Saturday, April 06, 2019

In The Age Of The Buddy Film-Not-Well, Maybe-Charles Grodin and Robert DeNiro’s “Midnight Run” (1988)-A Film Review

In The Age Of The Buddy Film-Not-Well, Maybe-Charles Grodin and Robert DeNiro’s “Midnight Run” (1988)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Bart Webber

Midnight Run, starring Charles Grodin, Robert DeNiro, 1988

Funny, lately I have been cutting down seriously on my film reviews working at the behest of site manager Greg Green on the fundamentals of an on-going series on the history of folk music, not the whole history I do not believe that I would live long enough to complete that vast task but the stuff from the 1960s folk minute that slammed through American youth nation and then disappeared almost without  a trace, music that I grew up with. I am deep in research and in doing interviews of whoever is still left standing from the diminishing number of active performers (a la endless tour Bob Dylan), to those who have hung up their cleats tot the coffeehouse owners and promoters who provided the initial infrastructure. That series is scheduled to start in the Summer of 2019.

Then along come the same site manager Greg who knows I am working my ass off to get the series off the ground (and knows as well from the less than perfect start of Laura Perkin’s Traipsing Through The Arts series how important a good start is) and asks me, pretty please, asks me to help him out with this 30th anniversary tribute to the classic buddy film from an age that make an art out of such films Midnight Run. Greg told me he could not get anybody else to do the review the right way meaning having a feel for the buddy film genre having grown up in corner boy society in the Acre section of hometown North Adamsville where every trait exhibited in this film got a similar work-out.  And more importantly that I had had the role as Cash in the earlier buddy work Cash and Dale, not the film version but the off-Broadway production. (You will note, and Greg used it as a selling point, that this film’s 30th anniversary was in 2018 and we are now in deep 2019 he is desperate.)  

The plotline to every buddy film, male or female, think Thelma and Louise is almost unimportant compared to the emerging merging and bonding of the targeted pair. Except that whatever exploits or travails the pair find themselves in should be long and varied enough for the audience to cheer the budding merger on. Midnight Run has that and more.  The plotline is simplicity itself, taking a page from other buddy films and having the pair run through every possible mode of transportation to get to their destination. Let’s cut to the chase.

Duke (Grodin’s role) was the max daddy accountant for Jimmy Swags, you remember that name if you are old enough, since after Bugsy Siegel fell down Jimmy Swags and his boys took over Vegas without a murmur. (Funny how these mobsters like to shorten their names to one syllable ever since Eddie Mars, Marston real name, started the trend in the 1920s when he ran all the rackets in LA after his previous boss, Pat Scanlon, fell down. Fell down according to rumor from a couple of well-placed slugs from the gun of one Eddie Mars). Except the Duke though he was working an up and up racket for real businessmen not as a launderer until he found out he was fronting for the mob. Reaction: take Jimmy Swags down for 15 million no small amount even back then, blow town and give most of the dough to charity. But as the mob’s money man the Feds were looking for this brother too and somehow he got himself in criminal trouble needing bail from his local friendly bail bondsman in beautiful LA. Then he skipped out and is nowhere to be found with only five days left before that crumb-bum bail bondman defaulted for something like half a million for his error in not knowing the Duke was hotter than a pistol. Ouch.

Not to worry though, at least for now since ex-cop crackerjack Jack Walsh (DeNiro’s role) is the max daddy bounty hunter who will make the situation right. With a little razzle-dazzle Walsh finds out that the Duke is hiding away with his wife in New York, finds him and through the first of many ruses clamps Duke and is ready to head west and the big pay-out. (That LA-NYC connection beautiful since three thousand miles will allow for many adventures and misadventures.) A few hour’s plane flight and done. Well of course not otherwise that would be a very short film. The “hook” is the Duke has a well-grounded fear of flying which gets them off that five-hour plane ride and down on the ground. A very much longer way to head west and fraught with more troubles than one could shake a stick at. Along the way they will use every form of private and public transportation except maybe covered wagon heading west. From trains to cars and trucks (borrowing that formula used in other such buddy travel-oriented films.) Naturally nothing will stop Jack from getting his man to LA and his dough to start a new life and in the end he does deliver his bounty to LA.

What counts though is the changing relationship between hyper working- class shoulder to the wheel Jack and droll and wise guy middle class Duke-they don’t like each other much. At the start. Can’t figure out what makes the other guy tick (especially when Duke offers Jack more dough that the bondsman to let him go-can’t figure Jack’s stay with the girl who brung you code). Through a million ups and downs being harassed by a second bounty-hunter courtesy of that bastard bondsman who deserves to get shafted, the Feds once they know Jack has Duke and Jimmy Swags who you know cannot let some holy goof underling get away with 15 mil they get to know each other. Jack in the end gets the Duke to LA mission accomplished but not to said bail bondsman. They part ways as minute friends. Classic.     


From The Marxist Archives On The 100th Anniversary Year Of Their Deaths-For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg

From The Marxist Archives On The 100th Anniversary Year Of Their Deaths-For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg

Workers Vanguard No. 1147
18 January 2019


For the Communism of Lenin, Liebknecht and Luxemburg
(Quote of the Week)
One hundred years ago, on 15 January 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered in Germany at the behest of the capitalist government run by the Social Democrats, which unleashed the fascistic Freikorps to crush a workers uprising. After receiving news of the assassinations, V.I. Lenin, leader of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, heaped further scathing condemnation on the social-democratic betrayers of the proletariat, including the wing led by Karl Kautsky, in the letter excerpted below. Upholding the revolutionary tradition of the early Communist International, this month we commemorate the “Three L’s”—Liebknecht, Luxemburg and Lenin himself, who died in January 1924.
The foundation of a genuinely proletarian, genuinely internationalist, genuinely revolutionary Third International, the Communist International, became a fact when the German Spartacus League, with such world-known and world-famous leaders, with such staunch working-class champions as Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring, made a clean break with socialists like Scheidemann and Südekum, social-chauvinists (socialists in words, but chauvinists in deeds) who have earned eternal shame by their alliance with the predatory, imperialist German bourgeoisie and Wilhelm II. It became a fact when the Spartacus League changed its name to the Communist Party of Germany. Though it has not yet been officially inaugurated, the Third International actually exists....
Against Liebknecht are the Scheidemanns, the Südekums and the whole gang of despicable lackeys of the Kaiser and the bourgeoisie. They are just as much traitors to socialism as the Gomperses and Victor Bergers, the Hendersons and Webbs, the Renaudels and Vanderveldes. They represent that top section of workers who have been bribed by the bourgeoisie, those whom we Bolsheviks called (applying the name to the Russian Südekums, the Mensheviks) “agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement,” and to whom the best socialists in America gave the magnificently expressive and very fitting title: “labour lieutenants of the capitalist class.”...
The foregoing lines were written before the brutal and dastardly murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg by the Ebert and Scheidemann government. Those butchers, in their servility to the bourgeoisie, allowed the German whiteguards, the watchdogs of sacred capitalist property, to lynch Rosa Luxemburg, to murder Karl Liebknecht by shooting him in the back on the patently false plea that he “attempted to escape” (Russian tsarism often used that excuse to murder prisoners during its bloody suppression of the 1905 Revolution). At the same time those butchers protected the whiteguards with the authority of the government, which claims to be quite innocent and to stand above classes! No words can describe the foul and abominable character of the butchery perpetrated by alleged socialists. Evidently, history has chosen a path on which the role of “labour lieutenants of the capitalist class” must be played to the “last degree” of brutality, baseness and meanness. Let those simpletons, the Kautskyites, talk in their newspaper Freiheit about a “court” of representatives of “all” “socialist” parties (those servile souls insist that the Scheidemann executioners are socialists)! Those heroes of philistine stupidity and petty-bourgeois cowardice even fail to understand that the courts are organs of state power, and that the issue in the struggle and civil war now being waged in Germany is precisely one of who is to hold this power—the bourgeoisie, “served” by the Scheidemanns as executioners and instigators of pogroms, and by the Kautskys as glorifiers of “pure democracy,” or the proletariat, which will overthrow the capitalist exploiters and crush their resistance.
The blood of the best representatives of the world proletarian International, of the unforgettable leaders of the world socialist revolution, will steel ever new masses of workers for the life-and-death struggle. And this struggle will lead to victory.
—V.I. Lenin, “Letter to the Workers of Europe and America” (21 January 1919)

