Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee-The Cause That Passes Through The Prison Walls-With The Old International Labor Defense in Mind

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee-The Cause That Passes Through The Prison Walls-With The Old International Labor Defense in Mind   

Link to Partisan Defense Committee

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Sam Eaton had to laugh when he heard the news, the news live and in person on cable news by the current Attorney-General of the United States (no names needed since this is the position of every one of those guys, and now gals when primed by curious reporters who if they have done their homework already know the answer) that there are “no political prisoners in the United States prison systems, certainly not the federal systems and as far as is known not in the states either.” And on some level, not on the level of candid truth but some level lower than that, the A-G in question (and all previous A-Gs) is right since every prisoner, every political prisoner is behind bars for some “crime” against society’s norms. Take the case of Chelsea Manning (known until her thirty-five year sentencing to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for multiple conviction against military and federal law as Bradley Manning thereafter as Chelsea in case there is any confusion about who we are talking about) which was the case the A-G in question was referring to in that newspeak commentary. Private Manning, is the heroic Army soldier who blew the whistle to Wiki-leaks on the atrocities committed by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan and the duplicity of the Hillary Clinton-run State Department even before Benghazi. The charges against Chelsea  were “crimes,” you know “stealing” government files and “committing” acts of espionage but her motivation had nothing to do with crime, at least crimes that working people and leftists need worry about. Her leaks were a breath of fresh air in counter-point to the “slam-dunk’ mentality that has pervaded both the Bush II and Obama administrations. But Chelsea is nevertheless a political prisoner with a capital “P.”        

Sam had to laugh again about the nefarious and spurious doing of the American justice machine (thoughts on that “machine” bringing to Sam’s mind the words of sardonic comic Lenny Bruce, a man not unfamiliar with that system and in his own way a political prisoner as well about how “in the hall of justice the only justice is in the halls-nicely said, Brother, nicely said) when a few nights after this newscast he was sitting in Jack’s, the long-time radical hang-out bar in Harvard Square which he frequented, talking to Ralph Morris who had come to town on one of his periodic visits from his home in Troy, New York about what he had heard that other night. And this was not mere idle talk between that pair because the whole Easton-Morris friendship had its start when they were political prisoners of a sort back on May Day 1971 when they had met on the floor of RFK Stadium in Washington for the “crime” of disorderly conduct and creating a public nuisance when they and thousands of others tried to shut down the American government if it did not shut down the Vietnam War which they were desperately for their own reasons trying to stop. So, yes, they were “criminals,” maybe just petty criminals by the standards of the charges but no way in hell had they hitchhiked from Cambridge and Albany, New York respectively (and wherever else those thousands came from and how they got there) to “walk in the streets” of D.C. for the hell of it, to litter the boulevards with leaflets let, to thumb their noses at the government, or the like. Sam and Ralph that day had been political prisoners with a small “P” nevertheless. (They would later do some actions in solidarity with the Black Panthers, with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and with the African National Congress in South Africa which would “win” them their capital “Ps.”)      

All of this old-timey bar talk had a purpose though (they by the way were no strangers to strong drink as part of their political camaraderie from early on in their working-class lives but now they drank high-shelf stuff delivered by Jimmy the bartender rather than that rotgut low-shelf, no-shelf Thunderbird wine and Southern Comfort which got them through their no dough youths). Or rather two purposes. First, Ralph had come to town to join Sam in the annual Sacco and Vanzetti commemoration in honor of the two anarchist political prisoners who had been railroaded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to their executions on August 23, 1927. Troy and most other places in the nation and the world paid have paid no particular attention to such events but in Boston the scene of the crimes against the two immigrant anarchists there had been a generally on-going commemoration since the 1920s, although not always on in the streets like the past several years. Over their long and hard fought battles around prisoners’ rights which formed a majority of the work they had done over the years, in good times and bad, Sam and Ralph made sure that they attended this commemoration.

The second event that brought Ralph to town was a conference to be held in Boston to see about reviving the old International Labor Defense (ILD), the 1920s Communist International (CI)-initiated political prisoner defense organization which coincidentally had cut its teeth when founded in 1925 on the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Under the circumstances over the past quarter of a century plus for the international working class not so much reviving it exactly as in the old days since the organization had gone out of business in 1946 a few years after Joe Stalin over in Russia had liquidated the Communist International as part of some Soviet foreign policy sop to his allies in World War II (the CI had pretty much gone out of the business of directing international revolution well before than anyway) but reviving the spirit that drove it in its best days around the Sacco and Vanzetti case, the Angelo Herndon case, a bunch of other lesser well known labor cases like that of Tom Mooney and assorted IWWers (Industrial Workers of the World, Wobblies) and most famously the Scottsboro Boys case in the 1930s.

In those days as Sam had mentioned while talking to Ralph at Jack’s since he had been looking up information about the old ILD, what it did and how it was organized (and how much the old American Communist Party/CI controlled the operation in its sunnier days) the ILD had had no problem living up to the idea of a non-sectarian labor defense organization that took on the tough cases, the political cases and tried to garner union and progressive support in America and internationally through the CI to free the class-war prisoners behind the walls. Sam and Ralph had been involved in many cases of political prisoners on the seemingly endlessly dwindling left, especially black liberation fighters and labor organizers but those operations usually concerned a specific political prisoner (like the Manning case) or were run as campaigns by particular organizations which tended to “protect” their turf, protect their unique relationship with their poster child political prisoner.

While both Sam and Ralph had been snake-bitten a few times when somebody called a conference only to find out that the operation was being built to “protect turf” or using the campaign as an organizational recruiting tool (Sam mentioned that someone should tell such organizations and individuals with ideas like that to give pause since the recruitment rate, or better the retention rate of such projects after a while is abysmal) they liked the call for this one which included a bunch of small leftist organizations and some independent labor organizers and unions. Whether absent an international organization with the resources of the old CI a new ILD could catch fire is problematic. There in any case with the downward pressure of social flare-ups likely in the near future certainly is a need for such an organization. Ralph made Sam laugh as they finished their last high-shelf whisky that night by saying –“Hell there aren’t any political prisoners, I have it on the authority of the U.S. A-G.” But just in case those A-Gs were being less than candid they agreed that they would show up bright and early for the meeting the next morning.              

