Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Writer’s Tale-Vincente Minnelli’s Film Adaptation Of James Jones’ “Some Came Running” (1958)-A Film Review

A Writer’s Tale-Vincente Minnelli’s Film Adaptation Of James Jones’ “Some Came Running” (1958)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Josh Breslin  

Some Came Running, starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Martha Hyer, directed by Vincente Minelli, adapted from the novel by James Jones, 1958  

No question I was first drawn to Some Came Running, a film based on the novel of the same name by James Jones whose more famous novel Here To Eternity also was adapted to the screen and stands as one of the great classic films of the modern cinema, by the ex-soldier’s story and then by his plight as a blocked writer. The draw of the ex-soldier’s story reflected something that had been in my own experience about coming back to the “real” world after the military. That seems to be the character played by Frank Sinatra Dave Hirsh’s situation. That inability to go to the nine to five routine, to settle down after military service had shaken him out of his routine rang a bell. In my own military service generation, in my own service, I ran across plenty of guys who couldn’t deal with the “real” world coming back from Vietnam and who tried to hide from that fact as “brothers under the bridges” alternate communities out in places like Southern California. I see and hear about young Iraq and Afghanistan War service personnel having the same woes and worse, having incredibly high suicide rates. So yeah, I was drawn to Dave’s sulky, moody, misshapen view of the world.           

The story line is a beauty. Dave, after a drunken spree, finds he was shipped by bus back in that state by some guys in Chicago to his Podunk hometown in Parkman, Indiana, a town he had fled with all deliberate speed when he was a kid orphaned out by his social-climbing older brother Frank because, well, because he was in the way of that social-climb after their parents die. Dave was not alone in his travels though since he had picked up, or had been attached to, a floozy named Ginny, played by Shirley MacLaine, who will make life hell for him in the end. As he became accustomed to his old hometown and while deciding whether to stay or pick up stakes (the preferred fate of his brother and his also social-climbing wife) he was introduced to a local school teacher Gwen, played by Martha Hyer, who will also make hell for him in the end since he was quickly and madly in love with her but she was seriously stand-offish almost old maid stand-offish since she had had a few tastes of his rough-hewn low life doings. Doings which were encouraged by a gambler, Bama, played by Dean Martin who became his sidekick.        

But here is the hook that almost saved Dave and almost lit a spark under dear Gwen. Dave was a blocked writer, had some time before written a couple of books that were published and had gathered some acclaim, were well written. Gwen attempted to act as his muse, and did prove instrumental in getting a work of his published. To no avail since Dave was not looking for a muse, well, not a muse who wasn’t thinking about getting under the silky sheets. No go, no go despite Dave’s ardent efforts. Frustrated Dave turned to Ginny and whatever charms she had-and the fact that she loved him unconditionally despite their social and intellectual differences. In the end Dave in a fit of hubris decided to marry Ginny after being rebuffed by Gwen enough times. The problem though was that Ginny had a hang on gangster guy trailing her who was making threatening noises about putting Dave, and/ or Ginny underground. In the end they were not just threatening noises as he wounded Dave and killed poor bedraggled Ginny.

Watch this one-more than once and read James Jones’ book too which includes additional chapters about those soldiers who could not relate to the “real” world after their military experiences. This guy could write, sure could write about that milieu based on his own military service. (There is a famous photograph of Jones, Norman Mailer, and William Styron, the three great soldier-boy American literary lights of the immediate post-World War II war period with Jones in uniform if I recall.)                

Afterward by Greg Green-site manager:

When I first assigned Josh Breslin this film review my intention was for him to discuss a bit his own, Dave-like, writer’s troubles and more importantly, his troubles with the “real” world when he came back from his military service in Vietnam during the 1960s. Josh had initially agreed to put some material about that in to bring the reader into the picture about what was eating at Dave (really author James Jones), what drove him over the edge. When it came time to do so though Josh balked, said he couldn’t do it, couldn’t  bring back those hard times without serious mental disturbance even fifty years later.
What I did not know at the time but which when I confronted Josh about breaking the terms of our agreement it turned out those hard times had a name, a name which I have since become painfully familiar with-Peter Paul Markin, the Scribe as his old hometown growing up guys forever called him. Josh was not one of them but had met the Scribe out in San Francisco in the Summer of Love, 1967 when he had just graduated from high school and before he was to start college at State U up in Maine, his home state in the fall. That led to a big-time friendship which was only broken up by the Scribe’s own military service the next year.
No, that is not right. Their friendship in the final analysis was broken up a few years later by that fiendish war in Vietnam which took its toll on both of them. The Scribe, like Josh, had his problems coming back to the “real: world, got seriously into drugs, dried out a bit, did some great stories on those “brothers under the bridge” for which he won a bunch of awards which helped for a while. Josh made the turn but the Scribe, for wanting habits, for his own hubris, for kicks, for his whole freaking overblown life to hear Josh tell the story didn’t, got caught up in the cocaine craze and made the cardinal mistake of using what he was trying to sell. For his efforts he got a potter’s field grave down in Sonora, Mexico courtesy of some ill-advised and deadly busted drug deal with the emerging drug cartels that went awry. So Josh, maybe someday you will tell us Josh, you are right to balk on your part of this assignment now though.      

Happy, Happy 100th Birthday Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti-Max Daddy Of Famed “City Lights Bookstore” In “Beat” San Francisco When It Counted And Muse Of His Generation’s Poets

Happy, Happy 100th Birthday Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti-Max Daddy Of Famed “City Lights Bookstore” In “Beat” San Francisco When It Counted And Muse Of His Generation’s Poets

By Liam Leahy

When the deal went down the hell with street ruffian and gangster of words and thefts Gregory Corso, the hell with Zen Buddha lotus flowers sulks Gary Snyder, the hell with bright lights in the headlights like some virgin Bambi Mike McClure, double the hell with clear the coffeehouses and jazz bars out with his primal wailing to Keil, devil servant, Phil Larkin, ditto double the hell with trying to hit that high white note that only jazz boys and girls can aspire to MaJohn Dupree, back to single hells for Dante boys all choir practice glow bum-tucked like Kenneth Rexforth (and don’t forget Rexforth’s daughter who everybody took a run at and why not even gay boys like Ginsberg), to hell as well the drag queen artless Tim Riley before he fanned the flames of Miss Judy Garland’s hem and made bluegrass green in ocean spray to the China seas bays filled with oil tankers and sodomites sing his naughty boy praises. And in the end, the bookend three hot dog fucks like Miss Julie Johnson in some Joe and Nemo alley.

More retrospective, more circumspect rumbling fullback out of some Merrimack estuary looking hot dog hungry, looking like some holy goof displaced out of European DP camps and he only Icelandic run bound dropping to the titanic seas.  So Jack, Jack, Kerouac, the fuck with that Jack stuff Ti Jean of ten million Allan Ginsberg dreams and Neal Cassidy lost father’s gets some play, okay  Very much more circumspect and there is no way around it this time Moloch of modern times stripping poor Tom Eliot of everything but his shoddy bedding and his lost in the hills and trenches of Eastern France cursive language as wave after wave fell to complete one square yard Carl Solomon’s dear friend and his mother howler in the dust for all the good it did him, or her, Allan Ginsberg. Yeah, the beat down, beat around, beat sound, beatitude beat to hear holy goof Jack tell it in his Tanqueray funks, crowd that took up plenty of air come 1950s in the states come desolation row time.

Then there was the glue, the guy who kept the torch bright, the guy who had enough knowledge of business which almost to a man (or woman of that matter), beats heating squares up like toast, scorned except come poetry reading time some foggy and rainy nights, book signing when Random House said piss off, putting money in the bucket for the Thunderbird struck nights, back room shacking up to keep from the coldest days in August world. Yeah, Happy Birthday Baby, Buddha in cowboy boots and tepid wrangler jeans Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the magic 100 years. Connection,  brother, connection. 

Click on the heading to link to the William Blake Archives to view some of his illustrations and other artwork for which he was also famous.

Markin comment:

Okay, here is the chain of thought to this entry. I recently posted some work by the "beat" poet (and San Fransisco City Lights Bookstore creator)Lawrence Ferlinghetti (from Coney Island Of The Mind). And that made me think once again of fellow "beat' poet Allen Ginsberg. And if you think of Allen Ginsberg you have to think of mad poet Walt Whitman (singer of 19th century America as Ginsberg sang of the 20th century). And if you think of Whitman you have to go back to the "max daddy", mad, mad William Blake. Simple, right?

Milton [excerpt]
by William Blake

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

A Divine Image
by William Blake

Cruelty has a Human heart
And Jealousy a Human Face,
Terror, the Human Form Divine,
And Secrecy, the Human Dress.

The Human Dress is forgéd Iron,
The Human Form, a fiery Forge,
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd,
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.

Proverbs of Hell
by William Blake

From "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
Dip him in the river who loves water.

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.

All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.
No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
A dead body, revenges not injuries.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
Folly is the cloke of knavery.
Shame is Prides cloke.


Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the
destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that
they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once, only imagin'd.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse,
the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains; the fountain overflows.
One thought, fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.


The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
He who has suffer'd you to impose on him knows you.
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
Expect poison from the standing water.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title!
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the lion, the horse,
how he shall take his prey.
The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest.
If others had not been foolish, we should be so.
The soul of sweet delight, can never be defil'd.
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius, lift up thy head!
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest
lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Damn, braces: Bless relaxes.
The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.
Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!
Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!


The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands &
feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird of the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning.
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement,
are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd.
Enough! or Too much!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Puerto Rico For a Revolutionary Workers Party Down With the Colonial Junta! For the Right of Independence!

Workers Vanguard No. 1159
23 August 2019
Puerto Rico
For a Revolutionary Workers Party
Down With the Colonial Junta!
For the Right of Independence!
After some of the largest protests in Puerto Rican history forced the resignation of despised governor Ricardo Rosselló last month, Puerto Rico is confronting an ongoing political crisis. The match in the powder barrel was the leaked cache of private chat messages between Rosselló and his cronies, which oozed bigotry, misogyny and derision for the poor. For the 3.2 million citizens residing on a territory under the boot of U.S. colonial domination, the grievances run much deeper: brutal austerity, massive unemployment and deteriorating schools, hospitals and transportation. Now, the American overlords, with the help of Puerto Rican bourgeois politicians, are openly plotting to intensify their iron grip on their colony. First and foremost is enforcing the diktats of Wall Street’s fiscal control board, known as the “junta,” to make the impoverished masses pay billions of dollars in debt to the same U.S. capitalists who wrecked the country’s economy.
Following a five-day gubernatorial stint by Rosselló’s handpicked successor Pedro Pierluisi, a lawyer for the junta, the new occupant of the governor’s mansion La Fortaleza is former justice secretary Wanda Vázquez, another Rosselló crony. Washington has its eyes on Jenniffer González, a Trump supporter and resident commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives, in the event that Vázquez meets with widespread opposition. Vázquez, notorious for covering up government corruption in her previous position, is reviled for having refused to investigate diverted Hurricane Maria relief funds and aid. That 2017 disaster was marked by the U.S. rulers’ criminal and chauvinist contempt for Puerto Ricans—over 4,000 were left to die in Maria’s wake and whole swaths of the island chain remain devastated to this day.
Ever since seizing the Caribbean territory during the Spanish-American War 121 years ago, U.S. imperialism has looted Puerto Rico’s land, exploited its labor and then laid it to waste. While Puerto Rico has been euphemistically designated a “commonwealth” since 1952 to give the illusion of self-government, to this day the U.S. government calls all the shots, controlling everything from currency and communications to trade relations and shipping. This colonial subjugation is a modern-day version of “white man’s burden,” whereby the white imperialist power lords over its darker-skinned subjects in the name of “civilizing” them. Puerto Ricans are second-class U.S. citizens, and those living in Puerto Rico are barred from voting in federal elections (even their House representative has no official Congressional vote) but held hostage to federal plenary powers, including the FBI and military. We demand: All U.S. troops and federal agents out of Puerto Rico now!
Hoping to quell the recent upheaval and return to business as usual, Democrats and Republicans called for Rosselló to step down. On August 2, the White House announced it would punitively suspend over $8 billion in federal aid to Puerto Rico due to political unrest. While Trump is an open embodiment of racist arrogance and capitalist greed, the Democrats represent the same imperialist ruling class. It was Barack Obama who implemented the 2016 PROMESA law that appointed the fiscal control board of bankers and CEOs—drawn from companies that have directly profited from decades of financial swindles—to further bleed and starve Puerto Rico. Proclaiming some $74 billion in bond debt alone, the junta is a tyrannical collection agency for vulture creditors, and makes its decisions behind closed doors.
While some calm has returned to the streets for now, Puerto Ricans are beyond fed up. What is vital is for the working class to emerge as the leader of the country’s unemployed, students and all the oppressed, particularly women, who suffer violence and degraded status. The working class is the one force with the social power and historic interest to put an end to both colonial oppression and capitalist misery through socialist revolution.
Workers in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico share a common class enemy: the U.S. capitalist rulers. There is also a link of flesh and blood—Puerto Ricans make up a key component of the organized working class in many U.S. cities, where they are subjected to racist abuse by the forces of the capitalist state. The U.S. working class must take a side with its class brothers and sisters and demand: Cancel Puerto Rico’s debt! Opposing the entire system of debt peonage would speak to the righteous anger of Puerto Ricans over the secret machinations of the junta, which refuses to divulge its austerity plans.
We advocate independence for Puerto Rico as part of our opposition to U.S. imperialism. At the same time, we are aware that most Puerto Ricans feel ambivalent about independence. While they detest their colonial status and have a strong sense of nationhood, they are legally allowed to live and work in the U.S., as over five million do, without the same threat of deportation or I.C.E. detention faced by Latino immigrants. It should be up to the Puerto Rican masses to decide how they want to exercise their national self-determination. Therefore, we stress the right of independence for Puerto Rico.
Our aim is to build a Leninist vanguard party in Puerto Rico that can intervene into the struggles against colonial oppression, fighting to direct them against not only the U.S. masters but also their local bourgeois lackeys, with the goal of establishing working-class rule. Only the proletariat in power can begin to lay the material basis for emancipating the Puerto Rican masses from imperialist subjugation.
A Puerto Rican workers republic would face enormous obstacles and powerful enemies, centrally the U.S. bourgeoisie. Proletarian rule in Puerto Rico would have to be extended internationally. What is posed is the forging of Leninist parties in the imperialist heartland and throughout the Caribbean as part of a revolutionary international. A multiracial workers party in the U.S. would win American workers to helping advance the national liberation struggles of Puerto Rico, which are indispensable to tearing down the capitalist order at home.
For a Class-Struggle Perspective
The popular protest slogan “que se vayan todos” (all of them must go) was an expression of the intense mistrust toward Washington’s loyal stooges, including both the governing, pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) as well as the historically pro-“commonwealth” Popular Democratic Party (PPD). The PPD mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, participated in the demonstrations, declaring her opposition to corruption and the junta. But for over six years as the chief executive of the capital, she has overseen austerity measures and commands the repressive police force in San Juan. Cruz, a target of Trump’s wrath and a co-chair for the Bernie Sanders campaign, is plugging herself as a populist to capitalize on widespread discontent in her electoral bid for governor in 2020.
Many politicians from the two main parties in Puerto Rico are directly affiliated with the U.S. bourgeois parties that preside over their colonial “backyard.” (Rosselló and Cruz are both Democrats.) In the U.S., “progressive” Democrats like Sanders aim to refurbish the party’s image so that they can run the same machine of imperialist domination. A major obstacle to the working class mobilizing in its own interest is the lie that Democrats—who uphold the same profit-driven order as the Republicans—can be pressured to act on behalf of the exploited and the oppressed. This strategy is promoted by much of the left and the trade-union bureaucracy, which makes up a layer of the Democratic Party.
In Puerto Rico over the last several years, mass mobilizations of students, teachers and others, as well as labor strikes, have been carried out against privatization threats, school closures, pension theft and budget slashing. Unions like the UTIER electrical workers and the FMPR teachers have been in the front line of protests against union-busting and cutbacks, and both played a role in the July 22 one-million-strong work stoppage to oust Rosselló. But rather than standing at the head of the oppressed and dispossessed masses, the proletariat was dissolved by union misleaders into the “people,” which serves to disappear the unique social power of the working class, whose labor makes society run.
The union tops saddle the combative working class with the nationalist notion that “we are all Puerto Ricans,” which translates to unity with the local capitalists and their political representatives. Following the swearing-in of Vázquez as governor, an array of Puerto Rican unions, including UTIER and FMPR, issued a formal appeal to the administration. A 17 August press release describes how union leaders called on the new government to “take a stand in defense of the interests of the Puerto Rican people against the fiscal control board” and “address the demands for labor and social justice.”
The laboring masses have nothing in common with the capitalist government. What is needed is a class-struggle leadership of the unions that proceeds from this standpoint, opposing all politicians and parties that support capitalism—from the PNP and the PPD to the petty-bourgeois Puerto Rican Independence Party. Such a leadership would be committed to help build a revolutionary workers party.
A nationalist outlook can also be seen in the frequent appeal to the cops as fellow workers and victims of budget cuts. The police, known as la uniformada, are not workers or potential allies, but rather a core part of the bourgeois state. Their role is as strikebreakers, and their associations have no place in the union movement. Even if they come from poor or working-class backgrounds, the cops are the violent enforcers of the system of colonial subjugation and the hired guns of the bosses. When the cops mobilize for pay and pensions, it is to be better able to mete out all-sided repression. From its origins in 1899, the year after the U.S. military invaded and took possession of the country, the Puerto Rican police have helped keep Washington’s colonial subjects under its heel, including in the decades-long bloody war against independentistas.
Amid the current crisis, some leftists have put forward alternatives that merely seek to tinker with the colonial arrangement and capitalist rule. Such is the case with the reformists around the U.S. publication Left Voice, affiliated to the Trotskyist Fraction-Fourth International. While claiming to oppose the colonial regime and to be for socialist revolution, Left Voice argues to convene a “free and sovereign Constituent Assembly” that “would allow the working class, in the heat of the struggle, to develop its own bodies of self-organization” (“A Revolutionary Perspective for Puerto Rico,” 3 August). They claim that a constituent assembly “must discuss and make democratic decisions on the great structural transformations required by the country to win its national liberation, end imperialist plunder and rebuild its economy.”
In fact, the call for a constituent assembly is a barrier to the working class developing the kind of revolutionary class consciousness and organization necessary for its own emancipation. A constituent assembly is a bourgeois government, and the call for it has historically been used to derail proletarian revolution. Only after the working class has seized state power and established a workers government will it be able to decide how to rebuild society to the benefit of the vast majority of the population, including the provision of jobs, as well as quality housing, education and health care.
In the end, only socialist revolution extended internationally can satisfy the basic needs of the masses: the end of poverty, freedom from the yoke of imperialism, and social equality for women and other deeply oppressed layers like gay and trans people. For us in the belly of the U.S. imperialist beast, the fight for the national liberation of Puerto Rico is especially important. As was emphasized in the “21 Conditions” for membership in the then-revolutionary Communist International, adopted in 1920, it is the duty of communists “to support every liberation movement in the colonies not only in words but in deeds.” This task includes instilling “in the hearts of the workers of its country a truly fraternal attitude toward the laboring people in the colonies and toward the oppressed nations.”