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-You Got That Right Brother-The Blues Ain’t Nothing But A Good Woman On Your Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-You Got That Right Brother-The Blues Ain’t Nothing But A Good Woman On Your Mind

YouTube film clip of Muddy Water's performing his classic Chicago blues tune, Mannish Child.

By Allan Jackson

[It is funny about musical influences and their effect on the person and the generation. I have noted elsewhere and others in this series have as well that the recording companies have done some serious demographic research to come up with say for the baby-boomer generation endless compilations of classic rock and rock hits from Ike Turner’s 1951 Rocket 88 stuff to maudlin vanilla stuff toward the end of the classic era before the Beatles/Stones saved our asses from boredom. Doo wop, girl groups, Sun Records, one-hit wonders the whole shebang. See what they know and what we know from our intuition “you stay with the gal who brung you” in your musical tastes which allows you to titter such pearls of wisdom as “they don’t make songs like they used to in my day” and “how can these kids stand that noise” both statements stolen from driven crazy parents in their turn.    

Of course later music will have some play if it is good enough and maybe in a retro fit sounded like what you loved as a kid and some music like the blues, the eternal blues which forever speaks to some hidden wound deep in the American psyche given what we owe Africa musically and in that damn slave ship crossing, will transcend time and class for that very reason. Other stuff and what we are talking about here alluded to a minute ago when I talked about the end time of the classic rock and roll era which was dying on the vine through what we did not know until much later when we researched it deeply (researched for various sketches in this series and to put the cultural currents ebbing and flowing in the modern American experience in perspective for this publication) was a conscious cabal. A cabal between our parents who saw our music as the “devil’s music” either from deep bias about the black-etched roots or could not take the swaying, swirly sexually suggestion way that we free-formed danced to our own inner wonders, the greedy and insidious record companies and through them the DJs or the local rock radio stations which controlled the music flow. 

It was a tough time for a few years say from the late 1950s to the early 1960s when most of what we heard was and I have characterized it this way before and others have as well “bubble gum” music. If you are from that baby-boomer generation or you have access to YouTube you can verify this for yourselves. There was the taming of what passed for rock sex symbols from the likes of the departed Elvis, the sullen Jerry Lee, the long gone Buddy Holly, the messing with Mister’s women Chuck Berry and a host of others who we ran upstairs to listen to on our freedom transistor radios which saved many a wretched youth from silence and despair for clean dudes like Fabian, Bobby Dee, Vee and a host of Bobbies and women like Sandra Dee and Leslie Gore. Fuck.

That cabal did us wrong, wronger than they will ever know just to make us vanilla cooperate and buckle down as the endless term of the teen household would have it. The worse of it was we were sabotaged from within since the girls, the ones who had money from somewhere to buy the records thought these stuff was “cute.” Fuck, again. In the end though we sprang like the phoenix from the ashes of that horrible period, dragging some of those Bobby-smitten girls along with us for a while anyway, and really did go our own way when the 1960s heated up in so many ways. I like to think that our “training,” our being present at the creation, of rock and roll had something todo with that. Mercy, please. Allan Jackson]          

Johnny Prescott daydreamed his way through the music that he was listening to just then on the little transistor radio that Ma Prescott, Martha to adults, and Pa too, Paul to adults, but the main battles over the gift had been with Ma, had given him for Christmas. In those days we are talking about, the post-World War II red scare Cold War 1950s in America, the days of the dreamy man in the family being the sole provider fathers didn’t get embroiled in the day to day household kids wars and remained a distant and at times foreboding presence called in only when the dust-up had gotten out of hand. And then Papa pulled the hammer down via a classic united front with Ma. Johnny had taken a fit around the first week in December in 1960 when Ma quite reasonable suggested that a new set of ties to go with his white long-sleeved shirts might be a better gift, a better Christmas gift and more practical too, for a sixteen year old boy. Reasonable since alongside Pa being that sole provider, being a distant presence, and being called in only when World War III was about to erupt in the household he also worked like a slave for low wages at the Boston Gear Works, worked for low wages since he was an unskilled laborer in a world where skills paid money (and even the skills that he did have, farm hand skills, were not very useful in the Boston labor market). So yes ties, an item that at Christmas time usually would be the product of glad-handing grandmothers or maiden aunts would in the Prescott household be relegated to the immediate family. And that holiday along with Easter was a time when the Prescott boys had in previous years had gotten their semi-annual wardrobe additions, additions provided via the Bargain Center, a low-cost, low rent forerunner of the merchandise provided at Wal-Mart.               

This year, this sixteen year old year, Johnny said no to being pieced off with thick plaid ties, or worse, wide striped ties in color combinations like gold and black or some other uncool combination, uncool that year although maybe not in say 1952 when he did not know better, uncool in any case against those thin solid colored ties all the cool guys were wearing to the weekly Friday night school dances or the twice monthly Sacred Heart Parish dances the latter held in order to keep sixteen year old boys, girls too, in check against the worst excesses of what the parish priests (and thankful parents) thought was happening among the heathen young.

No, that is not quite right, that “Johnny said no” part, no, he screamed that he wanted a radio, a transistor radio, batteries included, of his own so that he could listen to whatever he liked up in his room, or wherever he was. Could listen to what he liked against errant younger brothers who were clueless, clueless about rock and roll, clueless about what was what coming through the radio heralding a new breeze in the land, a breeze Johnny was not sure what it meant but all he knew was that he, and his buddies, knew some jail-break movement was coming to unglue all the square-ness in the over- heated night. Could listen in privacy, and didn’t have to, understand, didn’t have to listen to some Vaughn Monroe or Harry James 1940s war drum thing on the huge immobile RCA radio monster downstairs in the Prescott living room. Didn’t have to listen to, endlessly Saturday night listen, captive nation-like listen to WJDA and the smooth music, you know, Frank Sinatra, Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, and so on listen to the music of Ma and Pa Prescott’s youth, the music that got them through the Depression and the war. Strictly squaresville, cubed.

