Saturday, November 09, 2019

“They Are Spoon-feeding Casanova To Make Him Feel More Secure”-Once Again The Legend-Slayer Cometh- Heath Leger’s “Casanova” (2005)- A Film Review-Of Sorts

“They Are Spoon-feeding Casanova To Make Him Feel More Secure”-Once Again The Legend-Slayer Cometh- Heath Leger’s “Casanova” (2005)- A Film Review-Of Sorts

By Will Bradley

Casanova, Heath Leger, 2005

This is a funny business, this film reviewing stuff that has been my entry into getting my feet wet in the on-line publishing industry now that I have a by-line. That by-line courtesy of the good work that Greg Green said I did in going mano a mano (my expression) with old-time film reviewer Seth Garth, yes, that Seth Garth that has garnered a handful of Press Globes on everything from film reviews to political reporting, on debunking the English private detective Sherlock Holmes. excuse me real name via my expose Larry Livermore, legend. I have been doing the same, have been building a solid reputation as a legend-killer with a bunch of other has-been legends. Here is the problem though every lonely hearts dingbat with time on his or her hands has been sending in requests about the to quote one of these geeks “real deal” on the likes of Snow White, Cinderella, the Wizard of Oz. Jesus, don’t these fools know the different between a real legend like say Johnny Cielo or Robin Hood and fairy tale characters. To the extent that these were innocent errors I will forgo further reprimanding but let it be known that I am Will Bradley the legend-killer not some sneak in the night disturber and disabuse of children’s dreams and fantasies.   

Now on to the real business of this review, a review of one Johnny Casanova, no, not the long-time and dare I say really legendary gangster, mob boss who ruled Trenton and its New Jersey environs for decades with an iron hand and a vast graveyard. No, this joker is the one reputed to be the great Italian lover back in the day, back in the 1700s. In short another one of those annoying cases where I have to pour through a million documents to burst some foolish balloon, some task I really should not have had to do.     

Excuse me but I am still burned up about those clowns who wanted to waste my time, my valuable time, theirs apparently not to them tthis hard fought for by-line without bringing down some very serious legends which I will in good time do to one John Casanova, or whatever his real name was. I almost lost my eyesight looking over the documents which proved that Sherlock Holmes was nothing but a London night pub crawler down at the waterfront with the tough sailor boys doing tricks. Had to go to the London Assizes for crying out loud to find that this Sherlock Holmes was some cad, some serious con man whose born name was Larry, or rather Lawrence Livermore, who was responsible for half the crimes committed against property in the greater London area during his reign of terror fronted by that Baker Street debauchery. Many people and you know how people are once they attach themselves to certain beliefs, to certain legends even after they have been scientifically debunked who will believe unto the end times about their heroes, refused to believe a man whom they had been spoon-fed to believe was a master criminal detective, smarter than Scotland Yard’s best although that might not be saying much was nothing but dross, a dung heap denizen. But some, and this is my sole purpose here beyond holding on to this by-line for dear life for de-fanging the legends, will read and listen and gain some worldly wisdom.       

Sherlock, excuse me, Larry, okay Lawrence Livermore, was just the tip of the iceberg, the beginning and in a certain way not the most famous legend snapped since it was pretty easy to get the goods on a famous scoundrel from the last hundred years or so. Going back in deep time, a time when all the records might not have survived is different. And that has been my trajectory ever since I got waylaid by debunking the Johnny Cielo legend. That one should have been easy since that was the case of the so-called famous early aviator whose main claim to fame beside the proven bogus claims that he was almost at Kitty Hawk when the deal went down there with manned flight was that he squired the eye candy 1940s actress Rita Hayworth around. Got her to go with him to Barranca down in Central America abandoning her movie career when he got run out town here. Later had the gall to have it put out that he was transporting guns and supplies to Fidel and the boys in the Sierra Madres. Said to have died in a plane crash in the Caribbean doing that heroic work. Baloney, he had some whore who looked like Rita on his arm who ran out on him when his money ran out and that plane crash was in the Gulf of Mexico when he was transporting well-fixed tourists from Naples in Florida to Key West.        

That nonsense made me swear off today’s legends as so much trade puffing and hubris so I have looked behind convent walls been heading back to the big ones from centuries ago. Guys like Robin Hood whose “rob the rich, give to the poor” was one of the greatest scams in history until I got a look at the church and estate records and found he gouged his tenants worse than old Prince John of dreams in Nottingham. Proved through the Spanish Inquisition records, those boys were nasty but they reveled in recording every moan and groan, that Don Juan, another great lover, was a figment of the imagination of one young rich heiress caught up in a convent a norm for young women of her class whose lies were echoed throughout the young women convent land that they had been ravished by this guy, who turned out to be some innocent some farm boy seen from behind convent walls. It did not, does not stop there. Despite my fondness for fellow reviewer Si Lannon and his well-kept and sorrowful secret about his mother’s heritage I had to expose Zorro as a blowhard and as an example of another kind of hysteria, mass hysteria among the peasantry when that is combined with no food, and no prospects. Tough work on that one.  

So now here we are with one Casanova. This will be a tough one to break because even the curators of a recent exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which young Sarah Lemoyne has reviewed in these pages got caught in the trap when they produced a yarn about the so-called age that Johnny boy lived in. And he wasn’t an artist or even had one painting to display although I hear that his brothers, if Casanova was his real name, were pretty good.