A View From The International Left - Defend China! Imperialists Hands Off! Hong Kong: No to Counterrevolutionary Rampage! Expropriate the Tycoons!

Workers Vanguard No. 1160
6 September 2019
Defend China! Imperialists Hands Off!
Hong Kong: No to Counterrevolutionary Rampage!
Expropriate the Tycoons!
SEPTEMBER 2—For three months, anti-Communist mobs have rampaged through Hong Kong. They have blocked roads and stopped public transport, beaten opponents and Chinese mainlanders and bombarded police with bricks and Molotov cocktails. Protesters have raised mass-distributed placards with the appeal, “President Trump: Please Liberate Hong Kong” while singing the U.S. national anthem and waving American flags. Anti-China demonstrators have vandalized the Legislative Council building and raised the British flag, demanding the return of Hong Kong’s former colonial master. Aiming to end China’s control over its capitalist Hong Kong enclave, protesters are openly calling for imperialist intervention.
The U.S. State Department has repeatedly declared its support to the counterrevolutionary protests, as have the British and Canadian foreign offices. Democratic Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi joined with an array of Republicans in demanding U.S. intervention and pushing punitive legislation against Beijing. The U.S. rulers have funded, advised and helped organize the protesters as part of their strategic goal of overturning the 1949 Revolution and returning China to capitalist enslavement, with themselves as the chief robber barons.
China is not a capitalist country but a workers state. However, the workers state has been deformed from its inception by the rule of a parasitic bureaucratic caste that politically suppresses the working class. Since taking power through peasant-based guerrilla war, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has followed the Stalinist dogma of “socialism in one country” and its corollary, “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. The CCP regime from Mao Zedong’s time to today has opposed the revolutionary internationalist program of Marxism. But despite bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption, the overthrow of capitalism led to historic social advances. While four decades of “market reforms” have led to large-scale foreign investment and the emergence of individual capitalists on the mainland, the economy remains controlled by Beijing, with the most important sectors collectivized and owned by the state.
Today in Hong Kong, we have a military side with the forces of the Chinese deformed workers state, including the police, against the anti-Communist mobilizations. This position stems from our unconditional military defense of China against imperialism and domestic counterrevolution. Such defense does not imply the least political support to the Beijing bureaucracy, whose backing of capitalism in Hong Kong under its “one country, two systems” rubric bears no small responsibility for the current crisis. As Trotskyists who seek to make the working class conscious of its historic task to bring about a socialist future, our perspective is the mobilization of the working people of Hong Kong and mainland China to stop the counterrevolutionary forces.
In 1997, the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) joined in cheering as the British imperialists relinquished their Hong Kong colony. At the same time, we warned that the CCP’s pledge to maintain capitalism there was a dagger aimed at the Chinese workers state (see “British Colonialist Rulers Leave, Finally—Beijing Stalinists Embrace Hong Kong Financiers,” WV No. 671, 11 July 1997). In 1984, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping explicitly promised British prime minister Margaret Thatcher that the “previous capitalist system and life-style” would remain unchanged.
Since 1997, Hong Kong has been integrated into the People’s Republic of China as a capitalist Special Administrative Region, where every decisive aspect of the government is under Beijing’s control. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), garrisoned in the enclave, guarantees that. Hong Kong’s Basic Law was established by China’s National People’s Congress, and the territory’s principal executive officers are appointed by the central government in Beijing. The members of its highest court are in turn appointed by the Beijing-approved chief executive. The CCP has made itself directly responsible for maintaining capitalism in Hong Kong, where the capitalist class is politically organized, with its own parties, newspapers and other media. Beijing’s policy has nurtured Hong Kong as a breeding ground for counterrevolution and an outpost for imperialist spying and intrigue. Upholding the interests of the Hong Kong bourgeoisie against those they exploit and oppress is a massive betrayal by the CCP of the working people there and on the mainland itself. We say: Expropriate the tycoons!
The fight against the filthy rich capitalists in Hong Kong is directly linked to the struggle of the proletariat throughout China against the corruption and inequality fostered by the Stalinist bureaucracy, which acts as a transmission belt for the pressures of the capitalist world market onto the workers state. What’s needed is a proletarian political revolution that sweeps away the Stalinist bureaucracy and puts power in the hands of workers, peasants and soldiers councils. Such a regime would be based on a perspective of international proletarian revolution, preparing the groundwork for eliminating scarcity in a world socialist order.
Imperialist Machinations
Who pays the piper calls the tune, as the saying goes. The U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has poured millions of dollars into organizations behind the protests, from the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and the parties of the “pan-democratic” camp to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, affiliate of the anti-Communist International Trade Union Confederation. Such organizations are the main components of the Civil Human Rights Front, the chief organizer of the current protests. Joshua Wong, the Western media’s poster boy for anti-China protests, is also tied to the NED.
As journalist Dan Cohen described in a useful Grayzone (17 August) exposé, a key fixture at (and bankroller of) the protests is Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai. Known as the Rupert Murdoch of Asia, Lai built a media empire based on scandalmongering, celebrity gossip, anti-Communism and anti-China bigotry. His press is notorious for waging a chauvinist campaign against “anchor babies” from mainland China, depicting mainlanders as hordes of locusts descending to devour Hong Kong’s resources. In July, Lai traveled to the U.S. for meetings with National Security Advisor John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among others, requesting continued U.S. assistance for “resisting” Beijing. He later declared: “We in Hong Kong are fighting for the shared values of the U.S. against China. We are fighting their war in the enemy camp” (CNN, 28 August).
The U.S. and other imperialist powers pursue a multipronged strategy for capitalist counterrevolution in China. One approach is financing and promoting reactionary mobilizations like the Hong Kong protests. Washington also seeks to use its economic might like a battering ram, as in the current tariff war through which the Trump administration, with solid backing from the Democrats, aims to thwart China’s economic and technological development (see “U.S. Imperialists Ramp Up Trade/Tech War,” WV No. 1157, 21 June). At the same time, the U.S. is increasing military pressure on China, conducting regular military exercises near the Chinese coast, flying bombers over the South China Sea and repeatedly sending Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait. These moves are all part of a strategy of military encirclement of China by the U.S. and its allies.
The State Department recently approved Taiwan’s requests to buy $2.2 billion dollars’ worth of tanks and missiles and $8 billion in advanced fighter jets. From the time of the 1949 Revolution, when the Chinese capitalist regime fled to Taiwan, and the onset of the Korean War the following year, the U.S. has viewed the island as its “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” the front line in a future war. The ICL stands for the revolutionary reunification of Taiwan with China, through social revolution to overthrow capitalism in Taiwan and workers political revolution against the CCP bureaucracy on the mainland.
As revolutionaries in the world’s predominant imperialist power, the Spartacist League/U.S. is dedicated to forging a Leninist vanguard party that can lead the multiracial American working class in the struggle for a workers government that would expropriate the capitalist exploiters. Central to this perspective is winning the most advanced layers of the proletariat to oppose its rulers’ machinations around the world, not least those directed against the Chinese deformed workers state. Workers can’t win new gains without defending those already won!
“One Country, Two Systems”: Danger to the Chinese Revolution
To launch the current wave of anti-China protests, organizers in late spring seized on an extradition bill being debated in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, claiming that it would undermine the territory’s autonomy. The proposed law would have done no such thing. The measure, which was suspended in June, would have simply established an extradition process—not just between Hong Kong and the rest of China but also between Hong Kong and every country in the world that did not already have such an agreement. By treating mainland China like a foreign country, the law fell entirely within the CCP’s framework of maintaining a distinct capitalist administration in Hong Kong. The ICL has no position on this legislation because we do not seek to advise the Beijing bureaucracy on how best to administer capitalism in Hong Kong, since we oppose it remaining a capitalist enclave.
The Hong Kong demonstrators and their spin doctors in the bourgeois media have raised holy hell about supposed police violence. From the likes of the New York Times, this is sheer hypocrisy. In reality, the Hong Kong police have been highly restrained, focused on containing and dispersing protests rather than stopping them. Compare their conduct with the brutal cop state of siege that descended on Ferguson, Missouri, after protests broke out over the racist police killing of Michael Brown in 2014!
In Hong Kong, the restraint of the police expresses the policy of the CCP bureaucracy. The organizers of the protests are aiming for the overthrow of the Chinese deformed workers state. But Beijing is at pains to respect Hong Kong’s formal autonomy, which is written into its “one country, two systems” pact with the enclave’s capitalists and their imperialist masters. However, rather than appeasing the protesters, the CCP bureaucrats’ concessions have only emboldened them.
The Hong Kong bourgeoisie is not of one mind concerning the protests. While Jimmy Lai and his ilk openly support the mobilizations, Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Hong Kong, as well as several real estate tycoons and some banking interests have recently called for calm. They worry that the chaos around the protests is harming business. More broadly, several bourgeois financial analysts have warned that intervention by the PLA—or by the People’s Armed Police stationed across the border in Shenzhen—to stop the unrest would cause capital flight and other damage to Hong Kong’s economy.
Hong Kong under the tycoons has well earned its reputation as a white-collar sweatshop, where office workers routinely slave away for 12 hours a day with eight hours’ pay. With the CCP’s blessing, a frenzy of land speculation has driven up rents to the extent that working adults are unable to leave their parents’ homes, often sharing tiny rooms with several people. In one of the most expensive cities in the world, full of designer shops and luxury hotels, a fifth of the population falls below the poverty line. “Immigrants” from the mainland constitute some of the most oppressed sectors of the population, while the plight of Hong Kong’s hundreds of thousands of domestic workers, overwhelmingly from the Philippines and Indonesia, shines an especially harsh light on the enclave’s class divide. Meanwhile, venal CCP bureaucrats and their cronies and relations use Hong Kong to park their money or channel it out of China, and also as a venue for shopping sprees.
