Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Website for The Communist Party of Oklahoma

After a brief hiatus, we have re-established a web presence! After the old website expired and was replaced by a Chinese pop blog (, a new website was created for the Oklahoma district, and though it remains a work in progress, it will be the new home on the internet for the CPOK.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boycott the Elections! - Leaflet of the Communist Party of America, 1920

It is the duty of every class-conscious worker in America to boycott the coming elections. A worker’s vote cast for any of the parties or their candidates standing for election — is a vote for reaction or reform! Whether it be the Republican Party and Harding or the Democratic Party and Cox — whether it be the Farm Labor Party and Christensen, the Socialist Party and Debs, or the Socialist Labor and Cox — a worker’s vote cast for any of these parties or their candidates IS A VOTE TO PERPETUATE THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM BASED UPON WAGE SLAVERY and the ROBBERY OF YOUR CLASS. IT IS A VOTE TO STRENGTHEN THE CAPITALIST GOVERNMENT — BY MEANS OF WHICH THE WORKING CLASS IS KEPT IN SUBJECTION BY LIES, FRAUD, DECEPTION, FORCE, AND VIOLENCE.

Do you workers want to perpetuate your own class slavery? Do you want to maintain and strengthen the capitalist government which has shown by its every act that it is nothing but the tool of the capitalist class and acts against the working class every time?
Then cast your vote in the coming elections! If you believe in capitalist wars in which the workers are called upon to lay down their lives for the profit of the master class — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in the high cost of living — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in being LOCKED OUT BY the BOSS — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in being clubbed and shot by the police and soldiers of the capitalist government — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in lynching — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in deportation of radical workers — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in NATIONWIDE RAIDS UPON REVOLUTIONARY WORKING CLASS ORGANIZATION — vote in the coming elections!

If you believe in DESTROYING SOVIET RUSSIA — vote in the coming elections!

If you believe in supporting REACTIONARY POLAND against the free workers and peasants’ government of Russia — vote in the coming elections! If you believe in sending arms, ammunition, and supplies to the enemies of Soviet Russia — vote in the coming elections!

If you believe in perpetuating prostitution, crime, child labor, and the thousand-and-one economic evils from which the masses in this country are suffering — vote in the coming elections!

A vote cast in the coming elections for any political party now in the field — is a vote in favor of the capitalist class and against the working class! The Republican and Democratic parties stand openly for the capitalist class — whose economic interests they represent. The Farm Labor Party stands for Government Ownership and Reform — which leads to State Capitalism — strengthens the capitalist system and keeps the working class chained in wage-slavery. The Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party pretend they are for the abolition of capitalism and the emancipation of the workers from wage-slavery, but actually, by adopting wrong tactics support the lies and deception of capitalist “democracy” and help to fasten these lies upon the workers — thus aiding the capitalist class in preventing the workers from taking independent class action for their own emancipation. These reform parties fool the workers by telling them that the capitalist system can be abolished PEACEFULLY. This is a lie! AN OUTRAGEOUS, DAMNABLE LIE! The capitalist system cannot be abolished peacefully — whether by the ballot box or any other method.

The present capitalist government is nothing but the concealed dictatorship of the capitalist class. Its army, navy, courts, police, bureaucracy, schools, press, church, etc. are the instruments through which the capitalist class perpetuate the lies of capitalist “democracy” and club and shoot you into submission when you wake up and attempt to resist their domination!
Every intelligent worker knows that so long as the capitalist class owns and controls the organs of publicity, of teaching and moulding the minds of the workers — the workers cannot free themselves.

Every intelligent worker also knows that no capitalist class ever gave up its power without a violent struggle. Look across at Europe and see how the ruling classes are striving by every possible means to keep the workers down! See how the German capitalist class combines with “yellow” Socialist to crush every uprising of the German workers! See how the Hungarian capitalist class, with the assistance of the “yellow” Socialist, destroys the workers organization, throws them into jails, places them against the wall to face firing squads, shoots, hangs, and slays without mercy!

See how the French capitalist class tried to destroy the workers organizations! How they suppress the revolts of their soldiers who are called upon to fight in Russia, Siberia, and Africa and who refuse — see how they shoot the workers down in strikes or demonstrations! Look at bloody England! One hundred thousand troops, fully armed, are sent into Ireland to suppress the Irish revolt. Thousands of soldiers are busy shooting defenseless Indian natives whose only crime is that they desire freedom from the rule of Britain. In Arabia, Turkey, wherever English colonies are rising up against the merciless rule of England — the English capitalist class uses FORCE to crush them!
And when the English workers themselves, who are beginning to think, act, make up their minds to destroy the capitalist government, the English capitalist class will use its troops and machine guns against them no less readily than it uses them against the natives of the colonies.
In Japan, Italy, Finland, everywhere the same thing occurs. Do you American workers believe that the American capitalist class is more tenderhearted than the European capitalist class?
Forget it! The American capitalist class is the richest, most powerful and reactionary class in the world. Just look at the history of the class struggle in the United States. At every step in the struggle of the workers to better their conditions the capitalist class and its government met them with persecution, repression, and oppression unequaled in all history. Homestead — Ludlow — Calumet — West Virginia — Paterson — Lawrence — McKees Rock — Seattle — Butte — these are only a few of the tragic milestones that mark the struggle of the American working class for BREAD — JUST BREAD! Or take the Longshoremen Strike — the Coal Strike — the Steel Strike — with its injunction, martial law, raids, deportations, and arrests — does this look as if the American capitalist class will ever give up its power without a bitter and violent struggle?



Learn from your Russian and European brothers! The Communist Party of America — the only revolutionary working class political party — is the only party that stands for the emancipation for the working class from wage slavery! The Communist Party advocates mass action of the armed workers in an armed insurrection and civil war as the ONLY means of conquering political power for the workers, destroying the capitalist government, and establishing a Workers’ Government — A Soviet Government — the dictatorship of the Proletariat — as the ONLY MEANS OF ABOLISHING the capitalist system and emancipating the working class from WAGE SLAVERY. In order to bring this message before the masses of the American working class the Communist Party will utilize every weapon at its disposal for propaganda and agitation. It accepts participation in election campaigns and parliamentary activity as one of these weapons — but for revolutionary propaganda and agitation only. The Communist Party, however, will abstain from parliamentary activity whenever conditions make such a course necessary.