That is the crux of the matter. Naturally this film goes unabashedly along with the legend business, lets Casanova played by the late Heath Leger, run wild in convents and milady’s bedrooms and unquestioningly assumed that what he said he did was gospel true. Said and did via a doctored memoir of some 10,000 pages filled with more crap than any one person could shovel in a lifetime. Did what no “celebrity” today would dream of-selling his or her story on the low. Of course, the film would have done the producers no good financially if the Casanova legend was debunked and he was just some raggedy-assed quay bum working the dark canals for whatever passed his way. But sometimes a film plotline gives away more than it would think. 

The key here is the role played by Francesca, the so-called love of Johnny boy’s life, who was a writer, a proto-feminist writer which befits our time but would have been very advanced in her day. So advanced that she had to write under a male signature, moniker and go through hoops to get her works published. Not to speak of dodging the Inquisition which was still running full-bore although in Venice where most of the action in this propaganda film out of the Riefenstahl handbook takes place although they were being held back a little by the Doge and others who were covering for every kind of debauchery emanating from the emerging merchant class and its hangers-on.  

Francesca, no need to give her last name used in the film since that was a moniker too, as it turned out was the real creator of the Casanova legend, for good or evil. It seems from the Inquisition records, which I have noted are quite good and complete, Francesca admitted under the torturer’s thumb that she had been unhappy in love with one Billy Casanova, go figure, and in her desolate chambers had written the poor bastard up as a philanderer and debauchee. Worse had published the exploits which had developed a following among the plebeians assorted decadent nobility with time on their hands between wars. Before they hanged her from the yardarm or whatever their dastardly methods she refused to recant, refused to say that one of the things about Jimmy was that he was a poor lover in the bed department and so what we have is what she wrote. People will still believe this Casanova stuff but thinking people will know that they do so at their peril. Especially in these #MeToo days

How does that truth square with the film. Nowhere to be seen as our boy Johnny, Jimmy, Billy whatever he told anybody his name was cavorts with wenches, witches and wild novices not ready for the cloister. Makes him the gallant until he glams on Francesca who rightly dismisses him out of hand as a buffoon, braggard and a man with a small inconsequential member. From there on in his patently monogamous seeking only her love and attention. Our gallant even had made heroic gesture of seeking to take her place in the gallows but a clever ruse saved his ass. Some drunkard well met came through acting as a cardinal of dear Rome and proclaimed him free since it as the pontiff’s birthday. Too bad it could not have saved heroic Francesca who bravely went to her end even though smart young woman that she was would cause a serious delay in women’s liberation, in emancipation. And that ain’t no fairy-tale.    

From The American Songbook-Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbank, Jr.’s “Joy Of Loving” (1938)-A Film Review

From The American Songbook-Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbank, Jr.’s “Joy Of Loving” (1938)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Film Critic Emeritus Sam Lowell

Joy Of Loving, starring Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., 1938 

I am a child of rock and roll, period. I was present at the creation, or close to it of the classic age of rock when Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, Bully Holly, Bill Haley and a million other hungry for new music musicians came thundering out of the bland Cold War 1950s night and helped us break out of jail. While I have acquired tastes for other kinds of music like foundation blues and traditional folk I still to this day identify as a child or rock. Which is neither here nor there except in grabbing this film under review The Joy of Loving from Senior Film Critic Sandy Salmon I noticed that the subject matter features a Broadway musical performer which is a very different part of the American Songbook that what has moved me musically over the years.

Of course the minute I (and some of my old-time high school friends) touch on the subject of musicals then I automatically think about the late Pete Markin who while also a child of rock and roll, maybe the child of rock and roll amongst the old crowd he was crazy for musicals, for the Cole Porter/Gershwins/Rodgers and Hammerstein and here Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields segment of the American Songbook. Knew most of the lyric from the old shows that filtered into the popular culture by heart once he had seen the film version of Camelot back in the early 1960s and drove us crazy singing the title son and If Ever I Would Leave You until we almost ran him out of town. Broadway musical lyrics were not what drove a bunch of poor boy working-class corner boy kids to anything but serious doubts about a person’s, about Markin’s masculinity. Pete would have had a field day with reviewing this film and I wonder if he might have seen it back then at Mr. Cadger’s old long gone to condos Strand Theater where he would periodically do what are now called retrospectives of the old black and white films rather than first runs to cut down on expenses.

But so much for old touches. Let’s get to a look at what goes on here in this little sidebar musical about musicals. As usual in such vehicles the plotline is pretty thin, if existent. (The person I viewed it with kept asking me what the plot was, when it was going to develop.) Margaret, the role played by Irene Dunne, is a Broadway musical star who is apparently the greedy sole support of her entire extended stage-bound family (including a sister with two kids and a lightweight husband played by a young pre-I Love Lucy Lucille Ball). Despite making a ton of dough she is always behind due to said sponges and that has left her distraught despite her successes. Still her rags-to-riches success has made adamant about taking care of her kin.              

