Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day 2006

Fred and I arose about 5:30 A.M. this Christmas morning to a light snowfall. I put the coffee on and we walked for awhile. While walking I got the idea for this blog: "thoughts from podunk." I had been thinking about an e-mail that I received in response to an e-mail that I circulated widely about the need to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang. I received the e-mail from the revisionary managing editor of Political Affairs Magazine [which makes the claim of being a Marxist publication put out by the Communist Party, USA--- which I have belonged to since I was I teenager] in which he arrogantly referred to a former mayor calling for Bush's impeachment as being from a "Podunk town." The use of this kind of language is wrong; as if peoples' thoughts about this dirty war in Iraq and the struggles of working people--- most of whom reside in "Podunks" someplace on our planet, are insignificant; where, like me, they live, work, and recreate. We can't all live in big cities where we make the decisions over what gets published in glossy, slick magazines and what doesn't get published... but all of us "podunkers" sure can blog!

It seems this managing editor who hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan was upset about the manner in which I circulated an article he wrote in the newspaper of the Communist Party, U.S.A.--- the Peoples' Weekly World.

Quite frankly, I don't know why he was so upset... his article held its own, I thought.

I selected his article as one of three [Metro Times, The Nation, Peoples' Weekly World] concerning the need to impeach the corrupt Bush/Cheney gang of warmongers that is trying to drive down the standards of living of working people all over the globe. I thought (maybe thinking was my first mistake... the bosses just hate it when workers think!)--- well, I just thought it was a really good article that Joel Wendland had written... I still do; but his response in referring to Grand Rapid, Michigan and writing off a prominent Republican calling for George Bush's impeachment as coming from a "podunk town," rather than coming from an important United States Senator was wrong. Grand Rapids, Michigan is a working class community that has been devastated by capitalist globalization just like most other working class communities across the Midwest; this characterization just really rubbed me the wrong way... I guess I expect people who publish and write for Marxist, revolutionary, working class publications to have a little more respect towards working people and the communities we live in... and then I started thinking more and more about Grand Rapids, Michigan being a "podunk town;" the more I thought about this statement the more I reached the opinion that his attitude reflects much more than simply a disrespectful arrogance towards working people--- his rotten attitude was directed towards working people in general, and specifically towards working people involved in struggles trying to make the world a better place to live in, too.

For a long time I have noticed among the "movers and shakers" [usually those who observe and write] of the Left this same kind of arrogance, although, not usually so blatantly stated as it was done this time. Why care when someone makes this kind of arrogant statement that the opinions of someone can be disregarded because they come from a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids, Michigan? For starters, most working people live and work in such "podunk towns." If we are serious about real social change in this country we need to have the involvement of the working people from all these "podunk" towns and communities, not just the "great thinkers" from the ivory towers in Ann Arbor and those that are smart enough to write newspaper articles and choose what gets published in these newspapers and magazines, and what doesn't.

Communist Parties all over the world have relied on organizing "communist clubs" in these "Podunk" towns and communities as their chosen methods of organization for several reasons. Communist parties have made it a point of trying to organize these "clubs" where people work and in the communities where working people live because workers are the only class that can successfully stand up to the capitalists. These "communist clubs" are places where working people can get together, socialize, and collectively think problems through as a process of educating each other as they work to mobilize and energize the working class for action. It was such Communist Party clubs that formed the resistance to fascism in Europe, China, and the Philippines during World War II... not to mention which contributed towards mobilizing our own country against the fascist menace of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese imperialism. Similar Communist Party clubs were the backbone of Vietnamese people in defeating U.S. imperialism... and it was communist clubs in "podunks" all over the United States that helped to mobilize the American people against that dirty war in Vietnam... we could do with many more "Podunk clubs" in the United States today.

In other words, these communist party clubs provide working people with alternatives to big-business think-tanks and the lies spewed daily by the commercial media about everything from the war in Iraq to health care problems and the misinformation about wages and working condidtions and just about everything else one can think of. Communist Parties have almost always stressed building these clubs everyplace where there are working people... in all the "podunks" one might say as a means of strengthening the working class movement and all progressive movements for peace and social justice.

These "communist clubs" have stressed: education, organization, unity, and united action which have been the key to the successes of these "communist clubs" for the last 150 or so years--- all over the world... on every continent, in every country... our goal has been to establish these "communist clubs" in every "podunk" without any exceptions.

In the past few years there are those arrogant "leaders" like this managing editor of Political Affairs who have decided that these "communist clubs" are no longer needed... or if they are, it is sufficient that a few great thinkers belong to these clubs in the great centers of revolutionary change, and the rest of us "podunkers" are just supposed to listen up and let them expound on their views, from their ivory towers and 7th floor offices in New York.

The present day revisionary "leaders" of the Communist Party, U.S.A. have embarked down a trail that will lead to liquidating the Communist Party, U.S.A. if they are allowed to proceed unchallenged. The way to counter their destructive efforts is to build communist clubs in every community and place of employment possible.

