Views & Comments Number 32
A monthly publication of The Libertarian League
Address all correspondence to: Views and Comments
A monthly publication of THE LIBERTARIAN LEAGUE
Address all correspondence to:
Views and Comments
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Joe Hill Anniversary Meeting
JOE HILL ANNIVERSARY MEETING at: LIBERTARIAN CENTER, 86 E. 10th STREET NEW YORK, 3 N.Y.
on: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd at 2:30 P.M.
speakers: DICK BRAZIER, HERBERT MAILER, SAM WIENER chairman.
Education In The United States by GWR
That there is something radically wrong with the system of education in this country has been an open secret for a long time. However, despite the importance of education to any social movement, the problem has never been adequately studied in this country from a radical point of view, perhaps due to its rather technical nature. This article is not intended to be a complete analysis of the many aspects of this extremely complex matter. I will only touch on a few, in preparation for a series of articles dealing with specific points.
The main trouble with our educational system is rather a matter of orientation than of method, although method is also very important. However, improved methods will do little to improve a system which, far from stimulating intellectual curiosity and a spirit of free, scientific inquiry into all fields of human knowledge, instead tries to reduce education to a matter of dollars and cents. Students are taught to regard their education as a preparation for a trade, be it scientific or professional, as a means of making as much money as possible, and nothing else. The general assumption in this country is that if a person can find a way to make a handsome sum of money without going to school, then education is superfluous. There is, of course, the matter of the social prestige attached to possessing a college degree, but to my mind this is really a minor factor. The competition between the Russian and American power blocks has also given rise to the conception of education as another weapon in the cold war. This has led to increased emphasis on the mass production of scientists and technicians with economic aid given to the schools by government and industry. However, this is as limited a view of education as that which sees in a college degree only a way of making more money or of acquiring social prestige. Not only does neither view improve the intellectual climate of the country, but, on the contrary, they have contributed to the growth of a positively anti-intellectual attitude. There has always been an anti-intellectual bias present in American life, but now, and especially in the era of McCarthyism, it has acquired articulate expression, and all "intellectuals"—that is, people who attempt to think—are under constant fire. The intellectual is quite rightly considered by the reactionary as subversive of the status quo and is derided as an "egg-head." Of course, from their point of view the reactionaries are quite right, since it is obvious to anyone who exercises his intellect today that all is not well in the world, and he will then try to find solutions to the pressing problems which people everywhere are facing. The logical conclusion of any honest inquiry into world conditions must be the necessity of changing the present social structure, and this, of course, the reactionaries and anyone else who has a vested interest in seeing things stay as they are, will oppose by any and all means. So it is nothing extraordinary that the conservative element should hate anything which smells of free thought. A person would have to be extremely naive to think that they would react otherwise. What is serious, however, is that the most backward elements of this country have the conscious support of such a large sector of the population.
It is in this that we can see most clearly the failure of the American educational system. And the American intellectual, be he a teacher or a writer or a scientist, must bear part of the responsibility for this failure and for the present state of affairs. The teacher, for example, is looked down upon and even actively persecuted if he dares express an independent opinion on any matter whatsoever. And he is persecuted not only by the authorities, but also by the community at large. But what else can he expect? Far from making himself respected by courageously standing up for his right to unhampered intellectual inquiry, wherever that inquiry might lead, he has instead allowed himself to be coerced into silence both within the schoolroom and without. A virile attitude would have commanded respect, but years of spineless submission to the dictates of American Legion posts, Parent Teachers Associations and boards of trustees have cost the American teacher not only his classroom freedom, but even his own self-respect as a thinking human being. Today, with few exceptions, teachers submit to anything and everything and only whine in private. Those few brave individuals who dare stand up for their rights are deserted by their terrified colleagues and are thus easily eliminated from the educational system. This lack of professional solidarity makes effective resistance to the head shrinkers virtually impossible.
This atmosphere has led inevitably to a watering down of educational methods themselves. This is really the most effective way of limiting free thought: by not giving the students the intellectual tools for any type of thought whatsoever. Individuals who have been bred on mental pablum are more likely to swallow official propaganda than those who have been trained to think for themselves. The miserable education of the average American high school student when compared to his European counterpart is notorious. This is not to say that the European educational system is so much better or even basically different from the American system in its ultimate aims. It merely illustrates to what depths the American educational system has sunk. The average American high school graduate cannot write a coherent essay and doesn't understand the mechanics of his own language, much less those of a foreign language. He knows little about American Literature and almost nothing about English literature. Leaving the whole question of doctored textbooks and official propaganda aside, he knows almost nothing about history, either world or national. Even in science he has a deficient preparation, not even being able to compete with the Russian system, which had made a fine art of the mass production of technicians (although it is equally oppressive of free thought and true intellectualism, which should be the real aims of education). Most colleges and universities are only glorified country clubs whose only purpose is the award of a meaningless diploma after four years of intensive study of athletic and fraternity life. This whole depressing process is aided by the attitude with which the average student has been taught to regard school, which is to graduate with as little mental effort as possible.
One of the solutions which has been put forth to remedy this situation is progressive education. This trend, which began as a serious movement with some real social revolutionary implications, has unfortunately degenerated into the plaything of amateur psychologists in most instances. The harm which the poorly-interpreted doctrine of "free expression" has wreaked is incalculable, and it has given the reactionaries an excellent excuse to attack any positive trends in education whatsoever. The original idea of nurturing a child's personality and not forcing him into any artificial molds was entirely valid and is a concept which must be applied to education if any progress is ever to be made in this field. However, when this idea was interpreted as meaning that any formal education of the child's mind is harmful, then the movement bogged down. For no amount of painting and directed play, while very valuable in their place, can substitute for a sound grounding in the basic fields of learning. Most psychologists today recognize that the doctrine of "permissiveness" has gotten out of hand. Progressive education must be reassessed in the light of this past experience. At the same time, the attacks of reactionaries on progressive education must be shown up for what they are: an attempt to regress as far back as possible to the most authoritarian modes of education, or rather of non-education. There is no doubt that while children must be given a firm grounding in the basic areas of learning, they can be taught in an imaginative, creative way which will positively interest them in learning and not repel them, closing their minds forever to ideas and information. It is equally obvious that these methods must begin in elementary schools and be applied by expert teachers, for it is at this age that most children's minds are opened or closed for the rest of their lives.