Enter one Dan, played by handsome Johnny Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. who one theater performance night tries to get to see her among the throngs. She thinking him a “masher” (quaint term) calls the coppers. Score one for Margaret. But Dan is smitten so he takes another stab at it on another night. Again thwarted but this time Margaret gets him in court and winds up as his “probation officer.” Naturally as such things go along the way Margaret’s interest in the lug (who turns out to the scion of a wealthy family) grows as she gets to know him. Know him and his idea that she should enjoy herself and dump that spongy family. The long and short of it is they get married but have tiff over that family business. Not to worry while Dan is heading to the great China seas, or claims to be, our girl sees the light and gives the family the old heave-ho. Thus the big number Kern/Fields song You Couldn’t Be Cuter is very apt for this little film.  Yeah Markin would have had a field day with this one.          

*From The Lenin Archives- On The Centenary Of His Philosophical Treatise "Materialism And Empiro-criticism "-A Guest Commentary

On The Anniversary Of The Russian Revolution Of 1905-

By Frank Jackman

For the attentive reader of this unabashedly left-wing publication which moreover not only takes history seriously but commemorates some historical nodal points worthy of attention today I have drawn attention this month of January to the 100th anniversary of the assassinations of key nascent German Communist Party leaders Rosa Luxemburg, the rose of the revolution, and Karl Liebknecht the heart of the left-wing German workers movement. In that commentary I noted that history in the conditional, especially when things turned out badly as they did in Germany with the failure of the Communists to take power within a few years of the Armistice and aid the struggling isolated and devastated Russian revolution, is tricky business. There were certainly opportunities closed off by the decimation of the heads of the early German Communist Party that were never made up. That failure helps in its own way to pave the road to the Nazi takeover and all that meant for Europe and the world later. I also cautioned against stretching such conditionals out too far without retreating to an idea that the rise of the Nazis was inevitable. Give it some thought though.
History in the conditional applies as well to events that would in the future turn out well, well at the beginning in any case, and that leads to the role played by what many parties including Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. That was the Revolution of 1905 which although it was shattered and many of the leading participants either killed, exiled or banished still provided some hope that things would turn on that proverbial historical dime in the end. The key organization structure set up in 1905, the Workers Soviets, councils, which in embryo provided the outline for the workers government everybody from Marx and to his left argued for to bring socialist order to each country, to the world in the end almost automatically was reestablished in the early days of 1917. Who knows in conditions of war and governmental turmoil what would have happened if that organizational form had not already been tested in an earlier revolutionary episode. Again, let’s not get too wide afield on history in the conditional on this end either. Think about those episodes though as we commemorate that 1905 revolution. 


Click on title to link the Vladimir Lenin Internet Archive's copy of his philosophical treatise in defense of the Marxist worldview, "Materialism and Empirio-criticism"

Workers Vanguard No. 945
23 October 2009

In Defense of Dialectical Materialism

(Quote of the Week)

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the publication of Materialism and Empirio-criticism,written by Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin in 1908 during the period of victorious reaction following the defeat of the 1905 Russian Revolution. This work is a powerful repudiation of bourgeois philosophical idealism—embraced at the time even by some Bolshevik leaders—which in the end always amounts to a defense of reaction and the status quo. In the excerpt below, Lenin provides a concise exposition of the Marxist materialist outlook.

Yesterday we did not know that coal tar contains alizarin. Today we have learned that it does. The question is, did coal tar contain alizarin yesterday?

Of course it did. To doubt it would be to make a mockery of modern science.

And if that is so, three important epistemological conclusions follow:

1) Things exist independently of our consciousness, independently of our sensations, outside of us, for it is beyond doubt that alizarin existed in coal tar yesterday and it is equally beyond doubt that yesterday we knew nothing of the existence of this alizarin and received no sensations from it.

2) There is definitely no difference in principle between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself, and there cannot be any such difference. The only difference is between what is known and what is not yet known....

3) In the theory of knowledge, as in every other sphere of science, we must think dialectically, that is, we must not regard our knowledge as ready-made and unalterable, but must determine how knowledge emerges from ignorance, how incomplete, inexact knowledge becomes more complete and more exact.

Once we accept the point of view that human knowledge develops from ignorance, we shall find millions of examples of it just as simple as the discovery of alizarin in coal tar, millions of observations not only in the history of science and technology but in the everyday life of each and every one of us that illustrate the transformation of “things-in-themselves” into “things-for-us,” the appearance of “phenomena” when our sense-organs experience an impact from external objects, the disappearance of “phenomena” when some obstacle prevents the action upon our sense-organs of an object which we know to exist. The sole and unavoidable deduction to be made from this—a deduction which all of us make in everyday practice and which materialism deliberately places at the foundation of its epistemology—is that outside us, and independently of us, there exist objects, things, bodies and that our perceptions are images of the external world.

—V.I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909)

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On Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding of The Communist International*From The Pen Of Communist International Leader Karl Radek -The Labor Movement, Shop Committees And The Third International"

Click on title to link to the Karl Radek Internet Archive for other of the works of this important secondary Bolshevik leader and high Communist International official.

Markin comment:

No revolution can succeed without men and women of Radek's caliber. Although Radek had his ups and downs in his later days as a Comintern official he stood tall in October. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.

Workers Struggles and Revolutionary Consciousness (Quote of the Week) Writing at the end of the 19th century, following a massive strike wave in tsarist Russia, V.I. Lenin polemicized against those Russian Social Democrats, as Marxists called themselves at the time, who argued that economic struggle would spontaneously lead to workers developing revolutionary political consciousness.

