Re: When Your Enemy's Enemy is Not a Friend - New Politics

Michael Meeropol

Roger, please remember there were well meaning friends of socialism in the 1930s who argued up down and sideways that the attacks on Stalin were nothing but capitalist propaganda --- Then, when the transcripts of the Moscow Trials were published and all these Old Bolsheviks confessed to being spies for the capitalists, books were published like THE GREAT CONSPIRACY AGAINST RUSSIA which echoed these complaints without batting an eyelash --- and American Communists and fellow travellers and their families (I was a kid reading this stuff in my parents' home) swallowed all of it hook line and sinker ....

That doesn't make any of the "defenses" of Stalin and Stalinism true --- it just reminds us that there are well meaning journalists and political allies who convince themselves of what turns out to be errant nonsense ...

Now -- I don't read or speak Mandarin or Uyghur and I haven't "been there" but I still believe the information about how the Chinese government is treating the Uyghur minority .... and I CERTAINLY believe that the crackdown on Hong Kong is an abomination ...

On Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 2:59 AM Roger Kulp <leucovorinsaves@...> wrote:
I know many of you have criticized Max Blumenthal, and the Grayzone, but Max does a very good job here exposing just who is behing the stories of Uyghur genocide in China. Including who funding the Chinese exiles providing these stories to US media and government.

Re: When Your Enemy's Enemy is Not a Friend - New Politics

Roger Kulp

I know many of you have criticized Max Blumenthal, and the Grayzone, but Max does a very good job here exposing just who is behing the stories of Uyghur genocide in China. Including who funding the Chinese exiles providing these stories to US media and government.

Protect fish to increase catches − and cut carbon | Climate News Network

Louis Proyect

Re: Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time? (Boston Globe)

Jim Farmelant

It should be noted that the Polish economist Oskar Lange was writing about this issue back in the 1960's. in fact his very last paper was on this topic. Back in his day there were basically just mainframe computers. Computer networking barely existed and the Internet was several years away. Nowadays, the British computer scientist and economist Paul Cockshott is probably the leading authority on this subject,




  Not quite 30 years ago I published an essay  On the Economic Theory of Socialism.1 Pareto and Barone had shown that the conditions of economic equilibrium in a socialist economy could be expressed by a system of simultaneous equations. The prices resulting from these equations furnish a basis for rational economic accounting under socialism (only the static equilibrium aspect of the accounting problem was under con­sideration at that time). At a later date Hayek and Robbins maintained that the Pareto—Barone equations were of no practical consequence. The solution of a system of thousands or more simultaneous equations was in practice impossible and, consequently, the practical problem of economic accounting under socialism remained unsolvable.

In my essay I refuted the Hayek—Robbins argument by showing how a market mechanism could be established in a socialist economy which would lead to the solution of the simultaneous equations by means of an empirical procedure of trial and error. Starting with an arbitrary set of prices, the price is raised whenever demand exceeds supply and lowered whenever the opposite is the case. Through such a process of tatonnements, first described by Walras, the final equilibrium prices are gradually reached. These are the prices satisfying the system of simul­taneous equations. It was assumed without question that the tatonnement process in fact converges to the system of equilibrium prices.

Were I to rewrite my essay today my task would be much simpler. My answer to Hayek and Robbins would be: so what’s the trouble?

Let us put the simultaneous equations on an electronic computer and we shall obtain the solution in less than a second. The market process with its cumbersome tatonnements appears old-fashioned. Indeed, it may be considered as a computing device of the preelectronic age.


  The market mechanism and trial and error procedure proposed in my essay really played the role of a computing device for solving a system of simultaneous equations. The solution was found by a process of iteration which was assumed to be convergent. The iterations were based on a feedback principle operating so as to gradually eliminate deviations from equilibrium. It was envisaged that the process would operate like a servomechanism, which, through feedback action, automatically eliminates disturbances.2

The same process can be implemented by an electronic analogue machine which simulates the iteration process implied in the tátonnements of the market mechanism. Such an electronic analogue (servo-mechanism) simulates the working of the market. This statement, how­ever, may be reversed: the market simulates the electronic analogue computer. In other words, the market may be considered as a computer sui generis which serves to solve a system of simultaneous equations. It operates like an analogue machine: a servo-mechanism based on the feedback principle. The market may be considered as one of the oldest historical devices for solving simultaneous equations. The interesting thing is that the solving mechanism operates not via a physical but via a social process. It turns out that the social processes as well may serve as a basis for the operation of feedback devices leading to the solution of equations by iteration.


  Managers of socialist economies today have two instruments of eco­nomic accounting. One is the electronic computer (digital or analogue), the other is the market. In capitalist countries too, the electronic com­puter is to a certain extent used as an instrument of economic account­ing. Experience shows that for a very large number of problems linear approximation suffices; hence the wide-spread use of linear programming techniques. In a socialist economy such techniques have an even wider scope for application: they can be applied to the national economy as a whole.

It may be interesting to compare the relative merits of the market and of the computer in a socialist economy. The computer has the un­doubted advantage of much greater speed. The market is a cumbersome and slow-working servo-mechanism. Its iteration process operates with considerable time-lags and oscillations and may not be convergent at all. This is shown by cobweb cycles, inventory and other reinvestment cycles as well as by the general business cycle. Thus the Walrasian tatonnements are full of unpleasant fluctuations and may also prove to be divergent. In this respect the electronic computer shows an unchal­lenged superiority. It works with enormous speed, does not produce fluctuations in real economic processes and the convergence of its iterations is assured by its very construction.

Another disadvantage of the market as a servo-mechanism is that its iterations cause income effects. Any change in prices causes gains and losses to various groups of people. To the management of a socialist economy this creates various social problems connected with these gains and losses. Furthermore, it may mobilise conservative resistance to the iteration process involved in the use of the market as a servo-mechanism.


