Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Inspiration of Stalin

In a recent post on his Seek the Truth-Serve the People blog, Cde Haisanlu has an extensive quote from a book by a soldier who participated in the German attack on Soviet Russia during WW2. There is a link to this blog from here, so check it out. The unnamed and unknown Soviet soldier represents the best qualities of a Communist: steadfast optimism in the future despite his own perilous circumstances, and an unshakeable conviction in the justness of the cause he supports.

As a complement to this wartime memoir, I am putting up an excerpt from Curzio Malaparte’s The Volga Rises in Europe. Malaparte was an Italian journalist who accompanied German and Romanian troops in the invasion of the Ukraine through to the outskirts of Leningrad, from June 1941 to November 1942. On August 7, 1941, Malaparte writes of an "enemy, who is not fleeing in disorder but is retreating slowly, disputing every yard and punctuating his withdrawal with frequent counter-offensive thrusts by strong rearguards." He notes that the Soviet army leaves nothing on the battlefield in its retreat, taking everything from the corpses of its troops to abandoned helmets, strips of gauze bandages, pieces of paper – anything that may provide the Nazis with clues as to its organisational framework and combat circumstances.

It is only on the following day that Malaparte come across a mile-wide battlefield on which the Soviet soldiers had been hit by Messerchmitts and artillery, and had conducted a battle against German infantry from ten in the morning until sunset, and where the dead and mortally wounded and the detritus of their encampment were still in place. Malaparte notices a copy of Pravda, dated June 24, crumpled and mud-stained, its headlines announcing the outbreak of war. A little further along, he comes across a note-book and a large album illustrating the Third Five Year Plan "formulated by Stalin and still in course of realisation." He flicks through the album, and is interrupted by a German soldier who has noticed something in a tree: a loudspeaker, with wires trailing to the ground.

"A few yards from the tree, in a hole in the ground, we come upon the crumpled body of a Russian soldier. The dead man is leaning forward, covering with his chest a large metal box – a radiogram. Scattered all around in the grass are fragments of gramophone records. I try to piece together the fragments, to read the titles on the labels: The Internationale, the March of Budenny, the March of the Black Sea Fleet, the marches of the sailors of Kronstadt and of the Red Air Force. There are also some educational records dealing with social, political and military subjects.

"On the red label of one record I read the following words printed in black letters: "Na Podmogu Aghitatoru – Vidannaya Ts.K kp/6/U/No. 5 - 1941". It is a kind of phonographic catechism, a sort of manual of the perfect "agitator". The articles of this catechism were repeated by the deep, imperious voice of the loudspeaker with the aim of inspiring the soldiers to do their duty to the end. On another record are the words Poyasnityelni Text. This is undoubtedly another species of catechism, a kind of vade-mecum of the Communist soldier. A third record bears the inscription "Teche Ryechka Nyevyelicjka". It is the title of a "factory song", one of those songs to which the Bolsheviks have given the name tsavod.

"But my most interesting discovery is an album of twenty-four records, the cover of which bears this title: "Doclad Tovarshcha Stalina na Chrezvichainom VIII Vsyesoyuzom Syesdye Sovyetov 25 Noyabrya 1936 G. O Proyektye Konstitutsii Soyuza SSR." On the forty-eight sides of the twenty-four records is recorded the whole of the marathon speech delivered by Stalin in the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, on the occasion of the promulgation of the Soviet Constitution in 1936. The German soldier, who has been helping me to collect the fragments of the records, gazes at me in silence. Then he looks up and sees the loudspeaker hanging from the branches of the tree. He stares at the body of the Russian soldier, slumped over the metal casing of the radiogram. The German soldier’s face is serious, almost sad, with the sadness that in simple men is the companion of bewilderment and incomprehension. He is a peasant, this German soldier, not a worker - a Bavarian peasant from the Augsburg district. He does not possess what I would call "industrial morale", still less that of its principles, its abstractions, its violent and fanatical realism. (During the fighting, the words of Stalin, magnified to gigantic proportions by the loudspeaker, rain down upon the men kneeling in holes behind the tripods of their machine-guns, din in the ears of the soldiers lying amid the shrubs, of the wounded writhing in agony on the ground. The loudspeaker imbues that voice with a harsh, brutal, metallic quality. There is something diabolical, and at the same time terribly naïve, about these soldiers who fight to the death, spurred on by Stalin’s speech on the Soviet Constitution, by the slow, deliberate recital of the moral, social, political, and military precepts of the "agitators"; about these soldiers who never surrender; about these dead, scattered all around me; about the final gestures, the stubborn, violent gestures of these men who died so terribly lonely a death on this battlefield, amid the deafening roar of the cannon and the ceaseless braying of the loudspeaker.)"
(NB - the second poster ,embedded in the text, celebrates the release, in 1936, of the Stalin Constitution - then the world's most democratic and progressive national constitution.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chinese Marxist-Leninists Oppose the Sale of Xu Gong

