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1960s

`A force which is truly for good' -- John Coltrane and the jazz revolution

The John Coltrane Quartet (John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones) on the 1963 TV program, Jazz Casual, playing "Alabama", written by Coltrane after reading a speech by Martin Luther King eulogising four black children blown up in a racist attack on a church in 1963.

By Terry Townsend

September 23, 2010 -- John William Coltrane (abbreviated as "Trane" by his fans) was born on this day in 1926. Since his untimely death on July 17, 1967, saxophone colossus Coltrane has become an icon of African-American pride, achievement and uncompromising determination. He led a revolution in music that mirrored the turbulent growth of black militancy and revolutionary ideas within the urban black community. Today, Trane continues to inspire.

Coltrane has often been likened to Malcolm X. US jazz writer and socialist Frank Kofsky, in his classic 1970 book Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (Pathfinder Press, New York), wrote:

Both men perceived the reality about [the USA] -- a reality you could only know if you were Black and had worked your way up and through the tangled jungle of jazz clubs, narcotics, alcohol, mobsters ...

Barry Sheppard reviews Peter Camejo's `North Star -- A Memoir'

North Star – A Memoir
By Peter Camejo
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010

Order a copy

Review by Barry Sheppard

[Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

July 8, 2010 -- North Star – A Memoir by Peter Camejo, who was an important figure in the radicalisation of “the Sixties” and beyond, up to his untimely death in 2008, should be read by veterans of the socialist movement and wider social causes. It also should be read by new activists thirsty for understanding of previous struggles in order to better equip themselves for present and future battles.

Also, the book is a good read. The first chapter is set in 1979, out of chronological order from the rest of the book. It explains how the CIA attempted to get Peter arrested in Colombia, on a leg of a speaking tour in South America. If he had been imprisoned there it is possible that he would have been “disappeared”. Without giving away the story, Peter escaped this fate through an unlikely intervention, quite a tale in itself.

Memories of a participant: Kent & Jackson State, 1970 -- A firestorm they could not contain

By Mike Ely

May 4, 2010 -- Kasama Project -- May 4, 1970. Forty years have passed. It is history now in the eyes of the world. But for me, and many others, it is raw and alive. It always will be.

I won’t tell the well-known details – if you don’t know them, look them up. But I will tell you what it felt like, and looked like to a teenage boy who wanted desperately to see the liberation of the Vietnamese and Black people in America.

May Day for Bobby Seale — New Haven, 1970

On May 1 1970, I was in New Haven, Connecticut. Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panther Party was facing a murder trial in New Haven. They had first bound and gagged him in the  courtroom of the Chicago 8, then shipped him to Connecticut to lock him up for life. We were determined to free him.

Students came from all over the US east coast to turn the city upside down. On my campus, we had worked day and night to explain the attack on the Black Panther Party – and to mobilise busloads to go New Haven.

Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party.

Download Daniel Bensaïd's `Revolutionary Strategy Today'

By Liam Mac Uaid

March 31, 2010 -- MacUaid -- The International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) is an Amsterdam-based centre providing activists and scholars around the world with opportunities for research and education. It is offering a imagefree download of the late Daniel Bensaïd’s Revolutionary Strategy Today.

Since the rise of capitalism, socialists have faced certain deep-seated obstacles: the hostility of the bourgeois state, the fitful curve of proletarian class-consciousness and the inertia or active opposition of apparatuses originally built by the workers for struggle.

Martin Luther King Jr in the age of Obama: Why we can't wait

By Billy Wharton

January 17, 2010 -- Albert Boutwell's election as Birmingham, Alabama, mayor in 1963 might have signaled the end of the modern civil rights movement. As a moderate Democrat, Boutwell promised to temper the harsh repression unleashed by the city’s notorious chief of police and his mayoral opponent Eugene “Bull” Connor. Mainstream leaders of the black community were told to wait it out –- let the storm pass and incremental changes could begin. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. refused to wait. Instead, he launched Plan “C” (confrontation), a large-scale protest campaign that broke the back of Southern segregation.

Daniel Bensaïd: militant, intellectual, friend

Daniel Bensaïd.

By François Sabado

International Viewpoint -- Daniel Bensaïd left us today, Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Born in 1946 he gave his life to the cause of defending revolutionary Marxist ideas right to the end. He was one of the founders of the Jeunesse Communiste Révolutionnaire (JCR -- Revolutionary Communist Youth) and the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR -- Revolutionary Communist League, French section of the Fourth International).

