Engels-Karl Marx's Collaborator 


(Quote of the Week)

The Promise of a Socialist Society

(Quote of the Week)

In the selection below, Friedrich Engels makes plain how proletarian revolution opens the road to an emancipated future in which the productive powers of humanity are unleashed for the benefit of all mankind.

Their political and intellectual bankruptcy is scarcely any longer a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves. Their economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every ten years. In every crisis, society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless face to face with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume, because consumers are wanting. The expansive force of the means of production bursts the bonds that the capitalist mode of production had imposed upon them.

Their deliverance from these bonds is the one precondition for an unbroken, constantly accelerated development of the productive forces, and therewith for a practically unlimited increase of production itself....

With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by systematic, definite organisation. The struggle for individual existence disappears.... Man’s own social organisation, hitherto confronting him as a necessity imposed by nature and history, now becomes the result of his own free action. The extraneous objective forces that have hitherto governed history pass under the control of man himself. 

Only from that time will man himself, with full consciousness, make his own history—only from that time will the social causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly growing measure, the results intended by him. It is humanity’s leap from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.

To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and thus the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, scientific socialism.

—Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878)

As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):
“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.” 

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

Coming Of Age In World War II-Torn America- With The Film "Summer Of 1942" (1971) In Mind

Coming Of Age In World War II-Torn America- With The Film Summer Of 1942 (1971) In Mind

By Commentator Fritz Taylor

Seth Garth, the once well-known free-lance music critic for many of the big music and specialty publications that have come and gone over the years since he first put pen to paper some forty years ago, including the long gone alternative press where he got his start and first breaks, had been thinking about the old days a lot recently. (Literally had put pen to paper, forget beauties of the world processor then, as Jacob Stein said that he had recalled as he kicked and screamed when he was asked to produce material on a typewriter in the old days rather than his beloved yellow legal pads. He only relented as Jacob also recalled when some editor told him that his hero Hemingway was crazy to rattle the typewriter to get his precious words out.) Seth had been, having the luxury of semi-retired status, also doing a run through of films via the good graces of Netflix that he had first seen when he was a youngster sitting in the dark every week for the double feature Saturday matinee complete with box of stale popcorn or snuck in candy bars at the old Strand Theater in his hometown of Riverdale, a town a few dozen miles from Boston. Or else films that due to publication commitments that he had not run through when they came out in the 1970s in the days when he was determined to catch the wave of being a music critic and missed many of those films, left them by the wayside.

One night at Jack’s Pub, his watering hole hang-out over in Riverdale that he increasingly frequented on his forays back to his old hometown to see if he could “channel” the past by being physically present on the old sacred soil (although not the Strand long ago turned into a condominium complex), Seth had mentioned to Brad Fox, an old friend from high school days who went through many of the experiences with him, that he had just reviewed a film, Summer of 1942, for Sal Davis the editor of Cinema Now who was looking for copy to fill a space quickly. The film which had been released in 1971 about coming of age, coming of sexual age during the early years of World War II. The big point he made to Brad, who had told Seth that he had seen the film when it came out but did not remember the details except that this foxy older woman played by Jennifer O’Neil had “robbed the cradle” and bedded a teenage boy, swore the film could have been about their generation, the generation of 1968 as easily as that of 1942.     

Seth had mentioned, before giving Brad the details that he had missed about the film, he had started his review speculating on the fact that each generation goes through its “coming of age” period somewhat differently. “Coming of age” in this context meaning after Brad had been unclear about what aspect of the term Seth meant, meaning the beginning of the treacherous process of understanding all the sexual changes and commotions once you got to puberty. He said he had taken the one he, and Brad, had known about personally of coming of age in the early 1960s in the age of the “Pill,” of technology-driven space exploration and of some new as yet unspoken and undiscovered social breeze coming to shake up a lot of the old values, to turn the world upside down, from their parents’ generation.

