Sunday, April 23, 2023

*James Connolly-Commandant- Irish Citizens Army- A Critical Appreciation Of Easter, 1916

Click on title to link to "Workers Hammer" (International Communist League/Great Britain newspaper) critical appreciation of James Connolly, a hero of the Irish rebellion of Easter , 1916.

"James Connolly"

The man was all shot through that came to day into the Barrack Square

And a soldier I, I am not proud to say that we killed him there

They brought him from the prison hospital and to see him in that chair

I swear his smile would, would far more quickly call a man to prayer

Maybe, maybe I don't understand this thing that makes these rebels die

Yet all men love freedom and the spring clear in the sky

I wouldn't do this deed again for all that I hold by

As I gazed down my rifle at his breast but then, then a soldier I.

They say he was different, kindly too apart from all the rest.

A lover of the poor-his wounds ill dressed.

He faced us like a man who knew a greater pain

Than blows or bullets ere the world began: died he in vain

Ready, Present, and him just smiling, Christ I felt my rifle shake

His wounds all open and around his chair a pool of blood

And I swear his lips said, "fire" before my rifle shot that cursed lead

And I, I was picked to kill a man like that, James Connolly



A great crowd had gathered outside of Kilmainham

Their heads all uncovered, they knelt to the ground.

For inside that grim prison

Lay a great Irish soldier

His life for his country about to lay down.

He went to his death like a true son of Ireland

The firing party he bravely did face

Then the order rang out: Present arms and fire

James Connolly fell into a ready-made grave

The black flag was hoisted, the cruel deed was over

Gone was the man who loved Ireland so well

There was many a sad heart in Dublin that morning

When they murdered James Connolly-. the Irish rebel



"James Connolly"

Marchin' down O'Connell Street with the Starry Plough on high
There goes the Citizen Army with their fists raised in the sky
Leading them is a mighty man with a mad rage in his eye
"My name is James Connolly - I didn't come here to die

But to fight for the rights of the working man
And the small farmer too
Protect the proletariat from the bosses and their screws
So hold on to your rifles, boys, and don't give up your dream
Of a Republic for the workin' class, economic liberty"

Then Jem yelled out "Oh Citizens, this system is a curse
An English boss is a monster, an Irish one even worse
They'll never lock us out again and here's the reason why
My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die....."

And now we're in the GPO with the bullets whizzin' by
With Pearse and Sean McDermott biddin' each other goodbye
Up steps our citizen leader and roars out to the sky
"My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die...

Oh Lily, I don't want to die, we've got so much to live for
And I know we're all goin' out to get slaughtered, but I just can't take any more
Just the sight of one more child screamin' from hunger in a Dublin slum
Or his mother slavin' 14 hours a day for the scum
Who exploit her and take her youth and throw it on a factory floor
Oh Lily, I just can't take any more

They've locked us out, they've banned our unions, they even treat their animals better than us
No! It's far better to die like a man on your feet than to live forever like some slave on your knees, Lilly

But don't let them wrap any green flag around me
And for God's sake, don't let them bury me in some field full of harps and shamrocks
And whatever you do, don't let them make a martyr out of me
No! Rather raise the Starry Plough on high, sing a song of freedom
Here's to you, Lily, the rights of man and international revolution"

We fought them to a standstill while the flames lit up the sky
'Til a bullet pierced our leader and we gave up the fight
They shot him in Kilmainham jail but they'll never stop his cry
My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die...."

Monday, February 27, 2023

"The Times Are Out Of Joint"- I Am Already Tired, Heartily Tired, Of The Obamiad

Commentary

Well, never let it be said that this blogger doesn’t give everyone his or her “fifteen minutes of fame”, as the late Andy Warhol is said to have put it. That goes for the lowliest worker to the American imperial president. With the exception of the very pressing issue of the fight against the Obama Afghan war policy, both as to troop escalation and funding, this writer has held off from in-depth comment about the new regime. However, ever since the dust has settle on the last Inaugural ball, if not before then I have had this aching feeling that something is not right here. As the headline to this entry says- “the times are out of joint”.

Readers of this space are aware that the fundamental political axis that drives the commentary here is an oppositional anti-capitalist perspective. Thus, last fall, during the lead up to the November 2008 presidential elections I called for a NO vote for Obama, McCain, Nader (Independent) or McKinney (Green). However, Obama’s victory led me to a ‘feeling’ that a new wind was blowing in the American political universe that, sooner or later would, accrue to the benefit of leftist militants. I encapsulated that ‘feeling’ in the slogan, somewhat jokingly- "After Obama, Us". The truth of that slogan right now is neither here nor there for what concerns me is that right from the Inaugural Address this Obama ship has been listing, badly. I came of political age with John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address with its soaring rhetoric and call to the “better angels of our nature” in modern times. Although I long ago, as I have detailed elsewhere in this space over the past year or so, gave up on the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change that speech still stands as a benchmark for bourgeois political rhetoric.

And this is not merely some nostalgia for the good old days (that did not exist, in any case). Nor is it a rebuke at the new technologies that have created the Obama aura or changed the nature of the way bourgeois electoral politics are practiced here. What bothers me is rather those continuing pictures from places like New Orleans, Detroit or other “Rust Belt” cities where formerly employed, mainly black, workers are lining up for charity, or in order to fight ‘pursue’ minimum wage careers as places like Wal-Mart. Or the continuing occupation of the black ghettos by hostile police forces prone to shoot first and ask questions later, as recent headlines have made apparent in places like Oakland, California . The outlines of that alleged “post-racial” society that was supposed to be ushered in by Obama are beginning to look very thin on the ground.

On another front we can all have a good laugh over the arrogance of the muffed Cabinet choices, grind our teeth at Obama’s emphasis of the forces that are to benefit form his stimulus package and rage at the misplaced mechanics of the financial bail-out plans that continue to reward those finance capitalists who got us into this fix in the first place. All of the above have given me a very different ‘feeling’ from that of last fall that Obama and his cohorts are in way over their heads. Only in comparison with the out-going Bush regime do they look good. That, my friends, is a very low bar to cross. All of this makes me think that we may not have the luxury of that “After Obama, Us” slogan. We had best get to that task of building a workers party that fights for a workers government. Pronto.

Friday, January 06, 2023

*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-Revolutionary Socialism in Germany(1916)

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
Revolutionary Socialism in Germany

Source: The Social Revolution in Germany, by Louis C. Fraina, The Revolutionary Age Publishers, 1919
Transcription: Sally Ryan for Marxists Internet Archive
Markup: John Wagner for Marxists Internet Archive
Online Version: Karl Liebknecht Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2002

Note: Karl Liebknecht was sent to prison by the government of the Kaiser for four and one-half years because of propaganda against the war. Released from prison by the Revolution, Liebknecht is now the dynamic individual expression of the Revolution.

On August 4, 1914, the representatives of the Social-Democratic Party in the Reichstag, speaking through their official spokesman, Hugo Haase, approved and voted for the first war credit. On the second credit, Karl Liebknecht voted "No!" On December 21, 1915, eighteen Social Democratic representatives, the Haase-Ledebour Group, voted against the fifth war credit, and on March 21, 1916, they voted against a special credit. This created a storm, the eighteen were expelled from the Social Democratic Party.

Many Socialists considered that these eighteen represented revolutionary Socialism, that they voted against the war because of revolutionary convictions. This was not the fact, as Karl Liebknecht makes amply clear in this article to the comrades, written after March 21, almost two years ago.