Hong Kong’s toilers should be a natural ally of the powerful and combative proletariat on the mainland. An authentic communist party in China would mobilize the working class against the counterrevolutionary protests on the basis of the workers’ class interests, championing as well the interests of the oppressed petty bourgeoisie. Expropriating the tycoons and converting their property holdings into low-cost public housing would resonate deeply with the population, as would replacing the luxury shops and restaurants with canteens and cooperatives run by and for working people.
These demands cut against the CCP’s class collaboration with the Hong Kong bourgeoisie, which has been the political basis for the relatively small pro-China counterprotests that have taken place in Hong Kong and internationally. The counterprotests have been designed to be compatible with the interests of the tycoons, whose “patriotism” hinges on their ability to reap profits from their investments on the mainland. The CCP also appeals to patriotism in calling for an end to protests. The Stalinists do not call on the working class to act: As a brittle ruling caste, the Beijing bureaucracy fears that workers’ mobilizations would represent a challenge to its rule.
For the CCP, maintaining capitalism in Hong Kong serves to promote foreign investment on the mainland by reassuring overseas capitalists that it’s safe to do business with China. Hong Kong remains a major hub connecting China with the global capitalist economy. Beijing’s policy toward Hong Kong is in keeping with its opening of whole areas of China to investment by the offshore Chinese bourgeoisie and the imperialist powers, including in the Special Economic Zones.
Any isolated workers state would need to seek foreign investment. Under revolutionary leadership, this would be done under the democratic control of the working class organized in soviets (councils), supported in countries like China by peasants councils. A revolutionary workers and peasants government in China would renegotiate the terms of foreign investment in the interests of working people. The domestic capitalists, on the other hand, would simply be expropriated and their property used in the interests of society as a whole. To defend and extend the gains of the 1949 Revolution, such a regime would strengthen central economic planning and re-establish a state monopoly of foreign trade.
Which Class Will Rule?
In Hong Kong, one of the most ardent champions of “democratic” counterrevolution is Socialist Action (SA), which fraudulently passes itself off as Trotskyist. (Along with the U.S. Socialist Alternative, SA is part of the self-declared majority of the recently split Committee for a Workers’ International, CWI.) Writing off China as capitalist, SA has issued a series of leaflets offering tactical advice to the protest organizers and calling “for united mass struggle of Hong Kong and China people against the CCP dictatorship” (, 19 July). SA’s main “contribution” has been to agitate for a one-day general strike to bring down the Hong Kong government and defeat the CCP regime. Their program, in short, is to sell out the workers to their direct class enemies: the Hong Kong bourgeoisie and its imperialist godfathers.
In fact, the counterrevolutionary protests have been overwhelmingly based on the petty bourgeoisie and hostile to the working class. The much-touted August 5 “general strike,” preceded by a “bankers strike” on August 1, was primarily a mobilization of students, lawyers, accountants, teachers and other professionals. Many employers encouraged their staff to take the day off and participate. The city was paralyzed as protesters blocked traffic and stopped public transport, threatening transport workers. Likewise, workers were attacked during the airport occupation of August 12-13, when hundreds of flights were stopped at one of the world’s busiest airports. Protesters have also vandalized the offices of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions.
Embracing the call for free elections, which is aimed at toppling the Beijing-loyal local administration, SA is solidly in the camp of counterrevolution in Hong Kong. There it unites with people demanding that the enclave either become a protectorate of U.S. imperialism or return to the days of British rule, when the mass of the Chinese population lived in squalid slums and slaved away as dirt-poor laborers while Communists and trade-union militants were systematically repressed. Only in the lead-up to the handover to China did the British rulers grant a modicum of democratic rights, to be used as a weapon against the Chinese workers state.
SA’s program for Hong Kong and China is in line with the sordid history of the CWI, which avidly supported the imperialists’ campaigns against the Soviet degenerated workers state. In August-September 1991, the CWI’s forebears in the Militant tendency joined the capitalist restorationists on Boris Yeltsin’s barricades in Moscow. In contrast, our Trotskyist international tendency fought in defense of the workers state, distributing tens of thousands of leaflets calling on Soviet workers to crush the counterrevolutionary forces led by Yeltsin and backed by the George H.W. Bush White House.
The question posed by the crisis in Hong Kong is not “dictatorship or democracy” but “which class will rule?” In their drive to destroy the Soviet Union and the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East and Central Europe, the imperialists promoted all manner of reactionary forces, including those who waved the banner of “democracy” against Stalinist “totalitarianism.” The purpose was to overthrow the Communist regimes by one means or another, including using elections in which peasants and other petty-bourgeois layers as well as politically backward workers could be mobilized against the workers states.
A glimpse of what awaits China’s toiling masses if the 1949 Revolution were to be overturned can be seen today in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, where living standards have been massively thrown back and where such “democracy” as exists is a paper-thin facade for the class dictatorship that defines all capitalist societies. A quarter-century after capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, China is the largest of the remaining countries where capitalist rule has been overthrown. Capitalist counterrevolution in China would be a further massive victory for world imperialism and a defeat for workers and the oppressed across the globe.
The call for bourgeois democracy is a call for counterrevolution. We are for proletarian democracy—a government of elected workers, peasants and soldiers councils that would make decisions about the development of the economy and the organization of society. Under the leadership of China’s massive working class, non-proletarian sectors such as the peasants and Hong Kong’s office workers would in fact have far more of a voice in how society is run than they do in any capitalist republic. As Lenin explained of the 1917 October Revolution that brought the working class to power in Russia:
“The bureaucratic machine has been completely smashed, razed to the ground; the old judges have all been sent packing, the bourgeois parliament has been dispersed—and far more accessible representation has been given to the workers and peasants; their Soviets have replaced the bureaucrats, or their Soviets have been put in control of the bureaucrats, and their Soviets have been authorised to elect the judges. This fact alone is enough for all the oppressed classes to recognise that Soviet power, i.e., the present form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, is a million times more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic.”
The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918)
The True Legacy of Tiananmen
SA and the CIA-backed protesters as a whole falsely link their counterrevolutionary efforts with the specter of “June 4,” the 1989 proletarian upheaval centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that was bloodily suppressed by the CCP regime of Deng Xiaoping. SA & Co. present the 1989 upheaval as a mass movement for (bourgeois) democracy. It was nothing of the kind! The events began with students demanding more political freedoms and protesting the corruption of top CCP bureaucrats. The protests were joined first by individual workers, then by contingents from factories and other workplaces. Workers were driven to act by the high inflation and growing inequality that accompanied the CCP’s program of building “socialism” through market reforms. While some youth looked to Western-style capitalist democracy, the protests were dominated by the singing of the “Internationale,” the international working-class anthem, and other expressions of pro-socialist consciousness.
Various workers organizations that appeared during the protests had the character of embryonic organs of working-class rule. “Workers picket corps” and factory-based “dare to die” groups, organized to protect the students against repression, defied Deng’s declaration of martial law. Workers’ groups began to take on responsibility for public safety after the Beijing government all but disappeared and the police vanished from the streets. It was the entry of the Chinese proletariat into the protests, in Beijing and around the country, that marked an incipient proletarian political revolution. After weeks of paralysis, the CCP regime launched a bloody crackdown on June 3-4 in Beijing, driven by fear not of the student protesters but of the mobilized working class. Even after the massacre, millions of workers across China continued to wage strikes and protests.
The workers showed enormous bravery and willingness to fight, and they forged links with soldiers, who viewed themselves as the defenders of socialism. Seven senior PLA commanders signed a petition opposing the martial law measures that were ordered against the population. On their own, however, the working class could not come to understand the need for political revolution to overturn the deforming rule of the bureaucracy. To imbue the working class with such consciousness requires the intervention of a revolutionary Marxist vanguard party. We honor the memory of the proletarian heroes of 1989, whose struggle vividly demonstrated the revolutionary potential of the working class.
SA and its ilk spit on the legacy of Tiananmen as they serve the imperialist drive for capitalist counterrevolution in China. Seventy years after its revolution, China is not the country it was in 1949—a desperately backward, overwhelmingly peasant society plundered by the imperialist powers and ravaged by decades of civil war. Yet despite China’s enormous advances since then, it remains economically backward in many respects compared to the imperialist countries that dominate the world economy. With its program of appeasing the imperialists and the Chinese bourgeoisie and its political suppression of the proletariat, the CCP bureaucracy constantly undermines the gains of the 1949 Revolution.
The achievement of socialism—a classless society based on material abundance—requires an international planned economy that harnesses and goes well beyond the technology and productive capacity of the most advanced capitalist countries today. The road to socialism lies in proletarian revolutions throughout the capitalist world, crucially including the imperialist centers of the U.S., Japan and West Europe. This perspective is necessarily linked to the fight to mobilize the Chinese proletariat to sweep away its bureaucratic misrulers. But revolutionary struggle needs revolutionary leadership. Our historic model is the Bolshevik Party that, under V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, led the October 1917 Russian Revolution as the opening shot of the fight for world proletarian revolution. The ICL is committed to reforging Trotsky’s Fourth International to carry the Bolshevik banner forward.