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-When Ike Turner Paid Court To The “Golden Age” Of The American Automobile-“Rocket 88”

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-When Ike Turner Paid Court To The “Golden Age” Of The American Automobile-“Rocket 88”

Sketches From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

The Teen Scene In Between- With Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 In Mind 

…she hadn’t thought about the upcoming date all that much, hadn’t thought about how Art was going to squire her to the first dance of the school year, the decisive Fall Frolic. She had been slow, late 1950s bewildered young woman who had gotten her “friend” late slow in the boy department (her period but every girl called it anything but that and she had come  to rely on that designation as being as appropriate as any although it was anything but a friend more like a curse). Although given her total logged time on the girlfriend telephone, many times the midnight telephone when she was lonely, lonely more so of late as she had been more distracted, with Jenny who was more up-to-date on matters of the opposite sex. And sex although don’t let that so-called advanced knowledge of Jenny’s part throw you off since most of what Jenny knew was wrong, wrong gotten from an older brother, Ted, who like all young men, young Catholic men and maybe every other religious upbringing too, got what he knew of sex from the streets just like everybody else and thus not surprisingly mostly wrong which almost caught her flat-footed in the pregnancy department one time when Sal “protection” might not have protected.  She, despite Jenny’s badgering, was certainly interested in boys and at least theoretically sex, although that interest had a quality of being sealed with seven seals and tied up, tied up with a big bow as she clung to that prevalent mores of saving herself for marriage, or some such thing, saving that is.
This Fall Frolic by the way had a long track record in creating class “items” come senior year. While it was not a formal dance, not even semi-formal like the junior prom, every young woman who planned to attend planned to have a “fox” dress fitting for the occasion and expected that her date would put some extra effort into looking good for the dance. All classes at old North Adamsville at least since 1951 when the underclassmen put up a stink about being shut out were entitled (and encouraged) to attend but no question the event reeked of a senior project. Most of the dance committee were well-known seniors and the band selection and theme of the year’s dance were a senior monopoly. It would take several more years and something like a civil war to break the senior monopoly but by then nobody was committed to an all-out defense of the old traditions. That was the 1960s when everybody was ready for a jailbreak and there was even talk by school officials that the damn thing would be canceled if the drug use could not be controlled (it was out of control as everybody got stoned in cars or in back alleys before the dance and at intermission and there were so many “far outs” uttered that even the senile chaperones knew something was off). So this was the environment which she was approaching her task ahead, a task involving getting the best date possible for the big dance of the fall.              
She knew, knew from Jenny, and knew from about six other sources that the lead-up here was decisive in that one’s date, one’s successful date, at that event usually foretold who one would be going to the senior prom with. Since the end of junior year that choice had come more and more to seen to be Art Graham. Art who began to talk to her in World History class after ignoring her and about every other girl in class as far as she could gather when she, not much for history, started to get peppered by Mr. Nolan, the World History teacher, who thought girls were dumb when it came to history and would publicly try to humiliate as many as possible. Toward the end of the year he had aimed his barbs her way. Art, a history nut and sort of Mr. Nolan’s pet, took pity on her and tried to coach her a little. The coaching paid off and old Nolan backed off a bit. Then she found herself talking to Art about other subjects and he didn’t seem to mind that they were not about history so she started to dream a little about Art, but just a little as summer break kind of ended what had started. They met at the beach a few times during the summer, spent a few hours together but not what any self-respecting girl in 1958 would call a date. So she laid her plans.        
It wasn’t that she was crazy for Art, not in the way best friend, Jenny, was crazy over Sal, Sal with the wavy black hair and athletic build, crazy enough over Sal to let him do what he wanted with her, but she did see him as one part of her “item” for the senior year if only he showed a little spark her way. Although she knew exactly what Jenny let sexy Sal do with her since Jenny burned many a midnight telephone call describing what went down in the town’s lovers’ lane section of the beach she had no intention of letting Art have his way with her, she wasn’t like that. She began to think less of Jenny the more she told her about her sexual experiences but she wanted that dance date and was frustrated when Art kept her at arm’s length.
Damn, she almost had to force the issue and invite him to the dance herself after they had spent some time together in school talking once classes resumed in September and she relied on him to bail her out in Problems in Democracy class where she was more under water that in World History, if that was possible. Then he started walking her home after school, talking, talking about his big future plans, talking about maybe they could go to the movies or to the school football games together. Anything but that damn dance (her term so she, not given to swearing, was certainly frustrated). They spent their time together like that before the date of the dance was getting perilously until one afternoon she asked him if he liked to dance, he said he did although he cushioned the remark with “I’m not very good” and they kind of by osmosis made a date for the Fall Frolics.
And so we move forward to the big night and she was now up in her room (and darting to the bathroom as well) preening herself, fluffing her hair, tightening that damn girdle to make her more slender than she already was, applying yet another touch-up on the make-up, as expected of any girl going to the Frolics with a guy that might form part of an “item” for senior year. She just hoped, hoped to high heaven that he, not known for being a sharp dresser like Sal, would look okay and also not forget to bring her a corsage so she would not be the only girl without one, especially since she practically had to order the thing herself.
She wasn’t sure when she heard the rumble of the engine coming up the street, maybe just before the car stopped in front of her house, but she definitely heard it before Art knocked on the door downstairs as her mother welcomed him in while she was finishing her last preparations. As she came down the stairs she noticed that he looked especially handsome in his suit and with his hair parted just so. Things already looked up for the evening. She did not know the half of it though until he opened the front door for her as they were leaving and she spied that big old Cadillac sitting in front of her sidewalk. Seems that old Art, once he got the message from the time they had danced around the dance invitation, started his own version of the courting ritual and convinced his friend, Spider Mack, to let him borrow his souped-up Caddy. Spider was well known around town, notorious to many parents, especially girl parents for getting the back seat of that vehicle messed up around midnight or maybe later after so two o’clock “chicken run” victory and he collected the spoils of war, some wet girl thrilled by the prospect of that backseat with the king of the North Adamsville muscle car night.
So she knew that if Art had such an automobile and moreover that Spider trusted Art with his most precious possession that the night might be interesting, and she might make it interesting for Art once she thought about that possibility. And off they went, first to pick up Jenny and Sal, she proud to be seem in the company of a man who knew how to bring a girl to the dance in style, and she too thinking how envious Jenny was that she was sitting in the front seat of Spider’s car just like she belonged there.