The eighteen of the Haase-Ledebour group subsequently organized the Independent Socialist Party. This party was neither one thing nor the other; it was against the war, but not on definite Socialist issues; it wanted to go back to the days before August 4, instead of forward to the new tactics and the new International. Liebknecht and other revolutionary Socialists in Germany attacked this party; and today the Independent Socialist Party, by its wavering and essentially counter-revolutionary policy, is confirming the analysis Liebknecht makes in this article of their tendency. The intellectual expression of this party is Karl Kautsky, the moderate and compromiser, the man who manufactured one theoretical justification after another for the Social Democratic Party's abandonment of Socialist principles, the man who declared four years ago that all Socialists were justified in supporting their governments since all nations were on the defensive.

This article of Liebknecht's is an historic document and deserves the serious study of every Socialist.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What was the meaning of March 24, 1916? The eighteen delegates who finally decided on December 21, 1915, to vote against the first war credit, voted on March 24th openly against the proposed special war budget. While in December they issued a "declaration," they now gave the motives for their vote in a speech. The content of this speech, however, did not go beyond the declaration of December. Even the excuse that Germany was safe against invasion was again brought forward. What was it then that caused a sensation on March 24th? It was the wild uproar of the Socialist majority, together with the bourgeois parties, the infamous attitude of the president, the expulsion of the eighteen from the official party parliamentary group. But in this action, the eighteen were "object" and not "subject"; this action was forced upon them and they disliked a rupture so much, that they tried their best to avoid, still in January, 1916, an open break with the treacherous majority, as well as tumultuous scenes against bourgeois parties. And even now on March 24, 1916, they play the part of offended innocence rather than that of showing the clenched fist of rebellion.

What, then, is the meaning of March 24th? A true opinion can only be formed in connection with the general situation. The new Arbeitsgemeinschaft are the same eighteen, the "neither flesh nor fish" policy of whom proved a failure in December and again in the submarine issue on March 22nd, and again in discussions March 23rd. Could you expect the lambs of yesterday to become all of a sudden lions?

Just now the so-called Losenblätter (loose leaflets) are published by comrades affiliated with the group of the eighteen. These leaflets do not even mention the important fundamental problems which are at stake. Direct taxes instead of indirect ones are about the highest wisdom of the program of taxation of the eighteen in the midst of the world war! They do not show any deeper insight into the problem of taxation. They do not even see as was stated in the resolution of the Convention in Chemnitz, that direct taxes can as well be saddled upon the masses and that the decision as to what part of the burden will rest on each class, finally is a problem of political power, not a problem of tax reform; that it depends upon the political and economical situation as a whole, the tax policy being an organic part of the general policy. They do not even see, that the best possible direct tax on top of a system of indirect taxes may easily become a fig leaf of the system and a barrier against a thorough reorganization of the system of indirect taxes. Under the heading "How long will it last," the loose leaflets of the eighteen talk about war in sentimental language, without saying a word about the imperialistic causes of the war. The war is considered due to stupidity of the rulers! They give as highest wisdom the theory that Imperialism has led to a deadlock out of which the Governments cannot find an escape, so that they need the advice of the loose leaflets...a pitiable mixup indeed!

And what about the stand of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft in the first test in the budget committee? Two days prior to the expulsion, this group did not take any decisive stand on the submarine issue. Now the delegate in the budget committee argued, on humanitarian declarations about the horror of the war, against the sinking of vessels without warning. No understanding was shown that the submarine issue is first of all decided by the ultimate aim of the war, as the result of a struggle of groups of capitalists for the control of the war-policy according to the sharpening of the war political situation, and a fight for political power in home policy, in which the scene was carefully prepared to stage Bethman-Wollweg as a liberal and moderate Imperialist, in order to facilitate the treacherous policy of the leaders of the party and labor unions. The delegate of the eighteen even went so far as to advocate again the abolition of the right of confiscation, to attack the English capitalists instead of the German Government at a moment in which this latter Government capitulated before the most unscrupulous war fanatics and needed the most energetic opposition. This policy means a continuance of the Baralong policy of Ledebour on January 15th.

Whether all of the eighteen and all of the "official" opposition in Berlin accept the responsibility for the loose leaflets and the policy of their delegates or not — a group, leaders of which express such opinions, are very far from a policy on principles, although they may claim so loudly. The formal combination of all kinds of indefinite oppositional feelings and motives is always a great danger, especially so in a time of world changes. This means confusion and dragging along on old lines, it sterilizes and kills the militant elements which get into this mixed company. What must be the conclusion from all this?

The warning against uncritical overestimating of the action of the eighteen and of the events on March 24th. The warning, to keep your eyes open, not to forget that if we should join the eighteen unconditionally, this would mean the surest way to make the new group a shield to cover the governmental policy, and to make the 24th of March a mere phantom, just as December 21st has already become a ghostly historic event. In so far as March 24th means progress, this is to a great extent due to the uncompromising critics of all half-heartedness; it confirms the efficiency of these critics on the strengthening of the oppositional spirit.

The tactic of endless consideration and avoiding of conflicts and decisions is damned by the events on March 24th. In the turmoil of a world war all compromising breaks miserably together. Whoever tries to move around between warring armies will be shot from both sides, unless he saves his life in time by joining one party or the other, where, however, he will be received not as a hero, but as a fugitive. The way of the eighteen was a round about way, and not a pleasant one either. Not one advantage worth while to a serious man in this serious period has been gained by this delay.

The masses were ripe for the test already at the beginning of the war. They would not have failed. The only result of the hesitation and doubt has been the strengthening of poisonous opportunism.

Clear cut principles, uncompromising fighting, whole-hearted decision!

Uncompromising Socialist action against the war, against those who caused it, who profit by it, who want to continue to support the war! Also against the supporters of those who slander the name of Social Democrats. Against the policy of the majority, against the National Committee and the Executive Committee of the party, against the Central Committee of the labor unions and all instances of the party and the unions that carry this treacherous policy. To counteract this policy with all means is now the main issue of the war against war. A struggle to gain the majority against the party, misrepresented by the demagogues of the majority. A struggle for democracy in the party, for the rights of the masses of the comrades, against the failing and treacherous leaders, who form the main supporters of the war. Against all of those who in peace time have played into the hands of militarism by opposing mass action in favor of law and order, and who now hang around in the waiting rooms of the army headquarters and the imperial ministers.

Now is the moment to throw away all formal considerations. The party machinery is used ever more and more without scruple by the bureaucrats to enforce their policy. Autocratic decisions are standard features in the party. After the methods of von Puttkamer, power is used to force the opposition, the meanest methods of Prussian-Russian policy brutality are used by the party leaders against the minority. The independence of the party press is disregarded with growing brutality by the so-called party majority. Even the censorship of martial law is beaten by the docile scholars of the military terror of the official Socialist party. War against this party all along the line, to conquer the party for the party! War against the traitors and usurpers, who must be driven from their jobs by mandates laden with the disgust of the workers!

Reconquering of the party from the bottom up through revolt of the masses, who will have to take their organization into their own hands! Not only words, but deeds! Away with all doubt and cowardice! Away with half friends, feeble lily of the swamp! Away with half friends, feeble mindedness and sentimentalists! Those are out of place where the fight is heart against heart. The struggle for a decision in the party is on! It must be fought without and consideration for the sacrilegists, the traitors, the deserters from Socialism.

