Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle. We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Pete Seeger Before Pete Seeger
There are all sorts of ways to celebrate the life of Pete Seeger, but the one I prefer is a deliberately forgotten and suppressed album, “Songs for John Doe”.
Much of his life Pete was hounded by rightwing blacklisters, but the John Doe songs were kept under lock and key by the left.
The John Doe album, by the Almanac Singers (who later morphed into the gentler, more mainstream Weavers of “Goodnight Irene” Top Ten fame), was released in spring 1941 before Pearl Harbor. Lyrics by Pete and Millard Lampell, it reflected the Communist left’s antiwar “isolationist” pacifism at a time when Hitler had invaded western Europe but not yet Russia. It was the Party line at the time. These wonderful, trenchant songs are incredibly up to date now, but suddenly were out of sync when on June 22, 1941 Hitler blitzkrieged Stalin and the line changed.
Let Bess Lomax, an Almanac singer, tell it: “The Almanacs… were inevitably affected by the intense national debate between the “warmongers” and the “isolationists”…Before every booking we had to decide: were we going to sing some of our hardest-hitting and most eloquent songs, all of which were antiwar, and if we weren’t, what would we sing anyway? … Woody Guthrie wrote a song that mournfully stated: “I started out to write a song to the entire population / But no sooner than I got the words down, here come a brand new situation”.
Poor Woody, poor Bess, caught up in the slipstream of history and the CP’s ever-shifting line.
On the other hand, there were the John Doe songs themselves which I heartily sang until I was dragged before the leftwing bishops and commanded to shut my mouf because FDR’s “President New Deal” had changed to “President Win the War.”
Overnight neither for love nor money could you find a trace of John Doe in any radical book or record store.
So let’s remember Pete before he became America’s folkie grandfather welcomed to the White House by presidents.
“Oh, Franklin Roosevelt
Told the people how he felt
‘I hate war, so does Eleanor
But we won’t be safe till everybody’s dead.”
“Will you go to the war, Billy boy, Billy boy?
Will you go to the war, charmin’ Billy?
It’s a long ways away, they are dying every day.
He’s a young boy and cannot leave his mother.
Can you use a bayonet, Billy boy, Billy boy?
Can you use a bayonet, charmin’ Billy?
No, I haven’t got the skill to murder and to kill…
Don’t you want a silver medal, Billy boy, Billy boy?
Don’t you want a silver medal, charmin’ Billy?
No desire do I feel to defend Republic Steel…
Don’t you want to see the world, Billy boy, Billy boy?
Don’t you want to see the world, charmin’ Billy?
No, it wouldn’t be much thrill to die for Dupont in Brazil…
Girls would like your uniform, Billy boy, Billy boy.
Girls would like your uniform, charmin’ Billy.
They wouldn’t get much chance to love me with six feet of earth above me…”
Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.