Saturday, June 28, 2014

Country Club 44: Bobby Womack's Country Song

This is an unexpected post. Bobby Womack, the great R&B singer, guitarist, and song writer, died yesterday at age 70. I remembered that the Rolling Stones, early in their career, covered "It's All Over Now," a song Womack wrote and recorded with his group the Valentinos. When I pulled it up on Youtube, I was surprised at how country it sounded and wondered if any country artists had also covered it. It turns out that Waylon Jennings and John Anderson had. So here is Jennings and Anderson, followed by the Valentinos and the Rolling Stones.

Here's the original by the Valentinos. There's a definite country tinge.

The country tinge was even more pronounced in the Rolling Stones cover, captured here as part of the legendary TAMI concert film.

Here's a little confirmation for my hearing this as a country tune. Steve Huey in the bio notes

Womack pushed UA into letting him do a full album of country music, something he'd always loved but which the label regarded as commercially inadvisable (especially under the title Womack reportedly wanted to use: Step Aside, Charley Pride, Give Another Nigger a Try). They eventually relented ... BW Goes C&W met with predictably minimal response,
Rebirth Bass Band, despite everything above, makes a strong case that it's really a R&B song, after all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Country Club 43: Bob Wills and Merle Haggard Swing JImmy Rodgers

This is a really interesting compilation video, combining two versions of "Swing Blues" recorded by Bob Wills in the 1930s and Merle Haggard's take on the same tune titled "Stingaree." The tune and lyrics come from Jimmy Rodgers.

If you like Bob Wills and Western Swing, check out Radiobob805's YouTube channel.

Listening to the Iraqi Left on the ISIS Crisis

It's difficult to know what a socialist policy towards Iraq should be beyond deep suspicion of the warhawk architects of the US invasion. Some have formula, isolationist, non-intervention, and revolutionary, that they apply to every situation.  Often those formula seem unconvincing or incomplete to me. A better place to start, I think, is looking at the viewpoints of the Iraqi left. There are four-plus organizations I would  look at:

 I couldn't find a statement by the National Democratic Party, but did find information on the other three.

Martin Thomas of the British Workers Liberty group interviewed Nadi Mahmood of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq.

Nadia Mahmood of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq told Solidarity:

"What's going on now with ISIS is a new phase of the sectarian violence which reached its peak in 2006-7 with the bombings in Samarra".

That simmering sectarian civil war died down in 2007-8 and after. But, said Nadia: "After the Arab Spring [in 2011], the Sunni [minority in Arab Iraq] became more assertive.
"In 2013, [Iraq's Shia-Islamist prime minister] Maliki ended the [peaceful, and not sharply Islamist] protest camps outside the roads to Fallujah and ignored their demands.

"Now in 2014, after the election two months ago, Maliki wants to stay in power and has marginalised even the other Shia parties.

"Because of the sectarian nature of the government, this sort of violence will happen again and again. Socialists need to call for a secular state.

"The left and the labour movement in Iraq are not powerful right now, so first of all we need a secular state without religious identity which will give us ground to build. The target now is to end the sectarian nature of the state".
A statement of the Iraqi Communist Party from the Iraqi Letter, a blog associated with the party.
It is truly the battle of the homeland that is now being threatened. Political, material, logistic and military prerequisites must be provided to stop the expansion of this malignant cancer. Terrorism is targeting all, and it has no religion or denomination or nationality, and it wants to finish off the political process in our country and return it back to the days of tyranny and obscurantism.
Terrorism is the enemy of all. Our people, of various nationalities, religions and sects, and of all ideological and political affiliations, should be aware of the reality of the dangers and beware of falling into what Da’ish (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - Isis) and the regional and international powers standing behind it are planning, with the aim of destabilizing national unity and stirring up sectarian strife and narrow nationalist and chauvinist tendencies.
We in the Iraqi Communist Party, while condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, renew our full support and unlimited backing for the military and security forces, and call upon all the political blocs and parties, whether in power or outside, to meet immediately and conduct an urgent national dialogue. This should consider ways of confronting effectively the forces of evil, aggression and crime, defeating the terrorists, and providing political, material and moral support for the armed forces in the ongoing battle, in addition to sound management of the overall security policy.

