VIDEOS AND SONGS FROM MADISON AND OUR HISTORY OF STRUGGLE: As Wisconsin protests move into second week, and a video from MSNBC explaining what's going on...

Be inspired and also be smart. We can be both. With hundreds of hours of videos and audios now being shared across the Internet, it's almost impossible to begin to cite any one. But the following video has been praised by many Chicago Teachers Union brothers and sisters who have joined the struggle in Madison from Chicago, and so it will do, not only as one five-minute collage of images from Madison, but also because it links to dozens of others.

URL at

A second video, reminding all of us of what's at stake, comes from MSNBC and Rachel Maddow, explaining how Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has deliberately created a "fiscal crisis" to try and break the unions. But the 15-minute Maddoe video goes further, explaining the relationship between the billionaires who want to run the world and the last thing between them and absolute power: America's labor unions. This video can be reached at:

If you can't get the hot link.

Two songs worth remembering should finish out this report. The first, "This land is your land," is available in a large number of versions, but it might be best heard in the voice of Woody Guthrie sung in 1945, the year the war to end fascism was won. The video that accompanies this song also shows Woody's guitar, which says on it "This machine kills fascists."

If Woody's song "This land is your land" is a sweeter version of that time in the struggle, try "All you fascists bound to lose." And just to remind everyone what Woody's work was really about, try listening to the song "All You Fascists Bound to Lose" which begins with one of our favorite Woody Guthrie quotes: "You fascists are gonna see what a couple of hillbillies can do..." Check out the sign on Woody's guitar: This Machine Kills Fascists. No ambiguity back in the 1930s and 1940s, when Woody, Paul Robeson, and others were helping lead the struggle for workers' rights and against the enemies of working people, freedom and democracy.

The URL, for those who can't get the hot link above, is at:

Another song that workers will want to hear from one of the most famous voices of labor, Pete Seeger, is Solidarity Forever, the classic union song, which is also available at the following UFL:

Finally, it's probably time that someone updated the other classic union song, "Which Side Are You On." Anyone who wants to know the story behind the story of "Which Side Are You On?" can get the videos "Harlan County Wars" or "Matewan" to get the flavor of organizing a union in the coal fields back when union busters like 2011's Scott Walker (Governor of Wisconsin) were also running many states. It's never been easy. The URL for "Which Side Are You On" (Pete Seeger singing) is: There are other songs that stand tall in all struggles for human freedom and democracy. One that might not be known to many in the current generation of fighters now assembling in Madison and across the USA for the first battles in what will be a long class war is Lili Marlene. Substance will give a subscription to the person who explains, in a comment here, why this song -- and especially the woman who sings it -- deserves the same place as the other songs of strife, strike and struggle that are unfolding as we write these words. From a previous struggle against evil: Lili Marlene, sung by Marlene Dietrich.

As usual, if you can't make the link work, try the URL:

The English translation in the version here might help, along with the photographs, to show some of what was going on at the time. Dietrich, who was German, had been declared a traitor by the Nazis and chose to entertain Allied soldiers and other military people at the front during World War II. The struggle for freedom and democracy is always complex, as these photographs might show to some who never had the chance to learn much of the history of those years. The URL, for those who can't make the link above, is:

One of many historical moments forgotten or whited out of any people's history is the origin of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the tune to which "Solidarity Forever" was brought to us. The greatest struggle for human freedom and democracy in the United States during the 19th Century was the fight to end slavery, the crucial battle of which was the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865. There are thousands of versions of that song available today, in 2011 and beyond. The song was the recessional at the funeral of Chicago Teachers Union president Jacqueline Vaughn in January 1994, and marches on today when union people sing the newest version of the Union's marching song. The Union marching song during the struggle to end slavery was The Battle Hymn of the Republic. In addition to hearing the words again as this small essay ends, the history of the Battle Hymn is also worth remembering. One brief rendition of that history can be found at the following URL (if you can't get the hot link) and is also reprinted here (below the URL):

Battle hymn of the Republic by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. Published by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments. [n.d.] Music Division

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored . . .

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" went through a number of versions in the years immediately before the Civil War. Its tune and its early lyrics were written by William Steffe about 1856. Its first verse and refrain were:

Say brothers, will you meet us?

Say brothers, will you meet us?

Say brothers, will you meet us?

On Canaan's happy shore?

Glory, glory hallelujah!

Glory, glory hallelujah!