The Trials and Tribulations Of The Generation Of ’68-The Summer of 1969-Frank Jackman Casts His Fate With The Poor Peoples Of The Earth-And Tweaking The U.S. Army To Boot-With Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” In Mind

The Trials and Tribulations Of The Generation Of ’68-The Summer of 1969-Frank Jackman Casts His Fate With The Poor Peoples Of The Earth-And Tweaking The U.S. Army To Boot-With Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” In Mind  

By Frank Jackman 

Maybe it is the nature of this publication, maybe it is the nature of historic memory or maybe it is the nature of this man, me, this Frank Jackman who has staked his life on what he remembered hearing a long time ago on a radio folk music show in the heat of the folk minute that swept the nation, the nation’s youth particularly in the early 1960s when he was growing up poor in the old Acre neighborhood of North Adamsville a bunch of miles south of Boston. He had been startled to hear one Pete Seeger, banjo man extraordinaire playing that instrument and singing alternately in Spanish and English the old Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti’s version of Guantanamera when he came upon a later verse translated as “I want to cast my fate with the poor people of this earth.”* The story I have to tell, a personal Frank Jackman story is how in the summer of 1969, fifty years ago, yes, I know a lot of 50th anniversaries have been addressed in this publication over the past few years by members of the Class of `68 still standing, had been a key decision point in my own fervent desire to cast my fate with the poor people of the earth. And have not done a bad job of staying committed to that vision at a time when things could have gone either way in that hell-bent Vietnam War year.    

[*I was about to say that with this song this was the first time I had even heard of the name Pete Seeger, a name I would come to know as a fellow activist and later when I took up writing reviews of music that mattered in the American songbook I got to know him personally as a “hail fellow, well met” but that is not true. Not true although that Sunday evening WBZ (in Boston) Dick Summer’s folk show I rightly assumed I had not heard of the man or his voice before because of one   Lester Dannon (known in the local professional music world as Lester Dannon and his Cannons, a jazzy, pop music grouping favored among the older set, the generation that had gone through the Great Depression and slogged through World War II as he had, my parent’s generation for weddings and family outings).  Lester whom we kids called innocently then without any other thought that taking part in a youthful rhyming craze called Lester the Molester, which these days would call for all kinds of interventions and investigations, had force-fed the most popular work of Pete’s and a group that he was a member of The Weaver’s cover of Leadbelly’s Goodnight, Irene.

Lester may have not been a molester, but he had a plan to wean us away from our growing love of break-out rock and roll music which he hated by playing on the record player and having us sing folk tunes like Irene and pop tunes from his, our parent’s generation. We bucked and buckled under that horrible weight for three junior high school years but gave in to the inevitable when he threatened to play classic music and opera if we didn’t learn his clowny stuff. (Lester may have not been a molester of anything but our growing music taste buds although he was caught up unjustly in a scandal later when the junior high school male gym teacher was fired because he was sexually molesting young underage boys although not from the school or town but elsewhere part of the reason he was able to be a predator for as long as he had been. We had to bring a big campaign to clear Lester’s name once we heard about the false accusations against him but that did not cause him to not hate rock and roll until his dying days or us to forgive him from ramming music we really did hate then, a generational thing, down our throats.)  

Many of the older writers still standing at this publication, I will just mention the guys I grew with still standing, Sam Lowell, Seth Garth, Jack Callahan, Allan Jackson, Bart Webber have written extensively the past couple of years on key anniversaries, key 50th anniversaries which none of us would have thought possible back in the 1960s when the motto, if unspoken mostly was “live fast, die young, and make a good corpse.” Noteworthy and cause for much internal friction between older and younger writers who could have given a fuck about events their parents had come of age through happened a couple of years ago when then site manager Allan Jackson went crazy giving 24/7/365 or so it seemed to commemorating the Summer of Love, 1967 and subsequently the riotous happenings of 1968 too numerous to mention now but the anniversaries which were fully covered last year.*

Now in the year of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the eternally etched rock festival that defined one end of a generation, we are in for another burst of writing about what it all meant historically and personally. It is with that backdrop that I tell my story which is not about Woodstock Nation, not then anyway, but about that previously mentioned then vague and untested idea of casting my fate with the poor people of the earth, my people. Others from that cohort of older writers I grew up with have written about my epiphany, especially Seth Garth’s Frank Jackman’s Masters of War but just now if nothing else as a cautionary tale I want to commemorate the 50th anniversary of my personal decision to refuse orders to Vietnam, which is just a short cut way of saying that I had cast my fate with the poor people of the earth-for good.         

(*Look to the Archives from late 2017 to early 2018 to get the inside story of what happened to cause Allan Jackson’s downfall and subsequent short “exile” before new and current site manager Greg Green brought him back as a contributing editor. A short summary was that the younger writers balked at having to do assignments they didn’t’ care about to the exclusion of stuff they did know, brought the matter to a vote of no confidence, won the vote and brought Greg Green and an Editorial Board in to oversee that such things as Summer of Love mania never happened again. Strangely some of the assignments Greg decided on when he took charge, seemingly in order to assert his authority were frankly bizarre like the Marvel/DC comics come to cinema series that nobody young or old wanted to touch with a ten- foot pole.)

Every guy and it was all guys then who came of age in most parts of the 1960s, who were of draft age, from eighteen to late twenty something, maybe later, had to face one big choice no matter where they stood on the issues of the day, on the Vietnam War. What to do about military service. Everybody from POTUS (Twitter speak) Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Donald Trump down to the guys in the Acre neighborhood of growing up poor North Adamsville. I have heard many stories about how guys wound up in the military or figured a way around military duty over the past fifty years and have concluded that I would be less judgmental about how each person made their decision, except those who essentially bought their ways out like Bush and Trump but this story is not about them. It is a wonder so many survived their experiments, like those who found a way around going into the service like taking all kinds of drugs just before the dreaded physical which everybody passed unless you had some serious deficiency, military deficiency like only one leg or blindness, the Army needed two-legged men and non-visually-impaired men (now men and women) to hump the boonies as the saying went-meaning nowhere else in the world but sweated jungle, delta, river Vietnam. Like guys loading up on salt to drive their blood pressures up. Like declaring themselves homosexuals which today might seem weird giving the changes in policy but then meant you were refused and if you did get in and were found out that you really were gay subject to discharge and not an honorable one either (assuming that you were serious about your homosexuality and not just using it to avoid service which hung over guys for a long time.) Like guys declaring themselves fervent members of a whole number of communist organizations or their fronts when the security clearance questions were asked. That, by the way, lasted only so long until the Selective Service (the draft’s official organizational name) figured, knowingly figured from their FBI friends who had infiltrated those organizations in the previous decades, that there was a scam going on. The vast majority though one way or another who refused induction didn’t use these ruses some very clever but by a flat-out refusal to be drafted-not later when actually in the military as in my case.