See also:
 Kurdish Parties

The BasNews site has an article on the positions of the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties.
the leading KDP believes that the Kurdish enclave should remain neutral and protect only its territories, including the disputed areas, the PUK claims that the Kurdish region should provide the Iraqi army with military support.

BasNews has been informed that Iranian Agha Sobhani met the Chief of the Executive Body of Polit Bureau of PUK Mullah Bakhtiar. Following the meeting Bakhtiar published an article in a local Kurdish newspaper in which he wrote: “in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), Kurds shouldn’t just defend, they should participate in the fight”.
 “What we can do now is only protect the Kurdistan Region. The US, Iran and Iraq will hit ISIS and the Ba’athists, the Kurdistan’s excuse for only defending the region will appear weak. For this reason Kurds should have policies that allow them to deal with Baghdad, US and neighbors. Kurds should consider that a federal Iraq must survived this plan by ISIS and Ba’athists and Kurds should participate in it,” said Bakhtiar.
 In contrast 
member of KDP Leadership Council Ali Awni told BasNews that high Shiite marja Ayatollah Sistani has called for Jihad and that this is a conflict between Sunni and Shia.

“Our case is different, it is an ethnic case. Therefore, it is better to not be part of this fight in order not to lose our case,” said Awni.

Awni noted that while other party’s may pull them into the fight, he believes that the Kurdish government’s duty is to protect the region, including the disputed areas.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Horace Silver, a gem of Blue Note Jazz from Senor Blues

Horace Silver, piano player, jazz composer, and creator of the hard bop school of jazz died on June 18 this week at the age of 85.

I'm not sure when and where I first heard a Horace Silver song, but I do know the first record of his I bought.  Sometime in my sophomore or junior year of high school, I happened across a remaindered compilation album entitled Blue Note Gems of Jazz. which included "Safari" by the Silver Quintet. Silver was also featured on a great version of "Bags Groove" by Milt Jackson.

Remainders, for the younger set, were overstocked albums that were sold at a discount with a corner cut off or a notch cut in a side.  So, I probably got it for $1.99 (or less) instead of $4.99. How this particular remainder got to Winfield or Wichita, Kansas is a mystery or miracle depending on your point of view.

And what a bargain.  Here are the selections:

Safari is a nice, well done tune, but it wasn't one of Silver's tunes that became a standard.  He wrote many that did.  Here's one: a live version of "Senor Blues"

Ray Charles did it for his "Genius+Soul=Jazz" album.

Bluesman Taj Mahal was one of many singers who have performed the tune. This live version features Wichita's Mike Finnegan on piano and organ.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Indian Left at a Crossroads

Prasenjit Bose,  a Researcher in Economics, Political Activist, has an interesting article on the debacle of the 2014 election for the Indian Left in Pragoti (a Sanskrit word meaning Progress), which I first saw in the Canadian Socialist Project website.

Indian politics is exceedingly complex and Bose seems well informed  as he presents a mass of data, facts and analysis. He presents a lengthy and devastating critique of the shortcomings of the Marxist-Leninist left in India. There is a lot to agree with in his conclusion.

Serious debates and discussions need to be initiated within the Left regarding the ideological-political course it needs to adopt today. On the one hand, getting co-opted by the neoliberal establishment would be suicidal; the Left will lose its raison d'être if it gives up on the struggle against class exploitation and social oppression and opts for collaboration with big capitalists and their establishment. On the other hand, dogmatic adherence to the shibboleths inherited from the failed socialist models of the twentieth century will only lead to further decay and ossification.

