Friday, January 03, 2020

When The Fight To Turn The World Upside Down Was In Full Flower- With The Doors The Unknown Soldier In Mind

When The Fight To Turn The World Upside Down Was In Full Flower- With The Doors The Unknown Soldier In Mind 

By Lance Lawrence  

[As of December 1, 2017 under the new regime of Greg Green, formerly of the on-line American Film Gazette website, brought in to shake things up a bit after a vote of no confidence in the previous site administrator Allan Jackson (aka Peter Paul Markin in the blogosphere) was taken among all the writers at the request of some of the younger writers abetted by one key older writer, Sam Lowell, the habit of assigning writers solely to specific topics like film, books, political commentary, and culture is over. Also over is the designation of writers in this space, young or old, by job title like senior or associate. After a short-lived experiment by Green designating everybody as “writer” seemingly in emulation of the French Revolution’s “citizen” or the Bolshevik Revolution’s “comrade” all posts will be “signed” with given names only. The Editorial Board]

[Although I am a much younger writer I today stand in agreement with Bart Webber and Si Lannon, older writers who I admire and whom I have learned a lot from about how to keep it short and sweet but in any case short on these on-line sites. Originally I had agreed with both men as far as Phil Larkin’s, what did Si call them, yes, rantings about heads rolling, about purges and would have what seems like something out of Stalin’s Russia from what I have read about that regime were  dubious at best. Now I am not sure as I have heard other younger writers rather gleefully speaking around the shop water cooler about moving certain unnamed writers out to pasture-“finally” in the words of one of them.

In any case the gripe the former two writers had about the appropriateness of this disclaimer above or whatever it purports to be by the "victorious" new regime headed by Greg Green and his so- called Editorial Board is what I support. As Bart first mentioned, I think, if nothing else this disclaimer has once again pointed told one and all, interested or not, that he, they have been “demoted.”  That I too, as Si pointed out, chafed as an Associate Book Critic and didn’t like it am now just another Everyman and don’t like it. This is the second time I have had the disclaimer above my article so I plead again once should be enough, more than enough.

In the interest of transparency I was among the leaders, among the most vociferous leaders, of what has now started to come down in the shop as urban legend “Young Turks” who fought tooth and nail both while Alan Jackson (aka Peter Paul Markin as blog moniker for reasons never made clear, at least to me) was in charge and essentially stopping young writers from developing their talents and when we decided that Allan had to go, had to “retire.” (I am sure Phil Larkin will take those innocent quotation marks as definite proof that Allan was purged although maybe I should reevaluate everything he has said in a new light.) But I agree with Bart and Si’s sentiment that those on the “losing” end in the fierce no-holds barred internal struggle had taken their "beating" and have moved on as far as I can tell. That fact should signal the end of these embarrassing and rather provocative disclaimers. Done. Lance Lawrence]

“The Unknown Soldier”    

Wait until the war is over
And we're both a little older
The unknown soldier
Breakfast where the news is read
Television children fed
Unborn living, living, dead
Bullet strikes the helmet's head

And it's all over
For the unknown soldier
It's all over
For the unknown soldier

Hut, hut, hut ho hee up
Hut, hut, hut ho hee up
Hut, hut, hut ho hee up

Comp'nee, halt
Present, arms

Make a grave for the unknown soldier
Nestled in your hollow shoulder
The unknown soldier

Breakfast where the news is read
Television children fed
Bullet strikes the helmet's head

And, it's all over
The war is over
It's all over
War is over

Well, all over, baby
All over, baby
Oh, over, yeah
All over, baby

Ooh, ha, ha, all over
All over, baby
Oh, woah, yeah, all over
All over, heh

Robbie Krieger;John Densmore;Jim Morrison;Ray Manzarek

From The Pen of Frank Jackman

There was no seamless thread that wrapped the 1960s up tightly. A thousand things, or it seemed like a thousand things, came together in pretty rapid succession to draw down in flames, for a while anyway although none of us though it would on be for only a while just as we thought that we would live forever, or at least fast, the dread red scare Cold War freezes of our childhood. But you could traces things a little, make your own “live free” categories of the events that chipped away the ice of those dark nights.

Start in with the mid-1950s if you like with the heat of the black struggle for some semblance of civil liberties down south (and some sense for equality up north), the first break-out of music with the crowning of rock and roll as the wave of the future (black rhythm and blues, scat, rockabilly mixed all stirred up), the “discovery” of teen alienation and angst exemplified by movie star James Dean, who lived fast, and died fast a metaphor that would work its way through youth culture over the next generation. An odd-ball mix right there. Then start to throw in the struggles against the old authority, the old certitudes that had calmed our parents’ lives in places like Frisco town where they practically ran the red-baiters in the HUAC out of town, but of course the biggest event that opened the doors for liberals, radicals, hell even thoughtful conservatives was the sweet breeze coming down the road from Boston with the election of Jack Kennedy.   

That event opened up a new psyche, that it was okay to question authority, whatever the limitations and shortness of the Camelot times with the struggles against some hoary things like segregation, the dead penalty, nuclear proliferation, the unevenness of life which would get propelled later in the decade with fight for women’s liberation, gay liberation, and the fight against the draft, the damn war in Vietnam that drove a nail into the heart of the generation. There were more things, cultural things and experimentations with new lifestyles that all got a fair workout during this period as well.    

Plenty of us in retrospective would weigh the various combinations of events differently in figuring out how the uprising started just as plenty of us have our specific dates for when the tide began to ebb, when the mean-spirited and authoritarian began their successful counter-offensive that we still live with for not taking the omens more seriously.

And then we have the photograph that graces this short screed. This photograph is almost impossible to imagine without some combination of that hell broth mix stirred up in the 1960s. Three self-assured women comfortable with the loose and individualistic fashion statements of the day from floppy hats to bare legs, bare legs that would have shocked a mother. Uncomfortable about the damn Vietnam war that was eating up boyfriends, brothers, just friends at a heavy rate and they unlike their mothers who came through World War II waiting patiently and patriotically for their military heroes to come home, come home in one piece, have a very different sense of the heroic. A sense of the heroic going back to ancient times when one group of women demanded that their men come home on their shields if they had to rather than speak of defeat and others providing a distant echo for these three women pictured here who refused their soldier boys any favors if they went off to war. More, much more of the latter, please.                     

Elegy Upon Hearing Of The Death Of Superman-“With Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” (2016) In Mind

Elegy Upon Hearing Of The Death Of Superman-“With Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” (2016) In Mind  

By Seth Garth

[Perhaps only a person, a man in this case, like Seth Garth who can trace his forebears gaggle of poets, bandits, stone-cold junkies, whores, whoremongers, whoremongers’ wives, midwives, witches, odd-ball aficionados, troubadours, minstrel singers, blackguards going back to medieval times in ancient France, going back on his mother’s side it is said and which explains a lot of things to the bandit/troubadour/poet exiled in his own land François Villon. Back to France when it was all cut up into pieces with little castles and moats and the world too. Only a guy like that could write a prosaic elegy without tears for a legendary figure like Superman, a super-hero whose time had passed. Site manager Greg Green]
Signpost: December 7, 1941 for those who squeaked by the Great Depression hunger and cold that provoked and pervaded the land and who still charged forward slogging through the muddy beaches and forests of World War II, or waited breathlessly at home. Signpost: November 22, 1963 where every schoolboy and schoolgirl knew exactly where he or she was when the news came through the PA systems of a million schools portending I have a dream Martin death and seek a newer world Robert one too to end Camelot children dreams and Summer of Love drugs, sex and rock and roll. Signpost: 9/11 no year needed yet when everybody learned that in this wicked old world that there were people, there were unchecked forces who sought end time, sought the garden without regard. Signpost: March 26, 2016 the day when a candid world first heard that super-hero for the ages, an other-worldly guy, an alien of a different sort, Superman, had finally cashed his check.         

Who knows how it happened, how it could possibly happen when all the world figured he was invincible, was always to be with us. The world became far shorter than by a head when he laid down that beautiful head of his. (Now laid out in white cross National Cemetery to be wreathed at Christmas time, flagged on Memorial Day and Armistice Day after boom-boom salutes). 

Man of steel, man of steel, man of steel, man of maximum steel.

Not born of woman, a stranger in our midst, churning cornfields into flapjacks, odd duckling in a hero-less world in desperate need of heroes. Nameless except silly earthling name horn-rimmed glasses wimpy goof Clark Kent, a dweeb, nerd, and every other foul name tyrant editor Perry White could lay on him when he came up with some of the lamest stories in newspaper history to cover his tracks, running ruses around who he was and who had deposited him pod-like in Middle America corn-fed fields of dreams.       

Mild-mannered, mild mannered, maximum mild-mannered

Caped crusader in a world filling up with vermin, with the dregs, with oceans full of flotsam and jetsam robbers and robber-barons. Filling up too with a crowd of would-bes, would be super-heroes like they could come off the assembly line ready for action. Ready to fight the creeps, the crooks, the fixer men, the gay guys who worshipped him in silent vigil rooms. Junkie-fixer men crying hero, hero worship me unto the end days, unto the return to the garden. Every sullen batman, ironman, wonder woman, black widow, hulk, thor, and a million other hucksters and hustlers, con artists claiming king or queen-ship. Looking for the man chance.      

Able to leap tall buildings, able to leap tall buildings, able to leap maximum tall buildings.

Made young boys weep for their inadequacies, cowering in corners waiting to be saved, to be born again. Made grown women wet with his bulging muscles and his devilish ways. Little did they know that timeless he was winding down, had lost a step or two, told that he was losing some of his brain power by respected John Hopkins doctors and Walter Reed medics like many aliens do when they hit the American shore and try to turn to vanilla.    

Faster than a speeding bullet, faster than a speeding bullet, faster than a speeding maximum bullet. 