The reader, hell, on reflection fifty years later writing this piece, me, may wonder why I did not join that last grouping by refusing military service as a civilian which took its own level of commitment and decision-making outside the box that society expected of us. I certainly knew that there were plenty of young guys, men who were refusing, although as I recall I did not know any personally on campus or elsewhere. I did know since I was working my way through college driving a truck and servicing coffee machines I passed the Arlington Street Church in the Back Bay section of Boston which was a central sanctuary for draft-resisters. Go back though to that point I made about coming from the hard-core working class, working poor Acre section of North Adamsville and that will give a better idea of why I had not resisted military service as a civilian. 

Start with the family, make that families since mine replicated the great majority of the families in the Irish-etched Roman Catholic Acre. Where would I have either learned or gained support from that milieu about not going into the military when my father had slogged through World War II in the Pacific War as a gung-ho Marine who faced all the island- hopping battles those Leathernecks were engaged in. Many other fathers and relatives had the same stories. (I was not close probably ever to my very distant father who had like many men from his generation had seen the ugly face of war and kept quiet about what they saw after their service did tell me one time that he, a son of the Hazard. Kentucky coalmines enlisted in the Marines on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, on the idea that he would rather take his chances against the Nips, a derogatory term for the Japanese then, than face life in the mines and what that meant and had never looked back. Maybe to his personal sorrows since he had nothing but a very tough life when he married my mother and landed in her hometown Acre neighborhood)    

Moreover even in my own Acre neighborhood generation, the Tonio’s Pizza Parlor corner boys as we called ourselves, which came of age not only under the sign of rock and roll but of the great Cold War ideologies and concepts which were held pretty firmly if not totally understood provided no cover for what I would do. My high school graduation class of 1964 for example had as I later found out when the males were asked for their military service if any almost all had some such record. Among Tonio corner boys as the war escalated every single guy with the exception of a couple who had disabilities which precluded military service wound up serving in Vietnam including the late Peter Markin who of all of us would had been the logical choice as a resister. (Markin whose life and fate still bring a tear to our eyes when we mention his name took his service harder than the others and would wind up falling down in the end to an early grave already extensively written about by everybody in our crowd including me, a bitter fate for a guy who was always ahead of the curve in our crowd about which way the social winds were blowing). Top that off with the deaths of two corner boys, Rick Rizzo and David White, whose names are forever etched on the Adamsville town memorial stone and down in black granite down in Washington, who laid down their heads in some bloody swamps in Vietnam and you get an idea of what the milieu was like and how likely the ideas of resistance were to come intellectually to me without some serious trial to confront me. (My family and many other families which I learned about second-hand after the dust had settled not only hated or did not understand what I did but supported the war efforts long after even guys like POTUS Richard M. Nixon had tried to get out from under anyway he could).   

No, no, now that I am on my high horse it is not good enough blame the social milieu as the defining reason for allowing myself to be inducted into the Army in January of 1969 against all good reason. No question a different milieu say in Shaker Heights and among the elite college brethren and intelligentsia would have provided more thought-provoking possibilities but that denies my, Frank Jackman’s, sense of himself and his desires and concerns. I believe I have written about it elsewhere in this publication and if not then I certainly have mentioned it in a million conversations the contradictions between that stated purpose of “casting my fate with the poor people of the earth” which has animated this whole piece and what I thought my life’s goals, destiny if you like, were to be can be summarized in what I was about in the fall of 1960 when I was just fourteen.

I had always been interested in politics, history, government, something I shared with the late Markin. Which did not preclude either of us from being extremely larcenous corner boys or totally bonkers about girls, cars and sex in whatever order you want to put those elemental categories like the other guys who lived and died exclusively on that plateau. Markin and I, although we had deeply imbibed the Cold War anti-communist ideologies that choked American society in the 1950s, had other ideas as well, centrally concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and a stirring concern about the emerging black civil rights struggle down the South. Ideas which we tended not to discuss with the fellow corner boys who would have either red-baited or race-baited us. In 1960 the blessed Quakers, and they were blessed and always will be as the reader will find out later when the deal when down in the summer of 1969 whatever religious or political differences we had then or now along with prominent liberals like Doctor Spock, the famous baby doctor whose words of wisdom many mothers although not Acre mothers lived and died by decided to have a nation-wide event to call for nuclear disarmament in October of that year.

Despite all kinds of advice, maybe some veiled threats, certainly scorn from fellow students and the civics teacher I argued for that cause in school and had decided to go to Boston, to the historic protest spots on Boston Common to take part in the nation-wide observance. Even, and maybe especially, our corner boy leader Frankie Riley argued against my going (we even made a corner boy famous bet about whether I would go or “chicken out”) since he feared for my life if I went there giving the times and given the reaction of what I would later call the rednecks. I went (winning that bet gladly since I could have money for a date with a certain girl I was then for a minute interested in) and met those forthright Quakers and a few others who braved the scorn of the crowds to protest the nuclear arms race. If one thinks today that politics and prejudices are ugly and headed to civil war if not stopped in their tracks then you get the idea back then right out on those mean streets, maybe more in your face if you can believe that.     

Contradiction. The fall of 1960 was also the time this country was knee deep in the upcoming presidential election between one Richard Milhous Nixon and our own Irish Jack Kennedy. “Our own” no wrong term for we were crazy in the Irish-strewn Acre to see Jack beat that bastard Nixon. I would all fall go door to door putting literature in doors touting Jack’s candidacy. For those who don’t remember or are too young a central component of Jack’s campaign was that there was a “missile gap,” with the Soviets overhauling us with ways to take advantage of their larger number of weapons, nuclear weapons. So in one short period I could, and did, express my sincere beliefs in nuclear disarmament in Boston and in tribal Jack of the gap. That would not be the first time or the last that such contradictions ruled my universe. In 1968, remember Bobby Kennedy with a tear, I went crazy around the East Coast trying to get him elected before he was felled breaking many dreams and my heart. More importantly to what will follow I let my somewhat vague, upon reflection, anti-war sentiments get overwhelmed by all the other considerations about why I should have refused induction, including a girlfriend whose brother was serving in Vietnam.

Forward though to January 1969. As previously pointed out there were little points of rebellion about going into the Army, but they did not dominate, no way and if the impression has been left that this was the case that is wrong. Probably the truest statement would be some kind of belief that either war would be over before I had to confront what every male of my generation had to confront whatever his personal beliefs might or that I expected somehow like at several times in my young life to skate by, not get called for some reason known only to me at the time. Given what was happening on the battlefields I think that the latter sentiment dominated. I got my “friends and neighbors at the draft board” notice in the early fall of 1968 to report for the inevitable almost forgone conclusion physical examination (that “friends and neighbors” the actual salutation on the letter). Naturally I passed it since at that time almost anybody with two arms and two legs passed unless they had some gimmick already to get them out but which even if I had known about it then would not have used still depending on luck I guess I would call it.
Then in December 1968, I think I got the notice to report to the Boston Army Base for induction (no longer there but now part of the up-scale Seaport District). While that certainly got my attention, I was still in some form of denial. Adding to that my girlfriend at the time (this after I had broken up with that girlfriend whose brother was in Vietnam for personal reasons) , Joyce, who had started graduate school at Boston University after having been through the “wars” out at the University of Wisconsin which along with Berkeley, Michigan and B.U. were among the most vociferous centers of anti-war opposition was pressuring me to refuse induction. Easy for her to say, although she would prove right and prove a stalwart as well during my imprisonments. Whatever idealistic views I had (via Robert Kennedy), some sloth and maybe my whole freaking youth in the Acre which could not and should not be discounted did not mesh-then. The only thing that might point to some future struggles on my part was that the day in January 1969 before I was to report for induction I had Joyce cut my longish hair (you could hardly be a young male in Boston without that longer hair to distinguish you from the rednecks) and giving the Army butcher-barbers the satisfaction of cutting my locks. Still I took the oath, accepted induction.

The expectation, gained from the Acre brethren who had already either served or were in the service in Vietnam like Sam Lowell, was that I would take basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey. What happened was that for reasons known only to the Army Dix was full or something so those inducted that day were sent first to Fort Jackson down in South Carolina and then transferred to Fort Gordon over in Augusta, Georgia (the site of the later to be revered by Sam Lowell Masters’ Golf Tournament) for basic. The former location is where I had my opening epiphany, where I first really knew I had made a mistake about accepting induction. And while it would still be premature to say I had decided to refuse to go the thought was getting etched into my psyche.