To the present system of party politics, not a man and not a cent, but a fight to a finish. Those who are not with us in this fight will be considered against us!

Friday, October 21, 2022

*Victory To The French Worker And Student Strikers In Their Defense Of The Right To Retire Before The Grave-Sarkozy Hands Off The Strikers- The Struggle For Power Is Posed- Fight For A Workers Government Now !

Click on the headline to link to an Associated Press (AP)  report on the situation in France (as of October 21, 2010) as the strikers, including student supporters, take to the streets again, and close down public faculties.


Markin comment:

Below is a repost of an October 20, 2010 entry. The main points still stand. Now more than ever the struggle for a workers government is posed. More, later.

Earlier in the day (October 20) I wrote a short commentary concerning a three-point program for home foreclosure relief for the working class in America in order to survive as a class to fight another day. There I noted that one, as least this one, me, expected that the social tinder that has been just below the surface of American society for the past several years would have exploded by now, and that we would have the capitalists on the run, or at least give them a first scare. I also note in that commentary that if the capitalists couldn’t see their way clear to doing the right thing, then they should move on over and keep out of our way. I further noted that that last point would take hard-bitten communists to implement though. The French working class, now joined by students who can foretaste their futures under the new pension plan, in their current defensive struggles to save their pension system and uphold their right to retire before they die, show the way forward for the American working class. Although there too hard-bitten communists are needed to finish the deal. Forward. Victory to the worker and student strikers! Sarkozy Hands Off The Strikers!Fight for a revolutionary workers party that fights for a workers government 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

John McCain-Hands Off Professors Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

Commentary

October 11, 2008


For the fourth time this presidential season I have had to repost this item on Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. This time it is one putative Republican presidential candidate John McCain, mad "terrorist" bomber of everything he could get in his sights over North Vietnam while he was a Navy pilot, who is muddying up the waters. I have nothing in common with Democratic Vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden but he has his finger on the situation. Why, if it was such a big issue didn't John McCain raise to Barack Obama to his face on debate night, October 7, 2008. Not much of interest was being said so it would have been okay to brooch the subject. Well done, Joe. As for the rest of this damn presidential campaign season- the hell with it. Forward to a workers party!

October 7, 2008

Apparently, for the third time this presidential season I have to dust off this old review of the Weather Underground and the activities of leftist Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Why? Sarah Palin, self-proclaimed "hockey mom" Republican Vice-presidential candidate, has decided that the virtue of the American Republic requires a rehashing of that old chestnut concerning the supposed organic relationship between the "terrorist" professors and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. I am reposting previous comments here because, frankly, I have nothing to add to the previous comments. Except this, Professors Ayers and Dohrn can now serve as prima facie evidence that ostensible leftists should be very careful in the choice of bourgeois capitalist candidates they "hang around with". In short, stay very far away from those types.



August 26, 2008


Apparently, the Republican presidential campaign of Arizona Senator John McCain is trying to get mileage out of some tenuous connection between Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama and very, very ex-Weatherpeople Professors Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. This same issue popped up in the spring of 2008. The introductory comment used there reposted directly below and a review of what The Weather Underground really meant politically still apply. I would only add that forty years of "cultural wars" by these reactionaries, led by Karl Rove and his ilk, is enough. I only hope that when our day comes we will relegate them to some nice island somewhere so they can "reflect" on their sins and leave the rest of us alone.

*******

May 2008

There is currently a tempest in a teapot swirling around Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama concerning his relationship with former Weatherpeople Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Here are a couple of reviews from last year on the historic significance of that movement. The real question to ask though is not why Obama was hanging around with Ayers and Dohrn but why they were hanging around with this garden-variety bourgeois candidate on the make. Enough said.

YOU DO NEED A WEATHERMAN (PERSON) TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS

DVD REVIEW

THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND: REBELS WITH A CAUSE, 2003


In a time when I, among others, are questioning where the extra-parliamentary opposition to the Iraq War is going and why it has not made more of an impact on American society it was rather refreshing to view this documentary about the seemingly forgotten Weather Underground that as things got grimmer dramatically epitomized one aspect of opposition to the Vietnam War. If opposition to the Iraq war is the political fight of my old age Vietnam was the fight of my youth and in this film brought back very strong memories of why I fought tooth and nail against it. And the people portrayed in this film, the core of the Weather Underground, while not politically kindred spirits then or now, were certainly on the same page as I was- a no holds- barred fight against the American Empire. We lost that round, and there were reasons for that, but that kind of attitude is what it takes to bring down the monster. But a revolutionary strategy is needed. That is where we parted company.

One of the political highlights of the film is centered on the 1969 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Convention that was a watershed in the student anti-war protest movement. That was the genesis of the Weathermen but it was also the genesis of the Progressive Labor Party-led faction that wanted to bring the anti-war message to the working class by linking up the student movement with the fight against capitalism. In short, to get to those who were, or were to be, the rank and file soldiers in Vietnam or who worked in the factories. In either case the point that was missed, as the Old Left had argued all along and which we had previously dismissed out of hand, was that it was the masses of working people who were central to ‘bringing the war home’ and the fight against capitalism. That task still confronts us today.

One of the paradoxical things about this film is that the Weather Underground survivors interviewed had only a vague notion about what went wrong. This was clearly detailed in the remarks of Mark Rudd, a central leader, when he stated that the Weathermen were trying to create a communist cadre. He also stated, however, that after going underground he realized that he was out of the loop as far as being politically effective. And that is the point. There is no virtue in underground activity if it is not necessary, romantic as that may be. To the extent that any of us read history in those days it was certainly not about the origins of the Russian revolutionary movement in the 19th century. If we had we would have found that that movement also fought out the above-mentioned fight in 1969. Mass action vs. individual acts, heroic or otherwise, of terror. The Weather strategy of acting as the American component of the worldwide revolutionary movement in order to bring the Empire to its knees certainly had (and still does) had a very appealing quality. However, a moral gesture did not (and will not) bring this beast down. While the Weather Underground was made up a small group of very appealing subjective revolutionaries its political/moral strategy led to a dead end. The lesson to be learned; you most definitely do need weather people to know which way the winds blow. Start with Karl Marx.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

'Fantastic' Musings On The Financial Meltdown: Are We Miliant Leftists Today Prepared To Take Power In Order To Solve The Economic Crises?

Fantastic Musings Of An Old Militant: Are We Communists Prepared To Take Power Today In Order To Solve The Economic Crises Confronting Humankind?

COMMENTARY

Build A Workers Party To Fight For A Workers Government!!! Pronto!!!!


Those of us militant leftists old enough to have seen a few social battles like the struggle for black civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the 1960’s know that organizing such efforts don’t come fully formed out of thin air. They need to be organized. We have spend much of our time since that period fighting essentially rearguard actions in order to defend those democratic rights and those of other oppressed sections of society and attempting to slow down the American imperial military monster that is rightly seen to threaten the peoples of the world.

Thus, in one of those little ironies that history is filled with, we have been essentially condemned to a propaganda force trying patiently, if frustratingly at times, to bring the notions of socialism to the center of the political stage: centralized planning to even out the dislocations in the world economic order caused by the inherent irrationalities of the capitalist mode of production; fighting special oppressions like racism, sexism and for democratic rights, including the right to self-determination for national minorities; and, presenting a vision of what communistic solidarity would do for an advance in the culture of humankind

Frankly, we may have gotten too cozy with the concept of seemingly always having to have confront the great social issues of the day solely from a propagandistic perspective. In short, we may have developed a propaganda circle mentality. The recent virtual meltdown of important segments of the vanguard of the international capitalist system- finance capital- the operations that grease the wheels of international commerce has some implications for our work theses days. I therefore pose the question in the headline to this entry: Are we communists prepared today to lead the working class and its allies to state power in order to reconstruct human society on a new basis and solve some of the fundamental problems of human existence?