All this, however, does not mean that the market has not its relative merits. First of all, even the most powerful electronic computers have a limited capacity. There may be (and there are) economic processes so complex in terms of the number of commodities and the type of equations involved that no computer can tackle them. Or it may be too costly to construct computers of such large capacity. In such cases nothing remains but to use the old-fashioned market servo-mechanism which has a much broader working capacity.

Secondly, the market is institutionally embodied in the present socialist economy. In all socialist countries (with the exception of certain periods when rationing was used) consumers’ goods are distributed to the population by means of the market. Here, the market is an existing social institution and it is useless to apply an alternative accounting device. The electronic computer can be applied for purposes of prognosti­cation but the computed forecasts have later to be confirmed by the actual working of the market.

An important limitation of the market is that it treats the accounting problem only in static terms, i.e. as an equilibrium problem. It does not provide a sufficient foundation for the solution of growth and develop­ment problems. In particular, it does not provide an adequate basis for long-term economic planning. For planning economic development long-term investments have to be taken out of the market mechanism and based on judgment of developmental economic policy. This is because present prices reflect present data, whereas investment changes data by creating new incomes, new technical conditions of production and frequently also by creating new wants (the creation of a television industry creates the demand for television sets, not the other way round). In other words, investment changes the conditions of supply and demand which determine equilibrium prices. This holds for capitalism as well as for socialism.

For the reasons indicated, planning of long-term economic develop­ment as a rule is based on overall considerations of economic policy rather than upon calculations based on current prices. However, the theory and practice of mathematical (linear and non-linear) pro­gramming makes it possible to introduce strict economic accounting into this process. After setting up an objective function (for instance, maximizing the increase of national income over a certain period) and certain constraints, future shadow prices can be calculated. These shadow prices serve as an instrument of economic accounting in long-term development plans. Actual market equilibrium prices do not suffic here, knowledge of the programmed future shadow prices is needed.

Mathematical programming turns out to be an essential instrument of optimal long-term economic planning. In so far as this involves the solution of large numbers of equations and inequalities the electronic computer is indispensable. Mathematical programming assisted by electronic computers becomes the fundamental instrument of long-term economic planning, as well as of solving dynamic economic problems of a more limited scope. Here, the electronic computer does not replace the market. It fulfils a function which the market never was able to perform.


1 The Review of Economic Studies, London 1936 and 1937. Reprinted in O. Lange and F. M. Taylor, On the Economic Theory of Socialism, edited by B. E. Lippincott, Minneapolis 1938--- back to the text

2 Cf. Josef Steindl, Servo-mechanisms and Controllers in Econom

Re: Fight the Constitution! Demand a New Republic! – Cosmonaut

Louis Proyect

On 3/25/21 3:31 PM, Roger Kulp wrote:

I believe the "New Union Act" proposed by this author is unrealistic, and typical of the solutions proposed by social democratic reformists.

Cosmonaut maybe wrong but social democratic reformists they are not. They are deeply into Kautsky, largely out of the influence the CPGB has had on them. On top of that, they get the class nature of the DP correctly, which for me at least is the acid test.

Re: Fight the Constitution! Demand a New Republic! – Cosmonaut

Roger Kulp

Interesting article,but there is one more option the author doesn't consider. Don't just abolish the Constitution, abolish the union. Break up the former USA into as many separate countries as possible along racial and ideological lines. There are many ,on both the left and right, who believe Lincoln should never have fought the Civil War ,and simply let the south go. Slavery might have died by other means, like economic blockades. The time for this is long overdue. The abolisment of the union might be the biggest blow to the US military empire and US imperialism. No more United States in its current form could be the greatest possible gift to world peace.

I believe the "New Union Act" proposed by this author is unrealistic, and typical of the solutions proposed by social democratic reformists. Neither the right wing, nor the corporate interests that control our government would never allow it to happen.

Nobody who quotes James Madison in a positive light has any right to call themself a socialist.

Re: Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time? (Boston Globe)

Michael Meeropol

Dear Roger -- I don't think the criticisms by folks on this list of the Soviet Union is because we are "liberals" --- some come out of the Trotskyist movement -- some (like me) are red-diaper babies (Communist parents) who have become disillusioned ---

I will give the Soviet Union credit for defeating the Nazis -- even though there were terrible blunders before the German invasion which left the Soviet Union horribly vulnerable --- and for developing a strong enough military (including atomic weapons) to "deter" American imperialism from using nuclear weapons against the Vietnamese and the Koreans --- and from invading Cuba with US regular army troops in 1962 ---

That said, the REALITIES of what the Soviets called "actually existing socialism" were so negative for the people of the Soviet Union that it set back the cause of socialism world wide for generations --- 

Maybe the ability of European socialism to survive depended on a successful German Revolution after WW II -- when that was defeated, the necessity of building up an industrial base in the fledgling Soviet Union necessitated the authoritarianism of Stalin --- MAYBE --- but if so that meant the "socialism in one country" was doomed from the get go --- IF there were an alternative (whatever Trotsky would have done if he had beaten Stalin in the power struggle) that would have "worked" --- well --- then the triumph of Stalin is a double tragedy ---

AFter WW II, the Soviet effort to "win" the competition with capitalism failed miserably --- but luckily they were there long enough to protect the Koreans, Vietnamese and Cubans from total American conquest ....

On Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 2:28 PM Roger Kulp <leucovorinsaves@...> wrote:
The Soviet Union was simply the greatest country that ever existred,period.

Tonight @ 7:00 (US Eastern) Black Revolutionary Thought for Our Times? (3/25 Thursday)

Suren Moodliar

This week we discuss the critical concepts emerging out of Black Revolutionary Thought with Johanna Fernandez, Eric Mann, Kazembe Balagun, and Joe Ramsey. Thursday, March 25, 2021, 7:00 p.m. on Zoom (

3/25/21 Black Revolutionary Thought for Our Times?