But that was only the beginning of it once they got to the school gym when the Frolics were held annually. She could hardly believe the transformation of the old smelly medicine ball gym into something that looked like a downtown hotel setting (even if only a hokey North Adamsville setting) with flowers festooned all over, tables covered with school colors white and blue tablecloths, the walls filled with various rock posters to hide the creepy cinderblocks, and the entrance with a trestle also garlanded with flowers. Yes, special. But more special Art seemed a man transformed as the cover band hired for the evening by the Fall Frolic senior committee (like I said before it was always a senior-sponsored affair back then, a kind of last gift to their fellow schoolmates leaving or to be left behind), the Ready Riders, kissed off the old classics, you know Patti Page, Frank, Dean, those guys, that had guided previous dances and kicked out the jams. Kicked out the ones guaranteed parent approved and hence boring, or something like that. She noticed that Art, a guy who said he had two left feet and maybe he did but he looked, well, sexy, had become almost a whirling dervish as he rocked by himself in her direction, that was no other way to put it since previously everybody did a waltz or a variation at school dances also parent approved, to some older rhythm and blues stuff and then laid out the full program when the band tore into a big riffing dose of Ike Turner’s Rocket 88.
That was the tune that everybody at Doc’s Drugstore over on Main was dropping endless nickels and dimes in the juke-box to hear over and over. Although it was actually an older song, maybe the early 1950s, Doc had refused to place it on his jukebox (or rather he was pressured to not put it on his jukebox by those meddlesome parents) since it was considered a “colored” record, you know a race record, back then. Jesus. But the kids, late 1950s kids including apparently Art, flipped out over it. And so the night went as she got more in tune with Art’s new form of dancing and mimicked his moves to his delight. As the dance ended, ended with a slow one by the Dubs’ Could This Be Magic, she, they ran into Jenny and Sal, and she, she who had so often secretly scorned the stuff Jenny told her that she and Sal did down at Adamsville Beach, suggested that the foursome take Spider’s car and go down to that very beach to, well, she said “cool off” after the dance. But you know what she meant just in case her parents might be around, or some girlfriend who would have plenty to say come Monday morning before school girls’ lav talk about how she had come of age, had come into the time of her time. So, yes, if anybody was interested she and Art were an “item” that year …              
Rocket 88        

You woman have heard of jalopies
You heard the noise they make
Let me introduce you to my Rocket '88
Yes, it's great, just won't wait
Everybody likes my Rocket '88
Baby, we'll will ride in style movin' all along

V-8 motor and this modern design
Black convertible top and the girls don't mind
Sportin' with me, ridin' all around town for joy
Blow your horn, rocket, blow your horn

Step in my rocket and don't be late
We're pullin' out about a half past eight
Goin' on the corner and havin' some fun
Takin' my rocket on a long, hot run
Ooh, goin' out, oozin' and cruisin' and havin' fun

Now that you've ridden in my Rocket '88
I'll be around every night about eight
You know it's great, don't be late
Everybody likes my Rocket '88
Girls will ride in style movin' all along

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Sherlock Holmes Faces Death”

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Sherlock Holmes Faces Death”

DVD Review

By Danny Moriarty

(In the interest of transparency which has become more of an issue these days when every medium is under scrutiny Danny Moriarty is not my real name. As will be discussed below in my research about the “fake news” legend of Mr. Holmes I have run into a notorious cult-like band of desperadoes known as “The Baker Street Irregulars,” why that name I do not know. This clot of criminals, who I am told have very stylized rituals involving illegal drugs and human blood, the bane of the London bobbies, have been connected with the disappearance of many people who questioned the Sherlock myth, and not a few unsolved murders of people who have washed up on the Thames over the years.)

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, starring Basil Rathbone (if that is his real name which is doubtful), Nigel Bruce (a name which has been confirmed as a British actor in the 1930s and 1940s)  

Today is the day. Today is the day I have been waiting for since I was a kid. Today we tear off the veneer, tear off the mask of the reputation of one Sherlock Holmes as a master detective. Funny how things happen. Greg Green assigned me this film out of the blue, at random he said when I asked him. However this assignment after viewing this film, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (of course he doesn’t face, hadn’t been anywhere near any danger but that can wait until I finish out defanging the legend) set off many bells, many memories of my childhood when I first instinctively discovered this guy was a fraud, a con artist. Back then my grandparents and parents hushed me up about the matter when I told them what I thought of the mighty Sherlock. They went nutty and told me never to speak of it again when I mentioned that a hard-boiled real private detective, a guy who did this kind of work for a living, a guy named Sam Spade who worked out in San Francisco and solved, really solved, the case of the missing black bird which people in the profession still talk about, which is still taught in those correspondence course private detection in ten easy lesson things you used to see advertised on matchbook covers when smoking cigarettes was okay, who could run circles around a parlor so-called detective like Mr. Holmes.          

That was then. Now after some serious research as a result of this film’s impact on my memory I have proof to back up my childhood smothered assertions. Sherlock Holmes (aka Chester Arthur after the American president, Conan after the famous barbarian, Doyle after a famous watering hole in Dublin and a whole raft of other names whose rationale I could not fathom in time for publication) was nothing but a stone-cold junkie, cocaine, morphine, lanadum and other exotic concoctions which is the reason that he had a doctor at his side at all times in case he needed “scripts” written up. A doctor who a guy like Sam Spade would have sat on his ass a long time before. That junkie business would not amount to much if it did not mean that high and mighty Sherlock didn’t have to run his own gang of pimps, hookers, con men, fellow junkies, drag queens, rough trade sailors and the flotsam and jetsam of London, high society and low, to keep him in dough for that nasty set of habits that kept him high as a kite. There are sworn statements (suppressed at the time) by the few felons whom the bobbies were able to pick up that Sherlock was the guy behind half the burglaries, heists and kidnappings in London and out in the boondocks when he expanded his operation and put Doc Watson in charge out there where he could do no harm to the operation.

Of course the bobbies, looking to wrap up a few cold file cases which Sherlock handed them to keep them off the trail, looked the other way and/or took the graft so who really knows how extensive the whole operation was. In a great sleight of hand he gave them Doctor Moriarty who as it turned out dear Sherlock had framed when one wave of police heat was on and who only got out of prison after Holmes died and one of Holmes’ flunkies told the real story about how Holmes needed a “fall guy” and the wily Doctor took the fall.             