A leader of the May '68 movement, he was one of those people with a very sure feeling for political initiative. He had been one of the leaders of the 22nd March Movement. Grasping the dynamic of social movements, in particular the link between the student movement and workers’ general strike, he was also one of those who understood the necessity of building a political organisation, of accumulating the forces for building a revolutionary party.

The quality of Daniel’s intelligence was to combine theory and practice, intuition and political understanding, ideas and organisation. He could, at the same time, lead a stewarding force and write a theoretical text.

Woodstock 40 years ago: Country Joe McDonald's and Jimi Hendrix's antiwar classics

40 years ago -- from August 15 to August 18, 1969 -- hundreds of thousands of young people gathered for three days of ``peace, love and music''. In the midst of the mass movement against the Vietnam War and the youth radicalisation it unleashed, oppostion to US imperialism's slaughter in Vietnam was personified by the performances of Country Joe McDonald's ``Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die' Rag'' and Jimi Hendrix's searing anti-patriotic ``Star-Spangled banner'' (below, press ``Read more'' to watch).

Available for download: Barry Sheppard's The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988: A Political Memoir -- The Sixties

Barry Sheppard, 1964, editor of the Militant newspaper. Photo by Ed Shaw.

http://www.barrysheppardbook.com/ -- Barry Sheppard was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader for most of that time. This is the first of two volumes recounting his life in the party. It is a case study in the inspiration and difficulties involved in building the nucleus of a revolutionary socialist party.

This book covers from 1960 to 1973, the period of radicalisation known as "The Sixties". Walking picket lines for Black civil rights, helping to organise the anti-Vietnam War movement, interviewing Malcolm X, meeting with US soldiers in Vietnam, defending the Cuban Revolution, collaborating with socialists worldwide including in Australia, India, France and Japan -- Barry Sheppard has lived a life enriched by contact with and involvement in popular struggles around the world.

Peter Camejo remembered: tributes from the left

Below are number left tributes to Peter Camejo, who died on September 13: from Green Left Weekly (Australia); Ralph Nader, US presidential candidate; veteran US socialist Barry Sheppard; Socialist Worker (USA) and Louis Proyect, moderator of the Marxism List (USA).

As a tribute, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has also republished two of Peter's most influential and enduring lectures (at http://links.org.au/node/625), talks that continue to educate young revolutionary socialists to this day. 

Peter Camejo.

Peter Camejo 1939-2008: How to make a revolution in the United States (1969)/Liberalism, ultraleftism or mass action (1970)

The tragic news on September 13, 2008, that Peter Camejo had lost his battle with cancer is a blow to all those on the revolutionary left who have been politically and personally influenced by him. As a tribute, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal republishes two of Peter's most influential and enduring lectures, talks that continue to educate young revolutionary socialists to this day.

Peter Camejo in 2005, photo by Charles Jenks.

Peter Camejo was a longtime leader of the United States Socialist Workers Party. As a leader of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth group associated with the SWP, Camejo was a prominent activist in the student movement at the University of California in Berkeley and in the anti-Vietnam war movement. He was the presidential candidate of the SWP in 1976. (Listen to Peter Camejo interviewed on the NBC's Tomorrow Show in 1976.) He parted company with the SWP in 1980 as its politics increasingly became more sectarian (Camejo's analysis of the US SWP's political evolution is available HERE.).

Peter Camejo: How to make a revolution in the United States (1969)/Liberalism, ultraleftism or mass action (1970)

By Peter Camejo

Peter Camejo was a longtime leader of the United States Socialist Workers Party. As a leader of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth group associated with the SWP, Camejo was a prominent activist in the student movement at the University of California in Berkeley and in the anti-Vietnam war movement. He was the presidential candidate of the SWP in 1976.

Camejo made a number of visits to Australia for the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance in the 1980s and 1990s, giving public lectures on US politics and socialism.

“How to Make a Revolution in the United States” is the abridged text of a speech delivered by Peter Camejo at an educational conference of the SWP and the YSA in New York on May 3, 1969. It is taken from the May 30, 1969 issue of The Militant.

“Liberalism, Ultraleftism or Mass Action” is the abridged text of a talk given by Camejo at a meeting in New York on June 14, 1970. It is taken from the July 10, 1970 issue of The Militant.

The revolutionary life and tumultuous times of Ernest Mandel

By Barry Healy

A Life for the Revolution, Documentary by Chris Den Hond, 90 minutes, 2005; A Man Called Ernest Mandel, Documentary by Frans Buyens, 40 minutes, 1972, available of two-disc DVD, available from http://www.iire.org

Ernest Mandel, said to be perhaps the most important Marxist theoretician of the second half of the 20th century, died aged 71 on July 20, 1995. These two documentaries reveal why he was so respected but also expose a great deal more.