The Communist Party will have to boycott the coming elections, for reasons which are familiar to every informed worker. The Communist Party has been outlawed by the capitalist government and declared illegal in capitalist courts. Its leaders are all under indictment or in jail. Thousands of its members are held for deportation or trial. Under such conditions the Communist Party could not participate in the coming election and carry its revolutionary propaganda and agitation directly to the workers at shop meetings and hall meetings or debates with the “yellow” Socialists before the workers and show them up as a bunch of vote-seeking reformers.

The Communist Party will have to carry on its propaganda through its underground leaflets, literature, and press until the workers of America become class-conscious and compel the capitalist government to keep its hands off it. Therefore, because the Communist Party is the only revolutionary political working class party — and because this party has boycotted the coming elections — WE, YOUR FELLOW WORKERS AND COMRADES of the COMMUNIST PARTY OF AMERICA CALL UPON YOU THE WORKERS OF AMERICA to boycott THE COMING ELECTIONS!
- The Communist Party of America.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Obama or Romney?

Obama 2012 = More Murdered Children
Romney 2012 = More Murdered Children




Sunday, August 5, 2012


Tulsa World acts as management’s mouthpiece

By Daniel Lee
Mayor Dewey Bartlett continued his war against Public workers last week, using the local newspaper as his platform to slander city workers. Bartlett is quoted in a Tulsa World article (July 30, “City of Tulsa's 'weak safety culture' costs millions in employee injuries, claims” by Randy Krehbiel) as stating that public employees have a “weak safety culture”, after city management ordered a $71,000 safety report from DuPont “Sustainable Solutions” which gave the city a score of .9 on a 0-5 safety scale. The article also contains numerous graphs and statistics with such statements as “Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they ‘have had no involvement at all with any safety activities.’” It certainly paints a bleak picture, offering staggering figures of injuries and Workers’ Compensation claims, lack of accountability and unsafe work practices.

What the article fails to mention is that AFSCME International, and Tulsa Local 1180, have repeatedly offered to conduct safety training classes for the past 5 years, but the proposals have been rejected each time by city management. In fact, the city has been stonewalling all safety requests made by the union submitted in the City Safety and Health Management Committee, which was originally designed to be a forum for workers and management to come together in a non-adversarial atmosphere to work out issues related to such matters. Union local president Mike Rider told the Oklahoma Workers Monthly that the union has been repeatedly requesting OSHA-rated safety eyewear for the workers, which would cost approximately $60 per pair, but has been turned down each time for over a year by the management on the committee.  Yet, despite claims of “budget shortfalls”, the mayor spent $71,000 on the DuPont report. This is the same DuPont, incidentally, which has been repeatedly fined by the EPA for toxic waste dumping - endangering over 7 million people’s lives in the areas around their chemical plants – and has a well-documented history of union busting, health and safety violations, and created an industrial disaster in India, using local police to suppress protesters and murder a 25 year-old activist. 

The reporting by the Tulsa World was clearly-one sided and designed to paint public workers in the worst light possible. When contacted by the Oklahoma Worker’s Monthly about the article, Tulsa World writer Randy Krehbiel admitted that he had not even bothered to contact the union about the issue, and had approached the article believing the underlying issue to be the falsification of workers’ compensation reports and fraud by city workers. Krehbiel was urged to contact the union’s president and get both sides of the story. The next day, an editorial was published by Tulsa World staff editors, restating the need for safety issues to be addressed, citing the lack of accountability as the problem. There was no mention of AFSCME’s attempts to set up safety training or the most basic of safety equipment requests being denied by city management.

Bartlett’s attack on union workers comes as no surprise. In 2010, Bartlett commissioned an efficiency review by KPMG, an auditing and efficiency consulting firm, to study and recommend areas to cut costs and “increase efficiency” in city government and services. KPMG, it may be noted, is a multi-national corporation whose influence reaches into the upper levels of US, British, and European government, and was indicted in 2005 for creating fraudulent tax shelters for wealthy clients. The report was used by Bartlett to create a push to cut city services and base an argument for privatization of city contracts, one of the points suggested by the KPMG report. With the jobs of hundreds of workers in the crosshairs, Tulsa city employee union members worked together to create a plan which both cut costs and increase efficiency, and successfully had their contract renewed. Even Mayor Bartlett at the time (as of March, 2012) thanked the city workers on their saving the city $224,000 since last year. However, he had not given up on his war against public workers.

In June, Bartlett presented a city budget which he pretentiously called “The Budget of Collaboration” to the Tulsa City Council, which among other things, included spending over $800,000 on “consultants” such as DuPont, but cut raises for city union workers, many of whom are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. When city workers showed up at a city council meeting on June 14th to speak out against the betrayal of their interests and the forced hardship on their families, Bartlett stood up in the middle of their message and walked out. This of course was not reported in the Tulsa World. The newspaper’s headline four days later about the meeting: “Tulsa City Council goes to work on mayor's budget proposal”. No mention about city workers holding up their food stamp cards and pleading to be given enough money to feed their families, or the dismissive and autocratic mayor getting up and walking out during one impassioned worker’s speech. 

This latest stunt with the DuPont report is merely an attempt by Bartlett and his union-busting cronies to portray public workers as dangerous, costly, and criminally negligent. And it has worked. Online comments to the story already clamor for privatization and speculate wildly about workers compensation fraud with ridiculous anecdotes which slander the work and sacrifice of our public servants that build our roads, keep our water clean, fight our fires and protect our streets; the city workers who are the backbone of our cities. The Tulsa World has given Mayor Bartlett the soapbox he craves, acting as his personal PR team and refusing to report anything which contradicts the narrative he is pushing. Their reporting resembles something more like propaganda than independent media. One wonders whatever happened to “freedom of the press.” And while they fete his accomplishments, another public worker’s family checks how much money is left on their food card to try to make it to the end of the month, wondering how much longer they might have a job.