This Sherlock Holmes Faces Death cover-up is a classic example of police collision to cover their own dirty tracks. Everybody knows that Sherlock made his name after he beat down some poor mistreated dog who should have been reported as abused to whatever they call the humane animal treatment society in merry old England. So he had no lack of cases, especially from the upper crust whom he was black-mailing and kidnapping their kids to keep the Mayfair swells with dough in line (and to quiet them). That dog case set him up with people who didn’t want stuff solved or who wanted to finger some innocent person like the story here to hide the real culprit.

You don’t have to be one of those correspondence course private detection in ten easy lessons that you used to see on matchbook covers when cigarette smoking was okay like I said before to know that in these high society cases where there is a butler involved he is the guy who did it. And that proved the case here with this guy named Brunton who was an agent working for Doc Watson trying to steal a ton of stuff from the mansion, just the regular course of business. This Brunton fake butler (fake because how hard is it to keep the silverware clean and master’s shoes shined) was trusted by the Musgrave brothers who were running their own land grab dodge before each was subsequently murdered by Brunton once he got wind of what real dough was available.

On this kind of caper you need a fall guy and that turned out at first to be an American fly boy who was built for the frame since he was courting the Mulgrave sister and the Brits haven’t liked the Yanks since about 1776 so no sweat letting him take the big step-off. But the coppers, real coppers found witnesses to clear him since he was at some gin mill getting drunk when each murder occurred. Step up a second fall guy, a Doctor Sexton who was the Mulgrave family doctor and who was looking to grab the sister and grab the land to build a permanent hospital in town. Sherlock, or one of his agents, had the Doc’s fingerprints put all over the conveniently found murder weapons. Done and doomed. He went before the king’s hangman before you could blink an eye. Here’s the really sinister part. Our fake butler Brunton was getting antsy about the coppers closing in so Sherlock had him “killed” which would be pretty clever even for an amateur. The body never found the murder was cold case charged to the good Doctor Sexton. Once Sexton was gone to the gallows Brunton resurfaced and took up his butlering job again since Sherlock was hooked on grabbing the Mulgrave estate land and centering his operations there since London was getting too noisy and crowded.

Yeah, a fake, fake all the way. Unless that Irregular crowd of thugs and blood-stained aficionados get to me this is not the last you will hear about this campaign of mine to dethrone this pompous junked-up imposter. I am just getting the wind in my sails.      

When The Capitalist World Was On The Rise-The 16th and 17th Dutch And Flemish Paintings at the Harvard Art Museums-A reply to a reply

When The Capitalist World Was On The Rise-The 16th and 17th Dutch And Flemish Paintings at the Harvard Art Museums-A reply to a reply

By Frank Jackman

The minute American government shut-down, DACA, North Korea and Iran war clouds, the demise of civility, the heating up of the decades long cold civil war in that same America and what do I wind up having to do today. Jesus, once again respond to this madness about Dutch, and oh no, don’t forget the Flemish art that is always paired with it in the days when that tiny section of the world was the real thing, had the trade routes covered six way to Sunday, and had the general wherewithal to support artists and buy a ton of paintings some good, some pedestrian but all showing very good draftsmanship and fidelity to the subject the hallmark of pre-Impressionist painting no matter the genre. This time to note once more that this young writer William Bradley should give it up. Move on. Since he won’t here I go again and I hope and pray that Greg Green will hear my cry for mercy.    

Apparently there is something like a “fire sale” going on in the 16th and 17th Dutch/Flemish painting world. People, well-to-do people as they say, are tossing their various collections to the nearest museums apparently for tax purposes, or to take the stuff as lost-leaders in their more expansive collectives. That bit of news via now “expert” William Bradley’s sail through the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and finding out that a couple of couples, a wealthy couple of couples of course is promising that august  institution their beat up and broken down collections. Now I have to report that a quick swing through the Harvard Art Museums (formerly three separate museums in three spots now all in one but if you haven’t been there for a while it’s the old Fogg Museum section I am referring to) the other day really made me think I should get a few people together and buy a few lesser Dutch pieces at auction where the house is probably almost ready to give the stuff away. Another couple, another wealthy couple it goes without saying, has promised that already richer than Midas institution their collection. You heard it here so grab up every piece you can because soon buying private pieces will be like trying to buy Greek statuary.     

Let’s go by the numbers on this Dutch/Flemish private market painting scare which in the biggest thing to hit that genre since the Tulip mania bubble bust in the 16th century. Young Bradley already told a candid world despite his lack of knowledge, probably his inability to find the Netherland and Belgium on the map, that the National Gallery down in Washington had a Vermeer and pals exhibit. Fine. Except he went out of his way to cite an article I had done several years ago here (actually in Art Today magazine and then posted here since they were paying the freight on that piece) given the story on why these self-satisfied burghers were crazy to decorate their homes and heaths with high quality art when other countries were trying to figure out what the hell to do with a spoon-and why.      

This is the way young Bradley told it, told it pretty true once I gave him the lead and will do as the end piece for this latest news out of Cambridge about the halcyon days of this type of art:

“After having been given an assignment to view the Vermeer and friends exhibit down at the National Gallery in Washington since I was in that town on another matter I was looking at the archives here to find out if anybody had written about the high tide of Dutch and Flemish Art (you know the time of Rembrandt, Hals, Reubens, Van Dyck and their respective schools, workshops and progeny) and out popped an article by Frank Jackman then the senior political commentator under the old regime. Truly knowing nothing about the subject of Dutch and Flemish art other than liking some of it and being bored by the endless paintings of fruit and killed animals hanging on a kitchen wall perfectly detailed, I figured that I would ask Frank about his take. As it turned out I didn’t know much either about his so-called Marxist perspective combining art and the productive system in a way that seemed odd to me.

I wrote an article about the Vermeer crowd basically on the like/don’t like aspects mentioned a minute ago since it had escaped me about putting the fight by capitalism against feudalism and art together except the Dutch and Flemish painters unlike the Italians weren’t hung up on Christian piety themes and Old Testament sagas. Frank responded that I had a lot to learn about milieu and its effect on artists which he explained in another way when I mentioned in that first article that I liked abstract expressionism and he mentioned back that you could not understand that milieu without knowing about the effect of the 20th century wars and alienation produced by late capitalism which he called imperialism on the artists.