I, I who hear the great world moan death attendant, I who speak for the unwashed masses, I who sing the great Whitman America we are your sons song, got caught off guard, didn’t know that he had had more than a few run-ins with the law, was selling high grade ammo to nefarious parties, was getting a few more people angry every time he took to the cape for a caper. Worried and angry since the collateral damage, a new term unfamiliar to him that he told Lois Lane one pillowy night, he didn’t give a damn about as long as he got one bad guy less to the notched world wasn’t over-shadowing the ratio. Was getting so people were calling for his arrest and exile back to Pluto or wherever they thought he was from (so hungry for a savior in a Daily Planet survey inspired by that brute Perry White only one in ten could name his planet of origin-sad)

Kryptonite, kryptonite, maximum kryptonite. 

Had missed in my plainsong that Superman had turned junkie and was selling himself to the highest bidder, toying with a holy goof named Lux Luthor who had more than one screw loose, who had a stable of poor boy super-heroes to unload on an unsuspecting world. Had a guy named batman wound up so tight that he was ready to take the caped crusader on one on one for cheap money and a shot at Lois Lane if Wonder Woman was already spoken for. Beat the bejesus out of Superman on the quiet one night and Clark Kent was AWOL for days around the Daily Planet nobody thinking it odd.

More powerful than a locomotive, more powerful than a locomotive, more powerful than a maximum locomotive.

The way the story went around, went after the coppers fucked around with the truth and the media bought the damn thing hook, line and sinker, was he was an orphan bastard of some Krypton mutant seeking revenge, seeking his death, since his mother shipped him off to joyride Earth. Ceremonial bitch father had a kryptonite-edged blade and rammed the thing straight through the kid, gone in a minute, done, cooked shamrock green from what they told on the 6 o’clock news.      

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, its Superman, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s maximum Superman.  

Yeah, it was a sad world day the day that guy laid down his head, the day we heard Superman had finally cashed his check. 

***From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- Out In The Be-Bop 1950s Night- Chuck’s First Car

I have almost endlessly gone on about the 1950s as being something like the golden age of the American automobile. Not, by the way, just to note that many times in those years the poor, dirt poor, Breslin family was without a car, golden age or not. That was our hard luck and no special mercy need be shown on that account. But also to note that the car craze extended right down to junior, a he junior in those days, having maybe for the first in recorded history, recorded teen history, the only history that counted among the corner boys, and wanna-be corner boys of Olde Saco (that is up in ocean side Maine for the interested), the chance to have his own “wheels” to rocket out in the ocean air night.

Usually that first car was a Dad hand-me-down once he, Dad that is, got tired of the old heap (old heap being in those cheap car days maybe four years old) and instead of trading the heap in for the latest step-up like a shiny two-toned Buick he gave the keys to junior. This ritual, and make no mistake that it was a ritual, became a virtual rite of passage as the1950s flew into the1960s as a sign that some families had arrived into that good American middle class night. So you would see guys, ordinary guys, really, maybe football players or playing some sport, maybe just social guys, tooling around Main Street (really U.S.1 but everybody called it Main Street, and in truth for teenagers it was Main Street and the only street that mattered) on Friday and Saturday nights with sharp Buicks, Chevys, a lonely Pontiac or two, maybe some Ford thing (no, not the damn Edsel), or an off-hand exotic import like a British-made MG. Of course even ordinary guys did not want to drive some father-mobile and so once those keys ritualistically passed hands the old heap was converted, disposable income- converted into a “boss” car.

And a “boss” car if you were to have any chance, or expected to have any chance with the twists (local Olde Saco teen corner boy expression for, what else, girls), was what you needed to stay in that breezed out cool night. Otherwise stay home, watch television with the family, and save the gas money for some record you just had to have. Just don’t bother to sit by the phone waiting, midnight phone waiting, for Julie or Molly or Debbie to call because brother they are out riding with real guys with real souped- up cars. And real souped –up meant a few things in that fin-tail age. It meant much fender chrome, it meant serious hubcaps, it meant serious hood ornaments, it meant exotic silky seat-covers, it meant a be-bop sound system that could be heard from about six blocks away to let every girl in the area know “the killer” was on the prowl, and beyond that it meant you had some serious horsepower under that hood that when you cranked it up to one hundred miles per hour (100 MPH for the disbelievers) in sixty seconds on some dark country road that you would blow that dude in that prissy father-mobile Cadillac away, far away. And take his girl as the prize.

So, no way, no way in hell, were you going to let Dad’s old trusty mechanic, some Mr. Bill who ran the Esso station and did oil changes while you waited and had a Coke. A guy who cautioned you every time you went in to "fill ‘er up" and said what a wonderful vehicle it was and warn you against going more than fifty-five miles per hour (55 MPH for disbelievers) because you might ruin the engine. And muttering under your breathe that maybe he should go work on one of Mr. Ford’s Model T, or something. No, any teenage guy, even ordinary guys with preppy sweater and bobby-soxer girlfriends let nobody, nobody on this good green earth get under that hood except Chassis Chuck, yes, Chuck Miller.

And from here on in this is Chuck’s story. Chuck and his magic greased-up fingers. See Chuck didn’t go to some car company auto mechanics school, or even taken up the trade in high school. But he was the A-One mechanic that every teenage guy in town went to just the same. I know the real story of how he developed his mechanical prowess because Chuck lived down the street from where my family lived, down in the Acre, down on those wrong side of the tracks, and I used to hang out at his“garage” when I was a kid and had nothing else to do. One night he told me the story of his life, of his car-fixing life. It is short so listen up.

Chuck Miller was kind of a“foundling,” at least that was what his mother (not his real mother) called him because she said he arrived at her humble door one day and she just took him in. Now the Acre for those who don’t know, or can’t guess, was in the old days before they put in “the projects” filled with old ratty seen better days trailers of every description, mainly dilapidated. This is where Chuck spent his youth and came to young manhood. So you know, know without me telling, that Chuck was not one of those juniors who had that neat key ceremony when dear old Dad passed the torch to car-hood. Still Chuck was crazy, crazy for cars from about twelve on when some mother’s friend took him to the Bethel Speedway. He was hooked, hooked more than a guy could get hooked over a woman (that’s what he said that night he told me his story anyway). So he started going to junkyards and hanging around older guys with hotrods and learned stuff, learned tons of stuff. Basically learned how to build a car from scratch.

Now Chuck had trophy cars along the way but he only had eyes really for that first one. He described every inch but I only remember the highlights. The engine from an old Chevy, the gearbox from a Studebaker, the chassis from some major wreak on U.S. Route One up in Camden, chrome fenders from some Buick, a real hodge-podge but his for about fifty bucks and ten thousand years of mankind trying to ride faster and get from point A to point B without undue duress. And all done before he was sixteen and could actually legally get a driver’s license. Although, keep this under your hat, he was driving the back roads, the plentiful back roads from about age thirteen.

As you might expect this first Chuck-mobile looked funny, looked kind of contorted so, naturally, the juniors around town razzed him about it, razzed him bad. Razzed him so bad that he challenged the “boss” car leader, Sam Murray and his souped-up ’57 two-toned Chevy, to a “chicken run.” Now Sam was strictly a mild-mannered jock but he had this twist (remember who that designated), this Cathy Bleu, whom he was trying to impress and to keep as his “trophy” girlfriend. So she egged Sam on, egged him hard about what should happen to Acre guys, even Acre young guys. So the“run” was on, on for an October Saturday night.

Oh, for the clueless, or for those not addicted to 1950s teen angst films like James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause a chicken run back then was just two guys (with or without their honeys in the front seat) going down some back road as fast as they could-winner take all. Winner take all meaning the prerogatives of the “boss” car king of the night. On the face of it Chuck was foolish to challenge Sam and Sam was foolish to put his “rep” on the line against some Acre has-been before he was. But twists (damn, now I ‘m saying it) will lead guys, seemingly normal guys, to do strange things.

Naturally Chuck had to relate every detail of the race, from the flash start to the blazing finish, taking far longer to detail the vent that it took to run it. Naturally as well Chuck won, won in a breeze or else he wouldn’t have bothered to tell the story if you think about it. So after that, for a long time after that, Chuck Miller was the king of the “chicken run” night around southern Maine. And every guy, every guy who did not want to sit around waiting for the midnight phone not to ring, including a chastised Sam, headed to Chuck’s garage (really just that run down trailer and a tool shed) when they made their key exchange rites of passage. Oh yah, and after that first chicken run victory, and for several years after, sitting in the front seat of the Chuck-mobile on most Friday and Saturday nights was one Cathy Bleu. Naturally.

Happy Birthday To You-*In The Time Of "The Good Old Boys" (And Gals) - Hillbilly Heaven-Ozark Style

Happy Birthday To You-

By Lester Lannon

I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.    

A  YouTube's film clip of the trailer for "Homemade Hillbilly Jam".

DVD Review

Homemade Hillbilly Jam, various professional and amateur musicians playing old time and modern instruments, First Run Productions, 2005

Well, this traveling American “roots” music caravan that I have been running via the Internet, in this and other “hot” cyberspace spots, has been all over this country. I have been down in the Delta with the country blues artists like Robert Johnson, Skip James and Son House. I have been in those dust-blown Oklahoma hills with Woody Guthrie. I have been out West with the cowboy balladeers. I have been down in the swamps of Louisiana with the Cajun boys and girls, black and white. I’ve have been up in those Kentucky mountains with Roscoe Holcomb. Hell, I have even spent time, an inordinate amount of time, discussing roots music as it filtered through the 1960s folk revival in those rural meccas of New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts. You will agree I have been around. On this stop we go to the hills again this time to the Ozarks to “discover”….hillbillies and their musical traditions.

Now I know that it is hardly news that the term “hillbilly” has, over the last few decades, carried some pretty negative connotations. Hard-nosed 'wild men' truckers and car aficionados , honky tonks and honky-tonk women, “know-nothing” politics, in short, good old boys and girls fully enjoying the benefits of the 19th century in the outback. The truth or falsehood of those characterizations is not at issue here though. What concerns me is the addition of this “hillbilly” flavor to the “roots’ music bandwagon. This is done here, by following the doings, comings, goings and whatnot of three modern “hillbilly” (or at least hillbilly-descended families) musical families out in Ozark country.