Chinese Marxist-Leninists want to protect state-owned industries and fight the restorationists’ plans to hand core state assets to foreign and local capitalists. The Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (Xu Gong) is a major player in China’s construction and civil engineering industries.
Instead of defending the socialist ownership of a core state industry, the restorationists placed Xu Gong on the market, inviting tenders from home and abroad. The two main contenders were a private Chinese market rival, the Sany Group, and the US private equity giant Carlyle Group. Carlyle offered to pay US$375 million for 85% of Xu Gong in October 2005. Sany countered with what they said was an offer to pay 30% over and above the Carlyle bid. Apparently this offer was not favourably received, so in June of this year, Sany Executive Xiang Wenbo put the details on his blog, drawing attention to the dangers of "selling a big and important company like Xu Gong to a foreign company." Of course, he didn’t say anything about the dangers of selling Xu Gong to a private Chinese company! The issue was then taken up in November on the Chinese-language website (see image from main page above) which provides a forum for Marxist-Leninists in China to discuss issues of importance to the working class and its allies.I have translated the lead article on this issue, and a selection of responses, so that comrades internationally can see the issues facing Chinese Marxist-Leninists, the enthusiasm for engaging the restorationists in struggle, and the difficulties of organisation and practical activity. Whether it was related to this wave of opposition from the Left, or not, the restorationists revised the sale terms and it has now been announced that the sale of a 50% stake in Xu Gong has been approved by the Congress of Employees, as well as the Xuzhou City Government (the nominal owners of Xu Gong) and the Government of China’s East Jiangsu Province. Chairmanship of the new company’s board will remain with Xu Gong. The Carlyle acquisition is believed to be China's first leveraged buyout (i.e. financed by loans).
Final approval from China’s Ministry of Commerce is being awaited.
The voice of the Chinese proletariat follows:

Defend the Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group, Protect the Constitution, Take the Socialist Road

"A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism".
In 1848, Marx and Engels published the "Communist Manifesto" and solemnly announced to the world: the Communist Party can summarise its theory in one sentence – the elimination of the private ownership of the means of production. The "Communist Manifesto" opened the way for the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, for the establishment of public ownership of the means of production, for the liberation and development of the productive forces, for an end to social polarisation and the elimination of exploitation, for the realisation of prosperity for all, and finally, for the realisation of the grand era of the liberation of the proletariat of the whole world by Communism.
From the first salvoes of the October Revolution, Lenin led the Russian people to carry out the October Revolution. The spectre of Communism produced an historical giant who opened up the great era of the transition from capitalism to socialism. After Lenin’s death, Stalin led the people of the Soviet Union to establish the Soviet socialist system, and established the pattern of Soviet socialism suited to conditions of war and to the revolutionary times. He opened the way for the October Revolution to advance from capitalism to socialism, and for the improvement and development of socialism.

In 1949, Mao Zedong led the Chinese people to carry out the New Democratic Revolution and founded New China. After that, according to the actual conditions and at the right time, he introduced the socialist transformation and the socialist industrialisation of the whole nation, established the socialist system in China, brought about the first stages of China’s socialist industrialisation and made a powerful display of the superiority of the socialist system of public ownership in its initial stage.