I believe that the beginning of this reappraisal of progressive education must begin with a reexamination of the beginnings of the modern movement for a free, rational system of education. This movement began at the time of the First International and led to the establishment of the "Modern Schools" which flourished in Spain and elsewhere during the early part of this century. In order to illustrate an idea of the educational concepts of the pioneers of an education free of the bonds of church and state, I will reproduce a resolution approved at the Second Regional Congress of the Spanish Section of the First International in Zaragoza in 1872.
Considering that ideas have their origin in action and that they again become action, that is, that ideas are created by the impressions made on us by nature and in turn react on nature, altering it to the advantage of the being which conceived the idea;
Considering that labor and intelligence are not antithetical, as all of the mystical systems of thought have maintained up to now, but on the contrary are two like phenomena, or rather, two different aspects of the same thing;
Considering that, therefore, in society there are only more or less manual labors and more or less intellectual labors;
And considering that the more intelligence is applied to labor, the easier and more productive the latter will be for man, making the forces of nature itself perform the more fatiguing tasks;
We believe that when the proletariat has emancipated itself, when society is at last composed of individuals who produce an amount equivalent to that which they consume, every man should be prepared to take his place in society by an integral education; that is to say, by means of an education which will develop all of his faculties, so that he will be able to understand all of the natural phenomena which can be explained by science.
For this purpose, then, we propose the following plan for an integral education, the pupil previously having learned how to read and write.
We base this plan on the three phases or periods through which an idea passes;
THE PERIOD OF IMPRESSION—The action of nature on man.
THE PERIOD OF COMPARISON—The formation of ideas.
THE PERIOD OF ACTION—Social phenomena caused by ideas.
The period of impression is that which determines preferences or sentiments. The arts correspond to this period.
These are divided into two groups: arts of relation, which include music and architecture, and arts of imitation, which include literature, painting and sculpture.
As man acquires theoretical-practical knowledge of these arts he cultivates his faculty for receiving impressions, perceiving them with more precision and intensity, which causes his ideas to be produced with more clarity and exactitude.
The period of comparison is that which constitutes the intellectual phase, properly speaking, and includes the sciences.
These are divided into the sciences which refer to the phenomena as such and those which describe the process of development of the great series of natural phenomena.
To the first group belong:
Mathematics—Quantitative sciences or those which deal only with relations.
Mechanics—The science of movement.
Physics—The science of the movement of bodies, in as much as their internal molecular structure is not altered.
Chemistry—The science of internal molecular movements. This can be in minerals, inorganic bodies, and in vegetables and animals, organic bodies. Physiology—The results of organic chemistry.
Psychology—The study of the intellectual functions of the brain, or of the formation of ideas and concepts.
Logic—The laws of reason; intellectual mechanics.
The second group includes:
Cosmology—The description of the formation of the universe.
Geology—The description of the formation and development of minerals.
History—The social development of man...
The period of action includes all human actions.
These can also be studied in their results, that is, in the production of goods and services: the theory of industry.
Industry includes the technical operation of all trades and professions. This field can only be studied in theory in the preliminary phase of integral education, for although man should learn the theory, he cannot learn at the same time to put it all into practice.
Thus, when the student has completed this preliminary phase he will choose the field which interests him most and study those fields which have a bearing on his specialty, learning the necessary modes of production or operation in the field in which he has specialized.
This system of education by its very completeness requires facilities which cannot be provided by the individual or by small groups. Therefore these facilities must be provided by the Federation of each locality, which will create schools, libraries, museums, laboratories, etc. In a word, all that which will contribute to this education which will be universal and not limited to a privileged group.
It should be obvious from this that the pioneers of progressive education conceived of it in a far different way than most of the progressive educators of today, to use a much-abused expression, a "well-rounded education," giving everyone a solid preparation in the arts and sciences, both physical and social.
It will also be noted that this resolution postponed the institution of such a system until after a thoroughgoing social revolution. However, it was not long before efforts were made to develop such a system in the present day, although without abandoning the hope of someday having a society in which it could be put into effect on a universal scale. The most widespread experiments of this kind were those begun when Francisco Ferrer founded his Modern School in Barcelona at the turn of the century. The idea soon caught on and spread over Spain and to other countries in varied forms. The schools flourished in Spain, despite frequent repressions by the State, until they were finally destroyed by Franco in 1939. These schools incurred the special hatred of the church through their rational approach to the subjects of religion and sex education, and because they were educating people whom the church thought were best left uneducated. Ferrer himself paid with his life in 1909 for the crime of trying to truly educate the mind.
The Modern Schools were supported by the anarcho-syndicalist labor unions in Spain and by the contributions of interested persons, usually workers. Since these contributions were of necessity small, the teachers in these schools, extraordinarily dedicated persons, were paid very little for their pedagogical efforts and for the constant persecution to which they exposed themselves. An enormous contrast to the average timorous American teacher! In the schools themselves the authoritarian concept of the role of the teacher and the barracks-like atmosphere imposed by brute force were discarded. The teachers kept order and directed the students through the respect they were able to inspire from their intellectual capacity and because they were able to interest their students in learning, in knowledge for its own sake. These schools took the students from grammar school through the equivalent of a superior high school education. Within their limited means, the Modern Schools tried to give their students an integral education, which meant a firm grounding in mathematics, history, literature, the sciences, etc. An excellent description of such a school in operation is given in the book Sembrando Flores by Federico Urales. Thanks to the Modern Schools many children who otherwise would never have received an education not only were taught to read and write but were given a solid education usually reserved in Spain to the upper middle class or the aristocracy. The measure of the effectiveness of these schools is the extraordinary ferocity with which the state suppressed them.