Special emphasis should be given to re-building the Left movement in Indian conditions, marked by an utterly imperfect, hugely unequal and yet functional, multi-party democracy; rather than trying to imitate models from abroad. The issues raised by veteran peasant leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah, regarding social justice and the need to ensure adequate representation of socially deprived sections within the leadership of the Left needs to be seriously addressed. Unless there are more women, Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims within the Left leadership, the neglect of social issues will continue. Most importantly, there is no way forward for the Left in India unless there is a vigorous effort to establish broad-based unity of all Left and democratic forces on a principled basis.

Is the CPI(M) still capable of bringing about this radical self-restructuring and infuse fresh energy within the Left movement as a whole? We are at an inflection point now. If things continue to remain the same and a movement for renewal gets stymied within the CPI(M), the birth of a new political force within the Left will become inevitable. With the Modi-regime taking its shape at the centre, time is running out.

As a decidedly non-expert, I am bothered that Bose, like most writers on India I've read, writes about only a portion of the Indian left--namely, those that derive from the Marxist-Leninist tradition and practice, even as he subjects the practices of that left to severe criticism and calls for a thorough-going ideological reconstruction.

There is another Indian left. The Congress Socialist Party (CSP) was founded in 1934 as a socialist caucus within the Indian National Congress. After Independence, there were various Socialist Parties which had a significant role in the country's politics. Jayaprakash NarayanGeorge Fernandes, and Ram Manohar Lohia were influential political thinkers and actors from the 1940s throughout the 1970s. M. N. Roy was a colleague of Lenin who later broke with Stalin and developed a Radical Humanist Movement, which if not formally socialist was certainly part of the left. There is even a continuing  socialist/social democratic strain in the corrupt and family dynastic Indian National Congress (INC) as reflected in the 2013 two-volume publication, An Indian Social Democracy: Integrating Markets, Democracy and Social Justice edited by Sunil Khilnani  and Manmohan Malhoutra.

Let's look at the two lefts. 

In the 2014 elections, the Marxist-Leninist "Left" got 23,525,488 votes (Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India,and All India Forward Bloc.)

Leaving aside the INC, parties which identify or are identified as socialist or social democratic got a much larger vote.  After all, the Samajwadi Party (SP; literally, Socialist Party) received a 2014 vote of  18,672,916 alone almost equal to the M-L left.  

Combined together, the parties of the non-Communist left received a 2014 vote of 91,730,386 [All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Janata Dal (United) {JD(U)}, Janata Dal (Secular) {JD(S)}, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, All India Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Biju Janata Dal (BJD)]

Dr. Klaus Julian Voll, former Diplomat, former Director of Friedrich Ebert Foundation in in India, writing before the election on the website of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Green Political Foundation. 
European ideologies with their clear demarcations are only partially applicable in India. The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not really viable. The generation of Indian socialists is extinct. There is no genuine social-democratic party even though, given the socio-economic conditions on the ground, including the widespread poverty, another social-democratic space certainly exists.
Although the BJP won a majority of parliamentary seats, they received only 31% of the popular vote and 39% with their allies.  That means that 61% of Indian voters rejected the BJP.  There is certainly room for a new Indian left.  It will emerge, in my opinion, as much or more from the non-Communist left as the Communist left.


Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) is a centre-left Indian political party with political presence mainly in Bihar and Jharkhand. Janata Dal (United) party mentor and patron is the veteran socialist leader George Fernandes.

Wikipedia defines its ideology as integral humanism secularism social democracy

5,992,196   2014 Vote

The Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) (Kannada: ಜನತಾ ದಳ (ಜಾತ್ಯಾತೀತ)) is a centre-left Indian political party[4] led by former Prime Minister of India H.D. Deve Gowda.

