Saturday, October 06, 2018

Happy, Happy Birthday Karl Marx, On The 200th Anniversary Of His Birth-Some Thoughts

Happy, Happy Birthday Karl Marx, On The 200th Anniversary Of His Birth-Some Thoughts  

A link to NPR’s Christopher Lydon’s Open Source  2018 program on the meaning of Karl Marx in the 21st century on the 200th anniversary of his birth:

By Seth Garth

Normally Frank Jackman would be the natural person to do his take on the name, the role, the legacy of one German revolutionary exiled to London after the revolutions of 1848 faded away, Karl Marx on the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2018. And Frank at first fought me a little on this and mentioned it to site manager Greg Green. Greg had both of us come in to his office to discuss the issue. My frame of reference and what amounted to the winning argument was that I had been Peter Paul Markin’s closest friend in high school, forever known as Scribe for obvious reasons, and so I knew the details of how Frank, Frankie Riley, Jimmy Jenkins, Si Lannon and maybe a couple of others first heard about the name and ideas of one Karl Marx and later would act on them a little. (Some of the other guys who hung around with Scribe and the rest of us like Ricky Rizzo and Dave Whiting, both who would lay their heads down in hellhole Vietnam and wound up on the town monument and Washington black granite, Red Riley and even Frank Jackman almost lynched him when he started talking favorably about Karl Marx and the idea of red revolution in those dead ass red scare Cold War nights. All they wanted to hear about was whatever intelligence Scribe had on some girl they were interested in of which he had been plenty or what his next plan was for the “midnight creep” which I assume needs no further explanation except he planned the capers but no way would Frankie Riley or the rest of us let him lead the expeditions-hell we would still be in jail.)

Others, including Frank Jackman, have now seemingly endlessly gone over the effect Scribe had on them a little later when the turbulent 1960s we all got caught up in blew a gasket in the Summer of Love, 1967 as the culmination of what he also had been talking about for years on those lonely forlorn weekend nights when we hung around good guy Tonio’s Pizza Parlor “up the Downs” in the growing up Acre section of North Adamsville. What most guys did not know, or did not want to know, was that a little of what Scribe was thinking at the time was that maybe Karl Marx might be proven to be right, might have been onto something when he spoke about the working classes, us, getting a big jump ahead in the world once things turned upside down. He held those views  pretty closely then, especially when he was practically red-baited into silence by those guys who were even more hung up, as was Scribe in many ways, on normal American propaganda about Russia, Communism, and Karl Marx.

Like I say a glimmer then in high school, not at all thought out like it would be more so later in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we got back to the “real” world from ‘Nam and knew we had been fucked over by our government. That the “reds” in Vietnam were poor folk, peasants, with whom we had no quarrel. But that was later. I remember one night Scribe told me that he had had to stay after school one day for Mr. Donovan, the World History teacher and football coach which tells you what he was about, when Scribe had given a surly answer about some question Mr. Donovan had asked not about Marxism but something else and Donovan had asked him if he was a “Bolshevik.” Scribe recoiled in horror he said knowing that to say yes would get him in some trouble (probably more after school time at least) and for the simple fact that he could not say truthfully whatever teen angst and alienation he was feeling was driven by that kind of understanding of the world-then.         

What this confrontation did do was get Scribe looking again at his dog-eared copy of Karl Marx’s (and his co-thinker and financial “angel” Friedrich Engels) classic statement of his views The Communist Manifesto to confirm whether he was a “Marxist,” “Communist,” whatever and he came away from that re-reading knowing that he was not one of those guys, a red. That was the kind of guy Scribe was when he was confronted with something he didn’t understand. The rest of us would have said “fuck it” and let it go at that or have challenged old Donovan with a spurious “yeah, what about it.” Maybe some silly remark like “better red than dead” or “my mommy is a commie,” expressions making the rounds in that dead air time.

To finish up on this though I should say that the way Scribe got his copy of the Manifesto back when he was fourteen or fifteen and had heard that it was a cool document or something, who knows with Scribe was kind of strange. He couldn’t find the book in either the school or town libraries for the simple fact that neither had the document not wanted to have it in circulation. Yeah it was that kind of time. A young librarian suggested that he try the Government Printing Office which might have a copy if somebody in Congress (like the red-baiter par excellence Senator Joseph McCarthy) or some governmental agency had ordered it printed for whatever reason. He got the address in Washington and the GPO sent back a brochure with their publications for sale. And there it was. He ordered a copy and a few weeks alter it came in the mail. Here’s the funnier part, funnier that the government providing copies on the cheap (or maybe free I forget on that point) of such a notorious document the document had been placed on the publication list because it was part of the record for the raucous House Un-American Activities Committee meeting in San Francisco in 1960 when they were practically run out of town by protestors as the Cold War began to thaw in certain places. Of course that was a recollection later when we were deep into the Summer of Love out in that very town.