Workers Vanguard No. 1163
18 October 2019
Workers Struggles and Revolutionary Consciousness
(Quote of the Week)
Writing at the end of the 19th century, following a massive strike wave in tsarist Russia, V.I. Lenin polemicized against those Russian Social Democrats, as Marxists called themselves at the time, who argued that economic struggle would spontaneously lead to workers developing revolutionary political consciousness. Lenin underlined that it is the task of the revolutionary party to intervene into class and social struggles to bring socialist consciousness to the proletariat and prepare it for its historic task of overthrowing capitalist rule. Lenin cites Karl Kautsky, a Marxist leader at the time who would later betray proletarian internationalism and become a bitter opponent of the October 1917 Russian Revolution.
“Every class struggle is a political struggle”—these famous words of Marx are not to be understood to mean that any struggle of workers against employers must always be a political struggle. They must be understood to mean that the struggle of the workers against the capitalists inevitably becomes a political struggle insofar as it becomes a class struggle. It is the task of the Social-Democrats, by organising the workers, by conducting propaganda and agitation among them, to turn their spontaneous struggle against their oppressors into the struggle of the whole class, into the struggle of a definite political party for definite political and socialist ideals. This is something that cannot be achieved by local activity alone....
Social-Democracy is not confined to simple service to the working-class movement: it represents “the combination of socialism and the working-class movement” (to use Karl Kautsky’s definition which repeats the basic ideas of the Communist Manifesto).
—V.I. Lenin, “Our Immediate Task” (1899)

The “Cold” Civil War Rages In America-In The Third Year Of The Torquemada (Oops!) Trump Regime- Immigrants, Trans-genders, DACAs, TPSers, Media People, Leftists, Hell, Liberals Know Your Constitutional Rights-It May Save Your Life

The “Cold” Civil War Rages In America-In The Third Year Of The Torquemada (Oops!) Trump Regime- Immigrants, Trans-genders, DACAs, TPSers, Media People, Leftists, Hell, Liberals Know Your Constitutional Rights-It May Save Your Life     

By Frank Jackman

Over the first year of the Trump regime as this massive control freak regime has plundered right after right, made old Hobbes’ “life is short, brutish and nasty” idea seem all too true for a vast swath  of people residing in America (and not just America either) I have startled many of my friends, radical and liberal alike. Reason? For almost all of my long adult life I have been as likely to call, one way or another, for the overthrow of the government as not. This Republic if you like for a much more equitable society than provided under it aegis. This year I have been as they say in media-speak “walking that notion back a bit.” Obviously even if you only get your news from social media or twitter feeds there have been gigantic attempts by Trump, his cronies and his allies in Congress to radically limit and cut back many of the things we have come to see as our rights in ordinary course of the business of daily life. This year I have expressed deep concerns about the fate of the Republic and what those in charge these days are hell-bend of trying to put over our eyes.

Hey, I like the idea, an idea that was not really challenged even by the likes of Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes in their respective times that I did not have to watch my back every time I made a political move. Now maybe just every move. This assault, this conscious assault on the lives and prospects of immigrants, DACAs, TPSers. Trans-genders, blacks, anti-fascists, Medicaid recipients, the poor, the outspoken media, uppity liberals, rash leftist radicals and many others has me wondering what protections we can count on, use to try to protect ourselves from the onslaught.

I, unlike some others, have not Cassandra-cried about the incipient fascist regime in Washington. If we were at that jackboot stage I would not be writing, and the reader would not be reading, this screed. Make no mistake about that. However there is no longer a question in my mind that the “cold” civil war that has been brewing beneath the surface of American society for the past decade or more has been ratchetted up many notches. Aside from preparing politically for that clash we should also be aware, much more aware than in the past, about our rights as we are confronted more and more by a hostile government, its hangers-on and the agents who carry out its mandates.

I have been brushing up on my own rights and had come across a small pamphlet put out by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a good source for such information in these times. I have placed that information below.

As the ACLU disclaimer states this information is basic, should be checked periodically for updating especially the way the federal courts up to and including the U.S. Supreme  Court have staked the deck against us of late. In any case these days if you are in legal difficulties you best have a good lawyer. The other side, the government has infinite resources, so you better get your best legal help available even if it cost some serious dough which tends to be the case these days with the way the judicial system works.

Most importantly when confronted by any governmental agents from the locals to the F.B.I. be cool, be very cool.  

Friday, November 08, 2019

As We Come Up To The World War I Armistice Day That War “To End All War”- Yeah, No Question War Is Hell-With Peter Weir’s Film “Gallipoli” In Mind

As We Come Up To The World War I Armistice Day That War “To End All War”- Yeah, No Question War Is Hell-With Peter Weir’s Film “Gallipoli” In Mind 

By Film Critic Emeritus Sam Lowell

As the readers of this site may know I recently have retired, maybe semi-retired is a better way to put it, from the day to day, week to week grind of reviewing film old and young as I just hit my sixty-fifth year. That stepping aside to let Sandy Salmon take his paces on a regular basis did not mean that I would be going completely silent as I intended to, and told the site administrator Greg Green as much, to do an occasional film review and general commentary. This is one of those general commentary times. What has me exercised is Sandy’s recent review of Australian director Peter Weir’s World War I classic Gallipoli starring Mark Lee and Mel Gibson. I take no issue with Sandy since he did a fine job. What caught my attention was Sandy’s comment about Archie’s, the role played by Mark Lee, fervent desire to join his fellow Aussies on Gallipoli peninsula as a patriotic duty and a manly adventure. When I did my own review of the film back in 1981 when the film first came out I make a number of comments about my own military experiences and those of some of the guys I hung around with in high school who had to make some decisions about what to do about the war of our generation, the Vietnam War of the decade of the 1960s. 