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th National Party Congress, Deng Xiaoping, practicing the theme of an era of peace and development, put forward the reform and opening up of socialism, emphasising persisting in the system of public ownership as the main part, comprising more than 75% of the national economy, and implementing the unity of the planned and market economies. However, under the influence of the wrong trend in international and domestic ideology, since the 90s, much Government-led large-scale privatisation has been carried out, social polarisation has accelerated so that Deng Xiaoping’s serious warning of September 1993, "We propose that we must prevent polarisation, and in reality, the natural emergence of polarisation." In his "Selected Works", Deng Xiaoping stressed time and again, that if polarisation occurred, our reforms could be counted as a failure. Therefore, in 1993, Deng Xiaoping was already clear about the success or failure of the reforms and had concluded: Our reforms have failed. The failure to maintain the majority portion of the system of public ownership has caused polarisation, and the reality of the polarisation indicates that there is nothing left of majority public ownership. All the regulations in the Chinese Constitution regarding the system of the public ownership of the means of production entered an unprecedented crisis. This has produced for our country’s working class a great ideological weapon in knowing about the reform and the carrying out of the reform.

However, since 1993, Deng Xiaoping’s warning and conclusion certainly have not played the role that they should have. The transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership, and the moves for selling off to foreign investors has proceeded vigorously and rapidly and the evil consequences of this polarisation grow more and more rotten. This clearly indicates that the Party’s basic line of socialism in the initial stages is in danger, the basic system of socialist public ownership is in danger, the socialist Constitution of China is in danger, and the future and the fate of the Chinese nation and people is in danger!

At the present time, incidents of the transformation of state-owned enterprises to private ownership, including sale to foreign investors, are occurring one after the other without let-up. What is shocking is the large-scale foreign purchase of state-owned enterprises, namely, the purchase of the Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (Xu Gong - see Xu Gong bucket lift trucks at a trade display above). This incident is the logical conclusion and ultimate outcome.

The experience of the privatisation reform is the disintegration of China’s equipment industry. Xu Gong was the well-spring of China’s engineering machinery industry and underpins this industry, and even China’s industrial and economic independence, as well as its strategic position. If Xu Gong is sold to foreign investors, it will definitely lead to a series of large-scale privatisations of state-owned enterprises that will tremendously damage Chinese economic and national independence. This is unconstitutional and in violation of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, is contrary to the concept of scientific development, contrary to the Party’s basic line, contrary to the strategic goal of a harmonious society. It is a foolish move bringing disaster on the people and the nation. The whole nation must come to understand this, unite, raise high the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, protect Xu Gong, defend the Constitution, get active and take this opportunity to open up the whole nation’s struggle to restore majority public ownership of the means of production, and to firmly take the socialist road.

The Chinese nation has once again reached its most dangerous time! Therefore, I solemnly propose: rise up, unite. The Chinese proletariat and working people and all advanced people, jointly defend the Xuzhou Construction Materials Company, protect the Constitution, and take the socialist road!

The Marxist scholar,
Author of "New Socialist Theory"
Ceng Zhaoyu


1. I support you, but can’t do anything about it. Power is not in the hands of real Marxist-Leninists.

2. I’m a Marxist-Leninist, and I’m also worried about the current situation in China. The change from public to private ownership indicates that we’ve been shaken from the road to socialism, and our Party’s ruling status has been shaken. Ours is a Party of the workers and peasants. The privatisation of state-owned enterprises threatens the interests of the workers and also threatens the class and mass foundations of our Party. Capitalist development is proceeding apace and a capitalist clique has emerged within our Party. They are corroding our Party, wishing to usurp the Party’s leading position. We must be careful. The National People’s Congress is no longer the people’s but the capitalists’. The NPC has lost its original character. It is the rich who occupy the General Assembly rather than the workers and peasants. We must resolutely eliminate capitalism, support the Communist Party, and take the socialist road.

