This organization should probably come back…

radicalteachers

This is an advertisement for “No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks”, a publication of the Bay Area Radical Teacher’s Organizing Collective.  Their current issue included the following articles: ‘Indians rebuff a missionary lesson plan’, ‘Organizing substitutes’ and ‘Women at the bottom: teaching in elementary school’.

When the government announced that the troops were coming home

when the government announced

A line drawing of a village being bombed by planes flying above, with the following hand written:

When the Government announced
that the troops were coming home
we knew they had sent the bombers.
And when the government spoke of peace
we knew they meant murder.

Adapted from Brecht, the German War Primer

Since we can all use more Bertolt Brecht in our lives, here is the poem this is adapted from…

From A German War Primer

AMONGST THE HIGHLY PLACED
It is considered low to talk about food.
The fact is: they have
Already eaten.

The lowly must leave this earth
Without having tasted
Any good meat.

For wondering where they come from and
Where they are going
The fine evenings find them
Too exhausted.

They have not yet seen
The mountains and the great sea
When their time is already up.

If the lowly do not
Think about what’s low
They will never rise.

THE BREAD OF THE HUNGRY HAS
ALL BEEN EATEN
Meat has become unknown. Useless
The pouring out of the people’s sweat.
The laurel groves have been
Lopped down.
From the chimneys of the arms factories
Rises smoke.

THE HOUSE-PAINTER SPEAKS OF
GREAT TIMES TO COME
The forests still grow.
The fields still bear
The cities still stand.
The people still breathe.

ON THE CALENDAR THE DAY IS NOT
YET SHOWN
Every month, every day
Lies open still. One of those days
Is going to be marked with a cross.

THE WORKERS CRY OUT FOR BREAD
The merchants cry out for markets.
The unemployed were hungry. The employed
Are hungry now.
The hands that lay folded are busy again.
They are making shells.

THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the contribution is destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.

WHEN THE LEADERS SPEAK OF PEACE
The common folk know
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY: PEACE
AND WAR
Are of different substance.
But their peace and their war
Are like wind and storm.

War grows from their peace
Like son from his mother
He bears
Her frightful features.

Their war kills
Whatever their peace
Has left over.

ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED:
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY:
This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY COMRADESHIP
Reigns in the army.
The truth of this is seen
In the cookhouse.
In their hearts should be
The selfsame courage. But
On their plates
Are two kinds of rations.

WHEN IT COMES TO MARCHING MANY DO NOT
KNOW
That their enemy is marching at their head.
The voice which gives them their orders
Is their enemy’s voice and
The man who speaks of the enemy
Is the enemy himself.

IT IS NIGHT
The married couples
Lie in their beds. The young women
Will bear orphans.

GENERAL, YOUR TANK IS A POWERFUL VEHICLE
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

Poems of Iron and Steel

I was going to discuss an article from this 1972 edition of Rough Times that waxed on about the danger government and foundation funding poses to the autonomy of revolutionary organizations. But tonight, as tired as I am, and feeling nauseated as I do at the human price being paid for climate change on the East Coast, I just can’t muster much analytical fervor.  Reading twitter updates about babies being kept alive by nurses pumping manual ventilators will do that.

I am reminded that in the Philippines, where health care is private, families must rent ventilators.  If they can’t afford a machine operated ventilator they must constantly pump manual ventilators, and if they can’t do so their loved ones die.  I was reminded of this tonight.  The simple unending motion of a cramped hand squeezing a plastic bulb of air again, and again, and again.  I breathe deeply with my own lungs and think how everything must change.

Rough Times, April 1972

A 1967 Vietnamese stamp bearing the image of a large male soldier with his hands behind his back and his head bowed, being tailed by a smaller soldier bearing a rifle and wearing a helmet.  The smaller solder looks like a woman to me, and it looks like the larger soldier is her captive.  There is Vietnemese writing at the bottom of the stamp, but I cannot read what it says.

Underneath reads:

Again, as at the murder of Goerge Jackson, as at the time of the Attica murders, we are hard pressed to find words to write about our government ‘s ever heavier bombardment of the people of Vietnam and of all Indochina.  The words have all been written , the insanity pointed out – and all the bombs have dropped, the lives have been taken, anyway.

Most of us feel helpless:  our government has not responded to our protests, the war has not been stopped.  But we must learn from the brave Vietnamese people, who refuse to be demoralized and have shown time and time again that they will resist and fight back until their victory is won.  Our actions now (and not just words) building on past progress in building opposition to the war, are all that will stop the aggression.