Something was out of joint though, something had changed since he had begun his campaign the year before to get that transistor radio, something or someone had played false with the music that he had heard when somebody played the jukebox at Freddy’s Hamburger House where he heard Elvis, Buddy, Chuck, Wanda (who was hot, hot for a girl rocker, all flowing black hair and ruby red lips from what he had seen at Big Max’s Record Shop when her Let’s Have A Party was released), the Big Bopper, Jerry Lee, Bo, and a million others who made the whole world jump to a different tune, to something he could call his own. But as he listened to this Shangra-la by The Four Coins that had just finished up a few seconds ago and as this Banana Boat song by The Tarriers was starting its dreary trip through his brain he was not sure that those ties, thick or uncool as they would be, wouldn’t have been a better Christmas deal, and more practical too.

Yeah, this so-called rock station, WAPX, that he and his friends had been devoted to since 1957, had listened to avidly every night when Johnny Peeper, the Midnight Creeper and Leaping Lenny Penny held forth in their respective DJ slots, had sold out to, well, sold out to somebody, because except for late at night, midnight late at night, one could not hear the likes of Jerry Lee, Carl, Little Richard, Fats, and the new rocker blasts, now that Elvis had gone who knows where. Killer rocker Chuck Berry had said it best, had touched a youth nation nerve, had proclaimed the new dispensation when he had proclaimed loud and clear that Mr. Beethoven had better move alone, and said Mr. Beethoven best tell one and all of his confederates, including Mr. Tchaikovsky, that rock ‘n’ roll was the new sheriff in town. But where was Chuck, where was that rock blaster all sexed up talk and riffs to match now that everybody was reduced to Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell, and Bobby, hell, they were all Bobbys and Jimmys and Eddies and every other vanilla name under the sun now not a righteous name in the house. As Johnny turned the volume down a little lower (that tells the tale right there, friends) as Rainbow (where the hell do they get these creepy songs from) by Russ Hamilton he was ready to throw in the towel though. Ready to face the fact that maybe, just maybe the jail-break that he desperately had been looking forward to might have been just a blip, might have been an illusion and that the world after all belonged to Bing, Frank, Tommy and Jimmy and that he better get used to that hard reality.   

Desperate, Johnny fingered the dial looking for some other station when he heard this crazy piano riff starting to breeze through the night air, the heated night air, and all of a sudden Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 blasted the airwaves. Ike whose Rocket 88 had been the champion choice of Jimmy Jenkins, one of his friends from after school, when they would sit endlessly in Freddy’s and seriously try to figure out whose song started the road to rock and roll. Johnny had latched onto Big Joe Turner’s Shake, Rattle and Roll which Elvis did a smash cover of but who in Joe’s version you can definitely heart that dah-da-dah beat that was the calling card of his break-out generation, as well as the serious sexual innuendo which Frankie Riley explained to one and all one girl-less Friday night at the high school hop. Billy Bradley, a high school friend who had put an assortment of bands together and so knew more than the rest of them combined, had posited Elmore James’ Look Yonder Wall as his selection but nobody had ever heard the song then, or of James. 

Johnny later did give it some consideration after he had had heard the song when Billy’s band covered it and broke the place up.
But funny as Johnny listened that night it didn’t sound like the whinny Ike’s voice on Rocket 88 so he listened for a little longer, and as he later found out from the DJ, it had actually been a James Cotton Blues Band cover. After that band’s performance was finished fish-tailing right after that one was a huge harmonica intro and what could only be mad-hatter Junior Wells doing When My Baby Left Me splashed through. No need to turn the dial further now because what Johnny Prescott had found in the crazy night air, radio beams bouncing every which way, was direct from Chicago, and maybe right off those hard-hearted Maxwell streets was Be-Bop Benny’s Chicago Blues Radio Hour. Be-Bop Benny who everybody who read the rock and roll magazines found easier at Doc’s Drugstore over on Hancock Street knew, had started Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino on their careers, or helped.

Now Johnny, like every young high-schooler, every "with it" high schooler in the USA, had heard of this show, because even though everybody was crazy for rock and roll, just now the airwaves sounded like, well, sounded like music your parents would dance to, no, sit to at a dance, some kids still craved high rock. So this show was known mainly through the teenage grapevine but Johnny had never heard it before because, no way, no way in hell was his punk little Radio Shack transistor radio with two dinky batteries going to ever have enough strength to pick Be-Bop Benny’s show out in Chicago. So Johnny, and maybe rightly so, took this turn of events for a sign. When Johnny heard that distinctive tinkle of the Otis Spann piano warming up to Spann’s Stomp and jumped up with his Someday added in he was hooked. You know he started to see what Billy, Billy Bradley who had championed Elmore James way before anybody knew who he was, meant when at a school dance where he had been performing with his band, Billie and the Jets, he mentioned from the stage before introducing a song that if you wanted to get rock and roll back from the vanilla guys who had hijacked it while Jerry Lee, Chuck and Elvis had turned their backs then you had better listen to the blues. And if you wanted to listen to blues, blues that rocked then you had very definitely had better get in touch with the Chicago blues as they came north from Mississippi and places like that.

And Johnny thought, Johnny who have never been too much south of Gloversville, or west of Albany, and didn’t know too many people who had, couldn’t understand why that beat, that dah, da, dah, Chicago beat sounded like something out of the womb in his head. But when he heard Big Walter Horton wailing on that harmonica on Rockin’ My Boogie he knew it had to be in his genes. 

Here’s the funniest part of all though later, later in the 1960s after everybody had become a serious aficionado of the blues either through exposure like Johnny to the country blues that got revived during the folk minute that flashed through the urban areas of the country and got big play at places like the Newport Folk Festival or like Jimmy Jenkins through the British rock invasion the blues became the dues. It was especially ironic that a bunch of guys from England like the Stones and Beatles were grabbing every freaking 45 RPM record they could get their mitts on. So if you listened to the early work of those groups you would find thing covered like Shake, Rattle and Roll (Big Joe’s version), Arthur Alexander’s Anna, Howlin’ Wolf’s Little Red Rooster and a ton of stuff by Muddy Waters. Yeah, the drought was over.               