Stop. The previous pages represent a pretty good remembrance of my times before that fateful January day. In looking over what others like Sam Lowell, Seth Garth and Zack James (Alex from Carver’s younger brother who was too young to have been involved in all of this but who is a very good writer and hence has written, from outside the inner circle, a good piece on my travails). Rather than reinvent the wheel I think Sam should take over and tell once again his version of what I went through. Hell I have said enough let’s let site manager Greg Green publish his Introduction and Sam’s piece and if anybody has further questions they can comment and I will answer in return.    
Introduction To Sam Lowell’s Frank Jackman’s Masters of War by Greg Green

Life is full of surprises as everybody over the age of about three knows firsthand even if that hard fact does not stand out and light a fire under you at every possible moment. Take my own situation. A couple of years ago I was working hard at the American Film Gazette managing the overall film review schedule and trying to outdo the legendary publisher Larry Lorton from Film Daily in the number of films we did reviews on. Then Pete Markin (aka Allan Jackson who used that moniker in honor of a fallen hometown friend who taught him and a few of the other writers here a thing or two about the profession although he eventually fell on his own sword which is a story many had detailed here over time and I need not go into) brought me over here to run the day to day operations while he readied himself for retirement or some other project. Jesus, then the Summer of Love, 1967, or rather the 50th anniversary commemoration of the event hit this place like a whirling dervish. I was too young to know much about that time but had heard some pretty raw and scary stuff about drugs, unprotected sex, unlicensed or registered vehicles including some converted yellow school bus that became home for varying times by some of the Tonio’s Pizza Parlor corner boys from the Acre  and other larcenies from writers here who had been there under Markin’s guidance, the real Markin not Allan. In any case Allan went crazy to make sure the damn event got almost as much coverage after 50 years as when the thing actually got off the ground and created what he and the others hatched up as a re-working of the antics of the Generation of ’68.

All well and good. Well not all well and good since the younger writers could in the words of Alden Riley one of the leaders of the Young Turks give a fuck about the fucking Summer of Love, 1967 or any other year in that decade. That led to a show-down and the demise of Allan Jackson, a founding member, and my elevation to site manager and the overall poohbah of this operation. According to what I hear around the water cooler things are calmer now that not everybody has to spent 24/7/365 neck-deep in the 1960s like that was the golden age, like that was the Garden as Lance Lawrence mockingly called it.

All this to say that some of the stuff from the 1960s, and the recently concluded The Roots is the Toots rock and roll series is one example that I was more than happy to give an encore presentation to (admittedly after a little nudge from Sam Lowell and others), is worth another inspection. That brings us to the real-life story below about what happened to Frank Jackman when he was of draft age, eighteen to who knows how long if things ever got really dicey, in the age when that meant something and meant some tough decisions for a whole generation of young men who didn’t know what the hell to do when their number got called. Yeah, maybe this tale is not the sexiest one on the block, on the lowdown of the 1960s when youth nation went overboard with sex, drugs and rock and roll but fifty years or so later it still reads like a good story that people should know about-and shout from the rooftops about as we enter another year of endless war in the endless wars of our times.
Frank Jackman’s War from the pen of Sam Lowell
(I have changed up locales and people’s names but the story-line is as pure as I can make it for my friend Frank Jackman-S.L.)

Jack Callahan’s old friend from Sloan High School in Carver down in Southeastern Massachusetts Alex James (Alex short for Alex not as is the fashion today to just name a baby Alexander and be done with it) is an amateur writer and has been at it since he got out of high school. Found out that maybe by osmosis, something like that, the stuff Miss Enos taught him junior and senior years about literature and her favorite writers Hemingway, Edith Wharton and Dorothy Parker to name a few, with which she would entice the English class stuck with him with through college where although he majored in Political Science he was in thrall to the English literature courses that he snuck into to his schedule. Snuck in although Alex knew practically speaking he had a snowball’s chance in hell, an expression he had learned from Hemingway he thought, of making a career out of the literary life, would more likely wind up driving a cab through dangerous midnight sections of town occasionally getting mugged for his night’s work. That Political Science major winding up producing about the same practical results as the literary life though. Those literary designs stuck with him, savior stuck with him, through his tour of duty during the Vietnam War, and savior stayed with him through those tough years when he couldn’t quite get himself back to the “real” world after ‘Nam and let drugs and alcohol rule his life so that he wound up for some time as a “brother under the bridge” as Bruce Springsteen later put the situation in a song that he played continuously at times after he first heard the opening line “Saigon, long gone…."  Stuck with him after he recovered and started building up his sports supplies business, stuck with him through three happy/sad/savage/acrimonious “no go” marriages and a parcel of kids and child support.  And was still sticking with him now that he had time to stretch out and write longer pieces and beat away on the word processor a few million words on this and that.

Amateur writer meaning nothing more than that he liked to write, and that writing was not his profession, that he did not depend on the pen for his livelihood (or rather more correctly these days not the pen but the word processor). That livelihood business was taken up running a small sports apparel store in a mall not far from Lexington (the Lexington of American revolutionary battles to give the correct town and state) where he now lived. Although he was not a professional writer his interest was such that he liked these days with Jimmy Shore, the famous ex-runner running the day to day operations of the store, to perform some of his written work in public at various “open mic” writing (and poetry) jams that have sprouted up in his area.

This “open mic” business Alex had embarked on s was a familiar concept to Jack from the days back in the 1960s when he would go to such events in the coffeehouses around Harvard Square and Beacon Hill to hear amateur folk-singers perfect their acts and try to be recognized as the new voice of their generation, or something like that. For “no singing voice, no musical ear” Jack those were basically cheap date nights if the girl he was with was into folk music. The way most of the "open mics" worked, although they probably called them talent searches then, was each performer would sign up to do one, two, maybe three songs depending on how long the list of those wishing to perform happened to be (the places where each performer kicked in a couple of bucks in order to play usually had shorter lists). These singers usually performed in the period in front of the night’s feature who very well might have been somebody who a few weeks before had been noticed by the owner during a previous "open mic" and asked to do a set of six to sixteen songs depending on the night and the length of the list of players in front of him or her. The featured performer played, unlike the "open mic" people, for the “basket” (maybe a hat) passed around the crowd in the audience and that was the night’s “pay.” A tough racket for those starting out like all such endeavors. The attrition rate was pretty high after the folk minute died down with arrival of other genre like folk rock, heavy rock, and acid rock although you still see a few old folkies around the Square or playing the separate “open mic” folk circuit that also run through church coffeehouses just like these writing jams.
Jack was not surprised then when Alex told him he would like him to come to hear him perform one of his works at the monthly third Thursday “open mic” at the Congregational Church in Arlington the next town over from Lexington. Alex told Jack that that night he was going to perform something he had written and thought on about Frank Jackman, about what had happened to Frank when he was in the Army during Vietnam War times.

Jack knew almost automatically what Alex was going to do, he would somehow use Bob Dylan’s Masters of War lyrics as part of his presentation. Jack and Alex ( a Vietnam veteran who got “religion” on the anti-war issue while he in the Army and became a fervent anti-war guy after that experience despite his personal problems, including a couple of losing bout s with drugs and alcohol before getting twelve step sober) had met Frank in 1971 when they were doing some anti-war work among the soldiers at Fort Devens out in Ayer about forty miles west of Boston. Frank had gotten out of the Army several months before and since he was from Nashua in the southern part of New Hampshire not far from Devens and had heard about the G.I. coffeehouse, The Morning Report, where Jack and Alex were working as volunteers he had decided to volunteer to help out as well.
Now Frank was a quiet guy, quieter than Jack and Alex anyway, but one night he had told his Army story to a small group of volunteers gathered in the main room of the coffeehouse as they were planning to distribute Daniel Ellsberg’s sensational whistle-blower expose The Pentagon Papers to soldiers at various spots around the base (including as it turned out inside the fort itself with one copy landing on the commanding general’s desk for good measure). He wanted to tell this story since he wanted to explain why he would not be able to go with them if they went inside the gates at Fort Devens.

Jack knew Alex was going to tell Frank’s story so he told Frank he would be there since he had not heard the song or Frank’s story in a long while and had forgotten parts of it. Moreover, Alex wanted Jack there for moral support since this night other than the recitation of the lyrics he was going to speak off the cuff rather than his usual reading from some prepared paper. 

That night Alex was already in the hall talking to the organizer, Eli Walsh, you may have heard of him since he has written some searing poems about his time in three tours Iraq. Jack felt right at home in this basement section of the church and he probably could have walked around blind-folded since the writing jams were on almost exactly the same model as the old folkie “open mics.” A table as you entered to pay your admission this night three dollars (although the tradition is that no one is turned away for lack of funds) with a kindly woman asking if you intended to perform and direct you to the sign-up sheet if so. Another smaller table with various cookies, snacks, soda, water and glasses for those who wished to have such goodies, and who were asked to leave a donation in the jar on that table if possible. The set-up in the hall this night included a small stage where the performers would present their material slightly above the audience. On the stage a lectern for those who wished to use that for physical support or to read their work from and the ubiquitous simple battery-powered sound system complete with microphone. For the audience a bevy of chairs, mostly mismatched, mostly having seen plenty of use, and mostly uncomfortable. After paying his admission fee he went over to Alex to let him know he was in the audience. Alex had told him he was number seven on the list so not to wander too far once the session had begun.