Yeah, Scribe was a piece of work and he would eventually drag some of along with him in his good days like the Summer of Love and later after Vietnam time running around with radical students in Cambridge when checking out Mark and Marxism was all the rage. Like I said old Marx has had his up and downs, has taken his beatings but some things he said were spot on. Worse, in a way, some of the stuff reads like it could have been written today. How about that.             

One More Johnny Blake, More Or Less, Is Not Worth Dying Over…With Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart’s “Bullets Or Ballots” (1936) In Mind

One More Johnny Blake, More Or Less, Is Not Worth Dying Over…With Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart’s “Bullets Or Ballots” (1936) In Mind   

DVD Review-of sorts

By Josh Breslin who re-enters the film review wars after a long-term assignment working through the effect on cultural workers who went through World War I which will be published in this space in November during the 100th anniversary commemorations of Armistice Day which ended that war on November 11, 1918.


The only thing as far as the law went worse that a crooked cop was an honest one. That was the familiar ring around my growing up neighborhood in the heavily French-Canadian Ocean View section of Olde Saco up in coastal old-time mill country Maine. That sentiment came to mind the other day when I watched the 1936 classic Bullets or Ballots where an honest cop, a public cop, tried to break up the rackets and got nothing but a diet of lead and maybe a big sent-off funeral from cop departments around the country.

(This saying obviously applied only to the very visible public coppers who ruined our young man-hoods although I will draw a distinction between the corrupt and honest a bit below after I mention that this only applies to civil servant coppers. Definitely not to private coppers, private eyes who we held in high regard off of the movie screen come Saturday afternoon at the Majestic in downtown Olde Saco. Although some of them might like Sam Spade, Nick Charles, Phil Larkin, and Phillip Marlowe have started out as public coppers they soon came up against that “go along, to get along” idea that most cop departments worked under and split that scene when they were looking for a little rough justice in this evil world. Tilted at windmills for a living although none of us every came in contact with any real P.I.s so that might be all hooey.)

Since this screed is as much about the cops, corrupt and honest, in that growing up town up in Maine let me give a short overview of that situation before going to the “what is what” of this film. Ocean View was heavily F-C as we used to say (F-C on my Le Blanc mother’s side with relatives who still live up there). There was always a tension between the Down-East Maine Yankee mill-owners and their hangers-on and the immigrant F-Cers from Quebec who came down to get off the dead-ass farms and make a little money when the mills were thriving mostly in my great-grandparents and my grandparents’ generations before and during World War II. In my parents’ generation those mills started to go south, to the low-wage non-union southern states before heading off-shore altogether. That did not stop the mill-owners and their hangers-on from lording it over the F-C community every way that they could. This included direct harassment of my crowd of guys who hung around Jimmy Jack’s Diner (owned by Jean-Jacques Renan who Anglicized his diner’s name to draw the old swamp Yankees in for lunch breaks and after work) mainly wishing and maybe a little thought of larceny which I will keep silent about.

Any given Friday or Saturday night during the school year, any given night in the ocean spray summer, Billy Babcock and William Smith, public coppers, and so crooked they needed a corkscrew to get into their respective uniforms would move us along even though Jimmy Jack could have cared less about us hanging around, at least outside in summer since this was peak tourist season when the place was jammed between mill-workers and “foreigners.”  During the winter, during the school year especially when we were in high school we could be inside o or outside since Jimmy Jack (sorry for not using his F-C name but we were so used to called him by his English moniker it is hard to change up even now) thought we added “class” to the place. By that he meant our hanging around brought guys with cars-and girls around. Girls to endlessly play his jukebox to perdition and back.

This is where a small example of how crooked Billy and Will were comes into play. They got a cut of the jukebox money, got a cut of the waitresses’ tips and a bunch of other small-time hoods hustles that even we from hunger kids would not stoop to do. They also make dough on their “protection” racket for small shop owners who didn’t want hoods hanging around their stores. Like I said crooked like pretzels. Which did not stop them from trying to shake us down as well to keep us out of jail when we were doing those un-said larcenies, or to just try to run us in as vagrants. A few groin kicks and police batons to the knees, front and back, were also part of their arsenal. Naturally every once in a while, the Yankee brethren who ran the mills and town would get in a reform mood and guys like Billy and Will would be bounced out. Replaced by a copper, an honest copper as far I know, like Officer Baker, that is what we called him, that is what he wanted to be called by guys like us. This guy wanted to be our friend, tried to get us to play basketball, Jesus, tried to wean us from jailbreak rock and roll whenever he came into Jimmy Jack’s’ to tell him to keep the jukebox music lower. (Like he couldn’t see that we had girls to die for who wanted louder music and no fucking basketball bozos hanging around them.) Like I said, and will say again, the only thing worse that a corrupt cop is an honest one.                 