The Geometry Of Innocence -The 100th Anniversary Of The Bauhaus In Weimar Germany After World War I

The Geometry Of Innocence -The 100th Anniversary Of The Bauhaus In Wiemar Germany After World War I

By Laura Perkins

I get to do this short commemoration of the Bauhaus in Germany from 1919 to about 1933 by default. Or because I am currently running an on-line series on art works entitled Traipsing Through The Arts. Although we have no official section titles and have not had them for a while I am the “art go-to person” (maybe an official title like art editor would be better but that is not a battle I want to fight right now when I am being besieged by half the American arts cabal from curators to gallery owners  for my unorthodox views of my self-selected artists). I actually know, or I should say knew, since I have hustled myself through the small Bauhaus exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the more expansive one at the Harvard Museums next to nothing about the movement except for a few names like Gropius and Moholy-Nagy. (Who knows what other museums with even the most tenuous links to the Bauhaus will roll out their red carpets for the commemoration like happened a couple of years ago with the Summer of Love, 1967 where even the MFA had a dinky exhibit down in the dungeon of the American Arts wing closeted from view along with the Native American and Mezo-American art.)   

Aside from learning about the very real connections between Harvard and the movement brought on by the exile of many of the figures associated with the school once Hitler and his wreaking crew pulled the hammer down I was surprised to see how many modernist painters like Klee and Kandinsky passed through the doors either as teachers or students. Also the link between the Bauhaus and the famous Black Mountain College down in North Carolina which produced a significant number of culturati. (Frankly the first reference I knew about Black Mountain was not the college but one of Bessie Smith’s blues, Black Mountain Blues, which is a very different take on that location.)

More than anything else though I was fascinated by how important geometric figures were to that movement not only in the obvious architectural and design areas but in the art. Especially the work of Joseph Albers who would later help found Black Mountain College. That is why I titled this sort piece “geometric of innocence” since 1919 nobody, or almost moody knew what hell was coming down when the Weimar Republic fell down.

The Woes Of Sand-Bagger Johnson….I Got Caught By The Golf Police- A Cautionary Tale

The Woes Of Sand-Bagger Johnson….I Got Caught By The Golf Police- A Cautionary Tale

By "Sports Writer" Les Larkin

[This site very occasionally stubs its toes against the massive sport-industrial complex that has many fixated on couches from sports season to sports season with few breathers in between. The exceptions have been a few time when college football looked like it was going to be have some shoot ‘em up seasons and more recently golf, the sport of the infirm, elderly, chronically depressed and desperate after a round where those putts just would not fall in. Now that spring is here in the Northeast after a few false starts the golf season and its eternal hopes for decent rounds of golf is set to take the sting out of the winter doldrums. Les Larkin who has written various book and film reviews in this space has been dragooned into writing occasional pieces since he is the only one around who knows the different between a three wood and a three iron much less what makes these infirm, elderly, chronically depressed and desperate folk flow out onto the links only to be once again disappointed that things fell apart like the wind on them.

The other qualification that Les has for writing about golf is that he actually knows some guys who play the game seriously if not well. The person whom he knows best who he has chosen to call Sand-Bagger Johnson, not his real name in the interest of not being sued by every guy that had the silly notion that they could beat the guy once he had them over a barrel with those strokes they had to give him under the handicap rules of golf which Les will explain more fully at some point. Good luck, Les. Pete Markin]  

Sand-Bagger Johnson here (and if you don’t know what golf is or give damn about it a sand-bagger is a guy, or gal, who purposefully plays badly during the week putting in scores that are not reflective of his or her true golf handicap in order to grab prizes, money prizes, on the weekend tournaments when he or she plays like a whirling dervish. I was in a bad streak once and had put in some weekday high scores which actually did reflect how badly I was playing and then suddenly for a short period played way over my head and won everything in sight. From that small grasp of luck I got the name sand-bagger and it stuck even though I haven’t won anything, nothing, inflated handicap or not, in about six years. Such is life. I hope I don’t have continue to report this sad story about how I got my moniker so if anybody asks just tell them it is something to do with golf and they can move on with their lives.) 

This is what is bothering me today.

You know the right to privacy has gone to hell in a handbasket in the age of Trump (maybe in previous administrations as well whether they were golfers or not going at least as far back as Tricky Dick Nixon, a common criminal and one time President of the United States in that order who according to reliable sources used to say he had a five on a hole when he really had a six which tells you all you need to know about the man and about the why of Watergate and who I had heard was now hanging around down in Costa Rica with some fallen woman named Corina.) On a recent Monday, a Monday after the wicked weekend of snow fast melted before our eyes opening up hope of playing I decided since Mondays are usually slow days on the golf links of the world to sneak onto the course and play in order to get a leg up on my group, my guys, my foursome come the weekend when dough will be on the line for the first time this season. I felt since I am the oldest player in the group and also the poorest player that I need every leg up I can grab. (My bad streak of not winning tournament money does not include the little side bets among my regular group of guys although even there I haven’t had a winning season in three years.)  

Fair enough I thought. Then when I was finished for the day and putting my golf clubs in the car this SUV came up to me and stopped for a moment. I didn’t recognize who was in the vehicle and thought nothing of it until a couple of minutes later this guy from the vehicle wearing a three-piece came up to me and started asking me a lot of questions. Even as he was taking off his tie to act like just another golfer I thought copper, or some kind of security guy. You know old-time guys who have been around the block, guys who have shaded the edges of what is legal at times especially when younger, can almost instinctively smell copper. He asked questions like what were the condition of the greens, was there still water on the course from the weekend winter storm that melted almost as soon the storm was over, did I play with anybody else and who, how did I putt, did I take any “mulligans” (golf is pretty rigid in its formal rules you basically play the ball no matter where it lands or how you started out the hole but an informal set of rules have been worked out among friendly foursomes where in each round if you have a bad shot off the tee you can get a reprieve and take the drive over again), stuff that showed me especially that mulligan business that he knew something about golf. Still I felt a certain apprehension.     

He asked me my name and silly me I told him. Then I asked him his. He said Keith Smith. Alarm bells went off. This wiry guy looked like the map of China so I knew something was up, something was wrong. Maybe he was American, maybe not although he had an accent but no Chinese guy I knew ever had a name like that which was something out of 1950s Golden Age America when everybody was dropping their ethnic identities to become vanilla American. Then I thought still thinking cop, hey, the President of China is coming to America this week and maybe that was what it was all about. Although why a Chinese security agent of some sort was vetting me at little Pine Point Golf Course far from where the action was down in Palm Beach at Trump’s winter home/resort made me even warier. He must have sensed that because immediately after he said that name he backed off and said his name was Chou-en-lai, something like that, like I didn’t know that they changed the transliteration rules of Chinese to English about thirty years ago. When he saw I was perplexed he said Zhou-en-lai, something like that, like I didn’t know that was the name of one of Mao’s old buddies from the Yenan days and a guy who was never on the losing side of a Chinese Communist Party  faction fight. I let it ride even though my guard was up.