Seth said he had tried to contrast that with the one before theirs, the one represented in the film about the coming of age of their parents’ generation. The generation that on one edge, the older edge went through the whole trauma of the Great Depression that brought barren days to the land and of slogging World War II and at the other edge, the younger edge, missing the trauma of war and its particular stamp on those who survived went on to form the alienated youth who turned “beat,” rode homespun hot rods to perdition, grabbed a La Jolla perfect wave surf board, revved up Hell’s Angels/Devil’s Disciples hellish motorcycles to scare all the squares and come under the immediate spell of jailbreak rock and roll.
The funny thing at least on the basis of a viewing of the film on the question of dealing with sex, sexual knowledge and experiences there was a very familiar (and funny) sense that their parents who, at least in their case and the case of their growing up friends, went through the same hoops-with about the same sense of forlorn misunderstanding. (Of course in talking about parents and their sexual desire both Seth and Brad admitted they would have had a hard time linking up their own respective parents with sexual desire but their own kids if asked would probably say the same thing about them.)                   

Brad mentioned that his memory wasn’t so good of late and that although while they were talking he had been trying to dredge up some more facts about the movie other than the one he had mentioned earlier in the conversation about that sexy older woman “cradle robber” making Seth laugh that whatever the taboos were about intergenerational sex they both would have given their eye-teeth if some world-wise fox had come across their paths. Seth then went on to give Brad a rough outline of how the film had played out.

He told Brad that his habit of late was after viewing a film, particularly a film that he was being paid good dollars to produce a review on, was to go on-line and look up what somebody had to say about the film on Wikipedia.  Wistfully stated that service was something he wished had been around earlier in his career which would have saved him a lot of time in the library or looking at the archives of various publications of the time and allow him under the constant press of deadlines to be able to write better thought out copy. (Although remember he was still groping with freaking yellow legal pads.) The story line of the film had been based on the essentially true-to-life experiences of a Hollywood screen-writer Hermie Raucher (played by Gary Grimes), coming of age 15, and his two companions, gregarious Oscy and studious Benji, known as “the Three Terrors,” three virginal teenage boys, who were slumming in the year 1942 at the beautiful but desolate end of an island retreat in the first summer of the American direct involvement in the Pacific and European wars after the Japanese bombings of Pearl Harbor. (The island had been Nantucket Island in the book published after the movie but had been filmed off desolate Mendocino of blessed memory in California). They like a million other virginal boys of that age during war or peacetime were driven each in their own way by the notion of sexual experimentation and conquest and so the chase was on.      

That chase had been on at two levels. The rather pedestrian one of seeking out young girls of their own age to see what shook out of the sexual tree and Hermie’s almost mystical search for “meaningful” love in the person of an older foxy woman, Dorothy, played by Jennifer O’Neil, who had been a young war bride staying on the island after her husband headed off to war. The “own age” part, funny in parts, driven mostly by pal Oscy’s overweening desire to “get laid” with a blonde temptress whom he finally got his wish with on night at the secluded end of the beach with his most experienced partner. On that occasion Hermie was shut out of any desire he had to do the same with her friend who was as bewildered by sex as he was. 
The “older woman” (in our circles she would have been a “cradle-robbing” older woman although she was only 22) notion of love is what drove him the moment he has set eyes on her when the trio was spying on her and her husband in their cozy cottage so he was “saving” himself for her. And after a series of innocent (and some goofy) encounters with Dorothy one night, after she has just found out that her husband had been killed in the war, she bedded him (there is no other honest way to put the matter). That was that though, for when Hermie subsequently went back to the cottage she had left the island and left him a more solemn young man.              

Having given Brad those details Seth mentioned that those were the main lines that got played out but what had made this film more than of ordinary interest to him was the whole lead-up, the whole “foreplay” if you will of the desire of the trio to be doing something about getting out of that dreaded virgin status. Said all the guys were fearful of being tagged with the “homo” tag and didn’t Brad remember how vicious teenage guys could be about the “manhood” question. Before he could go further Brad mentioned how when they were fourteen or fifteen he could not remember when how all the guys from around the corner that they hung on, including Seth used to “fag” bait him because he had refused to kiss Sarah Langley at a “petting” party and had actually run out of the house where the party was being held he had been so embarrassed.