Over the years communist clubs have served working people well when these clubs have been organized along open, non-sectarian lines. It was such communist clubs that sparked the great organizing drives among industrial workers; whenever anyone in this country thinks of communists they think of union organizers; union organizers were educated and trained in these communist clubs. These communist clubs helped shape the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party where Communist Party members like John Bernard spearheaded the Farmer-Labor efforts on the Iron Range and eventually led to his own election to the United States Congress where he had the courage to stand in defiance of big-business; Bernard was from the little "Podunk town" of Eveleth, Minnesota... both of Minnesota's most beloved governors, both socialists--- Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson--- hailed from "Podunk towns and communities." Native American leader Roger Jourdain of Red Lake came from another "Podunk community" which became known as "an island of socialism in the backwoods of northern Minnesota" as he labored to bring good housing, jobs, and health care to victims of racist genocidal oppression.

Perhaps if the present "leaders" of the Communist Party, U.S.A. would concentrate their efforts and resources on building communist clubs in all the "Podunk" cities, towns, and communities across the Midwest where capitalists have set up shop we could give the kind of thoughtful direction needed to working class struggles today just as William Z. Foster, Paul Robeson, Claude Lightfoot, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall and all those "Podunk" Communists like William and Virginia Glenn, Axel and Edna Nielsen, Nate Sharpe, John Bernard, and those heroic "Podunk" Communists like Phil Raymond, Wyndham Mortimer, Robert Travis, Bud Simons, Nadia Barkan, Art Briggs, Earl Dutton, Frank Melder, and Sid Nadolsky helped to lead working class struggles... by organizing Communist Party clubs in every single "Podunk" city, town, and community they ever lived in or ever drove through. Phil Raymond and Wyndham Mortimer always pointed out that it was because of these Communist Party clubs in Michigan "Podunk" cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, Calumet, Marquette, Copper Harbor, Manistique, Baldwin, Idlewild, Cadillac, Battle Creek, Jackson, Hardy Dam, White Cloud, Holland, Kalamazoo... Communist Party Clubs in all these "Podunk" communities is what led to the great union we know as the United Automobile Workers of America. All across Wisconsin and Minnesota the Communist Party had clubs in "Podunk" cities, towns, and communities... there wasn't one single town on the Iron Range without a Communist Party Club... these "podunk" Communist Party Clubs on the Range stretching from Jacobson to Cherry, Eveleth, Gilbert, Virginia, and Ely built the network of Red Finn Co-operative stores, and even creameries, all of which eventually led to organizing the huge open pit iron ore mines and the forestry industries.

It is no accident that a revisionist leader, a very prominent one at that, who has been entrusted with the responsibility for a publication like Political Affairs and writing in the Peoples' Weekly World... which is supposed to be the theoretical journal and newspaper of the Communist Party, U.S.A. respectively, serve the purpose of helping to organize and educate working people in a way that builds and strengthens Communist Party clubs to do battle with the capitalist class would denigrate working class communities in this way... after all, one only has to read Political Affairs to understand that it has become little more that a puff piece attacking socialism. The Communist Party leaders should understand that everytime another Communist Party Club is organized in a "Podunk" someplace this places us closer to bringing an end to this rotten capitalist system and strengthens the movements for peace and social justice, which includes the movement to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang. For working people in the "Podunks" across America it is important to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang as part of the struggle to maintain what little domocratic rights remain and to end this dirty war in Iraq (we need the greatest democracy possible to build the peace movement and impeaching Bush and Cheney contributes to the struggle for democratic rights, which in turn will help us mobilize people to end the war... we already see the Democrats moving backwards on this issue, again, even though the American people are opposed to the war)... We need to step up the pressure for: socialized health care... to establish a minimum wage that is a real living wage, not the miserely poverty wage Democrats are talking about... to save our planet from nuclear annihilation and global warming... the movement to end this dirty war in Iraq must include calls for impeachment... even the former Republican mayor of a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids understands this.

For many working people in all the "Podunks" across America socialism is always on the front burner... it's time to put revisionism--- along with capitalist thinking--- on ice.

The success of our present struggles, like working class struggles of the past for a better life will largely hinge on how many club "podunks" the Communist Party, U.S.A. can build across this country and how quickly. My suggestion to Comrade Wendland would be that he pay a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan to find out what would have propelled a leading Republican and former mayor--- and the longest serving mayor at that--- of this "Podunk town" to make the need to impeach George Bush and end the war in Iraq the topic of a Sunday morning guest sermon in one of the largest, most respected churches in this "podunk town;" Comrade Wendland just might consider that the very powerful peace movement in this "podunk town" nudged this Republican to call for Bush's impeachment... and among this powerful peace movement that is mainly working class, the Communist Party U.S.A. might just pick up a few new members.

My suggestion to Comrade Wendland: start talking to working people in Grand Rapids, Michigan about starting a "Podunk Club" of the Communist Party, U.S.A.

I can remember when the predecessors to the "Peoples' Weekly World--- "The Worker," "The Daily World"--- would have published the call from a former Mayor and big shot in the National Republican Party from a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids, Michigan to impeach his own Party's sitting president over the lies, that initiated this imperialist war for oil, as front page news. I kind of think this is what most people would expect from a Communist newspaper.

What do you think? Talk about this over coffee as you sit with family, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, and around the kitchen table.