Naturally, this question takes the form of a fantastic musing – a Utopian idea if you will- on the part of this old militant, given the hard political realities we confront among them that nobody in national politics today is , in a lukewarm manner or otherwise, even projecting such a proposition-except presenting various schemes that amount to socialism for the rich. Some may, in fact, question whether Markin has had too much to drink or is sulking over his last weekend’s disastrous college football selections. No, not this time. That is the point here. We have to be able to move outside the envelope- a little audacity can go a long way.

With that in mind a little look at our international working class history may help us. It is always dangerous to draw too close an analogy with the Russian Revolution of 1917 when talking about prospects in America in 2008 but there is one idea we can take from that time. The Bolsheviks were an extremely small, virtually broken organization at the start of 1917. During the course of several months they increased their influence and directed their propaganda to the seizure of power. Why were they successful? They were able to articulate the demands of the populace that needed to be resolved- bread, land and peace. Moreover, with Lenin’s lead (and Trotsky’s support) they were audacious enough to think that they had the capacity to resolve those issues.


Of course there was more than that at play like the fact that the Bolsheviks had some authority in the Russian working class from years of legal and illegal work, their previous experiences in the Revolution of 1905 and the generally more pro-progressive and socialistic political orientation of the Russian plebeian masses. That said, we nevertheless need to have a fighting agitational perspective providing socialist solutions for the next period. Here is a start. No Foreclosures! No Government Bailouts For Finance Capitalism! For Workers Committees to Liquidate Bankrupt Operations! For Workers Control of Production! No To The Democrats, Republicans, Greens and Nader! For a Workers Party That Fight For Workers Government! Utopian? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely

Saturday, April 23, 2022

*James Connolly-Commandant- Irish Citizens Army- A Critical Appreciation Of Easter, 1916


James Connolly-Commandant- Irish Citizens Army- A Critical Appreciation Of Easter, 1916






http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wh/195/connolly.html


Click on title to link to "Workers Hammer" (International Communist League/Great Britain newspaper) critical appreciation of James Connolly, a hero of the Irish rebellion of Easter , 1916.

"James Connolly"

The man was all shot through that came to day into the Barrack Square

And a soldier I, I am not proud to say that we killed him there

They brought him from the prison hospital and to see him in that chair

I swear his smile would, would far more quickly call a man to prayer

Maybe, maybe I don't understand this thing that makes these rebels die

Yet all men love freedom and the spring clear in the sky

I wouldn't do this deed again for all that I hold by

As I gazed down my rifle at his breast but then, then a soldier I.

They say he was different, kindly too apart from all the rest.

A lover of the poor-his wounds ill dressed.

He faced us like a man who knew a greater pain

Than blows or bullets ere the world began: died he in vain

Ready, Present, and him just smiling, Christ I felt my rifle shake

His wounds all open and around his chair a pool of blood

And I swear his lips said, "fire" before my rifle shot that cursed lead

And I, I was picked to kill a man like that, James Connolly



A great crowd had gathered outside of Kilmainham

Their heads all uncovered, they knelt to the ground.

For inside that grim prison

Lay a great Irish soldier

His life for his country about to lay down.

He went to his death like a true son of Ireland

The firing party he bravely did face

Then the order rang out: Present arms and fire

James Connolly fell into a ready-made grave

The black flag was hoisted, the cruel deed was over

Gone was the man who loved Ireland so well

There was many a sad heart in Dublin that morning

When they murdered James Connolly-. the Irish rebel



"James Connolly"

Marchin' down O'Connell Street with the Starry Plough on high
There goes the Citizen Army with their fists raised in the sky
Leading them is a mighty man with a mad rage in his eye
"My name is James Connolly - I didn't come here to die

But to fight for the rights of the working man
And the small farmer too
Protect the proletariat from the bosses and their screws
So hold on to your rifles, boys, and don't give up your dream
Of a Republic for the workin' class, economic liberty"

Then Jem yelled out "Oh Citizens, this system is a curse
An English boss is a monster, an Irish one even worse
They'll never lock us out again and here's the reason why
My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die....."

And now we're in the GPO with the bullets whizzin' by
With Pearse and Sean McDermott biddin' each other goodbye
Up steps our citizen leader and roars out to the sky
"My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die...

Oh Lily, I don't want to die, we've got so much to live for
And I know we're all goin' out to get slaughtered, but I just can't take any more
Just the sight of one more child screamin' from hunger in a Dublin slum
Or his mother slavin' 14 hours a day for the scum
Who exploit her and take her youth and throw it on a factory floor
Oh Lily, I just can't take any more

They've locked us out, they've banned our unions, they even treat their animals better than us
No! It's far better to die like a man on your feet than to live forever like some slave on your knees, Lilly

But don't let them wrap any green flag around me
And for God's sake, don't let them bury me in some field full of harps and shamrocks
And whatever you do, don't let them make a martyr out of me
No! Rather raise the Starry Plough on high, sing a song of freedom
Here's to you, Lily, the rights of man and international revolution"

We fought them to a standstill while the flames lit up the sky
'Til a bullet pierced our leader and we gave up the fight
They shot him in Kilmainham jail but they'll never stop his cry
My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die...."

Friday, March 18, 2022

From The Archives Of "Women And Revolution"-Honor The Women Of The Paris Commune

Click on the headline to link to a “Wikipedia” entry for the Paris Commune.

March Is Women’s History Month


Markin comment:

The following is an article from the Spring 1984 issue of "Women and Revolution" that has some historical interest- for old "new leftists", perhaps, and new recruits not familiar with this important event in out common working class history. I will be posting more such articles from the back issues of "Women and Revolution" during this Women's History Month.

******

International Women's Day 1984
In Honor of the Women of the Paris Commune


This year on International Women's Day, March 8, we salute the revolutionary women of the 1871 Paris Commune, whose fierce dedication to fighting for the workers' Commune inspired Marx to propose creating women's sections of the First International. At the 19September 1871 session of the First International Conference a motion, made by Marx, was passed stating: "The Conference recommends the formation of female branches among the working class. It is, however, understood that this resolution does not at all interfere with the existence or formation of branches composed of both sexes" (The General Council of the First International 1870-1871, Minutes).

e Paris Commune was the first modern workers revolution in history, because in Paris for the first time in the world the proletariat not only demonstrated its unquenchable determination to "storm the heavens" and wipe out its exploitation, but proved that it was capable of seizing power, creating new organs of power and ruling society in its own interests. Though they were ultimately crushed after holding out heroically for ten weeks against the counterrevolutionary forces of all Europe, the Paris Communards have inspired generations of revolutionaries. And it was the proletarian women of Paris who were among the most fiery and determined fighters for the new world they were creating, as the following excerpts from contemporary reports demonstrate (taken from a collection of documents titled The Communards of Paris, 1871, edited by Stewart Edwards):

Meeting of a women's club: About two hundred women and girls were present; most of the latter were smoking cigarettes, and the reader will guess to what social class they belonged. The Chairwoman, whose name we could not find out, was about twenty-five and still quite pretty; she wore a wide red belt to which two pistols were attached. The other women on the committee also sported the inevitable red belt but with only one pistol....