At the time he had been sweet on Jenny Price who had been at the party although nobody was aware of that situation. Nothing ever came of that desire and so he had spent some time living down the “fag” tag until he found Sandy Lee in junior year and she took him out of that status since she was something of a fox herself. Although nobody thought anything of calling another guy a “fag” as masculine craziness about sex and sexual identity erupted nobody seriously thought that the guys were gay or anything like that it was just a separation expression. Who knows who at the time really wasn’t interested in girls, wasn’t into “getting in their pants” although Seth speculated that some guys around the block must have since not a few guys lived at home with their mothers and were not seen with woman companions. Nowadays nobody would think twice about it although the usual baiting in school and among the jocks would still go on given the unchanged nature of certain heterosexual young males. Seth mentioned that he could not believe the pressure to “lose your virginity” that all the guys suffered through, although he admitted that it also took him a long time, long after the Christopher Street riots in the Village that began the serious modern gay rights movement to stop his calling gays “fags.” Not until his eyes were opened up when gay musicians and actors whom he interviewed and assumed were straight came out of the “closet.”   

Seth had laughed at the very realistic scenes when Hermie and Oscy picked up a couple of girls at the movie theater (playing Bette Davis and Paul Henried in Dark Voyage, a film that he actually had reviewed when it came out in a film retrospective at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square for the old Avatar alternative newspaper). The scene which showed the guys “feeling up,” or trying to, had been amazing with Oscy grabbing his just met girl almost from minute one and Hermie, missing the mark thinking his girl’s shoulder was her breast. Jesus. Brad laughed but reminded Seth that no way would that kind of thing have happened in their days since everybody, or almost everybody knew the drill at the Strand Theater Saturday matinee double-header or Saturday night date it did not matter. Some ancient tradition, hell, maybe going back to 1942 for all anybody knew about the original of the practice made it clear that those who sat in the orchestra were not going to “make out.” If they were in the balcony then whatever went on, went on from “feeling up” to blow jobs went on. It was solely a question of asking your date where she wanted to sit. That sealed the deal, and in many cases, too many, meant a last date.

Brad’s reminder of the old “policy” reminded Seth of the time that he was crazy for Rosalind Green in junior high, they had gotten along well, had been a couple of chatterboxes in English class about books by a bunch of foreign guys to show they were “hip.” One day after a few weeks after all this “foreplay” Seth had finally asked her to a Saturday matinee (the usual strategy for a girl you were not sure would accept your date in the dangerous nighttime) and she accepted. When after paying for their tickets and hitting the refreshment stand for popcorn and sodas he asked her where she wanted to sit she had answered “silly, of course the balcony why else would I have come with you.” Bingo. Of such events decent youthful memories are made. Brad on the other hand spent many hours in the orchestra section once he latched onto Betsy Binstock (whom he had eventually married and was still married to happily he always made sure to note) who was “saving” whatever she was saving for marriage. Okay, too-now.        

Seth quickly mentioned the scene, the awkward scene, where Hermie was helping Dorothy with storing some packages and he got sexually excited, okay, okay, got an erection, by her off-hand helping hand touch since neither man wanted to talk about those nighttime wandering hands that came down when they got an erection.  Nor did he spent much time on the scene where the three friends “discover” what sexual intercourse is all about through the good graces of Benji’s mother’s medical books since that scene rang false in their old neighborhood where sexual information was passed from older brother or sister to younger, a lot of it wrong, very wrong when the girl had to go out of town to see “Aunt Emily” (she was pregnant) in other words right out on the streets. Nobody back in 1942, or 1962 expected uptight parents who were assumed to probably not have had sex to give any serious information except some twaddle about the birds and the bees.  And of course the fumbling by the numbers (off-screen) when Oscy has his first sexual experience with the girl he had picked up at the movies. That scene had been a little over the top and as reticent about talking about sex as parents were guys and gals might give an inkling about what they were doing behind the bushes but a “free show” was off the charts.