Party members and Labor supporters are urged  to Call Tulsa AFSCME 1180 and show your support! 918.584.0334
Then call the Mayor's action line (918) 596-2100 to protest his attempt to CRUSH WORKERS RIGHTS.

UPDATE: To Tulsa World writer Randy Krehbiel's credit, a followup story was run Sunday August 5th, featuring an interview with AFSCME Local 1180 President Mike Rider, commenting on the situation, and giving the union's side of the story. Mr. Krehbiel should be commended for his pursuing journalistic integrity, despite the Tulsa World's track record of report first, ask questions later.

Muskogee Workers Successful in fight against Privatization, Win back Collective Bargaining Rights

By Charles McCune
A long, hard fight was won by Muskogee City workers last month to restore collective bargaining rights and restore city recognition of their union, AFSCME Local 2465. The move comes as a ray of hope in a year which has seen repeated defeats across the nation for public sector workers and the push to crush workers’ rights.

At the same time that Wisconsin lay in a pitched battle over collective bargaining rights for public employees last year, city officials in Muskogee, Oklahoma were pushing plans of their own to crush workers’ rights, and outsource local public employees’ jobs. What they had not counted on was the collective power of the workers, fighting for their livelihoods and the rights of workers everywhere.

Following the signing into law of the bill repealing the Oklahoma Municipal Employee Collective Bargaining Act in April 2011, Muskogee City Manager Greg Buckley began to work to press the Muskogee city council to de-recognize the city employee’s union, AFSCME Local 2465, telling the council that the majority of city workers did not want or care about union representation. In June of last year, city councilors voted to end the collective bargaining rights for 186 of the city’s 480 employees. To add insult to injury, they also began to consider plans to privatize the city waste water treatment plant, which would have ended over half of the public worker’s jobs in the plant, outsourcing to a non-local management company. Upon hearing of the plan to undermine their livelihoods, the plant workers and members of AFSCME local 2465 took action.

The bid being considered by the city was from Veolia, a French water management company, and would have cost the city $800,000. The city workers knew that they, as American workers and native Oklahomans, could more effectively manage the plant than a foreign-based multi-national corporation could, so they wrote their own “Request for Proposal”.  John Reeves, a plant operator at the water facility and proud union member remarked upon being

asked about the proposal, “Had the city adopted our plan, taxpayers would have saved $200,000.” The proposal was brought to Buckley, who immediately shot it down. Undaunted, the public workers presented their RFP to city council, voicing their opposition to outsourcing on the basis that they could manage efficiency and costs more effectively. “We’re the ones that do the work. We know where we can create efficiency and we know how to save the taxpayer’s money,” said Dustin Williams, local 2465 member, to a packed city council meeting in September 2011. As a direct result of the public worker’s arguments, the city council stopped the outsourcing attempt in a 4-5 vote, but the city manager still refused to accept the workers’ proposal.

Having successfully won the battle against privatizing the waste water plant, the city workers set their sights on restoring collective bargaining rights in the city. A historic coalition of solidarity was formed between AFSCME and members of the police and firefighters unions, military veterans, pastors of local congregations in the NAACP, and Muskogee County Democrats. With their contract with the city set to expire on October 31, 2011, union members began a drive to build union membership within their workplaces and present an appeal to the city council, showing the city leadership that the workers did in fact want union representation. As Dustin Williams, a Parks and Recreation worker, told the local Muskogee Phoenix newspaper, “I would hope the City Council will see employees do want a union,” Williams said. “And we are willing to fight for that right.”

In a city council meeting in October, councilors voted 8-1 to approve the drafting of a city ordinance which would allow the return of collective bargaining if city workers petition to have their union status re-recognized. Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons agreed to draft the proposal and return it to be voted on in December. In the meantime, however, city workers would lose their official union representation. At the time, the union supporters heralded the decision as a victory:  “We’re just tickled to death that the working man has won the right to bargain collectively with the city,” commented Muskogee County Democrat Party chairman Dennis Wilhite. However, when the mayor’s draft came back and was approved by city council on December 12th 2011, the union members were less than pleased. Despite opening the possibility for the restoration of collective bargaining rights, the ordinance placed unusual and stringent requirements to bring them back – as reported in the Phoenix: “The ordinance requires the support of 30 percent of the city’s estimated 180 non-uniform employees to petition the city for an election. If an election is set, more than half of the eligible employees would have to vote in favor of representation. Any employee who fails to cast a ballot would be considered to have voted against union representation.” Until such a petition was passed, and elections held, the union would remain unrecognized.  AFSCME Organizer Matt Jordan called the measure a “slap in the face” to city workers, stating that it goes against more than 40 years of contract negotiation with the city.

The union immediately set to work, organizing the petition among city workers to hold an election. Over 100 employees out of the 186 non-uniformed workers filled out cards stating they wished to be represented by a union. In the meantime, a closely-fought city council race resulted in the victory of 3 pro-union candidates in the April 3rd 2012 runoffs. Following this good news, the new Muskogee city council met in June to revisit the city ordinance passed in December, which Councilor Kenny Payne stated was “not even close to being acceptable”.  After some deliberation, the council struck the part of the ordinance which counted non-voting employees as voting “no” to union representation, and moved the dates public employees could petition for an election from November – July to July – November, giving the workers the chance they needed to organize a collective bargaining vote this year.

On July 15th, 2012, the day the collective bargaining ordinance went into effect, city workers filed their petition for a recognition election, exceeding the required number in the ordinance: “Over 55% of the employees signed the petition, even though we only needed 30%,” said Roscoe Beasley, a sanitation worker and union member. After the city clerk certified the petition on July 23rd, the Muskogee city council set the recognition vote for August 9th , 2012. A successful vote will mean that Muskogee workers once again will enjoy union protection for their job security, wages and benefits, and safer working conditions.