3. I agree. We must unite. We must establish a "defending socialism" group and continue to struggle against capitalism. We must rally around the Party and respond to the Party’s call. Although the Old Man Chairman Mao has gone, I must hold high his flag and enter the struggle. Compatriots unite! For our country and people, for our Party, and for our Communist cause!
Respectful greetings to Comrade Ceng Zhaoyu!!! I’m willing to take part! Please inform me of the arrangements. (NB The Chinese term "laorenjia", or "Old Man", is a respectful term frequently applied to Chairman Mao". Mike-servethepeople).

4. Elder Brother Zhaoyu: I support your "Defend Xu Gong, Protect the Constitution". However, I think your article is too flattering towards the Great Deng and Deng Theory. Can those dirty things be compared to Chairman Mao and Mao Zedong Thought? Can they be equated?

5. "The Chinese nation has once again reached its most dangerous time! Therefore, I solemnly propose: rise up, unite. The Chinese proletariat and working people and all advanced people, jointly defend Xu Gong, protect the Constitution, and take the socialist road!"

6. A great initiative! I support you!

7. Unite! Struggle! Struggle! Destroy capitalism!!! Overthrow the capitalist- roaders!! Take the socialist road of Chairman Mao!!!!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lei Feng 雷锋

(Sorry to be a smart arse, but this one's for any Chinese
readers who stumble across my blog)

"Learn from the good example of Lei Feng.
Wholeheartedly serve the people."

昨天,我陪我妻子去阿德莱德中心市场买菜。买菜以后我们去了市场东边的一家小服装店看新来的衣服。服装点是我朋友的,她是上海人。当我们俩进去了,她是通电话对朋友。 她一看我,就对她朋友说:“一个外国人进来了,穿着雷锋汗衫“。 打完电话, 她对我笑着说:“雷锋。。。?” 我说“对,雷锋精神!” 她还笑着,半英文,半中文地说: You know, these days we think Lei Feng is a 傻瓜!“
“知道, 知道, 可是我还喜欢雷锋精神, 是 “为人民服务”的。”
我想了一会儿, 就说: “全世界人民都需要雷锋精神,要不资本主义会使他们很自私,很小气的。只有很少人能当大款,多数人民无法受益于资本主义。”
我们出门时, 我对中国朋友叫了:“下一次见”
"Learn from Comrade Lei Feng
Develop the moral character of Communism"

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

My previous post on Bob Dylan’s Senor (see "Chavez Tells Us Where We’re Heading" in the September archive) brought an interesting response from Lucien in the Czech Republic. Where I saw a political and anti-imperialist landscape, he saw one of drugs and dependence.
It’s an interesting phenomenon that different people will interpret the same thing in different ways.

The Soviet philosopher Vygotsky created a school of learning called Constructivism, according to which a learner constructs his or her own meanings based on the whole of their prior experiences and understandings.

As a gross over-simplification, and by way of a pretty poor example, if a teacher walks into a class of 25 students and hopes to impart a certain body of information, it is possible that there will be 26 different sets of understandings in the room: the teacher’s original understanding, and each student’s own interpretation of that meaning.

In this simple scenario, the teacher is like a jug of water, hoping to pour a particular understanding into 25 little glasses, but these little glasses bring with them a little cordial mixture of prior understandings, prior cultural development, so that around the room we have not 25 little glasses of water, but a mixture of orange, lime, lemon etc flavoured waters.

Am I getting off the point?

OK, so Dylan’s jug of Senor gets poured into Lucien and me, and what we each end up with is a different, but for each of each, perfectly reasonable, interpretation of the song. By the way, I still prefer mine, but I can see where Lucien is coming from.

With that in mind, I want to have a look now at another Dylan song that I’ll probably have interpreted differently to Lucien, and any one else, for that matter.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue is the last song on 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home album.
The conventional wisdom is that the song is addressed to either Paul Clayton, David Blue or Joan Baez. Others say it is Dylan "saying goodbye to his old self" (The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan, p 270).

I’m not going to argue against any of that. Dylan’s writing is so layered, so replete with wheels within wheels, that any or all of the above interpretations might be true.