Wikpedia defines its ideology as Social democracy Secularism

3,731,481 2014 Vote

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (lit. "Dravidian Progress Federation"[2]) (founded 1949, Madras Presidency, India), a former member of the United Progressive Alliance is a state political party in the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, India. It is a Dravidian party

Wikipedia defines its ideology as Social Democracy Populism Democratic socialism

9,636,430 2014 Vote

Samajwadi Party (SP; literally, Socialist Party; founded October 4, 1992) is a recognised state political party in India based in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). It describes itself as a democratic socialist party and is mainly representing the interests of a caste grouping called Other Backward Classes (OBCs)

Wikipedia describes its ideology as democratic socialism populism

18,672,916 2014 Vote

The All India Trinamool Congress (Bengali: সর্বভারতীয় তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস; Hindi: सर्वभारतीय तृणमूल कांग्रेस; abbreviated AITMC, TMC or Trinamool Congress) is a sub-national state-level ("state party") ruling political party in West Bengal.

Wikipedia describes its ideology as Populism Democratic Socialism Secularism

Party constitution defines it as “socialist”

21,259,684 2014 Vote

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) (Hindi: बहुजन समाज पार्टी) is a national political party in India. It was formed mainly to represent Bahujans (literally meaning "People in majority"), referring to people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes (OBC) as well as minorities. The party claims to be inspired by the philosophy of B. R. Ambedkar. The BSP was founded by a Dalit charismatic leader Kanshi Ram in 1984, who was succeeded by his protege Mayawati in 2003. The party's political symbol is an Elephant. The party was the third most-voted party in the 2014 Indian general election, but still failed to win any seat in the 16th Lok Sabha.[1] The BSP has its main base in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Wikipedia describes its ideology as Dalit Socialism  Secularism   Social Engineering

22,946,182 2014 Vote

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) (lit. All India Anna Dravidian Progress Federation) is a state political party in the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, India. It is currently in power in Tamil Nadu. It is a Dravidian party founded by M.G. Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) in 1972 as a breakaway faction of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

Wikipedia describes its ideology as Social democracy, Populism

18,115,825 2014 Vote
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) (Oriya: ବିଜୁ ଜନତା ଦଳ) is a state political party of the Indian state of Odisha  
Wikipedia describes its ideology as Populism Social liberalism Social democracy

9,491,497  2014 vote

Flawed "Expert" for Presbyterian "Zionism Unsettled"

This week the  Presbyterian Church USA will vote on a controversial motion to divest from certain companies that do business with Israel.  The chief force behind the motion is the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA which earlier this year issued a controversial, biased,  and error- ridden report and DVD Zionism Unsettled.

While the study guide has been thoroughly critiqued, not as much attention has been given to the accompanying DVD.  The watchdog organization CAMERA notes

a DVD that accompanies Zionism Unsettled. In an on-camera interview, Irving Wesley Hall ... reports that prior to the Six Day War, Israelis and Jews did not care too much about Jerusalem.
Up until the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem, it was not regarded by any element of Israeli society or any of the streams of Judaism as somehow central to God's plan for the Jews. But that all changed in 1967.
The notion that the city was unimportant to Israel and to all of the "streams of Judaism" prior to the Six Day War is, to put it politely, an outrageous misstatement of fact.

Hall, apparently, has no academic expertise in the Middle East or Jewish history or theology, though he has made a video documentary "Onward Christian Zionists" and written a not- very-funny, 800 page political satire attacking Christian Zionism, which promoted by a bizarre series of videos with Hall wearing a clerical collar..\

A little web search would have shown the Presbyterians Hall's extreme and uniformed views.

In an article on the CrossCurrents website Hall asserts that Christian Identity and Zionism are equally racist theories. He favorably quotes at length from antisemitic authors Jonathon Cook and Gilad Atzmon on a book by Shlomo Sand (Zand) The Invention of the Jewish People,

Hall favorably quotes Atzmon
the largely accepted assumption that the Judaicised Khazars [14] constituted the main origins of the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe
Of course, the Khazar theory is not only not "largely accepted," it is widely discredited.

Hall even writes writes
Remarkably not one of Zand's academic colleagues has seriously disputed his findings. 
This, too is whopper.