A victory for workers in Muskogee is a victory for workers across the nation, and will set an example in the battles being fought for American public workers’ rights . To quote Dustin Williams, “We’re not just fighting for our workplace rights - we’re fighting for our children and their future. We are fighting for the very survival of the [working] class. Everyone should have the same rights and a voice.”

The August Edition of The Oklahoma Workers Monthly is out!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

US Communists salute the Cuban Revolution



As Reposted from:

Greetings on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks

Long live July 26!

Today is the 59th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba, and thus is a fitting occasion to remind ourselves of what we all owe to the Cuban Revolution.
On July 26, 1953, 140 Cuban patriots stormed the heavens by launching an armed attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba, in an effort to spark a national uprising to overthrow the odious U.S. supported military dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The attack failed, and many of the patriots became martyrs to their cause, either dying in the fighting or being murdered by Batista's agents in the aftermath. Only because of a national and international pressure campaign were comrades Fidel Castro and Raul Castro amnestied.
The Cuban revolutionaries did not give up, but continued to prepare, within Cuba and from exile, the campaign that eventually ousted Batista on January 1, 1959.
Quickly, Cuban reactionaries and their imperialist allies rallied to try to reverse the verdict expressed by the Cuban people on that date. They tried everything, and continue to do so: Invasions, sabotage, terrorism and assassination, economic strangulation and a vast propaganda campaign designed to dislodge the Cuban Revolution and subject the people of Cuba once again to class oppression and imperialist subjugation.
However Cuba has prevailed, even when the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe struck it such a dangerous blow.
In Cuba, the Revolution has created a better life for working people and the masses. Internationally, the gift of the Cuban Revolution has included.
  • The end of the odious apartheid regime in South Africa.
  • The renovation of the revolutionary movements in Latin America and beyond.
  • The renovation of the communist and workers' parties worldwide, who have learned, by
    Cuba's example, that a commitment to socialism does not entail adherence to ossified
    dogmas and bureaucratic, top down methods.
  • The development of the critique of late imperialism and of neo-liberal economic
    policies, as well as the strategy for combating them through popular mobilization.
  • The increasing unity of Latin America and ultimately of all the poor countries of Asia,
    Africa and Latin America behind a broad program of progressive change.
  • The disinterested provision of high quality health care, education and other services to
    poor countries around the world.
Fifty nine years on, however, imperialism has not given up its idea of reversing the Cuban Revolution. Although there have been some changes in the last couple of years, the United States still maintains the economic blockade of Cuba, and continues to imprison, in the face of worldwide indignation and pressure, four of the "Cuban Five" heroes. U.S. government funds still support propaganda and destabilization efforts.
So the struggle goes on, for Cuba and for Cuba's friends around the world, including here in the United States.
The Communist Party of the USA hereby:
  • Salutes the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban people on the occasion of the 59th
    Anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada Barracks.
  • Sends our special greeting to comrades Fidel Castro Ruz and comrade president Raul
    Castro Ruz, thanking them for their long service to the international working class and
    humanity, and wishing them many more years of good health and happiness.
  • Recalls to memory the glorious members of the first generation of the Cuban Revolution
    who are no longer with us physically but whose names will live for ever, including
    especially comrade Ernesto "Che" Guevara and so many others.
  • Pledges ourselves to keep struggling to end the blocade and travel restrictions, to put a
    stop to all harassment and destabilization activities directed against Cuba, and to free the
    Cuban Five.
In Cuban style, we close by saying:
¡Viva el 26 de Julio!
¡Viva el Partido Comunista de Cuba!
¡Viva la Revolución Cubana!
¡Viva el pueblo cubano, heroico y valiente!
¡Patria o muerte! ¡Cuba vencerá!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

VIDEO: Rant on Record Poverty in the US While the Rich Get Richer

YouTube vlogger  recently gave a no-holds barred assessment of the recent AP article reporting that poverty in the US is rising to the highest levels since 1960. The Working Class need more people willing to speak out and boldly say what needs to be said. The article referred to is reposted below the video. - Lupus