And below that, a poem from Ho Chi Minh,

The ancients used to like to sing about natural beauty

Snow and flowers, moon and wind, mists, mountains and rivers

Today we should make poems including iron and steel

And the poet should also know how to lead an attack.

A real pyramid scheme

from The Radical Therapist, 1971

A woman ironing with one hand while pushing a baby buggy with her foot. With her other hand she is holding up 13 men who are standing on each other’s shoulders.  She’s standing next to a washboard.  They’re all wearing what looks like wrestling costumes with stars on them.  The man on the top is triumpantly holding a triangle shaped flag over his head.  I like to think this is a commentary on divisions of labour within the left in particular!

There’s a better life and you think about it, don’t you?

Marge Piercy calling to mind the very exact and personal way that capitalism plays itself on our very selves.  The particular cruelty of workplace injury, taking away the use of our shoulders, hands, knees…

And even without injury, the insult of our lovely bodies and minds, day in and out being used in the service of endless bland yet complex tasks.  We do not have the luxury of separating politics into an sterilized arena of ‘debate’, as neoliberalism builds on our very skin and bones.

From the Radical Therapist, 1971

A drawing of a ribbon of paper on which is written the following poem:

My hips are a desk.
From my ears hang
chains of paperclips.
Rubber bands form my hair.
My breasts are wells of
mimeograph ink.
My feet bear casters.

Buzz. Click.
My head
is a badly organized file.
My head is a switchboard
where crossed lines crackle.
My head is a wastebasket
of worn ideas.
Press my fingers
and in my eyes appear
credit and debit
zing. Tinkle.
My navel is a reject button.
From my mouth issue
cancelled reams.
Swollen, heavy, rectangular.
I am about to be delivered
of a baby xerox machine.
File me under W
because I wonce
was a
woman.

by Marge Piercy

from the Radical Therapist, 1971

A woman trapped in a prison made of giant typwriter keys.

If you want to know the taste of a pear

Quote by Mao Tse-Tung. Adorable illustration of hungry worm, uncredited.

From the Radical Therapist, 1971

A two panel cartoon (I think this an excerpt from a longer work) showing a worm delightedly discovering a pear in the first panel, and an pear core in the second panel. Above is written, “If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself”.

Mao’s full quote reads,

If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.

You have to be in the world to change the world*.  And once you know it, it changes so you must learn all over again, and you can never really know it after all.  But it sure is a sweet pear.

*Alanis Morissette also addresses this topic.  She was talking about dialectical materialism, right?

More American Women Die Every Year

Coming to the end of a week that saw the Canadian Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose vote in favor of an anti-choice motion in the House of Commons it seems appropriate to post this image from the Radical Therapist, 1971.  We have our own proud history of pro-choice organizing here in Canada, including the fantastically exciting Abortion Caravan.   Nevertheless outside of large urban areas (and in the entire province of PEI) it is difficult or impossible to find an abortion provider.

From the Radical Therapist, 1971

A pregnant woman, with a tear rolling down her face, appears to be holding a pen.  She is surrounded by a vacuum cleaner, a bottle of lye, gauze packing, pills, sodium pentothol, and a syringe containing ergot.    All of these were methods used to bring about an abortion in women who did not want to be pregnant. Sometimes they were successful.  Being used in unsafe, unregulated ways, sometimes they also killed.  The caption underneath reads “More American Women Die Every Year From Illegal Abortions Than American Men Die In Vietnam”.

Three Heads

from the Radical Therapist, 1971

from the Radical Therapist, 1971

A woman with three heads living out multiple roles carved out for women within patriarchy.  She’s holding a baby, cooking dinner, typing a document, washing the dishes, and looking sadly in the mirror.

The image is sourced from the LNS, or the Liberation News Service.  The LNS looks like it was similar to the Associated Press but for radical left publications, and was active from 1967 to 1981.  The Radical Therapist had a tumultuous but inspired publishing run during the same time frame.

Tonight we are young

and drawing revolutionary cartoons! And by tonight, I mean 30 + years ago.

from Children and Feminism, 1982

A drawing of a smiling person with long hair holding a sign that says CA. The ‘CA’ shown in this image stands for ‘Anarchist Children’, by the way.

From Children and Feminism, 1982

A drawing of four people and a bee hanging out together. Two of them are standing, one of them is sitting at a table covered in balloons, and that person is blowing up a balloon. One person is sitting in a wheelchair. They’re all having a good time, and all the people are saying “Working together and playing together in solidarity”. The bee is also expressing something, but it’s hard to tell what.