But the little residue of cordial inside the glass of my mind has produced an understanding that resonates more with the politics that I imagine to be in Senor.

Now, Dylan may have decided by 1965 that he did not want to be the "spokesman of a generation", but he did want to speak, and the fact that his language was so surreal, and that he was in the process of adopting different masks and disguises through which to speak, is what makes his lyrics so intriguing and so open to a variety of constructions of meaning.

To me, Dylan is addressing the United States of the 1960s and singing its death knell.
He warns that its doom is fast approaching, that it "must leave now", grabbing whatever it thinks it will need. This is followed by a gesture in the direction of "your orphan with his gun, Crying like a fire in the sun".

Dylan sees orphans as those whom the US of the 60s had turned its back on, as those whom it had made outcasts and had disenfranchised. There is even an echo of this on his most recent album, Modern Times:

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I’ll recruit my army from the orphanages

(Thunder on the Mountain)

The orphans of It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue could have been Afro-Americans, youth, labour unions and anyone else whose rights were being trampled by the US ruling class, but the reference to crying like a fire in the sun evoked for me at the time, and still does today, those nightly news shots of Vietnamese villages, and Vietnamese villagers, burning with napalm.
Napalm was synonymous with the US war of aggression against Vietnam, and in our anti-war leaflets we always pointed out that napalm burnt at 3060 degrees fahrenheit, or half the surface temperature of the sun. (I’m not sure if that was true, but it was pretty bloody hot all the same, and, after 1972, the image of that little naked girl running down the street from her village, her skin burning from napalm and her crying face distorted in pain, was clear enough for me to see it over and over again in Dylan’s lyric).

Dylan’s next line is "Look out the saints are comin’ through" followed by "And it’s all over now, Baby Blue". Whilst this references the old jazz standard When The Saints Come Marching In, the saints for those on the Left in the mid-60s were clearly the Vietnamese National Liberation Front soldiers. We marched with their red, blue and yellow flags and chanted "Victory to the Viet Cong" and "Ho, Ho. Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese Are Gonna Win".

And if the Vietnamese were going to win, it would be all over for US imperialism, in that conflict at least.

But the Vietnamese were not the US imperialists’ only problem. At home, a counterculture had developed out of the youth movement. Rejecting the materialism and consumerism of their parents, young kids were tuning in and dropping out. Dylan captured this further threat to the establishment, singing:

The empty-handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets.

The psychedelic culture of the times was particularly characterised by crazily patterned album covers, concert posters, clothing and other paraphernalia. Everytime a current rock music magazine indulges in a bout of 60s nostalgia, it covers itself in the swirling patterns of psychedelic 60s artwork. It truly seemed at the time that "This sky too, is folding under you, And it’s all over now, Baby Blue".

Some nice alliteration follows:

All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home.
All your reindeer armies, are all going home.

It doesn’t take much to see this as a reference to the US soldiers, who were beginning to become disillusioned with the Vietnam War. By the late 60s, this would develop into the phenomenon of "fragging" . "Reindeer armies" works as a really surreal image: GIs being flown across the sky to supposedly deliver the benefits of US imperialism to the childish Vietnamese. Works for me, anyway….

The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor.

The founding ideal of the US state combined anti-colonialism, freedom and democracy. Dylan’s symbol of this founding ideal is the lover who has rejected what the US state has become: the world’s most oppressive and aggressive imperialist power. Why would it stay around? "The carpet, too, is moving under you, And it’s all over now, Baby Blue".

The fourth and last verse begins with the warning that it’s too late for US imperialism to retrieve the situation. Something is calling out to it. Dylan mysteriously identifies it as follows:

The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.

Like the orphan, the vagabond is the Other, the realisation of all those whom US imperialism makes into outcasts, the rejected, and now, in the context of the war, the enemy. But this enemy, strangely, is dressed in the US’s own discarded clothing.