Throughout modern history, struggles against Black oppression have generated some of our most powerful and persuasive radical voices, often resonating across lines of race and nation. How do black revolutionary thinkers of the past–from black Marxists like Richard Wright to Black Panther participants like Fred Hampton and Assata Shakur–to contemporary voices like Mumia Abu Jamal, help us to grasp our present and shape our collective future? How do recent accounts of the ‘Black radical tradition’ illuminate our current situation and paths for transforming it? What in this tradition can still be applied today and what needs updating? In what ways do black revolutionary voices from the past still challenge or inform modes of theory and practice in 2021? What are the implications of this influence? How do contemporary film representations (such as the new Fred Hampton film Judas & the Black Messiah and influential books like Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism create new openings (or obstacles) for
mass radical engagement?

Join Shelter & Solidarity on Thursday, March 25 (7:00 – 8:30 p.m. EST) for a panel and community discussion, featuring guests
* Kazembe Balagun, Bronx-based author, artist and organizer, formerly long-time staffer at the Brecht Forum, now with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

* Johanna Fernandez, professor at Baruch College (CUNY), WBAI radio host of the program, “A New Day,” and author of the recent book, The Young Lords, a Radical History ( as well as the editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal ( .

* Eric Mann is an author and civil rights, anti-war, labor, and environmental organizer whose career spans 50 years. He has worked with the Congress of Racial Equality, Newark Community Union Project, Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panther Party, the United Automobile Workers, and the New Directions Movement. He is the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles and author of Playbook for Progressives: The 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer ( .

* Joseph G. Ramsey, UMass Boston-based scholar-activist and organizer, author of recent articles engaging Cedric Robinson and Richard Wright ( as well as Judas and the Black Messiah ( .

Linda Liu (Shelter & Solidarity) and Socialism and Democracy‘s Editor-at-Large, Victor Wallis ( will join us as this week’s co-host.

Suren Moodliar
Managing Editor, Socialism and Democracy
Organization Website:
Phone: +1-617-968-0880

The revolutionary film maker John Abraham (From FB)

Louis Proyect

The revolutionary film maker John Abraham (1937–1987), who started the Odessa Collective in Kochi in 1984 and whose second feature film (made in Tamil) ‘Donkey in a Brahmin Village’ (Agraharathil Kazhuthai, 1977) was banned in Tamilnad. From Ashish Rajadhyaksha’s Enyclopaedia of Indian Cinema, one gathers that he studied economics at a college near Kottayam, was educated by his grandfather who gave him his first camera, worked as an insurance salesman in Bellary, and went to the FTII to study under Ghatak. He raised money ‘by travelling from village to village beating a drum and asking for contributions to a genuine “people’s cinema”’. He was fond of drinking and is said to have died by falling from a rooftop.
A Brahmin professor of philosophy Narayana Swamy (played by M.B. Sreenivasan) is lampooned for adopting a young donkey whose mother has just been done to death by a mob. The rector of the Christian college where he teaches tells him the whole college has been plastered with posters making fun of him and that this is ‘bad for our discipline’. ‘This is demoralizing our institution’. The young professor then agrees to take the donkey to his village. In the village N. hands the donkey over to Uma, a deaf mute, to look after. Throughout the film he and Uma are the only characters who express any real emotion other than the ridicule, anger, etc. that the Brahmins constantly express. Thus N. tells his dad, ‘One evening when I came home, I found this donkey on my doorstep. I was told that an angry mob had killed its mother. I felt perturbed. I didn’t know what I should do. Do you know what crossed my mind? I felt that a living thing had come to me for love and affection. I hadn’t the heart to drive it out’. He returns to the village some months later to find the donkey has become an object of mounting frustration and resentment. Uma gets pregnant but loses the baby. When a priest discover its discarded corpse, he mobilizes the other priests, shouting ‘It’s a curse to find a baby’s corpse in the temple!’. When they summon Uma’s mother, she blames the donkey. The priests decide the donkey ‘has polluted the temple’. ‘Even when driven out of here, this donkey manages to return. There is only one solution—to kill it’, says the headman. As the villagers grab hold of the young donkey and drag it away, beating it as they do so, the voice-over says, ‘Tell me, where is Hari the God? Tell me, growled Hiranya. The good son replied, He is in the pillar and in every particle of dust…God is the sum total of each and every thing’. They go back to tell the priests they’ve killed the donkey. But some days later they see a donkey wandering on the hill. Miracles start happening. The priests now change their story. The headman says, ‘At a glance I saw a donkey lit with divinity on the child’s face…Everyone must contribute to the temple and help us build it. We’ll then be worthy of Lord Shiva’s blessings’. N. overhears this conversation among the Brahmins. He goes looking for Uma and finds her mourning. He tries to console her. He goes home and reads. Beside him on the bed is a book with Che’s picture on the cover. The voice-over says, ‘Reciting verses from Poet Bharati’s Dance of Doom’, after which a long sequence follows where Bharati’s poem is recited against rapidly alternating shots of N. and Uma and the refrain ‘O Mother, the dance that you execute captures my heart’. At the very end the killers are shown dancing frantically around the donkey’s skull. The verses with which the director started the film return at the end. ‘Fire is the god of heroism. Fire is the flaming sun. Fire is the essence of light. May it burn…Virtue, wisdom, life, penance, sacrifice, enmity, anger, oppression—we pay homage to all these qualities of fire…Fire, which is life’s comrade, we greet you…Like you, O Fire, may our minds sparkle.’
The apocalyptic dance poem that John Abraham recites close to the end of the film is taken, as he tells his viewers, from Oozhi-k-Koottu or ‘Dance of Dissolution’ by Subrahmanya Bharati. Bharati was the most revolutionary of the early 20th century Tamil writers. Although known also by his pen-name ‘Shelley-dasan’ from his deep admiration for Shelley, his political writings were banned by the British as ‘sedition’. He died in poverty in 1921 at the age of 39 , after writing seven hundred pages of poetry that were destined to have a profound impact on Tamil culture. Bharati himself had welcomed the Russian Revolution, writing ‘O people of the world, behold this new wonder!...It was like a forest reduced to firewood by a whirlwind’.
To describe Agraharathil Kazhuthai as a ‘delightful satire about Brahmin bigotry and superstition through a helpless donkey’ misses the point of the film. The film is not about caste per se but about caste as emblematic of wider cultural attitudes. Abraham’s Brahmins are simply emblems of a more widespread lack of humanity that defines India’s society and culture. Thus the intellectual /protagonist who adopts the donkey is himself a Brahmin, which immediately breaks with any caste essentialism the film might otherwise suggest. The killers of the young donkey are not Brahmins either, but probably Vellalas. The passenger on the bus who objects to having a donkey being transported is your average Joe. Seen in this light, Abraham’s film is almost a Christian parable about the brutality that is bound to characterize societies that build their superiority on the oppression of others. And read in a more political way, it advocates an alliance between revolutionary intellectuals (or let’s say the most progressive sections of the middle class more widely) and women. It is no accident that a woman plays the part of the deaf mute. And no accident either that she and Narayana Swamy are the only characters shown as truly capable of love. To my mind the film is a parable about the future that was waiting obscurely to explode in the years and decades after Abraham fell to his death.
A restored and complete version of the film can be seen here:

Re: Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time? (Boston Globe)

Roger Kulp

The Soviet Union was simply the greatest country that ever existred,period.

Re: Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time? (Boston Globe)

Roger Kulp


Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time?

The dream of central economic planning died with the USSR. Thirty years later, technologies for matching supply and demand are a reality in America — as is the potential for surveillance Lenin and Stalin could only have dreamed of.

By Marcel FafchampsUpdated March 24, 2021, 9:22 a.m.
A Soviet poster from 1918 that urged women to work on cooperative farms.
A Soviet poster from 1918 that urged women to work on cooperative farms.WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

When the Soviet Union was created, beginning in 1917, its rulers wanted all profits, all returns to capital, to accrue to the state. This would not have been possible with decentralized markets, since the state could not know the profits made by individual entities, regardless of whether they were privately or publicly owned. This, they anticipated, would lead to underreporting of income and defeat the rulers’ objective. To circumvent this problem, they turned to scientific planning to replace the market with algorithms.

Production units were asked to declare their plans and capacities. Retail chains were asked to project the demand for consumer goods. Government ministries were asked to stipulate their needs for investment in various kinds of infrastructure. These numbers were then put together in matrices, and a mathematical method known as linear programming was used to optimize the allocation of workers and productive capacity so as to achieve the objective of the plan at the lowest resource cost.

While this system could more or less handle large planned investments in heavy industry — steel mills, coal mines, and the like — it was woefully insufficient at handling consumers’ demand for varied goods and services once the Soviet economy started to develop. The problem was that the rulers at the time had only simple mathematical algorithms and no computers. Running an entire complex economy via algorithm was simply not feasible. This probably explains why after several Eastern European countries fell into the orbit of the Soviet Union in the late 1940s, some of them did not even attempt to adopt its full-fledged central planning system and instead allowed a modicum of market exchange to remain. By the time the Soviet Union was disbanded in the early 1990s, its central planning system of exchange was judged a failure, and it was rapidly replaced with a decentralized market system.

Re: Atlanta

Farans Kalosar

On Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 03:12 PM, Mark Lause wrote:
You're confused auto correct w spell check

On Mon, Mar 22, 2021, 1:32 PM <fkalosar101@...> wrote:
On Sun, Mar 21, 2021 at 07:58 PM, Mark Lause wrote:
Who's for organizing a mass demonstration against the developers of auto-correct?
I'm opposed.  When I was working in the tech writer gig economy, my ultimate revenge against a bad employer would have been to  run auto-correct and accept all the suggested changes before handing in my badge and keyboard.

I never did this, but believe that auto-correct is an important potential weapon in the arsenal of the verbal working class.

 What a halfassed comment.  Are you drunk?

Any form of editing s/w function that performs word substitution or replacement can referred to as auto-correct.  QED.

If you're going to indulge in personal animus, at least get your facts straight.  Otherwise stick to history.

The US military is poisoning communities across the US with toxic chemicals

Louis Proyect

"Who is responsible, who for is to blame, for the recent surge of border-crossers"

John A Imani

(JAI: This crisis at the US/Mexican border and similars around the world came and come about because of the deformation of the many local economies by European and American imperialism.

The natural economies were geared towards the satisfaction of many, most, all needs, of the people who populate them. Western colonialism deformed many nations into single crop (bananas, coffee, minerals) economies of scale that were geared towards the production of profit and not the satisfaction of local needs. On this see Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”.

Thus the great migrations around the world share similar origins and, by that, share similar solutions: redevelopment of the local economies (with the aid of appropriate modern technology). i.e. with real foreign aid from the colonial powers who enriched themselves while simultaneously impoverishing the indigenous populations.)

Chief Joseph on borders:

<<“The Earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was. The country was made with no lines of demarcation, and it's no man's business to divide it. I see the whites all over the country gaining wealth, and I see the desire to give us lands which are worthless.

The Earth and myself are of one mind. Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the creator, I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me.

Do not misunderstand me; but understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to return to yours.