This is the way Alex told the story and why Jack knew there would be some reference to Bob Dylan’s Masters of War that night:
Hi everybody my name is Alex James and I am glad that you all came out this cold night to hear Preston Borden present his moving war poetry and the rest of us to reflect on the main subject of this month’s writing jam-the endless wars that the American government under whatever regime of late has dragged us into, us kicking and screaming to little avail.  I want to thank Eli as always for setting this event up every month and for his own thoughtful war poetry. [Some polite applause.] But enough for thanks and all that because tonight I want to recite a poem, well, not really a poem, but lyrics to a song, to a Bob Dylan song, Masters of War, so it might very well be considered a poem in some sense.   

You know sometimes, a lot of times, a song, lyrics, a poem for that matter bring back certain associations. You know some song you heard on the radio when you went on your first date, your first dance, your first kiss, stuff like that which is forever etched in your memory and evokes that moment every time you hear it thereafter. Now how this Dylan song came back to me recently is a story in itself.
You remember Eli back in October when we went up to Maine to help the Maine Veterans for Peace on their yearly peace walk that I ran into Susan Rich, the Quaker gal we met up in Freeport who walked with us that day to Portland. [Eli shouted out “yes.”] I had not seen Susan in about forty years before that day, hadn’t seen her since the times we had worked together building up support for anti-war G.I.s out at the Morning Report coffeehouse in Ayer outside Fort Devens up on Route 2 about thirty miles from here. That’s when we met Frank Jackman who is the real subject of my presentation tonight since he is the one who I think about when I think about that song, think about his story and how that song relates to it. 

Funny as many Dylan songs as I knew Masters of War, written by Dylan in 1963 I had never heard until 1971. Never heard the lyrics until I met Frank out at Fort Devens where after I was discharged from the Army that year I went to do some volunteer anti-war G.I. work at the coffeehouse outside the base in Army town Ayer. Frank too was a volunteer, had heard about the place somehow I forget how, who had grown up in Nashua up in southern New Hampshire and after he was discharged from the Army down at Fort Dix in New Jersey came to volunteer just like me and my old friend Jack Callahan who is sitting in the audience tonight. Now Frank was a quiet guy didn’t talk much about his military service, but he made the anti-war soldiers who hung out there at night and on weekends feel at ease. One night thought he felt some urge to tell his story, tell why he thought it was unwise for him to participate in an anti-war action we were planning around the base. We were going to pass out copies of Daniel Ellsberg’s explosive whistle-blower expose The Pentagon Papers to soldiers at various location around the fort and as it turned out on the base. The reason that Frank had balked at the prospect of going into the fort was that as part of his discharge paperwork was attached a statement that he was never to go on a military installation again. We all were startled by that remark, right Jack? [Jack nods agreement.]

And that night the heroic, our kind of heroic, Frank Jackman told us about the hows and whys of his Army experience. Frank had been drafted like a ton of guys back then, like me, and had allowed himself to be drafted in 1968 at the age of nineteen not being vociferously anti-war and not being aware then of the option of not taking the subsequent induction. After about three week down at Fort Dix, the main basic training facility for trainees coming from the Northeast then, he knew two things-he had made a serious mistake by allowing himself to be drafted and come hell or high water he was not going to fight against people he had no quarrel with in Vietnam. Of course the rigors of basic training and being away from home, away from anybody who could help him do he knew not what then kept him quiet and just waiting. Once Basic was over and he got his Advanced Infantry Training assignment also at Fort Dix which was to be an infantryman at a time when old Uncle Sam only wanted infantrymen in the rice paddles and jungles of Vietnam things came to a head.

After a few weeks in AIT he got a three day weekend pass which allowed him to go legally off the base and he used that time to come up to Boston, or really Cambridge because what he was looking for was help to file an conscientious objector application and he knew the Quakers were historically the ones who would know about going about that process. That is ironically where Susan Rich comes in again, although indirectly this time, since Frank went to the Meeting House on Brattle Street where they were doing draft and G.I. resistance counseling and Susan was a member of that Meeting although she had never met him at that time. He was advised by one of the Quaker counselors that he could submit a C.O. application in the military, which he had previously not been sure was possible since nobody told anybody anything about that in the military, when he got back to Fort Dix but just then, although they were better later, the odds were stacked against him since he had already accepted induction. So he went back, put in his application, took a lot of crap from the lifers and officers in his company after that and little support, mainly indifference, from his fellow trainees. He still had to go through the training, the infantry training though and although he had taken M-16 rifle training in basic he almost balked at continuing to fire weapons especially when it came to machine guns. He didn’t balk but in the end that was not a big deal since fairly shortly after that his C.O. application was rejected although almost all those who interviewed him in the process though he was “sincere” in his beliefs. That point becomes important later.

Frank, although he knew his chances of being discharged as a C.O. were slim since he had based his application on his Catholic upbringing and more general moral and ethical grounds. The Catholic Church which unlike Quakers and Mennonites and the like who were absolutely against war held to a just war theory, Vietnam being mainly a just war in the Catholic hierarchy’s opinion. But Frank was sincere, more importantly, he was determined to not go to war despite his hawkish family and his hometown friends,’ some who had already served, served in Vietnam too, scorn and lack of support. So he went back up to Cambridge on another three day pass to get some advice, which he actually didn’t take in the end or rather only partially took up  which had been to get a lawyer they would recommend and fight the C.O. denial in Federal court even though that was also still a long shot then.

Frank checked with the lawyer alright, Steve Brady, who had been radicalized by the war and was offering his services on a sliding scale basis to G.I.s since he also had the added virtue of having been in the JAG in the military and so knew some of the ropes of the military legal system, and legal action was taken but Frank was one of those old time avenging Jehovah types like John Brown or one of those guys and despite being a Catholic rather than a high holy Protestant which is the usual denomination for avenging angels decided to actively resist the military. And did it in fairly simple way when you think about it. One Monday morning when the whole of AIT was on the parade field for their weekly morning report ceremony Frank came out of his barracks with his civilian clothes on and carrying a handmade sign which read “Bring the Troops Home Now!”

That sign was simply but his life got a lot more complicated after that. In the immediate sense that meant he was pulled down on the ground by two lifer sergeants and brought to the Provost Marshal’s office since they were not sure that some dippy-hippie from near-by New York City might be pulling a stunt. When they found out that he was a soldier they threw him into solitary in the stockade.

For his offenses Frank was given a special court-martial which meant he faced six month maximum sentence which a panel of officers at his court-martial ultimately sentenced him to after a seven day trial which Steve Brady did his best to try to make into an anti-war platform but given the limitation of courts for such actions was only partially successful. After that six months was up minus some good time Frank was assigned to a special dead-beat unit waiting further action either by the military or in the federal district court in New Jersey. Still in high Jehovah form the next Monday morning after he was released he went out to that same parade field in civilian clothes carrying another homemade sign “Bring The Troops Home Now!” and he was again manhandled by another pair of lifer sergeants and this time thrown directly into solitary in the stockade since they knew who they were dealing with by then. And again he was given a special court-martial and duly sentenced by another panel of military officers to the six months maximum.

Frank admitted at that point he was in a little despair at the notion that he might have to keep doing the same action over and over again for eternity. Well he wound up serving almost all of that second six-month sentence but then he got a break. That is where listening to the Quakers a little to get legal advice did help. See what Steve Brady, like I said an ex-World War II Army JAG officer turned anti-war activist lawyer, did was take the rejection of his C.O. application to Federal District Court in New Jersey on a writ of habeas corpus arguing that since all Army interviewers agreed Frank was “sincere” that it had been arbitrary and capricious of the Army to turn down his application. And given that the United States Supreme Court and some lower court decisions had by then expanded who could be considered a C.O. beyond the historically recognized groupings and creeds the cranky judge in the lower court case agreed and granted that writ of habeas corpus. Frank was let out with an honorable discharge, ironically therefore entitled to all veterans’ benefits but with the stipulation that he never go onto a military base again under penalty of arrest and trial. Whether that could be enforced as a matter of course he said he did not want to test since he was hardily sick of military bases in any case. 

So where does Bob Dylan’s Masters of War come into the picture. Well as you know, or should know every prisoner, every convicted prisoner, has the right to make a statement in his or her defense during the trial or at the sentencing phase. Frank at both his court-martials rose up and recited Bob Dylan’s Masters of War for the record. So for all eternity, or a while anyway, in some secret recess of the Army archives (and of the federal courts too) there is that defiant statement of a real hero of the Vietnam War. Nice right? 

 Here is what had those bloated military officers on Frank’s court-martial boards seeing red and ready to swing him from the highest gallows, yeah, swing him high.

Masters Of War-Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music