Greg Green recently asked me since I was going to be in Boston for the holidays to visit my sister to go check out the latest Dutch and Flemish exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts which some collectors had promised to the Museum and which they were going to display. Lance Lawrence when he heard about the assignment dubbed me “Leonard De Bois” whom I did not know by name but who is a big wheel in the Dutch and Flemish academic art field. My only comment was that it seemed in my experience that these museums seem to run into common exhibitionism. Washington and now Boston (and New York I think) are on a Dutch-Flemish jag. Last year half the world seemed to be featuring various stages of Matisse’s career. Japanese art seems to be the new up and coming thing. In any case now that I am an “expert” I can rehash my stuff about Vermeer and his crowd with the stuff in Boston. An honored academic tradition:            

“Frank did a whole series of articles under the title When The Capitalist World Was Young to be found in the archives making the connection between the artistic sensibilities of the rising bourgeoisie and their clamoring for paintings which showed that they were on the rise, that they were the new sheriffs in town and could afford like the nobles and high clergy in the ancient regime to show their new-found prosperity by paying for portraits, collective and singular, and displays of their domestic prosperity. Of course Frank, an old radical from the 1960s … was coming at his view from something that he called a Marxist prospective. A prospective which not knowing much about it except it had a lot to do with the demise of the old Soviet Union now Putin’s Russia and why it had failed I asked him about since I was clueless about how that artwork had anything to do with politics. What he told me, and I don’t want to get into a big discussion about it is that Marxism, Marx saw capitalism as a progressive force against the feudal society and that would get reflected in lots of things like art and social arrangements.      

“Under that set of ideas Frank was able to give a positive spin on a lot of the art from the 16th and 17th century, especially Dutch and Flemish art in the days when those grouping were leading the capitalist charge via their position in the shipping, transport and the emerging banking world. In one part of that above mentioned series Frank highlighted the connection between art and economics by referring to a famous painting in the National Gallery down in Washington, D.C. where some very self-satisfied burghers and civil officials were feasting and showing off their new found emergence as trend-setters. I took his point once I saw the painting he was referring to and noted that these guys and it was all guys except the hard-pressed wait staff really were self-satisfied even though I am still not sure that you can draw that close a connection between art and economics.    

“That discussion with Frank was in the back of my mind when I was assigned by Greg Green, since I was down in Washington for another reason, to check out the Vermeer and friend retrospective at the National Gallery (that Frank referred painting of the burghers was nowhere in sight and I wound up viewing it on-line while we were discussing it). I took a different view of what I saw there since I am not very political and certainly would not draw the same line as Frank did. What struck me, and I am willing to bet many others who viewed the exhibit as well, was the extreme attention to detail in almost all the paintings observed. The sense that the artists had to whether it was portraiture, domestic scenes, or landscape, including those famous frozen lakes and canal winter activity scenes, show in extreme detail and shadowing exactly what they were observing. I admit I am more interested in let’s say abstract expressionism that this kind of  imagery but my hat is off to those who were able to do such detailed and exact work. Whether or not they were rising with the high tide of capitalist expansion.”      

Frank left me with a few political ideas to think about which I can apply as well to the Boston clot. He told me to look at that self-satisfied burgher business, look at the pot-bellies of the men and the rounded face of the young women which indicated how well-fed they were, look at the very neat way they arranged their domestic lives. Most importantly look at those unadorned halls and churches which a very far away from the medieval overkill of the huge centuries to build cathedrals that kept everybody tied down to looking inward. Like he said these guys were the “elect,” knew they were the elect and they could push forward come hell or high water.”

Let’s hope this end it and maybe we discuss Pop Art or something.  

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-When Elvis (No Last Name Needed) Made All The Women Sweat-“Are You Lonesome Today”

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-When Elvis (No Last Name Needed) Made All The Women Sweat-“Are You Lonesome Today”   

Sketches From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

He’s Got It Bad-With Elvis’s Are You Lonesome Tonight -Take Two

…he wondered, truly wondered, whether she missed him just then, missed her walking daddy, her walking daddy when they walked  down the street hand-in-hand and later when high as kites they messed up the pillows at her place, got those satin sheets all sweaty and love moist from their exertions when their fling was fresh and bright. Yes, he wondered for the millionth time that night, that seemingly endless sleepless night when he wondered once again whether  she missed him after all the slow meaningless time that had passed these past few months since their over-heated short love affair had gone down in flames almost as quickly as it had started.

That walking daddy moniker by the way was a little term of endearment that she had tagged him with after they had, well, done the “do the do” and she though that she had him reined in, reined him in with kisses and a few little special things that he liked, and that she knew he liked even before he told her that he did. That “do the do” sex stuff was the least of their problems, he knew she liked his kisses and a few little special things that she liked, and that he knew she liked even before she told him that she did, although at the end maybe it was the sex stuff too that did them in when he started asking her to do stuff from the Karma Sutra and she who previously had been the aggressor practically pulling his pants down balked at a few of the kinkier positions described in that manual, it could have been everything jumbled together. But if anybody asked him he missed that part, no question.   

He did not really believe underneath it all although he kept his doubts open based on a few odd facts about going the other way, that she did, did miss him. She was not built that way, had kind of a steel-trap mind on the subject of men and missing them after she was done with them (and others too, subjects she was steel-trapped about). He knew from the first, and she made the fact abundantly clear in all their conversations, that once she was done with a man that was that and she moved on, maybe to the next man, maybe just off to lick her wounds. She would illustrate the point  with examples citing, chapter and verse, whenever the subject came up ex-husbands and lovers, one husband of whom she said had asked if she needed a blackboard to help lecture him once she got on her high horse about the subject. Still he took a ticket, took a chance that he would be, what she called him at the beginning, oh yeah, her “forever” man and in a chillingly ironic shift a few short months later her “never” man although she did not say that word exactly he just plucked it out of the air one night, one early on sleepless night when he first thought about whether she missed him.  Yeah, so no question he was as sure as a man could be, a man who no longer was on speaking terms with her, that he would not be surprised to find out that she did not miss him.

He wondered too whether she was lonesome tonight for her walking daddy, a very different proposition than whether she missed him. He was not sure on that score, although he thought in the far recesses of his brain she might. See as she also explained in detail with those same ex-husbands and major lovers example complete with blackboard remark even if she was through with a man, had moved on to another man, or just went off to lick her wounds the way she put the fact in those same conversations about her way with men, she was as likely to be licking her wounds as looking for another man. As likely to be filled with solitary sadness as out on the town, out with another man.