While the action of the Australian young men itching to get into the “action” of World War I preceded us by fifty years a lot of the same ideas were hanging our old-time working- class neighborhood in Vietnam War times. (World War I’s ending, “the war that was to end all wars” which turned out to be terribly off the mark, which by the way we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the fourth and mercifully last year of this year ending with the Armistice on November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM- how is that for symbolism. Less symbolic is the American turn of the day into a generic veterans day back in the 1950s which some veterans, including me, are trying to have returned to the original purpose of the day-stopping wars in their tracks.) More than a few guys like Jim Leary and Freddie Lewis from the old Acre neighborhood were like Archie ready, willing and able to go fight the “red menace,” tip the dominoes our way a big selling point at the time but totally absurd in the end, do their patriotic duty take your pick of reasons. Maybe in Freddie’s case to get out of the hostile household that he grew up in and maybe Jim like Archie for a little for the adventure, to prove something about the questions he had about his manhood. I did not pick those two names out accidently for those names now are permanently etched on that hallowed black granite wall down in Washington that brings tears to my eyes old as I am every time I go there.

(The most recent time Memorial Day, 2018 to mark the fiftieth year of mourning for Jim who was one of the corner boys, was a real piece of work and, take your pick, enlisted voluntarily or did so under judicial guidance-that being ordered forthwith to the military or five years jailtime for some armed robbery they grabbed him on-He told me he would rather take his chances against the “gooks”  than be a lifer’s “girlfriend” in stir. Yeah, that is exactly the way he put it, the way he put his choice. Wrong move but who is to fault his decision despite 50 years of mourning over his lost youth-and mine. Freddie was just a quiet kid from my street who had a terrible home life and no great prospects so he joined up thinking that those lying bastard recruiting sergeants were for real when they told him he would get training in electronics which he was interested in-that was the “come on” but in no front lines Vietnam that turned him into a dog soldier infantryman whatever else he did-damn the bastards.)
Then there were guys like me and Jack Callahan, fallen Pete Markin who didn’t want to go into the military, didn’t want to enlist like Jim and Freddie but who having no real reason not to go when our local draft boards, our friends and neighbors if you are old enough to remember, sent “the letter” requesting our services did go and survived. The main reason that we did not want to go, at least at the time, not later when we got a serious idea of what war was about, was that doing military duty kind of cramped our style, would put a crimp in our drinking, doping, and grabbing every girl who was not nailed down. Later Pete and I got religion, realized that the other options like draft refusal which might have meant jail or fleeing to Canada were probably better options. But we were like Archie and Frank in Gallipoli working class kids even though we had all been college students as well. (Markin, hell, the Scribe which is what we all called him from about junior high school once our leader Frankie Riley dubbed him with that moniker after having spewed out a ton of words of praise on Frankie’s behalf, had made his own fatal decision when he dropped out of Boston University in his sophomore year to pursue the dream inherent the Summer of Love, 1967. That in those hellish man-eating days in Vietnam made him prime “cannon-fodder” a word we did not know then but damn well learned later. When the Scribe finished his Vietnam duty he decided not to return to school since ‘Nam had taught him all he needed to know. Again, who was to fault his judgment then-even though he would too soon fall down to drugs and his own hubris and an early grave-a still mourned early grave.)

When in our past was there even a notion of not going when the military called, of abandoning the old life in America for who knows what in Canada. We did what we did with what made sense to us at the time even if we were dead-ass wrong.         

And then of course there is a story like Frank Jackman’s who grew up in a neighborhood even down lower on the social scale than ours, grew up in “the projects,” the notorious projects which our parents would threaten us with if we didn’t stop being a serious drain on the family’s resources. Frank somehow was a college guy too and like us “accepted” induction although he had more qualms about what the heck was going on in Vietnam and about being a soldier. But like us he also accepted induction because he could see no other road out. This is where the story changes up though. Frank almost immediately upon getting to basic training knew that he had made a mistake-had no business in a uniform. And by hook or by crook he did something about it, especially once he got orders for Vietnam. The “hook” part was that through a serious of actions which I don’t need to detail here he wound up doing a little over a year in an Army stockade for refusing to go to Vietnam. Brave man.  The “crook” part was also through a series of actions which need not detain us now, mostly through the civilian courts, he was discharged, discharged from the stockade, honorably discharged as a conscientious objector.           

Archie, Frank and their Aussie comrades only started to get an idea, a real idea about the horrors of war when they were in the trenches in front of the Turks also entrenched on Gallipoli peninsula and being mowed down like some many blades of grass. Archie and most of the crew that joined up with him were among those blades of grass. It was at the point where Archie was steeling himself to go over the top of the trenches after two previous waved had been mowed down and then being cut down by the Turkish machine-gun firing that I realized how brave Frank Jackman’s actions were in retrospect.