Then this Zhou or whatever his real name was asked the question of questions. What was my score for the day’s outing. At first to throw him off I invoked the old priest-penitent rule of confidentiality that that information was between the MGA and myself. (The Massachusetts Golf Association which controls the handicap system that golf works under in order to allow people of different skill levels to play on something like an even playing field and the subject of much grousing when as previously mentioned handicaps are too high or low. So a ten handicap person and an eighteen handicap person could play with the better player giving the poorer player eight stokes on the round which is determined by how hard the holes are). I suppose that I could have just said it was none of his business but something about the way he had posed the question made me think it might have something to do with Chinese-American relations so I was keeping my mouth shut.

He didn’t buy that excuse so I stepped up and pleaded the 5th Amendment, you know the rule that you don’t have to in America any way and hopefully in the future as well to confess against yourself just because some governmental agent or committee decided you should spill your guts out. Zhou laughed at me and said he was not a governmental agent, an American governmental agent anyway, so that did not apply. Then I invoked the Official Secrets Act figuring that throwing some sand in his eyes that he might buy. To that reply he asked whether I had posted my score on-line. I foolishly said yes. He then laughed as he walked away and said he would check with one of his buddies at the NSA and get the score that way.                        

So if you see a wiry Chinese guy hanging around your golf course this weekend asking about your score be very, very careful. And whatever you do don’t post your score on a computer. Maybe not even on a scorecard. Enough said. 

The Bauhaus and Harvard February 8, 2019–July 28, 2019, Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums Share on Facebook

The Bauhaus and Harvard

, Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Defend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution! (Quote of the Week)

Defend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution!
(Quote of the Week)

Workers Vanguard No. 1148
8 February 2019


Defend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution!
(Quote of the Week)
Sixty years ago, in January 1959, a petty-bourgeois guerrilla movement in Cuba overthrew the Batista capitalist regime and in 1960-61 expropriated the bourgeoisie, creating a bureaucratically deformed workers state. Revolutionaries in the U.S. have a special duty to defend the Cuban Revolution against capitalist restoration and U.S. imperialism. Integral to this defense is the Trotskyist call for proletarian political revolution to establish a regime based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism. The excerpt below is from a 1961 internal document submitted by our forebears in the Revolutionary Tendency, a minority in the now-reformist Socialist Workers Party. The SWP majority gave political support to the Castro-led Stalinist bureaucracy, rejecting the necessity of a Leninist-Trotskyist party and the centrality of the proletariat in the fight for socialist revolution.
14. The Cuban workers and peasants are today confronted with a twofold task: to defend their revolution from the attacks of the U.S. and native counterrevolutionaries, and to defeat and reverse the tendencies toward bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution. To confront this task they crucially need the establishment of workers democracy.
15. Workers democracy, for us, signifies that all state and administrative officials are elected by and responsible to the working people of city and country through representative institutions of democratic rule. The best historical models for such institutions were the Soviets of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Workers Councils of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956….
16. The full victory of every modern revolution, the Cuban revolution included, requires the emergence in a leading role of a mass revolutionary-Marxist party. The small Trotskyist groups, in Cuba and elsewhere, have a vital role as the nucleus of such parties. They can fill this role only if they continually preserve their political independence and ability to act, and if they avoid the peril of yielding to non-Marxist and non-proletarian leaderships their own ideological responsibilities and the historic mission of the working class.
— “The Cuban Revolution,” December 1961, printed in Spartacist No. 2 (July-August 1964)

Friday, April 05, 2019

From The Pages Of The Socialist Alternative Press-From The Pen Of Revolutionary Socialist James Connolly- The Workshop Talks - Socialism Made Easy (1909)

From The Pages Of The Socialist Alternative Press-From The Pen Of  Revolutionary Socialist James Connolly- The Workshop Talks - Socialism Made Easy (1909)

The Workshop Talks - Socialism Made Easy

by James Connolly

First Published: 1909 

Socialism is a foreign importation!

* * *
I know it because I read it in the papers. I also know it to be the case because in every country I have graced with my presence up to the present time, or have heard from, the possessing classes through their organs in the press, and their spokesmen upon the platform have been vociferous and insistent in declaring the foreign origin of Socialism.
* * *
In Ireland Socialism is an English importation, in England they are convinced it was made in Germany, in Germany it is a scheme of traitors in alliance with the French to disrupt the Empire, in France it is an accursed conspiracy to discredit the army which is destined to reconquer Alsace and Lorraine, in Russia it is an English plot to prevent Russian extension towards Asia, in Asia it is known to have been set on foot by American enemies of Chinese and Japanese industrial progress, and in America it is one of the baneful fruits of unrestricted pauper and criminal immigration.
* * *
All nations today repudiate Socialism, yet Socialist ideas are conquering all nations. When anything has to be done in a practical direction toward ameliorating the lot of the helpless ones, or towards using the collective force of society in strengthening the hands of the individual it is sure to be in the intellectual armory of Socialists the right weapon is found for the work.

A case in point

There are tens of thousands of hungry children in New York today as in every other large American city, and many well-meant efforts have been made to succour them. Free lunches have been opened in the poorest districts, bread lines have been established and charitable organisations are busy visiting homes and schools to find out the worst cases. But all this has only touched the fringe of the destitution, with the additional aggravation that anything passing through the hands of these charitable committees usually cost ten times as much for administration as it bestows on the object of its charity.
* * *
Also that the investigation is usually more effectual in destroying the last vestiges of self-respect in its victims than in succouring their needs.
* * *
In the midst of this difficulty Superintendent Maxwell of the New York Schools sends a letter to a committee of thirteen charitable organizations which had met together to consider the problem, and in this letter he advocates the method of relieving distress long since initiated by the Socialist representatives in the Municipality of Paris. I quote from the New York World:

"A committee of seven was appointed to inquire more fully into the question of feeding school children and to report at a subsequent meeting. School Superintendent Maxwell sent a letter advocating the establishment in New York schools with city money of lunch kitchens, these to sell food at actual cost and to give to needy children tickets just like those paid for, to the end that no child might know that his fellow was eating at the expense of the city by the color of his ticket. This is done in Paris."

Contrast this solicitude for the self-respect of the poor children, recognized by Superintendent Maxwell in the plan of these "foreign Socialists" with the insulting methods of the capitalist "bread lines" and charitable organizations in general.
* * *
But all the same it is too horible to take practical examples in relieving the distress caused by capitalist society from pestilent agitators who wish to destroy the society whose victims they are succouring, and mere foreigners, too. The capitalist method of parading mothers and children for an hour in the street befofe feeding them is more calculated to build up the proper degree of pride in the embryo American citizens; and make them appreciate the benefits their fathers and brothers are asked to vote for.
* * *
Read this telling how hungry children and mothers stood patiently waiting for a meal on the sidewalk, and whoop it up for pure ecstacy of joy that you are permitted to live in a system of society wherein a great metropolitan daily thought that the fact of five hundred children getting a "hearty luncheon" was remarkable enough to deserve a paragraph:

"Five hundred ill-fed children who attend the schools on the lower east side got a hearty luncheon yesterday when the first of the children's lunchrooms was opened at Canal and Forsyth streets. Long before noon there was a large gathering of children, some of them accompanied by their mothers, awaiting the opening of the doors."