Brother, we have listened to your talk coming from our father, the Great White Chief in Washington, and my people have called upon me to reply to you:

'The winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of departed ghosts, and if the voice of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done. But alas though they stood around they could neither be seen nor heard. Their tears fell like drops of rain.

I hear my voice in the depths of the forest but no answering voice comes back to me. All is silent around me. My words must therefore be few. I can now say no more. He is silent for he has nothing to answer when the sun goes down.'”>

In 1877, Chief Joseph formally surrendered to U.S. troops after he and his tribe, the Nez Perce, fought and outmaneuvered their enemies during a three-month-long, 1,400-mile retreat along the West in hopes of reaching Canada.

Geronimo. Cochise. Sitting Bull. Red Cloud. Crazy Horse. Chief Joseph. Out of the great Native American chiefs and warriors who represented bravery, leadership, strength, and military skill, Chief Joseph was known for his heart.

On October 5, 1877, his speech, as he surrendered to General Howard, immortalized him in American history forever: 

<<"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, 'Yes' or 'No.' He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.">>

From Joe Hill to Hollywood — the rediscovery of Alfred Hayes | Nick Matthews | The Morning Star

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo

From Joe Hill to Hollywood — the rediscovery of Alfred Hayes

NICK MATTHEWS looks at the life of the communist who wrote the famous working-class poem I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night and finds a talented screenwriter and novelist

MANY readers of the Morning Star will know by heart the words of Alfred Hayes’s most famous poem, although they could be more familiar with it as set to music by Earl Robinson and as song by left luminaries like Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson or Joan Baez.

That great celebration of the state-murdered IWW activist, I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night, was originally a poem by Hayes.

Hayes was born in Whitechapel on April 11 1911 to working-class, left-wing Jewish family who moved to New York when he was three.

As soon as he graduated from New York’s City College he joined the Communist Party and worked in many blue-collar jobs.

He was already writing poems and some of them found a home in left-wing publications like the New Masses and the Partisan Review.

More comfortable with working-class people, he was described at this time by historian Alan Wald in his work on New York intellectuals, to be the “Byron of the poolhalls.”

According to Vivian Gornick, he maintained this brooding, darkly intense Marxism and his awareness of the class struggle all his life.

On landing a job as crime reporter on one of the New York tabloids, he developed the skills that would produce at least a dozen screenplays and seven novels.

His wartime service saw him in Italy and his experiences in allied-occupied Rome provided the backdrop of his first novels.

All Thy Conquests (1947) is set over one day in September 1944, the day of the trial of fascist Pietro Caruso, head of the Italian police during the final part of the war.

Together with the German Gestapo chief Hebert Kappler, he had organised the Fosse Ardeatine massacre of 355 people many belonging to a communist resistance group.

Caruso was sentenced to be shot in the back. Scenes of his execution were captured by British Pathe news.

Hayes stayed in Italy and became a screenwriter in that wonderful post-war blossoming of realist Italian cinema.

After the success of his film Rome Open City, Roberto Rossellini produced an episodic film, Paisan (1946), covering the end of the war in Italy from the allied invasion.

Hayes wrote one of the episodes based on his earlier novel and it earned him an Academy Award nomination.

His other work at this time included uncredited writing on Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948), ranked at the time as the greatest film ever made by Sight & Sound.

Hayes then made his way to Hollywood, gaining writing credits on The Lusty Men (1952), directed by Nicolas Ray, and the film adaption of the Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill musical Lost in the Stars (1974), an adaption of an adaption being originally based on Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, The Beloved Country.

In between he worked on numerous TV series, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Twilight Zone, Nero Wolfe and Mannix — everyone must make a living after all.

Today, however, Hayes is best remembered for his trilogy of novels informed by his time as a screenwriter, In Love (1958), My Face for the World to See (1958) and the End of Me (1968).

These books have been beautifully republished by the New York Review of Books with introductions by Frederic Raphael, David Thomson and Paul Bailey consecutively.

Despite being a mid-level studio hack, his time in Hollywood was not wasted as it gave him the experience and language for these short but mesmerising novels.

They tell the story of the shallowness and emptiness of the Hollywood dream. He articulates how alienation poisons personal relationships and how even success is just another kind of failure.

In My Face in the World he has the narrator explain: “There was something finally ludicrous, finally unimpressive about even the people who had all the things so coveted by all the people who did not have them.”

What’s more, he says, “There was something sinister about the way these people lived.”

Gornick, author of the Romance of American Communism (1977), points out in her review of these novels that it “struck Hayes forcibly that the Hollywood obsession with making it was responsible for some of the most soul-destroying behaviour humanity was capable of.

“If you were successful you could and did inflict horrifying humiliations on those who where not: if you were on the outside wanting in, you were capable of prostituting yourself to an equally degrading extent.”

As Hayes himself put it, “The town was full of people lying in bed thinking with an intense, an inexhaustible and almost raging passion of becoming famous if they weren’t already famous and even more famous if they were; or of becoming wealthy if they weren’t already wealthy or wealthier if they were.”

Hayes died in 1985. These novels exposing the dark underbelly of contemporary celebrity are his greatest legacy.

Re: Was the Soviet Union an idea ahead of its time? (Boston Globe)

Joseph Green

Just as computers and just-in-time manufacturing haven't eliminated cut-throat
competition and anarchy of production in Western capitalism, so the problem with
the Soviet economy under Stalin and subsequently wasn't mainly lack of
computational ability. The article by Marcel Fafchamps says that "this system
could more or less handle large planned investments in heavy industry", but in
fact the anarchy manifested itself sharply in heavy industry as well as elsewhere.
There was an anarchy of production due to the competing interests of the
different sections of the bureaucracy; this has occurred over and over again
under state-capitalism. And this is why the greater the computational ability in the
Soviet Union, and the more sophisticated the mathematics, the more the anarchy

See "The anarchy of production behind the veneer of Soviet revisionist planning"
(March 1997) at

On 25 Mar 2021 at 6:03, Jim Farmelant wrote:

The dream of central economic planning died
with the USSR. Thirty years later,
technologies for matching supply and
demand are a reality in America - as is the
potential for surveillance Lenin and Stalin
could only have dreamed of.
By Marcel FafchampsUpdated March 24, 2021, 9:22 a.m.