That is where those two marriages and many love affairs came in, came in and softened rather than hardened her to life’s romantic ups and downs. She had mentioned to him one night that she had since childhood and a very savagely cruel upbringing had a   hard time letting go, letting the past fade, and that it took her a long time to get over a man once they were through. How did he say she put it one night, oh yeah, she was fast to love a man when he got under her skin and slow to forget him. That fast love start had been her way with him in their whirlwind love affair smothering him with all kinds of undeserved accolades based on fairly limited knowledge of who he was, what he had been through, and his own spoken appreciations of his worth which added up to a profile of the usual man of clay, nothing more. All of the above smotherings by her not giving him time to breathe, to think things through, before trying to plan   their future unto infinity after about a month into their relationship.

Yeah, in the far recesses of her brain might be just the right way to put it about whether she might be lonesome that night he spoke of but let me tell you what he told me one night about that night he was wondering and many other nights before and after while we were sipping white wines at a Boston bar, listening to some old time piped-in jazz music as background (could have been Cry Me A River starting out, in fact I think it was), which started him off to tell me  what exactly had happened the previous few months. Let me give you some of the story and you try to figure the damn thing out:     

He had met her sitting at the bar in Cambridge, a rock and roll bar, an “oldies but goodies” bar, a 1950s classic age of rock and roll bar that he frequented when he needed to hear Elvis, Chuck, Bo, Jerry Lee or some Warren Smith rockabilly beat after some hard court case was done or he just needed to blow off steam when some appeals case was slipping away from him for lack of presentable issues that could win. Some nights, like that night, he wound up just slugging quarters in the juke-box, others, mainly weekend nights he would wind up listening to a live band, The Rockin’ Ramrods, covering the classics. He   noticed that from his vantage point a few stools down she looked very familiar in a long ago way. After he slid down the few empty barstools between them to get beside her he had mentioned that fact to her as a come-on and offered and bought her a drink on that basis (a glass of red wine which she loved, loved to perdition as he would find out later) they spent the next several minutes trying to figure where that might have been. Work, no, some godforsaken political conference, no, another long ago bar, no, the Cape, no, College, no, and so on. 

Strangely they found out once they discussed where they had grown up (she had told him at first she was from New Hampshire and he said that he lived in Cambridge so the subject of home towns did not come up on the first run) that the link had been  that they had gone to the same high school together, she a couple of years after him, North Adamsville High, located on the South Shore of Boston although they had not known each other, had not had any of the same classes back then (but since they had also gone to the same junior high school they agreed later after they were “smitten” with each other, her term, and wanted to make some symbolic “written in the wind” closeness count they must have been in the same space at some point if only the gym, auditorium or cafeteria). That revelation got them cutting up old touches that night for a while, well, a long while since they closed the bar that night. They agreed that they had some common interests and that they should continue the conversation further via e-mail and cellphone. See, since she lived up in New Hampshire in a town outside of Manchester, was a professor at the state university and had been in Cambridge to attend an education conference at Harvard getting together soon in person with her busy start of semester schedule was problematic.

So for a while, a few weeks, they carried on an e-mail/cellphone correspondence. Both were however struck by the number of things they had in common, things from childhood like growing up poor, growing up in hostile and dangerous family environments, growing up insecure and with nothing and nobody to guide them left to their own resources. Moreover they found that they had many similar teenage angst and alienation episodes in high school in common as well as current political and academic interests. Both agreed that they should meet again in person since they had already “met” in high school (somehow in the rush of things they discounted that they had really met in Cambridge in a bar, but such are the ways of love in bloom go figure).

And so they met again, met many times in neutral territory since they lived so far apart (they called their romance, the Merrimack romance for all the old mill towns they met in for half way convenient, Lowell, Nashua, Manchester, Haverhill, Amesbury and a couple of others I forgot), had many chatty dinners and did other things together like museums and took long walks along the river. He explained to me the powerful first dinner where they talked for hours and when he escorted her to her car in the parking lot for them to go their separate ways home she got teary-eyed and he caressed her hair to console   her. Yeah, it was like that when it was good.   Before long they agreed to meet at a hotel in New Hampshire to see if they had a spark that way. Well you know they did since otherwise there would be no story to tell. You also know, at least you know what he thought about the matter, that they did very well in bed together.  Yes, they, he and she, were both smitten, both felt very comfortable with each other and were heading forward with eyes open.

Along the way she had discussed her two divorce-ended marriages, her serious love affairs and her attitudes toward relationships. Those were the times she would emphasize her take on men, her jealousies, expectations and her limitations. She also early on started her campaign to get him to go to stay with her in New Hampshire and leave Cambridge. He although not as well formed in his take on their relationship as she did likewise explained his two marriages, especially the hard fall of the second marriage which left him very stunned, and major love affairs, although he early on balked when she spoke of leaving the city for the Podunk country up north as he called her place, called the whole state of New Hampshire for that matter. So yes both sets of eyes were open, open wide.

She pulled the hammer down, pulled it down early. Within a couple of months she spoke of love, of living together, of sailing out into the sunset together. He, slower on the uptake, slower having been more severely burned in his last marriage than he let on to her or had thought had been the case, was a bit bewildered by her speedy emotional attachments to him. They went on a couple of trips away to New York and Washington together, had some good times, had some rocky times interspersed in between too when she tried to rein him in. He wasn’t afraid to commit exactly (well maybe he was as he confessed to me although not to her when it could have helped, maybe had a little “cold feet” problem but he insisted it was a small blip) as much as he wanted the thing to develop naturally, give him time to breathe although I have already said that air to breathe thing before didn’t I, there always seemed to be an air of suffocation every time she got on her high horse, got her wanting habits on, got the best of him sometimes.

Then he made his fatal mistake, or rather series of mistakes, starting with strong words one night at one of their Merrimack River trail dinner when they both had had a bit too much to drink, too much wine, and she was going on and on as she did after her second or third glass depending on how tired she had been after a long day’s work. He admitted he got snappy, told her they needed to slow down and enjoy each other. She responded with a blast that shook him up but they were able to kiss and make up that night. The real mistake though was one time after they had not seen each other for a week or so when he sent her an e-mail speaking in sorrow of the drift of their recent relationship and he wanted the spark back that had go them going.

She exploded at that e-mail seeing that as a callous rebuke of her actions rather than as what he thought was a plaintive let’s go forward love letter. What did he say she had called it, oh yeah, a closing argument, a damn lawyer’s closing argument (the “damn” part a result of having been married to a lawyer the first time out and now being with him). They agreed to meet at a neutral restaurant to discuss the matter (on the Merrimack River of course but I will not give the location since there still may be blood on the water).