Some of this music, the motels, honky-tonks and barns where it is played, and the instruments used to play it are very familiar from other regions like those Kentucky hills mentioned before. This, moreover, makes sense because there are some common Scotch-Irish Child Ballad-like traditions that unite these various strands as the forebears drove relentlessly westward. This region, isolated back in the older times, did develop its own variations but I sense that, good old boys and girls or not, we are on some very familiar ground. And here is the kicker for this reviewer, personally, when it comes to knowledge of this music. Oh sure, as I have mentioned in other reviews, it was in the background in our house from my Kentucky-born father back in my youth. It’s in the genes. But let me tell where I really started to get a better sense of this mountain music. Many years ago I used to listen to a Saturday morning local radio show from the wilds of Cambridge. The name of the show-“Hillbilly At Harvard”. What do you think about that, my friends?

Pretty Saro

When I first come to this country in eighteen and forty nine
I saw many fair lovers, but I never saw mine
I viewéd all around me, I found I was quite alone
And me a poor stranger and a long way from home

My true love she won't have me and this I understand
She wants a freeholder and I've got no land
But I could maintain her on silver and gold
And as many of the fine things as my love's house could hold

Fare you well to old father. Fare you well to mother too.
I'm going for to ramble this wide world all through
And when I get weary, I'll sit down and cry
And I'll think of Pretty Saro, my darling, my dear.

Well I wish I was a poet, could write some fine hand
I would write my love a letter that she might understand.
I'd send it by the waters where the islands overflow
And I'd think of my darling wherever she'd go.

Way down in some lonesome valley. Way down in some lonesome grove
Where the small birds does whistle, their notes to increase
My love she is slender, both proper and neat
And I wouldn't have no better pastimes than to be with my sweet.

Well I wish I was a turtle dove, had wings and could fly
Just now to my love's lodging tonight I'd draw nigh
And in her lily-white arms I'd lie there all night
And I'd watch the little windows for the dawning of day.

Well I strolled through the mountains, I strolled through the vale
I strolled to forget her, but it was all in vain.
On the banks of Ocoee, on the mount of said brow
Where I once loved her dearly and I don't hate her now.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

From The Living Archives Of Boston Veterans For Peace-They Ain't Your Grandfather's Veterans-By Site Manager Greg Green-First Night Against The Wars In Boston New Years Eve Day-A Ralph Morris-Sam Eaton Story

From The Living Archives Of Boston Veterans For Peace-They Ain't Your Grandfather's Veterans-By Site Manager Greg Green-First Night Against The Wars In Boston New Years Eve Day-A Ralph Morris-Sam Eaton Story

By Site Manager Greg Green  

“Everybody knows the story about how Ralph Morris and Sam Eaton met and how they got there and how they became VFP stalwarts, right?” asked Don Mack, local Boston chapter coordinator just as the post-“First Night Against The Wars” party was about to begin at his house. The event held each year at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve had become a staple of the yearly activities of the organization since it had been formed by a coalition of peace and social action groups about a dozen years before. After what was usually a cold to bitter cold afternoon’s work the participants and other friends and supporters would meet at Don’s house in Brighton for the annual New Year’s Eve party which would bring in the new year in a somber if not sober way.  

The reason that Don had asked if the people present knew of the Ralph and Sam story is because Frank Jackman, usually pretty knowledgeable about the personal histories of the local members had mentioned to somebody at the anti-war stand-out within Don’s hearing that the pair had grown up together in Carver and had both been in Vietnam, although not together and not at the same times. That got Don to realize that Frank either had forgotten the particulars of their story or had had a senior moment, or both. When Don got a mixed set of answers to his question he realized that perhaps it was the time and place to tell the story, or rather have the pair who were present at the party as usual tell the story as a very good way to show a lifetime of commitment to the anti-war and social justice movements and how that came about. Don had remembered that one night when they were at Jack’s over in Cambridge after an anti-Raytheon weapons-maker stand-out that both Ralph and Sam had declared that if had not been for the Vietnam War and their reactions to what it had done to their respective sensibilities that they would not be sitting in that room ready to bleed out once again their collective story.

Here is what Ralph, then Sam had to say that night to the couple of dozen people gathered around their seats:         

I was strictly a working- class kid growing up in the rough and tumble Tappan Street section of then, as now, run down Troy upstate New York right next to Albany, the state capital. Was the son of a then struggling owner of a small high-end electronics components company which my father had scratched to make a go of. Growing up though we were pretty poor before my father caught a few breaks from the major employer in the area, General Electric, GE, when they were starting to outsource high tech electronics stuff. As you know, when Dad retired, I took over after working many years for him and now that I am retired my son, my youngest son since Ralph III didn’t want to do it finding a career as a senior software engineer has taken over.   

The important part of growing up poor, fairly poor if not as bad as Sam who can tell his own story later was that I shared all the prejudices of my father and the neighborhood’s about things like patriotism, the horrible Russians who were ready to take our bread and freedom away, and especially about race, about keeping black people out of the Tappan Street neighborhood. Maybe those ideas were not just among the poor of Tappan Street and more pervasive in society than we thought but they were definitely a driving force on the social front. I am ashamed to admit it now and it is hard to say but the only word I knew for blacks, for black people, before I went into the Army was the “n” word. It was around the neighborhood like that too. The worse though was that when I was in high school I stood shoulder to shoulder with my father and other neighbors when a black family tried to move into the neighborhood. To keep them out come hell or high water, and we did. Did keep them out.

Given what I just said you can probably guess that it was no big deal for me when it came time to go in the Army, especially as I went in during the early days of the build-up of the damn Vietnam War, the war which would turn me around but which then was just something to do to fight the local commies in Vietnam there who wanted to snatch our bread and freedom. My father and most of the neighborhood fathers had been veterans, proud veterans of World War II and so the idea of serving was seen as a duty. I remember my father refusing a neighborhood guy, my friend Jimmy Snyder’s father Rudy a job at his shop because he had not served in their war. After high school having nothing else going and prodded on by my father to go and learn a trade, learn electronics, then pretty primitive compared to now so I could come work for him after the service. As I just mentioned in a round about way I did that except through the GI bill not through “learning” the trade in the Army. There was never any thought about waiting to be drafted or stuff like that. It just wasn’t done among the guys I grew up with. It was more likely that guys would go into the Army after getting in trouble with the law and taking the Army as the “easy way out” when the judge gave them a choice between the military and jail.       

I signed up, signed up under the gentle guidance of that bastard recruiting sergeant who is probably still laughing at me for believing word one about what he had to say. He had promised me that I would get first crack at electronics school which I mentioned was in its infancy then at least as compared to now. My idea, boosted by my father was that I would “learn a trade,” his trade for after the Army. As you also know and this is no lie just then, just 1967 or so the war in Vietnam was getting ratcheted up by Johnson, McNamara and the gang of hawks who ran the show then and the demand for infantrymen, grunts, cannon fodder as I, we, learned to call it later when we finally figured out what the hell we really were I was sent to AIT after basic training down at Fort Dix, down in New Jersey. AIT meaning Advanced Infantry Training, meaning just enough training to put your ass in trouble, big trouble when Charlie, the name we had for the VC, the Cong, the whole shooting match of soldiers under the authority of the North Vietnamese.        

After AIT, after the inevitable orders to report at Fort Lewis in Washington state for transport to Vietnam, that “inevitable orders” just then since Uncle Sam, a mythical figure who actually got his start out in my part of New York, just then was in desperate need of replacements for the infantrymen who were being chewed up and spit out like crazy when Charlie pulled the hammer down. I had no more thought of not going through with my orders than the man in the moon. Although I was uneasy about what I had been hearing as the war dragged on it kind of went over me. There was no way in my life that I would join the various resistance and refusal movements either civilian or military at the time. If anything I saw things the other way, saw the “hippies” and resisters as cowards and unpatriotic. That was then, that was before the baptism of fire.

I won’t go through my experiences in Vietnam, not for this crowd, and I don’t feel any need to. This is how I have put it for a long time. I did things, saw others do things and most importantly saw my government do things to people I had no quarrel with than even now I cannot live down although working the peace movement for this long time helps some. I was pretty shattered coming back to the “real world,” had a very hard listening to guys like my father who were still red meat hawks, hell, he would support the war even after all was lost. Got by some kind of osmosis into something of a semi-hippie mode when I met a girl who was a wild child in Albany. Overall though outside of the drugs and alcohol things were pretty hazy and loose, I was drifting.      
Then in early 1970 I was walking down the street near Russell Sage College, that wild child girlfriend was going to school there, or pretending to, in those days things were pretty loose then on the campuses when I saw, not heard, a group of guys, mostly guys, some in military garb, some looking the classic hippie look of the time walking silently down the street to some kind of marching cadence.

I saw a huge banner being carried in front by about four guys all in military garb which read “Bring The Troops Home”-signed Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). There were other signs, home-made signs but that one stuck out. As did the only voice you could hear over the megaphone. “Any Vietnam vets who hated the war, hated what they did, join us, fall in.” And without hesitation I did. Right after the march I joined VVAW, learned more about the group, learned about the war I had fought in than I had known before and I had fought there and took part in all the demonstrations and actions they sponsored in Albany or in Washington, the ones I could make since I was taking some classes in electronics through the GI bill. That was why I was in Washington, D.C. during May Day, 1971 when National VVAW called for us to try one desperate attempt to shut down the government if it would not shut down the war. Everybody knows, and if you don’t, I was arrested that May Day and thrown in RFK stadium, the overflow holding area we were put in. That is where I met Sam when he saw my VVAW button and we started talking, talking about how I, and he, had gotten into that jam. Sam can now tell you his story, but let’s take a little break and have some wine and some food.                