I am proud to endorse Bernie Sanders for President KC Kevin Costa 10/28/2019 9:37 PM To MA4Bernie2020 ReplyForwardDelete

I am proud to endorse Bernie Sanders for President

*From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"-How the Bolsheviks Fought for Women's Emancipation

Click on the headline to link to the "Leon Trotsky Internet Archive' online copy of his 1923 article, "From The Old Family To The New".

Markin comment:

The following is an article from the Spring 1988 issue of "Women and Revolution" that may have some historical interest for old "new leftists", perhaps, and well as for younger militants interested in various cultural and social questions that intersect the class struggle. Or for those just interested in a Marxist position on a series of social questions that are thrust upon us by the vagaries of bourgeois society. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of "Women and Revolution" during Women's History Month and periodically throughout the year.


Return to the Road of Lenin and Trotsky

How the Bolsheviks Fought fo Women's Emancipation

On the second anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin announced, "In the course of two years of Soviet power in one of the most backward countries of Europe more has been done to emancipate women, to make her the equal of the 'strong' sex, than has been done during the past 130 years by all the advanced, enlightened, 'democratic' republics of the world taken together" ("Soviet Power and the Status of Women," Collected Works). This truth has a fundamental materialist basis. Only a socialist revolution, breaking the bonds of private property, can create the conditions necessary for the emancipation of women. It's more than ever true today: amidst the barbarous social decay of the imperialist "democracies" like the United States, where reactionary bigots target women's rights, even a mere statement of formal equality like the ERA can't make it into law.

Women and Revolution here reprints three early Soviet decrees addressed to the emancipation of women. Codifying the hard-fought gains of the Bolshevik Revolution, these decrees laid out a perspective for the introduction of new social forms to replace the institution of the family and to draw women into the socialist construction of society. As Lenin said in November 1918, "The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it. The Soviet government is doing everything in its power to enable women to carry on independent proletarian socialist work" ("Speech at the First All-Russia Congress of Working Women," Collected Works).

Women in the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution was sparked by the working women of St. Petersburg, when, 71 years ago, they celebrated International Women's Day with a spontaneous strike and march through the streets. Thousands of women standing in bread lines joined them; hastily improvised red banners rose above the crowd, demanding bread, peace and higher wages. Years of imperialist war had brought the mammoth social tensions of tsarist Russia, where modern capitalism existed superimposed upon entrenched medievalism, to the breaking point.

The Bolsheviks had long been active in organizing Russian proletarian women. The journal Rabotnitsa (The Working Woman), founded in 1914, was only one means by which the Bolsheviks sought to win the ranks of working women over to revolutionary socialism. Social backwardness and poverty in Russia before the revolution fell doubly hard on its women: even mai the minimal gains which capitalism had made possible in the more advanced industrialized countries Europe did not exist in semi-feudal Russia, where serfdom had been abolished a mere 56 years earlier, life lay in the grip of the Orthodox church an priests; religious prejudices were deeply rooted in poverty and ignorance. Peasant women in particular lived under indescribably primitive conditions, cultural impoverished that in 1897 the illiteracy rate was as as 92 percent.

The Bolsheviks understood that the oppression of women could not be legislated out of existence family as the capitalist economic institution for bearing the next generation could not simply be swept away by decree. It had to be replaced with socialized child and housework to remove the burden of doing chores from women, enabling them to participate fully in social and political life. Such a revolutionary restructuring of society could occur only with large-scale industrialization, necessarily years in the future. While fully committed to this revolutionary program, the Bolsheviks were handicapped by terrible objective conditions. For the first few years of Soviet rule their meager resources were absorbed by the Red Army's drive to defeat the imperialists and White Guards who launched a counterrevolutionary war against the young workers republic.

Sweeping Away the Filth of Tsardom

Once in power, the Bolsheviks moved immediately to end all the old legal impediments to women's equality. Women were given the vote, at a time when only Norway and Denmark had legalized women's suffrage. Marriage and divorce were made a simple matter of civil registration, while all distinctions between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" children were annulled. In 1919 the Communist Party created the Department of Working Women and Peasant Women, Zhenotdel, for special work among women, which included organizing over 25,000 literacy schools.

In 1920 the Soviet government legalized abortion and made it free. The People's Commissariat of Health pressed for development of and education about birth control methods, which barely existed in Russia at that time, while discouraging abortion as a threat to health in this age before antibiotics. Even more crucial was the workers government's commitment to eliminating the poverty which drove many women to abortion for sheer lack of ability to provide for their children. The Bolsheviks' aim was to build childcare centers and socialized dining halls to enable women to work knowing their children would be well cared for and fed; single mothers were to receive special help. Despite the severe objective limits facing Soviet society, the birth rate went steadily up and the infant mortality rate steadily down.