U.S. Poverty On Track To Rise To Highest Since 1960s

By HOPE YEN 07/22/12 05:47 PM ET AP

WASHINGTON — The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.
Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.
Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.
"I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I'm here, applying for assistance because it's hard to make ends meet. It's very hard to adjust," said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.
Fritz says she grew up wealthy in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, but fortunes turned after her parents lost a significant amount of money in the housing bust. Stuck in a half-million dollar house, her parents began living off food stamps and Fritz's college money evaporated. She tried joining the Army but was injured during basic training.
Now she's living on disability, with an infant daughter and a boyfriend, Garrett Goudeseune, 25, who can't find work as a landscaper. They are struggling to pay their $650 rent on his unemployment checks and don't know how they would get by without the extra help as they hope for the job market to improve.
In an election year dominated by discussion of the middle class, Fritz's case highlights a dim reality for the growing group in poverty. Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes.
"The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.
He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization that have pushed median household income lower. Even after strong economic growth in the 1990s, poverty never fell below a 1973 low of 11.1 percent. That low point came after President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty, launched in 1964, that created Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs.
"I'm reluctant to say that we've gone back to where we were in the 1960s. The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon," Edelman said.
Stacey Mazer of the National Association of State Budget Officers said states will be watching for poverty increases when figures are released in September as they make decisions about the Medicaid expansion. Most states generally assume poverty levels will hold mostly steady and they will hesitate if the findings show otherwise. "It's a constant tension in the budget," she said.
The predictions for 2011 are based on separate AP interviews, supplemented with research on suburban poverty from Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution and an analysis of federal spending by the Congressional Research Service and Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute.
The analysts' estimates suggest that some 47 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 6, were poor last year. An increase of one-tenth of a percentage point to 15.2 percent would tie the 1983 rate, the highest since 1965. The highest level on record was 22.4 percent in 1959, when the government began calculating poverty figures.
Poverty is closely tied to joblessness. While the unemployment rate improved from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 8.9 percent in 2011, the employment-population ratio remained largely unchanged, meaning many discouraged workers simply stopped looking for work. Food stamp rolls, another indicator of poverty, also grew.
Demographers also say:
_Poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5 percent for many more years. Several predicted that peak poverty levels – 15 percent to 16 percent – will last at least until 2014, due to expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate persistently above 6 percent and weak wage growth.
_Suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8 percent, will increase again in 2011.
_Part-time or underemployed workers, who saw a record 15 percent poverty in 2010, will rise to a new high.
_Poverty among people 65 and older will remain at historically low levels, buoyed by Social Security cash payments.
_Child poverty will increase from its 22 percent level in 2010.
Analysts also believe that the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 percent or less of the poverty level, will remain near its peak level of 6.7 percent.
"I've always been the guy who could find a job. Now I'm not," said Dale Szymanski, 56, a Teamsters Union forklift operator and convention hand who lives outside Las Vegas in Clark County. In a state where unemployment ranks highest in the nation, the Las Vegas suburbs have seen a particularly rapid increase in poverty from 9.7 percent in 2007 to 14.7 percent.
Szymanski, who moved from Wisconsin in 2000, said he used to make a decent living of more than $40,000 a year but now doesn't work enough hours to qualify for union health care. He changed apartments several months ago and sold his aging 2001 Chrysler Sebring in April to pay expenses.
"You keep thinking it's going to turn around. But I'm stuck," he said.
The 2010 poverty level was $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for an individual, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income, before tax deductions. It excludes capital gains or accumulated wealth, such as home ownership, as well as noncash aid such as food stamps and tax credits, which were expanded substantially under President Barack Obama's stimulus package.
An additional 9 million people in 2010 would have been counted above the poverty line if food stamps and tax credits were taken into account.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, believes the social safety net has worked and it is now time to cut back. He worries that advocates may use a rising poverty rate to justify additional spending on the poor, when in fact, he says, many live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.
A new census measure accounts for noncash aid, but that supplemental poverty figure isn't expected to be released until after the November election. Since that measure is relatively new, the official rate remains the best gauge of year-to-year changes in poverty dating back to 1959.
Few people advocate cuts in anti-poverty programs. Roughly 79 percent of Americans think the gap between rich and poor has grown in the past two decades, according to a Public Religion Research Institute/RNS Religion News survey from November 2011. The same poll found that about 67 percent oppose "cutting federal funding for social programs that help the poor" to help reduce the budget deficit.
Outside of Medicaid, federal spending on major low-income assistance programs such as food stamps, disability aid and tax credits have been mostly flat at roughly 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product from 1975 to the 1990s. Spending spiked higher to 2.3 percent of GDP after Obama's stimulus program in 2009 temporarily expanded unemployment insurance and tax credits for the poor.
The U.S. safety net may soon offer little comfort to people such as Jose Gorrin, 52, who lives in the western Miami suburb of Hialeah Gardens. Arriving from Cuba in 1980, he was able to earn a decent living as a plumber for years, providing for his children and ex-wife. But things turned sour in 2007 and in the past two years he has barely worked, surviving on the occasional odd job.
His unemployment aid has run out, and he's too young to draw Social Security.
Holding a paper bag of still-warm bread he'd just bought for lunch, Gorrin said he hasn't decided whom he'll vote for in November, expressing little confidence the presidential candidates can solve the nation's economic problems. "They all promise to help when they're candidates," Gorrin said, adding, "I hope things turn around. I already left Cuba. I don't know where else I can go."
Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt in Lakewood, Colo., Ken Ritter and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami and AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blackshirts & Bats: Chris Nolan’s far right worldview in The Dark Knight Rises

Reprinted from: FightBack! News
Review by Dave Schneider |
July 22, 2012
**Spoiler alert: This review is full of spoilers**

Director Chris Nolan calls it a “revolutionary epic.” I’d call it a counter-revolutionary blockbuster.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: The Dark Knight Rises is an outstanding film visually, and it’s scintillating to watch on the big screen. Christopher Nolan did not disappoint in delivering an action-packed superhero tour-de-force like the previous two Batman films. He tied the first two installments together to complete a complex and compelling story. And most impressive of all, in my opinion, series-newcomer Anne Hathaway’s role as Catwoman is one of the best performances of the year.

But when I left The Dark Knight Rises at nearly 3:00 a.m. on its opening night, my opinion of the film was decidedly more mixed than my reaction to The Dark Knight four years ago. Sure, after you cut through Heath Ledger’s incredible performance and the mind-blowing special effects, The Dark Knight was an insidious defense of the Bush administration’s war on terror, interestingly timed right before the 2008 election. However, I didn’t pick up on Nolan’s profoundly reactionary worldview when I saw that second Batman film in the summer between high school and college. This time around – after four years of activism, witnessing the rise of both the Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movements and seeing the widespread disappointment with President Obama – I couldn’t think of much else.

In The Dark Knight [2008], Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), part-time CEO and full-time vigilante, faces off against a villain so one-dimensional and disturbing he could have starred on a Dateline NBC crime special. Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance as the Joker overshadowed how closely his character mirrored the classic image of terrorists painted by the Bush administration for eight years (“Some men just want to watch the world burn”), with no discernible reasons or motivations for their actions. To protect us from the Joker, Batman takes it on himself to begin torturing prisoners, wiretapping civilians’ cell phones, and lying to the people of Gotham, all ‘for their protection.’ When Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhardt), the tough-on-crime district attorney, becomes a madman and starts offing citizens, Batman subdues him and colludes with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to take the fall for Dent’s crimes. We are told in the first scene of Nolan’s new film that this lie allowed Gotham to pass the Harvey Dent Act, which reduced crime by simultaneously reducing civil liberties. Sounds like a fair trade, right Mr. Bush?

The Dark Knight Rises starts eight years later. Wayne is older, partially crippled and reclusive, having retired from the outside world after the death of his childhood love, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the last movie. Bane (Tom Hardy), a muscular insurrectionist clad in a bulletproof vest and a breathing mask lifted from the Predator movies, shows up in Gotham to bring down the city with a nuclear bomb. By the time Bane gets around to breaking Batman’s back and explaining his master plan – trick the people of Gotham into revolution and then exterminate them – one has to think, “Wait, what?”