And after the break with a couple of people drifting away from the talk Sam gave his story:

Its funny that I am talking about this experience since I thought everybody kind of knew about Ralph and me, thought it was kind of an unspoken legend. But maybe it is good to run this against and maybe since I am the writer of the two of us, although when Ralph gets motivated his can whip my ass writing anti-war stuff sometimes, I will write it up and put it on the website, or in the archives. I really think that one of the things that has held Ralph and me together in this antiwar business is that we came essentially from the same kind of backgrounds, working class, working poor so we knew a few bumps already unlike some of the anti-war activists from other organizations. I grew up south of here, down in Carver, down in what was then called “bog” country, down where they grew cranberries in the bogs used to product the crop.         
They called those who worked the bogs, my family, “boggers” and that was not meant as a compliment, kind of drew what I would later call the class line between us and “them” in town life. It came up in strange ways like I remember liking a girl in high school who also liked me but when she found out I was a “bogger,” or maybe her parents did that was that. Stuff like that.  

The big thing you have to know, the thing that got this whole story business rolling was that while I am a proud member of VFP I am not a veteran, am as you know we have a “supporter” member, an associate. The reason I am not a veteran, although in other circumstances I might have been, was that in 1965 just as the Vietnam War was beginning to take its bite out of a whole generation which can be felt even today my father, my “bogger” father had a massive heart attack and died leaving my mother alone with four sisters and me. I might add that whatever caused the heart attack my father was a drunk, drank away many a dollar in the town bars and elsewhere. Even now I bristle when I say this. In any case I was the sole male supporter of my family and the local draft board of the time exempted me from military service for that reason once I graduated from high school in 1967. The way I supported my mother and sisters was working in Mr. Carey’s print shop on Washington Street during high school and later when I graduated. As some of you know after my “wild days” in the early 1970s I would take over that operation from Mr. Carey when he retired and run it until my son who is much more tech savvy than I could ever be knowing which way the wind was blowing in the printing business took it over a few years ago.         

If you think about it there is nothing in that profile which would lead anybody to believe, to believe today at this far remove, that I would wind up as a long-time peace activist with some arrests for civil disobedience and other things. I, like Ralph, and many others if you heard their stories was as patriotic as the next person, drew in the full propaganda about the red menace and other Cold War bullshit. Believed that we needed to destroy the commies root and branch, go after them to save the world. Believed fully in that domino theory that was touted then as the reason to go to war in Vietnam even if I couldn’t explain the theory then. For me the thing the sole thing that switched me on the war and then on a lot of other things was the death in Vietnam of my best friend from second grade on-Jeff Mullins. Sorry, I still shed a tear every time I say his name, get worse every time I pass the town memorial or I go to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington where his name is etched in black granite with thousands of other names.    

Like I said I had known Jeff from early childhood so I knew him pretty well, knew that when he said something it stuck. He had been gung-ho to go into the service as much for getting the hell out of “bogger” Carver to see the big wide world as he said and away from horrible parents as patriotic fervor but that was serious factor. He also bought into all the myths that I had as I mentioned before. I wish I could talk about him more about his dreams, but you get the idea.  A few months before Jeff was killed down in the Mekong Delta while on patrol, he had sent me a letter, a long letter basically foretelling his doom and his hatred for the lying war. Made me promise that if anything happened to him and he couldn’t get back to tell the real story, his story about the goddam war that I was to do so. Once we got the message that he had been killed I went crazy -and went to work.

Of course I knew there were people against the war, you could not watch the news at least in Boston without seeing somebody demonstrating against the war or resisting the draft which despite my lucky status I still supported or maybe resisting to the thing is what bothered me, but I was clueless how you would contact anybody especially down in Carver where I don’t think anybody was publicly against the war. So I started from scratch a funny scratch when you think about it since what I did was go to Cambridge one Saturday afternoon to see if anybody knew anything about the anti-war struggle. I hear laughing, knowing laughing but like I say I didn’t know anything about what was happening except that something was. I had never been to Cambridge before or at least I wasn’t aware of it so the whole thing was not only an adventure but very informative as well. As it turned out the best way then to find out what was happening was to look at a place like the world-famous kiosk in the Square at the posters that were plastered on poles or anything that would take paper and glue, or wallpaper paste. What I noticed was that there was to be a big SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, meeting later that afternoon to plan something for what was called the Spring Offensive. SDS then pretty notorious and another grouping that I had previously scorned but I figured I was young enough to fit in. 

That was decision was decisive in a lot of ways since at that meeting people were encouraged to speak up about why they were there and what they expected to do for the Spring Offensive. There were probably a hundred people in I think it was Memorial Hall, or a large room off of it and when I stood up and trembling told the crowd my reason, the death of Jeff Mullins I was applauded which I couldn’t understand until later because I thought they would hate the idea that I was doing this to support a fallen soldier. That was one off the great lies of the war that these anti-war people for the most part were hostile to the private solider. Although it would not be until about a year later that there would be any serious attempts to link up to disgruntled and war-weary soldiers. In any case off of that meeting I met Jim Thorn, the big local activist who kind of took me under his wing, taught me plenty about the ins and outs of the war and how it got out of hand and got a lot of young guys who had plenty of other stuff to do with their lives killed for no good reason. Two or three weeks later I went to my first anti-war demonstration in downtown Boston, on the Common, sponsored by SDS and a bunch of other groups, none still around at least in that form. That demo was the first leg of a planned Spring Offensive to stop the war and I was very happy to walk the walk holding a photograph of Jeff with the legend “No More.”        

That is the important part and I would attend many more such events in Boston, New York and Washington. Along the way I got my speaking voice, spoke from the heart about my mission for Jeff, and would sometimes read a few passages of that Jeff letter urging me to fight the good fight if he didn’t make it back. Along the way I got as frustrated as almost every young person and got progressively more radicalized as the Cambridge milieu went further to the left and with more aggressive tactics. That led up to my going to Washington with a Cambridge group called the Red Brigade to stop the government if it would not stop the war. And the fateful meeting with Ralph after seeing his VVAW button. Sometime let Ralph and me tell you about the details of that meeting but tonight we are about how we met. And remember Ralph was the real deal antiwar Vietnam veteran and I was and am a supporter of VFP except not a veteran. Let’s have a drink.       


Save The Date- First Night Against The Wars Stand-out Copley Square Boston New Year’s Eve Afternoon December 31st  

The Smedley Butler Brigade, VFP, Chapter 9 has helped sponsor along with other peace and social action groups the annual (this the 13th year) First Night Against The Wars stand-out at the Boston Public Library entrance across from Copley Square on December 31st, New Year Eve’s afternoon starting around noon until about five o’clock.

Usually the weather is cold on that day so we ask people to volunteer for an hour or two during the day. Dan the Bagel Man has his food for activist operating to keep us in hot drinks. If you are coming and have a flag or a poster please bring whatever you have with you. Hope to see you there. 

*From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-In Honor Of The Three L’s-In Honor Of Karl Liebknecht- "Anti-militarism Abroad with Special Regard to the Young Socialist Organizations"(1907)

On The 100th Anniversary Of Newly-Fledged German Communist Leader Rosa Luxemburg And Karl Liebknecht-Oh, What Might Have Been-

By Frank Jackman

History in the conditional, what might have happened if this or that thing, event, person had swerved this much or that, is always a tricky proposition. Tricky as reflected in this piece’s commemorative headline. Rosa Luxemburg the acknowledged theoretical wizard of the German Social-Democratic Party, the numero uno party of the Second, Socialist International, which was the logical organization to initiate the socialist revolution before World War II and Karl Liebknecht, the hellfire and brimstone propagandist and public speaker of that same party were assassinated in separate locale on the orders of the then ruling self-same Social-Democratic Party. The chasm between the Social-Democratic leaders trying to save Germany for “Western Civilization” in the wake of the “uncivilized” socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 had grown that wide that it was as if they were on two different planets, and maybe they were.

(By the way I am almost embarrassed to mention the term “socialist revolution” these days when people, especially young people, would be clueless as to what I was talking about or would think that this concept was so hopelessly old-fashioned that it would meet the same blank stares. Let me assure you that back in the day, yes, that back in the day, many a youth had that very term on the tips of their tongues. Could palpably feel it in the air. Hell, just ask your parents, or grandparents.)

Okay here is the conditional and maybe think about it before you dismiss the idea out of hand if only because the whole scheme is very much in the conditional. Rosa and Karl, among others made almost every mistake in the book before and during the Spartacist uprising in some of the main German cities in late 1918 after the German defeat in the war. Their biggest mistake before the uprising was sticking with the Social Democrats, as a left wing, when that party had turned at best reformist and eminently not a vehicle for the socialist revolution, or even a half-assed democratic “revolution” which is what they got with the overthrow of the Kaiser. They broke too late, and subsequently too late from a slightly more left-wing Independent Socialist Party which had split from the S-D when that party became the leading war party in Germany for all intents and purposes and the working class was raising its collective head and asking why. 

The big mistake during the uprising was not taking enough protective cover, not keeping the leadership safe, keeping out of sight like Lenin had in Finland when things were dicey in 1917 Russia and fell easy prey to the Freikorps assassins. Here is the conditional, and as always it can be expanded to some nth degree if you let things get out of hand. What if, as in Russia, Rosa and Karl had broken from that rotten (for socialism) S-D organization and had a more firmly entrenched cadre with some experience in independent existence. What if the Spartacists had protected their acknowledged leaders better. There might have been a different trajectory for the aborted and failed German left-wing revolutionary opportunities over the next several years, there certainly would have been better leadership and perhaps, just perhaps the Nazi onslaught might have been stillborn, might have left Munich 1923 as their “heroic” and last moment.  

Instead we have a still sad 100th anniversary of the assassination of two great international socialist fighters who headed to the danger not away always worthy of a nod and me left having to face those blank stares who are looking for way forward but might as well be on a different planet-from me.  

Markin comment:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Karl Liebknecht
Militarism & Anti-Militarism
II. Anti-Militarism
2. Anti-militarism Abroad with Special Regard to the Young Socialist Organizations
(Part 1)

The anti-militarist movement in capitalist countries other than Germany is for the most part strong and lively. This is especially true of the Latin countries such as Belgium, France and Italy, but also applies, though more recently, to Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, and even to Holland, though anti-militarism is only just beginning to show itself there.