The workers revolution in Russia, in sweeping away the rotten filth of tsardom, also abolished in December 1917 all the old laws against homosexual acts. As Dr. Grigorii Batkis, the director of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene, pointed out in "The Sexual Revolution in Russia," published in the Soviet Union in 1923:

"Soviet legislation bases itself on the following principle:

'It declares the absolute non-interference of the state and society into sexual matters so long as nobody is injured and no one's interests are encroached upon.... "Concerning homosexuality, sodomy, and various other forms of sexual gratification, which are set down in European legislation as offenses against public morality—Soviet legislation treats these exactly the same as so-called 'natural' intercourse. All forms of sexual intercourse are private matters." [emphasis in original]

The Fight for Women's Rights in Soviet Central Asia

Nowhere was the condition of women more downtrodden than in the primitive Muslim areas of Soviet Central Asia. The Bolsheviks believed that women, having the most to gain, would be the link that broke the feudal chain in the Soviet East, but they could not with one blow abolish oppressive Muslim institutions. The Bolshevik approach was based on ma¬terialism, not moralism. The Muslim bride price, for example, was not some sinister plot against womankind, but had arisen as an institution central to distrib¬uting land and water rights among different clans (see "Early Bolshevik Work Among Women of the Soviet East," W&R No. 12, Summer 1976, for a fuller discussion).

Systematic Bolshevik work among Muslim women was only possible in 1921, after the end of the bitter Civil War. Dedicated and heroic members of the Zhenotdel donned veils in order to meet Muslim women and explain the laws and goals of the new Soviet republic. Special meeting places, sometimes "Red Yertas" or tents in nomadic areas or clubs in cities, were a key way for the Communist Party to begin to win the trust of these women. Such clubs followed Lenin's policy of using Soviet state power to carefully and systematically undermine native tribalism by demonstrating the superiority of Soviet institutions. The tremendous pro¬ductive capacity of the Soviet planned economy provided the services, education and jobs that finally decisively undercut the ancient order and liberated women from their stifling subjugation.

Today the condition of women in Soviet Central Asia is centuries removed from the oppression their sisters across the border in Afghanistan still face. We said "Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!" because the 1979 Soviet Army intervention against murderous Islamic counterrevolution (whose rallying cry is keeping women under the veil) posed the possibility of a revolutionary transformation of this hideously backward country. Under the protection of the Red Army, the women of Afghanistan have been taught to read and write, and a major¬ity of university students are now women and girls; many hold jobs outside the home; and there are 15,000 women in the Afghan army, defending their new freedoms.

Return to the Road of Lenin and Trotsky!

Many of the gains made by Soviet women under the Bolsheviks were subsequently reversed by the Stalinist political counterrevolution. In 1936, abortion was made illegal. (It was again legalized in 1955.) Divorce becar difficult to obtain, co-education was abolished, horr sexuality was again outlawed. As Trotsky said, "The actual liberation of women is unrealizable on a basis 'generalized want.' Experience soon proved this ai tere truth which Marx had formulated eighty years before." The cruel Civil War decimated the proletariat in the young workers state. Most fundamentally, failure to extend the Revolution internationally strengthened the Stalinist bureaucratic caste in the isola Soviet Union. Workers democracy was smashed." Leninist internationalist program was abandoned favor of the search for "peaceful coexistence" versus imperialism, while domestically the Stalinists sou social props and ideological justifications for bure cratic rule. Exploiting social backwardness to strenghten their grip over society, the Stalinists rehabilitated family as a useful institution of social conservatism control.

Trotsky denounced the Stalinist bureaucracy "Thermidor in the Family" (The Revolution Betray "These gentlemen have, it seems, completely fogooten that socialism was to remove the cause which impels woman to abortion, and not force her into the 'joys of motherhood' with the help of a foul police interference in what is to every woman the most mate sphere of life....

"Instead of openly saying, 'We have proven still poor and ignorant for trie creation of socialist tions among men, our children and grandchildren realize this aim,' the leaders are forcing people together against the shell of the broken family, and not only that, but to consider it, under threat of extreme penalties, the sacred nucleus of triumphant socialism. It is hard to measure with the eye the scope of the retreat."

Despite these counterrevolutionary measures, capitalist private property has not been restored in the Soviet Union. The tremendous productive capac the Soviet planned economy has opened opportunities for women—in education, jobs, social service—which capitalism can never provide. We defend the USSR today unconditionally against imperialism because the fundamental gains of the October lution remain; it is a society based on production for social needs, not capitalist profit. At the same time call for political revolution to re-establish workers democracy and to return the Soviet Union to the liberating goals and program of Lenin and Trotsky.

Today there is great interest in the Soviet Union, in part because of the visible difficulties of American imperialism, but also because of Gorbachev's promises of glasnost (openness). Yet this "enlightened bureaucrat" will never tell the truth about the revolutionary work of the Bolshevik Party. Between that tradition and today's bureaucracy lies the gulf of the bloody political counterrevolution carried out by Stalin.

To appease the nuclear nuts in the White House, Gorbachev appears willing to pull out of Afghanistan. The Kremlin bureaucracy's willingness to abandon Afghan women to illiteracy, the veil and chattel slavery starkly exposes the gulf separating them from the Bolsheviks, who understood that the question of women's liberation,was key, above all in such backward, feudal areas.

In imperialist countries like the United States, only the abolition of private property will make women's emancipation a historical reality. It will take a socialist revolution in the U.S. to win the basic rights and social institutions the Bolsheviks fought for in the early years of the USSR. Given the tremendous productive capacity of U.S. industry and a far higher level of culture than that which the Bolsheviks inherited from the tsar, we have no doubt that the American workers government will be able to quickly implement such far-reaching social programs. For women's liberation through socialist revolution!

Soviet Measures to Liberate Women

Decree of the People's Commissariat of Health and Social Welfare and the People's Commissariat of Justice in Soviet Russia

During recent decades the number of women interrupting pregnancy by abortion has risen both in the West and in our country.