The foundation of such schools is always a step in the right direction, especially in countries such as Spain, where the mass of people receives no education at all. And it is equally true that the principles of integral education and of the Modern Schools must be incorporated into any educational system which is to give positive results. However, no such system of independent schools can compete with the orthodox system of education in countries such as the United States, where there already exists a widespread, highly centralized school system. In the case of highly industrialized countries any such revolutionary reform of education must be accompanied by an equally profound change in the whole social structure. And this is the only really effective solution in any country. The need for revolutionary social change is inescapable, in education as in all other orders of life.
The Power of Prayer
from The Secularist, Chicago.
Well, Cardinal Stritch has gone to his reward, in spite of all the prayers and all the masses of all the devoted and deluded Catholics. The Pope with his direct pipeline to god, failed to save the arm of the Cardinal, nor could he delay his journey to heaven. Seems that though the Pope needed the Cardinal in Vatican City, God needed him more in heaven. With all this talk of the efficacy of prayers, facts prove that prayer is not a very reliable way to get things done.
Well, in time they'll build up the Cardinal of Charity and pave the way to turning him into a saint and the silly faithful will have another saint to pray to. They'll build more churches for silly, foolish people to flock to, where they will listen to the same old cheap, shoddy, sentimental garbage. Will people never learn?
Old Ben Johnson in the sixteenth century said, "What excellent fools religion makes of men." If God can't or will not fulfill the prayers of his top emissaries here on earth, what chance is there for the ordinary believers to have their prayers answered?
The poet Emerson said, "Prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so' are their creeds a disease of the intellect."
What a stupid society it is that will aid, abet, support and tolerate the biggest confidence game yet known to man, and give it the stamp of legality besides. That these Confidence Men in the Religious Racket are cloaked in respectability is bad enough, but influential racketeers in business and politics see to it that they are given special privileges, exemptions from taxation and other advantages. Such considerations are not accorded any other kind of crook and criminal; only the ones engaged in religious hum-buggery are so favored.
Common decency should have eliminated this religious imposition from our society ages ago. Only the collusion of scoundrels in business and politics could make the perpetuation of the fraud of religion possible.
Thou Shalt Not Kill
The world teeters on the brink of war. The slightest mistake, an error in judgment, an accident, could lead to the greatest catastrophe in the history of mankind. The drift to war is unmistakable. As soon as one crisis is averted by some shaky compromise another one breaks out somewhere else. Great and small states blame each other. From "right" to "left" the political parties and their disciples passionately take up the cudgels for one side or the other, while the neutrals try to effect precarious compromise between the contestants. With few exceptions, all of them seek for a solution to the problem of war where it cannot be found—within the limits of the very system which breeds war, the system that rests upon the monopoly of political and economic power—the State and its satellite institutions.
Giving the Formosa situation as an example, James Reston, news analyst for the N.Y. Times, in a dispatch (September 4, 1958) unintentionally touches the core of the problem—POWER. He complains that: "... the power to make war now lies primarily with a few men, some of them here in the quiet executive (Washington), some in Newport, Rhode Island (the President's vacation resort), some in Peiping and some in Taipeh.... The current discussion of war over Quemoy and Matsu at least illustrates how completely the people of the United States and their representatives in Congress have entrusted the war-making power to a few officials in the executive branch of the Government. The President can personally commit the nation to war against the Communists...Secretary of State Dulles can commit the U.S. to oppose aggression right up to the southern border of the Soviet Union along the whole breadth of the Middle East, and the President can send the 7th fleet within artillery range of the China coast..."
Reston wants to restore the war-making power to Congress. It would make no difference to the millions of dead and wounded whether they were sent to the slaughter by a few hundred politicians in Congress, by the President of the United States, the Premier of the Soviet Union, the Chairman of the Republic of China, or any other single ruler or group of rulers. It makes no difference to the victim if he is murdered or wounded by order of the majority or the minority. A crime is still a crime, whether committed by one man against another or one group of men against another. The right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is inviolable and cannot be delegated to anyone. To delegate these rights is to lose them.
If this be true of the power to make war, it holds also for the power to take the bread from the mouth of the producers, to stop a man from traveling, making love, persecuting him for what he says and thinks, or on account of his color or birthplace. Either people will be dictated to by rulers or they will take care of their own affairs. It must be one or the other. There can be no middle way. Therein lies the essence of the Libertarian ideal.
Bedfellows And Strange Politics
"Carpenter Advertising here will handle the current political campaigns of Congressman Frances Bolton and Sen. John W. Bricker. This is the same outfit that handles the national ad account for the Socialist Workers Party."
This veritable gem of political shenanigans appeared in Milt Widder's column in The Cleveland Press of Sept. 22, 1958.
Many naive souls have been startled at the recent signs of close collaboration between the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and the unregenerated Stalinoid elements on the fringes of the Communist Party. This currently finds expression in the so-called "Independent-Socialist Ticket" for the coming elections in New York State.
As Leon Trotsky once asked in commenting on the continued degeneration of the Bolshevik international under Stalin during the '30s: "Is there no limit to the fall?"
To which we, at a later date and with a somewhat more ample "historical" perspective, can only reply: "Apparently not."
The Popular Intelligence in the Spanish Revolution by Gaston Leval
Last of a series on The Spanish Collectives
I want to call attention to a curious fact: the failure of the top, the directors, the guiding heads. I am referring not only to the socialist and communist politicians, but also to the better-known anarchist militants, the " leaders."