It didn’t surprise me that Nolan created a film about class warfare, especially given the times we live in. What surprised me was the side he decided to take. The Dark Knight Rises is a film extolling the virtues of the 1% that tries to explain why working people can’t run society and why a fascist police state is actually a good idea.

In The Dark Knight Rises, the rich have it just as bad as, if not worse, than the rest of us. They lose their entire corporate fortunes – inherited, in the case of Bruce Wayne, or stolen from an unnamed West African country in the case of corporate rival Daggert – to terrorist raids on the stock exchange. They have their homes burglarized by the 99%, first by maids and later by angry anonymous mobs. They lose their cleaning staff and butlers, forcing them to (gasp!) open the front door themselves. The power company even turns off their electricity. Forget flying billionaires dressed as bats; this is the most unrealistic part of the movie.

In an early scene featuring Bane taking the entire Gotham Stock Exchange hostage, a CEO stands nervously outside pressuring the police to breach the door and secure the premises. “It’s not just my money,” he complains. “It’s everyone’s money!” A skeptical police officer tells him he keeps his money under a mattress at home, to which the CEO replies – and I paraphrase – If we don’t stop them, your money under that mattress will be worth a lot less.

Here’s a film so blissfully out of touch with the lives of working Americans that it actually tries to make the argument that poor people should be concerned about the fortunes of Wall Street bankers. Nowhere in this film – or any of Nolan’s films, for that matter – is there any attempt to look at the social roots of crime. What about Wayne Enterprises’ bad investment decisions that cost workers their jobs or pensions? Zilch. How about the jobs lost from corporate outsourcing to neo-colonies in West Africa, explicitly referenced by one CEO in the film? Eh, whatever. What about the steady decline of wages that corporations like Bruce Wayne’s have encouraged for the past three decades? Forget about it! Frankly, Nolan should have directed Romney’s campaign commercials. The former governor certainly has the budget for it in the wake of Citizens United!

The Dark Knight Rises is Hollywood’s rebuke of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the growing discontent with the market system increasingly felt by working Americans. In Nolan’s universe, there’s no difference between protest and terrorism. Ironically, in a world of Obama’s ‘kill list’ and the National Defense Authorization Act, this may be the most realistic aspect of his film.
The masses have no will of their own in Nolan’s series. They are an object to either be manipulated by Bane or saved by Batman. Outlandish scenes of the impoverished masses of Gotham vandalizing mansions and beating up rich people for seemingly no reason reflects the Burkean worldview that informed the founding fathers, the corporate leaders of today and indeed Nolan himself. In the film, the people hold haphazard ‘sentencing tribunals’ with no due process for the wealthy, resulting in sentences of ‘exile’ or ‘death by exile.’ It’s the German Peasant Revolt. It’s the Paris Commune. It’s Occupy Wall Street. It’s every popular movement in history that has ever challenged the will of the ruling class.

Much has been said about the coincidence between the villain’s name, Bane, and the financial management company owned and operated by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Bain Capital. In truth, The Dark Knight Rises more closely reflects Romney’s worldview than that of progressives. In a pivotal scene, Bane confesses to an injured Bruce Wayne that he only intends to ‘inspire hope’ to placate the people while he prepares to exterminate them all. By the time Bane cynically talks about ‘hope’ for the third time, I began wondering if Nolan was giving us a window into the worldview of the world’s most obnoxious, Kool-Aid-drinking, Tea Party scrub – a foreign, charismatic leader promises change to the people while secretly conspiring to destroy them all from within. Bane is a terrorist, not a revolutionary, but Nolan never seems to distinguish between the two.
The film couldn’t be any clearer with its worldview. The main villain is a charismatic atheisto-jihadist from a former Soviet Republic. His army of ‘terrorists’ are cement-layers, linemen, bridge operators, service employees; in other words, working-class people. His reserve troops are freed prison inmates, many who undoubtedly were only serving sentences because of the Big Brother-provisions of the Harvey Dent Act. His shock troops are the unwashed masses of Gotham, who are too busy engaging in wanton acts of anarchic violence and vandalism to realize that they were duped by Bane. By the time la revolucion starts up in the film’s third act, it’s impossible to distinguish between Bane’s League of Shadows cadre, the prisoners they freed from Gotham’s prison and ordinary working people in Gotham caught up in the uprising.

On the other hand, we have a slate of heroes straight out of a Glenn Beck novel: an eccentric billionaire recluse who becomes a vigilante to save the wayward people of Gotham from themselves; a police commissioner who lies to the people to preserve ‘order’; a petty cat-burglar who only becomes a hero by renouncing class warfare and hooking up with the lead male; and an incorruptible rookie cop whose Boy Scout-demeanor would make Captain America blush. Bane may have a mob army, but Batman has an army of cops, who march into battle to put down the malevolent…people of Gotham?

In the same year of Trayvon Martin’s shooting by a self-appointed vigilante, the ensuing police cover-up and countless instances of police brutality taking place every day, The Dark Knight Rises’ glorification of police militarism seems bizarre, if not sinister. Similarly, Nolan’s final Batman film and its condemnation of mass political action comes amidst mass uprisings across the Arab world, Europe, Latin America, Africa and even the United States. Maybe Nolan had an agenda, or maybe he didn’t. The point is that a film as anticipated and publicized as The Dark Knight Rises pushes a very particular world view at odds with working Americans and oppressed people.

The message of The Dark Knight Rises is clear: Today’s discontent underclasses are tomorrow’s insurgent army, and all it takes is one charismatic leader to dupe the masses into suicide and destruction. The people need to be ruled by a powerful class of benevolent one-percenters. Lying and violating constitutional rights to ‘clean up the streets’ is generally justifiable. And above all else, never let the people take power.

Even as an activist, you can enjoy The Dark Knight Rises as a film. I certainly did. It’s important, though, that any and every activist combats the worldview and message put forward by Nolan, which itself reflects the larger trend of criminalizing dissent and protest in this country. All too often, protesters are portrayed in the media as parasites, criminals, degenerates, or terrorists for raising serious concerns about inequalities and injustices in our society.