But such algorithms now do much more than simply matching
individuals or firms based on their stated preferences: They also
forecast demand. Artificial intelligence and big data make it
to predict preferences at the individual level in real time, thereby
enabling algorithms to facilitate trade by reducing consumers´
costs. This is achieved by collecting vast amounts of individual
often without anyone being aware of how revealing this data is about
their political views, sexual orientation, health conditions,
activity, wealth, and income. Not even the East German Stasi or the
Romanian Securitate could have dreamed that such information
would be surrendered without resistance.
So where do we stand? We are at a crossroads. The technology
necessary to put in place a centrally planned police state is now a
reality. Whether this technology is used for this purpose is but a
matter of time. At the end of last year, Jack Ma, the creator of
Alibaba, went missing for three months. We later learned that he had
been chastised by the Chinese authorities for announcing an
ambitious plan that would have strengthened Alibaba´s position in
economy. This warning shot only serves to remind us that algorithms
of exchange can one day fall under direct or indirect government
control. Alternatively, private interests could just as easily
on this technology for huge private gain.

The question then is: How can we protect civil liberties in the face
these enormous challenges while continuing to enjoy the benefits
that all these algorithms generate? This is the biggest question
us today. How we resolve it will determine how we - and our
children -will live tomorrow.
Marcel Fafchamps, an economist at Stanford University, is senior
fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
This article was updated on March 24 to clarify the reference to the
Soviet Union´s creation.

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H-Net Review [H-War]: McGuffie on Genay, 'Land of Nuclear Enchantment: A New Mexican History of the Nuclear Weapons Industry'

Andrew Stewart

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: March 25, 2021 at 9:57:38 AM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]:  McGuffie on Genay, 'Land of Nuclear Enchantment: A New Mexican History of the Nuclear Weapons Industry'
Reply-To: h-review@...

Lucie Genay.  Land of Nuclear Enchantment: A New Mexican History of
the Nuclear Weapons Industry.  Albuquerque  University of New Mexico
Press, 2019.  344 pp.  $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8263-6013-7.

Reviewed by Joshua McGuffie (UCLA)
Published on H-War (March, 2021)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Los Alamos, a shining laboratory city upon a hill. Alamogordo, the
test site in the heart of an inhospitable desert wasteland. Sandia
Labs, a weapons assembly line at home amid Albuquerque's suburban
sprawl. Countless adits and shafts dotting the hills, gateways into
vast uranium deposits near towns like Grants and Shiprock. The Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant, a great tomb for transuranic waste bored out
of a massive subterranean salt formation. More pervasively than any
other state, New Mexico bears the imprint of American atomic
aspirations on its landscape.

In _Land of Nuclear Enchantment_ Lucie Genay crafts an overtly
nuclear history of New Mexico. She relies on oral histories, using a
host of personal reflections and reminiscences to move her narrative
along. Genay brings an outsider's sensibilities to the work. She left
her native France to spend a year studying in the state. The
University of New Mexico put its mark on her project. Many of her
oral histories come from the university's 1991 "Impact Los Alamos:
Traditional New Mexico in the High Tech World" project, directed by
Carlos Vásquez. Of all the book's contributions to the literature,
the broad swath of firsthand stories stands out.  

Genay thinks in terms of conquest and colonization to do her
analytical work. In her scheme, the labs, factories, mines, and
repositories that dot the New Mexican landscape make up the material
stuff of a scientific conquest. The social and economic interactions
between New Mexicans--Native American, Hispano, and Anglo--and the
nuclear émigrés to the state exist in a colonial framework in which
"the federal government ... imposed outcomes according to the logics
of military priorities" (p. 14). Thinking in this way, Genay stands
squarely in the tradition of new Western historians working to
spotlight men and women who have been left out of canonical
histories. "Local residents," she reminds her readers, "have
contributed to the success of the Labs, to the profits made by the
uranium industry ... to America's military supremacy, and to the
advancement of science" (p. 5).  

The story starts out rosy enough. Genay walks her readers through New
Mexico's agrarian past. Then she explains how Native Americans living
in pueblos in the Española Valley and Hispano farmers, whose
ancestors came to the New World when Madrid governed the territory,
experienced economic opportunities when Los Alamos opened. Of course,
these locals never could compete for top-flight jobs "on the Hill."
Still, federal largesse--the nuclear golden goose--meant employment
and stability. South of the vaunted lab, Anglo ranchers gave up their
homesteads for the expanding White Sands Proving Ground with the
promise of compensation and an eventual postwar return to their
property. In their loss, many felt they were doing their patriotic

The July 16, 1945, Trinity Test made wartime contingencies permanent.
Ranchers learned they would not go home. Los Alamos grew, drawing a
new host of scientists  to the site. Sandia Lab popped up on the edge
of Albuquerque to complement Los Alamos. The atom and its social
consequences were in New Mexico to stay.  