The best scene of all though and it really showed the difference between then and now when the younger generations can grab condoms off the shelf at any drugstore or in some places right in schoolhouse restrooms (formerly “lav’s”) and who might not quite appreciate enough the scene where Hermie tried to buy “rubbers” at the local village drugstore from the jaded disbelieving druggist. Brad automatically remembered that scene once Seth recalled it. Remembered too, as he told a disbelieving Seth that night, his own confusion when he was in junior high and had found some condoms in a bottom bathroom drawer in his family house when he was looking for some band-aids. Had asked a kid at school, actually had shown a kid at school one and the kid had said they were like balloons you fill them with water and throw them at somebody. It was not until high school and he had begun his own sexual explorations (obviously not with ever-loving Betsy) that he found out their real purpose and blushed silently about his parents’ sexual practices. Hence another example of the very general understanding about the young that their own parents never had sex. Whatever else being a youth today may be about in terms of trauma at least there is a hell of a lot of good information hanging out there on the Internet for the young to inquire into with embarrassment. 

Yeah, Seth gave Brad the word as they finished up that last round of drinks and began to head to their respective homes -watch this film and remember your own, either sex, torturous rumbling around coming to terms with sex.     

From The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive Website- The Alba Blog

From The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive Website- The Alba Blog

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

Frank Jackman comment:

This blog had gotten my attention for two reasons: those rank and filers who fought to defend democracy, fight the fascists and fight for socialism in Spain for the most part, political opponents or not, were kindred spirits; and, those with first-hand knowledge of those times over seventy years ago are dwindling down to a precious few and so we had better listen to their stories while they are around to tell it. Viva La Quince Brigada!  

I have been interested, as a pro-Republican partisan, in the Spanish Civil War since I was a teenager. What initially perked my interest, and remains of interest, is the passionate struggle of the Spanish working class to create its own political organization of society, its leadership of the struggle against Spanish fascism and the romance surrounding the entry of the International Brigades, particularly the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the 15th Brigade, into the struggle.

Underlying my interests has always been a nagging question of how that struggle could have been won by the working class. The Spanish proletariat certainly was capable of both heroic action and the ability to create organizations that reflected its own class interests i.e. the worker militias and factory committees. Of all modern working class revolutions after the Russian revolution Spain showed the most promise of success. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted that the political class consciousness of the Spanish proletariat at that time was higher than that of the Russian proletariat in 1917. Yet it failed in Spain. Trotsky's writings on this period represent a provocative and thoughtful approach to an understanding of the causes of that failure. Moreover, with all proper historical proportions considered, his analysis has continuing value as the international working class struggles against the seemingly one-sided class war being waged by the international bourgeoisie today.

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 has been the subject of innumerable works from every possible political and military perspective possible. A fair number of such treatises, especially from those responsible for the military and political policies on the Republican side, are merely alibis for the disastrous policies that led to defeat. Trotsky's complication of articles, letters, pamphlets, etc. which make up the volume reviewed here is an exception. Trotsky was actively trying to intervene in the unfolding events in order to present a program of socialist revolution that most of the active forces on the Republican side were fighting, or believed they were fighting for. Thus, Trotsky's analysis brings a breath of fresh air to the historical debate. That in the end Trotsky could not organize the necessary cadres to carry out his program or meaningfully impact the unfolding events in Spain is one of the ultimate tragedies of that revolution. Nevertheless, Trotsky had a damn good idea of what forces were acting as a roadblock to revolution. He also had a strategic conception of the road to victory. And that most definitely was not through the Popular Front.

The central question Trotsky addresses throughout the whole period under review here was the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletarian forces. That premise entailed, in short, a view that the objective conditions for the success of a socialist program for society had ripened. Nevertheless, until that time, despite several revolutionary upheavals elsewhere, the international working class had not been successful anywhere except in backward Russia. Trotsky thus argued that it was necessary to focus on the question of forging the missing element of revolutionary leadership that would assure victory or at least put up a fight to the finish.