I left the film last night satisfied as a movie-goer and more riled up than ever to fight the criminalization of protest and dissent in this country. Nolan’s film made me remember the words of a famous revolutionary: “It is right to rebel.”
Indeed it is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Of Civil Disobedience and Sacrifice

By Daniel Lee

“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty…in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

On November 2, 2011, I and a group of 13 others stood on a small strip of grass in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, refusing the orders to leave the park being barked over bullhorn while being surrounded by more than 50 officers leveling riot suppression weapons at us, and were arrested, taken downtown, and booked in jail. I came back to the park the next night, and the night after that, for over 2 weeks, receiving two more citations, and facing off with the boys in blue each night as we sang the national anthem, union songs, and recited passages from the bill of rights,  Martin Luther King Jr., and OWS’ Declaration of Occupation.  I watched fellow protesters being sprayed in the face at point blank range with pepper spray for doing nothing more than sitting peacefully in protest, and I suffered minor nerve damage which still occasionally flares up every so often from the excessively tight zip cords they bound my hands with as they carried me away. I stood before city council the night after I was released from jail to plead for our rights only to be immediately shut down. I stood in the cold, in the rain and sleet, shoulder to shoulder with other compatriots, facing the full and terrible force of a belligerent militarized police force suppressing civil liberties, and I would gladly do it again.

Why did I risk my liberty and freedom to stand on a strip of grass after 11:01 pm? I did it because I believed, and still do, that the freedoms our country supposedly stands for is an illusion. True democracy does not exist – elections are rigged and controlled by wealthy corporate elites who use politicians as puppets to expand their profits and strip workers and citizens of their rights. Free speech is only free to those who can pay for it. All but the wealthiest who can hire an army of attorneys are subject to unreasonable search and seizure. Our civil and human rights are trampled on a daily basis, and yet we take it, day in and day out. We fly our flags and vote at election time, and unless we are directly bearing the brunt of injustice, we tend to turn a blind eye to the outrages against justice that are meted out on the poor, the minorities, and the plain unlucky.

I stood on that grass after curfew, in direct violation of a law which requires legal bribery by the payment of outrageous fees and insurance bonds to circumvent, a law which is designed to abridge citizen’s rights of free speech unless they have enough money to pay to get around it, and I made a stand. I could have moved two feet over to the sidewalk and completely avoided violating the law, but I chose to break it as a direct act of civil disobedience.

So I pled “No Contest” and was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of breaking park curfew, and given a fine, which the judge graciously reduced on account of being improperly represented at the beginning (a problem which I remedied by hiring a very able and competent attorney). I could have chosen to fight the charges as I’m sure some of the others arrested that night - and the night before and the nights of the two weeks which followed - might do. But to me, it is illogical and dishonest to commit an act of civil disobedience and then try to plead innocent. I freely acknowledge that I broke the law, and I have paid the price. The price however, is minuscule compared to the toll which is exacted upon the people in the name of freedom. Many more acts, and many more sacrifices will have to be made to balance back the scales of justice in our favor.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Woody Guthrie Today, and Woody Guthrie the Communist

Re-posted from Selecting Stones
by L. W. Denton
Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary folk musician Woody Guthrie in Okemah, Oklahoma.  Guthrie has long been a controversial figure in Oklahoma and elsewhere for the simple reason that he was a communist.

Woody Guthrie with his Guitar

Woody Guthrie with his Guitar:
“This Machine Kills Fascists”

Woody Guthrie is most famous for two things: First, that he wrote the song “This Land is Your Land”, and second, that he once said, “The best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party.”  It is widely known that Guthrie was exaggerating with the words “sign up”, as he was not a full member of the Communist Party.  However, he did work with the Communist Party extensively, writing regularly for The Daily Worker.  No wonder, then, that today’s direct descendant of the old Daily Worker, the People’s World, ran an article yesterday on Okemah’s most famous Marxist son.  Another indirect scion of the Daily Worker, the Oklahoma Workers’ Monthly, took a moment to celebrate Woody Guthrie, too.  And even though over the past 50 years “This Land is Your Land” has been stolen by right-wing nationalists and mistaken for a celebration of American chauvinism, the original version of the song penned by Guthrie makes its Marxist viewpoint loud and clear.  A verse that is always omitted today shows that Guthrie proudly stood, as any communist would, for the ultimate abolition of private property:
“As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, it said ‘Private Property’
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.”
Fascists, of course, have always stood for Private Property every bit as much as anti-Semitism or anything else, and so it makes sense why Guthrie would use his guitar as a machine to kill them.
Again, it seems today that everyone misses the original point of “This Land is Your Land”.  After all, most of us have been indoctrinated since the third grade to believe that the song is sending the same message as “God Bless America” when it is, in fact, doing quite the opposite.  The tragic fate of the song, however, serves to demonstrate the greater tragic fate of Woody Guthrie’s legacy as a whole.  No doubt Woody is rolling in his grave at a large part of the way he is received today.  As a deeply political man, Guthrie would surely be upset to know that his politics have been essentially whitewashed out of his life’s story.
Each year since 1998, the town of Okemah has hosted the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.  The event’s website is careful not to mention anything political.  In the recollection of Woody Guthrie’s life story, it seems that in reality everyone knows he was a communist.  But in order to make Guthrie an “acceptable” figure, history has been rewritten to deny Guthrie’s communism, or simply not talk about the issue.  There is a huge elephant in the room, and everyone prefers to stay quiet.  An Oklahoma entertainment monthly, The Current, recently ran an article on this year’s milestone WoodyFest in Okemah.  Since the event coincides this year with Guthrie’s centenary, the article — by Dale Ann Deffer — took the time to include a lengthy biographical sketch.  Deffer mentions over and over again that Guthrie passionately followed the cause of the working class (and that he didn’t care about making money), but chooses to sidestep the obvious implications of these facts about the singer.  The stated cause of the Communist Party has always been the objective best interests of the working class.  And just incidentally, communists tend as a general rule not to care too much about making money, either.  At the tail end of the article, Deffer writes of Woody’s 92-year-old sister Mary Jo, who still lives in Okemah:
“She is said to have worked tirelessly for years to wipe out some of the verbal attacks on Guthrie due to his unusual lifestyle and the fact that he wrote a weekly column for The Sunday Worker which was a Communist publication.  He was said to espouse socialism at a time when it was very unpopular.  Currently, several townspeople in Okemah when asked about this association believe those attacks were unjustified.”
Woody Guthrie
Why is it an attack to call Woody Guthrie a “socialist”?  Woody Guthrie would have called himself a socialist with no reservation.  Why does everyone speak in shame that Woody Guthrie wrote a column in the Communist Party’s newspaper?  Woody Guthrie was presumably quite proud of his work for the Communist Party, or else, why would he have done it?  Why would Guthrie have bragged that he signed up with the Communist Party in 1936 — when he had, in fact, not done so — unless he was quite proud to call himself a communist?  And why is there a need to falsify history and say that socialism was unpopular during the Dust Bowl years?  Socialism and communism were extremely popular during the Dust Bowl years, as any historian of any political persuasion would readily tell you.  The real history, therefore, is quite different.  Instead, “socialism” is “unpopular” today, not when Woody Guthrie was alive.  Since that time, and specifically since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 (look it up), the working class political movement has suffered decade after decade of defeat at the hands of big business and big capital, along with a subtle, clever, and yet relentless campaign to make everyone forget how working class politics and communism used to be one and the same thing.
As a part of this long process, the true story of Woody Guthrie became a taboo that nobody could talk about.  And so the dangerous verses of “This Land is Your Land” had to be removed in order to make the song palatable for a world in which big capital rules uncontested — the same world in which we are now politely asked to mistake the openly anti-worker position of somebody like Ron Paul for a path to liberation.  The Red Scare and McCarthyism, therefore, never really ended, and Woody Guthrie became another victim of the falsification of history.  The only difference is that now “red-baiting” has been replaced by a blanket of silence, one designed to keep working men and women from ever daring to ask why capitalist America gives them so little of its extraordinary riches.
Oklahomans should be proud of Woody Guthrie, and proud of their state’s great Marxist heritage.  Guthrie, after all, is only one of many communists to come out of Oklahoma.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