Spanish anarchism had a number of them. The ablest, Orobon Fernandez, died shortly before the revolution. A real sociologist, he had a broad and profound grasp of politics and economics. Others were highly-cultured persons, fine agitators, some of them notable orators, good journalists and writers; Federica Montseny was one of the most intelligent women in the intellectual life of the country.
But from the start these militants were absorbed in the official duties they accepted despite their traditional repugnance to government. The idea of anti-fascist unity had led them to this position. It was necessary to keep quiet about principles, to make temporary concessions. Hindered thereby from continuing to act as guides, they remained apart from the great work of reconstruction from which the proletariat will learn such precious lessons for the future.
Without doubt, they could still have given useful advice, they could have offered general principles for action and co-ordination. They did not. Why? It was because they were primarily demolishers. The struggle against State and capitalism had led them to subordinate all their cultural and personal prestige to a political orientation. None of the best-known militants—apart from Noja Ruiz, and latterly Santillan—was competent to meet the economic problems of revolution. A constructive mentality, that can grasp the essentials of a chaotic situation and harmonize them in a comprehensive vision, is not improvised overnight.
Even some of those intellectuals who stayed out of official positions took no part in the work of transforming the society.
How, then, was success possible?
The reason was nothing else than the positive intelligence of the people. This was our secret strength.
For decades, anarchist papers and reviews and pamphlets had been forming in militants a habit of acting individually, of taking initiative. They were not taught to wait for directives from above. They had always thought and acted for themselves—sometimes well, sometimes badly. Reading the paper, the review, the pamphlet, the book, each developed and enlarged his own personality. They were never given a dogma or a safe uniform line of action. In the study of concrete problems, in the critique of economic and political ideas, clear ideas of revolution had gradually matured.
For some time, the problems of social reconstruction had been on the order of the day. Some of the better-known militants were rather scornful of the studies published by Puente, Besnard, Santillan, Orobon Fernandez, Noja Ruiz, Leval. But many of the more serious and perhaps basically more intelligent workers read them avidly. A great number of the 60,000 readers of the libertarian review Studi followed with interest the detailed articles on the problems a revolution faces, in food supply, fuel, or agriculture.
Many syndicalist groupings did likewise. And when at the Saragossa Congress in May, 1936, a renowned militant, who always displayed an olympian indifference toward such questions—later, he was just as good a minister as bad organizer—presented an exposition of libertarian communism which revealed the lack of substance in his thought, the workers and peasants assembled from all the provinces showed their disapproval; for they knew quite well that social life must be thought of and organized in a more methodical way.
All this study, together with the need for men of will and action in the social struggle, gave birth to the qualities that made possible the marvelous achievements of the agrarian collectives and the industrial organization.
The capacity of the people. That is, intelligence plus will. This is the secret.
In this, not even the humblest laborers were lacking. I knew many syndicalist committeemen who understood the problems of revolution and economic organization very clearly. They spoke intelligently about raw materials, imports, the need to improve or eliminate this or that branch of industry, the armed defense, and other matters.
The prompt reaction against the Control Committees which threatened, in the big cities, to become a new parasitic bureaucracy; the rapid decision to resist the attacks of the 18th and 19th of July; the rise of untrained military leaders (Durruti, Ortiz, Mere, Ascaso and others) to command over professional military men, are all facts that support my conclusions.
When I made my first visit to the Aragon front, my attention was attracted by the countenances of many of the young men in the trenches. There was clarity, serenity, firmness in their eyes; they had the faces of thoughtful men. I rode back to Barcelona with a comrade—the region's counselor for economics—who was going to Valencia to make a desperate effort, through the central government, to save his companion, held by the fascists in Saragossa.
He was a simple man, in externals and in character. But a remarkable man. Although tormented by the fate of his companion, he explained to me about the new lands that had to be cultivated, about coal and iron and manganese mines that could be opened, about canals that ought to be dug, about trade with Catalonia, about the relations between collectivist and individualist peasants.
We spoke of electrification. He expounded to me a plan for a single network to unify the hydraulic resources and distribute the power equally among the socialized regions, and avoid the concentration of industry and the excessive, often unfair, specialization of agriculture. His deep knowledge of the Spanish economy surprised me. He was a glass-maker, only 32 years old. Many ministers of economics and agriculture of the republic and the monarchy knew less than he about these subjects...
One day the secretary of the Peasants Federation of Levante said to me:
"I want your advice, Gaston. We've been thinking of starting a bank..."
"A bank of your own?" I asked.
"Yes. You see, we need money to keep things moving between our collectivized villages, and for trade with other towns. With the export of oranges stopped, it's hard to get. Instead of helping, the government cuts the ground from under us. We've just about decided to have a bank of our own. The problem is whether we ought to start one with our own resources, or take over one that already exists..."
"How would you take it over?"
"By operations to make it lose money and accept our intervention."
I didn't have time to look into the plan closely. Some months later, I saw this peasant again—this peasant with the common-man look and the beret. He'd got his bank.
I was working on economic problems, so they consulted me about everything. But how often nothing remained to be done, so well had they already planned it!
The revolution developed in extremely complicated circumstances. Attacks from within and without had to be fought off. It took fantastic efforts to put the anarchist principles in practice. But in many places it was done. The organizers found out how to get around everything.
I repeat: it was possible because we had the intelligence of the people on our side. This is what finds the way, and meets the thousand needs of life and the revolution. It organized the militias and defeated fascism in the first phase of the war. It went to work, instantly, to make the armored cars and rifles and guns.
The initiative came from the people, above all from those influenced by the Anarchists.
For example, the Aragon collectives. Among their organizers I found only two lawyers, in Alcorina. They were not, strictly speaking, intellectuals. But if what they did, together with the peasant and worker comrades, was well done, it was no better than what could be seen in Esplus, Binefar, Calanda and other collectives.