The following point was on the agenda: "How is society to be reformed?"... Next came a mattress-maker of the Rue Saint-Lazare who undertook to demonstrate that God did not exist and that the education of children should be reformed.

"What silly women we are to send our children to catechism classes! Why bother, since religion is a comedy staged by man and God does not exist? If he did he would not let me talk like this. Either that or he's a coward!"...

Her place was taken by a little old woman....

"My dear children," she said in a wavering voice, "all this is so much hot air. What we need today is action. You have men—well then, make them follow the right track, get them to do their duty. What we must do is put our backs into it. We must strike mercilessly at those who are undermining the Commune. All men must be made to co-operate or be shot. Make a start and you will see!"

—Report of a meeting in the women's club of the Trinite Church, 12 May 1871, abridged.

The Times [of London] describes a [Paris] women's club: We entered the building without knocking, and found ourselves in a filthy room reeking with evil odours and crowded with women and children of every age. Most of them appeared to belong to the lowest order of society, and wore loose untidy jackets, with white frilled caps upon their heads.... None took much notice of us at first, being too much occupied with the oratory of a fine-looking young woman with streaming black hair and flashing eyes, who dilated upon the rights of women amid ejaculations, and shakings of the head, and approving pinches of snuff from the occupants of the benches near us. "Men are laches [cowardly bastards]," she cried; "they call themselves the masters of creation, and are a set of dolts. They complain of being made to fight, and are always grumbling over their woes—let them go and join the craven band at Versailles, and we will defend the city ourselves. We have petroleum, and we have hatchets and strong hearts, and are as capable of bearing fatigue as they. We will man the barricades, and show them that we will be no longer trodden down by them. Such as still wish to fight may do so side by side with us. Women of Paris, to the front!"... The next speaker seemed tolerably respectable, wearing a decent black gown and bonnet, but her discourse was as rambling and inconsistent as that of her predecessor at the tribune. "We are simple women," she began, "but not made of weaker stuff than our grandmothers of '93. Let us not cause their shades to blush for us, but be up and doing, as they would be were they living now. We have duties to perform. If necessary we will fight with the best of them and defend the barricades...." Encouraged by the applause which had followed her thus far, she now degenerated into rant, attacking the priesthood generally and the confessional, mimicking the actions used at mass amid the laughter and bravoes of the throng. One old lady became ecstatic, and continued digging me violently in the back with her elbow..,. "Ah, the priests!" murmured another from under the heavy frills of her cap, a lady of a serious turn of mind.... "Those priests! I have seen them too closely, la canaille [rabble]!"

—Report by the Paris correspondent of The Times of London of a women's meeting: The
Times, 6 May 1871, abridged.

********

Those sharp jabs in the back that so discomfited the bourgeois gentlemen of The Times were but one small token of the throwing off of centuries of subjugation by the awakened women workers, who knew themselves to be for the first time actually making history. Of all the measures the Commune took in its ten weeks of existence—including getting rid of the hated police and standing army and keeping the citizenry in arms, opening education to all and forcing the State-enriched Church back into a purely private role, establishing that all the members of the Commune government would be paid only working men's wage; and be subject to recall at anytime, beginning plans foiworkers' cooperatives to run the factories—its most signal achievement was its own existence, the world's first working-class government; as Marx said, "the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour" (The Civil War in France).

In summing up the fundamental lessons of the Paris Commune 20 years later, Frederick Engels emphasized the key question of the state: "From the very outset the Commune was compelled to recognize that the working class, once come to power, could not go on managing with the old state machine—

"The state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy; and at best an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy, whose worst sides the victorious proletariat, just like the Commune, cannot avoid having to lop off at once as much as possible until such time as a generation reared in new, free social conditions is able to throw the entire lumber of the state on the scrap heap.

"Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentle¬men, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" (Introduction to The Civil War in France, 1891).

The embattled Parisian workers, men and women alike, threw their whole hearts into the work of creating the new workers' society—many have commented on the exhilarating, almost festive, air the Commune had as it prepared for its battle to the death with reaction. Against the old world at Versailles of "antiquated shams and accumulated lies," was counterposed, as Marx noted, "fighting, working, thinking Paris, electrified by the enthusiasm of historical initiative, full of heroic reality." The Parisian paper Pere Duchene (originally the paper of the left Jacobins), in its slangy fashion
-here are some excerpts caught this indomitable spirit-from Edwards.

Pere Duchene editorial on girls' education dated "20 germinal, an 79" (19 April 1871): Yes, it's a true fact, Pere Duchene has become the father of a daughter and a healthy one at that, who will turn into a right strapping wench with ruddy cheeks and a twinkle in her eye!

He's as proud as a fucking peacock! And as he starts to write his rag today he calls on all good citizens to bring up their children properly, like Pere Duchene's daughter. It's not as if he's gone all toffee-nosed, but Pere Duchene is sure of one thing: the girl is going to get a bloody good education and God knows that's important!

If you only knew, citizens, how much the Revolution depends on women, then you'd really open your eyes to girls' education. And you wouldn't leave them like they've been up to now, in ignorance!

Fuck it! In a good Republic maybe we ought to be even more careful of girls' education than of boys'!...

Christ! The cops of Versailles who are busy bombard¬ing Paris and firing their bloody shells right the way up the Champs-Elysees—they must have had a hell of a bad upbringing! Their mothers can't have been Citizens, that's for sure!

As for Pere Duchene's daughter, she'll see to it her children are better brought up than that; when she's grown up Pere Duchene will have got lots of dough together selling his furnaces so he can let her have a bloody nice dowry and give her away to a good bugger, a worker and a patriot, before the citizens of the Commune!

Long live the Social Revolution!

********

Yes, long live the Social Revolution! And we, when it comes, intend to be no less worthy of our revolutionary grandmothers and great-grandmothers than were the women of the Paris Commune. •

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

*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-The Main Enemy Is At Home!(1915)


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
The Main Enemy Is At Home!
(Leaflet, May 1915)


Source: Karl Liebknecht, Ausgewählte Reden und Aufsätze (Selected Speeches and Essays), Berlin 1952, pp. 296-301.
Transcription: Einde O’Callaghan for Marxists' Internet Archive
Translation and Markup: John Wagner for Marxists' Internet Archive
Online Version: Karl Liebknecht Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2002



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What has been expected every day for the past ten months, since the Austrian invasion of Serbia, has come to pass: There is war with Italy.

The masses in the warring countries have begun to free themselves from the official webs of lies. The German people as well have gained insight about the causes and objectives of the world war, about who is directly responsible for its outbreak. The mad delusions about the "holy aims" of the war have given way more and more, the enthusiasm for the war has dwindled, the will for a rapid peace has grown powerfully all over – even in the Army!

This was a difficult problem for the German and Austrian imperialists, who were seeking in vain for salvation. Now it seems they have found it. Italy's intervention in the war should offer them a welcome opportunity to stir up new frenzies of national hatred, to smother the will for peace, and to blur the traces of their own guilt. They are betting on the forgetfulness of the German people, betting on their forbearance which has been tested all too often.

If this plan succeeds, the results of ten months of bloody experience will be made worthless, and the international proletariat will once again be disarmed and completely discarded as an independent political factor.