Glory, glory hallelujah!

For ever, evermore!

The song first gained popularity around Charleston, South Carolina, where it was sung as a Methodist Camp Meeting song, particularly in churches belonging to free Blacks. By contrast, it was also used early on as a marching song on army posts.

The song gathered new verses following the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, led by John Brown and carried out by a cadre of nineteen men on October 16, 1859. Brown's actions, trial and subsequent execution made him a martyr to Abolitionists and African-Americans and prompted some people to add the following lines to Steffe's by then popular song.

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

His soul is marching on!

Some have also theorized that the new verses were written about an inept Army sergeant named John Brown, thus giving the lyrics a kind of humorous double entendre.

By the time of the Civil War "John Brown's Body" had become a very popular marching song with Union Army regiments, particularly among the Colored troops. The Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment, in particular, has been credited with spreading the song's fame on their march to the South, where Confederate soldiers then inverted the meaning of their words and sang, "John Brown's a-hanging on a sour apple tree." The war's rivalry continued to be carried on in music as the northerners then sang in turn, "They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree."

But it was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC in 1861 that the tune properly came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Howe and her husband, both of whom were active abolitionists, experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening, November 18, 1861, Ward was inspired to write a poem that better fit the music. It began "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." Her poem, which was published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862 soon became the song known as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Anyone who wants to remember how big the Barack Obama betrayal was could do no worse than to go to the You Tube video of Obama's "Hope" speech after he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008. In the background is Bruce Springsteen singing "This Land is Your Land". Even as he was delivering the Iowa speech, Obama was making arrangements to have his fundraising effort taken over by Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker, and by the time he was elected in November 2008, only a few months after that Iowa "Hope" speech, Obama was already planning to betrayal of the people — teachers and steelworkers, union people, nurses, and all those who shared those "hopes" ‚ who elected him, precinct by precinct, county by county, state by state. Whether the betrayal was by putting Arne Duncan and "Race to the Top" as the nation's market driven program for destroying public schools or Obama's betrayal of his promise to win "Card Check" for union organizers, whether that betrayal was developing a "Health Care Reform" program that will make the health gougers and insurance companies wealthier or continuing the twin imperialist wars...

The link to the Iowa speech for those who can't access the hot link about is:

Let's not forget how quickly some men can betray the hopes of a generation and a nation, while our songs play in the background.

Finally, the true context of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, its history and its presence, is war. For those who need a reminder of that, a collage of images accompanies one of the better renditions of the song, available on line. But the images are not for the faint of heart, or for most pacifists. The URL for that version of Julia Ward Howe's song, for those unable to get to the hotlink above, is:


March 1, 2011 at 12:52 AM

By: Garth Liebhaber

The Worst Will Rob You with a Fountain Pen...

Woodie Guthrie, Seegar and Bob Dylan:

Pretty Boy Floyd

Come gather round me children, a story I will tell

Of Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw, Oklahoma knew him well

Was in the town of Shawnee on a Saturday afternoon

His wife beside him in the wagon as into town they rode

A deputy sheriff approached them in a manner rather rude

Using vulgar words of language and his wife she overheard

Well, Pretty Boy grabbed a long chain, and the deputy grabbed a gun

And in the fight that followed, he laid that deputy down

Then he took to the trees and rivers to lead a life of shame

Every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name

Yes he took to the trees and timbers on the Canada river shore

And the outlaw found a welcome at many a farmer's door

Yes, there's many a starving farmer, the same story told

How the outlaw paid their mortgage and saved their little home

Others tell about the stranger who came to beg a meal

And underneath the napkin left a thousand dollar bill

It was in Oklahoma City, it was on a Christmas day

Came a whole carload of groceries and a letter that did say

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw, and you say that I'm a thief

Here's a Christmas dinner for the families on relief

Well, as through the world I've rambled, I've seen lots of funny


Some rob you with a sixgun, some with a fountain pen

As through this world you ramble, as through this world you roam

You'll never see an outlaw drive a family from its home

March 1, 2011 at 1:19 AM

By: Garth Liebhaber

More Pete!

Pete Seeger, still alive!

"What Did You Learn in School?

"Which Side Are You On?"

Original by Florence Reese:

November 1, 2011 at 2:03 AM

By: J. Whitfield

Imperialism (Highest Stage of Capitalism)

Either the working class will defeat and replace capitalism, or civilization will go down, again. Good to keep the stakes in mind.

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