What was a surprise, was to find that a great many of these peasants were illiterate. But they had faith, practical common sense, the spirit of sacrifice, the will to create a new world.
I don't want to make a demagogic apology for ignorance. Those men had a mentality, a heart, a spirit, of a kind that education cannot give and official education often smothers. Spiritual culture is not always bookish, and still less academic. It can arise from the very conditions of living, and when it does, it is more dynamic. By adapting themselves to what was being done, by coordinating the work, by suggesting general directions, by warning a certain region or industry against particular errors, by complementing one activity with another and harmonizing the whole, by stimulating here and correcting there—in these ways great minds can undoubtedly be of immense service. In Spain they were lacking. It was not by the work of our intellectuals—more literary than sociological, more agitators than practical guides—that the future has been illuminated. And the peasants—libertarian or not—of Aragon, Levante, Castille, Estremadura, Andalusia, the workers of Catalonia, understood this and acted alone.
The intellectuals, by their ineptitude in practical work, were inferior to the peasants who made no political speeches but knew how to organize the new life.
Not even the authors of the syndicalist health organization in Catalonia were intellectuals. A Basque doctor with a will of iron, and a few comrades working in the hospitals, did everything. In other regions, talented professional men aided the movement. But there too, the initiative came from below.
Alcoy's industries, so well organized, were all managed by the workers, as were those of Elda and Castellon. In Carcagente, in Elda, in Granollers, in Binefar, in Jativa, in land transport, in marine transport, in the collectives of Castille, or in the semi-socialization of Ripolls and Pugcerda—'the militants at the bottom did everything.
As for the government, they were as inept in organizing the economy as in organizing the war.
Laying the Ghost of 1789 Once Again
Upon being installed in power by the totalitarian-oriented officers of the French Army, General Charles de Gaulle sent the following telegram to the Pope:
"VERY HOLY FATHER: THE MISSION HAS BEEN GIVEN ME TO AGAIN DIRECT FRANCE IN A GRAVE PERIOD OF ITS DESTINY. AT THE MOMENT OF ASSUMING THIS WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITY MY THOUGHTS REACH OUT RESPECTFULLY TO YOUR HOLINESS."
The Vatican has not for a century received such a submissive and humble message from a French governmental official. Aware at once of its significance, the Holy See replied enthusiastically:
"KEENLY SENSITIVE TO YOUR NOBLE MESSAGE TO US. WE SHALL RAISE UNTO GOD, OUR PRAYERS THAT HE AID YOU IN YOUR IMPORTANT AND VERY HEAVY TASK, AND WE SHALL APPEAL TO HIM ON BEHALF OF YOUR COUNTRY WHICH TO US IS SO DEAR, IN ORDER THAT IT MAY ENJOY A FUTURE OF PEACE AND PROSPERITY. WE EXTEND TO YOURSELF, OUR HEARTFELT PATERNAL APOSTOLIC BLESSINGS."
It is obvious that the long struggle for the separation of Church and State is not yet won in France. The reactionary implications of De Gaullism are unmistakable. Eternal vigilance and action by the people of France are called for if the revolutionary conquests and freedoms won in the Great French Revolution are not to be obliterated.
Action Against the Building of ICBM Bases In U.S.
The character and limitations of our publication make it impossible for us to cover—even sketchily—all of the activities connected with current struggles in the unions, against militarism, for Negro rights, etc., etc. Locally our comrades and sympathizers participate to the extent of their forces and ability—a participation that we hope to see increased as time goes on. We feel that the following piece which we re-print from "The Peacemaker" of October 4th is of particular interest. It shows ways in which some of our readers may be able to help concretely, in cooperation with our embattled pacifist friends.
Act Now on Missile Bases by Walter Gormly
The government is now building, or planning to build, intercontinental ballistic missile bases near Cheyenne, Wyo., Camp Cooke, near Lampoc, Calif.; Spokane, Wash.; Omaha, Neb.; Denver, Colo. These bases will be able to launch ballistic missiles at 15 minutes notice which will travel 6,300 miles (well into the Soviet Union) in half an hour, or perhaps in 25 minutes. They will be equipped with H-bomb warheads.
These missiles may possibly be launched (1) by declaration of war by Congress, (2) by decision of the President, (3) by decision of a member of a "palace guard," (4) by decision of a MacArthur-type general who decides to take things into his own hands, (5) by act of a button pusher who pushes the button to break the tension of always being ready to push the button and never pushing it, (6) equipment misfunction resulting in unplanned operation of automated launching equipment, (7) as a result of a man at a radarscope seeing similar missiles headed toward the U.S., (8) and as a result of a man at a radarscope seeing false blips which he thinks are missiles. There is also the possibility of accidental explosion of a warhead at a site.
We say that we would resist with non-violent means any invasion by another country. But we are being "invaded" right now—not by an army landing on our coast, but invaded by men who play Russian Roulette with the future of humanity, as well as other forms of life. Some are critical of vigils, walks, attempts to enter sites, and other attempts to halt construction. I think, though, that we should approve as highly of these actions in the current invasion as we would approve of lying in front of Russian tanks in case of armed invasion by the U.S.S.R.
One thing that people can do immediately is to clip material from newspapers about proposed bases near them. Contacts should be made with any person reported as in favor of the bases.
Polls can be taken. A public opinion poll at Cheyenne indicated that at first 30% of the people opposed the missile base, but that the percentage dwindled later to 15%. This would indicate that the educational efforts should be started as soon as possible to reach people when they are most receptive. Some of the educational methods that may prove important are: visitation to those who have indicated in a poll that they are opposed, preparing a list of available speakers on the subject and providing means for holding meetings, disseminating information about non-violent resistance and other alternatives to war. We found in the Scottsbluff poll that there were many who indicated that missiles are morally or religiously wrong.