Special anti-militarist propaganda was started in Belgium in 1886, when the army made large-scale interventions in strikes, as we have already seen. After leaflets had been distributed to remind the soldiers of their duty towards their working-class brothers [1] two anti-militarist newspapers were founded: Le Conscrit and La Caserne (The Conscript and The Barracks). [2] The first always appears in January (before the drawing of lots in February), the second in September (before the recruits are called up on October 1). Both appear in Flemish as well as French (De Loteling and De Kazerne [3]). In 1896 the Party handed over both newspapers to the National Federation of Young Guards, founded in 1894. [4] But they remain under the control of the Party centre, to which the National Federation of Young Guards has sent delegates since 1896-7. The Young Guards were founded in 1893-4, though there were individuals in Brussels as early as the eighteen-eighties, mainly engaged in election work and in special anti-militarist propaganda. Since 1902 this has changed. The disappointments of the second general strike have caused the workers to go more carefully and slowly, and to pay great care to maintaining the roots of organization and propaganda. The aims of the Young Socialist organizations were broadened, and the development of education given first place – undoubtedly the more solid method of anti-militarist propaganda, or rather that which best prepares the ground for it. As far as these organizations are concerned, it is impossible to deal full with their history here, tempting as this may be, though they are also closely linked with the anti-militarist struggle. [5]

A few words only, then: since 1896 the monthly journal Avant Garde, organ of the students and Young Guards, has been appearing in Brussels. Since 1900 the Antimilitariste, monthly organ of the National Federation of Young Guards, has also been appearing. [6] Since 1903 this federation has also published the illustrated monthly La Jeunesse Socialiste. This will be replaced in 1907 by the monthly journal La Jeunesse c’est l’Avenir (Youth is the Future) [7], now controlled by the Walloon Federation of Hainaut and Namur. It has already been appearing since 1906 in Charleroi. [8] Both journals were and are full of anti-militarist material. The same is true of the Flemish De Zaaier (The Sower), an illustrated monthly which has been published since 1903 on behalf of the Antwerp Federation of the Jonge Wacht. It was amalgamated in 1906 with the general Flemish language Party paper De Waarheid (published since 1902 at Ghent), but forms a special part of this journal with its own title. De Waarheid has a circulation of 3,000, La Jeunesse c’ est l’Avenir of 5,000.

Some local organizations of the Young Guards – especially the Antwerp and Ghent Jonge Wachten – are engaged in vigorous anti-militarist activity of a literary kind, etc. The Antwerp group for instance published the paper De Bloedwet (Rule of Blood) in 1900, in order to agitate among conscripts (it has the same aim as La Caserne). It has also published the bi-monthly Ontwapening (Disarmament) since May 1, 1901, and finally, since 1905, De Vrijheid (Freedom). These papers all spread the anti-militarist word with great skill and enthusiasm. Hectographed bulletins are also produced. The Young Guards also do good work of course with leaflets and posters, mostly illustrated. [9] These are sometimes addressed to young workers and sometimes to conscripts and soldiers. Much useful literature in pamphlet form is also produced. Cheap postcards with an anti-militarist message, mostly illustrated, are sold in large numbers.

In Belgium more than half the young men liable to bear arms escape through the system of drawing lots. About 13,000 are called up every year. Around 60,00 copies of Le Conscrit and La Caserne are published altogether in the two languages. [10] They are normally specially posted to the recruits, whose addresses can easily be obtained. Then personal contact can be made with those recruits who have been singled out.

Meetings of recruits regularly take place in January and September, as well as fêtes, street demonstrations and other actions.

Contact is not lost with proletarians who have entered the army. In some Guards’ groups a system of aid is organized, and an allowance made to members of the Guards who have been called up during the time of their service. This allowance varies with the amount of time for which a member has belonged to the group and with the amount he has subscribed. Such members have to provide regular reports on their experiences in the barracks, and remain in personal touch with the Guards. If such a member serves in a different locality from that of his organization, he is put in touch with the local group. We cannot go into more detail for obvious reasons.

The agitation carried out in the barracks plays an important role in Belgium. There are about 15 soldiers’ organizations (soldiers’ unions) at present, which work closely together. An effort is of course made to eliminate these dangerous organizations. But although they are often suppressed, they always reappear, for their roots are too strong to be pulled up. Up to two-thirds of the men in a single regiment have been recruited. Some of the unions are closely connected with the Social-Democratic Party.

Propaganda literature is brought into the barracks in large quantities, and is also distributed to soldiers in the streets and other public places. Meetings of soldiers take place. Many anti-militarist songs have been widely circulated.

The Party itself of course carries on strenuous anti-militarist agitation, and the women and girls take an active part too, in particular by helping the Young Guards in their agitation in the barracks. These efforts have met with great success. The pamphlet Le catéchisme du conscrit (The Conscript’s Catechism), which appeared in several editions in 1896, is worthy of note. It resembles the French Manuel du soldat, and has been similarly subjected to fierce criminal prosecution.

Anti-militarist propaganda, indeed, comes up against severe persecution. This point can of course only be supported by an examination of the generally advanced political conditions in Belgium. In 1886 Anseele was condemned to six months’ imprisonment for an appeal to mothers published in the Vooruit to bring up their sons in such a way that they would never turn their guns against the people. Le Conscrit and La Caserne are constantly brought before the courts. Since their foundation heavy sentences have been pronounced every year in connection with their publication, and the same thing of course has happened since the publication has been taken over by the Young Guards. The first case was that against Le Conscrit in 1897, when two comrades were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. In 1904 Coenen, secretary of the National Federation of Young Guards, was called with five others before the jury in Brabant in connection with the appearance of posters appealing to recruits. The same thing was soon repeated, this time involving Coenen alone, because of an article which had appeared in La Caserne. But he was acquitted. [11] The sentences passed on Troclet in the middle of the eighteen-nineties on account of Le catéchisme du conscrit are also noteworthy.

The chief crimes for which penalties are imposed are the following: calls to disobey orders, insulting the army (six months’ imprisonment is the minimum punishment!), and the infamous atteinte à la force obligatoire des lois – attack on the principle that the law is binding. Where more than five people are shown to have conspired together the punishment is doubled. Every year sentences of imprisonment averaging from two to three years are passed. In 1903 the secretary of the National Federation was sentenced to three years in prison. It is true, however, that half of the accused are acquitted. The system under which the prisoners live is harsh. No distinction is made, on principle, between political and non-political prisoners.

Treatment accorded to anti-militarist soldiers is cruel, at least by Belgian standards. Those opposing militarism are threatened with three to five years’ prison in the harsh correctional system. For the slightest offence the barbarous medieval punishment called the cachot is inflicted. The prisoners must lie in irons in an unheated cell, and are fed on bread and water. The cells are built over water, are damp, and in winter a spell in them can be dangerous to life. This goes together with the ill-treatment dealt out by the N.C.O.s, who are themselves given this job as a disciplinary punishment.

The extent of the growth of Belgian anti-militarism, in spite of its struggle against fire and sword, has been shown elsewhere, and can be said to be an almost complete success. In the critical year 1902 the whole population took such an interest in the propaganda that officers attempting to stop the agitation which was carried on openly in the streets among the soldiers were often attacked.

We must also mention the Groupes des Anciens Militaires (ex-soldiers’ groups). They were formerly organized as a national federation, but are now flourishing as local organizations and publish a newspaper. Anti-militarist propaganda in the reserve and the militia, as well as agitation against the bourgeois military societies, are their chief tasks.

A few words must be added on the attitude taken by Belgian Social-Democracy, as far as tactics are concerned, towards militarism.

On the question of war, and above all on the tactics to be adopted if a war breaks out, there is no unanimity of opinion. Only three facts can be mentioned here:

The Party Congress at Ghent in 1893 expressed its enthusiastic approval of a telegram from the anciens soldats of Amsterdam which expressed the hope that the Congress would sanction the calling of a military strike in case of war, as the Dutch Socialists had suggested. The Louvain Congress of 1899 simply endorsed the proposal of De Winnes that to make propaganda for socialism was the best way of fighting the growth of military armament and of ensuring world peace. In 1905 the Socialist Federation of the Charleroi district resolved that in order to prevent war it was necessary:

1.To prevent troop mobilization by calling a general strike of railwaymen;
2.To organize a general strike in the coal mines in order to deprive the belligerent powers of the fuel necessary for the navy and for troop transport;
3.To stop work in the docks, arsenals and munitions factories.
The history of the Young Guards also throws an interesting light on the subject. Their congress in 1897 decided among other things to induce the Socialist Parties of other countries to organize their young people on an international and anti-militarist basis in order to make war impossible. The proceedings of the Brussels Congress of 1903 were also important. Two sharply opposed views were more or less equally represented. One view strongly defended, especially by de Man, used Hervé’s [1*] arguments to propose the declaration of a military strike (collective refusal to serve), a general strike and revolutionary agitation in case of war. The other view was put by Troclet and Fischer, who simply endorsed the resolutions of the international congresses. The Troclet-Fischer resolution was passed by seventeen votes to fifteen, with two abstentions. [12]

At the Ghent Congress of January 1906 a sharp departure was made from anarchist tactics, and individual refusal to serve was repudiated. A motion put by de Man suggests that to snatch the means of power in the form of the army from the ruling classes it is necessary to awaken proletarian class consciousness among the soldiers. Another of de Man’s motions describes the army in its role against the enemy at home. The soldiers are advised to conduct themselves as properly as possible in the interests of anti-militarist agitation. The anarchistic dross was thus eliminated and things cleared up considerably.

In France anti-militarist propaganda began long ago and is very vigorous but not so well organized as in Belgium, nor does it follow the same tendency.