This is perhaps Dylan’s greatest and most cryptic (until Senor) endorsement of those in the Third World who stand opposed to US imperialism. Dylan had been closely associated in the early 60s with some staunchly Leftist intellectuals and activists in New York, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he woud have heard how Ho Chi Minh had travelled in his youth through the US, and how he had been inspired by the US example of fighting for independence from the British. Like many of us who grew up in the 60s, he would probably have appreciated the irony of the US going to war against a leader who had modelled his own country’s Declaration of Independence on that of the United States. Standing in your old clothes, indeed!

This is a challenge that many of us felt that US imperialism could not recover from: externally, the anti-imperialist movement with its centre in the Vietnamese people’s struggle for independence and freedom; internally, the emerging counterculture with its rejection of all that the US then stood for.

No wonder Dylan closed the song by giving US imperialism no choice other than to

Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue
Postscript: In a recent (Jan 2011) comment on Dylan's contract to publish up to six new books with Simon and Schuster, one commentator threw in this interesting little titbit which feeds into my claim that Dylan knew of Ho Chi Minh's experiences in the US:

At one point, Dylan said he was working on a book entitled Ho Chi Minh in Harlem:

"A while back I started writing a novel called Ho Chi Minh in Harlem. He was a shortorder cook there in the '20s before he went back to Viet Nam--it's a documented fact. That excited me there for a minute."

That book was never published either.

Very interesting!!

Continue reading on Bob Dylan's new book deal - What does it mean ? - National Bob Dylan

Rock On, Timrod!

This piece of nonsense was an earlier post that I had inadvertently deleted. Sorry if you've seen it before...

So poor old Bob has been hauled over the coals for pinching a few key phrases from the Confederate poet Timrod and various blues singers on his new CD Modern Times. And I thought we Aussies did the tall poppy syndrome the best!

Dylan has always taken lyrics and melodies from whatever suits him. That’s part of the creative process. For my part I regard it as icing on the cake when I hear an echo of a Robert Johnson line in a Dylan song. And in the history of literature, is Dylan the only person to have used a phrase or two from the Bible?

For me it’s not theft if the word or phrase is re-presented in a new or different way, if it’s used entertainingly and differently. I wrote a poem once for a comrade who had died. He was an older comrade who had come through the Depression and the War Against Fascism, and he loved Paul Robeson. I used the line "Old man river" in relation to him, and thought that it suited the context, and that he would have been flattered by the metaphor. I didn’t feel like a cheat or a thief for using someone else’s phrase.

The scholarship on Dylan is impressive and the annotation of his lyrics has resulted in many of us getting new insights into old Dylan favourites courtesy of the research of others.
I was looking through one website, in the wake of the Timrod controversy, and read an annotation of the song "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat) from the Street Legal album. This song contains the phrase "bathed in a stream of pure heat". It had not been annotated. It was mine! The perfect vehicle from which to launch myself into the world of Dylanology!

I Googled the phrase and got 277,000 results. Most were links to a bootleg of the same name. Pages of them. But then I hit pay dirt!

Udâna - VIII. Patalagami
This stream, whose waters etc. [as above] is now pure, lucent and untainted. ... stream, and when he arrived there, he entered the stream and bathed and - 38k - Cached - Similar pages

This was it! The source! A Buddhist text…how cool was that! The only problem was that it was a bit too cool. No heat. Could there be something better out there?

I returned to the search.

English Works! Literature: Guide to Fiction
If the rose is white, the love is pure. If the rose is damaged, ... and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in his - 32k - Cached - Similar pages

This was more like it. Dylan delving into the world of English literature. This was much better than the Buddhist source, although you wouldn’t put it past Dylan to have read both of them somewhere on his travels. But that raised the question: could there be yet other sources feeding into his great brain? On went the search….

Greek Mythology: BOREAS God of the North Wind & Winter ( also ...
... and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that ... They came to the generous Troad and hit the pure, and a huge inhuman - 66k - Cached - Similar pages

Well, Dylan did spend some time in Greece. Did some drinking, and probably read this in the original ancient Greek. So what if the word order was wrong? "Heat bathed in a stream pure…" has a certain ring to it anyway. May have even gone into the first draft like that.
By now my mind was racing. How clever you are Bob to have researched so thoroughly for the said phrase.