When he thought about it later he could see where she had prepared herself to be confrontational toward him or at least be prepared to force the issue because the first words out of her mouth were an ultimatum-“come live with me or the affair is over.” The exchange got heated as she drank more wine on this night as well (he did not drink that night having learned a lesson from the last session). She said something that when we talked he could not for the life of him remember but they were fighting words. He exploded saying “I don’t need this,” threw money on the table and stormed out. That was the last he saw of her not even looking back to see how she took the matter.  Oh sure the next day he tried frantically to call several times knowing that a decisive turning point had been reached, no answer. Tried some e-mails-same response. Later that day he got a message on his voicemail from her giving her walking daddy his walking papers. She told him not to call, not to write as she would not respond. He never did. As he explained it to me he never did although he spent many a night thinking about whether he should call, about what he would say and thought too of an e-mail but he knew in his bones she would not answer like with his first attempts so he let it go. Knew her steel-trapped policies toward men, toward him in her walking papers summary. So he let it go to spend his time, his free time, fretting about what had happened. Jesus.
What he did do seriously in the few weeks after their break-up, what he was doing this night he spoke to me as well as months earlier  when he first fretted over what had gone wrong, was think through how it could have played out differently. Did that blame game in order to curb his own lonesomeness as he replayed their short affair, as he tried to try to figure out something that had bothered him since that fierce parting night. No, not about the specific details of what had caused his downfall, although he was still perplexed about why his concern about the over-heated pace of their relationship and his anger at that last meeting over her ultimatum should have been the irretrievable cause. He would accept that, had to accept that was the way she perceived the situation and that those were the causes of his downfall pure and simple. He didn’t like it but he has come to see where what she said in her voicemail message that she could never see him in the old way, the way she had in the beginning of their affair when their love flamed, precluded any future romantic relationship. 

What he thought about mostly though concerned one point-how could two intelligent, worldly people, who individually had many strong and powerful inner resources gathered through surviving stormy childhoods and life’s hard knocks, not be able to figure a way to avoid letting their fragile relationship blow away in the wind, blow away without a trace after many professions of desire, devotion and fidelity. He fretted over how little energy they had devoted to using some of those personal inner resources in order to build the foundations of a strong relationship. He had been willing to take his fair share of the blame for his “cold feet” which had him, more often than not, attempting to walk away from not toward her. That last marriage had damaged him more than he had thought and it had still colored his worldview on intimacy, on commitment, no question. That walking away from her in fear as they got closer, as she started to get under his skin, always seemed strongest as he left her after some bad days when she was pushing him hard. Or when he thought the whole thing was hopeless since they lived too far away from each other to compromise on a living arrangement. Yeah, he would take his fair share of blame on that.

She infuriated him though with her interminable future plans while disregarding the present, although he could not speak for her and whether she believed his house of card blown in the wind idea about what had happened. She had plans for them to go to live in California when they retired, deemed it mandatory that he spent a certain number of days up in New Hampshire even while he had pressing business to take care of in Boston, but best, best as an example, was that she had their next Christmas and New Year plans already mapped out in March. All the time not paying attention to the drift of the tempo of their day to day relationship where he was, frankly, unhappy, very unhappy. In the end he was shocked by how little there had been to hold them together in a serious crisis which he conceded, or would have conceded if she had ever decided to talk to him again, was a serious crisis. Now that he thought about it for a while he told me, now that he had talked it through with me, he decided, no, whether she had a new walking daddy or not (or whatever new moniker she would make up for him) she would not be lonesome for him that night.                        
Are You Lonesome Tonight? Lyrics
Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

I wonder if you're lonesome tonight
You know someone said that the world's a stage
And each must play a part.
Fate had me playing in love you as my sweet heart.
Act one was when we met, I loved you at first glance
You read your lin so cleverly and never missed a cue
Then came act two, you seemed to change and you acted strange
And why I'll never know.
Honey, you lied when you said you loved me
And I had no cause to doubt you.
But I'd rather go on hearing your lies
Than go on living without you.
Now the stage is bare and I'm standing there
With emptiness all around
And if you won't come back to me
Then make them bring the curtain down.

Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?
Are You Lonesome Tonight? lyrics © BOURNE CO., CROMWELL MUSIC

The Teen Scene In Between- With Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 In Mind 

The Golden Age Of….The American Family-Suburban Branch-Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” (1962)- A Film Review

The Golden Age Of….The American Family-Suburban Branch-Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” (1962)- A Film Review

DVD Review

By Laura Perkins

Mr. Hobbs Takes A Holiday, starring Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, Fabian, 1962

My old friend and fellow writer here Sandy Salmon (and film critic formerly with the American Film Gazette but we aren’t supposed to say anything but the designated term writer since we cover all beats so just writer) always told me that the best kind of movie to review for him anyway was one which put the spotlight on some aspect of American life at a certain nodal point in our history. Basically a “slice of life” story told as much, or more about society, or as here in the film under review Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation a certain segment of that society at the time as any academic book or paper.

Within the plotline of this quasi-comic look at suburban America circa the late 1950 and early 1960s Sandy’s comment is spot on even if it’s a very glossy take on the mores of white middle class families in the “golden age” of American prosperity. It is almost a clinically pure example of the inward facing look of that segment during the heart of the Cold War red scare although you would hardly know it from the total lack of outside world reality intervention. I came up on the farm, a hard scrabble working truck farm outside of Albany in Dutch country upstate New York around the time of setting of this film and would have been the youngest daughter in this household, Katey, near contemporary. My world never came close to looking like that including all the alleged teen anagst and alienation traumas she faced.  Didn’t have time for that kind of thing.        

The plot is almost irrelevant here since it is pretty slim but the sociology is something to behold. An older white suburban couple, married, father Roger Hobbs, Jimmy Stewarts’ role, a successful banker, wife, Peggy, of Peg of my heart fame, played by Maureen O’Hara, successful housewife, one troubled boy teen, one very troubled girl teen, and no known dogs at home, along with two older married with children daughters also housewives with husbands who appear to be good providers for the next cookie cutter generation of one provider families already heading toward extinction to be replaced by two working parents also with no known dogs. Perfect sociological cohort of upwardly mobile America in a day when that dream had some realistic possibilities of achievement.