Which brings us to one Johnny Blake, one honest copper in the red hot corrupt big urban city of New York in the film under review. This Johnny Blake, played by Edward G. Robinson who would later in one of his gangster films, Key Largo, play another Johnny, Johnny Rocco, who also fell down in a hail of bullets from a guy who didn’t like him much, made me feel the same way I had about the latter Johnny. As somebody said in that film “one Johnny Rocco, more or less, is not worth dying over.” You can figure six, two and even that nobody is going to cry much over this honest cop after he gets that big cop send-off. And they don’t except maybe some small-time hooker, bar girl, whatever, Clara,  who was running a small numbers racket while Johnny looked the other way. Yeah, she was sweet on Johnny boy but he was all cop, bled blue, although red when the deal went down.      

As Sam Lowell, my dear friend with his own public copper stories from down in the Acre section in North Adamsville south of Boston to tell, used to say here is the skinny. Gotham, or the do-gooder reform element in it were in one of their periodic “tired of the rackets” moods so they grabbed a head cop who they thought would clean up the town. Fat chance but they were trying anyway. This commissioner grabbed Johnny as a guy who knew the guys running the rackets, or who they thought were running the rackets. Brought him in to go palsy with Big Al Kruger the front man for whoever was really running the operations, the guys who were getting the big pay-offs. Some of Big Al’s underlings, especially one dope named Bugs, played by Humphrey Bogart who turned out to be the guy who said that remark about the Johnny Roccos of the world in Key Largo, and who liked to use his phallic symbol weapon, his gun, regularly or he got nervous suspected that Johnny Blake, ex-cop, was a stoolie, was working undercover.

Although Bugs, the guy with the itchy trigger finger, wasted a few too many people he shouldn’t have, was right about Johnny Big Al wouldn’t hear a word against Johnny once he conned him into doing the numbers racket big-time. Of course there had to be tension between “shoot and loot” old time Bugs and what he had represented back during Prohibition when a handy gun was a necessity and “businessman” low over-head Big Al. Johnny played to those irreconcilable tensions, played as well once he got in Big Al’s confidence the info-wars to find out who Mister Big really was. Well Johnny found out, found out the hard way after confronting Bugs after Bugs had wasted Big Al in a fit of hubris and was ready to take over the rackets himself. Johnny figured he was the guy the big boys would want to run things and he was right. Dead right once Bugs was tipped that Johnny was a stoolie. And the big boys-guess what-this ending is maybe something out of Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera the big boys were the biggest robbers of all-the leading town bankers. That didn’t mean much to Johnny though as he fell down with the life draining out of him on Wall Street. I wonder if he heard the noise of wings before the end-or Bugs’ ironic laugh.     

Socialist Analysis - Socialists and Elected Office, Workers Fight Back

Please check regularly for the socialist analysis, strategy, and tactics needed to build movements to defeat the billionaire class.

Our pages build on the proven strategies that won two historic victories for Kshama Sawant in Seattle. Our editorial team brings the experience of leading the fight for $15 to its first major victory in the nation in Seattle in 2014 and then in Minneapolis last year. Subscribe today to receive our print or electronic newspaper.
How Ocasio-Crotez Could Provide a Bold Lead - Socialists & Elected Office
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez shocked the country when she won her primary with a bold socialist anti-establishment platform. Now the question is: what can a socialist do with elected office? Here we go into the experience we have in Seattle and outline a plan.
Strikes Begin to Spread - Workers Beginning to Fight Back
The teachers strikes of the spring have led to increasing strikes across the country, from hotel workers, to crane operators. These struggles have led to lessons being learned by workers across the country, about their power and how to organize collectively. With potential a LA teachers strike, and more hotel workers strikes, 2018 is looking to be year of worker action, showing that workers can win when the organize and fight back.
Hurricane Florence - Global Warming Fuels Destruction
Hurricane Florence was the second 500 year storm to hit the Carolinas in two years, and the five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2010, climate change is clearly taking its toll. Despite how clear the impact is, Trump has prioritized business over the environment, and the alternatives posed by the democrats have fallen short of what’s necessary. An alternative strategy is clearly needed to fight global warming. 
#DisarmPSU Movement Reaches New Heights Following Police Killing of Jason Washington
On June 29, 2018, Jason Washington was shot and killed by Portland State University (PSU) police officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey. Socialist Alternative is playing a big role in the #DisarmPSU movement which is occupying the Campus Public Safety Office calling for the firings of both officers involved and the disarming of campus police. Read this exciting interview with a leading activist.
Subscribe Today
Copyright © 2018 Socialist Alternative, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up for updates from Socialist Alternative.