Was there more? Could Dylan have found yet other sources? I plunged back into the search…

Culex -- Appendix Vergiliana
And whether Arna bathed with Xanthus stream ... And pleasure pure and free available, With simple cares. ... O'th'air doth echo feed, and in the heat - 35k - Cached - Similar pages

Wow!! Still Greek, but this time the word order is right! Had to be the one.
But wait! There was more….

File Format: PDF/Adobe AcrobatIf room air contained only pure air--with no water vapor at all--the ... each tube is bathed in the stream of stale air and receives heat that vaporizes - Similar pages

At last, the jewel in the crown of my research! For not only are the words all here, but there is an ethereality, an ambience that transports me into that "room where the heat pipes just cough". Here was Dylan, genius poet of our Age, recycling sources like a madman, old "Viper eyes" with heat that just vaporizes so there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off.

Well, I had done it. Joined the world of literary scholarship, added to the list of annotations, brought glory on myself and my research, and all thanks to Bob and his inability to create a wonderful turn of phrase by himself.

Rock on, Timrod!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Freedom on the Wallaby

This is the text of Henry Lawson's poem, Freedom on the Wallaby, written in 1891 when the Great Strikes were in full swing. The poem is written in the Australian vernacular of the time.

"Humping bluey" meant carrying a swag, a roll of blankets used for sleeping outdoors. "On the wallaby" (or "on the wallaby track") meant to be on the move. "Cooey" was a loud call used to get attention out in the bush, or outback. A "billy" was a tin can used for boiling water on a camp fire. The wattle is Australia's national flower.

Australia’s a big country
An’ Freedom’s humping bluey,
An’ Freedom’s on the wallaby
Oh! Don’t you hear ‘er cooey?
She’s just begun to boomerang,
She’ll knock the tyrants silly,
She’s goin’ to light another fire
And boil another billy.
Our fathers fought for bitter bread
While loafers thrived beside ‘em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
Their native land denied ‘em.
An’ so they left their native land
In spite of their devotion,
An’ so they came, or if they stole,
Were sent across the ocean.
Then Freedom couldn’t stand the glare
O’ Royalties regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
An’ came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
The chains have come ter bind her –
She little thought to see again
The wrongs she left behind her.
Our parents toil’d to make a home –
Hard grubbin’ ‘twas an’ clearin’ –
They wasn’t crowded much with lords
When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook ‘is dirty hand
And come ter take it from us.
So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
O’ those that they would throttle;
They needn’t say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!
Henry Lawson
Brisbane Worker

Eureka: Rebellion Beneath the Southern Cross

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the heroic Eureka Stockade on the Ballarat goldfields in the then British colony of Victoria.

Armed miners gathered beneath a rebel flag comprising the stars of the Southern Cross, visible only in the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere, linked by firm white bars indicating the strength of unity.

They knelt together and repeated this oath: "We swear by Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties".

Although the colonial authorities stormed the Stockade and killed 22 miners, the Eureka rebellion has engraved itself on the collective memory of progressive Australians.

What then is the contemporary significance of the Eureka flag?

In the first place, there is the tradition of Eureka. A strong sense of the past, and of the continuity between past and present, adds enormously to its impact as a contemporary symbol.

It is true that the original flag was trampled in the dust of the defeated stockade and taken home by trooper John King, with whose family it remained until 1895;thereafter being kept in a back room of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery until its formal presentation as a display item in 1973 by Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

However, the events at Eureka were remembered at the founding of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association in 1874 and of the Amalgamated Shearers Union in 1886. Francis Adams, who linked the labour struggle to the Eureka rebellion, celebrated the formation of the Australian Federation of Labour (1889) in a passionate verse:

"Fling out the Flag! And let friends and foe behold for gain or loss,
The sign of our faith and the fight we fight,
The Stars of the Southern Cross!"

On 29 August, 1890, at the beginning of the maritime strike, 30,000 people gathered at a mass meeting on the Yarra bank in Melbourne and roared with approval at the speakers standing on a platform "decorated with the Eureka flag and the Eight Hours Banner".