That was the sociology part the other part is the jack of all trades Mr. Fix it dad part. That much put upon Roger Hobbs who followed a long line of such dads from his own role in It’s a Wonderful Life to television’s Ward Cleaver, Fred McMurray, and Ozzie Nelson you get the picture. No child welfare department, no school counselors, no police intervention, no priest, nada. Just Pops, aka here Bumpah to grandchild. Old Hobbs takes the vacation from hell (in the future Chevy Chase would take up those same cudgels) and turns it into a one man’s family triumph. Young son alienated take him sailing. Young daughter ditto alienated and boy hungry no problem. Send a guy around (the guy turns out to be singer  Fabian heartthrob to young white suburban boy hungry white girls in the interest of transparency me too but here whose beard seems to make him cradle robbing). Daughter’s husband out of work get him work. Cook getting uppity no problem woo her back. Machinery out of whack-give the guy a wrench. An A number one Dad. Yeah, count this one if you really must see it as strictly a slice of life from a time which seems like a million years ago. Before rampart divorce, single parenthood, two worker households, and the like. Even the family station wagon has bitten the dust.                       

Those Who Fought For Our Socialist Future Are Kindred Spirits-James P. Cannon

Those Who Fought For Our Socialist Future Are Kindred Spirits-James P. Cannon

Click below to link to the James Cannon Internet Archives 

Frank Jackman comment (2016-updated):

Every January, as readers of this blog are now, hopefully, familiar with the international communist and socialist  movements honors the 3 Ls-Lenin, Luxemburg and Liebknecht, fallen leaders of the early 20th century communist movement who died in this month (and whose untimely deaths left a huge, irreplaceable gap in the international leadership of that time). January is thus a time for us to reflect on the roots of our movement and those who brought us along this far. In order to give a fuller measure of honor to our fallen forbears this January, and in future Januarys, this space will honor others who have contributed in some way to the struggle for our communist future. That future classless society, however, will be the true memorial to their sacrifices. This year we pay special honor to American Communist Party and American Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon.
Note on inclusion: As in other series on this site (“Labor’s Untold Story,” “Leaders Of The Bolshevik Revolution,” etc.) this year’s honorees do not exhaust the list of every possible communist worthy of the name. Nor, in fact, is the list limited to Bolshevik-style communists. There will be names included from other traditions (like anarchism, social democracy, the Diggers, Levellers, Jacobins, etc.) whose efforts contributed to the international struggle. Also, as was true of previous series this year’s efforts are no more than an introduction to these heroes of the class struggle. Future years will see more detailed information on each entry, particularly about many of the lesser known figures. Better yet, the reader can pick up the ball and run with it if he or she has more knowledge about the particular exploits of some communist militant, or to include a missing one.


If you are interested in the history of the American Left or are a militant trying to understand some of the past lessons of our history concerning the socialist response to various social and labor questions this book is for you. This book is part of a continuing series of the writings of James P. Cannon that was published by the organization he founded, the Socialist Workers Party, in the 1970’s. Look in this space for other related reviews of this series of documents on and by an important American Communist.

In the introduction the editors motivate the purpose for the publication of the book by stating the Cannon was the finest Communist leader that America had ever produced. This an intriguing question. The editors trace their political lineage back to Cannon’s leadership of the early Communist Party and later after his expulsion to the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party so their perspective is obvious. What does the documentation provided here show? This certainly is the period of Cannon’s political maturation, especially after his long collaboration working with Trotsky. The period under discussion- from the 1920’s when he was a leader of the American Communist Party to the red-baiting years after World War II- started with his leadership of the fight against the degeneration of the Russian Revolution and then later against those who no longer wanted to defend the gains of the Russian Revolution despite the Stalinist degeneration of that revolution. Cannon won his spurs in those fights and in his struggle to orient those organizations toward a revolutionary path. One thing is sure- in his prime which includes this period- Cannon had the instincts to want to lead a revolution and had the evident capacity to do so. That he never had an opportunity to lead a revolution is his personal tragedy and ours as well.

This volume is a compendium of Cannon’s speeches over most of his active political life beginning with his leadership role in the early American Communist Party and his secondary role in the Communist International. Some of the selections are also available in other parts of the series mentioned above. I would also note here that in contrast to his "Notebook of an Agitator" (also reviewed in this space) the pieces here tend to be longer and based on more general socialist principles. The socialist movement has always emphasized two ways of getting its message out- propaganda and agitation. The selections here represent a more propagandistic approach to that message. Many of the presentations hold their own even today in 2006 as thoughtful expositions of the aims of socialism and how to struggle for it. I particularly draw the reader’s attention to "Sixty Years of American Radicalism" a speech given in 1959 in which Cannon draws a general overview of the ebbs and flows of the socialist movement from the turn of the 20th century until then. At that time Cannon also predicted a new radical upsurge which did occur shortly thereafter but unfortunately has long since ended.

Cannon’s speech correctly marks the great divide in the American socialist movement at World War I and the socialist response American participation in that war and subsequently to the Russian Revolution. Prior to that time socialist activity was a loose, federated affair driven by a more evolutionary approach to ultimate socialist success i.e. reformism. That trend was symbolized by the work of the great socialist leader, Eugene V. Debs. While that approach had many, ultimately, fatal flaws it did represent a solid attempt to draw a class struggle line for independent (from the capitalist parties) political action by the working class.

Drawing on those lessons the early Communist Party, basing itself on support of the Russian Revolution, became dominant on the American left by expanding on that concept. That is, until the mid-1930’s after it had already long been an agency under orders from Moscow in support, by one means or another, of the Rooseveltian Democratic Party, a capitalist party. That was fatal to long term prospects for independent working class political action and Cannon has harsh words for the party’s policy. He also noted that the next upsurge would have to right that policy by again demanding an independent political expression for the working class. Unfortunately, when that radical upsurge did occur in the 1960’s and early 1970’s the party that he formed, the Socialist Workers Party, essentially replicated in the anti-Vietnam War movement and elsewhere the Communist Party’s class collaborationist policy with the remnants of American liberalism. Obviously, as a man in his sixties Cannon was no longer able or willing to fight against that policy by the party that he had created. Thus, the third wave of radicalism also ebbed and the American Left declined. Nevertheless this speech is Cannon’s legacy to the youth today. A new upsurge, and it will come, must learn this lesson and fight tooth and nail for independent political expression for the working class to avoid another failure.