This underlying premise was the continuation of an analysis that Trotsky developed in earnest in his struggle to fight the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution in the mid-1920's. The need to learn the lessons of the Russian Revolution and to extend that revolution internationally was thus not a merely a theoretical question for Trotsky. Spain, moreover, represented a struggle where the best of the various leftist forces were in confusion about how to move forward. Those forces could have profitably heeded Trotsky's advice. I further note that the question of the crisis of revolutionary leadership still remains to be resolved by the international working class.

Trotsky's polemics in this volume are highlighted by the article ‘The Lessons of Spain-Last Warning’, his definitive assessment of the Spanish situation in the wake of the defeat of the Barcelona uprising in May 1937. Those polemics center on the failure of the Party of Marxist Unification (hereafter, POUM) to provide revolutionary leadership. That party, partially created by cadre formerly associated with Trotsky in the Spanish Left Opposition, failed on virtually every count. Those conscious mistakes included, but were not limited to, the creation of an unprincipled bloc between the former Left Oppositionists and the former Right Oppositionists (Bukharinites) of Maurin to form the POUM in 1935; political support to the Popular Front including entry into the government coalition by its leader; creation of its own small trade union federation instead of entry in the anarchist led-CNT; creation of its own militia units reflecting a hands-off attitude toward political struggle with other parties; and, fatally, an at best equivocal role in the Barcelona uprising of 1937.

Trotsky had no illusions about the roadblock to revolution of the policies carried out by the old-time Anarchist, Socialist and Communist Parties. Unfortunately the POUM did. Moreover, despite being the most honest revolutionary party in Spain it failed to keep up an intransigent struggle to push the revolution forward. The Trotsky - Andreas Nin (key leader of the POUM and former Left Oppositionist) correspondence in the Appendix makes that problem painfully clear.

The most compelling example of this failure - As a result of the failure of the Communist Party of Germany to oppose the rise of Hitler in 1933 and the subsequent decapitation and the defeat of the Austrian working class in 1934 the European workers, especially the younger workers, of the traditional Socialist Parties started to move left. Trotsky observed this situation and told his supporters to intersect that development by an entry, called the ‘French turn’, into those parties. Nin and the Spanish Left Opposition, and later the POUM failed to do that. As a result the Socialist Party youth were recruited to the Communist Party en masse. This accretion formed the basic for its expansion as a party and the key cadre of its notorious security apparatus that would, after the Barcelona uprising, suppress the more left ward organizations. For more such examples of the results of the crisis of leadership in the Spanish Revolution read this book.

Revised-June 19, 2006

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


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


I have been interested, as a pro-Republican partisan, in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 since I was a teenager. My first term paper was on this subject. What initially perked my interest, and remains of interest, is the passionate struggle of the Spanish working class to create its own political organization of society, its leadership of the struggle against Spanish fascism and the romance surrounding the entry of the International Brigades, particularly the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the 15th Brigade, into the struggle.

Underlying my interests has always been a nagging question of how that struggle could have been won by the working class. The Spanish proletariat certainly was capable of both heroic action and the ability to create organizations that reflected its own class interests i.e. the worker militias and factory committees. Of all modern working class uprisings after the Russian revolution Spain showed the most promise of success. Russian Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted in one of his writings on Spain that the Spanish proletariat at the start of its revolutionary period had a higher political consciousness than the Russian proletariat in 1917. That calls into question the strategies put forth by the parties of the Popular Front, including the Spanish Communist Party- defeat Franco first, and then make the social transformation of society. Mr. Carroll’s book while not directly addressing that issue nevertheless demonstrates through the story of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion how the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and through it the policy of the Communist International in calling for international brigades to fight in Spain aided in the defeat of that promising revolution.

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

Probably the most important part of Mr. Carroll’s book is tracing the trials and tribulations of the volunteers after their withdrawal from Spain in late 1938. Their organization-the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade- was constantly harassed and monitored by the United States government for many years as a Communist 'front' group. Individuals also faced prosecution and discrimination for their past association with the Brigades. He also traces the aging and death of that cadre. In short, this book is a labor of love for the subjects of his treatment. Whatever else this writer certainly does not disagree with that purpose. If you want to read about what a heroic part of the vanguard of the international working class looked like in the 1930’s, look here. Viva la Quince Brigada!!