Well, I am not interested in internationalism. This country is good enough for me.

Is that so? Say: Are you taking a share in the Moscow Windau-Rydinsk Railway?
* * *
"No, where is that?"

My dear friend, where that railway runs has nothing to do with you. What you have to do is simply to take a share, and then go and have a good time whilst the Russian railway workers, whom you do not know, working in a country you never saw, speaking a language you don't understand, earn your dividend by the sweat of their brows.
* * *
Curious, ain't it?

We Socialists are always talking about the international solidarity of labour, about the oneness of our interests all over the world, and ever and anon working off our heaving chests a peroration on the bonds of fraternal sympathy which should unite the wage slaves of the capitalist system.

But there is another kind of bond - Russian railway bonds - which join, not the workers, but the idlers of the world in fraternal sympathy, and which creates among the members of the capitalist class a feeling of identity of interest, of international solidarity, which they don't perorate about but which is most potent and effective notwithstanding.
* * *
You do not fully recognise the fact that the internationality of Socialism is at most but a lame and halting attempt to create a counterpoise to the internationality of capitalism. Yet so it is.

Here is a case in point. The Moscow-Windau-Rydinsk railway is, as its name indicates, a railway running, or proposed to be run, from one part of Russia to another. You would think that that concerned the Russian people only, and that our patriotic capitalist class, always so ready to declare against working class Socialists with international sympathies, would never look at it or touch it.
* * *
You would not think that Ireland, for example - whose professional patriots are forever telling the gullible working men that Ireland will be ruined for the lack of capital and enterprise - would be a good country to find money in to finance a Russian railway.
* * *
Yet, observe the fact. All the Dublin papers of Monday, June 12, 1899, contained the prospectus of this far away Russian railway, offered for the investment of Irish capitalists, and offered by a firm of London stockbrokers who are astute enough not to waste money in endeavouring to catch fish in waters where they were not in the habit of biting freely.

And in the midst of the Russian revolution (of 1905) the agents of the Czar succeeded in obtaining almost unlimited treasures in the United States to pay the expenses of throttling the infant Liberty.

As the shares in Russian railways were sold in Ireland, as Russian bonds were sold in America, so the shares in American mines, railroads and factories are bought and sold on all the stock exchanges in Europe and Asia by men who never saw America in their lifetime.

Now, let us examine the situation, keeping in mind the fact that this is but a type of what prevails all round; you can satisfy yourself on that head by a daily glance at our capitalist papers.

Capital is International

The shares of Russian railways, African mines, Nicaraguan canals, Chilian gas works, Norwegian timber, Mexican water works, Canadian fur trappings, Australian kanaka slave trade, Indian tea plantations, Japanese linen factories, Chinese cotton mills, European national and municipal debts, United States bonanza farms are bought and sold every day by investors, many of whom never saw any one of the countries in which their money is invested, but who have, by virtue of so investing, a legal right to a share of the plunder extracted under the capitalist system from the wage workers whose bone and sinew earn the dividends upon the bonds they have purchased.

When our investing classes purchase a share in any capitalist concern, in any country whatsoever, they do so, not in order to build up a useful industry, but because the act of purchase endows them with a prospective share of the spoils it is proposed to wring from labour.

Therefore, every member of the investing classes is interested to the extent of his investments, present or prospective, in the subjection of Labour all over the world.

That is the internationality of Capital and Capitalism.

The wage worker is oppressed under this system in the interest of a class of capitalist investors who may be living thousands of miles away and whose very names are unknown to him.

He is, therefore, interested in every revolt of Labour all over the world, for the very individuals against whom that revolt may be directed may - by the wondrous mechanism of the capitalist system - through shares, bonds, national and municipal debts - be the parasites who are sucking his blood also.

That is one of the underlying facts inspiring the internationalism of Labour and Socialism.

But the Socialist proposals, they say, would destroy the individual character of the worker. He would lean on the community, instead of upon his own efforts.

Yes: Giving evidence before the Old Age Pensions' Committee in England, Sir John Dorrington, M.P., expressed the belief that the "provision of Old Age Pensions by the State, for instance, would do more harm than good. It was an objectionable principle, and would lead to improvidence."

There now! You will always observe that it is some member of what an Irish revolutionist called "the canting, fed classes," who is anxious that nothing should be done by the State to give the working class habits of "improvidence," or to do us any "harm." Dear, kind souls!

To do them justice they are most consistent. For both in public and private their efforts are most whole-heartedly bent in the same direction, viz., to prevent improvidence - on our part.

They lower our wages - to prevent improvidence; they increase our rent - to prevent improvidence, they periodically suspend us from our employment - to prevent improvidence, and as soon as we are worn out in their service they send us to a semi-convict establishment, known as the Workhouse, where we are scientifically starved to death - to prevent improvidence.

Old Age Pensions might do us harm. Ah, yes! And yet, come to think of it, I know quite a number of people who draw Old Age Pensions and it doesn't do them a bit of harm. Strange, isn't it?

Then all the Royal Families have pensions, and they don't seem to do them any harm; royal babies, in fact, begin to draw pensions and milk from a bottle at the same time.

Afterwards they drop the milk, but they never drop the pension - nor the bottle.

Then all our judges get pensions, and are not corrupted thereby - at least not more than usual. In fact, all well-paid officials in governmental or municipal service get pensions, and there are no fears expressed that the receipt of the same may do them harm.

But the underpaid, overworked wage-slave. To give him a pension would ruin his moral fibre, weaken his stamina, debase his manhood, sap his integrity, corrupt his morals, check his prudence, emasculate his character, lower his aspirations, vitiate his resolves, destroy his self-reliance, annihilate his rectitude, corrode his virility - and - and - other things.
* * *
Let us be practical. We want something pr-r-ractical.

Always the cry of hum-drum mediocrity, afraid to face the stern necessity for uncompromising action. That saying has done more yeoman service in the cause of oppression than all its avowed supporters.

The average man dislikes to be thought unpractical, and so, while frequently loathing the principles or distrusting the leaders of the particular political party he is associated with, declines to leave them, in the hope that their very lack of earnestness may be more fruitful of practical results than the honest outspokenness of the party in whose principles he does believe.

In the phraseology of politics, a party too indifferent to the sorrow and sufferings of humanity to raise its voice in protest, is a moderate, practical party; whilst a party totally indifferent to the personality of leaders, or questions of leadership, but hot to enthusiasm on every question affecting the well-being of the toiling masses, is an extreme, a dangerous party.

Yet, although it may seem a paradox to say so, there is no party so incapable of achieving practical results as an orthodox political party; and there is no party so certain of placing moderate reforms to its credit as an extreme - a revolutionary party.

The possessing classes will and do laugh to scorn every scheme for the amelioration of the workers so long as those responsible for the initiation of the scheme admit as justifiable the "rights of property"; but when the public attention is directed towards questioning the justifiable nature of those "rights" in themselves, then the master class, alarmed for the safety of their booty, yield reform after reform - in order to prevent revolution.

