[Marxism] The Tankies Correct Debs

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at juno.com
Fri Oct 2 09:32:31 MDT 2015

A Facebook Note of mine from last year, resurrected due to its new relevance what with the "Left" swooning over Putin's tireless efforts on behalf of Western civilization. The Tankies Correct DebsBehold! Our comrades the neoStalinists have performed a feat of incomparable value to the world proletarian movement, now and in the past. “In the past?” you ask in surprise and astonishment. Yes, it’s true (or at least as true as anything by, from or about the tankies can be). You see, they managed to get hold of a time machine (rumor is they stole it from a certain aged bow-tie-wearing gentleman, but let that be for now). Once in possession of this unique apparatus, they sent the best of their number back in time to 1918, to be specific to the very day of the sentencing to prison of Eugene V. Debs, the great working class revolutionary. The chosen tankie caught up with Gene as he was leaving the courthouse under armed escort on his way to prison as punishment for his heroic speech against World War I in Canton, Ohio, a speech in which he fearlessly called on US workers to fight their bosses, not “the Huns.” You might assume that the Tankie, having managed to perform this feat of temporal magic, was bent on agitating all the class-conscious workers in earshot to march on the jail to free Comrade Debs from his imminent entombment. Quite the contrary: Our hero had come to suggest badly-needed correctives to the almost hopelessly flawed speech of the soon-to-be interred Debs. You see, old Gene’s speech wasn’t quite up to snuff, as he didn’t yet realize that the formula “the main enemy is at home” is infinitely inferior to the tankies’ own “the ONLY enemy is at home.” And having just successfully put that line over on the “antiwar” movement of 2014, they thought they would do us all a favor by putting it over on Comrade Debs nearly a century retroactively. Let’s listen in now as the Tankie, walking alongside Debs and apparently not bothered by the policemen on either side of him, explains to Gene his egregious errors. (Whether the looks of confusion and puzzlement Debs bestows on his would-be mentor are a result of the latter’s odd appearance, being from a distant time, or the oddity of his visitor’s remarks, we leave to your imagination.) “Comrade Debs, I’ve marked up for you the mistaken parts of your speech for you to study while you serve your sentence. But let me just point out some of the highlights – or should I say lowlights, tee hee! -- right now. “Look at this part, for instance: You praised Liebknecht and Bebel, Socialist members in the Reichstag, for risking prison because they ‘were fighting the Kaiser and fighting the Junkers of Germany. They have continued to fight them,’ you said, ‘from that day to this. Multiplied thousands of Socialists have languished in the jails of Germany because of their heroic warfare upon the despotic ruling class of that country.’ “Don’t you see that that’s all wrong, Gene? Your enemy is the US government, your only job is to defeat its war plans. How the blazes can you do that if you echo all that ruling class guff against the Kaiser and his Junkers? Don’t you realize that talking about thousands of Socialists languishing in German jails – and what’s worse, calling their jailers servants of a ‘despotic ruling class’ – why, Gene, don’t you see that’s just playing right into the hands of your own bourgeoisie and its media? How can you demonize the Kaiser so thoughtlessly, so carelessly? “Now look at this next passage I’ve marked up. (Here’s the pencil I did it with, I’ll loan it to you Gene so you can finish improving this speech along the lines I’m suggesting while you’re in jail.) You criticize Theodore Roosevelt for having dined with the Kaiser, for being ‘on the most familiar terms’ with him. And then – oh, Gene, how could you? – you say that Roosevelt ‘knew the Kaiser’ and ‘knew that he was the Beast of Berlin.’ The Beast of Berlin? Comrade Debs, have you any idea what aid and comfort you have given to your ruling class by this slander, this completely irrelevant and distracting rhetoric? (And is it even true, Gene? Is the Kaiser really all that bad, or isn’t he just the victim of bad press?) “Well, comrade” the tankie concluded, I hope you’ve learned a little something from our dialogue.” (The tankie in his enthusiasm to perform his self-assigned feat of correction had failed to noticed that Debs had long since stopped listening to the one-sided exchange.) “I certainly hope you’ll do better in your next outing, and with any luck I’ll travel back here again to see.” Fortunately for us, for history, for the world working class, no such return trip was made, and Comrade Debs wrote off the whole experience as the product of an overly-hot Ohio day compounded by the stress of a lengthy and nerve-wracking trial, as just a nightmarish fevered fantasy. And so he continued on his principled way. As should we all. For Debs’ full speech, see: https://www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/1918/canton.htm
At long last, somebody finally built a fully functional X-Wing drone
At long last, somebody finally built a fully functional X-Wing drone

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