In 1894 the 12th Congress of the Socialist Revolutionary Labour Party (P.O.S.R.) at Dijon passed a specially noteworthy resolution against militarism in its two forms, emphasizing the harm done by militarism and the general danger it presented to the proletariat. The end of the resolution says: “In peacetime the standing army serves a police role, acting as a shooting machine. It drowns in blood the struggles of the miners and factory workers for their rights, the proletarian soldier in absurd anger raising his hand against his brother on strike.”

Not only Social-Democratic anti-militarism but also the anarchist form developed in France, together with the specifically French tendency of anti-patriotic Socialist anti-militarism (which however later left its mark in Italy and even in Switzerland).

Anarchist and semi-anarchist anti-militarism was supported chiefly by the weekly journal Les Temps Nouveaux (Modern Times) and its numerous and often clever publications. These, like the paper itself, are for the most part based on a proletarian standpoint. They contain valuable material contributed not only by men like Kropotkin [2*] but by syndicalists, especially P. Delesalle. There are also the publications of the individualist paper Libertaire. French anarchists were also responsible for the foundation in 1902 of the International Anti-militarist Federation, and rather earlier of the Ligue Internationale pour la Defense du Soldat (International Soldiers’ Defence League) with headquarters in Paris. The leading thinkers of this league – which seems to have disappeared – were the anarchists Janvion, Malato, then Georges Lhermite, editor of the radical paper L’Aurore, and Urbain Gohier. Their programme aimed at the abolition of standing armies, the abolition of the system of military justice and material improvements and guarantees for the soldiers. But their activity went far beyond this programme. The postcards, pamphlets and posters, often powerfully illustrated, which were published by the League continuously repeat the slogan “A bas la justice militaire!” (Down with military justice!) and the calls “Down with war!”, “Down with militarism!”, “Long live peace between nations!” But its influence could not extend beyond the borders of France.

The agitation for individual and collective refusal to serve and for desertion forms a large part of this propaganda, which of course is quite uneven. According to Kropotkin the military strike to be called against war is not to be merely passive but to go hand in hand with the social revolution and the defence of the revolution against the enemy abroad. [13] This is to rebate the chief objection to anti-patriotism, or as the Temps Nouveaux calls it, anti-nationalism. It is well-known that Emile Henry, the anarchist and terrorist, threw his famous bomb at Carmaux in August 1892 as a warning in order to try to prevent a repetitition in the miners’ strike of the Fourmies massacre which had taken place the year before. [14]

The anti-patriotic Socialist current of anti-militarism, which displays many anarchist traits [15], is supported on the one hand by the Yonne Federation of the United Socialist Labour Party (the Yonne being an almost completely agricultural department) [16] and on the other by a strong current within the anti-parliamentary trade unions. Anti-patriotism of course does not play such an important role in the trade unions, which are faced with the struggle against militarism on the home front, the most cruel and powerful enemy of workers on strike.

Since 1901 the Jeunesses Socialistes, the youth organizations of the Yonne, have published, in accordance with a resolution passed in 1900, a newspaper called Pioupiou de l’Yonne. [17] Originally it appeared bi-annually, then quarterly, and it is designed, as stated at the head of the first numbers, “for those called up to join their regiments”. All the reactionary forces at the state’s disposal were let loose against the Pioupiou, which was distributed free to all the conscripts of the department. Legal prosecutions literally rained from the sky [18], though they generally ended in acquittal. This in spite of the fact that the call to disobey if ordered to use arms against strikers was explicitly made. Pioupiou, still published by Moneret in 1905, was strongly influenced by Hervé, who, with Yvetot, was and is the leading figure and organizer of anti-patriotic anti-militarism. His work Leur Patrie contains a detailed and clever exposition and formulation of his ideas, and since the middle of December 1906 he has been publishing in Paris a weekly paper, La Guerre Sociale (The Social War), which renders vigorous aid to anti-militarism. To any war, however it might have started, he knows only one solution: plutôt l’insurrection que la guerre, and he fiercely attacks the attitude of the leaders of German Social-Democracy to aggressive wars. [19] He is very far from supporting individual refusal to serve. In his case the struggle against militarism at home is relegated somewhat to the background. We shall deal elsewhere with Hervéism, which carries on its struggle with noteworthy tenacity and readiness for sacrifice.

As far as the form of Hervé’s propaganda is concerned, the events of September 30, 1906 are characteristic. Hervé and a band of his supporters went to a fête at the Trocadero given by the Republican Youth of the 3rd arrondissement and by the French Educational League in honour of those called up to serve in the army. They made a demonstration against the patriotic-military event, came into collision with the police and were arrested.

As far as the anti-patriotic anti-militarism of the trade unions is concerned, the report laid before the Dublin Conference of trade union secretaries by the Confédération Générale du Travail gives a good idea of its character. In striking contrast to Hervéism, it unilaterally underrates the significance of “militarism abroad”.

In this report the methods of anti-militarist educational work are divided into:

1.Solidarity work:
•“The soldier’s penny” (“Sou du soldat”);
•Reception and care of soldiers as guests in the trade union homes;
•Solidarity with those comrades who evade military service or who are victimized for rebellion against discipline.
2.Propaganda work: public meetings, social evenings, send-offs for recruits, demonstrations, posters, manifestoes, pamphlets, leaflets, the special annual illustrated number of the paper La Voix du Peuple (Voice of the People), the widely-circulated organ of the French Trade Union Federation, and finally the new soldiers’ handbook (Nouveau Manuel du Soldat), which had already been circulated in 100,000 copies in 1903. It led as everyone knows – and with the approval of the ex-Socialist Millerand – to the vigorous intervention of the administrative and judicial authorities.
The Manuel du Soldat was published in accordance with the decision of the trade union congress held at Algiers on September 15, 1902, by the Federation of Trade Union Houses. A second edition appeared in the same year, and a third in 1905. It ends with an appeal to the soldiers either to desert or to make anti-militarist agitation in the barracks, and to those on active service not to fire, even when ordered, on the so-called “enemy at home”, their brother workers.

The former organ of the Socialist Revolutionary Labour Party, La Lutte Sociale (The Social Struggle) ought to be mentioned here. It was published, probably for the first time in 1904, for the Union Fédérative du Centre by Allemane and Hervé, and was devoted to anti-militarist propaganda.

In 1905 the Socialists and syndicalists together [20] published the red poster which appealed to the soldiers not to turn their weapons against the proletariat, and if ordered to do so to turn them instead against their commanding officers rather than their class comrades.

Finally, anti-militarist propaganda is one of the main tasks of the French Young Socialist organizations. Until 1903 each of the three French parties had its own special organization (Jeunesse Socialiste). Since 1902 the Jeunesses Syndicalistes, supported by the revolutionary trade unions, have appeared on the scene. At the moment they are in a rather chaotic situation.

The activity of the Young Socialist organization of the Yonne has already been mentioned. Since 1900 the Conscrit, still going in 1906, has appeared as the organ of the Revolutionary Young Socialists, and the paper La Feuille du Soldat (The Soldier’s Paper) as the organ of the Union Fédérative des Jeunesses Socialistes du Parti Ouvrier (Federative Union of the Labour Party Young Socialists). Both call on proletarians in soldier’s uniform to fulfil their duty to their class comrades. La Feuille du Soldat calls on them plainly to refuse to obey if ordered to turn their weapons against the working class, and to take part in the general strike when it is proclaimed. Le Conscrit emphatically rejects individual revolt as useless.

At the Congress of French Trade Unions in Amiens in October 1906 Delesulle was able to point out quite correctly that earlier trade union congresses had declared themselves for anti-militarist and anti-patriotic propaganda, and he announced that this position had been unanimously endorsed by the Committee. At the same congress a resolution moved by Yvetot was adopted, though opposed it is true by a large minority, calling for an intensification of anti-militarist and anti-patriotic propaganda. It was obvious that the minority was not opposed to anti-militarism or to an increase in anti-militarist propaganda but simply to the stress laid on anti-patriotic propaganda. The same thing was evident at the Congress of the French United Socialist Party held at Limoges in November 1906. The Hervé resolution, put forward by the Yonne Federation, got only a few votes. It formulated the anti-patriotic point of view, and appealed to the comrades to reply to every declaration of war, from whichever side it might come, by a military strike and an insurrection. But the resolution put forward by Guesde, emphasizing the organically capitalist character of militarism and which considers that anti-militarism can only be furthered in the context of general Social-Democratic propaganda, was also voted down, though the minority was three times larger. It demanded in the short term a reduction in the length of service, the refusal to vote military credits and the introduction of a citizen army. Vaillant’s resolution, moved by the Seine Federation, was adopted. After stating the principles adopted by the international congresses it demands international action against war and makes it a duty to use every kind of action, from parliamentary intervention and public agitation and demonstrations to the general strike and insurrection, according to the needs of the situation. At the beginning of 1906 Vaillant, as we know, published in Le Socialiste his famous proclamation on the occasion of the outbreak of the Morocco conflict, which ended with the cry: plutôt l’insurrection que la guerre.

No decision was reached regarding militarism at home, but many other indications are available which make the attitude of French Social-Democracy quite clear. The watchword is an appeal to the soldiers not to obey when they are used against strikes and against the working class. The Manuel du Soldat addresses the following words to the soldiers: “If they try to make you into murderers it is your duty to disobey! If you are sent against strikes, you will not shoot!” The famous words “Vous no tirerez pas” – used by comrade Meslier in the great trial of anti-militarists in December 1905 are therefore only an echo of the general cry of the class-conscious Socialists or syndicalists.

The appeal to conscripts issued jointly by Socialists and syndicalists in 1905 and mentioned above contains a drastic and fearless solution of the problem, calling on soldiers not to use their weapons against the working class, but rather to turn them against the officers who gave them that order. When this appeal was discussed in the Chamber, Sembat, in the name of the Socialists, declared: “I am asked what my opinion is regarding the advice to fire on officers. My answer is that when an officer has given the order to fire on strikers, I approve of this advice. And Lafargue has repeatedly endorsed this standpoint in L’Humanité in short, sharp terms.