Moral - Don't be "practical" in politics. To be practical in that sense means that you have schooled yourself to think along the lines, and in the grooves those who rob you would desire you to think.

In any case it is time we got rid of all the cant about "politics" and "constitutional agitation" in general. For there is really no meaning whatever in those phrases.

Every public question is a political question. The men who tell us that Labour questions, for instance, have nothing to do with politics, understand neither the one nor the other. The Labour Question cannot be settled except by measures which necessitate a revision of the whole system of society, which, of course, implies political warfare to secure the power to effect such revision:

If by politics we understand the fight between the outs and ins, or the contest for party leadership, then Labour is rightly supremely indifferent to such politics, but to the politics which centre round the question of property and the administration thereof Labour is not, cannot be, indifferent.

To effect its emancipation Labour must reorganise society on the basis of labour; this cannot be done while the forces of government are in the hands of the rich, therefore the governing power must be wrested from the hands of the rich peaceably if possible, forcibly if necessary.

In the phraseology of the master class and its pressmen the trade unionist who is not a Socialist is more practical than he who is, and the worker who is neither one nor the other but can resign himself to the state of slavery in which he was born, is the most practical of all men.

The heroes and martyrs who in the past gave up their lives for the liberty of the race were not practical, but they were heroes all the same.

The slavish multitude who refused to second their efforts from a craven fear lest their skins might suffer were practical, but they were soulless serfs, nevertheless.

Revolution is never practical - until the hour of the Revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.

For that hour, let us work, think and hope; for that hour let us pawn our present ease in hopes of a glorious redemption; for that hour let us prepare the hosts of Labour with intelligence sufficient to laugh at the nostrums dubbed practical by our slave-lords, practical for the perpetuation of our slavery; for that supreme crisis of human history let us watch, like sentinels, with weapons ever ready, remembering always that there can be no dignity in Labour until Labour knows no master.
* * *
Would you confiscate the property of the capitalist class and rob men of that which they have, perhaps, worked a whole life time to accumulate?

Yes sir, and certainly not.

We would certainly confiscate the property of the capitalist class, but we do not propose to rob anyone. On the contrary, we propose to establish honesty once and forever as the basis of our social relations. This Socialist movement is indeed worthy to be entitled The Great Anti-Theft Movement of the Twentieth Century.

You see, confiscation is one great certainty of the future for every businessman outside the trust. It lies with him to say if it will be confiscation by the Trust in the interest of the Trust, or confiscation by Socialism in the interest of All.

If he resolves to continue to support the capitalist order of society he will surely have his property confiscated. After having, as you say, "worked for a whole lifetime to accumulate" a fortune, to establish a business on what he imagined would be a sound foundation, on some fine day the Trust will enter into competition with him, will invade his market, use their enormous capital to undersell him at ruinous prices, take his customers from him, ruin his business, and finally drive him into bankruptcy, and perhaps to end his days as a pauper.

That is capitalist confiscation! It is going on all around us, and every time the business man who is not a Trust Magnate votes for capitalism, he is working to prepare that fate for himself.

On the other hand, if he works for Socialism it also will confiscate his property. But it will only do so in order to acquire the industrial equipment necessary to establish a system of society in which the whole human race will be secured against the fear of want for all time, a system in which all men and women will be joint heirs and owners of all the intellectual and material conquests made possible by associated effort.

Socialism will confiscate the property of the capitalist and in return will secure the individual against poverty and oppression; it, in return for so confiscating, will assure to all men and women a free, happy and unanxious human life. And that is more than capitalism can assure anyone to-day.

So you see the average capitalist has to choose between two kinds of confiscation. One or the other he must certainly endure. Confiscation by the Trust and consequently bankruptcy, poverty and perhaps pauperism in his old age, or --

Confiscation by Socialism and consequently security, plenty and a Care-Free Life to him and his to the remotest generation.

Which will it be?

But it is their property. Why should Socialists confiscate it?

Their property, eh? Let us see: Here is a cutting from the New York World giving a synopsis of the Annual Report of the Coats Thread Company of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for 1907. Now, let us examine it, and bear in mind that this company is the basis of the Thread Trust, with branches in Paisley, Scotland, and on the continent of Europe.

Also bear in mind that it is not a "horrible example," but simply a normal type of a normally conducted industry, and therefore what applies to it will apply in a greater or less degree to all others.

This report gives the dividend for the year at 20 per cent per annum. Twenty per cent dividend means 20 cents on the dollar profit. Now, what is a profit?

According to Socialists, profit only exists when all other items of production are paid for. The workers by their labour must create enough wealth to pay for certain items before profit appears. They must pay for the cost of raw material, the wear and tear of machine-ry, buildings, etc. (the depreciation of capital), the wages of superintendence, their own wages, and a certain amount to be left aside as a reserve fund to meet all possible contingencies. After, and only after, all these items have been paid for by their labour, all that is left is profit.

With this company the profit amounted to 20 cents on every dollar invested.

What does this mean? It means that in the course of five years - five times 20 cents equals one dollar - the workers in the industry had created enough profit to buy the whole industry from its present owners. It means that after paying all the expenses of the factory, including their own wages, they created enough profit to buy the whole building, from the roof to the basement, all the offices and agencies, and everything in the shape of capital. All this in five years.

And after they had so bought it from the capitalists it still belonged to the capitalists.

It means that if a capitalist had invested $1,000 in that industry, in the course of five years he would draw out a thousand dollars, and still have a thousand dollars lying there untouched; in the course of ten years he would draw two thousand dollars, in fifteen years he would draw three thousand dollars. And still his first thousand dollars would be as virgin as ever.

You understand that this has been going on ever since the capitalist system came into being; all the capital in the world has been paid for by the working class over and over again, and we are still creating it, and recreating it. And the oftener we buy it the less it belongs to us.

The capital of the master class is not their property; it is the unpaid labour of the working class - "the hire of the labourer kept back by fraud."

Oh, the capitalist has his anxieties too. And the worker has often a good time.

Sure: Say, where were you for the holidays?
* * *
Were you tempted to go abroad? Did you visit Europe? Did you riot, in all the abandonment of a wage slave let loose, among the pleasure haunts of the world?

Perhaps you went to the Riviera; perhaps you luxuriated in ecstatic worship of that glorious bit of nature's handiwork where the blue waters of the Mediterranean roll in all their entrancing splendor against the shores of classic Italy.
* * *
Perhaps you rambled among the vine-clad hills of sunny France, and visited the spots hallowed by the hand of that country's glorious history.
* * *
Perhaps you sailed up the castellated Rhine, toasted the eyes of bewitching German frauleins in frothy German beer, explored the recesses of the legend haunted Hartz mountains, and established a nodding acquaintance with the Spirit of the Brocken.