I understand that Denver people have had three meetings in one week to plan their campaign. What will your area do? Twenty more missile bases are being planned. If you hear anything about where they are to be, please let me know immediately. The address is 412 North Third St., W, Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
LATE BULLETIN. Seattle, Wash. "A small committee in Spokane is working on the missile base project along the lines of Cheyenne." Irving Hogenauer, 310 E. 170th St., Seattle 35, Wash.
We take this opportunity to remind our readers that "The Peacemaker" can be obtained by writing to Ernest R. Bromley, 10208 Sylvan Ave., Cincinnati 41, Ohio.
The Ultimate in "Elitism"
"A revolutionary party trains and educates the militant rank-and-file members of the working class who have qualities of leadership. It binds them together in a cohesive body of skilled working-class politicians. It multiplies their individual strength a thousandfold.
"Through its program, the party keeps its eyes on the main goal and the major steps leading to its attainment. Through leaders trained in theory and practice, the party keeps up with events, interprets them as realistically as possible and prepares for what is coming.
"Through the party membership and the party press, the working people as a whole gain understanding of the political issues affecting their interests.
"The party is the head of the working class, its eyes, its ears, its tongue, its brain and its will.
"The most essential task facing the American workers today is building such a party on a mass scale."
The above is from The Socialist Workers Party, What It Is—What It Stands For" by Joseph Hanson, page 33, our italics.
The quote below is from FREEDOM, Dec. 28, 1957, "Where Is The Class Struggle?" by P.S.
"I remember well the description given me by one of our Glasgow comrades of the effects of their propaganda among the workers; of how a dejected, defeated little man would begin listening in an apathetic manner, until he began to catch on to the anarchist case. Over the months he would straighten up, smarten up, and begin to be able to look anyone straight in the eye. The anarchists were not asking him to vote for them, to serve them, even to join them; they were asking him to be himself and stop being a sucker for those who exploited him.
"A simple enough message, but packed with social dynamite. And how much more meaningful than to be told that he had to understand the difference between labour and labour power before being a candidate for the classless society.
"Anarchism is concerned with developing the self-respect of the downtrodden so that they can emancipate themselves. It is a matter of personal integrity—and integration—and the achievement of a freer and more satisfactory personal life through the realisation of responsibility."
The Fascist Pope
The international press and radio have been bleating for many days over the death of Pius XII at his villa of Castelgandolfo on October 9th. He had lived 82 and a half years and had been Pope for 19 years and seven months. Even more so than his predecessor he deserves to be remembered as the Fascist Pope.
The Lateran Pact was the work of the Pacelli family. Ernesto—the father—had laid the groundwork, brother Francesco conducted the negotiations on behalf of the Vatican, and Eugenio Pacelli (later to be Pope Pius XII) was recalled as Papal Nuncio in Berlin, to the Secretariat of State of the Vatican on Feb. 7, 1930, to put the Pact into effect.
Favored by extraordinary circumstances, a great personal capacity for hard work, an unbridled cupidity, and a profound contempt for human life and freedom, his pontificate was enabled to weather the storms of international politics, and emerge in Italy, in Europe and elsewhere, with a degree of power, that, a few years before, it would have been foolhardy to expect.
Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany were largely the work of the Roman Catholic Church and laity. The military conspiracy in Spain and the Nazi-fascist invasion of that country (the dress-rehearsal and prelude of World War II) are certainly tied in with the machinations and intrigues of the Vatican's Secretariat of State over which Eugenio Pacelli presided from 1930 until the day of his death.
The human race—and in a very special sense the people of Italy, once more vassals of the Vatican—has rarely had an enemy so tenacious, so implacable and so successful.
—from L'Adunata dei Refrattari, Oct. 18, 1958
Peace Walk In Minneapolis
From a letter to the editors:
Early last winter a small group of us started promoting the idea of a peace walk to take place in Minneapolis commemorating the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Our efforts were directed primarily at pacifists and members of peace groups since these people recognize the need for personal responsibility and direct action. However, it seemed that most of them were looking to their national organizations for inspiration or to some charismatic local leader.
Only after many meetings and informal discussions did the peace walk idea take hold. Shortly before Aug. 1st there were about 25 people ready to make the march. We made signs and printed up some leaflets. Among other statements on the leaflets it was insisted by the group that we ask the public to write to their Senators and Representatives, asking them to ban the bomb. I had argued against this inclusion, pointing out that such a statement tacitly assumed the servile relationship of the individual to the State and that this will nullify to some extent the effectiveness of our direct action demonstration. Needless to say, the pacifists couldn't see my point and the others didn't think it important so the statement about writing to the officials was included. I went along with them, figuring this wasn't my show anyway.
So everything was set. Somebody even notified the newspapers and we got a couple of write-ups about our march. Then, at the last minute, we learned that the authorities wouldn't grant us a permit to make the march.
This resulted in some confusion, dividing the group into two factions—one desiring to walk regardless of official sanction and the other desiring to wait for legal permission before walking. We all agreed, however, to put the walk off for one more week. During this week considerable publicity developed as this was an interesting civil rights issue.
Because of this publicity the Mayor reversed himself and granted the group permission to walk. So Saturday, Aug. 10th, our group, with permission in hand and cops herding us front and rear on motorcycles, will make a walk for peace through down-town Minneapolis. This time we estimate the number of marchers will be well over a hundred. Obviously the effectiveness of our demonstration has been greatly modified. The police will look good protecting us, and the lawyers for making it all possible, but will peace be any closer? If peace depends upon people taking the initiative into their own hands then little will be accomplished by our action Saturday. But perhaps every little bit helps.
Song of the Bureaucrat
Come, all bold careerists,
We'll gain positions high.
Together we'll negotiate,
Strike action we'll decry.
We shall dine with big fat bosses,
We shall smoke big fat cigars,
And drive to workers' meetings
In our most expensive cars.