Our mailing address is:
Socialist Alternative
PO Box 150457
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Yemen is Massachusetts' war. Rally to protest Raytheon’s support for war crimes in Yemen and the U.S.-Saudi push for war with Iran Thursday, October 11 @ 5pm – 6pm Raytheon BBN Technologies Building Corner of Concord Ave and Moulton Street, Cambridge

Yemen is Massachusetts' war.
Rally to protest Raytheon’s support for war crimes in Yemen
and the U.S.-Saudi push for war with Iran

Thursday, October 11 @ 5pm – 6pm
Raytheon BBN Technologies Building
Corner of Concord Ave and Moulton Street, Cambridge
(On the right as you head out Concord ave. from the Fresh Pond Circle toward Belmont. Directly across from the entrance to the Neville Nursing Home. The address is 10 Moulton St. Parking is available a block down Moulton St. on the right.  There is a wide sidewalk where we can stand.)

Raytheon (with plants in Waltham, Cambridge and other Mass. locations) provides Saudi Arabia with the bombs and technology that are a major cause of thousands of deaths and the physical destruction responsible for:

  • A raging cholera epidemic with 2,100 dead of cholera so far and 900,000 infected
  • Millions are on the edge of war-caused famine - including 400,000 children.
  • Terror from the sky caused by 16,749 air raids so far – 15 every day (sources: Doctors without borders; Save the Children; World Health Org; OCHA; UNICEF)

Most of Congress 'Likes War' and Opposes Ending US Support for Saudi War in Yemen
Raytheon’s weapons, technology and its 50 year relationship with the brutal Saudi regime have devastated the people of Yemen.
Meanwhile Raytheon is pressuring the U.S. government to let is sell even more of its bombs to Saudi Arabia as its profits skyrocket. (Boston Globe 6/14/18)

As the host to this behemoth of the military industrial complex, Massachusetts is the technology hub for Saudi Arabia’s war crimes against people who have done us no harm.

For information contact the Raytheon Campaign (Veterans for Peace, Mass. Peace Action, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, American Friends Service Committee): 617-354-2169 or 617-623-5288

Right here in Massachusetts, Raytheon goes to war together with Saudi Arabia – to create the “greatest human rights crisis in the world today” in Yemen
2 Attachments
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "SmedleyVFP" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
For more options, visit

Poets’ Corner-In The Aftermath Of World War I- Poets Take A Stab At Visually Understanding A Broken World After the Bloodbath

Poets’ Corner-In The Aftermath Of World War I- Poets Take A Stab At Visually Understanding A Broken World After the Bloodbath    

By Lenny Lynch

I don’t know that much about the Dada movement that swept through Europe in the early part of the 20th century in response to the creation of modern industrial society that was going full steam and the modern industrial scale death and destruction such mass scale techniques brought upon this good green earth by World War I. (Foreshadowed it is agreed by the industrial carnage at places like Cold Harbor in the American Civil War, the butchery of the Franco-Prussian War and subsequent river of blood by its own rulers of the Paris Commune and the Boer War.) The war to end all wars which came up quite short of that goal but did decimate the flower of the European youth, including vast swaths of the working class. Such massive blood-lettings for a precious few inches of soil like at the Battle of the Somme took humankind back more than a few steps when the nightmare ended-for a while with the Armistice on November 11, 1918. An event which in observing its centennial every serious artist should consider putting to the paint. And every military veteran to take heart including the descendants of those artists who laid down their heads in those muddy wretched trenches. Should reclaim the idea behind Armistice Day from the militarists who could learn no lessons except up the kill and fields of fire ratios. 

I don’t know much but this space over this centennial year of the last year of the bloody war, the armistice year 1918 which stopped the bloodletting will explore that interesting art movement which reflected the times, the bloody times. First up to step up George Groz, step up and show your stuff, show how you see the blood-lusted world after four years of burning up the fields of sweet earth Europe making acres of white-crossed places where the sullen, jaded, mocked, buried youth of Europe caught shells and breezes. Take one look Republican Automatons. Look at the urban environment, look at those tall buildings dwarfing mere mortal man and woman, taking the measure of all, making them think, the thinking ones about having to run, run hard away from what they had built, about fear fretting that to continue would bury men and women without names, without honor either.         

Look too at honor denied, look at the handless hand, the legless leg, the good German flag, the Kaiser’s bloody medal, hard against the urban sky. The shaky republic, the republic without honor, shades of the murders of the honest revolutionary Liebknecht walking across Potsdam Plaza to go say no, no to the war budget and grab a hallowed cell the only place for a man of the people in those hard times and gallant Luxemburg, the rose of the revolution, mixed in with thoughts of renegade burned out soldiers ready for anything. Weimar, weak-kneed and bleeding,  would shake and one George Groz would know that, would draw this picture that would tell the real story of why there was a Dada-da-da-da-da movement to chronicle the times if not to fight on the barricades against that beast from which we had to run.

The Dead

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
      Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
      And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
      Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
      Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
      Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
      Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.