Simon Schama, University Professor at Columbia University, wrote that Sand's book is characterized by
many such twists of historical logic and strategic evasions of modern research in this book. To list them all would try your patience.
his book prosecutes these aims through a sensationalist assertion that somehow, the truth about Jewish culture and history, especially the 'exile which never happened,' has been suppressed in the interests of racially pure demands of Zionist orthodoxy. This, to put it mildly, is a stretch.

Anita Shapira, head of the Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism at Tel Aviv University, wrote

Sand bases his arguments on the most esoteric and controversial interpretations, while seeking to undermine the credibility of important scholars by dismissing their conclusions without bringing any evidence to bear.
She adds that Sand
drag[s] history into a topical argument, and with the help of misrepresentations and half-truths to adapt it to the needs of a political discussion
Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University, called Sand's book
bizarre and incoherent
and Sand's 
…treatment of Jewish sources is embarrassing and humiliating
 Hall seems to have asked the notorious, rabid antisemite Israel Shamir in 2008, well after Shamir had been widely denounced by Palestinian activists Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish warned pro-Palestinians to stay clear of him (2001) and well after British antifascist organizations Searchlight and Hope Not Hate reported on Shamir's antisemitism, holocaust denialism and links to far-right organizations (2004).

Hall is clearly a flawed expert for a flawed group that promotes a call for boycott, divest,and sanction pretending that it is about Israeli abuses while actually being a movement which fundamentally rejects the existence of Israel and the right of the Jewish people for self-determination.

More Resources:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Country Club 42: you'll never leave Harlan alive

Darrell Scott's song "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive: has been featured in the television show "Justified" with versions by Brad Paisley, Ruby Friedman, and Dave Alvin. I'm not sure whether Patty Loveless's recording has been included, but it's very nice. Here is a live version.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dan Gallin on the International Labor Movement

 Cross-posted from Talking Union

Dan Gallin's book Solidarity was officially and fittingly launched at the recent LabourStart "Global Crisis, Global Solidarity" conference. Gallin, now in his eighties, is a legendary figure in the international labor movement, having served for many years as General Secretary of the IUF, the international trade union secretariat of food workers union. Gallin transformed, modernized, and democratized the IUF. Unafraid to break new ground, guided by the values of "third camp socialism" he learned in the American Independent Socialist League, he embraced the organization of domestic and informal workers decades ago. Currently, he is Chair of the Global Labour Institute (GLI), a labor service organization established in 1997 with a secretariat in Geneva, with affiliates in Moscow and New York . In this video, he is introduced by Eric Lee, founding editor of LabourStart.

Gallin has become a mentor to a new generation of trade union activists through his work with the GLI and the Global Labour University. Liza Merliak, an activist with the Belarusian Independent Miners Union, was asked to make a response to Gallin's talk.

Solidarity is  collection of 19 essays by Dan Gallin, the former general secretary of the Geneva-based International Union of Foodworkers (IUF). The essays include two autobiographical articles, three pieces from the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the remainder from the last two decades. Gallin writes about a broad range of issues including the Algerian revolution, the French Left, Victor Serge, Scandinavian social democracy, the international labour movement, domestic work, the informal sector and much more. Often controversial, always interesting, this is essential reading for social change activists, trade unionists and everyone on the left.

In his introduction, LabourStart  editor Eric Lee writes

LabourStart is very proud to publish this collection of essays by Dan Gallin, the former general secretary of the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF).

Gallin's writings over the course of the last six decades are an important contribution to thinking about the labour movement and, we hope, will reach a wider audience through the publication of this book.

In the course of these essays you will learn much about the history and the future of the labour movement, and the principles and values that must be at the core of its existence.
Dan's criticisms of the labour movement, from a movement insider, are often sharp. I expect that some of you reading this will find parts of this book difficult going. For Dan, there are no sacred cows. He says what he thinks.

The independent, democratic labour movement has nothing to fear from sharp criticism. Indeed, we thrive on it.

Talking Union will review Gallin's book in the near future. For now, enjoy the video and order it on-line.