This plan must be wrecked – provided that the part of the German proletariat which has remained true to international socialism remains mindful and worthy of its historical mission in this monstrous time.

The enemies of the people are counting on the forgetfulness of the masses – we counter this with the solution:

Learn everything, don't forget anything!
Don't forget anything!

We have seen how when war broke out, the masses were captured for the capitalist aims of the war with enticing melodies from the ruling classes. We have seen how the shiny bubbles of demagogy burst, how the foolish dreams of August vanished, how, instead of happiness, suffering and misery came over the people; how the tears of war widows and war orphans swelled to great currents; how the maintenance of the three-class disgrace, the unrepentant canonization of the Quadrinity – semi-absolutism, junker rule, militarism, and police despotism – became bitter truth.

Through this experience we have been warned – learn everything, don't forget anything!

Offensive are the tirades with which Italian imperialism glosses over its pillaging; offensive is that roman tragicomedy in which the now-common grimace of the Burgfrieden ("civil truce") is present. More offensive still is that in all of this we can recognize, as if reflected in a mirror, the German and Austrian methods of July and August 1914.

The Italian instigators of war deserve every denunciation. But they are nothing but copies of the German and Austrian instigators, the ones who are chiefly responsible for the outbreak of war. Birds of a feather!

Whom can the German people thank for this new affliction?
From whom can they demand explanation for the new piles of bodies which will tower up?

It is still the case: The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia from July 23, 1914 was the spark that ignited the world, even if the fire was very late in spreading to Italy.

It is still the case: This ultimatum was the signal for the redistribution of the world, and by necessity called on all capitalist pillager-states to participate in the plan.

It is still the case: This ultimatum contained in it the question of the dominance over the Balkans, Asia Minor, and all of the Mediterranean, and therefore contained all the antagonisms between Austria-Germany and Italy in one stroke.

If the German and Austrian imperialists now try to hide themselves behind the scenery of Italian pillaging and the backdrop of Italian disloyalty; when they don on the toga of moral indignation and aggrieved innocence, while in Rome they have found nothing but their equals, then they deserve the cruelest scorn.

The rule "Don't forget anything" applies to how the German people were just manipulated in the Italian question by the very honorable German patriots.

The Triple Alliance treaty wth Italy has always been a farce – you were all deceived about that!

The experts have always known that in the case of war Italy would be a certain opponent of Austria and Germany – you were led to believe it would be a certain confederate!

A good part of Germany's fate in world politics was decided in the Triple Alliance treaty, which was signed and renewed without your consultation – till the present day not one letter of this treaty has been shared with you.

The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, with which a small clique took all of humanity by surprise, broke the treaty between Austria and Italy – you were told nothing of this.

This ultimatum was given with the express condemnation of Italy – that was kept secret from you.

On May 4 of this year Italy dissolved the alliance with Austria – until May 18 this crucial fact was withheld from the German and Austrian people, yes, in spite of the truth it was directly denied by the officials – a parallel to the intentional duping of the German people and the German Reichstag about Germany's ultimatum to Belgium from August 2, 1914.

You were given no influence on Germany and Austria's negotiations with Italy, on which Italy's intervention depended. You were treated as sheep in this vital question, while the war party, the secret diplomacy, a handful of people in Berlin and Vienna rolled the dice about the fate of Germany.

The torpedoing of the Lusitania not only consolidated the power of the English, French, and Russian war parties, it invited a grave conflict with the United States, and set all neutral countries against Germany with passionate indignation; it also facilitated the disastrous work of the Italian war party right in the critical moment – the German people had to be quiet about this as well; the iron fist of the state of siege was held around their throats.

Already in March of this year peace negotiations could have been initiated – the offer was made by England – but the greed for profit of the German imperialists led this to be rejected. Promising peace endeavors were thwarted by German parties interested in colonial conquest on a grand scale and in the annexation of Belgium and French Lorraine, by capitalists of the big German shipping companies, and by the agitators of the German heavy industry.

This was also kept secret from the German people, once again you were not consulted about it.

We ask – whom can the German people thank for the continuation of the horrid war and for the intervention of Italy? Who else but the irresponsible people at home who are responsible.

Learn everything, don't forget anything!
For thinking people, Italy's imitation of Germany's actions from summer of last year cannot be a spur for new war frenzies, just an impetus to scare away the phantom hopes of a new dawn of political and social justice, just a new light for the illumination of the political responsibilities and the exposure of the public danger presented by the Austrian and German pursuers of war, just a new indictment of them.

But the rule "Learn and don't forget" applies most of all to the heroic struggle against the war that our Italian comrades have fought and still fight. Struggles in the press, in meetings, in street demonstrations, struggles with revolutionary energy and boldness, defying with heart and soul the rabid crash of nationalist waves which were whipped up by the authorities. Our most enthusiastic congratulations for their struggle. Let their spirit be our example! Provide that it should be the example of the International!

Had it been since those August days, the world would be better off. The international proletariat would be better off.

But the resolute will to fight cannot come too late!
The absurd slogan "stick it out" has hit rock bottom; it leads only deeper and deeper into the maelstrom of genocide. International proletarian class struggle against international imperialist genocide is the socialist commandment of the hour.

The main enemy of every people is in their own country!
The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists.

We think as one with the German people – we have nothing in common with the German Tirpitzes and Falkenhayns, with the German government of political oppression and social enslavement. Nothing for them, everything for the German people. Everything for the international proletariat, for the sake of the German proletariat and downtrodden humanity.

The enemies of the working class are counting on the forgetfulness of the masses – provide that that be a grave miscalculation. They are betting on the forbearance of the masses – but we raise the vehement cry:

How long should the gamblers of imperialism abuse the patience of the people? Enough and more than enough slaughter! Down with the war instigators here and abroad!

An end to genocide!
Proletarians of all countries, follow the heroic example of your Italian brothers! Ally yourselves to the international class struggle against the conspiracies of secret diplomacy, against imperialism, against war, for peace with in the socialist spirit.

The main enemy is at home!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

In Honor Of John Brown Late Of Harpers Ferry-1859- *STRIKE THE BLOW-THE LEGEND OF CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the heroic revolutionary abolitionist, John Brown.

February is Black History Month. The name of the fiery revolutionary abolitionist John Brown is forever associated with that history.

Book Review

Reclaiming John Brown for the Left

JOHN BROWN, ABOLITIONIST, DAVID S. REYNOLDS, ALFRED A. KNOPF, NEW YORK, 2005

FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH


From fairly early in my youth I knew the name John Brown and was swept up by the romance surrounding his exploits at Harper’s Ferry. For example, I knew that the great anthem of the Civil War -The Battle Hymn of the Republic- had a prior existence as a tribute to John Brown and that Union soldiers marched to that song as they bravely headed south. I was then, however, neither familiar with the import of his exploits for the black liberation struggle nor knew much about the specifics of the politics of the various tendencies in the struggle against slavery. I certainly knew nothing then of Brown’s (and his sons) prior military exploits in the Kansas ‘proxy’ wars against the expansion of slavery. Later study filled in some of those gaps and has only strengthened my strong bond with his memory. Know this, as I reach the age at which John Brown was executed I still retain my youthful admiration for him. In the context of the turmoil of the times he was the most courageous and audacious revolutionary in the struggle for the abolition of slavery in America. Almost 150 years after his death this writer is proud to stand in the tradition of John Brown.