The numerous trials of anti-militarists in France, which until recently almost always ended in acquittal, were a considerable help to propaganda. The Pioupiou trials have been dealt with above. Yvetot, having been acquitted ten times, was eventually convicted by a jury of the lower Loire in 1904 in connection with an anti-militarist speech and sentenced to – a fine of 100 Francs. But later he too became acquainted with prison life. In 1905 two anarchists were arrested in Aix. One of them was condemned to three months’ imprisonment for an anti-militarist manifesto which had been posted up on the walls of Marseilles. Morel and Frimat were also imprisoned, and prison sentences were also passed in Brest, Armentières and Limoges. [21] In the spring of 1906 convictions followed in Toulon and Rheims. The special number of the Voix du Peuple printed for recruits has been repeatedly seized. In October 1906 the editor, Vignaud, was arrested. Above all we should note the great anti-militarist trial in Paris in December 1905, at which Hervé and 25 others were sentenced to prison terms totalling 36 years, together with fines amounting to 2,500 Francs. But these severe sentences were not fully enforced.

Anti-militarist propaganda has a massive pamphlet literature at its disposal. Apart from the Temps Nouveaux, there are the Librairie & Propagande Socialiste, the Société nouvelle do Librairie et d’Edition (Georges Bellais), the Librairie die Parti Socialiste (S.F.I.O.) and the Stock publishing house which have made a specially important contribution to the publication of such pamphlets.

The successes of anti-militarist propaganda in France are considerable. In this connection we must not overestimate the significance of the fact that here and there an officer openly expresses anti-militarist opinions and takes the consequences in a spirit of great selflessness. [22] Such individual acts are not of great interest in connection with a purely proletarian class movement such as we take anti-militarism to be in France (as opposed to Russia). More important is the fact that the number of cases of desertion, of soldiers who refuse to serve or obey orders and who make anti-militarist demonstrations is on the increase. Very harsh sentences are sometimes passed in these cases [23], on other occasions sentences which, from the standpoint of German conditions, are amazingly mild. Thus two marines were sentenced in October 1906 to 15 and 60 days’ imprisonment respectively by a court martial in Cherbourg for having exclaimed in front of a patriotic monument: “Down with the army, down with the officers, we don’t need an army!”

We will give only a few details here. On May 3, 1905, 61 men of the 10th Company of the 32nd Infantry Regiment simply left the barracks for a place nearby because of bad food and ill-treatment. In September 1906 the soldiers arranged a demonstration in connection with the suicide of a reservist in the Compiègne garrison, sang the Internationale and insulted the officers. At the beginning of August 1906 the Eclair published a circular of the War Minister Etienne addressed to the corps commanders. He informs them that the N.C.O.s leaving the infantry school at Saint-Maixent [24] had expressed anti-militarist ideas and explained that they were remaining in the army in order to win over adherents to their ideas. Above all we must draw attention to a number of strikes – for example at Durtkirk, Le Creusot, Longwy (Merrheim!) and Montceau-les-Mines – when the soldiers called in to intervene declared their solidarity with the strikers. It is no wonder that the Nouvelliste do Rouen treats the effect of Social-Democracy on the army as “a very dangerous wound on the body of France which requires the most drastic treatment”. [25]

In comparison with German conditions the War Minister Etienne used very moderate terms in the above mentioned circular when speaking of the danger of anti-militarism and the methods of fighting it. And it cannot be denied that in France great scope has been given to anti-militarism with regard to the constitutional right of free expression of opinion. The reports of the trials of anti-militarists are very instructive in this connection. We remember how a few years ago the Socialist Fournière was permitted to lecture on social politics to the Polytechnic officers’ school. And quite recently the lectures for officers at the School for Social Studies in Paris, in which Captain Demonge spoke quite openly and even in revolutionary terms against militarism, caused the flesh of our strict and narrow-minded militarists to creep. If we add the impending limitation of the scope of military justice and of the biribi, together with the government bill concerning the shortening of the term of service for the reserve and the militia (though it is true that this was rejected), and finally Picart’s plan for the democratization of the officer corps by the realization of an unité d’origin of officers and non-commissioned officers [26] – then France might appear to be an El Dorado of militarism. The position of Clemenceau [3*] towards anti-militarism – he is the president of a ministry in which sit two “Socialists”, once amor et deliciae of all social optimists – shows that it is not a question of a fundamental change in militarism, but simply of a change in form, due for the most part to anti-clericalism.

The Italian labour movement in its different tendencies bears some resemblance to the French movement. Here too, together with the normal political party movement, we find anarchist offshoots and an anti-patriotic syndicalist movement which is anti-parliamentary and closely related to anarchism. The anti-militarist movement is also divided according to the same criteria. It goes back some time, but has only recently been systematically taken in hand by the Party. We must first mention the Young Socialist organizations and above all the Federazione Nazionale Giovanile Socialism, with headquarters in Rome, and to which a number of provincial federations are affiliated. [27] It published the Gioventu Socialista (Socialist Youth), edited by Paolo Orano, and has been active from the outset in the field of anti-militarism, like the Belgian Young Guards. [28]

In 1905 the Leghe delle Futture Conscritti was founded as a special anti-militarist organization, subsidiary to the National Federation with which it is closely connected. Both organizations are recognized by the Party.

At a session of the Party executive in Rome in October 1905 the following resolution moved by Ferri was passed, with only one vote against:

The Party executive protests against police prosecution of Socialists and of their press in connection with the recent anti-militarist demonstrations. It notes with satisfaction the enthusiasm with which the Young Socialist organizations have carried on the anti-militarist agitation called for by the Party, and resolves that the whole Party, with the help of the executive, is to take part in this agitation. The aim is not merely to enlighten public opinion on the fact that huge amounts of state money are being wasted on the military administration, but above all to persuade the recruits and soldiers that, without ignoring their duty to defend the country, they should not co-operate in the murder of workers. These murders, in their frequency and cruelty, are an insult to our land.

Apart from this, the Rome Party Congress of October 1906 gave an idea of the general way in which anti-militarist propaganda is carried on in Italy. Anti-militarism was a special item on the agenda. Two motions were presented. That of the syndicalist Bianchi read : “The ninth Congress of the Socialist Party, in the discussion on militarism, approves the activity and propaganda methods used by the Italian Young Socialist organizations.” The other motion was presented by Romualdi, editor of Avanti, and states: “Congress endorses the Party’s anti-militarist traditions, and considers it necessary – in view of the refusal of the bourgeoisie to recognize that the army must stand on a position of genuine neutrality in the struggle between labour and capital – that, in order to prevent the murder of workers and the breaking of strikes, an agitational movement should be started with the aim of dissuading the young workers from taking up their arms in such situations and becoming strike-breakers. At the same time Congress considers it necessary to make propaganda among the workers for the idea that they should not use violence against the troops, both in order to avoid a reaction on the part of the soldiers and to prove that a common bond of brotherhood unites the striking workers and the soldiers.”

Anti-patriotic as well as anarchist anti-militarism was represented in the discussion, but the strictly Social-Democratic variety was dominant, while anti-militarist agitation among the soldiers was only opposed by a few delegates using arguments similar to those heard at the 1904 Bremen Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party. The representatives of the Young Socialist organization explained that their comrades did not carry on anti-militarist propaganda according to Hervé’s method, but in order to reduce the army bill and to awaken a sense of solidarity between soldiers and workers. Finally it was decided not to put the motion of Fend and Turad to the vote, but to remit the question to the Party executive for consideration. At the same time it is very important to note that Ferri’s integralist resolution, which was adopted at the Congress by an overwhelming majority, contains the following passage:

The Party is developing political activity whose object is: to intensify anti-clerical and anti-monarchical propaganda in view of the present situation and of the growing clericalism of the government; to intensify anti-militarist agitation, whose aim is the education of Italian youth in socialism, in order to neutralize the tendency of the ruling classes to use the army as an instrument of coercion against the proletariat.

In Italy too anti-militarist agitation has made the army unreliable as a weapon against the so-called enemy at home. But in Italy also class justice has been wed, in the form of numerous trials and the infliction of severe punishments, to attack anti-militarists both inside and outside of the army. The Turin events of 1905 are well known.

Anti-militarism has made great strides in Switzerland, together with the ever more frequent use of soldiers in strikes.

At the Conference of the Swiss Social-Democratic Party held at Olten in October 1903, a resolution was drafted which takes up the standard position towards war and demands a military constitution which “clearly determines the rights and duties of the state and of its citizens”, and declares that the use of the army in strikes cannot be tolerated.

Dissatisfaction with this resolution led in April 1904 to the convocation of the Lucerne Congress, which set out, among others, the following demands:

A considerable reduction in military expenditure, the people to decide on questions of expenditure above a total of one million Francs, an improvement in the military and economic position of the soldier, abolition of military justice, prohibition of the use of troops in strikes.

The conference described it as the duty of the Party to use every means available to attain these goals, but without any more definite indication of those means.

The intervention of the military in strikes at La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Ricken made greater activity necessary, as well as the adoption of a clearer slogan. Heated discussions took place in meetings. The Federal Committee of the Trade Union Federation published a leaflet on September 15, 1904 which contained the sentences:

In all cases we must try to persuade the soldiers not to fire on their fellow workers, not to use their weapons against them, and not only to refuse to obey on these occasions but also to attempt with every means to prevent such murder. Only then will they be acting in the spirit of our Federal Constitution, which states that the soldier in uniform is first of all a citizen.

The Party Conference which took place soon after at Zurich passed the following resolution:

The Social-Democratic Party calls upon the soldiers, when they are mobilized against strikes, to bear in mind their solidarity with the workers and not allow themselves to be used in actions which would vitiate the right of their class comrades to strike and hold meetings.

The following Party Conference at Geneva instructed the Party executive to draft a resolution on the military question for the next conference.