TULSA, Okla. - This year marks the centennial of the birth of Woody Guthrie, who many have argued is perhaps one of the most influential songwriters and performers of the 20th century. Guthrie's name is synonymous with a style of music that people through the years have called "country," "folk," "hillbilly" to name a few, but that is distinctly American. And though his career was as turbulent as his life and times, his music reflected the best in the man and his world. Today, the name Woody Guthrie resonates with musicians and music lovers, as well as among many of the working people whom Woody's music championed.

While Woody Guthrie is a beloved figure in much of the world, he continues to be a source of controversy in his home state of Oklahoma because of his Communist sympathies. Few will forget the signs placed in bank windows in Okemah, Okla., Woody's hometown, reading, "Woody is no son of ours!" - a message to those who made the pilgrimage for the annual Woody Guthrie music festival there.

But many more Oklahomans are proud to call Woody one of their own, as recently erected roadside billboards boast, "OKLAHOMA: HOME OF WOODY GUTHRIE!"

This year, in an ironic twist, the Woody Guthrie archives, currently stored in New York City, are being moved to a permanent location here in Tulsa, after what Woody's daughter describes as "a fortuitous meeting with the folks at the George Kaiser Foundation." While many Oklahomans are delighted that Woody's archive will become accessible to the many Okies too poor to travel to New York, some are dismayed over the fact that the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, representing one of the wealthiest billionaires in the world, has been instrumental in moving the archive.

The proposed home for the archive is known in Tulsa as "the Brady District" - named after the notorious Tulsa politician and business mogul with well-established ties to the Ku Klux Klan. But even African Americans here see the move as an overall positive. One Tulsa resident said, "What better way to start moving our local culture away from the dominant reactionary narrative and start reasserting our progressive history. And who better to usher in that change than our own Woody Guthrie."

Woody has been claimed as the inspiration of many now-great artists like Bruce Springsteen and The Clash's Joe Strummer who openly admired Guthrie's devotion to real stories about real working people. Bob Dylan was so enamored with Guthrie's mystique that he pretended to have been born in Oklahoma. But unlike Dylan, Woody's music was never contrived and spoke to the authentic heart of the Dust Bowl experience.

Many are aware that popular music owes a great debt to Woody's influence, but few know much about what inspired Woody. Certainly his music was shaped by his experiences as he traveled with Oklahoma's migrant workers attempting to escape the desolation and poverty of the 1930s. But Woody was more than just a singer and songwriter. He was a true "organic intellectual." He not only sang about social problems, injustices, the struggle against fascism during the Second World War - he also studied these problems deeply and worked as a sort of people's journalist.

Woody's work was regularly featured in the Communist Party's newspaper the Daily Worker under a column titled, "Woody Sez." During the Depression, Woody performed for Communist Party events throughout California and, after the onset of the Second World War, was an unapologetic supporter of the united front against fascism. He felt so strongly about the need to unite against Nazi Germany and the ultra-right forces of fascism that he wrote and recorded a classic workers' anthem titled "All You Fascists Bound to Lose."

Woody's sympathy for working-class movements, unions and the Communist Party is also apparent in his most famous song, "This Land is Your Land." The song was written in 1944 as a direct response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which Woody criticized as being nationalistic and against the spirit of the anti-fascist united front. As a testament to Woody's sympathies for a Marxist critique of capitalism he included a verse in "This Land is Your Land" that is often omitted in popular renditions of this classic:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.

While many have attempted to revise and reinterpret Woody's controversial legacy since his death, Woody himself was never afraid to let his true colors shine. In addition to writing for the Communist Party's newspaper, he openly fraternized with Communists and attended Communist Party events. Although there is some debate over whether or not Woody was ever a "card-carrying member" of the Communist Party, there is little doubt about his sympathies and support for the work of the party. As Guthrie himself once said, "The best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party."

By J. Shepherd