The sky shall be our limit
As we rise on workers' backs.
There we shall live in comfort
Though the bosses launch attacks.
For class collaboration
We shall strive by might and main,
But we shall never "take the tools"
And go to work again.
—Factory Worker, London, England
(Reprinted from Correspondence, 2121 Gratiot Ave., Detroit, Mich.)
- - -
Destruction creates: it clears the ground, and that is already creation; it removes falsehoods, and that already is truth.
- - -
SAD ELECTORAL NOTE
LATEST RETURNS FROM ROME INDICATE THAT PORKY PIG HAS NOT WON THE ELECTION
Hail "The People's Benefactor" by John Francis Putnam
Since Morris Ernst has piled up a considerable hunk of cash while making the Dominican Republic safe for Autocracy, he might as well continue to mine a good thing and in a few years he'll be ready to retire and live out his declining years writing a concordance to Finnegan's Wake.
A kindly and benevolent ruler like Rafael Leonidas Trujillo will always be in the market for any enlightened pamphleteering he can get, and there is nothing like a promotional folder to lure business, tourists and non-extraditable four-time losers to his green and pleasant land.
We offer counselor Ernst, free of charge, this first draft of a pamphlet that may serve a lofty purpose: to interpret for Americans the present-day Trujillo achievement and briefly outline the career of the man who, almost completely unarmed, transformed his nation into one of the most escape-proof and sanitary countries in all the Americas.
It is difficult to find any phase of national life that has not been touched by the hand of Trujillo. The magnificent capital city which bears his name, laid out so as to give fullest advantage to raking artillery fire, the splendid police security bunkers at every intersection, the fleet of armored riot-squad cars, the radar-controlled road checks which permit a thorough surveillance of every inch of the Republic's splendid highways (built with gratuitous contributions of indentured Hungarian labor), the gleaming new reformatory for die-hard relicts of the Spanish Republic, the burgeoning parakeet-feather industry and the soaring infant venereal rate—all directed by the Generalissimo personally—are visible evidences of Trujillo's relentless personal crusade to make the nation safe for Trujillo.
Trujillo's financial and economic condition is impressive, especially since the greater part of it is safely on deposit outside the country.
(Illustration: modernistic plant in a rural setting. Caption: View of the Ley de Fuga Jute mill; entirely state-owned and operated on the Trujillo coercive system, the mill produces 15,000 metric tons of angustia a day.)
In terms of human progress, particularly public health, the Trujillo National Avian Veterinarian Service—dedicated to the preservation of the feather-bearing parakeet (source of the national wealth and a pillow of the economy)—has made incredible strides. Free clinics for poodles and tropical fish have been established in the wealthier districts of the capital city. Release of figures on infant malnutrition is punishable by death.
Trujillo's agricultural methods are progressive and imaginative. Within the next ten years it is predicted that the expensive and wasteful use of gasoline-powered tractors will be all but eliminated by the more realistic and direct employment of dissident political elements in a motor-auxiliary role. During recent field tests, six Radical Socialists and a professor of Humanities, when hitched to a steel plow, demonstrated in convincing fashion the dynamics of Trujillo's agrarian policy.
Among the cultural accomplishments of the Trujillo Era has been the establishment of a Chair for studies into the methodology of the Spanish Inquisition. The Trujillo museum of Extra-Legal Expedients is justly renowned, and, in tune with the practical dynamism of the administration, many venerable artifacts from the Torquemada Collection have been on permanent loan to the Security Police for use in situations involving the gathering of evidence in pre-trial examinations.
A study of Government statistics over the twenty-six year period of peace, contentment and prosperity, known as the Era of Good Feeling, shows a marked increase in almost every manifestation of a benevolent and solicitous regime.
The Generalissimo's personal interest in communication has resulted in the establishment of a nationwide newspaper combine with illiteracy as a prime target. Every day this evil is being fought through the medium of pictorial journalism and movie magazines.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed by a law under the watchful solicitude of Generalissimo Trujillo. No interference with any operation of the press is permitted and it is maintained in good order even while the grapes are being harvested.
The liberty-loving and progressive spirit of the Trujillo regime and the fabulous accomplishments of his "Era of Good Feeling" have resulted in the creation of an International Music Festival, during which time the Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Debtor's Prison Symphony Orchestra will give daily concerts with evening performances by the Department of Correction String Quartet.
This Summer the National Cultural Society will open the Trujillo Book Center which will exhibit a complete selection of Trujillo Autobiographies, Souvenir Pictorial Lives of the Benefactor (in 9 volumes), colored stereo transparencies of the Generalissimo and a framed, full-sized reproduction of Lt. General "Ramfis" Trujillo's "Good Attendance" report card from Fort Reilly, Kansas.
Thus the story of Trujillo since the beginning of the "Era of Good Feeling" has been one of a steady forward movement, of peace, progress and well-being. This can be beautifully summed up on a personalized level by calling attention to the statue of the Dominican Republic which specifically forbids the wearing of widow weeds or any public display of grief. In the words of the Generalissimo, "Mourning does not become the electorate.
—By John Francis Putnam from his column, "Modest Proposals", in the first issue of The Realist, a new magazine—and an excellent one we might add. Criticism and satire with a literate bite to it. Highly recommended. Subscription: $3 for 10 issues. Order from The Realist Association, Inc., 225 Lafayette St., New York 12, N.Y.
The Portland (Oregon) Labor Front
The following critical leaflet was distributed by a group of workers at the "Libby" plant in Portland, Oregon in September. A lesson in American Business "Unionism."
On the 18th, we are being given the chance to choose between the Woodworkers and the Teamsters. Since we have had the Woodworkers for too long already, there is little need of discussing the faults of that weak-kneed union, so we will say a few words about the Teamsters.