In the meantime anti-militarist agitation was being organized and systematized. In 1905 a Swiss Anti-militarist League was established, whose object is:

1.To enlighten the workers to the fact that in bourgeois society the army acts as a hindrance to the liberation of the working class;
2.To use all means suitable in rendering the army harmless as far as its use as a means of power by the capitalists is concerned.
The first congress was held in October 1905 and the League has grown rapidly since then. It issues leaflets to the workers’ organizations and pamphlets addressed to agricultural and industrial workers, and displays considerable activity. Among the pamphlets we must make special mention of the widely circulated and almost classic text, The Watchdog of Capitalism.

In accordance with the decision of the Lucerne Congress of January 1906 preparations were put in hand for a central library, as well as for a translation of Hervé’s Leur Patrie. The League also publishes the Vorposten, which is devoted, and with great skill, to anti-militarist agitation. [29] As far as the question of militarism abroad is concerned, the League takes up the standpoint which has been much argued over: that although only the victory of socialism can abolish war, something must be done while this victory is not achieved to prevent the “mutual slaughter of and by those without property at the command of those who possess it”, and that the only thing that is of use in this connection is the “withdrawal of military labour power”, that is, the military strike. As far as the question of militarism at home is concerned, they of course make the appeal: “Vous ne tirerez pas!” [30] The second proposal is naturally much more disagreeable to capitalism, especially in Switzerland, than the first. But it is still a fact that a favourite manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie is to try to work its mill of counter-agitation with “patriotic” wind, which it endeavours to raise by stamping this tendency as “unpatriotic”, “treacherous” and resulting in the “disarming of the nation in the face of the enemy abroad”. [31]

The Party Conference at Aarau held in February 1906 was the occasion of a very interesting anti-militarist debate. It came to light that in Switzerland too the idea of the military strike and of a refusal to take part in army service against other countries has its supporters. The following important resolution was passed.

(1) The Social-Democratic Party strives together with the Social-Democratic Parties of other countries to eliminate all possibilities of war among the civilized peoples as well as all instruments of war. It demands that international conflicts be settled by arbitration.

(2) As long as this state of affairs has not been established among the peoples of central Europe, the Party recognizes only a citizen army whose sole purpose is to protect the country from external attack.

(3) The Party protests against the use of soldiers in strikes. Since this misuse has in fact taken place in recent years, it demands guarantees against its repetition. As long as these guarantees are not forthcoming, the Party advises the soldiers to refuse to obey when ordered to attack workers on strike or to draw weapons against them. The Social-Democratic Party will in such cases attempt as far as possible to aid the individual concerned and his family with regard to the financial consequences, and for this purpose will get in touch with the trade union organizations. The Party considers that the best guarantee against the use of troops in cases of strikes lies in the strengthening of its political power at commune and state level.

(4)The Party demands an army organization which is based upon general military service, which is in harmony with democratic institutions and does not come into contradiction with the principle that all have equal rights under the constitution. It demands the reduction of military expenditure and opposes all expenditure not absolutely necessary for national defence.

As a consequence of this resolution it was decided to establish a fund for the support of army resisters.

The first, second and fourth paragraphs of this resolution practically cover the draft resolution submitted by the Party executive. [32] The Party Conference however inserted paragraph 3 in the draft resolution, the passage which calls on soldiers to disobey orders in the event of intervention in strikes. The conference also made the wording of the resolution sharper and more definite, in accordance with the demand made in the Vorposten.

The Social-Democrats of the Grütli, as is known, take up for the most part a thoroughly petty-bourgeois attitude to militarism. They condemn for example the refusal to vote for the budget! It will not be surprising if on the military question they are found to be so light in weight that they will be blown out of the Party like chaff. The new Party split which was rumoured to be going to take place at the Aarau conference has so far been avoided, in spite of the vigorous anti-militarist position taken up by the conference.

The publications of the study group of the workers’ circle of Saint-Imier are also noteworthy. Among them one can find the useful pamphlet The Army and Strikes. The Young Socialist organizations, which probably only exist in French Switzerland, also play a certain role. The journal La Jeunesse Socialiste has been published in Lausanne since 1903 by a number of these organizations, but recently it has lost the character of a Young Socialist paper. We must also mention the Youth Society founded and directed in Zurich by the comrade and pastor Pflüger.

It is evident that in Switzerland too anarchism directs its attention to anti-militarism. There is an anarchist anti-militarist group in Geneva, apparently the only group in the whole of Switzerland which is affiliated to the International Anti-militarist Association, which we shall speak of later. The anarchist paper Weckruf, which is published in Zurich and has been appearing since 1902, considers anti-militarist agitation – in the anarchist sense, of course – as one of its main tasks. We should not overlook the fact that it is at least a kind of proletarian anarchism which is being put forward here – or rather, that the anti-militarist arguments put forward by Weckruf have a largely proletarian character. The successes of Swiss anti-militarism, shown especially by the Geneva and Zurich strikes, have already been mentioned, together with the subsequent memorable action of the system of justice. In addition let us note the fact that many proletarian members of the militia refused to march against the masons’ strike at La Chaux-de-Fonds. In spite of the “sympathy” of so-called public opinion, severe sentences were passed on six of the militiamen by military justice. [33]


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1. We have before us one of the leaflets issued by the Antwerp branch of the Socialist Labour Party in 1886. It goes straight to the essential point, calling on the soldiers to refuse to obey an order to fire on the people.

2. In regard to this activity see La procès de la caserne, Volksdrukkerij, Ghent 1905.

3. De Loteling and De Kazerne since 1887, Le Caserne since 1893, La Conscrit since 1899.

4. The Flemish papers were placed under the control of the Flemish Federation of the Socialist Young Guards in Ghent.

5. Cf. Housiaux in Die Neue Zeit, April 23, 1904, vol.2, pp.110ff., and the scattered congress reports. Three provincial federations exist: the Flemish (about 1,000 members), the Brabant (about 500 members) and the Walloon (about 8,000 members). The last was founded in September 1905. The Liege Congress of 1905 dissolved the National Council, which was reconstituted in rather different form in 1906 – the Flemish and Walloon Federations each elect a representative, and the National Congress elects the third (the National Secretary).

6. We need not consider the Etoile Socialiste here.

7. Its predecessor was the journal Contre le militarisme, pour le socialisme.

8. In 16 pages!

9. During the process of the drawing of lots in 1906 the streets were plastered with some 20,000 explanatory posters and 80,000 illustrated posters.

10. In 1906 the print of La Conscrit was over 68,000, that of Do Loteling about 30,000, La Caserne slightly less. In 1905 100,000 copies of La Caserne were distributed for special purposes.

11. Cf. La procès de la caserne.

12. On the debate, in which Vandervelde’s intervention was decisive, see Mouvement Socialiste for August 15, 1903, pp.594 if., and La Jeunesse Socialiste for August 1903.

13. Les Temps Nouveaux, October 28, 1905.

14. In this connection see the pamphlet Le patriotisme, Libertaire Publications, Paris.

15. Les Temps Nouveaux takes a very friendly attitude towards it.

16. Leur Patrie, p.246. This is the explanation of the objection frequently made against Hervé that his support in the Yonne is to be explained by the old and deeply-rooted dislike of the peasants for military service.

17. Pioupiou – a popular expression for “recruit , with a certain affectionate and familiar connotation.

18. Cf. La Pioupiou en cour d’Assises (The Recruit before the Jury), Auxerre 1904.

19. On Hervé’s anti-parliamentarism, see La Vie Socialiste, pp.97ff. In Mouvemont Socialiste, June 1, 1905, Fages says that the so-called campagne antipatriotique is in reality a campagne anticapitaliste.

20. With the co-operation of the Association Internationale Antimilitariste.

21. Cf. Les Temps Nouveaux, no.12, 1905. On the prosecutions against Loquier and Lemaire at Epinal and Amiens, see ibid., no.26, 1905.

22. The case of Merrheim deserves special mention. At a strike at Longwy he made a direct appeal to his infantrymen to use no violence against the strikers even if they should provoke or attack the soldiers.

23. Especially in Algiers the death penalty is imposed for the slightest offence! Cf. the Besançon affair, L’Humanité, December 11, 1906.

24. Whose abolition is planned.

25. Cf. von Zepelin in the Kreuz-Zeitung, December 23, 1906.

26. They want first of all to put the military schools on the same basis. There will be only one school for each branch of the army, to be attended by both officers and N.C.O.s. This of course brings horror to our reactionaries (Deutsche Tageszeitung, December 22, 1906).

27. At the Milan Congress in September 1906 5 provincial organizations and 24 sections from northern Italy were represented, comprising 2,400 members.

28. In this connection see the proceedings of the Milan Congress.

29. The League has a very good song which goes to the tune of Heil dir im Siegerkranz.

30. Cf. Vorposten, The Draft Resolution of the Party Committee.

31. See the Leipziger Volkszeitung, January 30, 1906, A Split in Swedish Social-Democracy?

32. On the struggles in the Party Committee over the drafting of the proposed resolution, see the Leipziger Volkszeitung, December 28, 1905.

33. Cf. also Leo Tolstoy’s An die Soldaten und jungen Leute, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1906, pp.15-16 (cases of individual refusal to serve), and Les Temps Nouveaux, no.26, 1905 (four months’ imprisonment without deduction of time spent in custody, and two years’ loss of civil rights).


Additional notes by the translator
1*. HERVÉ, GUSTAVE (1871-1944). A university teacher, he was forced to leave his post as a consequence of legal proceedings arising out of his anti-militarist opinions. Founded the paper La Guerre sociale. Later became an ardent patriot, left the Socialist Party in 1916, supported Clemenceau. In 1927 created the fascist National Socialist Party in France.

2*. KROPOTKIN, PRINCE (1842-1921). Russian revolutionist, and a so-called scientific anarchist. Welcomed the First War, believing it would destroy the obsolete nation-state form. Hostile to the Bolshevik revolution.

3*. CLEMENCEAU, GEORGES (1841-1929). Radical, French Minister of the Interior from 1906. Became known as the strong man of French politics, especially because of his use of the army in social conflicts at home and his support for the general strengthening of the armed forces. Headed the French government from 1917 to 1920.