That said, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I can recommend Mr. Reynolds’s book detailing the life, times and exploits of John Brown, warts and all. Published in 2005, this is an important source (including helpful endnotes) for updating various controversies surrounding the John Brown saga. While I may disagree with some of Mr. Reynolds’s conclusions concerning the impact of John Brown’s exploits on later black liberation struggles and to a lesser extent his position on Brown’s impact on his contemporaries, particularly the Transcendentalists, nevertheless on the key point of the central place of John Brown in American revolutionary history there is no dispute. Furthermore, Mr. Reynolds has taken pains to provide substantial detail about the ups and downs of John Brown’s posthumous reputation. Most importantly, he defends the memory of John Brown against all-comers-that is partisan history on behalf of the ‘losers’ of history at its best. He has reclaimed John Brown as an icon for the left against the erroneous and outrageous efforts of modern day religious and secular terrorists to lay any claim to his memory or his work. Below I make a few comments on some of controversies surrounding John Brown developed in Mr. Reynolds’s study.

If one understands the ongoing nature, from his early youth, of John Brown’s commitment to the active struggle against slavery, the scourge of the American Republic in the first half of the 19th century, one can only conclude that he was indeed a man on a mission. As Mr. Reynolds’s points out Brown took every opportunity to fight against slavery including early service as an agent of the Underground Railroad spiriting escaped slaves northward, participation as an extreme radical in all the key anti-slavery propaganda battles of the time as well as challenging other anti-slavery elements to be more militant and in the 1850’s, arms in hand, fighting in the ‘proxy’ wars in Kansas and, of course, the culmination of his life- the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Those exploits alone render absurd a very convenient myth by those who supported slavery or turned a blind eye to it and their latter-day apologists for it about his so-called ‘madness’. This is a political man and to these eyes a very worthy one.

For those who like their political heroes ‘pure’, frankly, it is better to look elsewhere than the life of John Brown. His personal and family life as a failed rural capitalist would hardly lead one to think that this man was to become a key historical figure in any struggle, much less the great struggle against slavery. Some of his actions in Kansas (concerning the murder of some pro-slavery elements under his direction) also cloud his image. However, when the deal went down in the late 1850’s and it was apparent for all to see that there was no other way to end slavery than a fight to the death-John Brown rose to the occasion. And did not cry about it. And did not expect others to cry about it. Call him a ‘monomaniac’ if you like but even a slight acquaintance with great historical figures shows that they all have this ‘disease’- that is why they make the history books. No, the ‘madness’ argument will not do.

Whether or not John Brown knew that his military strategy for the Harper’s Ferry raid would, in the short term, be defeated is a matter of dispute. Reams of paper have been spent proving the military foolhardiness of his scheme at Harper’s Ferry. Brown’s plan, however, was essentially a combination of slave revolt modeled after the maroon experiences in Haiti, Nat Turner’s earlier Virginia slave rebellion and rural guerilla warfare of the ‘third world’ type that we have become more familiar with since that time. 150 years later this strategy does not look so foolhardy in an America of the 1850’s that had no real standing army, fairly weak lines of communications, virtually uninhabited mountains to flee to and the North at their backs. The execution of the plan is another matter. Brown seemingly made about every mistake in the book in that regard. However, this is missing the essential political point that militant action not continuing parliamentary maneuvering advocated by other abolitionists had become necessary. A few more fighting abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, and better propaganda work among freedman with connections to the plantations would not have hurt the chances for success at Harper’s Ferry.

What is not in dispute is that Brown considered himself a true Calvinist avenging angel in the struggle against slavery and more importantly acted on that belief. In short, he was committed to bring justice to the black masses. This is why his exploits and memory stay alive after over 150 years. It is possible that if Brown did not have this, by 19th century standards as well as our own, old-fashioned Calvinist determination that he would not been capable of militant action. Certainly other anti-slavery elements never came close to his militancy, including the key Transcendentalist movement led by Emerson and Thoreau and the Concord ‘crowd’ who supported him and kept his memory alive in hard times. In their eyes he had the heroic manner of the Old Testament prophet. Now this animating spirit is not one that animates modern revolutionaries and so it is hard to understand the depths of his religious convictions on his actions but they were understood, if not fully appreciated, by others in those days. It is better today to look at Brown more politically through his hero (and mine, as well) Oliver Cromwell-a combination of Calvinist avenger and militant warrior. Yes, I can get behind that picture of him.

By all accounts Brown and his small integrated band of brothers fought bravely and coolly against great odds. Ten of Brown's men were killed including two of his sons. Five were captured, tried and executed, including Brown. These results are almost inevitable when one takes up a revolutionary struggle against the old order and one is not victorious. One need only think of, for example, the fate of the defenders of the Paris Commune in 1871. One can fault Brown on this or that tactical maneuver. Nevertheless he and the others bore themselves bravely in defeat. As we are all too painfully familiar there are defeats of the oppressed that lead nowhere. One thinks of the defeat of the German Revolution in the 1920’s. There other defeats that galvanize others into action. This is how Brown’s actions should be measured by history.

Militarily defeated at Harpers Ferry, Brown's political mission to destroy slavery by force of arms nevertheless continued to galvanize important elements in the North at the expense of the pacifistic non-resistant Garrisonian political program for struggle against slavery. Many writers on Brown who reduce his actions to that of a ‘madman’ still cannot believe that his road proved more appropriate to end slavery than either non-resistance or gradualism. That alone makes short shrift of such theories. Historians and others have also misinterpreted later events such as the Bolshevik strategy that led to Russian Revolution in October 1917. More recently, we saw this same incomprehension concerning the victory of the Vietnamese against overwhelming American military superiority. Needless to say, all these events continue to be revised by some historians to take the sting out of there proper political implications.

From a modern prospective Brown’s strategy for black liberation, even if the abolitionist goal he aspired to was immediately successful reached the outer limits within the confines of capitalism. Brown’s actions were meant to make black people free. Beyond that goal he had no program except the Chatham Charter which seems to have replicated the American constitution but with racial and gender equality as a cornerstone. Unfortunately the Civil War did not provide fundamental economic and political freedom. That is still our fight. Moreover, the Civil War, the defeat of Radical Reconstruction, the reign of ‘Jim Crow’ and the subsequent waves of black migration to the cities changed the character of black oppression in the U.S. from Brown’s time. Black people are now a part of "free labor," and the key to their liberation is in the integrated fight of labor against the current seemingly one-sided class war and establishing a government of workers and their allies. Nevertheless, we can stand proudly in the revolutionary tradition of John Brown (and of his friend Frederick Douglass). We need to complete the unfinished democratic tasks of the Civil War, not by emulating Brown’s exemplary actions but to moving the multi-racial American working class to power. Finish the Civil War.

Friday, October 22, 2021

*Poet's Corner- Langston Hughes' John Brown Tribute- "October 16"

Click on the title to link to an article about the relationship between Langston Hughes' forbears and Captain John Brown, late of Kansas on the anniversary of the Harpers Ferry raid.


October 16-Langston Hughes

Perhaps
You will remember
John Brown.

John Brown
Who took his gun,
Took twenty-one companions
White and black,
Went to shoot your way to freedom
Where two rivers meet
And the hills of the
North
And the hills of the
South
Look slow at one another-
And died
For your sake.