We have heard a lot of Teamster promises, but talk is cheap—especially Teamster talk. Let's look at the record. The Teamsters have the Cal-Pac plant in Vancouver (Wash.) organized. It is frequently said there that the only time a union official is around there is to collect the dues. The best jobs at that plant always go to the children of Teamster and company officials. The foreman lays people off in this manner: if you are standing near him at the time of the lay-off, you're laid off; if you're on the other side of the room, you're safe.
Teamsters control trucking. Several months ago there was a brewery strike in Salem. Portland Teamsters were sent to Salem to scab on the Salem brewery truck drivers, and they broke the strike. What can we say of a union that is so basically scabby that it scabs on itself?
Teamsters got office girls in Portland trucking companies to leave the Office Workers several years ago for the Teamsters' union, promising them a pay scale equal to that of a group getting more than they were. The Teamsters never even tried to carry out their promise.
At the Cal-Pac plant in Vancouver, the Teamsters asked for a pay hike. The plant told them to go Strike. They could put another shift on at Hillsboro. This is an example of the marvelous Teamster principle of letting each plant negotiate for itself.
Portland Teamsters broke an attempt of their own office help to organize. They were found guilty of unfair labor practices. The Teamsters appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which also found them guilty. Several of these unfair practices had never before—in the history of the National Labor Relations Board—been committed by any boss. The Teamsters can even teach the bosses a few tricks about breaking unions.
For Justice in Bulgaria
We reprint below a translation of a message recently sent by the syndicalist movement of Norway to the "Communist" rulers of Bulgaria.
Mr. Anton Yougov,
President of the Council of Ministers of the Bulgarian Peoples' Republic,
It is the surest thing in the history of mankind, that every reign of violence ends in the dust, and that the only result of such a reign of violence is degeneration and retrogression—indeed, the extermination of human culture. Ghengis Khan and the Persian and Roman Empires destroyed cultures where the archaeologists of the present time dig for the remains. European vandals ravaged the American Continent so that whole races of people have gone under—together with cultures of which the science of today still cannot grasp the greatness. If the reign of violence had not dominated the world, the objectives of the Russian Sputnik would have been fulfilled long ago, and the existence of mankind enriched with the results.
That the further development of humanity is dependent upon freedom, must be recognized today by the world's most violent rulers. The atomic research worker must be allowed freedom in his experiments. No one knows when he will use his science against his own master, placing rulers once again before the problem: Who will defend me from my own protectors?
The internal disquiet in Russia itself tells us—day by day—that the rulers fear their own supporters, and the violent powers of the west are following in the same footsteps. None of them understand that it is really themselves who are standing before evolution's own judgment, and must inevitably disappear together with their reign of violence—irrespective of whichever propaganda name it may be called by.
It is therefore with great anxiety that we see that the rulers of Bulgaria today are totally blind to this simple historical fact, when they persecute, imprison and liquidate freedom—the basis of all cultural progress.
We know the life's work of Michael Guerdgikoff and what he has done for the Bulgarian people. During the last world war even the Russians recognized the value of his work, when they fulfilled his last wish for his people; "You know that there are young comrades in your concentration camps who are very necessary in the struggle for a better future. Release them immediately!"
We re-state Michael Guerdgikoff's wish and demand:
A thorough investigation of the conditions concerning the death of Manol Vassev.
Abolition of the prison camps and the release of political prisoners.
We mention especially: Christe Kolev, Stefan Kotakov, Deltcho Vassilev, Dobri Ivanov, Kosta Karakostov, and Yordan Kovatchev. Let those who wish travel freely from Bulgaria.
Mr. President Anton Yougov:
We know that the immediate future of Bulgaria is, unfortunately, very dark. It is for the sake of the Bulgarian People that we are making this demand of you.
—Norwegian Syndicalist Workers' Federation
Financial Report - Third Quarter, 1958
Press Payments $90.00
Paper for Press 110.47
Negatives (for Press) 27.81
Post Office Box Rent 4.50
Rent for Libertarian Center 285.00
Office Equipment 8.24
Press Equipment 1.58
Shopping Cart 6.00
Pot and Lid (for Dinner) 18.50
Lock and Keys (for Pressroom) 3.00
TOTAL $ 674.60
BALANCE FOR 3rd QUARTER $68.15
DEFICIT FROM 2nd QUARTER 908.00
TOTAL LEAGUE DEFICIT $839.85
How The State Functions
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (AP)—When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, John Linehan was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy in the Philippines. He refused to surrender and took to the hills to join guerrillas harassing the invaders.
Desperately ill after three years of fighting, he was carried down from the mountains strapped to poles evacuated from the enemy-held islands by submarine, and finally returned to the U.S. on a war transport.
The government has insisted he should pay $554 for the boat ride. Now, according to The Government Standard, published by the American Federation of Government Employees, the Justice Department has told Linehan that' if he doesn't pay up it will take him to court to collect.
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What We Stand For
Two great power blocs struggle for world domination. Neither of these represents the true interests and welfare of Humanity. Their conflict threatens mankind with atomic destruction. Underlying both of these blocs are institutions that breed exploitation, inequality and oppression.
Without trying to legislate for the future we feel that we can indicate the general lines along which a solution to these problems can be found.
The exploitative societies of today must be replaced by a new libertarian world which will proclaim Equal freedom for all in a free socialist society. "Freedom" without socialism leads to privilege and injustice; "Socialism" without freedom is totalitarian.
The monopoly of power which is the state must be replaced by a world-wide federation of free communities, labor councils and/or co-operatives operating according to the principles of free agreement. The government of men must be replaced by a functional society based on the administration of things.
Centralism, which means regimentation from the top down, must be replaced by federalism, which means co-operation from the bottom up.
THE LIBERTARIAN LEAGUE will not accept the old socio-political cliches, but will boldly explore new roads while examining anew the old movements, drawing from them all that which time and experience has proven to be valid.
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