Perhaps you traversed the lakes and fjords of Norway, sat down in awe before the neglected magnificence of the Alhambra, had a cup of coffee with Menelik of Abyssinia, smelt afar off the odors of the streets of Morocco, climbed the Pyramids of Egypt, shared the hospitable tent of the Bedouin, visited Cyprus, looked in at Constantinople, ogled the dark-eyed beauties of Circassia, rubbed up against the Cossack in his Ural mountains, or...

Perhaps you lay in bed all day in order to save a meal, and listened to your wife wondering how she could make ends meet with a day's pay short in the weekly wages.

And whilst you thus squandered your substance in riotous living, did you ever stop to think of your master - your poor, dear, overworked, tired master?
* * *
Did you ever stop to reflect upon the pitiable condition of that individual who so kindly provides you with employment, and does no useful work himself in order that you may get plenty of it?
* * *
When you consider how hard a task it was for you to decide in what manner you should spend your Holiday; where you should go for that ONE DAY, then you must perceive how hard it is for your masters to find a way in which to spend the practically perpetual holiday which you force upon them by your love for work.
* * *
Ah, yes, that large section of our masters who have realised that ideal of complete idleness after which all our masters strive, those men who do not work, never did work, and with the help of God and the ignorance of the people - never intend to work, how terrible must be their lot in life!
* * *
We, who toil from early morn till late at night, from January till December, from childhood to old age, have no care or trouble or mental anxiety to cross our mind - except the landlord, the fear of loss of employment, the danger of sickness, the lack of common necessities, to say nothing of luxuries, for our children, the insolence of our superiors, the unhealthy condition of our homes, the exhausting nature of our toil, the lack of all opportunities of mental cultivation, and the ever-present question whether we shall shuffle off this mortal coil in a miserable garret, be killed by hard work, or die in the Poorhouse.

With these trifling exceptions we have nothing to bother us; but the boss, ah, the poor, poor boss!

He has everything to bother him. Whilst we are amusing ourselves in the hold of a ship shoveling coal, swinging a hammer in front of a forge, toiling up a ladder with bricks, stitching until our eyes grow dim at the board, gaily riding up and down for twelve hours per day, seven days per week, on a trolley car, riding around the city in all weather with teams or swinging by the skin of our teeth on the iron framework of a skyscraper, standing at our ease OUTSIDE the printing office door listening to the musical click of the linotype as it performs the work we used to do INSIDE, telling each other comforting stories about the new machinery which takes our places as carpenters, harness-makers, tinplate-workers, labourers, etc., in short whilst we are enjoying ourselves, free from all mental worry.

Our unselfish tired-out bosses are sitting at home, with their feet on the table, softly patting the bottom button of their vests.

Working with their brains.

Poor bosses! Mighty brains!

Without our toil they would never get the education necessary to develop their brains; if we were not defrauded by their class of the fruits of our toil we could provide for education enough to develop the mental powers of all, and so deprive the ruling class of the last vestige of an excuse for clinging to mastership, viz., their assumed intellectual superiority.

I say "assumed," because the greater part of the brainwork of industry today is performed by men taken from the ranks of the workers, and paid high salaries in proportion as they develop expertness as slave-drivers.

As education spreads among the people the workers will want to enjoy life more; they will assert their right to the full fruits of their labour, and by that act of self-assertion lay the foundation of that Socialist Republic in which labour will be so easy, and the reward so great, that life will seem a perpetual holiday.
* * *
But Socialism is against religion. I can't be a Socialist and be a Christian.
O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations between capital and labour, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes, are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.

But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we never heard a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.

These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.

We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbour as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.

He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be of getting into the "bughouse" in this.

And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700 applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbours in that line of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?

As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his neighbour to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little ones?

No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.

This is what our well-fed friends call a "base, material standpoint," but remember that beauty and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher nature of man can only be realised in all their completeness upon the material basis of a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.

That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists, and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an absurdity.

Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve Him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.

No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.

As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.

I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of the attitude of the church and its ministers towards Socialism?

Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.

He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white blackbird, and that a Socialist of criminal tendencies is such a rare avis that when one is found the public press heralds it forth as a great discovery.

Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard their existence as "news" to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist - that would be news indeed!

Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers, forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of the capitalist political parties.

Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing, industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls "comrades" are a wicked, impious, dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts about women.

And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has itself been sold to the all-desecrating grasp of the capitalist?

While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good Catholic and loyal son of the church.

At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women, and helping to support polidcal parties whose campaign fund in every large city represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?

These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.
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Well, you won't get the Irish to help you. Our Irish-American leaders tell us that all we Irish in this country ought to stand together and use our votes to free Ireland.

Sure, let us free Ireland!

Never mind such base, carnal thoughts as concern work and wages, healthy homes, or lives unclouded by poverty.

Let us free Ireland!

The rackrenting landlord; is he not also an Irishman, and wherefore should we hate him? Nay, let us not speak harshly of our brother - yea, even when he raises our rent.

Let us free Ireland !

The profit-grinding capitalist, who robs us of three-fourths of the fruits of our labour, who sucks the very marrow of our bones when we were young, and then throws us out in the street, like a worn-out tool, when we are grown prematurely old in his service, is he not an Irishman, and mayhap a patriot, and wherefore should we think harshly of him?

Let us free Ireland!

"The land that bred and bore us." And the landlord who makes us pay for permission to live upon it.

Whoop it up for liberty!

"Let us free Ireland," says the patriot, who won't touch Socialism.

Let us all join together and cr-r-rush the br-r-rutal Saxon. Let us all join together, says he, all classes and creeds.

And, says the town worker, after we have crushed the Saxon and freed Ireland, what will we do?

Oh, then you can go back to your slums, same as before.

Whoop it up for liberty!

And, says the agricultural workers, after we have freed Ireland, what then?

Oh, then you can go scraping around for the landlord's rent or the money-lenders' interest same as before.

Whoop it up for liberty!

After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won't touch Socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won't pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic.

Now, isn't that worth fighting for?

And when you cannot find employment, and, giving up the struggle of life in despair, enter the Poorhouse, the band of the nearest regiment of the Irish army will escort you to the Poorhouse door to the tune of "St. Patrick's Day."

Oh, it will be nice to live in those days!

"With the Green Flag floating o'er us" and an ever-increasing army of unemployed workers walking about under the Green Flag, wishing they had something to eat. Same as now!

Whoop it up for liberty!

Now, my friend, I also am Irish, but I'm a bit more logical. The capitalist, I say, is a parasite on industry; as useless in the present stage of our industrial development as any other parasite in the animal or vegetable world is to the life of the animal or vegetable upon which it feeds.

The working class is the victim of this parasite - this human leech, and it is the duty and interest of the working class to use every means in its power to oust this parasite class from the position which enables it to thus prey upon the vitals of Labour.

Therefore, I say, let us organise as a class to meet our masters and destroy their mastership; organise to drive them from their hold upon public life through their political power; organise to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops on and in which they enslave us; organise to cleanse our social life from the stain of social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon his fellow man.

Organise for a full, free and happy life FOR ALL OR FOR NONE. SPEED THE DAY