The legislation of all countries combats this evil by severe punishment of the women undergoing abortions as well as of the doctors performing them. To date this method has succeeded only in making the operation illegal, performed in secrecy, and in making women the victims of ignorant quacks or unscrupu¬lous doctors who turn a profit from abortion. As a result, 50 percent of these women become seriously ill and 4 percent of these die from the consequences of the operation.

The Workers and Peasants Government regards this phenomenon as a terrible evil for the entire society. The Workers and Peasants Government sees the consolidation of the socialist order and agitation against abortion among the broad masses of the female working-class population as the way to successfully combat it. It combats this evil in practice with the most far-reaching protection of mothers and children, hoping that it will gradually disappear. However, as long as the remnants of the past and the difficult economic conditions of the present compel some women to undergo an abortion, the People's Commissariat of Health and Social Welfare and the People's Commissariat of Justice regard the use of penal measures as inappropriate and therefore, to preserve women's health and protect the race against ignorant or self-seeking profiteers, it is resolved:

I. Free abortion, interrupting pregnancy by artificial
means, shall be performed in state hospitals, where
women are assured maximum safety in the operation.

II. It is absolutely prohibited to perform this operation without a doctor.

III. Midwives or "wise women" who break this law
shall forfeit their license to practice and be handed over to the People's Court.
IV. Doctors performing this operation in their private offices for personal gain shall also be brought before the People's Court.

Women's Work in the Economy

Women as Participants in the Construction of Soviet Russia

Resolution of the Eighth Congress of Soviets

Considering that the primary task of the hour is raising the level of industry, transportation and agriculture; that women comprise more than half of the population of Soviet Russia—women workers and peasants; that implementing the proposed unified economic plan is only possible by involving all the female labor power: the Eighth

Congress of Soviets resolves that:

a) Women workers and peasants are to be
involved in all economic organizations which are
working out and realizing the unified economic
plan; likewise in factory administrations, in fac¬
tory committees and in the administration of the
trade-union organizations.

b) For the purpose of reducing the unproduc¬
tive work of women in the household and in child-
care, the Eighth Congress of Soviets requires that
the local Soviets encourage women workers to
support, with their initiative and activity, the
reforms of social institutions, the beginnings of
communist construction, such as organizing com¬
munal dwellings and workshops for washing and
mending laundry in city and village, organizing
squads of cleaning women, creating foster care
centers, communal laundries and dining halls.

The Eighth Congress of Soviets charges the newly constituted Central Executive Committee of the Soviets to immediately begin working out measures aimed at reducing the unproductive work of women in the household and family, thereby increasing the supply of free labor power to raise the people's standard of living and augment the productivity of the Workers Republic.

Social Institutions for the Relief of the Housewife Communal Kitchens in Moscow

The Russian Soviet bodies are committed to the opinion that the traditional housework performed by the mothers of families in individual households must pass over to socialized institutions. This is both in the interest of women, who squander their time and energy in arduous, grinding, unproductive tasks, and in the interest of society, which can make full use of women's talents and accomplishments in the economy and culture. In Moscow there are at present no fewer than 559 communal kitchens in which hot midday and evening meals are prepared daily for 606,100 adults. The children take their meals in the childcare and educa¬tional centers where they have found places or which they attend during the day.

Compare the blessings of "orderly conditions" in the states that are still capitalist with this result of "Bolshevik chaos"! Part and parcel of these "orderly conditions" is the fact that in all major cities, in all industrial centers, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands go without a warm midday meal every day and in the evening in an uncomfortable home they choke down a meal their harried wives have prepared hurriedly and with insufficient means. Increasingly, women in the proletariat and also in the petty bourgeoisie must con¬tribute to the family's income. The double burden of working for a living and running the household rests on her. Meals in common—insofar as they occur at all— unite an overtired mother, a husband who is often grouchy because he does not find at home what he seeks, and children whose eyes and clothing bespeal their lack of care and attention.

'In Russia the working woman can throw off the burden of household obligations. She knows not only she herself, but, more importantly, her husband and children are better cared for than she could manage a home even with great energy and devotion. The home can now be a home in the most noble sense for husband and wife, for parents and children, a place to be together, for thinking and striving together, for enjoyment. Women have the time and leisure to learn, to educate themselves, to participate in all areas of social life, both giving and receiving. Oh, these Bolshevik "wreckers" and "destroyers"! Is that no what the philistines of all the capitalist countrie are still prattling?

Note on the documents: The three pieces reprinted here are our own translations from the April 1921 issue of Die Kommunistische Fraueninfernationat (Communist Women's International), the official German-language journal of the Women's Secretariat of the Communist International. In W&R No. 9 (Summer 1975) we reprinted another version of the abortion legislation, which included at the end the signature "N. Semashko, People's Commissar of Health; Kursk) People's Commissar of Justice." That was taken fron the book Health Protection in the U.S.S.R. by N./A Semashko, published in London by Gollancz in 1934 The date given for the decree on abortion in Semashki is 18 November 1920. Regarding "Women's Work in the Economy": the Eighth Congress of Soviets was held in Moscow from 22 to 29 December 1920. We were unable to find a date for the third piece; the Comintern women's journal did not give a source."