But the lustrous new nuclear installations quickly tarnished under
the desert sun. Genay documents how, for Native American and Hispano
workers at Los Alamos, the lack of opportunity for them and their
children to move up in the corporate structure began to displace a
sense that the lab had lifted them out of agrarian poverty. Even as
educational opportunities opened up for local New Mexicans in the
1950s, a feeling of inferiority remained when they compared
themselves to the Anglos recruited from out of state to work at the

As the decades passed, new health and environmental concerns became
part and parcel of the atomic project in New Mexico. Native American
uranium miners and millers in the west of the state began to get
sick. Children who grew up near Alamogordo experienced uncommon
cancers. New cancers cropped up around Los Alamos too, where children
played in old waste dumps with names like Acid Canyon. Workers whose
economic livelihoods relied on the atomic establishment began to ask
questions. Many received unsatisfying answers from lab administrators
and federal nuclear bureaucrats. Genay recounts one Native American
worker at Los Alamos saying, "in the old days, LANL [Los Alamos
National Laboratory] workers were given cigarettes at pay day, sort
of like a bonus. Now, the Lab blames the cancer on the smoking" (p.

Genay's story is ultimately one of disenchantment with the nuclear
program and its constellation of labs, plants, test sites, mines, and
waste dumps across New Mexico. Proponents of the nuclear program will
likely find fault with her ultimate analysis that its costs outweigh
its benefits. Nuclear detractors will find a welcome addition to the
literature. Regardless of the reader's viewpoint, Genay's
contribution of so many oral histories in this piece enhances the
depth and breadth of atomic history in New Mexico and the West.  

Citation: Joshua McGuffie. Review of Genay, Lucie, _Land of Nuclear
Enchantment: A New Mexican History of the Nuclear Weapons Industry_.
H-War, H-Net Reviews. March, 2021.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

H-Net Review [H-War]: LeBlanc on Robertson and Tucker and Breyfogle and Mansoor, 'Nature at War: American Environments and World War II'

Andrew Stewart

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: March 25, 2021 at 9:57:59 AM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]: LeBlanc on Robertson and Tucker and Breyfogle and Mansoor, 'Nature at War: American Environments and World War II'
Reply-To: h-review@...

Thomas Robertson, Richard P. Tucker, Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Peter
Mansoor, eds.  Nature at War: American Environments and World War II.
Cambridge  Cambridge University Press, 2020.  xxi + 375 pp.  $32.99
(paper), ISBN 978-1-108-41207-0; $99.99 (cloth), ISBN

Reviewed by Christina LeBlanc (Tulane University)
Published on H-War (March, 2021)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

While much has been written about the military, political, economic,
social, and cultural ramifications of World War II, the environmental
ramifications of "the largest and most destructive conflict in human
history" remain understudied (p. xv). _Nature at War: American
Environments and World War II _is the first comprehensive examination
of US involvement in World War II from an environmental perspective.
Edited by Thomas Robertson, Richard P. Tucker, Nicholas B. Breyfogle,
and Peter Mansoor, this collection illustrates how the war resulted
in vast changes to US environments. This volume emphasizes how the
need for supplies, including weaponry, food, and cigarettes,
militarized landscapes far removed from the battlefield in Europe and
the Pacific, and in so doing marked American landscapes for decades
to come.

The chapters in this anthology explore twelve dimensions of the
"wartime environmental experience of the United States" (p. 14). The
book is organized into six parts, including the importance of
transportation networks and military bases, the procurement of metal
and oil, the expansion of industrialized food industries, the
advances in chemical and atomic sciences, and the way total war
reshaped the thinking of conservationists. The bulk of environmental
history written about World War II focuses on atomic power and the
development of the bomb; however, this volume advocates for a more
comprehensive understanding of how the war years fundamentally
reshaped the natural landscapes of the continental United States from
its cities, to its rail and road systems, to its foodways, to its
tobacco farms and coastal lowlands.

Much of this anthology relies on reinterpreting existent World War II
scholarship from an environmental perspective. Within this excellent
volume, Kellen Backer's chapter on the military's shift toward
processed foods to "liberate food from typical environmental
restraints" and Sarah S. Elkind's chapter on oil drilling, land use,
and community organizing around smog prevention stand out (p. 177).
In addition, Robertson's final chapter on the shifting perceptions of
nature and environmentalism during and directly after the war
reintegrates World War II into a rich historiography of US
intellectual history and twentieth-century environmental movements.

A major strength of this collection is its emphasis on the long-term
ramifications of wartime decisions regarding US production and
geography. Robertson and Tucker assert that national security and a
technology-driven economy largely drove the cultural shifts that
shaped the second half of the twentieth century. The primacy of
victory and the US goal of becoming the "arsenal of democracy," they
argue, allowed for a "reckless disregard for environmental
consequences" that complicated the postwar economic boom and created
a military material culture that lasted long after the war (p. 11).

The editors might have improved this already thought-provoking
anthology by including essays on US colonial outposts or overseas
bases. Its tight focus on the continental United States obscures the
transnational impacts of war on nature. Scholars of US empire may
find something lacking here in regard to the relatively unquestioned
primacy of the continental states as the extent of the United States.
Discussion on US territories and their significance to the war effort
is an omission of this collection. Including analyses of Guam, Puerto
Rico, or the Pacific Islands would have added to the authors'
arguments, since the environmental ramifications of the war on these
territories have shaped their health outcomes and activist causes for

_Nature at War _makes an important contribution to the already-rich
historiography of World War II on the home front and pushes
historians to rethink the ramifications of the war on US citizens'
relationship to the natural world. Environmental historians,
historians of US foreign relations, historians of twentieth-century
US society and culture, and military historians all will find
something of interest here. While the chapters in this book often
deal with well-known moments in history--the invasion at Normandy,
the Manhattan Project, or the growth of the mid-century Sun Belt--the
feat of this volume is reinterpreting these events from an
environmental lens, allowing old stories to tell us, as historians,
something new.

Citation: Christina LeBlanc. Review of Robertson, Thomas; Tucker,
Richard P.; Breyfogle, Nicholas B.; Mansoor, Peter, eds., _Nature at
War: American Environments and World War II_. H-War, H-Net Reviews.
March, 2021.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

H-Net Review [H-War]: Lee on Hammond, 'China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centering Islam in World War II'

Andrew Stewart

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: March 25, 2021 at 9:58:03 AM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]:  Lee on Hammond, 'China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centering Islam in World War II'
Reply-To: h-review@...