A Life for the Revolution uses Mandel’s life as a lens to examine some of the most significant revolutionary developments of the last few generations, with stirring archival footage and interviews with participants. The 1972 “talking head” interview A Man Called Ernest Mandel, in which he explains important aspects of socialist democracy and workers’ control of the means of production, is packaged as an extra.

Martin Luther King's last struggle -- a talk by Brian Jones

Teacher and actor Brian Jones educated and moved his audience with his talk, ``Martin Luther King's last struggle'' at the United States' International Socialist Organization's ``Socialism 2008'' conference in Chicago on June 20, 2008.

 

Since 1999, Jones has portrayed Karl Marx in Howard Zinn's play Marx in Soho in US tours. He lent his voice to the audio recording of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival and to several staged readings from Zinn's latest book, Voices of a People's History of the United States. He is a teacher in New York and contributes frequently to the Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review magazine.

Socialism conferences are sponsored annually by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, publisher of International Socialist Review and Haymarket Books. Conferences are co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, publisher of Socialist Worker and Obrero Socialista.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

The May-June 1968 revolt in France and its influence today (+ videos)

By Duncan Meerding

In May and June 1968, a movement erupted in France that threatened not just the survival of the government of President Charles De Gaulle but the system that it represented — capitalism. At the height of this movement, which was sparked by radical action by youth and students, an estimated 10 million workers were on strike and 600,000 students were occupying their schools and universities, and a further 2 million farmers were supporting them. This meant that more than one in five of France’s population were on the

London: Conference on May 1968 -- May 10, 2008

An international conference and bookfair to celebrate the hopes and dreams of May 1968 - forty years after.
Saturday, 10 May 2008, 10am - 10pm
Conway Hall
Red Lion Square
London WC1

1968 year of revolt

Joel Geier, associate editor of the International Socialist Review, spoke on ``1968: Year of Revolt'' at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL on March 26, 2008. He was a leading member of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960s and witnessed the 1968 protests in Paris. He discussed a vital yet hidden history of struggle and its relevance to today.

The International Socialist Review is sponsoring a national meeting tour to mark the 40th anniversary of the remarkable year 1968. It was a year of conflict, class struggle and revolutionary upheaval around the world. 1968 saw the Vietnam Tet Offensive; the May general strike in France; the Black Power salute at the Olympics; the student struggle in Mexico and the massacre in Tlatelolco Plaza; the Prague Spring and Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia; the police riot at the Democratic Party convention; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and urban rebellions; the birth of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement in Detroit. 1968 offers lessons to a new generation of activists and radicals organising for a better world.

Movement history: Socialists and the anti-war movement

By Gus Horowitz

This is the text of a speech that was printed in the Militant, the newspaper of the us Socialist Workers Party, on October 10, 1969, shortly before the massive anti-war demonstrations scheduled to occur in mid-November of that year. Gus Horowitz was the SWP's national anti-war director during that year and through the first half of 1970. Minor spelling and punctuation changes have been made in the text reprinted here. The introduction was by the Militant.

Introduction

On Labour Day weekend [September 1969] in New York, the Socialist Workers Party held its national convention. One of the central points on the agenda was a resolution assessing developments within the movement against the Vietnam War and the role of the SWP within that movement.

Discussion on the resolution was initiated with a report by Gus Horowitz, a member of the party's national committee and its representative to the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

Interview with Malcolm X

By Barry Sheppard

This article is taken from a chapter of volume one of a political memoir, covering the years 1960-1973. Barry Sheppard was a central leader of the US Young Socialist Alliance and Socialist Workers Party during the years 1960-1988.

***

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925. In February 1946 he was sentenced in Massachusetts to 8-10 years' imprisonment for burglary. While in prison, he was won to the Nation of Islam, a Black Nationalist religious sect founded by W.D. Fard and headed at that time and until his death by Elijah Muhammad. Emerging in the early 1930s, the Nation of Islam was one of the groups that developed as a result of the decline and splintering of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, which had galvanised a large section of the Black community after World War I. The Nation of Islam taught a religious doctrine that Black people were blessed by God and that whites were devils specially created to oppress Black people. They called for the creation of an independent Black nation in the United States, but tended to stress that the achievement of this state would be the work of God, not human beings.

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