Now that you are
Many years free,
And the echo of the Civil War
Has passed away,
And Brown himself
Has long been tried at law,
Hanged by the neck,
And buried in the ground-
Since Harpers Ferry
Is alive with ghost today,
Immortal raiders
Come again to town-

Perhaps
You will recall
John Brown.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

In Honor Of John Brown Late Of Harpers Ferry-1859- *Poet's Corner- Edwin Arlington Robinson's "John Brown"- On The Anniversary Of Harper's Ferry

Click on the title to link to "Wikipedia"'s entry for the 19th American poet Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

VII. The Three Taverns

11. John Brown


THOUGH for your sake I would not have you now
So near to me tonight as now you are,
God knows how much a stranger to my heart
Was any cold word that I may have written;
And you, poor woman that I made my wife, 5
You have had more of loneliness, I fear,
Than I—though I have been the most alone,
Even when the most attended. So it was
God set the mark of his inscrutable
Necessity on one that was to grope, 10
And serve, and suffer, and withal be glad
For what was his, and is, and is to be,
When his old bones, that are a burden now,
Are saying what the man who carried them
Had not the power to say. Bones in a grave, 15
Cover them as they will with choking earth,
May shout the truth to men who put them there,
More than all orators. And so, my dear,
Since you have cheated wisdom for the sake
Of sorrow, let your sorrow be for you, 20
This last of nights before the last of days,
The lying ghost of what there is of me
That is the most alive. There is no death
For me in what they do. Their death it is
They should heed most when the sun comes again 25
To make them solemn. There are some I know
Whose eyes will hardly see their occupation,
For tears in them—and all for one old man;
For some of them will pity this old man,
Who took upon himself the work of God 30
Because he pitied millions. That will be
For them, I fancy, their compassionate
Best way of saying what is best in them
To say; for they can say no more than that,
And they can do no more than what the dawn 35
Of one more day shall give them light enough
To do. But there are many days to be,
And there are many men to give their blood,
As I gave mine for them. May they come soon!

May they come soon, I say. And when they come, 40
May all that I have said unheard be heard,
Proving at last, or maybe not—no matter—
What sort of madness was the part of me
That made me strike, whether I found the mark
Or missed it. Meanwhile, I’ve a strange content, 45
A patience, and a vast indifference
To what men say of me and what men fear
To say. There was a work to be begun,
And when the Voice, that I have heard so long,
Announced as in a thousand silences 50
An end of preparation, I began
The coming work of death which is to be,
That life may be. There is no other way
Than the old way of war for a new land
That will not know itself and is tonight 55
A stranger to itself, and to the world
A more prodigious upstart among states
Than I was among men, and so shall be
Till they are told and told, and told again;
For men are children, waiting to be told, 60
And most of them are children all their lives.
The good God in his wisdom had them so,
That now and then a madman or a seer
May shake them out of their complacency
And shame them into deeds. The major file 65
See only what their fathers may have seen,
Or may have said they saw when they saw nothing.
I do not say it matters what they saw.
Now and again to some lone soul or other
God speaks, and there is hanging to be done,— 70
As once there was a burning of our bodies
Alive, albeit our souls were sorry fuel.
But now the fires are few, and we are poised
Accordingly, for the state’s benefit,
A few still minutes between heaven and earth. 75
The purpose is, when they have seen enough
Of what it is that they are not to see,
To pluck me as an unripe fruit of treason,
And then to fling me back to the same earth
Of which they are, as I suppose, the flower— 80
Not given to know the riper fruit that waits
For a more comprehensive harvesting.

Yes, may they come, and soon. Again I say,
May they come soon!—before too many of them
Shall be the bloody cost of our defection. 85
When hell waits on the dawn of a new state,
Better it were that hell should not wait long,—
Or so it is I see it who should see
As far or farther into time tonight
Than they who talk and tremble for me now, 90
Or wish me to those everlasting fires
That are for me no fear. Too many fires
Have sought me out and seared me to the bone—
Thereby, for all I know, to temper me
For what was mine to do. If I did ill 95
What I did well, let men say I was mad;
Or let my name for ever be a question
That will not sleep in history. What men say
I was will cool no cannon, dull no sword,
Invalidate no truth. Meanwhile, I was; 100
And the long train is lighted that shall burn,
Though floods of wrath may drench it, and hot feet
May stamp it for a slight time into smoke
That shall blaze up again with growing speed,
Until at last a fiery crash will come 105
To cleanse and shake a wounded hemisphere,
And heal it of a long malignity
That angry time discredits and disowns.

Tonight there are men saying many things;
And some who see life in the last of me 110
Will answer first the coming call to death;
For death is what is coming, and then life.
I do not say again for the dull sake
Of speech what you have heard me say before,
But rather for the sake of all I am, 115
And all God made of me. A man to die
As I do must have done some other work
Than man’s alone. I was not after glory,
But there was glory with me, like a friend,
Throughout those crippling years when friends were few, 120
And fearful to be known by their own names
When mine was vilified for their approval.
Yet friends they are, and they did what was given
Their will to do; they could have done no more.
I was the one man mad enough, it seems, 125
To do my work; and now my work is over.
And you, my dear, are not to mourn for me,
Or for your sons, more than a soul should mourn
In Paradise, done with evil and with earth.
There is not much of earth in what remains 130
For you; and what there may be left of it
For your endurance you shall have at last
In peace, without the twinge of any fear
For my condition; for I shall be done
With plans and actions that have heretofore 135
Made your days long and your nights ominous
With darkness and the many distances
That were between us. When the silence comes,
I shall in faith be nearer to you then
Than I am now in fact. What you see now 140
Is only the outside of an old man,
Older than years have made him. Let him die,
And let him be a thing for little grief.
There was a time for service and he served;
And there is no more time for anything 145
But a short gratefulness to those who gave
Their scared allegiance to an enterprise
That has the name of treason—which will serve
As well as any other for the present.
There are some deeds of men that have no names, 150
And mine may like as not be one of them.
I am not looking far for names tonight.
The King of Glory was without a name
Until men gave Him one; yet there He was,
Before we found Him and affronted Him 155
With numerous ingenuities of evil,
Of which one, with His aid, is to be swept
And washed out of the world with fire and blood.

Once I believed it might have come to pass
With a small cost of blood; but I was dreaming— 160
Dreaming that I believed. The Voice I heard
When I left you behind me in the north,—
To wait there and to wonder and grow old
Of loneliness,—told only what was best,
And with a saving vagueness, I should know 165
Till I knew more. And had I known even then—
After grim years of search and suffering,
So many of them to end as they began—
After my sickening doubts and estimations
Of plans abandoned and of new plans vain— 170
After a weary delving everywhere
For men with every virtue but the Vision—
Could I have known, I say, before I left you
That summer morning, all there was to know—
Even unto the last consuming word 175
That would have blasted every mortal answer
As lightning would annihilate a leaf,
I might have trembled on that summer morning;
I might have wavered; and I might have failed.

And there are many among men today 180
To say of me that I had best have wavered.
So has it been, so shall it always be,
For those of us who give ourselves to die
Before we are so parcelled and approved
As to be slaughtered by authority. 185
We do not make so much of what they say
As they of what our folly says of us;
They give us hardly time enough for that,
And thereby we gain much by losing little.
Few are alive to-day with less to lose. 190
Than I who tell you this, or more to gain;
And whether I speak as one to be destroyed
For no good end outside his own destruction,
Time shall have more to say than men shall hear
Between now and the coming of that harvest 195
Which is to come. Before it comes, I go—
By the short road that mystery makes long
For man’s endurance of accomplishment.
I shall have more to say when I am dead.