Kelly A. Hammond.  China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centering
Islam in World War II.  Chapel Hill  University of North Carolina
Press, 2020.  314 pp.  $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-4696-5965-7.

Reviewed by Seok-Won Lee (Rhodes College)
Published on H-War (March, 2021)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Hammond's book is an important contribution to the study of the
cultural and intellectual history of the Japanese Empire.
Acknowledging recent works on Pan-Asianism in Japanese history,
_China's Muslims and Japan's Empire_ probes the question of how
Islamic communities in China encountered Japan and its empire
building in the 1930s and 1940s. Hammond's narrative powerfully
engages the audience since this book is not confined to a
conventional institutionalist approach--that is, how a colonial
empire integrated the colonized through top-down policies. Instead,
this work first pays attention to the hybrid identity and culture of
the Muslim population in China and then focuses on the tense and
provocative relations between Muslim communities in China and
Southeast Asia and imperial Japan. Through this, the author attempts
to challenge the perception of Asian culture and religion in which
the presence of Islamic believers has been largely neglected.

Throughout the book, the author well demonstrates the intertwined
presence of Muslim communities in twentieth-century Asian history.
The author acknowledges that "Islam and Muslims were never central to
imperial Japan's initiatives and decision making," and that they were
considered as part of an "add-on" (p. 149) in Japan's grand Pan-Asian
strategy. However, Hammond's work reveals the subtle and crucial
presence of Sino-Muslims and Islamic believers in Southeast Asia
during the tumultuous time period of 1931-45.

Hammond offers two different groups of Muslins within Asia. According
to the author, Sino-Muslims had undergone a dynamic identity
formation. While they were under the influence of Han
Chinese-oriented politics and culture championed by Sino-centrism,
they also showed their religious adherence to Arabic language and
culture. This hybridity is well described in this book, and the
author makes the convincing point that Sino-Muslims maintained
cooperative and conflicting relations with both the Nationalist
government in China and imperial Japan. The Japanese Empire
constantly approached a small but important number of Sino-Muslim
communities to make them a showcase of Japan's Pan-Asian empire
building. Imperial Japan offered several "inclusive" gestures to
Sino-Muslims, including educational opportunities in China and Japan,
while imperial policymakers in wartime Japan were reluctant to
instill Japanese identity into the minds and culture of Sino-Muslims.

The nuanced relation between Sino-Muslims and imperial Japan became
increasingly complex, as most Southeast Asian countries were under
Japan's control in the early 1940s. Hammond argues that Muslims in
Southeast Asia showed less intensive national identities, and this
provided Japan with a different basis from which to propagandize its
Pan-Asian rhetoric. The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was
logically associated with Pan-Islamism, and imperial Japan
disseminated its deceptive but highly tempting rhetoric of the
"liberation of Southeast Asia" from European colonialism, which had
been hostile to Islamic culture. Hammond makes the point that the
logic of liberation was not simply empty rhetoric, since a number of
Muslims in Southeast Asia accepted Japan as a liberator.
Nevertheless, Muslim communities in Southeast Asia still cast a
dubious eye on the Japanese Empire, perceiving its real nature.
Malayan Islamic believers, for example, still maintained close ties
to the Nationalist government in mainland China. Under these
circumstances, imperial Japan revealed its explicit motivation to
integrate Southeast Asia into the Japanese Empire. As is well known,
the wartime economy of oil necessitated Japan's bold moves to put
Southeast Asia under its control in the early 1940s.

In chapters 4 and 5, the author provides interesting stories about
how Muslims in Southeast Asia were approached quite differently from
Sino-Muslims by the Japanese Empire. While opportunities for
Sino-Muslims were confined to supporting their businesses or helping
them visit the Middle East, imperial Japan became increasingly
aggressive in dealing with Muslim communities in Southeast Asia.
Offering Japanese-language education was an obvious example of this,
indicating that Muslim communities in Southeast Asia had to take the
question of becoming "Japanese" more seriously than Sino-Muslims. In
addition to education and cultural policies, Japan also utilized its
existing tea trade network to penetrate the everyday life of Muslim
communities in Southeast Asia. Here, the author argues that
Sino-Muslims played an important role in linking imperial Japan to
Muslims in Southeast Asia through the tea business. The tea
connection between Sino and Southeast Asian Muslims and imperial
Japan provides an important insight for a more intertwined history of
tea in modern East Asia. The final chapter of this book attempts to
draw a broader picture of how Muslim communities in China and Inner
Asia, Afghans in particular, emerged as a crucial geopolitical factor
amid the ideological and cultural conflicts between Caucasian states
and fascist regimes, including imperial Japan.

All in all, anyone interested in the history of Muslim communities in
wartime Asia will find this work valuable. As the author shares in
her epilogue the contemporary aspect of the marginalization of
Islamic believers in China in the name of "Islamophobia," this book
is a must-read for those eager to develop a critical perspective
concerning how war and politics first appropriated minority religious
communities and how these communities responded to state power and
imperial violence.

Citation: Seok-Won Lee. Review of Hammond, Kelly A., _China's Muslims
and Japan's Empire: Centering Islam in World War II_. H-War, H-Net
Reviews. March, 2021.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

Sylvia Pankhurst

Ken Hiebert

The London Review of Books, March 4, carries a review of a new book on Pankhurst by Rachel Holmes, Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel.   I’ll let someone more adept than myself link you to that review.

Interesting to know that, as a child, Pankhurst listened to conversations in her family home with Peter Kropotkin and Louise Michel.

ken h

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