A year later, a thousand armed shearers drilled at their Barcaldine, Queensland strike camp, wearing "blue bannerets with the Southern Cross". The Eureka flag flew high over their camp. Henry Lawson was inspired to write his immortal "Freedom on the Wallaby" (see post above) and he and other nationalist writers of the nineties drew strength from Eureka’s anti-colonialism.

During the fight against conscription in the First World War, 86-year old labour activist Monty Miller toured Australia, his rallies being promoted thus: "Eureka 1854 to IWW 1917: Sixty Three Years Fighting For You!"

At the height of the pig iron dispute in 1939, Pt Kembla wharfies burnt their Register cards and swore the Eureka diggers’ oath of loyalty.

In 1951, campaigners against Liberal PM Menzies’ anti-Communist referendum used the Eureka flag as the mast head on their paper "Liberty". In 1954, 20,000 people attended the Centennial Celebrations at Ballarat, celebrating the democratic and labour causes.

The initial stages of the anti-Vietnam and anti-conscription struggles of the 1960s saw little reference to the Eureka flag. Instead the symbolism was drawn from pacifist, and increasingly, socialist and revolutionary sources.

It was during the anti-US bases movement in 1973 that the Eureka symbolism was revived. The "Long March" protesters arriving at the North West Cape base in Western Australia burnt the US flag and scaled communications towers outside the perimeter of the base, using these as flag poles for the Southern Cross.

Sympathetic US marines at the base, who reported having been fed stories that Whitlam was a communist who was going to nationalise the supermarkets, smuggled a Eureka flag inside the base and had it flying over their headquarters the next day.

Not long afterwards, the militant Builders Laborers Federation (now the CFMEU) adopted the flag, carrying it with them on strikes and demonstrations and using it in all their literature.

Organisations of the Worker-Student Alliance, then active in factories and universities in Adelaide and Melbourne, also adopted the flag and it became a regular sight at a wide rage of protests and demonstrations.

The biggest boost to the use of the Eureka flag was the CIA-engineered dismissal of the Whitlam Government in 1975. Recognising that Australia was still enmeshed in the web of imperialism, organisations calling for genuine Australian independence proliferated and the wave of subsequent protest engulfed tens of thousands across the political spectrum.

Writing of those times, republican small-l liberal Donald Horne remarked "I had never before worn a political badge – "Independence for Australia", it said, with the Eureka flag on it… It was a coming out occasion, a declaration".

As demonstrations against Governor-General Kerr and new Prime Minister Fraser continued, the Eureka flag grew in popularity. Some newspaper reports talked of protests "wondrously covered with a canopy of Eureka flags" and a fascinating assortment of posters, bumper bar stickers and clothing, featuring the Eureka flag, appeared throughout the country.

Indeed the very popularity of the flag caused some problems, with right wing racist and anti-immigrant organisations attempting to capitalise on the flag’s uniquely Australian character to promote a racist chauvinism.

In reality the flag was the first truly multicultural symbol in Australia’s history. Coming from all quarters of the globe in search of gold, the Eureka rebels comprised a wide cross-section of nationalities and ethnicities. The dead included Irish, Prussians and Canadians, whilst among the thirteen rebel leaders put on trial by the colonial authorities were an Italian, a black Jamaican and a black American.

Nevertheless, this unity of peoples against oppression was incomplete, reflecting the immaturity of the proletariat in Australia. Large numbers of Chinese had also come to the goldfields. They were potential allies of the miners and had good cause to sympathise with rebellion against British colonialism in Australia, having seen how their own country had suffered at the hands of the British during the First Opium War (1839-42). However, little attempt was made to communicate in a constructive fashion with the Chinese.

Today, the Eureka flag is synonymous with anti-imperialism, republicanism, and working class solidarity and struggle. In a country with a large and growing immigrant population striving to realise the ideal of "many peoples, one nation", this flag has more to commend it than the official national flag which still carries the Union Jack in the top left corner.